Where I’m At

The flurry of activity surrounding the announcement of THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS has passed, and now it’s time to get to the real work. Editor Julie has some suggestions for augmenting the story and tightening it, making it stronger and staying true to my vision for the book. It’s nothing terribly hard and really is only a matter of shifting things around.

While I waited for edits, I was working on my addiction YA horror. It’s another dark book, a bit bleak, a bit maddening. The main characters has been in my head since 1999, and I could never quite get his story right. It’s right now, but I need to finish the MQM edits before I can return to his world and finish his tale.

Some very hard things happened at the end of last year. While I have dealt with panic attacks for several years, they became severe in September. It started off softly: a few in relation to some work troubles. The day before my birthday, I found myself pacing my house in tears because the inner terror was so great that I couldn’t breathe. Two of my friends dragged my three-year-old and me out for coffee. By the grace of God, I got in to see a brand new psychiatrist the next day and began a new medication routine. Things were OKAY.

They didn’t stay that way.┬áDecember was a horrible month. It’s usually difficult for me. My late mother’s birthday was in December and she loved Christmas so very much. Last year marked ten years since she passed away, and with that anniversary, I found myself in renewed mourning. Several friends’ parents and other relatives passed away. I helped out with funerals. I believed I could help shoulder their grief, that I was strong enough. But I broke. My mentor, who I’ve had as a family friend for over thirty years, had a stroke. The prognosis wasn’t good. During that time, I flailed. It was ugly. I wrote a short story for the YA Scream Queens that I do not recall writing. I vacillated between alienating friends, panic, grief because I knew the inevitable was coming and soon. A strange thing sometimes occurs when you’re in a panic state. You either dwindle into a very isolated world or you start reaching out for anyone to be a rope. I reached out. It didn’t go well. On the morning of Christmas Eve, I awakened that morning and sensed my mentor was gone. A message from her daughters confirmed it, and it broke my heart. She was a mother-figure to me. She knew my mother and was one of the few tethers I still had to her. Losing her cracked my already fragile self. I had a long talk with my therapist and considered hospitalization. I scared my husband and mother-in-law because I lost my shit. I was ordered to stay home for New Year’s Eve instead of traveling. The stress of any travel was too much.

Grief doesn’t mix well with obsessive anxiety with panic attacks. There were friends who kept me afloat, but it was hard. New medication. Lots of therapy. I learned about meditation and art therapy. I got to the point where I could write again and wrote furiously.

It has been two and a half months since I had a nervous breakdown. It was only through self-care and the attentiveness of others that I managed to not go into the hospital. I love those people who got me through that time. They were strong for me when I was shattered glass.

To be able to edit, you have to be able to rip your book apart and find what it’s assets and weaknesses are. Ultimately, it is restitched into something better, stronger, most cohesive. My nervous breakdown allowed me to edit myself.

I am OKAY again. I hope you are, too.

Until next time,

S