Six month in a vacuum…sort of

Honestly, I didn’t expect to disappear for over six months.

And I really didn’t.

The last time I blogged was right before my daughter wound up in the hospital. She had a total of three surgeries. The last was for hemorrhaging. You would think that, as a horror writer and someone who has dealt with blood and guts in the past, I could be prepared for such a thing. No. Nothing at all ever prepares you for the sight of your child with blood pouring from her mouth and into the bowl you just happen to grab from the kitchen while on the phone with 911. She was homeschooled through Christmas break. She is fine now, but she was quite sick for a time and Mama Sarah was very shaken up.

Severely shaken up. On New Year’s Eve, when everyone else was partying up, my struggle with panic attacks renewed itself. I don’t have panic attacks or depression while in the midst of a personal crisis. They wait until the crisis has passed. My body is addicted to the tension, so it creates its own. See something scary on the news? BOOM! Panic.

It starts as an insidious niggle that chills the back of my head and spreads down through my arms to my fingers. I can’t move. All I can do is rotate that obsessive fear through my brain over and over.

I know my history and symptoms well enough that I got help in February.

I was able to finish THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS and turned it into my agent Miriam, and I was very heartened that she enjoyed the story. It took a long time to write due to struggles with vertigo and the health problems with my daughter. It also took a while due to excitement with my other pen name. Good things, yes, but time consuming on that side. But once MQM was in Miriam’s hands, I noticed that my anxiety and panic tripped up again. I started having panic attacks not just three or four times a week, but three or four times a day. It wasn’t any way to function. You can’t function in a fear state. So I’ve taken control and have gotten more help, and I’m doing better. The only side effect is a bizarre shakiness in my hands I can’t control. I can live with that.

I am working on an untitled Gothic YA at the moment, and the project has me very excited. YA Scream Queens has something dark and delicious up our sleeves. Just wait and see.

Until next time,

S

What’s Up

Things are busy this November! I’m neck deep in a manuscript that I adore. I don’t do NaNoWriMo because I believe that you should be writing every day. Part of writing is editing and revising. So even if you’re not actively putting words on paper, you’re still engaged with your story and characters if you’re plotting and daydreaming of them. I draft my novels slowly, but they are often in good form by the time I turn them in to my agent. With this book, I’ve had it in my head for eighteen months, so now it’s coming out. There’s a lot of murder and love and chaos and terrible things in this book, and it’s hard to talk about it without giving too much away. So I just won’t.

It’s gotten very cold and damp in Missouri. It’s that time of year where I start looking at my fireplace and thinking, “Maybe tonight, we’ll burn things.” Those are the best nights for writing.

Make sure you check out YA Scream Queens! I’ve just posted an article about Ed & Lorraine Warren. They were the inspiration of The Conjuring, and their lives are a fascinating subject.

Saving the Unsaveable

Things are moving along. Yesterday, I spoke with my agent. I’ve been with her for several years now, but I’ve never had her pushing me to finish a project with quite the encouragement as she is this one.

It’s a tricky balance. This WiP is very close to me. Not that all of my word gremlins aren’t close to me, but this one touches a certain nerve. If you can’t save someone, then you try to find justice for her even if it means risking your life.

I have tried to save friends. The results have varied. At least once, the person did not want to be saved, and we no longer speak. It would be nice if when you try to offer support while showing someone that her actions may be harming her, that the shields would fall from her eyes and she’d say, “You’re right. I need help.” But more often, trying to save someone will hurt a relationship because people don’t want to be saved. We are too damn stubborn to ask for help, even when we know we’re floundering. Even when we know we’re struggling and really out to go easy on ourselves. We just don’t want to look weak or like we can’t handle it. Sometimes the hands are outstretched but we refuse to grab on.

Two years ago, my youngest child was extremely sick. He was born healthy but through bad luck and a worse immune system, he became very ill. I was falling apart inside and out. I have an anxiety disorder. When it is bad, it gets very bad and very ugly quickly. I become agoraphobic, which pulls me even further inside of myself and away from those offering to help. I was having panic attacks. My patience was shot. I was losing hair and losing weight because I simply stopped eating altogether. I was shutting down. It took a friend, someone I actually didn’t know all that well at the time, to say, “Sarah, you’re falling apart, and it’s obvious. Let me bring dinner to your family.” And I sat and cried and, after a while, nodded. I felt sick letting go of my pride, but I also felt relief. I’d hate to think what would have happened if I hadn’t accepted that save from her.

This current WiP has brought me back to that time and the times where I’ve tried to save friends from harming themselves, and with each memory, I ask, “Why would someone be so arrogant as to think they could make someone else’s life change course?” It’s not arrogance but compassion. Because we want others to just be okay. To be more than in survival mode because survival mode in unsustainable.

There are places to go if you need help. Ask for it. Take hands that are reached out to you.

A little note of things to come…October 14th, 2013: the launch of the YA Scream Queens’ blog!

Spooktober is coming!

I can’t believe it’s the last day of September already, and that means October is coming.

October is that glorious month of gray skies, crows, and pumpkins on all the doorsteps. I was supposed to be born in October and came early, but every year, October was the month I looked forward to most.

The decorations are up. The kids have decided their costumes this year (Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” Iron Man, and Scooby Doo). The mornings are drenched with fog and chilly. I send my little monsters off to school and promptly begin planning the horror of my characters. Not a bad way to spend the day.

And this year, October also means the advent of the YA Scream Queens. Ten YA horror writers to watch. One blog. All spooky, all the time. You’ve been warned…