‘Going Backwards’

 

My name is Jessica and it’s been two weeks since I last ate a doner kebab pizza.   I have one finished historical romance, (with a ghost story), out for formal editing.   I’ve written a dystopian romance (it doesn’t have any sci-fi or space element to it). I will get to that in the autumn.  I’m currently writing vampire stories in preparation for a Halloween release.

It’s summer break. I stand on the verge of over a month of upended routine. This means writing will be sporadic.  Not nonexistent but…sporadic. There will be time for reading, and I plan on filling my head with as much vampire, fantasy, paranormal, historical and romantic stuff as possible whilst negotiating…summer.  Forget you, reality.

Yet all that aside, I would like to take a moment out there to talk about a few things.

Namely, jealousy, insecurity and loathing.

I will give an example. When I walk into a book store and see successful, best selling books by well known actors or artists.   I am jealous.

It strikes me as unfair that these people are allowed the pleasure of writing and getting published like…bam.  Never mind that said folks are actually producing quality children’s books as well as staring in well known programs and they entertain me or make me laugh, the fact that they get to enjoy instant success with another artistic medium due to not only their talent but their already established name really grates on me.  I tried to convince my son not to buy ‘Billionaire Boy’.  It didn’t work.  Little bugger read it right in front of me.   This success in literature grates on me.

I am ashamed to say so but dear God it does.

*cue glaring green emoji*.   I’m sorry David Walliams and Bear Grylls.  Forgive me, I wish I was a better person.

Whenever I see crappy reality television celebrities bringing out memoirs I honestly feel sorry for the people who buy them. Not jealous or spiteful, just a bit sad.

I loathe marketing people. Folks who think of nothing but sell sell sell….they fill me with disgust for the human condition. I feel these people should be on an old fashioned market stall, smiling and bowing and scraping for every penny because they don’t care about a damn thing apart from making money. If they want to worship money they should wind up in a lonely ‘heaven’ of heavy coins to swim in.  Like in that treasure room in Gringotts bank in Harry Potter or Smaug’s lair in the Hobbit.

They don’t deserve to earn millions and talk about targets and set about looking at website traffic and stalking people on social media to find out what’s #trending.  Perhaps there was a time when people sold products they genuinely believed in….but now I think too many folks think sell first and product quality or validity later.

I desire their happiness and dignity on a pike before the city gates.

Ever heard the song ‘Going Backwards’ by Depeche Mode?

It makes me think of ‘cookies’ and market researchers and opportunistic sales people. Maybe that’s not what Depeche Mode meant with the song but that’s what it conjures for me.

I read about a blogger selling five star reviews to struggling authors. That is both pathetic and disturbing.  I officially loathe that blogger. But that ruthless woman makes money off of people desperate to be seen in the exceptionally competitive world of books and literature available online.

There are people selling ‘wellness’ and ‘truth’ and ‘self confidence’ and ‘success’ and ‘inner peace’ just like there are people selling sexual imagery and war. They mostly have orange faces and whitened teeth.  I trust very few people with orange faces and whitened teeth.

My point is, we are supposed to be moving forward in society. We are supposed to rise above jealousy and bitterness and animosity against our fellow human being. We are supposed to ACTUALLY help one another. Not pretend to help people so as to benefit and line our pockets.

So….why am I so filled with loathing, insecurity and jealousy towards my fellow human being?   Because the lack of balance in this world upsets me and I blame salespeople. I blame those who have sacrificed their morality on the sacred slab dedicated to lost souls and butt kissers so that they can go on holiday in Thailand.

I don’t blame David Walliams or Bear Grylls.  I might be jealous of them…but I don’t blame them.

To a certain extent I blame a lack of education and poor life choices of the hoards who love crap like reality television, celebrity gossip and the memoires of reality television stars.

So if I see anyone sat around a pool this weekend reading a book with some orange faced, bleach white toothed person on its shiny, overpriced cover….

I am going to make sure they are engrossed in their book so that I can discreetly roll my eyes as I walk past them.

They won’t notice me.

No danger there.

Happy Summer.

 

By jmnauthor3000

Doner Kebab Pizzas, Yoga and my Conscience

 

The other day I was stuffing a piece of doner kebab pizza into my mouth whilst ordering a well known fitness application for my phone. Already my stomach signaled that it was time to stop eating.

My behavior that afternoon just wasn’t right.

My conscience wasn’t speaking to me, I’d made it sick. I shouted to the children through a mouth stuffed with processed, over seasoned meat, salty sauce, dough and cheese to cease scrolling through Netflix, searching for films I knew were too scary for them.

At that point my conscience crawled out of its sick bed and said in a gruff voice that shouldn’t belong to any lady’s conscience,

‘You are actually going to have to go in there and stop them from putting on a horror movie.   You know it’s going to give them nightmares.   Let’s be honest you don’t want the not-so-little anymore buggers to be clinging to you at midnight, while you are struggling to sleep due to a bloated stomach and heavily put upon digestive system. Do something with yourself! You horrible, horrible person.’ My conscience then slammed the door, grumbling about what a jerk I am and how tragic my first world problem obsessions are and stumbled back into its lair.

My conscience, by the way is a really disillusioned washed up old drunk.

It might not be the most gorgeous, sparkling conscience in the world, but it does know what’s wrong and what’s right.

Monday meant premiering my fitness app. This well known fitness app involves message notifications, exercise goals and a pre-set timer and requests to connect to my camera and all my other apps. This makes me uncomfortable even though I see the point in using it for social media and sweaty selfies, etc.  Promotion.  Convenience.  Surveillance and money laundering.  Whatever.

I could say I’m disappointed with it, but in truth it motivates me.

To my shame, seeing images of beautiful young, fit, likely wealthy and successful women doing exercises motivates me. It’s not that I want to compete with them. I will never be a beautiful fitness guru.  They just look so friendly! I like them. My conscience thinks I’m pathetic but God help me, I actually like the fitness ladies who now live in my phone.

Surely, they are re-inventing the stereotypes surrounding attractive go getter type women. They aren’t all cruel, tan, toned creatures seeking to crush me. It’s okay not to hate them. It’s okay to buy an app like that. It doesn’t make me a dork/sheep. Right?   I won’t wake up one day to a world where I am a starving beggar in their empire of pretty, young, tech savvy and healthy.

This whole affair makes me feel quite pathetic yet…I know it’s doing me good? Conspiracy theories of ebusiness and app tycoons seeking to run our daily lives aside, what harm could it be doing?

I did yoga this morning via said app.   I even listened to the music score that went along with it. I didn’t hate all of it.   When it came time to do the ‘balance’ moves I struggled. I kept keeling over and needing to grasp onto a chair.   I’m not particularly balanced physically. Or emotionally.

I ate vegan sausages on whole wheat pasta with roasted tomatoes and garlic for dinner this evening. There is no wine in the house. This is on purpose.  I am physically incapable of ladylike drinking.

As I said, my conscience is already a drunk. There is no hope for me.

I’m trying to save money. I’m trying to lose weight. I’m trying to be a good parent.   I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m trying to succeed with my writing.

*Conscience pipes up from its lair* ‘You are talking about yourself like ALL the time!’

Yes, thank you conscience.   This is a blog and blogs are very often exercises in admittedly self centered ramblings and personal opinions so why should mine be any different?

That aside, I keep seeing tweets and articles about how talent is not exactly rare. There are many creative types around with the ability to write something interesting.  What makes them succeed is their tenacity. The moves they make and the work they put in to succeed. To get your work seen, you have to complete all manner of research. You have to know who would want to help you get your work out there. You have to source dozens of these people. Then you have to present something impressive.

So, you’d better have it.

Even then, chances are the ones in positions to help you will be incredibly busy, dealing with the thousands of other creative types trying to make a living from their art. FYI, if any ‘agents’ ever ask you for money after getting you all excited, telling you that you have a strong voice, etc., do NOT engage with them or send them money.

*Sound of creaking bed springs as my Conscience sits up slightly*

Conscience: ‘F-wording vultures.’

Anyway….

Writer’s write. Talent is common. Tenacity is what makes or breaks you….etc. etc. etc. Eye Roll. Yawn.

*Cue the sound of empty bottles falling and rolling on a wooden floor, shuffling feet and a groan.*

Okay, I’ll formally introduce you. Everyone? This is my Conscience. Conscience? These are like the two people who occasionally look at my blog…

Conscience: ‘Okay. I suppose getting your work seen is like getting fit or being a better person. You have to make the effort. You have to ‘get over yourself’ and just work at it.   Stop obsessing over your little insecurities and the many things you become paranoid about. Grow accustomed to rejection and the fact that higher ups might look at you and think ‘Wow, that sucks. Go away.’ Steel yourself against that because it doesn’t matter. What does matter is what you learn in the process and that you never EVER give up. And the fitness ladies in your phone are not your friends, okay? They are attractive fitness people who had an idea, pursued it and now they make money off of people like you. But that’s okay, because you do need to get healthier. And maybe….just maybe one day those ladies will buy your book and find it an emotionally enjoyable read and will get in touch about how much they liked your book. OMG you really want that don’t you? You’re so freaking sad and weird at the same time! You really, really need to get out more. Jeez…crazy obsessive woman hauls herself over the coals for buying a well known fitness app and there are people starving in the world.    Give money to charity or something. I need a drink….’ *cue the sound of a bottle uncorking and a body collapsing on a bed with broken springs*

Okay. So…I won’t order Doner Kebab Pizza next weekend.  Or any apps for that matter.

My name is Jessica and my conscience is a disillusioned, washed up old drunk.

Once upon a time, I imagine it was a glorious, bright eyed sort with the world of moral choices at its feet.

I’ll get back to work then….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

Balance and #Health and #Wellness and Stuff.

 

Balance. Control. Discipline.

I like gorging myself on rich food and drinking wine over the weekend. Then I want to hit the gym, run and drink green smoothies all week. Mealtimes involve a healthy chicken and black bean burrito, with no cheese or sour cream. I’ll eat nuts and whole grains, dabble in yoga and meditation, etc.

Then Friday comes and an intense urge accompanied by euphoria hits as I start on a bottle of crisp, zesty chilled Sauvignon Blanc and salty rich snacks. The delirious deliciousness is so good, I become ecstatic with happiness. Everything makes sense on Friday night. The world is right. By Sunday I’m on ice creams and chocolate bars in a desperate attempt to pick myself up off the floor.

Lately, I’ve allowed myself to slip even further from my lifestyle standard. I’ll even eat a rich pasta dish and drink wine on a school night. Not to the point of being a hung over wretch the next day, but certainly not in a position to get up at 5:30am to go for a run.

I just sort of do my day, minus any significant exercise. I try and stick to lower fat lower sugar eating, but it doesn’t pack the same punch. It doesn’t have the heady feeling I get from eating lean protein style foods after sweating and panting, then exfoliating and moisturizing afterwards.

Eating a chicken sandwich on whole wheat knowing I barely managed to roll out of bed and wash myself just isn’t the same.

Then you hear words like moderation and balance. Yawn.

Yet here I am again. Sunday. I didn’t get out of bed until ten. I’ve eaten more chocolate than I care to admit. There are empty bottles in the recycling that I am responsible for. I’m staring down the barrel of another week.

I’m staring down the barrel of the rest of my life.

It’s not the vanity, it’s the mindset captured when I’m being a good girl. I love my indulgent weekends. But they can’t spill into my week. Not anymore. I honestly do have stuff to do.

And it’s not just about my expanding waistline. Or even the puffy eyes. Or a sluggish thought process and general state of confusion as to how exactly I got here.

My urge to nap during the day, a habit I find offensive in other situations, disgusts and compels me at the same time. It’s not those sort of things.

Okay well yes. It is those things. It’s also that I still want to be able to drink a glass or two of wine and not feel like a piece of crap who does this way too often. I want to drink that glass knowing that I earned it. Not panicking that I’m going to feel tired tomorrow, yet being unable to stop myself from swallowing yummy chilled Pinot Grigio.   Chardonnay sucks.

I want to eat a piece of cheese and a few olives and not feel disgusted with myself. I want to enjoy a piece of cake and not become immediately embroiled in a ferocious yet silent debate about whether to eat cake until I feel sick or whether to stop eating all together and just cope with my salivating, twitching and excessive drinking…I mean blinking… I mean I like cake. Shit.

I’m very knowledgeable about healthy eating. I’m not limited in my ability to comprehend what is good for me and what is not. I’m just exceptionally good at justifying bad health choices.

For example, my subconscious theory that if I consume a bag of nacho cheese flavored tortilla fast enough, it doesn’t count. I have processed fake cheese corn stuck in my teeth but hardly recall eating anything so anyway what’s for dinner?

Another example? I hold sugary soft drinks in high disdain. I do not see the point in sodas or artificial fruit drinks at all. Until I wake up with a hangover and find myself chugging lemonade like it’s going out of fashion.

I’ll go back to snubbing it on Monday.

No thanks, just water for me.

At least wine has a bit of integrity. Whatchamacallit Zero? Whatsit Light?   Bubbly Diet Whatever? Bah! My nose and I are going to go right up, thank you very much. Until we’re above a cold can of yourself because your carbonated caffeinated qualities accompany spicy fattening comfort food perfectly. When I drink you, I know I’m slumming it and possibly drinking cancer or dementia inducing chemicals yet I secretly fear the day you are no longer produced.

As for the ‘full fat’ soda brigade? You make me sick. Until I feel sick and drink you down like a ragged traveler who’s been lost in the desert for weeks. I love you ginger ale, don’t leave me!

I drink infused water now. My water has pieces of lemon, mint, cucumber, berries and ginger floating in it. I’m still gaining weight. It turns out my home grown kitchen herb infused H20 does not offset the doner kebab pizza I scoffed on Friday because I was freaking sick of cooking stuff involving home-made chicken stock and chopping up varying forms of bastard salad. F word I hate salad.

I’m really quite proud of my ability to resist chocolate and sweets.   My true weakness is salty stuff.   I’m also nauseatingly proud of my honesty.   I have a problem with consuming too many salty carbohydrates. Yet you come see me on a Sunday, or when Mother Nature tweaks my biological situation and I’m stood looking at an impressively sized American candy bar and wondering if it’s big enough.

I adore running. My knees remind me that I come from a long line of short, stout (yet really awesome) peasant laborer type women who were built for constant work, but not for the elegant, graceful art of running. Bend, stoop, stir, lift, push, pull, grunt, carry, hurry up, give birth, but don’t run for goodness sake your joints can’t take it. Really?

No…I will lose enough weight off my middle one day so that I can enjoy running and my knees will shut up.

I like the gym, the cross trainer and doing weights. I don’t talk to anyone there yet I love the feeling of unity in health. We aren’t all perfect, but we are here and let’s do this people!   I don’t resent the beautiful types who are there. The fact that I mentioned that shows how open minded I am. It does not betray any insecurity at all.   I welcome all my gym brothers and sisters with open arms.  Even the annoyingly attractive and fit ones.

I avoid eye contact like the plague and the thought of doing a group exercise class truly horrifies me on a level that needs its own blog post but…solidarity people! We can embrace health and find a better version of ourselves.

In all seriousness I love sweating. I also love eating. And drinking.

And green tea is really really boring.

So, what to do? How to find balance in health and habits? The thing is, I know I’m not alone. Lots of folks are struggling with weight and healthy lifestyle habits.

Lots of people freaking hate salad. Even with a nice dressing, extra chicken, or some alternative vegetable that isn’t lettuce. You are the bane of my existence lettuce!  I heard, that lettuce has chemicals in it that actually cause hunger. Who would have thought that a bit of produce can be so cruel as well as prone to becoming soggy and tasteless?

Then again, I do like using lettuce as an alternative ‘wrap’ to tortilla or buns. Burger meat in between fresh lettuce leaves is actually okay. So is taco meat.

Fine, maybe I can’t use lettuce as a scape goat for my poor lifestyle choices. I can’t blame the unappetizing bits of soggy green stuff on café sandwiches for making me choose the cheese toastie instead.

Maybe I have to actually swallow back down my urge to isolate myself with a huge piece of black forest gateau.

Maybe I should eat in public more often. And slowly enough that I remember what I’ve consumed. But control doesn’t come easy. It doesn’t grace you with any benefits unless you make the effort and practice good old, agonizingly boring self control.

Sometimes, that means acknowledging your own madness.

Hello. My name is Jessica and I’m not entirely balanced.

 

By jmnauthor3000

Bad Day

 

When you are alone.

Your words are meaningless.

Your emotions a lead weight.

Your dreams unfulfilled.

And there is no savior for any of this save for you.

Alone.

Only you can claw yourself out.

Reality is a dull and hungry existence.

Food turns to grey matter on your tongue.

Drink doesn’t satisfy until you are sick.

Your body repels and protests your every decision.

Your mind punishes you.

For the shame of knowing better.

For the shame of having no excuse.

For the horror of no escape.

And the anger, the poisonous, pointless anger.

Because you are in so deep.

Swallowed by the version of you, you never wanted to be.

And only you, dreary wasted you, can claw yourself out.

 

 

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

All We Need is Love. Right?

 

I’ve spent an afternoon going through my WIP, (work in progress), after a long hiatus and honestly? I’m sick of looking at it. And it’s a good story. I like it. I just need to finish it. Yet there’s a couple of finicky storyline aspects I need to fix and the final ten chapters need penning. I know how it ends.   A handful of the remaining chapters will be set in present day, revolving around a blossoming romance. I just…haven’t felt in the mood for romance.   I’m obsessing over tiny details. What will she wear? What will the temperature be? Will they hold hands? Will they wear mittens or gloves? How long should the kiss last? Will he wear cologne? Will it be spicy or more aromatic and woodsy?

I’m killing the mood by being fussy like this. More importantly, I’m wasting time.

There’s been a bit of a life change happening for me recently, that REALLY has put a temporary stopper in my work. I’ve spent too much time scrolling through various forms of social media. I’ve been unable to avoid reading snippets of news articles about dreadful things happening in the world.

The politics of power and manipulation grow stronger. At the end of the day, if people want to view something a certain way, they will.   Cold hard facts could come and smack them in the face like large dead fish and they’d still insist they felt nothing. Industry shoves compassion aside and egos loom like indestructible death stars, determined to subdue the masses with smoke and shadows.

War is an industry. Health and beauty are an industry. Food is an industry. Sex is an industry.

Love is not.

Likely a lot of us realise this as we scroll through whatever form of social media, searching for something to identify with. Some way to connect either for work or friendship purposes.   I find myself growing numb to all of it. How odd, to seek connection by being alone.   It won’t be long before all the paths that lead to understanding will be destroyed.   Then, we’ll be forced to be live like cheap plastic pieces on a shelf. Alone, maybe even next to one another yet with no means to reach out and touch someone (cue vague memories of some 1980s phone advert).  Our moments of pleasure and happiness short lived and replaceable.

It’s a shame people don’t get greedy for love the way they do for money.

Because money can’t buy love.   It can buy weapons, food, supplies, vehicles, training, medicine, technology and influence. It can buy the services of a personal trainer, a high standard of living, organic food and high quality anti-aging toiletries. Maybe a bit of laser treatment. It can buy fashions designed to encourage sexy thoughts. A nice dinner and a fancy hotel room. It can buy people.

But not love.

Funnily enough my other WIP which I’ve shelved for the moment is partially dystopian in nature. I always disliked dystopian work. Now, reading the news, I’m feeling the pull to hurry up and finish this other so I can get going on that one.  Stories of apocalyptic, chaotic societies set in a fictional future has been ‘a thing’ for a while now, but I’m sure other authors would agree that that it’s like the news is handing stuff to creative types on a plate.

As far as reading is concerned, historical romance with an idealised, sweet smelling setting has always appealed to me. Dystopian stuff with all the survival requirements, spoiled landscapes and orphaned characters depresses the crap out of me.

Back to my own writing, how to conjure those moments of deepening love when all you want to do is stop typing and go drink excessive amounts of wine? And all because you took a break to piss about on your phone and you read a news article. Then you read an article about how it was a fake. Then you read an article about how the people who said it was fake are crazy. Then you read an article about how the folks against those who spout against ‘fake news’ are actually evil manipulators hell bent on controlling us all. Then you think it’s mean to call anyone crazy for having different beliefs. Then you can’t abide certain beliefs yourself…like that mainstream media outlets are ALL lying to us. Then you read a…you get the idea.

Maybe news outlets are full of liars determined to convince the masses of certain things that would only benefit those folks in high powerful places. That kind of thing makes for the beginnings of a decent dystopian/conspiracy theory type novel. Yet I find it depressing as hell and not conducive to the development of a romance. Then I hate myself for being so childish and self-indulgent.

I want to celebrate love and compassion while the rest of the world seems hell bent on driving folks apart. Industry. Business. ‘The man’, as it were, tossing aside non-influential folks like so much garbage, destroying the earth’s natural set up in favour of progress, I don’t like all that stuff.

I don’t think all rich and powerful people are inherently evil, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself in life. I’m well aware that money is a necessity if you want to live comfortably in most parts of the world.

I just think people who desire nothing more than riches and power…might be a bit evil.  And it saddens me that there seems to be a lot of these folks around. They vary from your wannabe celebrity taking butt selfies to your conniving propagandists convincing isolated, lonely people to sacrifice themselves in order to get ahead.

At the end of the day, you can’t manufacture intimacy. Virtual reality will always be virtual reality. Money cannot buy love.

But if it could, maybe this earth would be a better place. And the war lords, ginormous egos, kings and queens, lords and ladies, Death Stars and Saurons of the world wouldn’t feel so inclined to find sorrowful ways to push their bloody selfish agendas.

I call on myself and all #romance #writers to carry on.  Make love stories as vibrant and beautiful as ever.  Whether it’s between an eighteenth century duke and a courtesan with a heart of gold or a wayward modern cowboy and a veterinarian.   Or a disillusioned artist and a witty engineer.   A recovering alcoholic and a Wiccan.

Any creature deserves the chance to love and readers should be exposed to that way more than butt selfies and real life tyrants.

I hear myself speak and think ‘screw my mood’…the reading world needs love.  Whether I need to call on vampires, ghosts or fairies…this story is going to happen.   Let’s. Do. This.

Peace.

By jmnauthor3000

The Victors

 

Friday, January 20th is the release of Ashes to Sunrise.  Yet another charity anthology arranged by talented, crafty Mia Darien.    All the stories have a sci-fi or fantasy feel.  My short story in the collection is called The Victors.  All author profits will benefit The American Civil Liberties Union.  An organisation designed to help people who feel they lack a voice in mainstream society.  People who, on more than one occasion, have been told to shut up and accept their lot in life.

With a certain event that is happening on Friday, I think it’s important to remember that a lot of people are feeling a lot of very different things.  There will be an abundance of emotions swarming around.  Some joy, some relief, some sorrow.  Some anger.

Anger is the one that concerns me most.  I may have written a short story with sci-fi and fantasy elements.  However, I am not shouting about how we now live in a dystopian, apocalyptic madhouse and ‘those people’ are responsible.   There are no ‘those people’.  Please let’s stop doing that.

I don’t believe in immediately dismissing anyone’s views based on their lifestyle, career, faith, gender, orientation or ethnicity.   I believe in the right to disagree as much as I believe in being a reasonable, kind person.

I also don’t believe in telling infuriated people that they are stupid and wrong.   That generally causes less reason and more anger.  Then where are we?  Well…

I felt that on this, the eve of this…of this….I wanted to examine anger, the right to disagree and ….beliefs.

There is nothing wrong with being angry.  You are not a bad person for experiencing a sense of injustice.  You have a right to disagree with others.

It is impossible in this world to agree on everything.  We cannot all become clones, not even with and perhaps especially due to our information overload, computerised, era.

Our very human, very personal frailties and passions are bound to be ignited by the words and images that call out to us every day.

And we are not robots who see the same thing.

The things we see, touch, hear and do every day vary even within the same household.  Let alone the differences between towns, regions and countries.    It’s no great shock that we, as human beings seek out common bonds.

It’s also no shock that we reject those common bonds, fearful that we might understand someone who is drastically different from us.   Horrified that we might actually understand someone who made us so angry.

Information can be manipulated, in order to suit the desires of angry people.  It is possible to conveniently ignore proven facts.   Lies are ever available.   Truth is subjective.

Angry people are often those who feel they have been left out by the rest of the world.  That, the rest of the population is uncaring and arrogant.

Anger should never be dismissed as an absurd thing.  Telling an angry person that they are stupid and wrong is unwise.  Unless of course the desired result, of informing the angry one of their stupidity, is a fight.  Some folks simply enjoy a good fight.   Wisdom and reason have nothing to do with it.

One thing most of us could agree on is that it isn’t pleasant to feel mocked, neglected or ignored.  As though you are ridiculous and you don’t matter.

Even well-adjusted, privileged members of society struggle with those feelings.

Even well-adjusted, privileged members of society do not like being labelled.

To swallow a label, rashly thrown at you by a stranger is a bitter experience.   It could cause the more temperamental or sensitive individual to behave foolishly.

It could cause a powerful individual to use their position to punish those who would disagree with them.   To punish anyone who made them feel angry.

Our somewhat elite yet very mortal realm of rulers and world leaders is and has always been an often flawed and disappointing place.

Now, on the brink of a new beginning,   I feel it’s important to remind myself of a few things:

That standing up for what is right, without expectation of glory or gain whether in this life or the next, is a sign of enlightenment.

That standing up for what is right, despite fear of punishment whether in this life or the next,  is a sign of enlightenment.

That the powers that be above and below know this.

That I have a long way to go before enlightenment.

That the downfall of others should never be a source of joy.

That it is wrong to manipulate people into believing exactly as I do.

That it is wrong to harshly judge others unless I have had the personal experience of living their day to day life in all its varying eras, ages, ups and downs.

That love is better than hate.

That kindness is better than cruelty.

That these rules do not only apply to the people I disagree with.

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

Charities, Love, Sci-Fi, Fantasy and History. And Turkeys…

 

Mia Darien has been in touch again.  The romance anthology Amor Vincit Omnia is going to be re-released.  There will be a Facebook party for the re-release between December 12-13th.  So, bring your beverage of choice, (mine is made from grapes), some glitter, a party hat and get ready to celebrate noble characters, hidden beauty and love conquering all.

https://www.facebook.com/events/346359732386799/

Another item for update is that Mia is arranging a new short story anthology.  Guess what! It’s for charity, namely ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).  The genres of the stories will be sci-fi, fantasy or dystopian.  It’s looking like a January release for this project.  However an exact date is yet to be set in stone.

Regarding my historical romance with a paranormal twist manuscript.  Yeah…that one.

I am nearly finished with the second draft.  I say nearly because…this is historical and I’ve got to sort something before typing ‘The End’.  It’s set in roughly four different historical periods and two different countries (actually, three if you are counting changing national borders).  And the timing of things I have right towards the end needs altering a little bit.

There will be charming Old World villages, there will be immigrants, there will be vast American prairies, there will be love.  And more.  I do have wonderful relatives and other author friends who are beta reading for me.  Their response has been positive so I’m excited about this project.

The community of folks who hold the knowledge of the relevant group portrayed in this tale has been particularly supportive.  I hope something comes of this work, but even if it doesn’t, I am so honored and thankful to have been able to learn from them.

I’ve still to go back and tweak my earlier chapters, write one chapter about young love at a festival in old Austria-Hungary and then I am just about ready to go bug Mia for some serious editing.

Then you can read it.  Yes, it’s taken a while.  I’m not Philippa Gregory okay?

How long before it’s available for all?   I am honesty scared to predict. Let’s hope nothing happens in the next few weeks that means endless cooking and kids being home and shopping and preparations and possibly travel.  Oh. Crap.  I’m not going to lie.  It might not be this year.  But it is going to surface before the buds fully bloom in temperate climates.

If I get a moment before the big holidays hit I will compose a history article for the next blog post regarding some of my research.  I love history.  It’s become like a companion to me over the last couple of years.

But let’s look to the future and hope that 2017 will be a wonderful year for all.  Happy Thanksgiving all 🙂

By jmnauthor3000

Sparing No One. Not Even Myself.

 

I’m trying to write my novel but with November 8th nearing I am starting to lose focus.  I know we all feel the same way.  It’s maddening.  I just want to crawl into a hole with a bottle of white wine and stay there until this all blows over.

Am I going to vote?  Yes.  Am I going to rant right now regarding why I’m voting for who I’m voting for and why everyone who is voting for the other person is an idiot? No. I’m not.  I won’t rant.

At this point, we have all made up our mind.  Telling people they are stupid for believing a certain way only makes them belligerent.  It makes them hostile and stubborn.  It causes them to search for incredibly biased yet well worded or craftily filmed sources of information so that they can self-soothe and bask in self-righteousness.  I include myself in this by the way.

I have been guilty of it when feeling wound up after reading a political Facebook post I whole heartedly disagree with.   I’ve honestly thought, ‘are they crazy?  They cannot be serious!!!’ Then I’ve thought ‘Do we really need this on Facebook?  Is this necessary?’  Then I’ve thought…‘Well…people do have a right to their opinions.  But still…’   Like I said, it’s maddening.

Words spoken or nowadays, ‘shared’ in the heat of passion are dangerous.  Yet political propaganda has wormed its way into our communal online photo and status sharing.  And oh boy are we eager little fish.  Again, I include myself in this.

Propaganda is dreadfully powerful thing.  Its purpose is to incite intense emotions.

Like telling people that an entire ethnic group or faith or people of a different sexual orientation are all out to get them and destroy their way of life incites great fear.

Example?  Like telling them that all Christian Americans are racist idiots.  What good does that do?   Who does that comment help?  Answer?  Your ego.  Admit it, it feels good.  When you’ve had a few bad experiences with evangelical types who have been a bit pushy with their beliefs.  Again, I include myself in this.  But they have a right to find solace in their faith.  Jesus loved and loves everyone.  Everyone.  So should we round up all the Christians and put them away?  No.  Should we emotionally bully them into believing that their faith is completely wrong?  No.

Example?  Like telling folks that all transgender people want to go into public toilets and abuse your children.  Who does that comment help?  Answer?  Your ego.  Because you really don’t understand the concept of someone being born a gender they do not identify with.   You automatically associate it with the worst sort of sexual perversion.  It’s a concept that I struggled with when I was first made aware of it.  I was born female and even though I am not entirely ‘girly’ I cannot imagine wanting to have a medical procedure that would make me male.  But do I assume they want to abuse my kids?  No.  Do I think they pose a danger to myself or my family?  No.  Should we round them all up and put them away?  Or bully them into denying who they are? No.

Are there reasons to fear other human beings?  Yes.  Of course.  Some people are really not okay.   Evil does not discriminate when it chooses the ones who would do its bidding.  Though it knows how to play the hate card very, very well.  It knows how to play the religion and politics card.  How perfect – to use the very institutions that were put in place to encourage morality and togetherness.  Target them and use them as powerful tools to drive people apart.  Take sensitive issues and commence with intense imagery and aggressive wording.

Distribute the propaganda and hey presto!

You have hatred and dissent, even amongst families.

These days, I’m a fan of the following sentiment,  ‘An it harm none, do what ye will.’  That is incredibly difficult to live by.  We can cause harm and hurt so very easily.  We can be swallowed by dangerous mindsets before we even fully comprehend what we’ve subscribed to.  We are all a bit more emotionally delicate than we would like to admit.  I know I am.  It really gets to me when someone tells me I’m stupid and wrong.

It almost makes me want to scour the internet for clever articles and images that will make me feel better.  Oh the blind self-righteousness…drink it in.

And I am not even getting into violence and wars fueled by propaganda.  This is where conflict starts.  With hurt feelings and insecurity.  It’s shocking how terrified some people are of being wrong.

I love my family and friends even though I don’t always agree with their politics. I still love them. Even after the Facebook posts.  I always will.  And I know they feel the same about me.

God Bless.  And God Bless the Chicago Cubs.  Amen.  Blessed Be.  Namaste.

By jmnauthor3000

The Vampire Story I Haven’t Written Yet

 

When I was a little girl, I watched a film that introduced me to vampires.  It was the 80s,  the film was a bit on the cheeky side, and I probably should have just gone to bed.  Yet I was allowed to stay awake and watch.  I have no recollection of the title of the film or who starred in it.  I just know that it introduced me to vampires.  To the myth itself.  The concept of the vampire was way more exciting to me than the film.

I fell asleep in my bed with my covers pulled right up to my neck.  I kept my rosary near.  When I woke in the middle of the night, realizing that my neck was cold and the covers had fallen down to my abdomen I was terrified.  What if a vampire found me?   What if they watched people, while they slept, waiting for the sleeping person’s throat to be exposed.  Turned at just the right angle so as to be irresistible to a creature who survives off of blood.

I also discovered my writing ability when I was a little girl.  Back in the good old 80s.  Yet the vampire story wasn’t something I even thought about penning until recently.

The combination of death and seductiveness really works for some people.  A lot of people actually.  Yet the reality behind the myth is gruesome at the very least.

Remaining physically fit, with superhuman strength and being immortal is pretty appealing.  Despite it meaning being immortal unless someone cuts off your head, drives a stake through your heart and burns you.  Then you’re not immortal anymore.

Let’s break down the history of why people may have believed in vampires.  Basic superstitions.  Believing that those who were horrible in life might continue to be so in death.  So, if diseases or tragedies came about in a village, a recently deceased jerk might have been thought to be the culprit.  Burial customs that might have meant accidentally interring some alive, thus finding claw marks on the inside of coffins near graves where people reported heard noises.  Horrid.   Exhuming bodies thought to be vampires and finding they hadn’t decomposed as much as expected.  The body may have made a noise when touched.  Natural gases could have caused this.  The process of decomposition after death wasn’t completely understood some time ago.

And of course, serial killers.  Real life monsters with deranged minds obsessed with blood.

Most people know Vlad the Impaler is the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  In Bram Stoker’s Dracula he is portrayed as a frightening yet enticing character.  To some folks in Romania, Vlad The Impaler isn’t seen as a murderer, rather as a national hero who defended his territory using brutal methods.  Some believe that he kept order through the use of torture.  That he used ‘necessarily harsh’ ways of punishment and establishing authority.  Like impaling Turkish envoys.  And soldiers.  And women and children.  And boiling people alive.  History can be very subjective.

As for the Hungarian Countess Elisabeth Bathory…she has been portrayed in some popular culture as a bit on the sexy side.  A sultry, powerful woman.  Personally I don’t have much time for depicting her as some sort of wicked seductress.  Wicked seductresses are cool.  I like them.  Disturbed women who liked to torture little girls I don’t like.  That’s not being a wicked seductress.  Her nickname ‘The Blood Countess’ came after it was discovered that she believed the blood of young, virginal girls made her skin softer and smoother.  And that she enjoyed tormenting children by sticking needles beneath their nails.   The Countess was one for brutal ways of punishment too.  She had a thief sewed alive inside a horse.  This might not shock you but Erzsebet, (the Hungarian version of Elisabeth), suffered from severe mental instability.

Tales of graphically torturing the innocent are not my preferred form of entertainment.  However, there have been books that have used Bathory’s ‘legend’ that have been well done.

Linda Lafferty’s House of Bathory is an example.  Taking into account the humanity and identity of the poor young ladies who found themselves employed by the Blood Countess.  Poor village girls whose murders long went unacknowledged due to the powerful status of the Bathory name.  Also acknowledging Erzsebet’s tragic mental state.

There are a host of other murderers who were into very unfortunate ways of ending people’s lives…involving blood drinking.  But….let’s leave that there.  You get the idea.  *goes to wash hands*

One vampire legend ‘adaptation’ I really enjoyed was Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire.  New Orleans is a wonderful, gothic setting for a vampire story.  It’s rife with paranormal history and legends.  Including vampiric ones.  I think part of this could be because of the area’s history.  Deep in the slave holding south, where all manner of decadence and cruelty resided.  For me, I’ll leave the New Orleans scene to native folks.  I think people who have lived in and/or extensively visited AND studied a place are the ones best to write about it.  Still, it doesn’t stop people who know bugger all about something from writing about it.  Fiction…is unbelievably subjective.

Anyway…

Twilight..*cringe*…*groan*…*hiss*…say the haters.  I’ve heard people say that Twilight insulted the vampire genre by its very existence with its sparkly, vegetarian vampires and metaphor for chastity.  I comprehend the sentiment.  I get it.  However, let me just say now….I enjoyed the movies…and the books afterwards.   Bored housewife desperate to escape back into her loved up youth comments aside, I wouldn’t say they were the ‘best’ out of the vampire genre and representative of it as a whole.   But they were enjoyable.  For me.  A bored housewife,  (*cough* writer), desperate to escape back into her youth.  And like…millions of others of fans of different ages.

How old are you?  

35

How long have you been 35? 

A while…..

I would have perhaps liked something a bit darker.  Not involving teenage characters and perhaps a love story between an innocent young woman and a powerful, intensely attractive man with a taste for dark things…I suppose it would almost be like fan fiction…oh…oh wait…no?  No?  Has that been done?  And people hated it for condoning abusive controlling relationships?  Yet others loved it for it’s ‘edgy’ theme and it was a huge best seller despite being poorly written and blatantly feeding off of the atmosphere of obsessive love and sexual tension in Twilight?  Damn.

I’m joking.  The practice of BDSM could be viewed as a ‘dark’ and ‘mysterious’ world that you could compare to (and in fact, combine with) the lore of vampirism.  And this has and is being done in many popular ‘steamy’ paranormal romance books.  Personally, like New Orleans…I think I will leave it to people who actually know a thing or to about it.

Whether you like it or not, sex, murder and the abuse of power are inevitable things that a writer will have to deal with if they want to write about vampires.

The whole romance thing just makes it all a bit more bearable.  And I freaking love romance.  And no, I am not into the fluffy, sunny, romantic comedy type stuff.  I need a bit of darkness or I just get damned bored.

Like the wine swilling, bourgeois, tiny brained woman that I am.

I currently have two other large manuscripts requiring my attention.  One a dystopian story I came up with the concept of when pondering how A-list celebrities are like a modern aristocracy of sorts.   The other, a historical romance beginning in early 1900s Austria-Hungary.  Winding up in modern day North Dakota.   I’m focusing more on the historical romance at the moment…rather determined to get it right before I head back to the dystopian.  My Mom read a draft and said she liked it.  So there.

Yet there is a vampire story waiting in the background.  Patiently.  Maybe watching me sleep at night.  Wearing a cape or period dress of some description.

Or maybe it’s the one with heavy footsteps across the floorboards chasing me in my dreams, having come from some dark, dark place.  To do very bad, bad things.  The one that finds me hiding in the attic.  The one that scares the sh*# out of me.

At any rate, I don’t doubt that the vampire story I haven’t written yet will come to me.  This is how it all starts, isn’t it?  Most authors would agree.  A story lurks in your head.  People start to come alive.  You can see the way they move.  You know what their childhood was like.  You’ve watched them sleep.

And, like a vampire it starts to pull you from your human life.  You find sunlight and living people tiresome.  They keep bothering you with mundane, every day life problems.  They want to eat normal food and stuff.

When all you want to do is go into the shadows and see what the damn vampire wants.

When you wake up and the covers have fallen down to your waist.  And your head has been turned just the right way.  Your throat has been exposed for so long your skin is cold.  You sit up and it’s there on the other side of the glass.   The vampire.  Do you let it in?

One side of me says yes.

The other says no, don’t do it Jessica.  Write about mermaids.  You used to like mermaids in the 80s too.

All the cruelties of Vlad Tepes and Elizabeth Bathory and all their coverage and adaptations disintegrate into the background.

The agonized screams of soldiers and children fade away into the night.

It’s just me and the vampire.  And the story I haven’t written yet.

By jmnauthor3000

My Halloween Obsession

 

Hello.  My name is Jessica and I am obsessed with Halloween.  I love pumpkins.  I love witch’s hats.  I love skulls.  I love candles.   I love dressing up in a manner completely unfit for the other 364 days of the year.  As a child I adored trick or treating as much as Christmas morning.

But Halloween meant something more to me from an early age.  It spoke to me on a level that went beyond candy, pumpkins and cool costumes.

I love the concept of opening one’s self up to a wider and wiser world.  The thought of being able to step outside of your immediate experience and surroundings.  The idea that, just for one or two nights, our limitations can be removed.  And the great beyond can reach through to touch us.

Not in a weird way though.  Also, general eeriness and spookiness I dig.  But sadistic cruelty, not so much.  This I don’t like.

I love Halloween.  Not horror movies.  No offense intended to those who are a fan of the genre.  I am not a fan of gory, violent slasher flicks depicting demented, cruel ways of ending life.  THAT side of things I don’t like to cast my eyes over during this sacred time. Know why?

Because there are dark, violent forces out there in the greater universe.  They mainly go by the names of fear, greed and hatred…but these demons have many other forms.  They can and have brought horror movies to life.  For example, the Holocaust and other acts of genocide.  The slave trade.  Modern human trafficking.  Terrorism.  Hate crimes against those of different sexual orientations or races or faiths.  War.

Hate=bad.  Love=good.  Yet this is a concept folks struggle with….

As our world ages, evil takes different forms.  It’s clever.  It even understands the value of subtlety.   It knows how to disguise itself and play tricks.  A true knowledge of what is genuinely ‘of the dark side’ and what is not is a challenge for us all.

Seeing behind masks of righteousness, hearing beyond charmed words, feeling beyond the anger within our heart,(a very difficult task indeed), are skills that take effort to hone. To taste sugar-coated bitterness and know it’s far better not to ingest it.  You get the idea, sniffing out evil’s tricks that would lead us to a path, unfit for a loving, caring person.

I believe in the other side.  I believe there are good and bad energies that we can encourage depending on what resides within us.  Yeah…I’m into all that.

So, the whole notion of the autumnal time of year being when the veil between the living and the dead or rather between our mortal world and the world of the beyond is temporarily lifted, I find quite beautiful.

It proves something in my heart every year.  We are not limited by what mean-spirited people would say about us because they have a twisted view of how we live our life.  We aren’t limited to the sorrows of our time.  We aren’t owned by grief.   We aren’t alone.

For me it’s about accepting the world beyond myself, my past and current situation.

Accepting the world beyond this one in which we draw breath.

I am a limited, terribly flawed person.  But I know in my heart that in the great beyond I’m loved.  Out there beyond the veil.  It comforts me and I’m not ashamed of that.

What I’m saying is this, that you shouldn’t be afraid of something just because it’s from outside your realm.

But you should be wary of what’s hurtful and dangerous.  Hate, fear and anger don’t manifest unless they are invited.  And keeping your heart closed to them is a formidable challenge.

The veil fades soon.  Don’t invite them.  Their true forms are terrifying.

Happy Halloween.

By jmnauthor3000