Friday Free-For-All

This Friday brings me to the end of a week that has left me tired and humbled and heartened. And I have thoughts.

1.) Writers cannot write alone. We need someone to check our work and call us on stupid things. However, I cringe when people claim to be harsh and brutal critique partners. That, to me, sounds like someone getting their jollies by bringing down another author’s works. There are more constructive ways to critique someone rather than saying, “This sucks.” If you have a suggestion for where to improve a critique partner’s work, you can couch in saying, “This is my opinion and this is why I think this adds/takes away from the story.” Things like drawing big red slashes through a critique is not about helping the author in need; it’s you feeding your ego. Don’t be that person. The flipside is that you also don’t want to be the person where every comment is, “YAY, I love this.” That’s great to hear, but it doesn’t help the author know where they need improvement because NO ONE has a golden pen that drips ink harvested from the fruit of the tree of knowledge. NO ONE.

2.) This week marked 11 years since my mother died, and it was a strange passing of time for me. One part grief. One part extremely bitter at the doctors who did not listen to her as their patient, dismissed her pain as imaginary, and ultimately sped up her death. And all this has led me down the rabbit hole of thinking about emotions and personal causes and how so much of the things we champion are because of the emotion we feel.  I try very hard not to be a bitter or angry person. I try very hard not to be negative. I’m not a Sunshine Bunny, but it doesn’t pay to be upset or pissed off all the time. Your body and mind will like you better if you learn acceptance. This is not to say that you shouldn’t bring the fury when it’s warranted. We all have our soapboxes. One of mine is healthcare, mental and physical. Because I’ve seen what it looks like when patients are dimissed. Because I know what it’s like to go to the ER and have the doctor see in my record that I suffer from panic attacks and assume I’m there to get a sedative when in reality I’m in a lot of pain and very scared. If you have the ability to channel your emotions into an outlet that reaches others, use it for good. Do not merely bark into the wind, as my friend Heather Reid calls it. There are better ways of reaching ears through thoughtful dialogue rather than, “You’re wrong. I’m right.” All that’s going to do is turn people away.

3.) A few mornings this week have felt like autumn is coming. And autumn means all of my favorite things like stormy gray skies, pumpkins, orchards, and Halloween. My kids have already picked out their Halloween costumes. My littlest is going to be a vampire Minion this year. Because he’s awesome. For me, autumn is the time of year that I want my books extra creepy, and there are some coming out soon that need some love. THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich was one of my favorite reads earlier this year and it will hit stores in the US next month. Also, look out for SWEET MADNESS by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie, because who doesn’t want a story about Lizzie Borden? The last book I’m going to recommend is BLOOD AND SALT by Kim Liggett. It’s beautiful and haunting. Do make sure to grab this one up.

That’s all for now!

See you on the dark side.

S

Friday Free-For-All

I’m trying something here. On Fridays, I’m going to mention a few things that are on my mind. Might be books, might be ghosts, you never know.

1.) My crit partner, Heather L. Reid, has a signing at Main Street Books in St. Charles, MO, tomorrow (Saturday, 8/15) from 2-4 pm. The event is called PRETTY DARK SATURDAY, so if you’re near St. Louis, come and see her to get a signed copy of her book PRETTY DARK SACRIFICE!

2.) My dog, Penny, a little black and white puggle, almost died last week. The vet had said that if we hadn’t gotten her to the emergency clinic when we did, we’d have had a very different outcome. I’m still having nightmares about it, but she’s okay.

3.) I’ve got some promo stuff to share. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Sort of. I did an interview with Tanya over at Bookish Babes and shared a little about my writing process and what inspired THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS.

4.) The cicadas are freakin’ loud this year. And their shells are everywhere. Mmm, crunchy bug shells.

5.) If you haven’t picked up a copy of Hillary Monahan’s MARY: THE SUMMONING, you might like to do so. It’s only $10 right now and MARY: UNLEASHED releases next month!

Back to School, Back to Writing

It’s no joke that summer vacation can kill a writer-parent’s productivity.

I have three kids, ranging from four to nine years old. They are hilarious, huggy, and also the reason that every summer I go from being able to work eight hours a day to maybe 2, if I’m lucky. Our sleep schedules are off. There are so many things to do (swimming! The Minion Movie! Trips to get Sno-Cones!), and I’m not gonna lie and say I don’t enjoy the weeks when they are able to go to camp or Vacation Bible School. But I also love the hours in the garden, teaching them about the plants we grow, the tiny frogs that hang out close by, or peering at the nest of baby rabbits.

This summer was a bigger challenge than most because my middle child broke his arm on June 29. That meant all of July and into August he had a massive cast (get the waterproof kind–God send) and that he couldn’t do his favorite activities like climbing, monkeybars, riding his bicycle, or pretty much anything a rambunctious seven-year-old wants to do. Lots of crafts became the norm this year. If it can have sequins, beads, felt, paint, string, we probably did it. A lot. I’m sure parts of me aren’t really made of skin but dried glue.

And then yesterday…they were off for a new school year. My older two got on the bus and disappeared, and I hoped they were adapting well to new teachers, making new friends, have a routine they like. Today, my littlest got on the bus to go to his second year of preschool. He ran up the steps as soon as the door opened and did not look back. I caught a glimpse of a wave. Then he was gone. I have time to write now.

But I miss my little buddies.

I’m that mom that peeks out through the blinds to see if the bus is coming yet to bring home her babies because there are no words for the hugs and happiness they give to my life.