Monday, December 7, 2015

Pre-Order My atest Short Story "Keeping Dead"!

A lot of awesome things have been going on behind the scenes here at HQ, but there is one in particular that I am really excited about!

My latest short story "Keeping Dead" is available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle! This is my second short story that I've released, and I hope that you all have as much fun reading it as I did writing it. Granted, the writing part had it's painful parts, but I promise that won't happen to you dear readers! ;) 

This is a story about what happens in the between. When people die, but aren't ushered immediately in the afterlife. And, perhaps just as importantly, who is there to greet those in the in-between and guide them through the gates into There.

"Keeping Dead" will officially debut on Tuesday, December 15th. It's currently only available on this platform, but for those of you who use another e-reader, or don't have one at all, fear not! Kindle books are still available to be read in browser, and the kindle app is free for both all devices. I personally don't have an e-reader, but have found that reading on my phone is just as easy and enjoyable. 

If you'd like to pre-order "Keeping Dead", you can do so here

And if you liked that one, be sure to check out my first published short story, "Stray", available for only $0.99!

Lots of love & Happy Reading,


Monday, April 13, 2015

The Querying Process: A Play in Gifs Starring Ichabod Crane

The process of querying is a tumultuous one. Writing a single draft of a novel alone is enough to send us screaming back to the cubicles from whence we came. The idea of polishing said draft into something that is legible, intelligible, and altogether tolerable is another hurdle entirely. Sending it out into the world can be a bit like a parent watching their child leave for college for the first time. Exciting! But also filled with foreboding joy.

There's the first stage. You've finally 'finished' your draft. It's beautiful and shining and ready to take on the world. You've decided the best way to midwife this sucker into the arms of millions of readers is to find an agent who thinks your work is brilliant and doesn't hate you too much.

You shuffle around the internet and make an involved and lengthy list of literary agents you just know will go ape for your darling book. You then spend an inordinate amount of time scoping out their credentials to see which one is the perfect match. It's kind of like online dating, minus the creep factor.

Okay, if there's a chance that anyone's creepy, it's you. That's beside the point.

Try to get to know the agent as well as you can (without being creepy), before querying them.

Then send out queries for days and weeks while also maintaining some semblance of your normal life. Sick days are not allowed for the intrepid writer.

Being testy with your loved ones who irk you to no end about how your writing process is going is also not allowed. They are, afterall, merely Muggles. You must forgive them.

After all the queries have been sent out it's time to sit back and access other important things in life. Otherwise known as "Waiting Impatiently".

In the end you will hopefully have found an agent that adores both you and your work. Or maybe just your work.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Writer's Minimalist Uniform

Minimalist Uniform

Minimalist Uniform by lucywiggins featuring a white shirt

 I was talking to a friend the other day (a couple months ago) about how it would be so much easier if artists and writers had a go-to outfit. Something that was fairly standard, but could be altered by mixing up the accessories depending on the occasion. I had been thinking about making this idea a regular feature here, and therefore jump firmly back onto the Polyvore bandwagon. Because why not? 

Here I've concocted the Minimalist Uniform for the imaginative writer. Combining a very neutral palette with a few interesting and simple accessories, this uniform is for the writerly woman who wants to go as unnoticed as possible but still remain chic to the core. That is, until someone notices her shoes. A closet Francophile or Wannabe Introvert would also don an outfit like this, or something similar, to waltz through the Natural History Museum and take notes about different species of wildcats while enjoying air conditioning and an overpriced latte.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fine Feathered Friends

Ducky on her wedding day. Photo by Amaris Photography.
This is a hard entry to write, because it deals with death. Normally death isn't hard for me to write about, a lot of the themes in my stories deal with death in various forms. Death in real life, however, is something that takes a while. The words don't form as easily as the tears do. There are more emotions bound up like braided hair and only with time does it come untangled.

My friend Rachael died.

I called her Duckling or Ducky. Rarely ever did I call her by her given name. There was no reason for this- it's just how we were. She called me silly otter. I called her Ducky.

We met in college. There were professors and friends who had been telling me for a while that there was a freshman artist that I needed to meet. When we finally did get to hang out we instantly bonded and couldn't be separated for very long.

Ducky was one of the few people at college I didn't feel like I had to hide from. There were others of course, I was blessed with a tiny abundance of beautiful and brilliant beings that didn't mind calling me a friend. Some things were different with Ducky. She didn't communicate well through words, or so she said, but she could communicate through colors and compositions. She followed the light and the shadow with her camera and captured the mundane in such a way that it looked extraordinary. I learned to see the world around me differently, and felt a little less alone for it. She would shake her head and smile and tell me that I was crazy. Somehow we endeared ourselves to the other.

Photo by Amaris Photography.

She would come to my room late at night and stay until the early hours of the morning. I sketched her once and the picture is framed and hanging in my kitchen as it has been for the past five years. I look at it with new meaning now. She is sitting on a pile of junk I had heaped up in an unused corner of the room. I had hubcaps that I decorated the wall with, and art supplies strewn around the floor with empty boxes and godonlyknows what else. She sat content on her hoodie she used as a cushion, and with her drawing board that was half her size she sat and worked out a composition that she was never satisfied with but was always one of the most beautiful things she ever did. I sat from my bed and watched her as she worked in spurts of sighs and reveries. My sketch wasn't perfect either, by anyone's standards, but it was raw and beautiful and real. It is one of my favorite pieces I have ever done.
Photo by Amaris Photography.

I have other pieces of her throughout my home. In the living room there's a painting that I finished the night she and the aforementioned mutual friend came up to spend the night. I was living in my apartment above the Bistro, the apartments that once upon a time had been a brothel, and we drank vodka and talked and danced and played Dana Fuchs until the wee hours of the morning. When both my guests had collapsed from exhaustion, I kept on playing music and drinking and began to paint.

The painting had been one that had me stumped for about two years or more. I hadn't finished it because I couldn't get the colors I wanted to use bright enough to suit me. After seeing some of Ducky's work I decided to change the color scheme and loosen up my brushstrokes. What emerged is the painting that turned the tide in my confidence and in my artwork. It's literally everyone's favorite piece of mine and one of the few I've hung up with sheer pride. All because of Ducky.

In the bathroom is the rubber ducky that I took from my senior prank at Meredith. I bought 107 pirate rubber duckies and nine of us sneaked out into the quad at three in the morning to dump them in the water fountain. It was a memorable event, and each of us took a souvenir ducky with us.

In the bedroom is probably the most meaningful piece of memorabilia that I have, and also the only piece that was from Ducky herself. I framed it a long time ago and have it sitting on the chest where I keep my photos and my journals. A letter she had written me two months before my graduation, telling me how she loved me and my words and how she was going to miss me when I left. She told me to keep writing, and quoted a line from my own poem as well as Robin Williams. (She knew me well, safe to say.) She signed it <3, Ducky in orange marker.

 I was standing at the sink in the bathroom getting ready for the day when I got the news. A friend of ours had been keeping some of us in the loop in regards to Ducky's status over the past several months over Facebook. It seemed weird to me at the time to get such news over Facebook, but there it was. I started sobbing instantly and had to ring my mom up at work to have someone to talk to. Mom cried with me and soothed me as best as she could, and after we hung up I slumped onto the couch and cried. It was cardiac arrest we were told. Not uncommon for those who have been immobile for so long. My mother explained that it was likely a clot that had traveled to her heart.

Ducky and her husband, Steve, on their wedding day. Photo by Amaris Photography.

 It would be easy to sit here and talk only about my suffering and how much I miss her. But someone like Ducky doesn't leave behind only one person to grieve the loss of her life. She left behind a colorful legacy and a beautiful husband and daughter and numerous others who won't forget how much she touched our lives and meant to us. In college, people told me that Ducky was lucky to have me around, but in reality it was the other way around. We were all very lucky to have a friend like Duckling.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Filling Up on Life & Easter Sunday with Amanda Effing Palmer

"You are all godless people."

There she was, and there we were. She looking like a Mucha painting come to life wearing a floor length tuxedo jacket and her painted eyebrows and jealousy inducing bone structure. There I was sitting with my brother and sis-in-law, squinting to see through my out-of-date contact lenses to the lady on the stage. Amanda Effing Palmer. So Effing Awesome.

I'll back pedal a moment here to say that, since my last entry, I've been a whirling dervish of hope and sadness as I rode the waves of unemployment and creativity. There's only so much you can do when you're anxious and having panic attacks at three in the morning. I'd finished the rough draft of a novel, a short-short story, a handful of poems, and even a few paintings. Yet it didn't feel like enough. I felt like I had to legitimize my being out of work by at least being productive in my creative pursuits while also job hunting like it was my job and figuring out how to dumb down my resume enough that someone might hire me.

The welcome mat at my uncle's.

Easter weekend brought a big sigh of relief and release. It's family tradition to go up to my Grandmother's home in the Shenandoah valley and have a big meal with all the family around. My parents and I had gone up a few days early. We set up camp an uncle's house, said uncle had left the day before for a vacation, so it was just the three of us for a couple of days.

There's no internet. All the furniture is older than me and my parents' ages combined. There is a television, but I don't watch much of that anyway. And come to find out- the plumbing is questionable at best. We discovered that last bit when I flushed the upstairs toilet and a leak sprung up in the downstairs one. Tree roots had invaded the line underneath the house. The issue was fixed, but I was distrusting of the toilet from then on.

It sounds almost like a punishment to those who simply have to have internet access 24/7, or have to have a television. But in reality it was exactly what I needed. I couldn't job search online. I couldn't update my blog. I couldn't do much of anything.

It was so great! I could fill up on life for a while.

Hoppy Easter, y'all!

I spent the time instead with family. Easter Sunday rolls around and we gather like we do and eat as much as we like and there's an egg hunt and bubble blowing and squirrel hunting. I say my good-byes and with my brother and SIL we headed down to Richmond.

The National is filled with sweet and harmonious fans. Ourselves included. Hair colored like Easter eggs or candy floss dot the landscape of the crowd as we all shuffle in. One of the staff members and I compare cat scratches on our arms. We get our beers and rifle through the pages of Amanda's books right before she comes on stage.

And then she's there. Waving her ukelele and she begins to belt out her tunes. The evening goes on and it's the most polite concert crowd I've ever seen. Amanda of course notes this and as she is taking song requests someone asks to hear "Dirty Business". Amanda asks for someone to come up and Google the lyrics since she can't remember them all. Hilarity ensues.

The night wares on and there's the "Ask Amanda" portion of the show. She answers a few questions and the one that stuck in my head was someone asked "How do you stop being afraid of everything?"

It's a good question because we've all been there. Even the person on stage who is the most successful, creative, and fiercest person in the room. She tells of how she's afraid of everything all the time, but that she goes ahead and does it anyway. Is she still afraid? ABSOLUTELY! But, she says, she could either be afraid and not do the thing, or she can be afraid and do it anyway. Ultimately the answer is clear to her.

I thought about what I was afraid of, and for the sake of not making this entry any longer than it already is, I'll say that there's a lot  that I am afraid of. I'm afraid that I won't pass my massage therapy license exam, I'm afraid that nothing I write is worth publishing, I'm afraid that anything and everything I do is going to be excrement and that's it's not worth doing at all.


I don't have much choice. I can be afraid and not do anything, or I can be afraid and do it anyway. Here's to what comes after doing it anyway.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Everything & Nothing

Last week I was laid off from the full-time artist position I had held for almost seven years.

No more walking by a screen of Zombie George Washington. Sigh. Such a charmer.

I could say I was completely shocked, and in some ways I was, but in reality I saw it coming. That doesn't mean it didn't hit me like a ton of bricks when I was called to meet with HR and saw that my boss was there as well.

I'm not ashamed to say that I bawled like a baby in the meeting. I was consoled by several facts: it wasn't because of the quality of my work, I was getting a nice severance, and they were open to being references for any new position I applied for.

I've spent the past week riding the extreme highs and lows. On the + side, I am no longer working in a negative environment that was as one person put it "slowly eating away at my soul", and I am now free to pursue some things that I really love.

On the - side of things, I'll miss some of my coworkers. Some of them I will still see around, and it's not like it's the end of the world. The day to day will be different without them. I'll miss hearing Brian cussing a blue streak, Mark running to his phone, and Heather being wonderfully and hilariously snarky.

All things considered, this actually feels-dare I say?- good. I've been on the phone every day with the employment office and finally got everything figured out and settled today which is a huge weight off my shoulders. I've had a lot of people come out of the wood work to check on me, give me advice, be a shoulder to cry on, etc. Reminding me that I'm not as alone as I sometimes feel, and that I have a support group that most people would be envious of.

And one very judgmental cat.

In fact, I had already made plans with my buddies Shannon and Dottie to have a high gothic tea party on Sunday. I didn't want to cancel because it had been SO LONG since I've gotten to see the gorgeous Shannon. In fact, the last time Dottie and I had a tea party was before Shannon moved to Montana! In other words, it was long over due. I needed something positive to look forward too as well, and if you are ever down and out, may I suggest getting your two favorite Aries pals to lift your spirits? Lemme tell ya, it works! Shannon came Saturday evening and we stayed up late catching up and pulling tarot cards and drinking bucket loads of hot tea. Sunday we had our tea party, mostly provided by Dottie. (Scones! Tea cakes! Deliciousness!) I provided the mismatched tea settings and some Orange Crush flavored Twizzlers. Hilarity and awesomeness ensued.

The Spread! *Drools*

I had also finally got a perfume in the mail I'd ordered long before I had any hints of The Impending Doom. I had been coveting it since first smelling it at a Light Year's store in the mall years ago. It sat waiting in my Amazon Wish List when I finally bit the bullet and purchased it. It's still as amazing as it was at first whiff, and appropriately titled "Everything & Nothing". Which has become my theme for this past week. I've been wearing it while formulating my multiple To-Do lists and fielding a thousand phone calls. It's been a reminder to me that, while it may seem like I have nothing, I actually have everything I need.

"Everything & Nothing" by Colin Johnson. Via Colossal. 2014.

Serendipitously, as I was researching artists to feature for a Perspective Daily article, I came across the work of Colin Johnson who created a "hyper collage" entitled: Everything & Nothing. Talk about good timing.

So in the end I could be really bitter about losing my job. I could be bitter about the raises and training I didn't get. I could be bitter about how things were handled. In fact, I could be bitter about a whole mess of things. But what's the good in that?

In the end nothing is exactly everything I ever asked for.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

October Country and the Big 3-0

Sunsets & Pick-up Trucks

It's been, oh, 8 months since my birthday- my 30th birthday- and I am just now getting around to writing about it. But seeing how I feel that it's worth writing about, I figured it has also been worth the wait. 

Turning 30 seems to be a big deal. A BIG deal. It's a changing in the tide, a gravitational pull, a plot twist. At least that's how it felt to me. A shift occurred, a chord was struck, and I sat there with family and friends and watched my life go up in flames. Literally.

I'm sounding pretty dramatic, aren't I? But I really did watch my life go up in flames in a sense. My life in words, that is. 

My one request for my birthday celebration was that there be a bonfire. I love bonfires because they bring back so many good memories for me. Mostly revolving around being at my Godparents' farm and playing Foxes & Hounds with the youth group. Or the one time we were invited out to watch the meteor shower. Or from the time a large group of friends descended on Dottie's house and made s'mores. 

I also wanted a fire because there was something else I had to do. 

My Big Ol Trunk full of Journals

I had made mention on Facebook that my goal was to read through all of my journals before my birthday rolled around. From October 1st to October 24th I let myself be captivated by my own becoming. Considering I had kept journals since the age of 9, this was no small task. 

Secretly I had hoped that I would stumble upon some sort of inner wisdom. I wanted to find little bread crumbs to my current life left by my younger self. Instead I found a lot of what I called "emo lamentations". Mostly about boys or school. There wasn't anything truly enlightening except for the fact that WOW factor of being mortified by my own hand. I sat there on my sofa shaking my head and sighing out loud. Conversations between me and the bound volumes that were lying strewn around me in a semi-circle were hilarious. Heartfelt. But mostly hilarious. 

I ripped out the pages. All of them. Entry after entry, and stacked them in two designated piles. One labeled "Keep", and the other labeled "Burn". There wasn't much left over. I kept what was still raw and alive in me. The conflicts that had yet to find resolutions. 

As for the "Burn" pile, I heaved them into a rubbermaid box. The night of the party I lifted the box into the back of my mom's car. I hadn't told anyone yet what my plan had been. My mom and my sister both looked a little perplexed at the sight of it, but said nothing. I suspect that they are used to my oddities and whims by now. (Note to self: Must do better at keeping them on their toes.)

THE cake!

When we arrived at the home of our gracious hosts for the night, Matt & Kim, the place was decked out  and beautiful. The table in the back yard had been set with an orange table cloth and candles. The pyre had been set up and was tremendously HUGE. There was food to be cooked and consumed. A veritable feast. Mom had made her infamous chocolate cake. My sister, Libby, had made her equally infamous chocolate cookies. Kim & Matt, and her family contributed the rest of the food and drinks for the festivities. All in all, it was FANtastic. Nobody puts on a dinner like these fine folks. 
The front porch view

We ate as the sun went down and then by candle light. The weather had been good to us and was unusually warm for October. After the moon was out and the food put away, the air turned cold and signaled that it was time to get the fire started. Matt, the bonfire expert in the house, set about lighting it. It was beautiful, and a great birthday present. 

No puppies were harmed in the making of this celebration.

After the fire was burning steadily I retrieved the container from the car and hauled near to the fire. Mom asked if it was s'more supplies, and I finally told her what it was and what my intentions were. I hadn't wanted to tell anyone before hand because I didn't want anyone to talk me out of it. I had a hard enough time trying not to talk myself out of it. 

Too late to turn back, I opened the box and announced to the group seated around me what I was about to do. There was a bit of silence. A bit of "are you sure?" Followed by my throwing a bit of paper into the flames. "Here go all the times I brooded over boys who weren't worth my time!" I said lightly. In my head I thought, "Yes. I needed to do this. I'm not that person anymore." 

The truth was there. I wasn't that person anymore. In a lot of ways I had grown up. In other ways I felt smaller than I ever had before. But I didn't regret it. I almost felt something like relief wash over me with every handful of words I threw in. I invited anyone that wanted to help to grab their own handful. Matt threw a few in and remarked on the purple paper I had used in one journal. I laughed because I knew exactly which journal that had been and where I was at that point in my life. I was happy to see it go. 

A full moon winked at us.

We watched as some of the pages caught fire and floated up into the air. There was something poetic about it. Words could burn. Words could soar. Words could do both at the same time. It felt mighty. 

Eventually, after much more conversation and laughing, the night came to an end. We thanked our hosts and family for the evening. The whole affair was a great gift. 

Burn, baby, burn!

I went to bed that night with an empty box in the kitchen. New journals, sat unmarred and uncharred on my bookshelf. In the morning there would be a blank slate. A blank page. A new start. 

A beginning. Starting with the words "Dear Diary,".