Stress Mess.

I have tried to think of a post for today no less than three times, and each one turned into a horrible ramble of complaints and problems that probably no one is interested in reading, complaining about how I can’t seem to get anything done despite the fact that I’m getting loads of things done. I realized that it all boiled down to one thing: mother flippin stress. I am just a great big ball of it right now, and it’s awful, and it’s crazy how stress both motivates me to work my ass off and makes me feel like I’m not doing nearly enough.

What am I stressed out about? Well, I’m still editing a book I plan to have published and released in less than twenty days. If I don’t find an apartment soon, I might not have a place to live at the end of August. I’m going to see an apartment that I really like on paper and I’m stressed about it turning out to be completely different in reality and/or we’re unable to get it for whatever reason. I’m stressed because, if we do get the apartment, I will be moving and publishing a book at the same time. Knowing how the world usually works, that’s probably exactly what’s going to happen, which will be crazy, but I won’t complain, because then I’ll finally be able to settle in to the next step in my life, which seems like it’s been on pause since freaking January. Oh, yeah, and all this cost a lot of money, so all that nice little bundle I saved up so I could quit my Day Job will be completely gone. Thank God I picked up that part time job…

And then there’s the What if? Oh, man, the What ifs? will kill you. What if we can’t find an apartment? What if people hate Soulless? What if I’m never able to get any traction with my writing and I have to spend the next decade of my life scraping and clawing through my finances just like the last decade? But, to those What Ifs?, I’m going to resolutely answer with a different kind of what: So what?

My life has been a crazy roller-coaster of ups and downs, of constantly feeling like I’m about to get ahead and then being knocked way the fuck back down. But you know what? I know I’m going to get back up again, because I’ve done it before, and I know things are going to work out because I don’t just sit here and dwell on the What Ifs?, no matter how they plague my brain. I’m still working through them, usually harder when I’m stressed than when I’m not, which means I’ll get through this, I’ll move on, I’ll keep charging ahead. So what if we don’t get the apartment, we’ll figure something out. So what if people hate Soulless? I like it, and it’s a huge accomplishment for me to have put together a whole book in less than a year. So what if I can never get ahead? What is there to get ahead to? I’m doing what I love, I found someone to share it with, and, if not for financial stresses (which, really, do they matter in the long run?), I’m really, really happy with life.

There really isn’t a point to this post except to let off some nervousness, vent a little bit, and remind myself (and perhaps others) that, while right now it seems like nothing is going right and things are all crazy, life is pretty freaking amazing right now, because I made it that way. I’m doing some pretty epic stuff here, so of course it’s going to be scary and nerve-wracking and exciting. These high-octane emotions are what makes it worth it, too. Sure, I may be a complete spastic crazy person right now, but I’m also a brilliant spastic crazy-person. Never forget that. Keep forging on. We may never get there, but, hey, it’s all about the journey, anyway, right?

Promotional Opportunities in Soulless.

With only TEN DAYS left before when I want to do a big cover reveal for my next release The Slayer Saga: Soulless (and, effectively, only ten days left to edit; where did the time go?), I got to thinking about a last minute attempt to raise a few more funds for the book, to go towards marketing and what have you. I love, love, love promoting other authors with my work, especially since I feel that I have a lot of other authors to thank for helping me get to where I currently am. So please consider, if you will, these few potential advertising options for you in my book. If you’re interested, just shoot me an email at ellis(dot)engler(at)gmail(dot)com and we’ll discuss from there. Of course, if you wish to donate some funds to the book just out of the kindness of your heart, I do have a donation page via PayPal.

Want to help support Soulless and get a little advertising in the meantime? Here are some of the things I’m offering:

Book Excerpt: $40. Have an excerpt of your book promoted in Soulless. This is a limited quantity option, as I only want to do one or two excerpts at most.

Author Feature Page: $25. I love old sci-fi/fantasy books, and they always used to have pages where you could buy other titles by sending in the order form at the bottom of a page featuring an author. Have the chance to promote yourself and your titles on a page similar to those at the end of Soulless. This is a great opportunity for an author with several titles out, as you can feature several books at once.

Author Blurb: $5. I will be featuring authors with “Twitter-sized blurbs” where they can talk about themselves or their projects or whatever they want at the end of the book.

Again, if you’re interested, just shoot me an email! Apologies for the salesman posts, but, hey, mama’s gotta pay some bills. Self-publishing may be quicker, but it sure as hell ain’t cheap.

Oh! And if anyone’s interested in joining in on the Cover Reveal on August 1st, please let me know that, too! That is free. And totally awesome if you wanted to help out.

RoW80 Update: Okay, maybe not so much…

So, anyone remember on my last RoW80 update, where I touted the joys of being able to get back on track? Yeah, well, that was before I realized my days off actually corresponded with my boyfriend’s days off, and we decided to take advantage of this fortuitous and rare event to just spend a day at his place doing absolutely nothing but watching TV and hanging out. It was glorious, but not exactly productive, and then Word has been slow lately with all the changes I’ve been making to Soulless so I’ve been going on-and-off from touching it. However, despite the impromtu stay-cation, I’ve got a pretty good schedule coming up this week so I think things will be good.

Let’s break it down a bit:

Goal One: Soulless. Like I said, I’ve been making so many changes that I feel Microsoft Word can’t even keep up with me. It gets laggy after I’ve been doing about an hour of edits, so I haven’t made much progress. I also cut a lot of the wishy-washy stuff in the middle, tightening the prose and plot, and pretty much now I’ve broken even with my word/page count with the stuff I’ve added and the stuff I’ve taken away. It’s definitely turning out to be a stronger story, and I’m excited again to finally get it finished and out already. Soon…soon!

Goal Two: Short Stories. Almost…almost have my Torn Pages submission ready, and I’m trying to turn more focus on getting some stuff finished and out there to potential paying markets, as it hit me that I might have to wait as long as another month before anything comes back on my current stories out in the ether. Self-publishing really does warp your perception and make you a little impatient when you shoot for something more traditional, but, the way I see it, the best solution is to just keep firing shots….eventually, I might hit something.

Goal Three: Heartless. Poor Heartless has been sorely neglected. The short stories and the edits are getting the top priority lately, but I hope to change this soon. It’s going to be real problematic if this draft isn’t done within the year, so I have to get my butt in gear.

There you have it! Sundays are usually not very productive for me, but I’m having a pretty good morning so far, so maybe I’ll managed to get some work squeezed in before the “It’s Sunday, let’s hang out and do nothing” sets in. How’s everyone else doing? You can check in on my fellow RoWers here (and I highly recommend you do!).

Happy writing!

First Sentences Meme.

Over on good ol’ Facebook, the fantastic Elizabeth Anne Mitchell tagged me on a writing meme. And of course I can’t refuse a writing meme! It’s a new one I haven’t come across, where you simply post the first sentence of the first three chapters of your WIP. Naturally, I wanted to take the chance to capitalize on promoting Soulless, but I’ll do a bonus and include a Serpent in a Cage section, too!

The Slayer Saga: Soulless.

Chapter One: The carriage rumbled through the mountain, shaking from all the ruts and rocks scattered across the rough road.

Chapter Two: While it was certainly strange to be pampered, the Slayer found it surprisingly refreshing to be bathed, then resting on a large, soft bed.

Chapter Three: Only once in her entire life had the Slayer slept so deeply, when she had been exhausted and frightened beneath an old wooden cart.

Serpent in a Cage.

Chapter One: The sweltering heat, the buzzing insects, the jangling music and the murmuring of voices all blended together numbed Locke Mandrake Battarack’s poor brain and rendered him sluggish and useless.

Chapter Two: It did not take long for Locke and Gilferen to realize that the chase had gotten them utterly and completely turned around.

Chapter Three: The irritation over the flippant serving woman and the discovery of a bogus theft was nothing compared to Locke’s fury at this unexpected company.

And because I’m obsessed with these meme and I figure, why not? Here are the first sentences from the first three stories in my current collection, Bowlful of Bunnies:

Dragon Rising: Possom, Rabbit and Prairie Dog had all gone to the river to do the washing, and I had followed them to watch.

Lilacs: Margaret was five years old, and the only people who called her Margaret were her mother and her doctors.

The Wartburg Incident: In this grey stronghold, my solitude is heavy and burdensome.

So, what do you think? Of course, all memes “require” you to tag people to pass it along, but I hate doing that, so guess what? If they’re reading this, consider yourself tagged! Got a book or a WIP you want to share a little bit more of? Go ahead and steal this for your blogs. I’d love to read them!

Happy writing! And thanks again, Elizabeth!

Awesome Things Volume Three.

So, it’s been a while, but I’ve been steadily compiling another Awesome things to randomly share, which seemed appropriate for a Friday in which I’m having difficulty getting back to work. I took a glorious day off where I did nothing but hang out with my boyfriend yesterday, and it was much needed, but difficult to kick back into work mode. I am determined to plow through some Soulless rewrites today, though, so while I’m doing that, you guys enjoy these.

From Mother Jones: Adorable Photos of Children with their Favorite Toys. When I saw this title, I was kind of ‘meh,’ then I clicked the link and fell in love. So many stories here, and the pure joy on the children’s faces is wonderful. It reminded me quite a bit of the stunning Where Children Sleep.

From Wakefield National: Anyone who knows me knows I love to cook. Anyone who’s worked with me knows that I don’t settled for any old lunch on my breaks, either. One of the marvelous things about working from home now is that I never have to worry about having a sad desk lunch again (though I do miss people marveling at my cooking prowess). To help me fill in the spot of co-workers ooh-ing and aah-ing at my curry roasted vegetables or my black bean burgers, I’ve now discovered Sad Desk Lunch, a Tumblr page dedicated to the pathetic things we submit ourselves to in lieu of lunch. Just the thing to make me feel really freaking great about my cous-cous arugula salad I’m munching on right now. Mwa ha ha.

From The Fortress of Solitude: Ever notice How Riker Sits Down? This is surprisingly mind-blowing…and oddly awesome.

And lastly, and certainly not least, Weird Al Yankovic’s new line of videos has been awesome, but nothing beat Word Crimes, his “Blurred Lines” parody that makes the little grammar nerd in me oh-so-gleeful.

What do you think? Got any other goodies around the internet you’d like to share?

ROW80 Update: Back on Track.

Shhh. Quiet. Do you hear that? That soft little breath of a sound, like a sigh? That’s my world coming slightly back together so that I can return to focusing on what really matters and not stressing the fuck out about everything. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m still stressing out. But at least now I can stress out and also manage to get stuff done. So here’s my RoW80 check in for this beautiful Wednesday at the start of a comfortable stretch of glorious days off (and no closing shifts!!). Here’s how my goals have managed to get back on track yesterday and this wonderful, wonderful morning:

Goal One: Soulless. The edits have been daunting, and, for a while, I was really worried that these rewrites would be as messy as the first draft, making it a pretty much moot point, but, no. I believe what I have in Soulless now is a much better book by a significant margin. Really, the key is good old KISS – Keep It Simple, Shithead. I have a clearer perspective on what will be happening in the next books, too, which is helping me understand what’s important and what’s not. I’m a little bit past half-way, that rough, murky middle I’ve complained so much about, and I finally feel it’s something worth reading. Full speed ahead to the end!

Goal Two: Short Stories. I’m still kind of itching uncomfortably about two stories that I think may actually have a chance (how is it that a month seems to be forever when it comes to this goal, and not long enough for the goal up above?), and I’ve really been putzing around on some new material, but I hope to make some head-way these next few days. I’m going to try to wrangle in and focus on my Torn Pages story, once and for all, and get it in well before the deadline. Or right at the deadline. It will be turned in, though, dammit.

Goal Three: Heartless. As excited as I am about all the pieces falling into place, Heartless is lagging a little bit, too, as I struggle to juggle my writing time between this and the previous goal. I’m making myself write a little bit before bed again, which is helping me get back in the groove, so, hopefully, this will be plugging along as usual, too.

So, I really feel I broke some ground with my main goal, and, though the other goals have been dwindling, they haven’t been fully neglected. These next few days will really help me out, I think. How’s everyone else doing? Did you get a chance to check out some of my fellow Rower’s posts here? ‘Cuz you should!

Happy writing!

Okay, Life. That’s enough.

You know what would be really nice? If the world could just stop when we’re about to put a new book out, so that we can get everything done nice and neat and on schedule. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Unfortunately, that’s not at all how the world works, and it’s going to be when you want that time stop to happen the most that all your shit is going to go completely cray-cray. I have a book coming out in a month. A month. Which seemed like forever not too long ago, but now, with everything going on, it’s so not nearly long enough.

When it rains, it pours. We all know the expression and can probably relate to it more than we’d like to admit. However, I’m really hoping the funk I’ve been in was just due to a perfect storm of events. I was scheduled four back-to-back closing shifts all weekend (tonight’s is the last, and then three glorious days off), which kind of defeated the purpose of going to part time and avoid working all the time. There was also going out Saturday night, not feeling well due to womanly things, and, the cherry on the top of this stress-me-out sundae, my boyfriend and I are having a hell of a time trying to find an apartment and I’m freaking out that we might not find one by the time I’m gently booted out of my current one (if anyone just so happens to know of a cheap place in Western Chicagoland, please hit me up!).

All this going on, and I’m way behind on my edits, I’m stressing out about the cost of this whole thing, and I’m getting that awful doubt that I’m making a huge mistake. I’m not; I know this. When I have the time to write, I know that I’m finally doing what’s right for me in my life This is just a minor hiccup. It will be solved, I’ll get on with my life, and then I’ll be an author with two books out, a third on the way, an anthology in the works. The struggles probably aren’t going to go away any time soon, but somehow, as always, I’ll make it. Because when you’re doing what’s right for you, it may not be easy, but it always works out in the end.

Seriously, though, life. That’s enough. I think you owe it to me a little bit to have these next three days go really, really, really well.

RoW80 Update: Everybody wants to go to EXIT.

Yes, this is Monday, and RoW0 check-ins are on Sunday, but I wasn’t around much Sunday because Saturday, I went to Exit. Exit is a really seedy, old, late-night (or is it early morning?) punk bar in Chicago, and it’s pretty freaking awesome. The title of this post comes from an epic exchange where a very, very, very drunk friend attempted to keep the night going by proclaiming that everyone wanted to go to Exit, when no one wanted to go to Exit. However, today, my boyfriend’s roommate leaves for this soul-searching hippie commune adventure in Missouri, so we needed to send him off in style. Especially since we’ve all get bets placed on whether or not he even comes back.

Now, ever since I hit thirty, like a friggin’ switch, I haven’t been one to drink much. I like wine and froofy cocktails, a few microbrews and hard ciders, but that’s about it, and those aren’t usually the offerings that go good with an outing to Exit, so I didn’t really drink much (plus, booze costs money, which I don’t have). Half the time I’m there, I’m just watching whatever B-horror-sci-fi gem they have playing on the TVs (alas, no sci-fi horror this time around, though. Dumb & Dumber and Fists of Fury, though…). It was also pretty quiet since it was a rainy, rainy night in Chicagoland. Still, for someone who’s usually in bed by eleven, a sojourn to Exit means a night way past my bedtime. Plus I worked that evening, so my brain just wasn’t in this whole writing biz. Which is fine, because I’ve been trying to let myself be okay with the fact that there will be days when I don’t write, and the world moves on.

That said, there’s not too much to report on except the usual steady progression of my goals. I’ve really settled into a rhythm that works for me, with most of my work being done at the beginning of the week, and things going a little looser during the weekend. Here’s a slightly closer look at how things transpired.

Goal One: Soulless. Now this one has been a little interesting, because I’ve had to make a lot of changes with how things were happening in light of the new chapters and the fact that what I had before wasn’t really that great. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the new events of the first big battle are as effective to the reader as I hope they will be and that motives are much clearer now. I’m almost to the half-way point of this edit, which is extremely exciting, and today also marks a month until it’s release. It’s going to be a very busy 30 days!

Goal Two: Short Stories. This one has been giving me some trouble, as might be expected when I’ve got “revision blinders” on. But work has been deadly slow during my shifts, so I’ve been scribbling away at my Torn Pages submission. The biggest problem is that I keep coming across a lot of really fantastic prompts I want to take advantage of, such as Chuck Wendig’s @YouAreCarrying challenge. If it weren’t for the fact that I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to stories right now, it would be a full-on battle of Muse vs Deadline going on over here.

Goal Three: Heartless. It’s a good thing I went back and decided to rewrite Heartless from the beginning, because all the changes I’m making in Soulless are changing what I thought Heartless would be, and all for the better. Before, it was just a “transition” book where I didn’t expect a lot would happen, but the recent change of a character from a bad guy to a good guy and the development of another character has helped me put together a firm plot for Heartless that it didn’t have before. I’m pretty stoked to write it now, especially if the reception on certain characters once Soulless is out. The readers who like that particular part of the book are going to love the second book. It’s so great seeing a series come together like this.

So, there you have it, not my usual productive Monday, but I’m pretty much caught up and ready to bring it back on Tuesday. For as behind as I feel, it was really good to just have some time off for a little bit and enjoy myself. If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to drop in on my fellow RoWers here!

Happy writing!

Review: The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself.

“I was very glad, since I thought He meant I was to die soon, and the mere thought of this delighted me.”

The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila” by Herself.

Perhaps we can blame my Catholic upbringing, perhaps we can blame the course I took in college that landed this book in my hand, or perhaps we can just accept it, but I’m a little fascinated by the stories of saints of the old Medieval and Reformation times, especially when we start getting into concepts of damnation and visions and the devil and what have you. There’s a reason there’s a story about Martin Luther and the devil in Bowlful of Bunnies based on a historical footnote. I’m enthralled about this sort of thing, and, after rereading the account of Saint Teresa of Avila and her wild visions and prayers and the founding of her poverty-based convent, I can feel a story about her itching its way to my fingers, too.

Whatever the reason, Saint Teresa of Avila is a fascinating and compelling voice, an interesting look at a woman who might either be in deep commune with God or suffering from what would now be considered a severe mental delusion. She was asked to put her experiences and thoughts down for her superiors, and it opens up the world to a woman who has an incredible amount of faith and determination. I’m utterly intrigued by her, and I admire her, and I pity her. It’s a complicated journey, going through her life and considering all the historical context and meaning in these heartfelt (and often heartbreaking) words. They have so much impact, especially when you consider that this was an actual living person, who had all these thoughts and experiences, whether they were spiritual or the result of something else entirely.

J.M. Cohen’s translation is a solid one, making the language incredibly accessible to a modern sensibility. There are some truly wonderful, insightful, or just plain mesmerizing observations from Saint Teresa. I was particularly intrigued by the self-flagellation and the utter belief she had that she was a horrible, sinful person, despite her constant attempts to be pious. One wonders what sort of trouble Teresa got herself into before she took up the habit, or if she is exaggerating to great lengths to make her story more incredible. Just as one wonders if her visions of God and the Holy Mother and Jesus are real or some other side-effect of something beyond comprehension in the late 14th century. What also struck me was how some of her observations and visions felt incredibly Buddhist to me, but that might just be projection on my part.

I find it hard to do a real “review” of this book; I feel I can only express how fascinated I was by it, how inspired, how baffled, and how intrigued. It’s definitely not something for everyone, but I do recommend it if you’re open to what boils down the the religious ramblings of a woman who experienced a great deal of physical and mental duress that captures some of the severity of religious belief and doctrine back in the 1500s. Some of it is brilliant, most of it is insane, but all of it is presumed to have been scribbled down by a woman who experienced it all, nearly 500 years ago, and that is what I find truly fantastic about this book.

Books read: 009/100.

Tunnel Vision.

I’m starting the think that the worst thing about being in the last stages before a new book come out is that you get tunnel vision, and all you really see in front of you is that book and its release. For that book, that’s a good thing. You need that tunnel vision to make sure you reach the end. For other things, though, like blog posts or other stories or even networking, it’s not nearly so good.

Right now, I’m in an awkward point in the process where most of my energy needs to be expended on this project, but it’s still too soon to really start promoting it and talking about it and planning for the blog tour and what have you. I’m not spending a lot of time writing other things, I’m not spending a lot of time visiting as many blogs, I’m not even spending that much time reading. It’s mostly a lot of editing and rewriting and a few little games and fun here and there to keep myself from going insane. Which means i don’t really have much to talk about here in the blog. Oh, sure, I’ve let go of the fact that I don’t need to be posting every day. Most of my readers know I’m elbow-deep in revisions. But I still like I should post something, even if I’m not sure of what.

(Notice how the “I want to post, but I don’t know what to post about” topic is always a good fail-safe).

Does anyone else feel like they get total blinders on when they’re nearing the end of a big project? Do you just accept them and put the petal to the metal until you reach the finish line? Or do you have anything you do to help engage yourself in the wide world outside your WIP? I’d love some thoughts and insights, as usual, especially if it helps me engage in something beyond the endless editing.

(Edit: This is my 666th post. I wish I’d have done something spookier. So, I’m also throwing it out there for you, dear readers, to share something spooky in celebration of my 666th post).


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