She Was Unstoppable…

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Do You Have The…

Do You Have The Energy & Strength?

“The image that comes to mind is a boxing ring. There are times when…you just want that bell to ring, but you’re the one who’s losing. The one who’s winning doesn’t have that feeling. Do you have the energy and strength to face life? Life can ask more of you than you are willing to give. And then you say, ‘Life is not something that should have been. I’m not going to play the game. I’m going to meditate. I’m going to call “out”.’

There are three positions possible. One is the up-to-it, and facing the game and playing through. The second is saying, Absolutely not. I don’t want to stay in this dogfight. That’s the absolute out. The third position is the one that says, This is mixed of good and evil. I’m on the side of the good. I accept the world with corrections. And may, the world, be the way I like it. And it’s good for me and my friends. There are only the three positions.” ―Joseph Campbell

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read my blog and realize that I’m a Bibliophile. I think any good writer is also a good reader, time permitting, but there’s always an exception to the rule. I, however, am probably a bit over the top where my reading is concerned. It’s extremely weird to me to go for any length of time, months for example, without reading.

I’ve got my Kindle Fire attached to my hip and when it’s charging, there’s generally a book in my hand…or I’m writing, cooking, or sleeping. No, it would not be the first time someone suggested I “get a hobby”. However, since my hobbies always turn into a full-time job, it’s probably best I just stick to books.

For the past three years I have challenged myself via Goodreads to read a certain amount of books. For one, it’s a great way to keep track of what you read on a yearly basis. Two, it’s fun. Three, it’s a nice way to challenge yourself. (If you decide to join, please feel free to send me a friend request.)

Last year I reached my 90 book goal, and I was far from trying to meet the deadline at the last minute. In fact, I originally started with a much lower number and slowly had to increase the number each time I passed a goal because I still had plenty left to read.

I read 80 books for the 2011 challenge. That initially seemed difficult, but I do manage to rack up the books pretty quickly. I even manage to squeeze in time to re-read an entire series of books (or three) on a semi-regular basis, which of course, does not count toward the challenge, but is still an awful lot of material to be reading.

This year I didn’t want to attempt to break the 90 book record and aim for 95 or even 100, but there’s a very strong possibility that I’ll go over the 60 I’ve committed myself to read. I am currently at 50, and it’s not even officially the middle of August. I’ve got five books on hold at my library, none of which have been released yet so I’ll be ahead of the pack on that front. I’ve also got several on deck as we speak. It’s rare when I am truly without something to read.

My re-reads over the past two weeks have been: Dead Witch Walking, The Good, The Bad, & The Undead, Every Which Way But Dead, A Fistful of Charms, and For A Few Demons More, by Kim Harrison. I love these books, some more than others. I stumbled upon this series of books one day in search for something new to read. The first three books were in a lovely Barnes & Noble display and the person on the display plugging her books was Jim Butcher, who is without question one of my absolute favorite authors. That was about eight years ago. I have read every single one of Kim’s books in the Hollows series, and clearly I’ve read them all more than once.

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In 2015 the series will come to a close and it will be a sad time for me and for everyone who loves these books. All good things must come to an end, but the Hollows is a must-read series, especially if you love and/or enjoy urban fantasy. It will make you laugh out loud, cry, cheer, and think. It’s been an extremely interesting journey from Dead Witch Walking to the most recent book, Ever After, which was released at the beginning of this year. On a very positive note, Kim has always been amazingly kind to me on Facebook, which I find incredibly sweet and will never forget about her. She doesn’t have to say a word or respond to anything, and yet, she does. That says a lot about her as a person, and it’s something I respect and admire. Her blog, which is also on WordPress, can be found here: http://kimharrison.wordpress.com/.

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I finished reading Affliction a few weeks ago. If you haven’t read the 20+ books that come before it, take a pass. If you have, and you’ve stuck with the series from the very beginning, you won’t want to miss this one. I was expecting to cringe my way through it, but I was nicely surprised to come away feeling good about it. I almost read it a second time, but since I really don’t have the time right now for that, it will have to wait a while. Maybe I’ll do it next year before the next book comes out.

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I recently finished reading Raylan by Elmore Leonard, which is loosely based off of Season 2 of Justified, as well as an episode from Season 4 that was particularly laugh out loud hilarious. I laughed so hard I cried, and I’ve watched it several times for the additional laughs. The rest didn’t follow along with anything in particular and if it did, it was bits and pieces that were changed around, but a great deal of it was based on real people in Harlan County, Kentucky.

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If you’re not a fan of the show or you’ve never heard of it or seen it, you’re probably living under a rock, and thus may only be able to appreciate the book if you’ve read the other two books that feature the Raylan Givens character, which is brilliantly brought to life on screen by the amazingly talented Timothy Olyphant. Tim breathes so much life and humor into the character, and as a fan of his already, I went into the pilot episode of Justified not knowing anything about the character and immediately became hooked. I own each season on DVD, and there’s no higher compliment I can pay a show than that. If I take the time to pre-order it a good year in advance, you know I’m crazy about it.

Justified has received seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations since its inception. That’s not a lot considering how amazing the show is, but I’m still extremely proud of each one. The show has an amazing cast of characters.

The series received its first nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music (I LOVE this song! You will always hear me singing it whenever the show is on.). For the second season, it received four nominations for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards: Timothy Olyphant for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (I’m not sure who I have to kill for him to win, but I am more than willing to do it.), Walton Goggins for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (The same applies here.), Margo Martindale for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and Jeremy Davies for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, with Margo Martindale winning, quite deservedly. I cried when she accepted the award. She is downright incredible. For the third season, it received two nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, with Jeremy Davies winning for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (he’s truly hilarious), and a nomination for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series. I know this show will continue to shine, awards or no awards.

I’d forgotten that I’d read only part of Raylan when it was released in February 2012. I was probably distracted at the time since Season 3 was in full swing. I decided to re-visit it so I wouldn’t miss anything, and got an immense kick out of it. It is brilliant in a way that only Elmore Leonard can deliver.

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What else is on my current reading list? Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes, Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill, and Graveyard Child by M.L.N. Hanover. These books are all drastically different from one another, which gives me the freedom to jump from one to the other if I find my interest is lagging or I’m too tired to follow anything complex.

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The Beautiful Creatures novels are far better in book format than the film version. Key characters were cut entirely from the movie, which was horribly disappointing seeing as they were the best characters, and the richer characters they kept in the film were incredibly dull on screen, so if you’ve been wanting to see the movie, skip it and read the books.

Yes, it’s a good “young adult” series, but I’m an adult-adult and I’m still following through. I don’t think it’s one of those things where you need to worry about it being “age appropriate” or not. It’s something a 12 year old could read, but they might not get the gist of it or the nuances you get as a reader over age 20.

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The Seven Daughters of Eve is about genetic ancestry. If you’re trying to trace your ancestry or you’re simply interested in how it’s done on a scientific level, this book is for you. I have very rich ancestry that I am deeply connected to on a level most people are not. This book will take me a while to read, but it’s definitely a must-read.

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Beyond Belief is about Jenna Miscavige Hill’s escape from Scientology. I generally roll my eyes when anyone says anything in regard to Scientology, but I have to admit that I am intrigued that so many high-ranking members are leaving “the church” and continue to do so. The level of brain-washing that Jenna talks about in this book is enough to make any free-thinking individual cringe. As an educated woman, I’ve never been one for anything that feels “cult-ish”, and I’ve never been a very good follower. Hell, there are times where I have serious issues with organized religion and the people that blindly follow it, as well as the message it sends all across the board. However, I think anybody willing to walk away from what they know in their heart is wrong deserves credit for it. It could not have been an easy journey. I find it incredibly scary, creepy, and just plain disturbing what “the church” does, all the while claiming not to have any part in it, to those who leave. They do everything within their considerable power to discredit the honesty of those who leave. Clearly they wouldn’t all have the same story to tell if something extremely bizarre wasn’t going on within the organization. I will never be able to call it a religion with a straight face.

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Graveyard Child is the 5th book in the Black Sun’s Daughter series created by M.L.N. Hanover (A pseudonym of fantasy author Daniel Abraham). This series is one of the most original I have ever read, and I read pretty heavily on the dark urban fantasy front. This book is fan-freaking-tastic. It’s a fast read and highly entertaining, but if you’re going to check it out, start from the beginning by picking up a copy of Unclean Spirits. This is a series I happened upon, but it has been a very happy accident. This is a very unique story that I can’t help, but thoroughly enjoy.

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Ok, now it’s your turn. What are you reading? What genres do you enjoy the most and why? Hit the comment button and lets discuss it all.

So Says You……

So Says You…

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.” ―Paulo Coelho

It’s Not Writer’s Block, It’s ‘Pain Brain’

It’s Not Writer’s Block, It’s ‘Pain Brain’

I’ve been writing for so long that it generally comes easy for me, even when I’ve had weeks full of coughing fits (If anyone knows a cough medicine that really works, feel free to clue me in. All the various 12 hour versions aren’t doing a lot for me unless taken immediately before falling asleep. Sleep doesn’t always happen for me at the moment.), physical pain, horrific migraines, and burn out exhaustion. And yet, I still have creativity alight in my brain, firing off all kinds of ideas.

Like most writers some of best ideas come to me in the shower, or as I’m drifting off to sleep. I often have to decide if I’m going to fall out or if I’m going to shake myself awake and jot something down. I can hear myself as I’m drifting off saying “I will remember this in the morning.”, as a mantra. Every so often I wake up out of nowhere at 3, 4, or 5 in the morning with an idea that must be done Right.This.Minute. Sometimes that demand takes 20 minutes, and other times it means I’m going to lose some serious amount of sleep as I sit in front of the computer and pour whatever it is I was thinking out until I am completely drained. The important thing is that I listen to my intuition, my inner voice. When it wakes me up and has something to say, I try to listen and write carefully.

I will never be one of those writers that says “This book came to me in a dream.” or “This character came to me when I was doing <insert random task here>.” I definitely believe that we are all given signs and shown things that only we would know are messages meant for us, but I’m also a firm believer that it’s what we do with those messages that makes things happen. If something pops into your head, but you never put ink to paper, then you’ve missed out on an opportunity and you have no idea what direction it may have taken you in.

The other night I was trying to sleep, but I couldn’t. I absolutely refuse to be the person that tosses, turns, and throws pillows around until morning, it’s incredibly fruitless and even more exhausting, so after 20 minutes or so I grabbed my Kindle and went back to reading. A few pages in on something that has absolutely nothing to do with what I am writing, a character popped into my head. I could see her, plain as day, except she was anything, but plain and she demanded to be written into creation. I immediately put the Kindle down and added her to the cast of characters for Book 1. I’m completely charmed by her, and I think people will love her when they meet her. She’s unique, and even though I’ve repeatedly said I did not want to delve into certain areas of mythology, sometimes we don’t really have a say when a character that rich shows itself. Again, it’s about listening to your intuition. This was a character that refused to be ignored. Most of my characters are like that, but somehow they all seem to fit together within the world I have created. Lots of strong personalities that, under normal circumstances, might be difficult placing into a room. On paper, the possibilities are endless. Things you can’t convey in other ways can always be conveyed in book form.

Don’t get me wrong: I spend plenty of time staring at what I’ve already written, unable to do more than add a sentence here and there, if that. ‘Pain brain’ is incredibly hard to work through. I have a very high threshold for pain, but certain things are too much for me and really put me out of commission. I have to be careful with other things because if I move around too quickly after a migraine, it will often resurface with much more intensity than the previous migraine. If it’s my neck or my shoulder, it can flare up again just as quickly as the pain went away. I forget sometimes that I have some physical limitations, but I try to remind myself that the areas in which I am limited are not the areas that really count. I may not be able to clean the house from top to bottom in a matter of a few hours any more, but there are so many others things I CAN do, so to put myself down and attempt to diminish my accomplishments is what I call “self-abuse”. I’ve “self-abused” myself for so many years. It’s a different kind of harm, but it’s still harmful. In order to be healthier in mind, you have to turn off the negativity that will insult you if you allow it. I am trying to accept myself and practice what I preach. I give amazing advice, but I have a hard time following my own system.

In order to be healthier in mind, I constantly remind myself that the pain is not something I caused or asked for, and that despite knowing I will have it for the rest of my life, that does not mean I should stop living. It might mean canceling plans here and there, or waking up and knowing that today is not the day to run errands or whatever it is I had planned, and I can only hope that the people in my life who truly love me will accept that.

Yes, when you have a pain disorder of any kind, sometimes your friends and family don’t understand. Many do not want to understand, there is a difference between the two. I suffered from this pain for a very long time before receiving an official diagnosis, and to this day I still have a family member who doesn’t believe it’s real. He wants sympathy and compassion for anything and everything he is going through, no matter what, but will not give it in return. I don’t have a lot of patience for that brand of thought, or the ignorance and hypocrisy of it. So it comes down to this: Anyone that cannot accept that you have a very real problem should be shown the door. It might be painful, but trust me, in the grand scheme of things you will feel a lot better for telling them exactly where to take their ignorance and negative attitude. This pertains to a lot of things in life, but sometimes, no matter how much you may love someone, you’ve got to let them fly. Don’t accept horrible treatment from anyone simply because you think it’s what you deserve. No one deserves to be treated like garbage because they suffer from something that they themselves did not cause. No one deserves to be told they don’t want to do something, and that they’re faking pain. I know too many people who suffer from various pain disorders. When you can’t move, you are definitely not faking it. When every part of your body hurts beyond words and you’re in tears from it, you’re not faking that.

Do not let pain discourage you or allow it to put an expiration date on your dreams. Find different ways to accomplish your goals and remember that other people know what you’re going through, even if the people you should be able to rely on don’t. Believe me when I say that you cannot describe the color blue to someone who is intentionally blind. Far too many people listen without hearing, and look without really seeing. Don’t suffer fools, you already suffer enough.

One Month

Mourning

Whenever we lose a loved one, we all require a mourning period in order to help us heal. I have lost over 60 people/loved ones in my life, but the last 10 or so have been swept up in a whirlwind of other problems, leaving me unable to mourn and unable to fully ‘heal’.

I bought my house about ten months after losing my parents. It took me several additional months to move in, even with a moving company and a couple of family members helping, it was still an extremely difficult time for me. Once all of their belongings, as well as my own, were locked behind closed doors, I needed rest more than anything else. I needed to be able to sleep through the night without constantly checking to make sure someone was breathing, or without waking up because I was expecting a call from the hospital, or hospice. I had been caring for two sick parents for almost eleven years. Way too many hours clocked in hospitals, in physical rehabilitation centers, at doctor’s offices, in surgical waiting rooms, etc. I can’t stand any of these places, so sitting still within the confines of places such as these annoys the hell out of me. It doesn’t matter if I’ve got a good book or my MP3 player with me, places like this eventually make me lose my mind. For starters, I have no patience. None whatsoever. My ability, or lack there of, to sit in a room with someone and hold their hand is not a measure of my love for them. Listening is one of my best abilities and I’ve always done my due diligence there, but here I am realizing that very few people listen to me, and it hurts.

Far too many people are happy to enjoy the highs of life with you, riding your coat-tails to pretty much anywhere, so long as they are getting their “fix” of whatever it is in life that you have and they do not. The false friends of this world all feel sorry for themselves when they fall out of favor with you, but they’re on to the next person as soon as possible, barely mourning the loss of your presence for 30 seconds. It’s an offensive process, but it happens to people on a daily basis. I see people for exactly who and what they are, and that has left me with just a handful of true friends, but it has also left me feeling like an isolated woman who just got out of prison!

I am an introverted extrovert. In the right situations I can definitely steal the limelight from others without trying to. Some people have magnetic personalities that others are attracted to, and while I never really pay much attention to it, I can see why people would be attracted to someone who shines as opposed to that which is dull. I will never be the most gorgeous woman in the room, but I will be the most interesting with the most to say. If I’m quiet, be afraid, because I am a girl’s girl to the core, but I am also a woman who can think faster than most of the people I know. I’d much rather someone find me funny or intelligent than anything else, and yet there are days when I have nothing to say. I think most writer’s can be that way at times. Our brains are working overtime in the creation process, and you’d be lucky if we noticed you were in the room at all. I’m a highly aware person, so anyone standing over my shoulder or standing behind me is liable to get knocked in the face. I have to stifle this instinct on line at the grocery store often, simply by moving where I am standing because it creeps me out when anyone is two inches from me and is a complete and total stranger. People seem to forget that there are boundaries regarding personal space, and lately people are all too willing to cross them.

So here I sit, a month after losing the most important being in my life. I have been avoiding people and social situations for the last week or so. I hate spreading my bad mood to others, and I also hate feeling isolated, but it’s keep quiet or end up in jail. If you knew how hard keeping quiet was for me most of the time, you’d realize what a concession this really is.

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m sick of taking naps, even though my body desperately needs the rest due to all the pain I am in. I’m sick of the herbal muscle relaxers because even though they work, I feel exhausted just looking at them since they have to be taken more often than prescription muscle relaxers. They’re supposed to be better for you, but I will have to get my kidneys and liver checked within the next few months to make sure they’re not damaged from this stuff. I’m sure I’d know if they were, I know my body, but right now all I know is pain. Physical, emotional, and mental, and I’ve had enough.

Today I turned to the two people who should be there for me no matter what. and was shot down by each of them. I am sure neither of them realizes just how much support I need right now, but I’m also positive that no one is taking the time to think that hard or care that much. When people behave that way around me, I take a huge step back from them and reassess whether or not I want them to be in my life. Yes, sometimes you have to do that with family too. It’s time I stop making the calls, it’s time I stop answering the phone, and it’s time I do that so that THEY worry. I’m tired of being treated like a cupcake. One minute you’re happy to have the cupcake, the next minute you’re throwing it out or putting it away so you don’t have to look at it. No one deserves to be treated like that.

I’m sure whatever I think and say today is wrong, which is why I’m trying not to leave my room too much. But I’m sick of everything. Music, movies, books, TV, people. There’s nothing that can distract me or take me away from what I am thinking and feeling, so I just need to own it and be myself.

Eventually, I’ll be fine, but right now? No, I am not ok.