The Fields: Print Copies Now Available for Pre-Order!

That’s right. The pre-order is up on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Amazon offers both e-book and print, and Barnes and Noble offers just the print version.

This is such a weird experience. Having a book available at all, let alone for both print and e-book, is such a foreign concept. Enjoy, everyone! The release date is getting closer every day!

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The Fields is up for pre-order!

It should be noted that it takes me forever to get things done. Well, preparing a book for pre-order is one of those things. But, finally, the e-book is now available on Amazon! You can order it now and then forget about it til the release date (December 30th) rolls around.

Eventually I’ll get print copies available as well, so stay tuned!

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Pre-order your e-book now!

Happy Anniversary (We’ll Make It Happy)

Remember, remember.

It’s weird, but it’s much easier to remember the negative anniversaries over the positive ones — which is an irony in itself, since the go-to phrase is “happy anniversary”. Not everyone is so lucky. Some people are routinely surrounded by unhappy anniversaries.

It’s not an active choice. Even if there are good anniversaries in your life, it’s the bad ones that take hold. For some anniversaries, every year I find myself with overwhelming anxiety in the weeks preceding, and every year, like an idiot, I wonder why. And then the day comes, and it all starts to make perfect sense… Sure, I could stop being overdramatic about these anniversaries and choose to let them fall from my memory (I know I’m being dramatic because my anxiety tells me that’s what people think of me!).

But you know, there are some moments that you need to accept that this is something you have been impacted by, and whether you like it or not, it has affected your decisions.

My reaction is still valid. That’s what my therapist said.

She also told me that if I’m going to hold a negative anniversary in my mind so firmly, then I’ve got to start coupling it with positive decisions, with affirmations of how far I’ve come, or reminders of other things that I can focus on in my life that deserve credit. I don’t want to cave in on myself every time a specific date pops up. So what can I do to give myself structure?

Yesterday was one of those dates, and I decided that enough was enough. Well… I guess there have been lots of moments when I’ve thought enough is enough, but this time I’m ready to be proactive about it.

So this anniversary, I choose to find something to be happy about. And while my brain likes to look around and say, “I can’t see anything to be happy about,” my heart knows now to plant things so that it can tell my brain to shut up. If you have something negative inside of you that nags, that weighs you down, then you need to start carrying balloons with you. Pick-me-ups. Sometimes those balloons are things you already have, but sometimes you’ve got to create them, to counteract.

Like game nights, and spending time with friends. Whatever you find enjoyable, and can make happen, make it happen. I’m learning to value those who reach out to me, and let go of anxieties I can’t control, so a lot of my balloons end up being social activities, but there are plenty of other things that can work. It’s a long, ridiculous process, but it’s necessary. Because what else are you supposed to say, if you can’t say “happy anniversary”?

Cats Worry, and Other Stories We Tell Ourselves

Early this morning, I had the thought that my cat doesn’t trust me, and it made me feel better.

I was crying, and normally when I cry, my cat ignores it. He doesn’t understand what crying means, that it means I’m upset, so he just continues on, acting like a cat. Usually being pretty damn annoying, as one tends to be at 3am. Well, he was in this particular instance. While I cried, he tried to climb the window, and finally I sobbed out at him to stop, and amazingly, he obliged and came up on the bed to cuddle.

He lay on my stomach, held my hand between his paws, and stared at me. Stared at me as I cried, thinking about whether people would be put out if I was gone, and whether it would affect anyone past being sad for a little bit. Like, I was really trying to be logical about it. Work would need to get a few things sorted, but once they did that, they’d be fine, and the only people I figured whose hearts would really break really wouldn’t have too much of a difference in their physical day-to-day, because they’re family and live far away, that sort of thing. The crying was more a separate thing that was happening alongside all the logic that was going on. And my cat, through all of this, stared at me as the tears subsided, as I lost the strength to keep crying, and I kept looking down at him and seeing his little kitten eyes, staring at me, and I thought to myself, a sign that your cat trusts you is if he closes his eyes around you. But he was ever vigilant, watching me, not daring to shut his eyes.

And I thought to myself, if I didn’t have any logic, and anthropomorphized this creature, I would believe that he is worried about me. That somehow he has figured out that I need to be watched, and that is why his eyes are open right now. But he’s a cat. I do have logic, and I know that’s not true.

But maybe that’s my problem. Maybe the key to survival is to stop being so logical. Maybe I need that anthropomorphism to keep me alive, to believe that someone is worried about me, that this little guy wants me around.

I guess in terms of physical survival, logic is important, but in terms of emotional survival, I think we’re better off without it. I think the more we try to be honest with ourselves about our place in the world, the more we’ll come to realize that no one is really needed, or important on more than a superficial level, and I think I’d rather cling to some semblance of worth reflected in the people around me. Even if it doesn’t make sense, I’d rather believe that that worth is there. Applying logic has only brought me to low places, so I would like to be illogical, and be content with a world that I create. Maybe that is how people find happiness.

I have always sworn by story as a way of navigating through life. Religions have done it for centuries; and as individuals, we do it all the time. Whether it’s to make sense of a situation, or to displace logic, story is what’s gotten us through it all, time and time again. We ascribe purpose to our lives through the stories we tell. And I’m very grateful that I’m a good storyteller.

Ending on a High Note: Carrie the Musical is a Wrap

It’s been nearly two months since I joined the team of Carrie: The Musical for tech, and then shows.

There have been a lot of bittersweet moments in those last nearly two months regarding this production. I was severed from my social life (lack of weekend availability will do that) but I also got to hang out with some pretty cool people backstage. I felt exhausted at 10:30 at night but I probably got more exercise from resetting tables and chairs and windows than I have in two years. The list goes on.

Someone asked me before closing night if I was going to get emotional. Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about it. “Maybe?” I responded, and laughed, because that’s silly, right? Why would I get emotional? It’s not like I get emotional while watching TV commercials, or while seeing patrons come out of a sad movie all teary-eyed, or while watching a bee identify its dead friend on the sidewalk. No, I never get emotional. I am an emotion-free human being.

Guys, I get so emotional.

So I can’t believe I didn’t expect to get emotional about Carrie. I mean, for crying out loud, the last stage production I worked on had people walking out during the show (it was still amazing, screw those people), and I still got emotional after that.

So, closing night. It was a near perfect night, in terms of my ASM responsibilities.

There’s the big moment at the end of the show, which anyone who knows the story of Carrie will know, and after Carrie leaves the stage, I follow her through backstage from Stage Left to Stage Right, collecting bloody items from her so she can go back onstage in the next scene.

And as we’re walking around the set, I notice her shoulders are shaking, and yes, the lead of our production is sobbing. Covered in blood, just having murdered a bunch of teenagers at a prom, and she’s crying. Not because of the emotional impact of the scene — she had done this fourteen times before, no problem — but I imagine because it was, in fact, the last time she would be doing it. Ever.

There were a lot of moments throughout that last performance where I took that fact in… This is the last time I’ll rip this shower curtain off the stage. This is the last time I’ll put this chair out on stage. This is the last time I’ll have to move this evil sewing machine that breaks with every move. This is the last time I’ll slam this window; now this window. This is the last time I’ll sit under a table and play Magical Powers. This is the last time I’ll headbang with the Kids backstage before we change scenes, the last time I’ll dance with a woman holding a knife behind Stage Left. This is the last time I’ll hold the doors shut as the Kids try to break through it with panicked ambition. This is the last time I’ll clean blood off of six or seven different prom outfits.

It was emotional.

I am so happy that I took this job, even if I did lose a lot of my social life. And I am so sad that it’s over.

For those of you who saw this show, you will know how technically intense it was compared to anything that at least Open Stage has done before. And you’ll know that everyone put their hearts into it. Both cast and crew became a living organism, with laughter and heartfelt moments and inside jokes and secret dance rehearsals before scenes started, and with the passion of an assembly of artists making art.

I’ll miss all the death and destruction. I’ll miss all the mistakes I made backstage. I’ll miss the comradery we had, and I’ll hope to continue some of those relationships as best I can.

Thanks, guys. It’s been a Carrie great time.

An Update!

It has been an incredibly busy time recently — for those of you who haven’t tried to hang out with me in the past few weeks and failed, I’ll let you know why: I’ve been working like mad as an assistant stage manager for Open Stage’s “Carrie: The Musical”. It’s taken up most of my free time, which is bittersweet — I have missed a lot of improv opportunities, but it’s still been really fun. So it all evens out, I suppose. Performances are still happening, but selling out quickly, so get on that if you want to see it!

But even with all the fake blood and quick set changes that I’ve been making, I’ve still tried to spend some time figuring out what I’m going to do about this book. And I think I’ve finally landed on one detail: The Fields‘ release date will be December 30th! (I figured I wouldn’t delude myself into believing I would be people’s priority during the holiday season, but I will make ample use of the fact that people get gift cards around that time!)

So mark that on your calendars. I will slowly get the hang of marketing and squeeze out more details, like pre-ordering, what the cover will look like, etc, but hold onto that one tiny detail for now.

It’s Kinda Sorta (Almost) Finished

It’s finally crunch time. I’m going to publish this damn book if it’s the last thing I do. I’ve talked about The Fields from time to time on this blog, and that’s all it’s ever been… talk. Now I will do. And it’s going to happen in the next two months.

That’s as risky of a deadline as I’m allowing myself at this moment… god forbid I give myself an actual date. But I am the closest I’ve ever been, and I’m reaching the point where I feel I need to just bite the bullet and get it over with — a sure sign that it’s ready. There are just a few details I need to attend to in order to get it off the ground, mainly dealing with promotion.

Some of you have already obliged me in my feeble attempts at promotion, as I created a public figure page on Facebook. This feels so weird to me. I don’t like advertising myself, but I know I need to in order to get people to read my work, so it’s always an awkward battle with my self esteem.

As I get closer and closer to publishing The Fields, I find myself face to face with questions I do not like. One of those questions is, “who is your audience?”

I hate the audience question. No one sits down and says, “I’m going to write a story for x audience” (Okay, maybe children’s authors do. Whatever. That’s different). When you write, you’re creating a story that you’re interested in, and you don’t think about how it will conform to any one genre or age group. You just write the damn story. It’s only afterwards that you have to think about what the hell you’re doing.

That was definitely my process for The Fields, anyway. I technically started writing this book about eleven years ago, but I didn’t really gain traction with it until eight years ago, and then I didn’t even really figure out what the backbone of the story was until four years ago, and then the message began to piece itself together after that… yeah, I’m a really slow writer. But my point is, I didn’t start off thinking, “This is my audience. This is the plan I have for this book, and I will write within the constructs of this plan.” I was just letting the characters come to life, and babysitting, essentially, until those details began to fade into place.

Turns out, The Fields is definitely a young adult novel. And I tried to convince myself otherwise, but it’s true.

First, there’s the protagonist. Mukisa is nineteen years old. Ironically, when I first started writing this story, I was a teenager, and the protagonist was a 30-something year old man (the character who is now the protagonist’s father. Mukisa didn’t even exist at that point). I suppose as a teenager I hadn’t quite learned that I should push women’s voices into the forefront of my work? But as the story grew, the age of the protagonist shrank (I don’t know, I didn’t write the rules, I just wrote the story).

Now, just because the protagonist of the story is a young adult doesn’t mean that the story is for young adults, but it is a step in that direction, especially when you take a look at the themes being represented in the story. Though technically independent, Mukisa struggles with her relationship with her parents, and being able to make her own decisions. Both of her parents are authority figures in the community, as well, so that conflict is heightened. There are also themes of discovering your identity within a community, and a struggle with morality… a lot of the themes do line up with young adult fiction.

I’m not sure why I was initially so frustrated with the idea that I was writing a young adult novel. Maybe it was because some of the content is a little dark — which isn’t a good reason, because young adult books increasingly wrestle with darker topics. Or maybe it was because when I asked for feedback, some of my readers suggested that I simplify some of the language to make it more accessible to younger readers — the words were too big — which I will never, ever be ashamed of refusing. Readers, if you aren’t able to figure out the meaning of a word through context, then it is not going to kill you to look it up and learn a new word. God. (I’m a little bit too firm on this subject, perhaps).

For some reason, I wanted my book to be for adults. And in a way, it still is — there are plenty of young adult novels that adults read, like The Outsiders, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, etc. The nice thing about story is that if it’s good, it’s good for anyone.

So I’m learning to deal with this.

Maybe this shouldn’t have been such a difficult thing to come to grips with. Are you an adult who likes young adult fiction? Are you a young adult who reads everything you can get your hands on? I’d love to hear people’s experiences with the books they delve into, and/or prefer.