Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lethal Obsession, a life change and a new beginning

A couple of days ago I mentioned how my life had taken a few recent unexpected turns, and how I wasn't sure what I'd be doing, or even where I'd be living soon. I left off by mentioning my novel, LETHAL OBSESSION, and how I had been unprepared for the reaction its publication brought to me.

Let me take a step back and say even before LETHAL OBSESSION, my life started to change just a little -- though I didn't realize it -- when I first published a couple of short stories last year, PRIVATE DINING and ROOM SERVICE.

When I was a child my grandmother -- whom I miss very much, even all these years after she passed away -- introduced me to stories. She would read to me, and later would listen as I read to her. My home life could be best described as less than ideal, so I found some solace in reading. Then I began writing, creating my own worlds where I could do anything I wanted.

Soon enough I found myself not wanting to write just for escapism, but I wanted to write to elicit reactions from others, like those authors had gotten from me. I'd let friends read my work, and I often judged the work based on the reaction I'd get from them.

Sadly, I don't have any of that early work. My mother tore most of it up one day, not long before I left home. I was on the road a lot after that, and I'd occasionally write stories or snippets of stories in longhand, but most of that was lost along the way as well.

In December 2011, with a new job and a place to live, I bought a computer as a Christmas present to myself and began playing around, doing some writing. A friend convinced me I should try selling some of the work as e-stories on Amazon, so in November of last year I published two short stories, PRIVATE DINING and ROOM SERVICE.

By the end of the year I'd sold a couple of hundred copies of those. They were simple little short stories, only selling for 99 cents each, so I really didn't make any money off of them (I get 35 cents per sale), but I was absolutely blown away that someone would pay, even 99 cents, to read my work. I was doubly blown-away that someone would read one, then pay another 99 cents for a second story!

I wrote a couple more stories, longer ones that didn't sell so well (JENNIFER LOST and then JENNIFER BOUND), before I tackled LETHAL OBSESSION.

I published that short novel at the very end of February, and the response was more than I had ever hoped. I don't want you to get the wrong idea, it's not as if I sold thousands of copies, but it did sell relatively well.

I owe a big part of that success to someone who took me under her wing a bit -- author J.M. Schroder. She found something in that story she liked, so she did some promotions for me, helped show me how to promote it, and has been a true friend and big-time supporter who I cannot thank enough. Actually, I've found many wonderful people who have helped me, given me good advice, and I don't mean to leave anyone out, but Jennie has been an absolute angel.

People bought the novel. People gave me good reviews. A few bloggers interviewed me. Even now I get mails from people on Facebook asking when the sequel will be ready. I was absolutely not prepared for this. This might sound funny, but it became intimidating. Suddenly I felt as if I wasn't writing my stories, but trying to build something to live up to expectations of others.

I will be very open here -- writing that sequel has been difficult. I went through a small period of depression (nothing too serious, I've learned to deal with that when it comes up). Then the issue with my boss and his girlfriend (see my last blog, here) and my job loss and I just felt like everything was a little out of control in my life.

Being jobless I've been able to spend a lot of time alone these past two weeks, walking, thinking (and yes, playing in the rain!). I've re-evaluated a few things in my life, where I've been going, what I want from my writing.

If you read that last blog, you know my life is in a state of flux right now. I'm not sure if I'm going to remain here or move on to some other community. I don't know where I'm going to find a job (and while I'm okay for a short time, I'm like everyone else, I NEED a job).

But I do know this -- writing will be, whether figuratively or literally, my refuge from the world, just as it was those many years ago when I was a child. And I won't be caught off-guard again, or get so caught up in the reaction of readers that I lose focus on the writing that I do.

I am charging full-speed ahead on the sequel to LETHAL OBSESSION (and on a sequel to the shorts PRIVATE DINING and ROOM SERVICE), and I already have my next tale lined up to write when the LETHAL OBSESSION sequel is published. And after that next story is done, I have a few special shorts just for the Halloween season I'll be writing (not to mention a magical little story I need to get done for Kelly -- you didn't think I had forgotten, did you?)

After that? I don't know just yet, but there will be more. Perhaps a third part in the Angela Martin/LETHAL OBSESSION saga, or maybe something entirely different with a new set of characters and challenges for them to work through.

For those of you who have read my work, who have contacted me, or helped me along the way, I offer a sincere thanks (especially you Jennie!). And I'll be putting new work out soon.

As always, thanks for reading.


Monday, June 17, 2013

No home for me...

...Home isn't pretty
Ain't no home for me
Home in the darkness
home on the highway
Home isn't my way
Home I'll never be..."

Those are a few of the lyrics from the opening of the Blue Oyster Cult song "Burning for You" (a great old song -- here it is if you don't know it -- Burning for You)

I love older music. Some of the bands from the 70s and 80s seemed to be able to speak to deeper questions and emotions, things not quite as shallow as Taylor Swift talking about her latest boyfriend. This particular song, Burning for You, was released in 1981, five years before I was born, yet I've always liked it. At this particular point in my life it seems an appropriate soundtrack for all that's going on.

A quick look at my profile will tell you I've not exactly been a homebody. When I was a child, home life was non-existent. It was a place I got fed, sometimes, and slept when there wasn't screaming or yelling or a party going on. My fond memories are from being with my grandmother and my aunt, but I left home at 16 and have spent most of my life on the road since.

Eventually I ended up in Florida for six years, but never in the same place. I worked three years in a carnival and three more with a small traveling circus, then left and made my way to North Carolina. For the past two years I've lived in a neat little town that's just like those small towns you see on television -- everyone seems to know everyone (they're all related or went to school together) -- and we have little town festivals and events that draws all the same people out every year.

And the people here have been wonderful to me. I've made a couple of dear friends, and there are others I genuinely like and admire. I landed a job as a receptionist and clerk in a small insurance office and found the absolute perfect place to live -- it's a small house, just the right size for me, out in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a dirt road. I'm surrounded by forest and the only sounds I hear when I'm outside are those of the birds and frogs and the occasional animal noise that I have no clue about. I could work in the flower garden naked and no one would know the difference. The owner of the home even let me sign a lease-purchase agreement and he offered to finance the home for me.

When the initial lease expired last October, I couldn't do it. I couldn't sign the papers and buy the house. I don't know why -- the landlord was willing to use part of the rent as a down payment, I had everything I needed lined up, but I just couldn't go through with it. So, we agreed to another year, but he told me if I back out again, he would put the house on the open market. He's an older guy with a lot of property and he said he's tired of dealing with it, so he's been selling it off over the past few years.

Which brings me to the here-and-now. A little more than two weeks ago I lost my job. Not because of anything I did wrong, or even because of a struggling economy. No, my old boss is a snake, plain and simple.

See, he and a woman insurance agent who works in the office were having an affair. I discovered it a couple of months ago and I've been sick about it. I know his wife -- I see her and their little boy occasionally -- and I cannot begin to explain how that ate at me. I actually became physically ill a couple of times, even felt depressed (which is something I deal with enough as it is).

Turns out half the town already knew and I got all worked up over not letting it slip for nothing. Now, he and the woman have decided to move out on their respective spouses and leave town, which meant closing the office and ending my job.

I'm not complaining or asking anyone to feel sorry for me. I don't have it nearly as bad as their families do. Plus, I tend to live on a lot less than I make, so I've saved some money. I do have to get a job, I can't do this indefinitely, but I'm okay for now.

Which brings me back to home.

Or my lack of a home.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do now. I know people are the same everyone, I'm not so naive as to believe I'm going to find somewhere that this kind of thing doesn't happen, but I just can't view this place the same any longer. So many of my friends, it turns out, knew about this and just let it go. "That's just life" some said, or "None of my business."

Besides, after being here for a couple of years, the luster of a new place has begun to wane. Maybe I'm just destined to wander, to settle for a short time, then pull up stakes and move on.

I have a lot in flux right now, but two things I'm beginning to realize. First, I just don't know that I'll ever find a place that will become home. And second, I think I've allowed myself to be too caught up in the world around me and not focused enough on my writing.

This past year has been a revelation to me regarding my writing, with the publication of LETHAL OBSESSION, in ways that I wasn't really prepared for. But I've grown long-winded here, so I'll delve into that, explain where I'm going with my writing and how all of this has given me a new focus later this week. Check back on Wednesday, maybe Thursday.

As always, thanks for stopping by.