If the origin of the series and the foundation of the principle behind this series is interesting to you, then read onward, my friend.
I began writing erotica twenty years ago as I was hell-bent on discovering and owning my personal empowerment sexually/emotionally/physically. I struggled with the dichotomy of being a woman and thereby over-sexualized, and I was working through sexual trauma, shame, oppression, and so on. What a strange society we live in that provides such conflicting messages as overt sexualization and abuse-mixed with shame and oppression.
I started writing short misadventures of my attempts at discovery. Those eventually turned to heartbreak, and then were relegated to shame. I posed for Suicide Girls, then declined the contract. I picked up roles in film, theater, and in literary clubs that opened the conversations further by choosing erotica groups or taking on roles that required sexual expression. I even spent a year interviewing strippers in Portland, Oregon. Oh, the stories!
But throughout, I was writing shorts, poetry, and Letters to Lovers I’ve Never Met. I called them tidbits, landing points, and curiosities. These snippets were collected on napkins, spare sheets in notebooks, and scribbled on the backs of menus, or in the margins of my journals.
The tipping point came when I met a catfish. Yes, a catfish. It happened online, and the opportunity was ripe for a series of conversations around the topic of unfettered female sexuality—no holds barred—no shame—no judgment because there was literally nothing to lose. We’d never meet, so we could discuss everything in great detail.
For several months we spoke daily, and I sent him clips from the notebooks, journals, and tidbits.
An amazing thing happened. The collections of stories began to take shape. The language I’d struggled to find, the words I’d longed to target began to pull together. Finally, what I’d been trying to say for twenty years began to coalesce.
The conversations with the catfish came to an abrupt halt, as most of those stories do; when I wanted to meet him, he was gone like morning mist. Poof. All the better, I’m sure. What I’d needed was complete and it was time to sit down and pull my works together, catfish or not.
The resulting curation of all my erotic works coming out of the closet, so to speak, was the introduction of the Nome deplume, Blush Unbidden.
Blush is able to articulate the complexity of female sexuality and yearning in a way that is utterly different from male-centric porn, or slush factor sleaze. (Not to say that male-centric porn, and slush factor sleaze don’t have a place—only, it’s overdone, and lacks the feminine element.) Blush speaks in emotional anchors, very human vulnerability, humble curiosity, and unabashed wonderment. She’s real; both fragile and powerful,
and oh so very hungry to know all the delights of the world.
In the process of redefining the voice I would give Blush, and what type of journey or arc I’d throw her into, I had to sit down and truly frame out what erotica meant to me as a woman and an author.
What does erotica mean? What does female sexual empowerment mean? How does that work in our modern dating/relationship dynamics? What guardrails for health and safety need to be mentioned or respected? Where will I refuse to go? As an author…what is my writing safe word, as in, where will I reach the edge of the adventure?
It ended up being a much more in-depth process than I’d expected. By the time I was done putting the framework in place, #metoo was in full force and the media attention and backlash against women speaking out about sexuality and sexual abuse was so intense I stepped back. I was too tired to take the topic head on in the middle of the storm, but I fully acknowledged that if we’d had a better understanding of female sexual empowerment, female erotica, and autonomous voice fifty years ago—we might never have needed a #metoo hashtag.
Right about that same time the photographer I’d booked to work with for artistic nudes to accompany the next release passed away. Simultaneously, I’d received several emails from readers of the first installment of The Life Erotic, stating that the material had made them weep.
“I ugly cried.” One reader told me.
I was devastated. No one wants an ugly cry in the middle of their sexy time. It was so not what I had aimed for that I thought for certain I had botched the series horribly. I boxed up the notes, put the manuscripts in the archive and locked it all away.
FIVE YEARS PASSED
I continued to write shorts, tidbits, and Letters to Lovers I’ve Never Met, but I tucked them in the archive and focused all my energy on my other series under my given name, Athena. The Pillars of Dawn is a fantasy fiction series, which not unsurprisingly has quite a lot of adult sexual content in it.
Then I had an unexpected conversation with a reader who finished Scold of Jays, and who had also read The Life Erotic Week One: Reawakening.
In a nutshell she said something along the lines of, “I love how you write Fable’s scenes. The sex is so hot, and it’s so powerful. It’s part of the story, not just put in to be porn. She has no shame. I can’t remember what it’s like to have sex like that with no shame. It made me ask myself and my partner some hard questions. It made me think of that other series you write about the erotic stories. When is the next one of those coming out?”
I told her I’d stopped writing The Life Erotic because they apparently made people cry. I was more than a little frustrated with my inability to hit the right emotional note.
She seemed surprised, “Really? That’s what I loved about it. It made me have an emotional release AND a sexual release. I cried because it made me believe again.”
If I said I was stupefied, it would still not adequately express my feeling that moment. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t believe what she was saying. When she left the coffee shop I sat mindlessly at my laptop, dazed.
Believe is such a powerful word. Too powerful for my simple little short stories. Too powerful for my little provincial clutch of tidbits.
Then I got hung up on the word “Shame”.
Gah. Shame. The destroyer of intimacy. The bane of connection. The foul stink in the rose garden of…well, you get it.
Shame has no place in erotic content, or in intimacy, or in relationship dynamics that are reliant on trust. I could go on for a thousand pages on the damages of shame in the context of sexuality—instead I will say this:
Shame is a control mechanism. It is only used by a partner to destabilize or disempower—and it is only used by ourselves to repress or subvert impulses, desires, or wantings. The only purpose shame has in the world of adult content is to curb, corral, or alienate.
(The only appropriate form of shame I can endorse is as a form of punishment for abuse, criminal behavior, or to enforce standards of ethical boundaries, as in—shame only when ethics are violated.)
Shame is a punishment. Period. And not to be a ghostly or even weaponized force in the most vulnerable and exquisite parts of our relationship dynamics, and use of our bodies.
Wherein consenting adults participate, there is no room left for shame because the pleasure of such unfettered freedom and shared ecstasy leaves no oxygen for the cruelty that is mortification.
Her conversation spurred me to go back to the source material. I pulled all The Life Erotic boxes out of the closet, and opened the digital archive. I was so motivated by the idea that women out there are still held back from their most liberated sexual expressions by shame (and a plethora of other topics) that I dumped all the work on my living room floor and started sorting the notes.
Shame as a whole goes against literally everything Blush Unbidden stands for. All that she is is reliant on willingness, freedom, wild abandon, acceptance, and joyful curiosity. It’s impossible to be a hedonistic sybarite if you’re bound by shame.
It wasn’t just my frustration for my fellow ladies that spurred me on to revisit the material. It was my sadness for how this viral toxin that is shame affects men as well. The global and cultural disconnect around the autonomy of the female body, the lack of acceptance of all shapes and sizes, the confusing yet glorious profusion of differences in our sexual desires and expressions, genders and identifications has made the idea of finding true intimate connections a prospect with less viable probability than winning the Megaball.
I hate to say it, but I think sometimes men are flummoxed about how to date in this new arena. Without the traditional binary standards to comply with, AND what is perceived as a minefield of danger, they get squeamish around the feminists, and flinchy around anything that doesn’t smack of reliably traditional (Even though most of them will heartily agree that the traditions are already mostly obsolete). They still struggle with how to navigate in these new waters.
They don’t want to be accused of #metoo, or #rapeculture, or #creepers – but unfortunately, many of them simply don’t know HOW to approach women without setting off all the alarm bells, and they are petrified of being mislabeled and never recovering from the stigma or the shame themselves.
So where does that leave all my fellow ladies? High-centered and sexually frustrated. It’s no wonder that the Fifty Shades of Grey books were so fantastically successful. The conversation of female desires, and yearnings were at least being approached (well or not is debatable) These proclivities that were, to some, shame based--were finally topics of mainstream conversation. (To be clear, bondage and BDSM are not meant to be shame based or toxic, there are actually very healthy outlets in those sexual genres). It was an exciting, titillating, panty-soaking explosion of a feminine dialog that had been too long withheld.
For my take on it, Fifty Shades was a start, but it’s still miles from being a healthy, holistic, and fully liberated approach to female/male sexual empowerment AND an enriched human partnership within the realm of sexy vulnerability and trust. Still, it was an icebreaker, so, good on ya, E.L. James.
So where does this all lead The Life Erotic?
Merging brands and coming out from behind the pen name is a risk on lots of levels. However, the topics of female sexual empowerment, feminine gratification, and erotic freedom are very dear to me as a person and as an author. These concepts bleed over into my other series and genres. It’s a platform I can’t seem to avoid, and wouldn’t want to even if I could. It’s time to talk about it.
In the last twenty years the world has changed significantly around the topics at hand, but in many ways we are still stunted as a culture, and backward in our ways of understanding women, pleasure, and desire. It’s probably safe to say men try to legislate the female body BECAUSE of this disconnect.
Coming out of the closet is a step toward my own freedom, and the freedom of my fellow ladies as well. And let’s not dismiss the very real truth that when we as women are truly free to be ourselves in the bedroom and in relationships, and in the eyes of the law—then so too are the men in our lives freed to be themselves without the weighty burden of imbalance.
Dear men of this world,
Wouldn’t you love to know the woman in bed with you is there because she wants to be, yearns to be, aches to be filled by you—as deeply as you can go? Wouldn’t you love to know she feels freedom, from her sinew and helix all the way to her toes, and in that awareness—she longs for you? No doubt. No questions. No hesitation—she wants you? In the moment, she is yours because she gives herself willingly and would fight to prove that willingness if anyone questioned your motives? Would you sleep better at night knowing the woman you love would ferociously protect the quality of your nobility just as fearlessly as you would protect her from harm?
It boils down to engaging in the dialog. Blush Unbidden and The Life Erotic is here to create conversation. When women told me The Life Erotic Week One: Reawakening made them cry, I had to do a lot of questioning to tease out that snag.
It kept coming back to trust, vulnerability—and being seen. Let’s be totally honest—those three things alone are like the hottest aphrodisiacs on the planet.
I don’t mean, “you have pretty eyes.” Or “You’re so hot.” NO.
I mean being seen, truly seen, all the way to your pulsing aching center kind of seen. Yes, I have cried with relief and pent up pain when I felt seen for the first time in a very long time. (Made for a super awkward date ending to be sure).
Blush sees her lover this way. She also sees herself this way, and in the course of the series arc realizes she doesn’t like what she sees in herself, and sets out to correct the parts of herself that she doesn’t want to live with anymore so she can be a more independent woman, and an even better lover to the man she adores.
The tenderness she shares with her lovers; the unbridled passionate hunger, and her trembling timid courage fueled by desires make her an excellent mouthpiece to tell the story of coming into an unfettered female sexual freedom in a world where the rules are literally legislated against such profound independent and personal feminine sovereignty.
The sybaritic platform is the perfect stage for B. Unbidden’s explorations of liberty, autonomy, and thirst for life in all its gritty and glorious experiences. She is both a poet and a warrior, and I am profoundly blessed that her Muse has allowed me to attempt to scribe Blush’s journey.
I can only hope I do her stories justice. I deeply hope I can entertain, inspire…and arouse. So, without further ado….
The Life Erotic Week Two: Nibbles
It’s been a pleasure to watch you growing up these last few years. It’s been a privilege to watch your parents sort out the larger humanitarian questions and fundamental concepts around your spiritual and emotional education. You’re a beautiful young man, with a wicked dry sense of humor and a glowing compassionate heart. You. Are. A. Treasure.
What can I possibly say on the matter of becoming a good human being? What milestone is the metric to which that comparison will be made again and again as you go out and participate in the world at large?
I worry that claiming my version of “good” will imply all others are “not good” so from now on I won’t call it good or bad. I won’t intend male or female binary statements in the qualifier of the following, but will say instead; we are all, all of us, attempting to live our most noble lives and achieve our best character expressions with what we have been given or have learned.
The first step, I believe, is discovering and empowering your personal nobility, which is neither male nor female. It is neither good nor bad. It is however, yours and yours alone. It is specific to you. Some will call it honor. Be wary of that label, honor. It is steeped in toxic gender histories and a multiverse of religious interpretations. One person’s banner of honor is another’s claim to cruelty or oppression. (See honor killings, war, female sexual oppression, familial obligation, and so on—all falling under someone’s claim to honor).
Honor and personal nobility can be similar in nature, but your personal nobility is self-made. It is neither inherited, or absorbed by conditioning. Neither is it subject to the control dynamics of others, or the baggage of obligation. It is yours, designed by you, practiced by you, owned entirely by your own will. Personal nobility is able to evolve, learn and stretch to include those new learnings. Honor can be rigid, breakable, and it is often flawed by near-sighted logic failure.
Another way to look at the difference is that personal nobility requires questioning, upkeep, and at the very least occasional evaluation from which new personal revolutions emerge.
It should also be mentioned that while someone may attempt to impugn your honor or place value statements on what they believe your honor should be—no one can impugn your personal nobility, save you. You are the only judge and measure by which your nobility is quantified.
It is similar to integrity. It is inherently intertwined with the fabric of your character and will, if you choose, never be totally separate from your decisions, actions, and the weight of your convictions. The answers will always be what you can or cannot live with. What you can or cannot abide by. What you can or cannot affiliate yourself with. What you can or cannot own to be a part of.
So now you’ve got Personal Nobility, your molten metal core. Now what?
I’d like to tell you the world is a safe and peaceful place. Instead, I will tell you it is magical, dynamic, exhilarating, terrifying, and gloriously inconsistent. It is breathtakingly diverse, magnificently unpredictable, and there is nothing quite like drawing breath each morning and knowing the profound gratitude of having this blue planet playground to explore. What are you waiting for?
With personal nobility as your axis of gravity, all else is moving. There is no right or wrong moment to engage, except those dictated by your core. The complexity of this world is so fierce, so passionately interwoven—it is nearly impossible to take a step, draw a breath, or blink in the rain without causing an action upon the quantum reality in which you are trying to become fully realized—so the trick to being a human….is to remember that we are all human. We are all in a perpetual state of becoming.
I’ll step inside here to say, as a writer I get to bring a million types of characters to life with my words. I get to paint with broad, flat strokes the images we think we humans make—but the truth is, humans are so immensely complex, so infinitely faceted, that you could spend a thousand summers trying to understand them, and they will still surprise you in the most unexpected ways. Some will break your heart with cruelty, and others will destroy you with raw beauty—and you may end up thanking them both in the end. See? Unpredictable.
I can only say from my own experiences, but in matters of human complexity my experiences with evil, bigotry, -isms, hatred, xenophobia, and all the darker aspects that we are both capable of, and exposed to simply by being—do not stem from a vacuum of goodness. No, they exist, flourish, even thrive on fear.
Fear seems to be the inception point where the darkest qualities of humanity emerge and wreak havoc on communities, evolution, relationships, nations, and the greater part of our shared collective experience. Fear is the primordial goo in which our primitive selves have still not learned to grow legs and walk. You could say fear is the root of all evil—but I would argue that it is the stew of all HUMAN darkness.
You are not exempt. I am not exempt. No one is exempt from fear. It may manifest as narcissism. It may show itself as violence. It may bloom into being through control dynamics, toxic behavior patterns, and oppression. You have the capability of being in fear, and the capacity to spread fear.
The antithesis of fear is love.
Love may be the most courageous thing you will do in your entire life.
Loving even those people who don’t seem to deserve it, is an act of courage.
Now, let’s be clear—loving those foul bastards who commit grievances, acts of cruelty, fear, and violence—loving them doesn’t mean you have to invite them over for brunch and serve them on your best china. I mean, it might. That’s up to you. It’s a call your inner nobility will make.
What I mean by loving those who do us injury is, not reflecting their fear back to them.
Does that make sense? Love in the most powerful acceptance of totality is knowing they are flawed, terribly, awfully, pitifully so—and not letting that knowledge rip you up inside. It’s about not letting their torment in. Love them but LOVE YOURSELF MORE, and they will take their fear and go elsewhere. Reflecting their hate, or fear, or violence will make them more powerful, like condensing a sunbeam through a magnifying glass onto an ant---only you’d be the ant and you wouldn’t even know it.
That same reflection process can be used in love and acceptance for a similar, often more potent effect.
How you ask? Well, I’ll let you know when I get that part nailed down. See? I’m still human, still working on my process too. I still yell at the asshole who cuts me off in traffic—so, all I can say on the matter is it’s a theory in progress, but the greater practice as a whole shows exciting promise.
I will tell you this though, the part about love being the most courageous thing you will ever do—that part is 100% true. Strangely, one of the most difficult people to love is ourselves. How odd, right? I mean, we are wired for survival—and love is part of survival. We need love, and yet the vast majority of this human population secretly (or not so secretly) loathes their own company. Most people hate their body, their hair, their voice, their actions. How heartbreaking. We live in fear of ourselves, and reflect that fear upon anyone and everyone in our immediate circle.
I might go so far as to say the most radical act of courage left on this planet is genuine self-acceptance and love. Even I don’t have that courage yet, but writing to you makes me realize I need to get on that.
Love in romance, partnership, community, family, and friends. Love for your world, your animal companions, the stars and the sky, the oceans and forests—it all has the ability to blow your mind. The first time you stare into a person and see them, really see them, and love them for all their flawed imperfections, in fact, because of their imperfections—the first time you fall into that kind of love it’s like seeing the face of divinity. If you don’t believe in god/goddess—that moment might make you question what infinity really is.
Perhaps the answer is that love IS divinity? But we’ll wax long and theological someday when you’re old enough to have a dram with me and ponder the nature of totality.
Until then, I truly wish you the greatest adventures on the quest for your own answers around the living expressions and experiments in Fear and Love. I wish you compassion, curiosity, an open-heart, and a willing spirit. Good luck, Firefly.
As to any nuggets for the journey I will throw in these gifts from my teachers.
Learn and understand the differences between moral, ethical, and legal. Your inner nobility may look like an elaborate knotwork between them all. You make your own lines. They are yours to draw now. That’s what becoming an adult human is. You draw your lines, live in those lines, then reevaluate and draw them again.
Ethics uphold the rights and autonomy of all involved to the best possible degree.
Morals should be ethical, but often are not. IE: It was once morally acceptable to own and keep slaves. It was also legal, because the moralists who believed in slavery, legislated it. But it was never once, even in the smallest fraction ethical. See?
And you would think that legal would be both moral and ethical, but it is not always the case. The law has a lag time, and is often affected by moral judgements or honor pronunciations of religious affiliations that are long out of date. IE: It was once legal for a man to beat or rape his wife—it was also morally acceptable. But it never was, nor will it ever be ethical.
Knowing the differences in these codes will help you define your own. You get to be the one who decides if you are moral, legal, or ethical so long as you keep in mind you are working with humans, and we are all trying to get to a better version of ourselves. We don’t have it all sorted just yet. Be patient. Work on your own nobility, and let others design theirs.
In the words of my old DM in the RPG group I played with. “You’re either lawful, chaotic, or neutral. Unless you’re Athena, who decided to write in ‘None of the Above’.”
To be fair, I think the exact wording on my character sheet was, “N/A. These over-simplified tropes fail to accommodate for the complexity of character range in a myriad of complicated opportunities. I refuse to be forced into a cardboard character profile…” Or some such similar rubbish like that.
Anyhoo, the point I’m trying to make is this:
You are not only one or the other. You are not only this or that. There is no you or them. You are a human, and therefore contain multitudes. You become what you do. You become what you say. Your actions define your character, over and over again, and your character is defined by the nobility you design for yourself. You do the best you can as often as you can. And when you can’t, you don’t. Then you try again the next day.
You’ll mess up. We all do. I mess up all the time. I lose my temper or get scared and snarly.
Say you’re sorry, and try to do better—that alone will put you miles and decades ahead.
The good or bad of it is only what you allow yourself to own, and what you resolve to improve upon.
When you leave your parents’ home, you can no longer claim their nobility or flaws as yours. When you join society as an independent, you can no longer blame, shame, or give away your responsibilities.
That part when you pick up your own baggage and make your own way…that’s the part when you get to decide if you are a good/bad/ man/woman/person or N/A.
Adulthood is only earned when you realize you can’t blame your upbringing anymore. Adulthood is only earned when you step out from what you were taught, and decide for yourself what the answer should be—then remake yourself accordingly. That might mean making amends, apologies, or requests for forgiveness. Adulthood happens when you are grateful for what you were given, appreciate the foundation upon which you were begun—but you’re ready to take the human story farther than those before you were ready or able.
Your journey into adulthood begins, but it may take years for you to realize the feeling of being “adult”. In the country we live in, boys and girls are sent to fight and die in wars declared by men who’ve never bled. Adulthood isn’t stamped upon you with an age verification license, and access to a military grade semi-automatic rifle.
Adulthood is granted when you ask, think, question, and consciously CHOOSE for yourself. Others might not agree with your choice—it is yours all the same, and your right to it just as sacred. The right or wrong of the choice, the good or bad of it—that’s for your nobility and the ethics committees to sort out. The point is, adulting is making the decisions and standing prepared for the feedback.
Adulting is actively exercising your autonomy. Good or bad is up to you. I happen to know you, and have utter faith in your version of what good means, so I won’t lecture on that. Know you have my confidence, and you also have my respect and compassion when that goodness tilts or wobbles, because it might. I will adore you anyway, and your community will help you sort out a wobble if it happens. As hard as it is for some people to be honest about, I will be blunt and say—humans wobble. It is part of the journey.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten all the important things. I’m guessing I’ll think of something suitably useful and marginally brilliant only after I hit the send button, but that’s just how these things go, I guess. I hope you’re able to find some of this useful. Keep what works, and discard the rest. You know how to reach me for chats when there’s more talking to be had. I’m part of your community, always.
Perfection is overrated, and often at the expense of originality. Aesthetic beauty can be bought. That which is genuine has no price. Compassion and forgiveness neutralize nearly all inner turmoil. Dreams and visions are just realities that have yet to materialize for those who will love them into being. So, keep dreaming, keep loving.
And at the end of the day, this Universe is spiraling toward entropy—so don’t take it all so fucking serious. The joke is totally on us. Enjoy the ride.
Good luck to you, Firefly. Thank you for being ready and willing to take on the world for us who have so blithely bungled the whole of it. On behalf of all of us, I’m sorry for the mess you’re inheriting. That being said, I hope with all my heart you find the adventure of a lifetime in the process.
There is still room to sign up for my 2020 Planning Workshop. Class starts at 10am on the 19th, and includes lunch and supplies. We’ll be mapping out your goals and setting up an easy step method to get you to your dreams.
Shoot me an email for reservation information. firstname.lastname@example.org
In other news, I have already mapped out my year, and created continuation goals for the next three year. As most folks know, I LOVE JANUARY! Here’s a previous post on my adoration of mapping and goal setting.
I’m a geek for challenges and organization—so this month has been a deep dive into what I really want in the next few years, and how to go about achieving it all. I’ll post more on this after the workshop.
Also, stay tuned for more information on The Elder Glade Market.
New Elder Glade Menagerie Member: Dakota
In other news, I adopted a large German Shepherd/Husky mix this month. Her name is Dakota. She’s such a great animal; super patient, affectionate and gentle. Unfortunately, she’s currently at the vet with a series of issues. I’ll blog more on this as I’m able. It’s been a very emotional, stressful event, and I’ve been having a hard time finding words that are somewhat neutral and compassionate around the details.
Please say hello to Dakota!
This update is just a short and sweet check-in to get back on track. Please feel free to write in with requests for future content.
Have a lovely 2020, folks! Be safe—but dream big.
November this year brings a crisp morning chill, and the strange feeling that I’m forgetting something. Oh, right…I keep forgetting that I’m supposed to be taking a year off from Nanowrimo. You wouldn’t know it, but I really am taking this year off from the National Novel Writing Month. After fifteen years of participating, my writing clock still kicked in, and I find my fingers twitching for the keyboard. Although I’m not adhering to the Nanowrimo word count, I’ve been sitting down for regular writing session. As soon as the weather turned chilly, and the autumn sunrises took on a golden rosy hue…my internal programming triggered and story just had to happen. I’m not fighting it- I’m just going slow.
Taking it easy this year was a difficult decision. It was a much-needed slowdown and I’m really glad I’m not pushing myself to any breaking points on word count. That being said, with a lighter touch to the content caching I usually do in the month of November, I’ve been able to do some other projects and get caught up on a backlog of to-do items. Not to mention I was also able to spend some time outside, make a trip to Portland to see some of my Alaskan family, and put in some time at the sculpting table.
So, this month’s update is photo heavy. Here’s a gallery of goings on since my last update:
That’s all for the November 2019 mid-month update! See you next month, folks.
Well, it’s been a rough six weeks, but I’m back on my feet. It started out as a cold, then became a bronchial infection then walking pneumonia. Combined with external stressors it totally kicked my arse. Though I was down for the count for a full week of not being able to get out of bed at all, I was able to get some minor survival functions done on either side of that downtime.
Although I’m back up and moving, occasional coughing fits are still expelling demonic sludge from my lower lungs. Gross.
The good news is that I’m back to my regular schedule, and in the process of trying to get caught up on all the things I couldn’t stay on top of for the last month. The catch-up game sucks, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Today is the first day I’ve woken up feeling somewhat refreshed and human. And I can breathe!! I even made it through a shift yesterday without cough suppressant. Huzzah!
Anywhoo, enough about the slag.
While I was down for the count, I had plenty of time to think about my current predicaments. Narrowing survival down to one breath at a time will certainly put some things in perspective. Primarily, I kept wondering why I was trying so hard to fix problems that aren’t really my job to fix, and why I’ve somehow lost my creative perspective yet again.
Damnit all. How do I keep allowing my creative mission to be waylaid by minutia?
So I had a few days of being stuck in bed and grappling with the realization that I need to hand some things over to professionals and step back, then double down on my creative pursuits and get back to my healthy center and self.
What does all that mean?
In a nutshell, a re-org on my creative life, again. I do feel like each time I hit a refurbish and reorg point, I get a little closer to the nirvana of being a fully sustainable creativity engine. This time around I’m leveling up to a new support system. Simply having reached the point that I can no longer be an island of output—I need more of a team.
This is a massive development. A terrifying and big step in a growth direction.
Although I’m not sure what it will look like just yet, the probability of bringing on an intern or an assistant for my publishing and creative works is a real discussion.
Though the assistant conversation is bumping around in the noggin for the moment, there are more urgent needs to resolve first, such as getting fully healthy and back into the winter creative rhythm.
I wasn’t able to sit at my sculpting table very long the last few weeks, but I was able to pull my laptop in bed with me and knock out some work count. Almost fifty pages on the Xabien storyline made me realize the shift in weather is ratcheting up my writing urges. Sixteen years of settling in to bust out word count starting at the Autumn Equinox has developed an almost Pavlovian response to the autumn light change and the need to write feels pressing.
This brings me to a difficult decision: I will not be participating in Nanowrimo this year. It breaks a fifteen-year long streak, but I just don’t think I’m up to the stress and pressure of it this time around.
I’m still able to write and put out volume, but with everything on my plate—I just don’t think my health can take the strain. Too much going on this year.
Instead, I’ll be spending November getting caught up on editing and doing chapter splints on Plague of Gargoyles. I’ll be reading, resting, and getting my health back in line. I will likely still long into Nanowrimo.org and cheer on my peeps – but I won’t be going to write-ins or posting counts. Alas. It does make me a bit sad, but it just is what it is this year.
Since I’m not doing Nano, I did agree to participate one day at the Mooksville Book Festival in Tillamook, Oregon. The book fair is held annually at the Tillamook Museum. I'll be there November 16th, 2019. Stop by! I’ll see you there.
All in all, getting back to full-steam has been slow going, and to be totally honest, I don’t know if I want to be that level of full-steam anymore for a few months anyway. I’d kind of like my health and sanity to be a priority for a while. So, I’m making peace with the reality that this winter might not be as productive as my other winters. This might just be a slow, non-productive hibernation. Then when spring comes, I may need to hire help to level up and launch into a new creative platform. It’s food for thought, and I’ve got a few months to chew on that nugget.
I hope this mid-month update finds you all doing well, and enjoying the seasonal shift!
Summer has blown past like a train that missed the station, but here are some updates about the goings on in my little pocket universe.
Summer is the season I work my ass off at the restaurant so that I can take time off in the winter to write. So usually, there’s not a lot of writing time in the summer weeks. However, I have been burning the midnight hours (and lots of wine) on getting Plague of Gargoyles ready for beta. Somehow with all the mad crush of season, I was able to compile a working V.1. I can’t even express what a relief this is. Sure, it’s the dreck draft, but going into the writing season with a block draft will make this winter so much more productive. Hopefully, Plague of Gargoyles will go out to beta readers in November or December, so I can put Tangle of Mermaids on the V.1 track to beta by summer next year.
With all that being said, I also went a little nutty after a few glasses of wine and began remodeling my character files, and organizing my world notes. There’s something to be said about late nights of drunken casting, sifting through celebrity photos and rebuilding character sheets. So. Much. Fun.
I’m dearly looking forward to sharing my hopeful casting notes with prospective producers. Let’s just hope they understand my wine-laced vision board notes….
The Elder Glade Cottage Stead
Most of June and July were so unseasonably wet and muggy that the growing time for many of the garden plants just never got enough light or heat. The tomatoes are still about the same size as they were eight weeks ago. Other plants molded from the rain and gray. However, the roses loved it.
Mister Lincoln, the rose variety that features heavily in The Pillars of Dawn books, specifically in Murder of Crows, finally bloomed. Three years ago I’d decided to plant several of the roses that grow in Auntie Celeste’s garden, so I could bask in the inspiration that is her special zen. Mister Lincoln was one of the first roses I planted, but each season I was sure I’d killed him. He never really took off…until this year. Suddenly, as everything else was dying under the muggy gray sky, Mister Lincoln shot up five feet and declared one perfect flower, as if to say, “I’m here! Don’t give up on me!”.
And he was so worth the wait. It was like a little hello from Auntie Celeste, a nod and a smile and her voice saying, “Mr. Lincoln sends his regards.”
Also on the list of successful plantings were several quarts of raspberries, a pound of fresh rhubarb, and a mountain of herbs from pineapple sage, to mint, rosemary, and thyme, dill, and fennel. Still to be harvested, dried or frozen. I even managed a small harvest of baby potatoes, before the ducks destroyed the remainder of the plants (will put the potatoes in raised beds next year).
The black Cherokee corn, and the lilies are doing well. And in a week or so I will have the first blooms from a dahlia bulb that was a gift from my neighbor.
So, this mixed bag of summer growing output has been a good learning experience of what I need to alter to create a more vibrant landscape that can weather many climate variables. All the more delicate plants, the peppers, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, and peas all shriveled in the gray damp summer.
The new chicken coop has been framed. All the wood is old or was donated by friends and neighbors. I hope to get it done before the rains, but if not, I’ll be looking to re-home the birds, as I refuse to keep them in the small coop for the winter. That’s just not fair to them. If it comes to that, I’ll start over on a new flock in the spring.
Along with the wood donated for the coop, a friend has donated the lumber for me to create a bridge over the creek. I’m so excited about this! Once the rains come I’m not able to forge the water to the land on the other side, so nothing gets done to the property on the south bank until spring. Hopefully with a bridge, I’ll be able to do some work across the water on nice days in the winter.
All in all, it’s still baby steps, but finally after three years, the land is beginning to feel like it’s establishing itself. There are signs of flourishing, sporadic, and irregular—but there none the less.
Thank you for tuning into the mid-month update. Next month I hope to have photos of the grow site, and news on some upcoming sculpting projects scheduled for winter.
I will also update on the planning for upcoming creativity workshops.
My Dearest Athena,
Happy forty-first birthday! Or as Traci would say, “Forty-(w)Onderful!”
Finally, the number bar rolled over the forty counter and leveled on the new path. There has been a lot of transformation in the last few years. This year alone has seen the launch of a new business, another book on the market, and changes around the homestead. You let go of some of your oldest friendships. You faced an inner demon, and won. Then you let go of some old, outdated ideas about yourself, and began a new evolution.
You could wax on about all the things you hope to achieve in the next year, or all the tidbits you’ve discovered the hard way along the path—but this year…this 41st Note to Self is all about wishing.
This year you have wishes to give away. This year the Note to Self is about spreading the joy.
For your birthday, you decided to give away forty-one wishes to strangers and friends.
If you, dearest reader, are reading my annual Note to Self—we are wishing these things for you. Take what you desire, and give the rest away. Keep the wishes that are meaningful to you, and let the rest drift off into the great unknown. Print them out. Read them as many times as you like. Share the wishes you hope to carry close to your heart so that those who love you can support your dream.
To whomever you are, fellow traveler on this wildwood path, we wish for you a blissful, abundant, fulfilling year. May you know love, safety, joy, health, wealth, and freedom.
Dearest Athena, on this 41st Note to Self, you have finally let go of the ruminating of annual failures.
Congratulations! How liberating. What took so long, eh?
This year your roots are finally deep enough and your branches stable enough to spread. Your face is turned up to the sky, and the sense of a great unfurling is building.
I think we both have the sensation that this time next year, the game will be completely different. What a delicious taste in the air.
Go forth this year, my friend. Party on. Build. Laugh. Smile. And write…always write.
P.S. Refresh your travel luggage and passport, you’re going to need it.
When people hear my story and the reasons why I’ve chosen to live in the woods and write, the long litany of challenges that make up the daily average in my chosen field—they ask why.
Why do this to yourself?
Believe me, I ask myself that question all the time. I ask, but then, I already know the answer.
I do it because I love it. It’s tough to explain to someone who doesn’t love something or someone as much as I love telling these stories. I go to bed thinking about these books. I dream about them in the night reverie. I wake up thinking about them. I stare at the storyboard while I brush my teeth, drink my coffee, and dress. I puzzle over character issues as I drive to work, serve beer to customers, and then drive home. I ponder plot points while I feed the chickens, and water the garden. I rehearse dialog while I’m puttering around the kitchen, or folding laundry.
I live out in the boonies so I can have uninterrupted creative space. The phone rarely rings. I get visitors once in a blue moon. My freedom to disconnect from the real world, and plug into the world of The Pillars of Dawn is limitless. I chose this life because I love it so much. I live small so I can give more to my work.
Gone are my days of city living, night clubs, boomerang relationships, relationships of convenience, and electric neon metropolitan barely controlled chaos. Now my days are spent between work, and doing what I love. There is still tweaking to be done in that equation, but my connection to the writing grows stronger each season.
When people ask why, what they really mean is: why try so hard? Why give up all the modern conveniences? Why hurt yourself to achieve the dream? Why not just make the changes asked and be accepted into the literary world easily?
The short answer is…I’m stubborn. The long answer is…I love it enough to hurt myself to make it happen in the true shape and emotional intent by which it is being entrusted to me. Ergo, I know it’s just a matter of time—because my heart is in it, and my teeth and claws are dug in tight—if I have to drag it over the finish line with my last breath, so be it. I hope it doesn’t come to that, obviously, but I am prepared to fight long and hard if need be. It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t created something what it feels like to be responsible to characters, a message, and stories that aren’t even real. That responsibility to give your characters the best chance at representation, a running start in the world, a chance to be seen as they are asking to be seen. It’s tough to explain to people why you are prepared to fight for a character, a story that hasn’t yet drawn full breath or manifested into a shared reality.
For now, that fight means living a little off-grid life in the woods and putting the bulk of my focus on the next book, the next arc, the next point of development and so on. It means earning a paycheck as a waitress, and getting by on a small income so my expenses are low. It means squaring my shoulders for conversations with managers and prospective agents about holding my ground on the gender balance of my series. It means being willing to say “thank you, but you’re not the right fit for my books” to those who insist on compromising the core message, even if they’re in a position to snap their fingers and make publishing miracles happen if I would only bend on that one topic.
I’d gladly bend on a two dozen other topics, reasons, expectations, requests and needs. Gladly. Happily. Brilliantly. I would be delighted to work with all other topics and suggestions. Until then, I can only keep working, writing, building, creating and getting ready for that phone call wherein the topic of gender representation is not a focus of the re-write requests.
That day is coming. The world has changed a lot in the last decade of rejections. The awareness of the female voice and story is maneuvering into the light. The best thing I can do to support my series right now is to keep writing.
Keep going. Keep pushing, even when I’m exhausted. Even when it means picking up another part time job to pay bills. Even when it means I’m behind on all the things—keep writing.
It looks like masochism from the outside. I can totally understand why people wonder why I do it to myself. I get it. Who pushes that hard for so long when giving up would be so much easier? A decade of “no”, a decade of rejections.
Ten years is a long time. One can get completely worn down in a decade of what feels like perpetual failure.
But then…I stand in front of my storyboard and stare at my character profiles and I remember why I’m doing this. I love it. I love these characters. I love the world of The Pillars of Dawn. I have a responsibility to them and to the readers. I get to live art-fully when they breathe.
I get to write about the Muses every day. It’s a privilege. It’s a joy. And I’ll keep doing it so long as the Muses continue empower my pen. How many of us get to say they do what they truly love to do?
Choose your story.
Trust your story.
Bring justice to your story.
The summer is half over and it doesn’t even feel like it’s begun. The rainy, overcast skies and slow start to the tourist season at the restaurant have been confusing. Much of my garden drowned in the constant rain, and when the sun comes out it’s muggy and damp so some of my shady low plants have developed a rot that slowly turned them gray.
On the bright side of all the rain and damp, the kiwis have gone nuts, and the grapes are loving the water for their second year of root establishment. When they’re at the age to begin fruiting, I don’t know if this much rain will be a good thing, but for now…it’s working.
We had a rare patch of light this week, so I got out with the camera to keep track of the changes. The humidity was insane, but it was lovely to have sunlight. The 13 year old apple tree that never fruited is bent over with an abundance of gala applets. This tree was a decade old when I moved in, and it never flowered in those three years. Last year I built the chicken run along side the fruit trees and piled chicken manure around the bases and root zones. I also tested the manure on one garden box, and one row of raspberries.
As I’d hoped, the apple tree came to life this year with hundreds of blooms, and what looks like it will be a great harvest. The raspberries are abundant, and the one raised bed I fertilized is rich with half a dozen herbs, yet more rhubarb, and new gladiola shoots.
I also had an unfortunate raccoon attack on the chicken coop last month that killed several of my chickens and ducks. This has necessitated a temporary cloistering in the small coop for the remaining animals (which is unfair and gross) and an emergency coop remodel. Because I hate keeping the birds trussed up in such a small space, I do allow them out to free range when I know I’ll be home by dark. The result has meant that the slug population in my garden is like, zilch. Which is awesome. Go ducks! More on the coop remodel soon.
The final update for the cottagestead for July is this: I’ve made a controversial decision this year to let my bee colony go partially feral. This is due to the more aggressive nature of this last hive, and partly due to time management issues for getting in and working the bees regularly. The positive effect of letting them go natural for a season is that they are far stronger and more active than any colony I’ve had before. They’re so heavily populated, maybe even crowded---which means, they will either swarm OR they will be able to easily defend themselves from a yellow-jacket invasion like the ones that killed both my hives late last summer (and more than half of the county’s club hives).
Writing and Publishing
I blogged about my decision to look back into traditional publishing earlier this month. I’m also checking into brand management teams and agencies, as well as talent management. In short, it’s time to do something differently, and I’m putting feelers out in lots of directions for data and feedback.
To be honest, I don’t know what I need for sure. I could easily employ an assistant with the volume of projects queued up for publishing and business management, and if I could use a full time assistant---it’s to the point I need to look into what a team might cost and what benefits that would provide. Is it worth it? I don’t know, but I’m looking at a bunch of ideas and angles I’ve never considered before. Especially now that the cannabis farming and grow model are beginning to merge and overlap with my publishing works…
We are no longer the smallest licensed grow in the state of Oregon! YAY! That being said, we still have lots of work to do. This week we got our scales certified, which was a big step. It was so nice to have an official visitor signed into the log. I’m sure he thought I was being ridiculous…but I was just so excited to have an official sign-in. It’s the little stuff, you know?
We’ll have our logo soon, which will help us feel a bit more legit when talking to folks, especially as we near the first round of product going into flower for harvest. In just a few short months I hope to be announcing our new line of designer boutique recreational cannabis offerings by their unique names and descriptors.
These designer strains will be built into our marketing and branding campaign over three business platforms, including my writing and fantasy worlds. More on that to come. The unlimited potential for introducing cannabis as an entertainment enhancer in the literary world is, well, mind-blowing and exhilarating. I owe much of this enthusiasm and encouragement to my business partners who suggested the crossover potential long before I could see it myself. Now that my creativity is latching onto the concepts and drawing them into my fantasy worlds—there will be smokable adventures on the very near horizon.
Five weeks ago I decided to begin shopping The Pillars of Dawn series to agents and publishers. I’m mostly targeting foreign agencies and publishing houses, for reasons I’ll get into later. This means I intend to sell the series. I know. This will come as a big shock to those in my circle who’ve heard me swear off traditional publishing. (“Never again!” I exclaimed! Well….never say never, apparently.) I expect there will be a few conversations with my writing groups and such—but the process is underway, and I’m actively courting publishing houses around the world. So far, I’ve only gotten a couple of nibbles. (Poland, and UK) This has taken up a significant chunk of time as much of the research to find appropriate publishing houses can only be done when I’m in cell or internet range. (and with several of those houses I have to cut and paste chunks of website into google translate to find the right query method, then craft a foreign language query, check with translator friends, then query properly. Luckily, the Russian translation of Murder of Crows was completed several years ago and can be sent to Russian publishers (Thank you, Wianna).
I’m putting this out here now, so it’s not an even bigger shock when it happens. I’m happy to discuss the reasons and process to my indie colleagues and friends over a drink at any time. The support I’ve received as an indie has been staggering, and impressive, and I am deeply and profoundly grateful to my community for the constant encouragement and network to rely upon. I sincerely hope this decision does not signal any sense of abandonment to my community—on the contrary, I feel like I will be able to do more, and support my indie and publishing groups better when I’m not stretched so thin between projects.
This leads me to the WHY.
Why sell out after all these years?
I’m trying not to think of it as selling out, honestly. I’m framing it as selling up. Quite simply, the reason is that Plague of Gargoyles is nearly ready for a first draft printout, and Tangle of Mermaids is mapped, and partially written. This will conclude Act One of the series. Act TWO—is an undertaking that will require focus and concentration which I don’t believe I can sustain while working part time at a restaurant, launching a cannabis farm for the state of Oregon, and maintaining a cottage stead. SOMETHING has to give. I know it will be coming, and I don’t want the thing that has to give, to be my writing.
I can no longer sustain the publishing costs energetically of putting the series together to get it out there. I need help. I need to hand the reins off for the publishing/marketing part of the equation so that I can focus on the writing.
Don’t get me wrong, I have LOVED the creative freedom of being able to self-publish. I’m sometimes a little annoyed at myself for having sat on the fence for so long before pulling the self-publishing trigger. Still, it’s time to re-organize and re-focus.
I will continue to write until the series gets picked up. But I am writing as I can between the peaks and valleys of all the other goings on. Tourist season at the restaurant means full time work through the summer. Cottage stead projects for the summer fill in all the gaps. Cannabis farming is squeezed in there, it needs to be put up higher on the priority list as well. And at the very bottom, I am able to get pick-up and filler chapters written on rare occasions these days.
Selling up the series to foreign publishing houses will allow me re-organize my plate. AND the long-term goal is to option the series for television, so, that is in the matrix of things to one day come and I want time and energy to focus on that adaptation process. (Don’t get excited yet, still only a couple of nibbles on that fishing line as well. The only production company that shows real interest wants two more books on the market before they get into serious discussions.)
Anywhoo, all this is to say I’m priming for the shift, and I intend to make some changes coming up and this is just a heads up. A buckle your seatbelt, as it were.
Why foreign agencies and publishers:
Oye. This is a difficult thing to write. I hope the blowback isn’t too rough. There is anger here, but I hope you can filter as needed. This is raw and unedited, it’s the only way to get it out right now. It’s messy. Please forgive.
I have had tremendous and very encouraging feedback from American AND foreign readers. But I have had very negative feedback from American agencies, and publishing houses. Predominantly, that feedback has included requests to alter, change or omit the female led casting of my series.
I would very dearly love to say this is not a gender-based battle. I would love to say the 146 rejections I’ve received were about writing style, pacing, etc. etc. I’m sure many of those rejections WERE about writing style, lack of craft and such—but got lumped into a generic rejection. The truth is, all but one of those personalized rejections that I received included a gender related complaint or request.
Anyway, the only publishing and representation offers I got were hinged on my compliance with re-writing the series about the Greek muses from a male point of view, OR taking a gender neutral pen name, OR giving more substantial speaking roles to the male characters. (for the record, my cast is evenly split 50/50 by gender)
Because I refused these changes, I lost the options for publishing or representation with several American institutions. This is what led me down the self-publishing road seven years ago.
Since then, I’ve published three books in the series and not one. NOT ONE comment from readers anywhere has taken issue with the gender disbursement of the cast. It is a series about the muses, who are traditionally female, after all.
This has led me to conclude, rightly or wrongly, that with the American state of affairs and often decades backward way of thinking about female power, women’s rights, equality and rape culture—this market is not a literary fit for my work.
A whole series about Nine powerful women changing the world? Are we ready for it in the Unites States? We’re ready. Yes. We need it. Yes.
Are there any other series, television, books, movies that have a female led ensemble cast? There are a couple. A few. Several books and series and shows with ONE strong female lead—but no ensembles of super-heroine casts.
It’s as if there’s an unspoken fear that if super-strong, goddess powered, super-human women banding together to rock a story line will somehow threaten the hierarchy of the Universe. That if we recognize we hold majority in population numbers, and we stop fighting amongst ourselves for imagined patriarchal privileges, we’ll realize we are unstoppable and we will revolt. It will be a bloodbath. Anarchy!
Wait. All that might actually be true….
The last super-heroine-power shows I remember that are almost entirely female led ensemble were Charmed, Xena, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Niches to be sure. But valuable and full of voice. (and Xena wasn’t really a super hero, but full of awesome.) (Jessica Jones comes pretty damn close to fitting my hopes and dreams but is still not quite there yet.)
The point is, I have faith in the public and in the readers…I no longer have faith in the market conditioned American gatekeeper system. The more I reach out and get feedback related to gender, the more it seems to point to an expectation of continuing to support the status quo OR to encourage the “get back in your box, woman” ideal of commercial fiction.
While I know this is somewhat of an exaggeration, AND an amalgamation of my experiences. I feel like I’m being encouraged to write fluff for women, OR to write something less powerful for the genre to make it palatable for what gatekeepers think the American audiences want.
I am also American audience. I want a cast of female superheroes, not sidekicks to men. Not bit roles in the conclusion of the Avengers 15-year-long series with a five-minute tribute to all the females who supported for over a decade and didn’t have a full LEAD role. I am unapologetic about it. I am insistent upon it. (Yes, I know Captain Marvel had a lead, with a release less than a year from the conclusion of a whole decade long series. Here’s your vanity prize, ladies! BAM. Series and arc are over. Squeezed it in just at the end. I’m sure American women, who hold more than 51% of the census majority population, were sufficiently mollified by the brief acknowledgement and phoned-in representational reference.)
It’s about fucking TIME for women to own the story, for them to wield power both in fiction and on screen. Wield power as a collective of women, showing what it means to have sisterhood, community, and compassion. It’s about time for a collective of strong women to front the conversation of what feminine leadership looks like, and that means in all its sometimes messy glory.
I’ve been a student of Joseph Campbell for decades. When I first heard of his work, I was fifteen or so. For twenty years I obsessed over the standard three act structure, and the hero’s journey of storytelling. His body of work is genius, and I admire and deeply respect it.
However, in recent years I’ve become aware that even Joseph Campbell’s collection of works never really addresses the heroine’s journey. HER journey.
While this seems at first to be a statement of “what about me”, a squawking into the cacophony of unfair representation, it has basis in this one GIANT fact of gender that is missing almost entirely from the hero’s journey amalgamation of works throughout history: Childbirth.
Let that sink into the void of what you know about the Joseph Campbell doctrine. MUCH of what the hero’s journey is non-gender binary. It is the HUMAN experience. He uses many male/female legends and myths in gender fluid ways.
BUT he only hints at the differences that make up a huge variable in the human experiences that cross that boundary in gender specific ways. Yes, it’s part of the human experience.
But childbirth is strictly a female experience (for now). That’s just the biggest, most obvious difference. And if you can recognize that one, there are dozens of other variants that begin to come to mind. Conversations for another day, though. I’m sure this will blow up on the forums. The discussion will be live here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1294108170754107/
And so what we’ve known of the standardized hero’s pathways are subtly and invariably influenced and imprinted in masculinized ways. Thusly, many of our recognizable strong female characters are macho-ized. Some in small ways, and other’s in more significant expressions. But few of those strong female heroines are powerful in their owned femininity, powerful in matriarchy, and female tribal unity.
I feel like 80% of the hero's journey according to Campbell is the shared human experience, and the remaining 20% is rich with multitudes that need to be explored.
And so…because I am tired of the sloppy attempts of the American mainstream to appease the masses, hold the status quo to comfort male ego and entitlement, and find excuses as to why a female led enterprise will be unprofitable—I am looking at foreign markets for a home for my work.
The irony is not lost on me.
Embarrassingly, I just don’t think American publishers and agents have got it anymore. They are chasing trend, trying too hard to stay in a comfort zone, or direct the emotional needs of a population that has the majority, by the way, to just accept that the female lot is to be the support system to the male driven superhero fantasy based on a paradigm that doesn’t actually see/hear/recognize the female journey.
Frankly, I’m bored of it. BORED.
Will foreign publishers and agent think differently? I don’t know. I really don’t. But I’m querying to find out. I will have the answers to that question soon.
At the very least, maybe I’ll finally get some useful data back about pacing, or story structure issues. That would be a welcome and refreshing change of rejection pace. I would very much like a publisher or agent who plainly states, “You’re not being rejected for reasons of X, you’re just a shitty writer.”
I might send them flowers and a thank you note. Could I be better at my craft? Absolutely, without question or hesitation. Could I be a better writer/storyteller? Yup. And I’m looking forward to working with the team that will help me hone my craft into a much stronger, more accurate spear.
I will conclude with this acknowledgement:
I am very grateful to my readers; my American readers, and readers in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Russia, France, Canada, Ecuador, Britain, Kenya (though I have no idea how you found my books!), Israel, Germany, and Poland. How you stumbled across The Pillars of Dawn, and then made an effort to reach out was nothing less than miraculous to me. I am grateful to the men and women of every age demographic I didn’t even know I could reach, who have dropped me notes, comments, reviews, questions, requests, and ideas. Thank you for the messages containing corrections needed, and offering ideas on publishing opportunities to try. Thank you to patrons who picked up my publishing tabs, and offered financial support while I was struggling to meet deadlines.
I am targeting publishers in the countries of readers who have reached out to me. I feel like it’s only fair that if publishing contracts get made, those readers will get first dibs on translations and releases in their own country and in those languages.
Am I worried that this post and my opinions and points of view will damage my publishing prospects? Not in the least. It will only keep those opportunities that are not a match for my platform from reaching out. And that saves me tons of work in the long run. They say not to rock the boat when you’re sitting in it…but this is a boat that needs to be rocked. I’ve got my life vest on, so, I’m ready.
The right connections will get it, and then we’ll be off and running together.
I AM SO GRATEFUL TO YOU ALL. It’s been an amazing seven years of beautiful interactions.
Shopping The Pillars of Dawn does not in any way discount or dismiss my level of gratitude to you all. If anything, giving the series the opportunity to reach a wider audience, and allow me to get busy on Act Two, is a testament to my commitment to the series, and to my readers as a whole—and you made that possible. Thank you.
I will certainly keep you all posted on the forums, and through the usual channels. If you’re on the threads—I will post play by plays for you, and be open to conversations and feedback. Please feel free to ask questions, and or open a dialog about this projected publishing change. I am not going anywhere. I am listening. This is not abandonment—this is simply the next act in my publishing arc.
Thank you again, everyone. I truly hope you continue to enjoy this marvelous ride with me.
It certainly is never dull.
Viva La Story, Folks.
P.S. Because I exhausted myself so much on this post, I haven’t gone back for the edit and pc version of it yet. I’ll update when I have the fuel. In the meantime, I’m sure this will still some thoughts and feelings with people, so I am opening a Facebook forum for questions, answers and discussions here at The Pillars of Dawn: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1294108170754107/
If you want to talk about what I’ve said, in a closed, respectful group, please send a request and I’ll moderate as I’m able. I'm looking forward to input and perspectives on this post. Thank you in advance.