Norwescon!

IMAG1903Back from Norwescon and it was AMAZING!

GreggIMAG1901 wore his armor again, with a couple of extra pieces that he did, and new findings to make everything a bit more polished. He, of course, won again. In fact he won BEST OF SHOW for workmanship. That means the judges thought his costume was put together better than ANYONE at the masquerade. It was amazing. He basically leveled up and was told that now he has to compete as a master because he’s just that good.

This made me want to wear a costume and compete in the masquerade next year. So ya… I’ve been designing something awesome that I want to make for next years conventions. (We already have tickets for next years con.)

So, w
hat did I get out of this years con? SO MANY GOOD THINGS! First, I sat in on several live action demonstrations of fighting. They demonstrated some aikido, sword fighting, shield, roman legionnaires, and many more. They even took requests from people in the audience on what to demonstrate, and answered lots of questions. I took some video and I hope to share that on youtube later this week.

I also sat in on a number of panels about writing, specifically, the failures various authors have had, and the issues they had to overcome. They even talked about getting tables at conventions and selling your books. I also asked “what if you have anxiety” to which most of the people at the table said “stay on the internet…” I can’t blame them for having that thought. Anxiety and other social disorders are really hard to overcome, and most people who have them probably don’t try and push themselves to overcome them. Thankfully one of the panelists, Ryan Macklin, said he also has anxiety issues, so much so that he takes medication for them, and he manages by having that safe space behind his table and when he gets overwhelmed he goes to a quiet corner to just get away from everything and find a a quiet moment for himself. That was really great of him to speak up and share that with me.

I IMAG1922am not going to lie, having the other authors up there and their first reaction, “stay online,”IMAG1941 was disheartening, especially since I really like two of them (them as people, and their books.) I don’t know if having a table at a con would be a good thing, or just be a crushing blow to what little ego I have. But telling me not to even try…hurt. I know it’s going to suck, I know I’m going to have anxiety attacks. Hell, I have them just going to the convention itself some times. But I have so much fun, learn so much, and meet so many new people at the cons. Why wouldn’t I want to just TRY to sell my books there.

It won’t be easy, in fact I know it’s going to suck ass for a while, but I still feel like it will be good for me, and I will learn a lot about myself, and my books.

So, second thing I learned… Annie Bellet was at a few of the panels I went to and I have mentioned her 20 sided sorceress books on several occasions. They are really good, and I think anyone who loves urban fantasy should read them. Dresden type book with more gaming for the win!

But, anyway, she mentioned in one of the panels that almost all of the big urban fantasy writers write in first person POV. I thought about it: Patricia Briggs, Diana Rowland, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Annie Bellet… All the urban fantasy writers that I love to read,  All of them in first person POV. WHY ISN’T MY URBAN FANTASY IN 1st PERSON POV? Seriously, I love writing in first person, and I should have done it, but I didn’t. So, I will be updating my “Eternal Tapestry” series about goddesses in the modern age to be first person POV.

She also had a lot of things to say about “writing to market” that actually clicked with me. She didn’t talk about picking a genre you think will sell and write in that. She talked about finding the things you love in a series you love, and the things you love in the genre, and writing that because that’s what you love. It made more sense then anything else anyone had said.
Witch's Standkobowskobo

I also got a fantastic idea for my next short story, and I GOT COVERS!

“Witch’s Stand” should be out in a few weeks. I will get the edits back, then be able to send it out once I go through them.

Witch’s Sight is a prequel that I am currently writing. I’m not sure when it will be available, but I did get some great ideas to make it even better this weekend.

I’m really happy with how they turned out. The artist, J Caleb, really came through for me, and kept the feel of the other two books in mind while doing it. Thank you J!

I will post some pictures, and maybe some video, from Norwescon soon. And have a wonderful week, everyone.

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Adaptation

Gregg is asleep on the couch behind me, and Raymond is bed. I’m sitting here at my computer trying to clear my thoughts so I can write a little more before bed.

Some days are like today. My brain starts racing, filled with all the things I need and want to do, unable to focus on one thing. Unable to decide what the best course of action is to take. So I came here to talk a bit, and try to order my thoughts.

Gregg calls it my “Rapunzel syndrome.” (Don’t look that up, the actual Rapunzel syndrome isn’t pretty, and google has pictures. I made that mistake.)

He calls it that because for the majority of my life I was, for all intense and purposes, locked in a tower. As a child we lived thirty miles from town and I only had my siblings to hang out with. I chose not to spend time with them usually because we didn’t get along, so I would spend hours each day high up in a tree, or out wandering in the woods. At school I’d retreat to the library during every recess and break to read, or browse the books. Even in high school when I did have a few friends they were sure to point out when I made social fopas. I spent most of my teens not speaking because I knew if I asked a question, or said something it would revival how inept I was.

Then I got married and of the fifteen years I was married I spent the majority of it at home with the kids. I did go out much, and if I did it was usually with the husband and the kids to go shopping. I went to church for a year or two, but only to sit in a pew and listen to the sermon, then run back home to care for the children.

Want an example. In ninth grade I was sitting with my friends eating lunch when a girl came over to sit with us. I didn’t know her, no one seemed inclined to introduce us, so I just asked “what’s your name?” Everyone else was mortified. I just wanted to know the name of the girl I was talking to, but apparently I said it in the wrong way. Years later when my husband would take me places he NEVER introduced me to anyone, and I would mostly not say anything because I just didn’t know what I was suppose to say. How did you introduce yourself to someone you didn’t know? I would try now and then, but usually without success. One time he took me over to his sisters (a sister he hadn’t seen in a decade, and I never met) and sat there and talked with her for thirty minutes without acknowledging my existence. I finally said “You must be (name), I’m Crissy.” She gave me a cold look and said “No, my name is (X).” and she hated me ever since. The name I said was only slightly different than her actual name, but apparently some people get really offended if you get their name wrong. Or maybe she was just looking for a reason to hate me. Doesn’t matter. The point is I’m awkward, and I know it.

My social experience is…almost nonexistent. I didn’t start feeling like I could handle actual conversations, especially with strangers, until I got my first “real” job. I was 30 years old. And even then it took months for me to finally get to the point where I thought I could have a conversation without blushing, fumbling, or saying something completely stupid. (I still say stupid stuff now but I no longer care, so that’s a plus.)

So, basically locked in a tower for thirty years of my life. I didn’t grow up learning to deal with everyday things like other people. I don’t know basic social ques, or have the ability to filter out multiple imputes like other people. I don’t even understand half the things going on when I’m in a large crowd of people.

Gregg called it my Rapunzel Syndrome, and explained it beautifully to me a couple days ago.

When I get into a situation that has a lot of new input (a new store, lots of new people, a new event) my brain goes into sensory overload and I don’t know where to focus my attention, or what to do. Other people do this without thinking, and don’t understand my dilemma, so it causes some social awkwardness. The easiest solution for me to fix this is to focus on one thing. Usually that one thing is Gregg. I go to him, put my hand in his, lean against him, listen to the sound of his voice, and it usually calms the circuits in my brain that are on overload and I’m able to try again.

But Gregg isn’t always there. In fact this anxiety has made it difficult for me to do new things, go new places, try new experiences because I know with new things there comes the overwhelming anxiety that makes me want to run back to my car. My car is safe, familiar, and I can turn the music on and focus on it. But then I’m in the car and not in the event.

So two days ago Gregg tells me his new theory on why my brain short circuits when we go out some times and he says “take out your phone and start looking at Reddit.”

“No,” I said. “I don’t want to be on Reddit while I’m shopping.”

“Trust me,” he said.

So I did it. I pulled out my phone, slid open the screen, and tapped the Reddit app. Less than a minute later the racing thoughts in my head were dulled by the funny GIF, and the interesting news article on the front page of Reddit. I was safe, I was home.

And I felt a little sick of myself. After all, I was trying to have  a nice outing with my boyfriend and there I was reading Reddit to keep my brain from overloading. Couldn’t I even go Christmas shopping without having a melt down? Horsefeathers!

But he was right. I needed something new to help order my thoughts, something that would give me a little freedom from the house so that I could go new places and try new things. And apparently my phone is it. It’s sad to say that I am more addicted to my phone than I ever was before, but at the same time my phone gives me freedom from my underdeveloped mind that I never had.

Anxiety sucks. Being the closest thing to a shut in without being a shut in SUCKS! For a few years all I did was go to work, go home, go to sleep, then go back to work. If it wasn’t for Gregg I’d probably still be doing that. But at least now I have a little adventure, and I try a little more each day.

Maybe that’s why I love to write fantasy so much. For those brief moments I get to go anywhere I want, and see anything I can imagine. I fly on the backs of Griffins, and dive deep into the sea with mermaids. There are airships, and castles floating above the clouds. And all of it is right in my mind.

I hope to keep growing, and be a little less like Rapunzel every day.

I tried

Today I ran home for lunch thinking I would do a short video review of the novel I just finished listening to. I was so excited. The house was empty and I could just turn on the camera and talk for a bit.

But the house wasn’t empty. My daughter was home, in between classes and work, and taking a nap in her room. Okay, I thought, she’s napping I can still record. Right?

Wrong.

Staring at the camera, ready to speak, I froze. This isn’t unusual for me. I almost always freeze in front of a camera unless I’m talking to friends. I’ve managed to do a couple of videos on my own, but they are rare, and they always make me feel self conscious. Sometimes, like today, worse then others.

As I left to drive back to my office I wondered why. Why is it so difficult to just talk to the camera. Is it the big eye starting at me? Is it the fact someone might see my face and hear my voice and judge me because of it?

I do hate my voice. I think it sounds high and squeaky, like a little girls voice, and I hate it. I hate seeing my face on the computer. I can’t even watch my podcast because it makes me so uncomfortable. But I don’t think it was any of those things.

Honestly, driving away from my home and thinking really hard about it, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that my daughter, in the next room, would hear me. Embarrassed that someone I knew face to face would see me stumbling over my words. Embarrassed that I would even think someone would want to hear what I had to say.

Writing and publishing is easy. I put my work up and if someone wants to read it they will. I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t have to feel embarrassed because they are choosing to seek it out and view it. Some part of me knows it’s the same with videos and at the same time… I don’t believe that.

Worse, I know where this comes from.

I never learned the art of making friends. It’s even harder to keep them. A huge part of this was my marriage. My boyfriend calls me Rapunzel as  I was kept in a tower, away from everyone for most of my life.

Before marriage we lived in a little plot of land far from anyone else. My parents were usually away and the only company had were my three sisters who I did not get along with. So I spent most of my time reading. Even at school.

After my marriage I started having children. I tried to make friends, but I didn’t know how. I was shy, and scared. Honestly I don’t even know how I got married except that after several women cheated on him he finally picked me because I couldn’t cheat on him. I didn’t have friends.

One day, many years into my marriage, I told my husband how frustrated I was with it. I was loanly, and he was gone a lot. Why couldn’t I come hang out with him and his friends?

“They think you’re a bitch,” he said.
“But why?”
“Because you left the room to go watch cartoons with the children and never said a word.”
“But they were smoking. You know I can’t breath smoke, I just start coughing and can’t breath. I thought it says more polite to quietly excuse myself than make a fuss. Why didn’t you explain?”

He never explained. He never encouraged me to make friends. In fact it was just the opposite. There were excuses of why I couldn’t go out. Accusations of the few friends I had saying and doing things behind my back. Lack of transportation. Lack of phone. Lack of money.

So I spent my time, locked in the tower with my books.

When you’ve been locked in the tower for so long the outside starts to look scary. You are told people are out to get you, steal your man, use you and throw you away. You’re afraid. But the tower is safe. The books are good. And everything is okay.

I look outside and I want so badly to be happy and healthy and have friends. I want to call someone up and say “let’s go to the movies” or get coffee or just go to the zoo. I want that so much, and every time I try I… I want to cry.

It’s easy to stay in the tower. And so hard at the same time.

The camera, staring at me with its unblinking eye, is a window to the outside. A path out of my tower.

But I will keep trying. Keep pushing that button. Keep crying. Eventually, someday, maybe I can break free of this tower.

Brains are weird

Imagine a person standing against a board. On the other side of the board is another person. As long as they both push against that board it doesn’t move.

The one on the nearside is just trying to hold the wall up. All they care about is keeping the normality at a steady level. Keep the wall strait. Hold on. Steady.

The guy on the other side of the wall… he’s an asshole. He keeps pushing on that wall. Pressing in, trying to demolish the house the first person made.

Sometime the ass gets tired, and he wanders away. Bored. Other times he pushes harder, or enlists help. Some days…. some days he has a tractor and he manages to knock the wall down.

The girl inside… she just wants to build her house. So she picks up the pieces and puts it back together, and guards the wall. Hoping to keep it up. Hoping to keep it steady the next time he attacks.

After a while she doesn’t leave the wall anymore. And when he stops pounding on the walls she gets nervous. Constantly waiting for the next blow.

The blows become normal. They become natural. They become her world.

So when you take down the wall and set her free… it’s so hard to just be normal.

And then something good happens. Someone actually pays attention, or god forbid, helps her build that wall. It’s shocking, even terrifying, because it isn’t normal. Not to her. Not to the life she’s lived for so many years, trapped inside those walls.

I realize these things. I know my brain is lying to me when a good thing happens and I start waiting for something horrible to happen. Nothing horrible has really happened in the last four years…

Like the Blogess says… Depression is a lying bastard.