Friday, July 25, 2014

Stress

I do not handle it well, apparently.

So I haven't posted much lately, nor really given an explanation as to why, other than I lack time. That is true, but why do I lack the time? Home life has been extremely hectic lately, and most of the time that I get to myself has been devoted to finishing After - Part Three. (News on that later.)

But, truth is I simply don't spend a whole lot of time talking about what's been going on with Debra. Mainly because at this point, it just seems like I'm making excuses since I'm getting further and further away from the wrong side of my deadline, and I push myself to write and edit and edit and write until I collapse. And do not doubt that this has happened! It is not pretty when the meltdown occurs, because I generally end up in a fetal position crying... or laughing... or sometimes both. But mostly I just get all passive aggressive and snappy, and that scares my husband and the cats. (I love you, honey!)

ANYWAY, I'd like to put that aside for a sec, and actually take a break from all the hubbub and just blog. I'm going to talk about what's been going down in Debra town lately (sorry) and share with you a little something I learned about myself last week.

Stress is bad. Very bad. It's awful. Atrocious. Evil. It's what will cause my death during a zombie apocalypse, or any type of apocalypse, really. I realized after watching World War Z that I am *NOT* going to be one of the select few that make it through the cataclysm to later become a hero of humanity. No. Not even close. In fact, chances are pretty slim that I'm going to make it past the first 24 hours. It's just not going to happen.

So, I guess a good starting point for this story is around February, when we finished up our second move within 3 months (DO NOT RECOMMEND.) Short story, sold house, moved to rent house, bought a house, moved to a new house, husband aggravated an old injury in his hip. Ugh!

We've been dealing with his hip pain on and off for the past 3 or 4 years, and he's been to the Doc a couple times for it. Treatment was generally a steroid regimen to help the inflammation go down, and normally that worked. This time... not so much. So it was off to a specialist, who did not have good news.

After taking a look at his x-rays, the Doc was like, "LOL what happened to all your cartilage, buddy? Holy moly, looks like you need a new hip!"

Note: I wasn't actually there when he got his diagnosis, but I imagine this is how it went down.

Of course, we got a second opinion, but the consensus was the same. Severe arthritis in the left hip and no doctor liked the idea of putting a new hip into a thirty-two year old, but whatcha gonna do? He was in a tremendous amount of pain, and unable to move around freely anymore, so last Wednesday, he got his new hip.

Sorry, we do not have a cool video of him walking 24 hours after the surgery like Mark Cuban. Stop setting these crazy standards, Mark!

Anyway, day of surgery. We get to the medical center early morning, and I'm feeling okay. I'm nervous, but he seems excited. They take him to pre-op, and suddenly my stomach is like... "I don't like this so much, bub." I realize that I'm queasy, but it should get better once I finally see him again. So I wait, and do my best to ignore the growing queasiness. Then the nifty little pager they give you goes off, and we (his mom and myself) get to go back to see him before they wheel him into surgery.

It did not get better.

The string of nurses, doctors, and anesthesiologists start coming in to give him the spiel of how they're going to cut him up and... stuff, and my stomach has firmly set its speed to hyper-drive on its downward spiral. I just couldn't handle it. I began to pace in the tiny little room while, trying to settle my stomach, but it only helped so much.

And this is the worst part. The nurse comes in to shave him, and all my concentration was focused on not throwing up that I couldn't even enjoy the moment!! He was getting his ass shaved, and I couldn't even quip about it! He's mother was in the room to witness it, for crying out loud, and I had nothing! Ugh! Golden opportunity missed.

Then, my wonderful husband, who is about to go into major surgery, says to me. "I'm fine, you can leave if you need too." Oh really? Okay! *Zoom* And I barely make it back to the lobby bathroom before my stomach turned inside out. There was also a major headache that went along with it, and the few hours that followed did not get any better until the nurse updated us mid-surgery that everything was going well. That was when the stress finally let go and I began a slow, steady upswing.

I'm so happy I could be a real pillar of strength for ya, babe!

*facepalm*

I'm horrible.

This has been an ordeal, but the tough part is behind us, and now he can really start to mend. Living in chronic pain is not fun, y'all! I'm glad he decided to go through with the surgery, even though he'll never be able to run again. (yet another reason we aren't going to make it through the apocalypse.)

So there's a little bit of what we Johnson's have been dealing with the past few months! Time is still being poured into After - Part Three and I think I'm still on my schedule to release next month, as long as my #1 beta reader can muddle through the pain-pill drowsiness to actually concentrate on reading. Then I ship the manuscript off to my editor. The timeline is looking good!!

And now..... ***VACATION!!!*** Well, working vacation anyway. I'll continue to write! Catch y'all soon!

Also, quick shout out to George Tate. Thank you for the copy of The Gathering of Twine! It's on my list of things to read, now!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Writing Process - Blog Tour

Alright, everyone! It's time to hop! That's right. Let's get your blog hop on! And I'm about to hop to it!

Was that painful? I apologize. I've never participated in a blog hop before, so wasn't entirely sure how to get this started. I'm going to assume that my awkward stumbling has sufficed as a header, and just move on. *facepalm*

Today is my post for the My Writing Process Blog Tour.

First thing, I want to thank Johi Jenkins for tagging me. I have read both her Resurgence and The Thirst Within novels, and I'm eagerly waiting on the next installments. They're definitely the kind of books I still think about long after I'm done reading. Thanks again for tagging me, Johi!

Welp, I guess it's on to the questions now!

1) What are you working on? 

I am currently in the finishing stages of the last 3rd of After - Part Three. I'm getting nudged on this almost daily now to get it released, so the pressure is on! But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that the release date is just around the corner. After that, I have a couple of other projects simmering on the burners that I will unveil in August. I am incredibly excited about both of these, but my main focus still remains on The Phoenix Curse.

2) How does you work differ from others of its genre?

This is a toughie, since not only am I in the over saturated horror/supernatural nook, but in the zombie nook as well. Zombies!! Zombie novels are literally a dime a dozen now-a-days, and if someone had told me ten years ago that my first published novel would be about the mindless hordes, I would have scoffed and thought they were a moron... and then delved into what else they might know about the future, but seriously... zombies?

Yes, zombies!!! Not only because so many people out there love apocalyptic/distopia/zombie fiction, but I love apocalyptic/distopia/zombie fiction... and a strong female lead. Now, zombies have been done every which way, so I went the way of the not-dead mindless horde and ended up with infected LIVE zombies. Ones that will definitely die (and stay dead) if they suffer some massive trauma, but they're strong... and they're fast... and they're resilient, and that's what my nightmares are made of.

Also, most zombie novels start at the cusp of the desolation. I jump a few years past the apocalypse, and dropped my characters into the new and (not) improved distopia America, and let them take over from there. 

3) Why do you write what you do? 

It captured me. I fell in love with my characters and then fell into the world that I created. The Phoenix Curse started off as an exercise, but managed to bloom and come to life in my mind. Now it's just a matter of finding the time to get it all down on paper.

4) How does your writing process work? 

Slowly? *cackle* Probably not the answer you're looking for. I start with a prompt, a rough outline in my head, and I try to get a complete story down on paper as fast as I can. I've only done this a couple times, so I'm definitely no pro at it, but I'm working to get better! Once that part is done, then I bitch and moan for the next few months about how much I hate revising/rewriting/editing while I put myself through a slow kind of torture by getting my manuscript ready for the editor. Oy, editing sucks.

But as much as I grumble, it is all worth it when the scene I was struggling with finally clicks into place, and nothing compares to that feeling when I have my final manuscript in my hands. It's wonderfully awesome, and I hope to have that exact feeling here soon with After - Part Three. Never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

~~~

And there it is! We're really hopping now!!

Ugh, I'm sorry. I shouldn't torture those that made it this far down my post. Please accept my humble apologies. I'm ashamed. And sleepy, but no excuse.

Okay, NEXT week, be sure to check out the two blogs below, whom I have nominated to follow me in this blog hop.

First is Monica La Porta, whom I worked with on Off the Beaten Path. She is the author of the wonderful Priest series, which is set in a very intriguing world.

Next is Arreis Rose, who is currently working on her first series, and is just now getting her brand new blog off the ground with this blog hop. The first book in her series, Small, is tentatively set to release next Summer.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

News!

Summer is coming! It's just around the corner. That fact is unavoidable and weighs on me every day because I said roughly 8 months ago that After - Part Three would be released in Spring of 2014.

Now spring has come and almost gone, and it's time for me to face the inevitable. I did not finish as promised. There are a number of reasons why I did not finish on time, but like my fortune cookie told me... Excuses are easy to manufacture, but hard to sell. I never liked excuses anyway, so I'm not even going to bother wasting my time on an explanation right now. However, it will be coming later, because there was a lesson for me, a huge lesson as a matter of fact, and it's something I want to share because it might be helpful/inspirational... but later.

I could have published prior to this, but the book wasn't something I wanted to rush, based on the previous lessons I've learned. I got overly excited with After - Part One because it was the first book I'd ever written and finished, so I was a little over eager to hit that publish button. Then I had a slew of errors that I had to go back and fix. Then with After - Part Two, I had promised to get it out by October of 2013, and I did it!! ... And had a slew of errors that I had to go back and fix.

Third time's the charm?

I want to do this right. I can't promise a release date, but I can promise that I'm going to deliver a book that I'm happy with, and hopefully one better written and put together than it's predecessors. I can also give you my schedule, and at this late date, one that I feel comfortable in sticking with.

I should be finished with the rewrites by the end of this month, and then the manuscript will go to my editor in July. Once she has it to look over, I can get a better timeline of how long it will take her to finish the edits, and then I will be able to have a true release date. During that time, I'll be marketing part three, finishing up a project that stole some of my attention earlier this year, and working on the first draft on my next Phoenix Curse project.

Lots and lots and lots of plans! I'm excited about them all and can't wait to share it with you! Until then, blog posts will be scarce, but if you want to check up on me, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook. Yes... I have Twitter, but I suck at Twitter. I love you, Twitter followers, and I apologize for being Twitter stupid, but I just can't get with the program. I continue to try, but it feels like my efforts are doing more harm than good.

Sorries.

Have a good weekend, everyone!!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dreaming and Days of Future Past

I've said this before and I'll reiterate right now, that I do enjoy my day job in procurement and I find it satisfying, but that is not my dream. 

*queue soft, inspirational music*

I have a dream! That dream is to wake up at 7 every morning, come downstairs in my bath robe, fix me a cup of hot chocolate, and open up the manuscript that I will pour all my creative juices into for the day.

*record screech*

Well, I guess I could be doing that anyway via starving artist fashion, but I'm a little more pragmatic than that. I need to make a living to support this hobby I have, but one day I hope to turn the hobby into the career that can put food on the table. And oh how satisfying THAT will be!

I have so many stories in my head that I don't have time to get down on paper right now. I would have liked to have been done with After months ago and already deep into Dreamland or beyond, but I can only do what I can do with the little time I have. Rest assured, that my free time is going into After - Part Three

Hell, I've had two prompts floating around in the ol' noggin for over a week now that I haven't had time to pen. If I don't get them down somewhere soon, I'll forget them. One is decent, one maybe meh, but you can't ever tell just from a prompt. The story doesn't really come to life until you work with it, and decent prompts aren't always easy to come by. I can go for months without a prompt, then have two fall into my lap within a day of each other and send my brain into hyper drive trying to untangle them. 

Think I'm going to get to them after I publish this post. Don't want them getting away!

Evan Peters
On the fun side of things, I got to go see X-Men: Days of Future Past last weekend. I really enjoyed the movie, but I'm not a hardcore X-Men fan. I only read a few of the comics when I was a kid, mostly Rogue and Phoenix stuff... which means I was not a fan of The Last Stand, but whatevs. Thank you for turning that fubar back around, Simon Kinberg! 

I just thought Days of Future Past was really well done, and it had some excellent comedic moments as well. Someone who's unfamiliar with the X-Men mythology should still be able to enjoy this movie, but I STRONGLY recommend watching First Class first if you haven't seen that one. 

My favorite introduction of a new character to the screen was Quicksilver! YAY, TATE!! Yes, I know his real name, but Tate is the first thing that pops into my head, even after watching American Horror Story season 2. I can't even remember what his name was in that season. Probably because I always referred to him as Tate. 

Okay, okay... Here on out, I'll refer to him as Quicksilver, because.... QUICKSILVER!! But that's only going to work up until the next Avengers movie releases. Then everyone's going to be confused. 

Welcome to my world. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bioshock and Editing

I believe I have finally managed to get a good editing process down for myself. Goals are easy when you're still in the first draft process and you're just writing words, words, and more words, but it was difficult for me to set goals during the editing. Mostly because I didn't have a good process. First there are rewrites, then you have the macro-editing, and then you have the micro-editing... All of which I find very daunting tasks. Hell, there are probably more editings in there I should be doing that I don't know about. Don't tell me! Don't tell me!! I don't wan't to know about them, or it's just going to scare me more.

So a couple weeks ago, I was able to work out a goal for myself, and I started to meet it everyday. So I upped that goal last week and I met it EVERYDAY! WOOHOO!! It took a bit of adjusting to create an attainable goal while I juggle work, family, and sleep, but I think I've finally done it.

If I try to do to much, I end up over reaching, stressing myself out and then the inevitable crash and burn catches up with me. Once that happens, it's hard to get started again. Doubts and fears creep in, and other projects dance enticingly at the edges of my mind. Don't worry though, I am determined to make this work. I'll get through this one step at a time, one page at a time, one word at a time, until it's done and I can hit that publish button. Then I will begin the next project and finish it the same way. 

And.... I still don't have a release date for part three yet... sorry! But we're getting closer!

So please don't hate me for taking some time off this weekend. I enjoy playing PC games and grabbed Bioshock Infinite while it was on sale for $10 on Steam. My husband has played it, and it's one of his favorite games. He was not spoiled to the ending when he finished it, so he had a pretty mind-blowing experience. Me, on the other hand, I tell him back then, "I'm never going to play it. Go ahead and tell me how it ends."

Oops! I really had no intention of playing the game, and I suck at first person shooters anyway. Why would I think I'd play it? Guess I won't be having games spoiled for me anymore. But I played it, and I enjoyed it. Of course I had it on EZ mode, but that did not distract from the story. Shame I was spoiled to the ending. Now I'm left to imagine how mind-blowing it could have been.

I guess FPS games aren't so bad... I still need to finish Mass Effect 3.

After all the edits are done, of course. :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Long time, no blog. Am I right?

Sorry about that. I've been updated on Facebook more and more lately, which isn't to say that much, but that's where my posts have been. If you haven't followed me there yet, here's the link. There is also a Phoenix Curse facebook fan page, but I hardly ever post to that one anymore.

So here's a brief rundown of the past couple of weeks. My husband and I celebrated our 6th anniversary last weekend, and it was wonderful. We didn't go anywhere, but we did take a couple days off work just to spend time with each other. One of those days included an hour long full body massage at a day spa.... shortest hour ever!! I definitely recommend doing that if you never have. It is amazing!

That was followed by a stellar week in the editing/rewriting journey, and I plan to match and exceed that this week! Yesterday, I had the pleasure of my first root canal and a crown prep on top of that, so I did not hit my daily goal... imagine that?... but it wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be. Little ibuprofen afterwards and I was almost back to my normal, charming self.

Here's a life tip for everyone out there. Don't eats nuts, I repeat, DO NOT eat nuts the day after you've had a root canal. That is a BAD BAD BAD idea! Feel free to pass that on to friends and loved ones out there.

Ahem...

After my wonderful 5+ hours experience at the dentist, I came home to relax a bit. We've been living in our new house since the end of February and haven't take a walk around the neighborhood yet, so I asked my lovely daughter if she wanted to go with me. It was a beautiful weather last night, so we headed out on to find the nearest walking trail. It was just my daughter and the little stinker since my husbands ability to walk has been very limited due to a injury.

We find a trail and are walking through a nice, open area behind some houses. Bunnies are hopping around being bunnies, and it's just a picturesque day for a walk. Then Arreis (my daughters pen name) says, "I want to show you something," and she hands me her phone.

This is what plays.


Then she hands me this nifty little green and blue bracelet that she made out of rubber bands. Not gonna lie, I teared up a little bit! It was such a beautiful walk and a memory I will cherish forever. So glad I can share her love and creativity with everyone too!

To all you wonderful mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

After - Part Three Cover Reveal!

Happy first day of spring! Ya'll know what that means, right? As promised, the cover reveal for After - Part
Three is coming right up!

Happy Spring! 
Before I get to that, I just really quick want to say thank you to my fans out there. I love reading your kind words that come across Facebook and Twitter. They mean so much to me and really do brighten my day. I'm back to working on the book at least a little every day, and I'm so happy that you're on this journey with me!

So here it is. The brand new, shiny cover art for After - Part Three!

Doesn't it look so cute, fluffy and.... creepy??