The First Step is Worth It

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I started this blog, I think, four years ago. It began as a way to practice writing, as a way to organize my thoughts. There are times I’m blogging weekly and times I go months without a post, and that’s fine. This is my own space to do with what I wish, but the joy I found in writing regularly is part of what led to me think I could publish a book in the first place.

Now, at the time, I had written a book that I was doing nothing with, other than occasional tweaks. But after my sister’s death in 2013, I had this overwhelming desire to see my work in print. Because death is a hard thing, and it often forces us to look at our own lives and what we are doing (or not doing) with them. In my case, it struck me hard that, Oh my God, I really could die without doing this thing I had wanted to do since junior high.

Write and publish a book.

And this desire gave me courage, and I put the things in motion that would help me get my book out there. My first book will never hit a bestsellers list. It is not The Greatest Book in the World. But it is a book, and people buy it and read it and like it, and if I had never taken that first plunge, I wouldn’t be on the brink of releasing my fourth book.

As far as publishing goes, there are a lot of things I have done wrong. I still have no website or newsletter. I don’t publish books on a regular schedule and I don’t write within one genre. My books are weird and not everyone likes that.

But that’s okay. They don’t have to, because I like them. I’m satisfied with the stories I write, and I know I don’t cave to expectation or do what’s considered the current trendy thing. Every book I write is true to the vision in my mind, and that is what is important to me.

And I have this little band of followers who buy my books and read and review them, and one who sends me fan art (which is awesome). There are people who send me messages to tell me they enjoyed what I’ve written.

The point here is, none of this would have been possible if I hadn’t taken the first step. If I had never started this blog, I don’t think I would have gained enough confidence to publish my words in a book. If I had never published my imperfect first book, I wouldn’t be getting ready to publish my fourth.

These dreams are inside us for a reason. We’re meant to take those first steps. Sure, we’ll stumble and sometimes fall along the way. We’ll end up with bruises and scrapes.  The first attempt won’t be easy or probably very pretty. But we need those first steps. We learn from them.

They give us the courage to keep walking.

My fourth book, In the Presence of Knowing, will be available this spring.

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Things that go Bump in the Dark

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One thing I resolve to do more of each year are things that frighten me. I worry (I’m an excellent worrier, really, I could win trophies) about letting scary things hold me back in life, so I tend to force myself through them whether I enjoy them or not. I just like to know I’ve done the thing, whatever the thing might be.

This year so far, I’ve done a few scary things. I’ve given a talk in front of a room full of highschoolers, I’ve been accepted to do a podcast this summer on a horror show, I’ve had a couple of short stories I wrote that pushed me way out of my comfort zone accepted into anthologies. And there are more scary things on the horizon.

I was doing a book signing at a book store in Flint ( yes, THAT Flint, the one with the water) a couple of months ago, and during a lull in traffic I was wandering the store, checking out the shelves. Came across a shelf chock full of Stephen King novels. Now, I read horror, sure, and I’m a great lover of weird Tim Burton films. I write horror and dark fiction, and readers often feel comfortable telling me my brain is twisted and bizarre. I can’t disagree. But there are some lines even I can’t cross, and one of them has always been the Tommyknockers.

I picked it up that day in the bookstore and stared at the cover for a minute. Then I bought it. Hey, it’s important to do the things that frighten you, right?

I first tried to read the Tommyknockers when I was about fifteen. I remember reading the poem at the beginning, somehow immediately memorizing it, and then taking it back to the library. The poem, just that tiny little poem at the front of the book made me sick with terror, and I can’t even express why it did. The lines just ran through my mind on a loop, infesting my waking hours with things better left to the night. Over the years, I have thought about trying to read it again, but even decades later, I’ve never forgotten that poem. Something about it just makes my spine shiver.

Late last night and the night before

Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers,

Knocking at the door.

I want to go out, don’t know if I can

‘Cause I’m so afraid

Of the Tommyknocker man.

Honestly, I can look at the words of the poem and see there is nothing even inherently scary in them. That doesn’t make me feel less scared, though. It’s not something I can explain. But I’m all grown up now, nearing up on forty-one and with adult children of my own. I’ve braved my way through marriage, parenting, family deaths, chronic illness, job losses, appliances breaking, bill money shortages, and one night this year I let my husband drag me to a wild game dinner where I ate a piece of kangaroo. I decided this was the year I would go back to that old fear and smack it in the face. So I bought the book, brought it home and shoved it up on one of my many (many, many, many) bookshelves, and there it sat. Laughing at me. Mocking me. For more than a month. I read a couple of the other books I’d picked up that day at the bookstore first, Dreamcatcher and Bag of Bones. And then, despite my lingering reservations, I picked up the Tommyknockers.

I’m a pretty heavy reader, truth be told, and generally a fairly fast one at that. But this book has taken me about a month to read, and I’m not certain why. Adult responsibilities are one thing, I suppose. With a daughter nearing the end of her senior year, there’s been prom, graduation, and the open house to get ready for, and that’s time consuming. There have been deadlines for the anthologies I’ve agreed to be part of, and all the other things that go along with being a parent. Dishes, laundry, bills, work, chauffeuring, etc. But those things are always there, and I usually read about a book a week. This one just took me longer. I like King’s style, and I liked the book. It’s not my most favorite book of all time, but still a good read.

The weird thing is, I’ve always thought this book was about men in a mine. I don’t know why. I’ve read so many books in my life, it must have just gotten mixed up in my head with something else I’d read. But it’s not about that at all. And it isn’t that scary of a book, really. At least to me. All this time, I’ve been afraid of it, but I was much more terrified reading The Things that Keep us Here by Carla Buckley. So the book, itself, is just not the giant terrifying thing I have always believed it to be.

It’s just the damn poem.

I would read it for a bit at night before going to bed, and then lie there in the darkness, with the words again repeating on loop around my brain. An insistent train on a neverending track. Over and over and over. I’d try counting backward from 100, or focusing on the new book I’m writing, or planning costumes to sew for Ren Faire, but the words of the poem simply echoed louder and louder until that was all I could hear.

I finished the Tommyknockers last night. FINALLY. I picked up The Night Manager from the library yesterday and was itching to start reading it. But I had to finish the Tommyknockers first. So I did. It felt a little anti-climactic, like everyone should notice I’ve done a BIG SCARY THING and applaud me, but I didn’t even feel that excited about it myself.

Life is that way sometimes, I guess. These frightening things we make up in our minds just keep getting bigger and bigger and eventually become a mountain so enormous it seems impossible to ever climb. And then we are left with a choice: either we let the mountain of fear continue to grow, or we summon our courage and decide to start climbing only to find it was really just a little hill, after all.

So I’ve conquered the Tommyknocker hill. Now I’m on to the next mountain.

Heckled.

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Heckled released late last night, a bit earlier than I had expected. But we got the cover design perfected, and then the editing went fast, and then Amazon went fast, and so, here we have it.

I am beyond excited.

This book means a lot to me, and I wanted to give you a little bit of insight as to how the idea for Heckled got started.

When the world lost Robin Williams, I cried. That week and the weeks shortly after, we saw a lot of things in the news and on social media referencing the end of the life of a man many of us had grown up knowing as Mork. There was such an outpouring of love and understanding by so many people.

There was also quite an outpouring of…something else.

Something mean-spirited and ugly. People who chose to view those who spend each day fighting mental illness as weak. Those who chose to be vocal about suicide or the contemplation of it being cowardly.

And it is so far from that. Imagine spending each day, knowing your brain is going to lie to you, and fight with you. Imagine going to bed every night, and knowing the next day will probably not be any better, but trying anyway. Imagine the strength and courage it would take to spend ten, twenty, thirty years, fighting a voice in your head that says you are not good enough, that says you never will be; a miserable, poisonous something that harasses you, day in and day out.

That isn’t weakness. That is STRENGTH.

I wanted to write something that would showcase the amount of inner strength it would take to live with such a thing, and how difficult it might be to try to explain it to others. So I wrote Heckled.

This will not be a book that everyone loves, and I’m okay with that. Honestly, I’m expecting mean reviews. But if it makes anyone stop, think, maybe start a conversation about a hard topic, then I’ll be satisfied I did what I set out to do.

If you read Heckled, please come back and tell me what you thought about it.

http://tinyurl.com/hdnrx4h

 

KAPOW!

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I’ve got news for my bibliophile friends!

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I write more than just on this blog. In fact, I’ve published two novels, Just Hold On and Slither, which you should go and buy now, go ahead, I’ll wait. I got nothin’ to do but chase this wiggly baby, but it’s cool, I’ve got a teenager home on school break who can watch the naughty baby for a mo.

*whistles*

Got ’em? BEANS OF COOLNESS. Now you shall be rewarded with the exciting news, which you may have figured out on account of the picture above, because I know you’re clever like that, which is why you follow me…right?

Earlier this year, I was honored to be asked to join in on two anthologies. Seven stories of super chicks, written by seven super chicks, including me. Girl power at its finest! This is the first time I’ve written a story for an anthology, so I was excited to be a part of the KAPOW! duo of books.

Onomatopoeia! Of course KAPOW! is a great sound to shout whilst waving a finger or sword or bejeweled Scottish dagger at thine mortal enemy, or perhaps at Ren Faire, but for this particular set of anthologies, it has a deeper meaning:

Kick Ass Powerfully Original Women. KAPOW!

And they are, truly. Every super villain in the KAPOW! Bad Girls Edition book is a walking, talking, nightmare of an anti-heroine, and I think you’re going to love to hate them.

My bad girl, Copper, is a six-foot-seven redhead with a chip on her shoulder, and she’s out to make everyone pay. She’s also a member of the ancient super human race Dealanach Anail, and she breathes golden lightning (which creates an unfortunate and electrifying condition for anyone who makes her angry).

Come meet Copper and her cohorts in the KAPOW! Bad Girls Edition book that was recently released, and the cliffhangers will leave you with bated breath, waiting for the KAPOW! Good Girls Edition, which is coming soon.

KAPOW! Because why should super dudes get to have all the fun?

http://www.amazon.com/KAPOW-Bad-Girls-Carlyle-Labuschagne-ebook/dp/B0192FHFXI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Winter Wonderland of Books Giveaway!

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What are the best kinds of Christmas gifts?

The nice, rectangular sort that don’t even need a box! BOOKS!

Books are always the best gift. This giveaway is offering up print books, ebooks, Christmas gifts, and $200 PayPal cash as prizes!

Fifty authors have donated books, and ecopies of my novels Slither and Just Hold On are up for grabs.

It’s easy to enter and easy to share. Please do both!

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2703c98f27/ 

Dark Dreams Halloween Giveaway Event!

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I’m part of an exciting Halloween giveaway event! Do you love to read? Do you love free books? Have you been waiting to read my new book, Slither? Do you like to win free money? WHO DOESN’T, RIGHT?

Follow this link to the rafflecopter to enter to win! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2703c98f25/ Lots of books up for grabs by fantastic authors, Halloween themed prizes, and a grand prize of $175! Just look at all my exclamation points! IT MUST BE REALLY EXCITING.

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My new release, Slither!!

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Look!!! I’m filled to overflowing with exclamation marks today! Woohoo!!!

My book baby, my little slithery, snake-y, serpentine-entity-worshipping book baby is live! Released! For sale! Out there! Go buy it! And read it! And even if you don’t like snakes, leave me a review because you like me…right? (God I hope so.)

Check this blurb:

We’re often told tales of the underworlds to feed the darkest corners of our nightmares. We tuck them away with the sunlight and laugh away the fear our minds created. But the daylight offers no relief for Zari. She’s hidden her waking nightmare as nothing more than a damaged past. The venom of her secrets consumes her, as well as those she cares for most. Emmett, the love of her life and the only one with a past dark enough to respect her space, becomes a pawn in the war against the demonic force which is her bloodright. Can Zari overpower those out to get her to feed on the innocent? Can she save Emmett from the evil of Slither?

Here are the places you can find Slither:

http://bit.ly/slitherkindle

http://bit.ly/SlitherKobo

http://bit.ly/SlitherPlay