ConFusion and Clarity

Sunrise in the snowy woods by Roberto Melotti

As I posted on Twitter Monday afternoon, my seemingly endless stores of energy have finally been depleated. Last weekend at ConFusion was amazing. I met so many cool people – some for the first time, some for the first time in person. The hotel was nice, the con staff were great, and the panels were awesome! Kudos to everyone who helped put this convention together because you guys did an outstanding job. The con even got complimented by the hotel staff for being one of the best groups they’ve ever hosted!

On top of the obvious coolness of ConFusion and the ease at which it unfolded there was something more nebulous about this weekend that didn’t strike me full on until Sunday night when mostly everyone had departed for their various home bases. It was a sense of knowing that I was where I was supposed to be. And not just at the con, but surrounded by people who understood exactly what it meant to love writing and reading and genre in general.

I’ve been involved in SFF fandom since 2010, when I started writing my first book and joined Fantasy-Faction. It was fun to be around people that loved the same things I did and understood me. As the years went by I met more authors and fans, improved my craft, and felt more and more welcome than I had anywhere else, almost my whole life.

But for whatever reason, part of me always felt like a fake. Like I was just playing at being a writer, and later an editor. It wasn’t anything anyone said. The SFF community that I know and love is nothing if not supportive of fans as well as newbie writers just beginning to stretch their wings.

The feeling originated inside myself. The part of me that hides in the back of my head and whispers lies and slander about me, that wants me to fail and live my life cowering in a dark place with no voice or hope to be rescued.

That voice is an asshole. And thank God with meds and therapy it has gone from a booming giant to a hoarse whisper. But until this weekend it was still loud enough to keep me from being comfortable at cons and comfortable with my place in this genre (even though that place isn’t very big).

Then at ConFusion something clicked. It might have been meeting so many people in person for the first time that knew who I was and were happy to see me. It might have been my mind finally curb stomping the last bit of the crap voice that had haunted me for so long. But I think the biggest reason was other people voicing the same fears as me. In fact Kameron Hurley wrote a great post about conventions and kindness, that if you haven’t read yet you should go read now. There is nothing more comforting than knowing others feel the same as you. And nothing more incredible than a community saying, “No, please don’t feel that way. Join us, we want you here too.”

I talked (read: ranted) to my husband for close to an hour Sunday night about how amazing it was to feel like I belonged. Like I wasn’t a fake. Like I was meant to be there. It was as if a weight had been lifted from my soul.

I am a writer. Someday, come Hell or high water, I am going to be published.

I am an editor. I love my job, even though I don’t get paid for it. And I want to continue to help share my love of fantasy with others as well as helping polishing people’s work so it shines.

I belong in SFF. I always did. Even before I started writing. Even before I joined the online fan circles. Since the first day I picked up a fantasy book and fell head over heels for the worlds of the purely imagined, I belonged.

But now I know for sure. Now I know this is where I was meant to be.

Fantasy is in my blood and my future is full of spaceships.

And I have all the amazing people in the SFF community to thank for that. So thanks guys, you are the best!

Title image by Roberto Melotti.

A Day to Remember

NYC Skyline 2000

Fourteen years ago a great many people lost their lives. Those that lived lost their loves, families, friends, and coworkers. We as a country lost our innocence and sat for days with hearts broken staring at scenes no one could ever have imagined.

It was a day of massive loss and personal loss. A day they closed the mall early but not the schools. They kept the kids late because no one was sure if there would be anyone to pick them up. A day spent trying to find the words to explain to ourselves what happened, and failing. A day of heroes who lived and died trying their best to save as many as they could.

It was a day that needs remembering in the hopes that it will never be repeated. A day to weep and stand proud. A day to hug your kids and kiss your lovers, and pray for those who can’t. A day to remember what really matters and the day we will never forget.

Title image by autumn2may.

Writing Lost and Found

lost in a daydream by mkendall (detail)

It’s been almost a year since I posted last. I blame…um…aliens? I don’t know. I guess I’m not the best blogger in the world. C’est la vie.

I could post about how I’m going to try to be better in the future, but I think me posting anything at all says that better than I could write on purpose. Anyway, enough about me not writing, let’s move on to more important things:

Did I ever tell you I’m writing a book series? If you’ve been following me forever or know me outside this website the answer is probably yes. In fact I created this website specifically to be about writing, hence the title. How am I progressing? Well let me give you an update:

Last month I finished editing the millionth draft of my first book. This month I finished a read-through/edit of the bits of book two that are already written. Yesterday I finished the sub-plot timeline so I know what I need to add to book two to finish it. Today I started writing new scenes for the first time in well over a year.

I am so happy that I’m writing again! I mean I write and edit all the time. But these are new scenes in book two. With each scene I’m that much closer to finishing it and moving on to book three and completing the series!

It felt so good to get those words on paper, or I guess, into the computer. It feels so good to be moving forward. Don’t get me wrong I love editing, but creating something new is one of my favorite things about being a writer.

I’ve also put up an excerpt from book one, Mark of the Essence, which you can read here.

And while I love my book series I have also spent some time here and there writing short stories. Okay they are very short stories, probably more like flash fiction. And I thought maybe since right now they are just sitting in my writing folder I should put them up on here. So starting today I’ll post a new story once a week or so until I run out. At which point maybe I’ll write a new story every week? I guess we’ll see.

I already have two stories posted on the site: “First Light” and “The First Mark”. Both of those were written as part of the Fantasy-Faction monthly writing contest. Today’s story is much shorter and rather than talk about it, I’ll let you read it for yourself. Enjoy!

– – –

“The Scent of Spring”
by Jennie Ivins

The first thing she noticed upon waking wasn’t the songbirds singing in the trees above, or the way the tall green grass tickled the exposed skin of her neck and face. Even the unevenness of the ground and the way her dew covered clothes clung to her body weren’t the obvious senses that roused her tired mind. It was the smell of damp earth, rich and full of promise, mixed with the copper of fresh blood that finally shook her from her sleep.

Her eyes shot open but her body remained still. How long had she been asleep?

The sky through the spring green leaves above her was spotted with puffy white clouds rolling lazily along in a breeze too high up to rustle the grass she lay in. The sun was behind her, making its way up to the center of the sky, taking its time as it shifted the shadows of the forest off patch of clover to her left and onto the dead man at her feet.

She sat up and backed quickly into a tree trunk. She hit her already tender head and cursed under her breath as she got a better look at her surroundings.

The meadow rolled along down a short hill and ended in a brook that was close enough to see, but too far away to hear. The forest behind her was light and airy with deer paths leading through budding underbrush. Most likely it lined a road or a farmer’s field. The edge closest to the clearing was littered with broken braches and scraps of cloth and hair. It was rather obvious which direction the pair had come from.

Her eyes again came to rest on the corpse. Flies were already circling its gore stained clothes, which the song birds in turn were swooping down to snap in their hungry beaks. What would she do with the body?

A short gust of wind blew a blood caked curl in front of her eyes. It brought with it the not unpleasant smell of a farm freshly tilled and animals at pasture. She didn’t remember passing a farm, but it had been dark the night before. Dark and cold and quiet.

The sound of birds and insects buzzing all around her hurt her head. It was too beautiful, too perfect. There was too much life in this place, too much spring in the air for the death that surrounded her.

She stood, using the tree to keep her balance. Her leg hurt. Her head hurt. The smell of blood and whatever else pooled around the man was making her sick.

She hobbled down the soft hill towards the babbling brook. Everything about this place made her angry. All she could feel was pain and fear. But all around here was nothing but warmth and new life. She fell on her knees in the sand by rivers edge and washed herself of all the stickiness she could. She cupped her hands and poured the cold waters on her face and head.

The cold felt better. She closed her eyes surrendering to the chill and darkness. The sound of the water was preferable to the sound of singing. When she’d washed as much as she could, she lay back on the bank, hidden from the sun by the canopy above. Where would she go now?

The wet seeped into her bones and her body started to shake. It longed for the warmth of the hillside and the softness of the grass. She didn’t deserve it. She never had.

Maybe she should stay there by the brook and let the cold take her. She could become one with the leafy shadows and lend her song to the water against the rocks. Bones and rocks were very similar. Hard and smooth. One held up the earth, the other men. But all men’s bones returned to the earth eventually. Maybe it was her time now.

A pit in her stomach bubbled to the surface. She couldn’t stay there. She didn’t want to die. If she had wanted death it could have been hers the night before. Maybe not quick or painless, but hers none the less.

She sat up, sand sticking to her clothes and arms. The farm then. They would help her. They would give her hot food and new clothes. They would shower her with pity and freshen up the guest room. While they weren’t looking she would nick supplies. They would tell her to stay as long as she wanted, but she would only stay the night and be gone before anyone could miss her.

Before the farmer’s wife picked through the holes in her story. Before the famer’s children noticed all the scars on her arms and legs. Before the farmer found the body in the tall grass, where the songbirds sang, under sunny spring skies.

– – –

You can find my other stories by clicking on the drop down menu at the top of the page marked Short Stories or you can click the links below. If you’d like more information on my stories or book series you can find my contact information on my About Me page. Happy Writing!:)

“First Light”
“The First Mark”

Title image by mkendall.

The Last September Morning

That's Fine by Eric Flexyourhead

The sky this morning was incredible. In the north it was azure – the color of a Caribbean sea. In the south thick heavy clouds were pasted above the trees. They looked disapprovingly at the clear patches as if they were considering engulfing them in one smooth sweep. But in the end the clouds relented and blew off to the south to drop their rain on a more worthy area.

The sky, so pleased with its victory turned an even deeper blue, so pure it almost hurt to look at. Around its edges the remnants of the impotent storm framed the last September morning with feathery white lace.

“The last September morning.” Sounds like an old folk song doesn’t it? You know what else it sounds like? Panic. Because if today is the last day of September, that means it’s only one month until NaNoWriMo starts!

For those of you not familiar with NaNo, here’s a bit about it. The summary is you have 30 days to write 50,000 words. Yes 50K. 5 with four 0s after it. It’s hard, don’t get me wrong, but it’s actually what got me started writing as more than a thing I did sometimes and never finished. I wrote 80,000 in my first NaNo, which turned into about 1-1/4 books of my series. Even if you don’t win NaNo, it’s a great way to get in the habit of writing every day.

Now technically you’re supposed to start something brand new, and only work on it for the whole month. I’ve not done that since the first year. Usually what I do is work on something I’ve started instead. I’m not sure what I’m working on this year, but I’m going to do my best to win. I’ll update you all once I figure it out. At the moment it will either be rewrites of my first book or continuing a YA story about a boy that finds dragons.

Anyone else doing NaNo this year? What will you be working on? Whatever it is, I wish you good luck and happy writing!

Title image by Eric Flexyourhead.

Wet With A Chance of Caterpillars

Spiderweb at Daybreak by Erina68

I never should have mentioned how nice the weather has been for my walks. I should know better by now.

Today the relative humidity was probably around 98%. And that’s being generous. Just getting the kids ready for school this morning made me breakout in a sweat. If there hadn’t been a breeze, I would have been drench by the time I got home from my walk. On the plus side my legs didn’t hurt when I finished, so I think my body is starting to get the hang of this. Yay!

In more exciting news (to me anyway) I caught a huge caterpillar on Friday afternoon! And when I say huge, I mean I saw it crawling across my driveway when I went to get a drink from the kitchen! It turned out to be an imperial moth caterpillar. I kept it in a box on my desk till my kids got home, and then we released it on the lawn.

Caterpillar

This type of caterpillar doesn’t make a cocoon; instead it burrows into the ground and changes there in the spring. Almost as soon as we released him, he found a nice spot in the grass and dug a little hole to hide in. My kids decided to name him Pointy Leaf William, which I think is the greatest caterpillar name ever.

While we were watching him disappear into the grass, my youngest caught a butterfly. It was a very exciting afternoon! At least if you like bugs.

Butterfly

It’s amazing what you can see if you take the time to look around. There could be a whole world of wonders right outside your front door.:)

In the words of the immortal Dr. Seuss:

From there to here,
From here to there,
Funny things are everywhere.

See you tomorrow!

Title image by Erina68.

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