Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wishing Cross Station

Hey, all!

I am excitedly preparing to begin writing my next novel, despite a roller coaster up and down with the Bipolar the past few weeks. It's been a rare week of flying high at points (due to great news coming in from the Universe, wonderful people, and all points on the compass about UPON A TIME; but more on that another day) then crashing, then landing on what I am calling the 'down side of up'.

My doctors call it a 'mixed state'. And they are a nightmare.

But I don't want to talk about that today.

I want to talk about my new project, the first draft of which I aim to write in November. It is called WISHING CROSS STATION.

The story is taking shape in my head, and the characters have already moved into my heart and staked their claim. I realize the idea started weeks ago with a painting I did on a whim:

Girl in Hat and Scarf 11X17 acrylic on canvas

Her eyes have haunted me, stayed with me, and I began to wonder, who is she? I immediately had the thought she was going to/at a train station...waiting. But waiting to do what? To get on a train? For someone to pick her up? For someone to meet her there?

I decided to paint her at the station but first, I ended up painting this:

The Train (great original title, I know. I'm tired this week...LOL)

Finally came the last painting: and the name of the station was as clear in my head as day: Wishing Cross Station. Instantly, I knew I had my new book title and setting.

WISHING CROSS STATION by February Grace 11X17 acrylic on canvas 10/14

I've started jotting down my character profiles (the girl in question has informed me that her name is Marigold. I tried suggesting to her that it might be Magnolia, she replied, basically, 'nothing doing'. As I've said before, for me writing is less creating characters than it is being introduced to them and getting to know them so I can tell their story.)

I'm so excited about this project, I can't wait to get started. Since I am participating in NaNoWriMo again this year after sitting last year out for medical reasons (I won't bog down the blog with posts about it, worry not, those who do not participate-- and if you do participate and would like tips/pep talks from me just find me on Twitter! Always happy to offer an encouraging word) I won't start writing the actual prose until November 1. I will, however, continue to do a bit of note taking and idea catching. I don't outline, it's just not me. But I will hopefully, by the time I begin, know where to start on the path to the ultimate destination.

My WISHING CROSS STATION inspiration board is taking shape!

A quick word about UPON A TIME before I go...I want to blog soon about why the characters in this book mean so much to me, but for now let me say that it very much has to do with overcoming physical disabilities/challenges and/or being judged by your appearance and what other people perceive your limits to be. It's something that I feel very strongly about, and I wanted to take the classic fairytale notion that beauty always equals good and turn it on its head.

I've also managed to write a fairytale retelling without any magical elements in it this time. Yep, you read that right.

The magic in UPON A TIME lies in the hearts of its heroes, and I just cannot wait to share it with you in December.

There is talk of perhaps serializing it on Wattpad at the beginning instead of just the whole book appearing there-- I will keep you posted. I am still working out the finer points with the wonderful folks at Wattpad. I really can't thank them enough for their support of my writing, from GODSPEED on, and I am so thrilled about putting this new book up there for you all to enjoy without barriers or boundaries in getting to it.

I hope you're having a good, happy week.

Talk soon!



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Next Book "UPON A TIME" Cover Reveal and More!

Hello everyone!

I am so, so, SO excited today! I can't wait to share with you all my big news.

I've finished my next book! Though it seemed like it might never happen, it has happened and I am really, well, excited is the only word that covers it! Not only about the book itself but about how it will reach readers.

As I announced on Twitter last night, after much soul-searching and considering all my options publishing-wise, I have decided to take this book-- which is dear to my heart in a way that I can only compare with GODSPEED-- straight to WATTPAD!!!

Yes, you read that right. I am going to publish the entire novel straight to Wattpad, where anyone in the world with a phone, tablet, or computer and internet access can read it.

For free.

I may publish it independently later on down the road, if there is enough demand. But for a good while at least I'd like to make it exclusive to Wattpad.

Wattpad readers, and the staff there, have done so much to support my writing since I joined the site on January 1st of 2013, I want to give this as a gift to everyone, and I really hope you'll all enjoy it.

Now...what is UPON A TIME about?

As you'd guess, it's a fairy tale re-imagined...and without any magical elements in it! It's a fairy tale in which the focus is switched to new characters, and it definitely has the feel of a literary romance much more than a fantasy novel, in the same way GODSPEED was more literary romance than Steampunk.

I LOVE this little book! (It's about 52K words long...a lovely length in my view.)

It has a lot to say about real beauty and strength: what it is, and what it isn't, and how you can't judge a person's capabilities by their physical challenges or appearance.

This is a message that means a lot to me (and also helps further the cause of showing diversity in characters in literature, which is very important to me as well) and one that I hope will resonate with a lot of readers.

Here's the blurb...

Happy ever after as you've never imagined...

A blacksmith's apprentice who would be a knight. The heir to the throne, at death's door. One woman who would save them both... if she could.

UPON A TIME by February Grace, coming soon to Wattpad!

Here's a peek at the cover, designed by amazing Amygdala Art...

I am in love with this cover.  

The story may have its origins in the Cinderella tale, which goes back hundreds upon hundreds of years and has been retold many times... but I definitely put my own spin on it and turn it on its head.

It's a book I truly care about, and want everyone who wants to, to be able to read. That is why I am putting it straight into what I view as the equivalent of the 21st Century world's coolest, largest library.

The book will be with an amazing proofreader soon (no one else I would rather have making the work all pretty) and I hope to have it posted to Wattpad by the first week of December, if all goes according to schedule. Watch this space, and keep tabs on updates on Twitter and FB!

Thank you for sharing my big and happy news today, I hope that you have a great Tuesday!



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Please Visit Lisa M. Gott's Blog Today...

I have just had the overwhelming privilege of guest blogging over at the website of writer Lisa M. Gott, and I am asking that you all please take a moment to read, share your thoughts, and pass the link along if you are so inclined.

In this post I return to a time that is difficult to revisit, but that I hope will spur on others who are fighting physical illnesses/disabilities to continue their artistic dreams.

In this post I talk about the realities of going blind at the age of 38, how I regained some use of my sight due to the talents of gifted surgeons and a team of doctors, and how amidst 15 surgeries total (9 not on my eyes) and endless complications in 24 months time, I still managed to keep connected to the stories I wanted-- no, needed-- to tell.

"A World Coming Into Color" This is a painting I did years ago for my first eye surgeon, to demonstrate how colors had faded for me before total blindness set in, and how grateful I was to have them back again.

How is my vision today? This is how a bookshelf in my home looks to someone with normal vision. For me, when I am wearing my special corrective glasses, it is a bit blurrier.

Now, an approximation of how the same bookshelf looks to me without my special aphakia glasses, which I cannot wear all the time: thus some of the time this is what the world still looks like to me and always will. (Thanks to my friend and talented photographer/designer Paul Brand for his help with this photo.)

The guest post also tells of how GODSPEED came to be, and is very much too a story of how far beyond what you believe to be your limits you can go if you just keep doing a little at a time.

Please, take a few moments and read it. It would really mean a lot.

Thank you again to wonderful Lisa for hosting the post.

It is the first in a series about struggling artists and how others have overcome various challenges. I can't wait to see who posts next.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Living In A World Not Built For Us

"Mixed State" (a piece I recently painted)

So, as it turns out, I’ve slept through almost half of Mental Health Awareness Week. 

It’s not my fault.

Extra doses of medication needed to try to control my cruel, especially spellbinding PTSD the past few weeks has left me out colder than Sleeping Beauty at best and at worst tired, uneasy, and disoriented.

That is, when I’m not having an…well, I call them episodes.

Call them what you will: flashbacks, extreme panic...and yes, some professionals have used the terms auditory and olfactory hallucination before... I call them 'episodes'. They are times in which I am reliving events in my head as if they are happening in the moment; all things that have really happened to me, all memories that I wish I could somehow erase forever from my mind.

They are memories of the worst and most traumatic moments of my life, and they like to follow me, hunt me down and haunt me, no matter what I do to try to escape them.

Triggers are everywhere, and most people are, to put it plainly, either largely insensitive or outright rude when you try to explain that you can’t watch/hear/talk about a specific subject because it sets off your PTSD. Rare is the person who is sympathetic or compassionate, and those are usually people who have either experienced some form of anxiety disorder or panic themselves or who have seen a loved one suffer.

I can’t begin to explain how the PTSD (and the OCD I also have) complicate the Bipolar 1 Disorder. It’s like a freaking nightmare carnival that never ends.

If one thing isn’t acting up, then another is. Sometimes they like to join forces and put on a show together.

If the med cocktail seems to have me at a decent place for a little while, suddenly my body develops a serious reaction to one of the meds (like, say, extreme swelling and reduced kidney function...or the inability to digest food...) and we have to start over again trying to find another mix that will help.

If the ‘episode’ is severe enough, orders come from the doctor to my husband like this: “Give her an extra dose of (fill in the pharmaceuticals here), they’ll knock her out and at this point that’s all that we can do.”

That happened a few weeks ago during one of the worst episodes I've ever had, and after sleeping for about 18 hours (being woken up only for more medication in the meantime) it was like someone hit a ‘reset’ button on my brain and the horrible sights, sounds, and smells that I couldn’t get out of my head were gone again. For now.

But every night this week, to some degree, they've been here again.

I worry about when they’ll come back in full force. They’ve visited me so often in recent years, I have no reason to believe it’s the last time.

Why do I share all of this? Why do I put myself out there this way, knowing the stigma that is attached to BRAIN DISORDERS? (All caps on purpose, because we NEED to change the language we use to refer to these disorders.)

Because we need to get rid of the stigma surrounding brain disorders.

We need to stop society thinking that all who suffer these indignities are to be marginalized, forgotten, and many left to wander the streets because they can’t look after themselves and we have no more safety net in this country (and in many countries) for the mentally ill. Or that we're all dangerous. 

The only danger I have ever posed to anyone, at any time in my life, has been to myself.

We need people to hear.  To listen, and help us fight.

We need them to know that we are real people who live, love, and create (often furiously: many creatives and artists suffer from some form of brain disorder) and we are trying our best to fit into a world never built for those with the challenges we face.

We aren't the monsters the movies and often books portray; we're not all bad parents. We marry. We...exist.

We do our best to live in a world not built for us.

We aren’t weak, in fact, we are stronger than many because we keep fighting every day just to keep going. Just to find the best way to look at life that we can and make the most positive impact possible.

We aren’t weak when the disease wins and takes one of our lives, either, just as those with cancer or who die of strokes are not weak. Sometimes the disease wins.

Often it wins because people don’t have access to/aren’t getting treatment.

Treatments exist. They're not perfect, but they do exist and can help you. In some cases, like mine, treatment can save you every day all over again and perhaps even give you tomorrow. As many tomorrows as you can string together on that fraying thread that life has handed you to stitch together your existence with.

For me, every day since the summer of 2011 has been Bipolar Awareness Day, really; that was when I was finally properly diagnosed after a lifetime of struggles. I remember battling the symptoms as a child and not understanding; I remember being scolded and misunderstood by parents who didn’t know why I was the way I was, either.

I sought help on my own at last (after barely making it through my teens) in my early twenties and was misdiagnosed with Major Depression (and correctly dx’d with OCD. The PTSD would come on later.) So for years I was treated the wrong way.

It wasn’t until I found myself in a very dangerous frame of mind and half a world away from home (literally) absolutely freaking out that I ended up getting back here somehow, then to doctors who knew immediately that I was manic beyond belief.

I tend to live in the Purgatory known as a ‘mixed state’. It’s when agitation and depression mix, and it is not a happy place to be. It is in fact considered the most dangerous of manic states as far as risk of suicide. 

Rarely do I experience ‘high’ or ‘excited’ feeling manias, and that is why I was misdiagnosed for so long. It took a total break from what others call reality (my reality was sure real to me at the time) for them to understand I was really in trouble.

Sometimes I miss things about the way I was before I was in treatment. I could write endlessly, for nights and nights on end without sleeping during the day, either. I could write without thinking, the stories and characters just appearing in my head as if dropped there from the sky and introducing themselves to me, fully formed and ready to tell their stories.

Not so any more, and so I have struggled with writing.  I still struggle with writing, as I must be somewhat manic to write lengthy fiction nowadays and that is something my doctors are dead set against.

I struggle, daily, with finding my place in the world with this ‘new normal’ label affixed to it. After all, I’d been Bipolar for 40 years, suddenly discovering that isn’t how people normally are was quite a shock to the system.

As my primary care doctor put it "You have been living on Jupiter a long time. It's time for you to join us on Earth. You're not going to like it."

My heart is pounding and my hands are shaking as I finish this post and contemplate publishing it.

I know that some may be alienated (if they bothered reading this far) by it. Others may not want to recognize the things in me that they see in someone they love, or in themselves.

Just please, if you remember nothing else I say, remember this.

Help exists.

And those of us with brain disorders just want to be loved and treated with dignity, like everyone else.

That’s all, and that’s everything.

Thank you for reading.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Possibilities of Everyday Magic

I really enjoyed writing the above mentioned guest post (which is up today over at Mythical Books) about the idea of magic and how we all have the power to create moments of "magic" in the lives of other people, every day. In a way, we can all be Fairy Godparents. An excerpt:

I hope one of the things that people take away from this book set is that we all have the potential to create magic in the lives of others: often just with the simplest act of generosity or kindness. And I will tell you something…it’s even more fun when you do it anonymously.

I hope you'll pay Mythical Books a visit today and check out the rest of the post. It might just make you ponder the possibilities of "everyday magic" in your own life, and how you can add it to the lives of those you meet...which can't help but make the world a kinder, gentler place.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reallocating My Time

Hi all!

Just wanted to let you all know that after a two month experiment, my Clockwork Conversations (writer interview blog) will be going away, the last week of October. Interviews are scheduled once per week beginning tomorrow until then (we have GREAT ones too, don't miss them!)

The problem wasn't even so much that it took up a lot of my time and available use of my limited sight to conduct and post the interviews (though it does) it's that my interview subjects are getting so busy that they can't fit into their schedule returning their interview answers to me in a timely manner; one that allows me to schedule the blog to run smoothly.

That being the case, I can't afford to spend the time on going forward with it.

I want to thank everyone who participated in what I feel is a fascinating series of interviews; I will be leaving them up on the web for those authors to reference as they like even after the blog is officially closed on 10/30. It was fun while it was working!

Overall, I am becoming much more conscious of how I am spending my time lately, and while I have always (and will always) want to be one who actively supports other writers, it is getting to a point where I just can't tweet and FB and talk about every book that comes out because there are just so many.

Everyone I know has a book out (or a series!) In fact it would be easier for me to name the people I know who aren't writers/artists/musicians and don't have something coming out soon that they need to promote. I can't be everywhere, I'm only one woman...though I will try to do my best to help out where and when I can.

This month, I'm focusing on trying to make the rounds to all the gracious bloggers participating in my own blog tour, to thank them for their posts (got a SWEET 4.5 star review for the One Wish Collection yesterday...woo hoo!) and then, after that, it's going to be a return to trying to focus on the writing that is right in front of me: finding my own words again.

I need to begin with the manuscript that I started in July that is patiently waiting for me to get enough distance to look at it objectively.

I have no idea if people will ever see this thing, but if I don't finish it, it will haunt and nag at me...that is how I know there must be something to the story. It is a retelling of an oft retold fairy tale, but I think the perspective that I tell the tale from is what makes it unique. At least, I hope so. We'll see.

Only time will tell...

I also need to be sure I'm allowing plenty of time for painting, which is the thing that seems to calm my soul most of all this year...

"The Bridge" 9 30 14

Have a great day...and thank you for spending a little bit of your valuable time here, with me, reading this.

Happy Wednesday!


P.S. Did you know that October is National Dollhouse and Miniatures Month? It IS! I hope to celebrate by posting some new photos of my little treasures soon. (And the not so miniature. I just gave a 3 foot tall Elsa doll a makeover...)


Monday, September 29, 2014

Regeneration? Reinvention? Rearranging My Mental Furniture

I don’t know what it is about INFJs (my temperament type on the Keirsey Temperament Sorter: If you’ve never taken the test I highly recommend it. It’s along the lines of Myers-Briggs but I prefer Keirsey’s writing on the matter…link to their site is on the sidebar) but we are constantly working to reinvent, and reimagine ourselves as something… I don’t know, is better the word I want?

More loving and compassionate. Kinder, and more patient. More creative and artistic. INFJs just spend their lives, it seems, striving always to be more than we were before.

It’s difficult to look upon projects that didn’t turn out as we’d hoped and let them go…but that is what I did today. I finally bit the bullet and went through some paintings from the past year or so that just didn’t match my vision, and today, I let them go. It needed to be done.

This one I sent off yesterday but because it was going to the home for which it was intended...a little square thing, easy to ship, and I hope it will bring joy.

"Looking up into leaves on an autumn day" ~ most recent painting, and gift for a dear friend...

But as far as today's purge...I needed to make room for new art to take their place. Art that more reflects where I am and who I am now, even if no one else ever sees it. As far as the vast number of paintings I’ve accumulated...yikes. If shipping wasn’t such a pain (and so expensive) I would send them all one by one off to friends far and wide and hope that they’d enjoy having a little piece of my heart with them. I wish I could have them all over for a day and let them sort through and take what they wanted.


What is the point of this post?

I’m not sure. I find myself at the point of reconsidering how I go about everything…painting, writing, being me

I may be more myself now than I ever was when I was younger, but I feel like there is something more that I want to be, that I aspire to be and I can’t put my finger on it. I miss the non-profit work that I did years ago (that was the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done) but I’m not healthy enough for it now.

Maybe it's just the part of me that misses getting to be a mother to my daughter...

Another part of me wonders how much this constant rearranging of mental furniture so to speak is also a product of the Bipolar Disorder. Or distraction from the above mentioned separation from my daughter.

I’m not sure. But as I contemplate diving back into the last manuscript I wrote, I know that I want to give it time to breathe…to grow, to become whatever it is meant to be. It can't, and won't be rushed.

Even if no one ever ends up seeing it. I will finish it just because it is worth doing, regardless.

Do you seek out ways to constantly tweak and fine-tune your creativity? Or have you reached a point in life where you go through it all step by step to plan and know exactly what you want to create?

I wonder if I’ll ever reach a time when it—and me— will all just feel like ‘enough’. Here's hoping.