A very sincere thanks to the lovely & talented Valarie Savage Kinney for allowing me on her blog to post the A-Z basics of Livian!
I imagine some piece of every human heart broke with the tragic news of Robin Williams passing away. I have to admit, I’d hoped it was one of those cases where twitter trends “kill” someone that is still very much alive. But it wasn’t. I was visiting with my mother when the news broke, and you would have thought we lost a close family member with the way it stunned us into a silence, followed by tears. Here in the south, I think our first instinct to cope with deal is to cook and/or eat. Something about frying chicken, making a cake, or some other southern dish and taking it to the home of mourning takes the sting away, at least a little bit. On the other side, something about caring people showing up with fried chicken or a cake when your home is the home of mourning makes the moments feel less like shattered glass beneath bare feet.
But in this case, I think the house of mourning was every home in America, if not the world. It is easy to say that this brilliant man was in some way, a part of most of our youth. He was why we all tried to sit on our heads. He was a rapping bat. He was a genie. This man was Peter Pan. He was so many things, and he gave us the freedom to imagine, pretend, act, and for some of us, we wrote words and prayed someday, he, or someone like him, could make our words come alive for the rest of the world.
But the fact of it is, Robin Williams was not just the vision of our youth, but the understanding of our adult realities. Some of these need no explaining, just titles. Dead Poets Society. Good Will Hunting. Jack. Patch Adams. A million times during stressful kid moments, I’ve turned to my kids and said, “POOF! Whaddaya need? POOF! Whaddaya need?”
Jack made me appreciate life. I remember the local casting calls for this movie called Patch Adams, set in the 1970s. My (then) boyfriend at the time and I sent in our photos for a shot at being in a Robin Williams flick. We weren’t 70s enough, though with both of us having hair past our bottoms, I never understood. I recall us being upset, but quickly stating, “Well, I guess Robin Williams had nothing to do with extra casting, or we’d be in!” Because, come on, we all felt like he was our buddy, our pal, one cool fella.
Our kids are raised with Williams. Maybe a board game gotten out of hand, or some happy feet, or why we leave RV vacations to Papa.
Most recently, very recently, I saw Robin Williams in a role again for the first time. Let me explain. I was still pretty young when Mrs. Doubtfire came out, and being a child with parents that just did not work out as a couple, I loved this movie. I could see so much of my dad in the character of Daniel. I wanted to smoosh Robin Williams and Sally Field together at the end in one of those, “Now kiss.” moments but I understood when it didn’t end that way.
Remember the boyfriend that wasn’t Patch Adams 70s enough with me? Well, he became my husband, Daniel. Seriously, his name is Daniel just like Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire. We married young and we made it though years and years and then we became one of those couples that just didn’t work. Not from lack of love or trying. It just didn’t work. We firmly agreed to remain friends, which as anyone can imagine, is work as well and some moments would be fit for reality television. Le sigh. Through all the tense moments and not seeing eye to eye and sometimes, not even feeling like we lived in the same world, we work on friendship.
Not long ago, likely not even a month ago, he came over and we were in one of those tense, working really hard to get along moments and when he showed up, Mrs. Doubtfire was on. We didn’t speak, but he ended up caught up in the movie and we sat in silence. Come on, you know it is easy to get caught up watching Robin Williams, even at your ex wife’s house But, as I said, I saw him again for the first time. Robin Williams wasn’t playing the role that reminded me of my father. He was playing the role of my ex husband. My mom wasn’t the Sally Field. I was. It hurt in a way I cannot put into words, and words are my life. And not just because Peirce Bronson is not my rebound, but because I could feel the side of the movie as I did as a child. And now, I could feel the role of Sally Field, and there is no “now kiss and make up” moment there.
I don’t talk about my personal life too often, not in detail. But I’ve been sick since before the end of my marriage with an undiagnosed illness. I’ve been blessed with a fantastic group of specialists that work with me constantly and try to figure out this grand mystery that has transformed my entire way of life. I’ve struggled with the single mom thing with a lack of mobility and days of constant pain. Little things have become big things. Field trips, awards, talent shows, trips to the park- all these things have become major events with the mystery illness. Sickness also brings about the truth most of us would be better off not knowing. The truth of the people in our life and what happens through thick and thin. Promises are broken. Wonderful people fall from the highest of pedestals, but then other people surprise you. Some people flake out when being in your life or loving you isn’t easy and some people you never expected to surprise you, do and they come with support and love and just knowing you are not alone.
During a long run of heartbroken and pain-filled nights, I’ve bonded with my oldest daughter. She has helped me so much. She helps make sure the youngest ones don’t see me as anything other than Wonder Woman. A gift I can never repay. She’s gone without a lot during this as well. She has taken on many responsibilities I’d prefer she not have just yet, but life happens. Summer break has given us lots of late nights for her to stay up while I could not sleep and I was proud to share with her something of my own youth. We had our own escape from everything- the stress, doctor visits, busy schedules, pain, etc, etc, etc. We had Mork. Mork and Mindy became a normal relief from our problems. We’ve come close to seeing all the episodes now and we’ve even joked about the perfect men were probably Orkan. Oy. Shazbot!
Throughout my life, Robin Williams has been one with wisdom, comedy, and comfort. How could anyone not feel like they’ve just lost one of the best friends a person could know. Depression. How heartbreaking it is to know that someone dedicated their life to entertaining others, cheering them up, making them laugh at the worst of times, and inspired so many of us not only in the arts, but life in general. If only we’d had the chance to make him laugh, to make the sadness take a step back, if even for a moment as he’d done for us.
Depression is real. It has been passed by for far too long as a mood or a weakness that could be gotten over if the person really wanted to get over it. Depression can strike anyone and until you battle the beast, you have no clue how deep his claws are. It is not something to be ashamed of, nor is it a form of self consumption. Depression can make you wish you were the one person in the world you could forget. Depression comes with emotional weight and physical pain. Depression is a condition. A sickness too often ignored for fear of sharing our emotions, fears, and pain. When someone battling depression thinks of suicide, it is not a quick escape for them, it is this ripping pain in the pit of your soul that makes you feel like not being around would be better for everyone else. It has nothing to do with feeling unloved. It is knowing people love you and feeling like your existence is a weight and burden. It hurts, but just like A Christmas Carol, you zone out and picture what life would be like for each person you love if you take yourself out of the picture.
Of course, depression is cruel enough to let us create our own illusions of what their life would be like. It is a beast, after all And once those thoughts exist, they will always exist. Even during good times when you think depression has been slaughtered from your mind. It creeps. It pops back in when you feel like you could have done more for someone or even a happy moment full of laughter with children opening gifts. You laugh. You smile, but you look right past reality and imagine a better one for those kids. The beast becomes your shadow and mocks every great moment in your life, making you relive it in your mind and showing you where you weren’t good enough; for anyone, anything, at all. You can push it back. You can remind yourself of the beast and know it is just out to get you, but sometimes, the shadow consumes.
I am not saying suicide is a good thing. We feel the loss. I am saying if the world became more open to the reality of depression as a condition, not a mood, maybe we could save more people by simply saying, “It’s okay. I get it. We’ll get through it.” Because it is okay. I do get it… and I bet most anyone reading this gets it, too.
Like my mom said, “If you know someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, why not call and just ask how they are. It never hurts to reach out. Most people struggle with depression without anyone knowing. Reach out. Know.”
She’s right. So I am going to wrap this up. I have some calls to make. God bless, everyone. Go hug someone. Hug them tight as all get out. It’s a cold world out there. Spread some smiles and warmth.
Two questions I hear more than somewhat often lately: What have you been doing? Where is book two of LIVIAN?
I will answer these in opposite order. Where IS book two of LIVIAN?
Well, some of it is written. All of it is plotted down to the finest of detail. Things have been so busy, life has been spinning my right round, baby, right round- I have yet to even order my own paperback copies of book one. *Gasp* I know, the shame I feel as an author over this horrible confession. I do get thrilled each time I see a photo of someone with a paperback. I want to slow- motion run across an unpolluted beach and embrace them with this “You love me! You really love me!” sort of hug.
I will say, as in love as I may be with LIVIAN– book two knocks MY socks off and I will have it complete soon. I want the public to have it- to love it- but things need to line up just right for me to do so properly.
I will tell you this much. Livian gets her Loci on. Imagine a tribal warrior wooded land of tattoos, belly dancers, fire breathers and one Inennious- loving young steampunker. Throw in some dragons, dwerger and those blood thirsty unicorns and you have the setting for book two, Inennious. And if you think you love Elsa now- just wait.
I will tell you this; IF you have not read Seven Deadly Sins II, SLOTH- Claim Your Fate is a connecting tale of the Dwerger- the clan of “soil sifters” that live just blow the ground of Loci. The series shows them as the bad guys- but everyone is the bad guy in someone’s eyes.
We all know my passion, above my own novel writing, is 7DS BOOKS. I love the art of the short story. I was raised on those twisted tales of fables, foes, rhymes and Poe. Wrapping an entire plot and character building within a limited word count is nothing less than an art.
I love working with other authors. Networking and helping build platforms is a good portion of my everyday. I do not think passion pumps through the veins in other professions as hot as it does in the creation of an artist. Wordsmiths have something about them. To say that they are mere dreamers is an insult. Everyone is a dreamer. An artist creates a world and, in most cases, they strive to create that world- be it on canvas, in words, in mechanics- but so many artists embrace the fact that with enough love and hard work, those dreams can be reality. This makes me feel alive.
Sure, we all say, “I want to be able to quit my day job and do (insert art) for a living. I want to be comfortable. I want to afford the time to do this.”
BUT, that is not the truest of the dream chasers. I get tickled at some people that say this as if they are maybe 10% of the population that strive for this. No. We all want that. The ones that pump me up are the ones that want to change not their world, but the world of other people through their art. Oh, those people make me feel as energized about the literary world as Richard Simmons is about sweatin’.
Thanks to 7DS, I get to work with these people every single day. THAT is my dream come true. Authors and illustrators amaze me. The imaginations and visions they carry every moment of the day; the thriving confidence outweighing the fears to share their heart with the world; The plans they toss and turn all night thinking of to make their dreams flourish- I love them.
And these authors, when I become inspired by them, fall in love with their work as well as their passion, and they accept an invitation to write on a 7DS Book– I know something magnificent is in the works.
We have re-released Seven Deadly Sins as Seven Deadly Sins II featuring new stories by Wolf Scott & Michelle Horst (Wrath & Gluttony). Both have received such wonderful feedback and the collection has a fresh appeal with the addition of sci-fi and angels/demons. I cannot express my gratitude for both of them joining the re-release of this book.
We have also recently released Seven Deathly Soles– seven short stories with the only common connection of death & shoes. Each story is as unique as the author, yet they come together so well in a collection. Beyond running 7DS & working with these grand authors, I also have a story included in this one. The Boot is a southern comedic who-done-it based on a local southern festival.
Coming next, we have Seven Dwarf Stories– These are not your typical kid-friendly dwarf stories. Before living together and before Snow White, these seven small people had their own lives- and guess what? They were dark, morbid and highly entertaining. You will never look at a storybook dwarf the same way again.
We have several more coming, but before I get into too much detail, I want to save those for another blog debut.
Also, a huge chunk of my time is dedicated to Twisted Core Press, L.L.C. I have been blessed with amazing partners and together we have locked in our notch in the ever-changing industry and we are providing something top-notch and brand new. So many houses open up over night and are gone before you can say the name, we have taken our time to secure the proper methods of author publication. We will be continuing the release must-read titles throughout the year from some of the best new and previously published authors around. I will have more on Twisted Core Press in future blogs as well- much more. I love writing. It is in my blood, but publishing is my calling. This is what makes me feel alive in the literary world. If you don’t love what you do, you aren’t living right. Thanks to my partners and these masterful authors, my career path feels like a thousand dreams coming true, every single day.
I do appreciate the pondering emails and chats of what I have been doing and why book two of LIVIAN is not out yet. I hope this answers those questions in a most satisfying manner. I do promise this much: I will show you some of the best authors your will ever discover through 7DS and Twisted Core Press & Inennious will come. Soon. Thank you for your support and interest.
I’ve been tagged in the “look” challenge by the wonderful Jude Johnson. According to the rules, you’re supposed to do a search in your work in progress for the word “look” and then paste the surrounding paragraph(s) and tag as many people as possible.
I am tagging the following authors to do the same because I think highly of them. (So please check out their sites and work):
HERE YOU GO! A very UNEDITED sneak peek at “The Boot” A 7DS Short Story- Coming Soon.
“I’m sure I’ve seen worse.” he pulled his glasses from his jacket pocket.
The sheriff chuckled as his eyes widened. He shook his head and motioned for Emery to follow past the group of cop cars and the single ambulance. The emergency workers stood back from the crime tape. Whispers and laughter muffled as they walked toward the tape.
“Know the victim?”
“Everybody knows that son of a bitch. Not much of a victim, though.” Sheriff Gardner lifted the crime tape and allowed Emery to walk before him.
“Oh my Holy Father!” Emery covered his mouth, “Who the hell is that poor bastard?”
“Who in the hell do you think it is? Look, you see what that is? Shoved right up in there.”
Emery walked around the crumpled corpse. No pools of blood. No dismembered body parts. Yet, this had to be the most stomach turning site the coroner had ever witnessed. He leaned over and lifted the cowboy hat perfectly placed over the victim’s face.
“Ricky Dalton.” Emery fought a smile. “Look at that boot, right up your ass.”
He gently placed the hat back over his frozen face. Emery could feel the onlooking officers waiting for his reaction. He had always forced himself to place work over emotion. Being the coroner of a small town was hard. He’d held back tears several times. It seemed much harder, for some reason, to hold back a smile.
He stood silently and examined the body. He was normal and perfect Ricky Dalton. His clothes were crisp and clean. No dirt beneath his fingernails. The only thing that seemed out of place were his too tight jeans around his knees and the missing boot from his right foot. And there it was, halfway hanging out of his rear.
Emery felt his own anus clinch. “Any idea at all who did it?”
“Well, I’d say let’s start with anyone Ricky told he was gonna put his boot in his ass.”
“You can’t consider the whole damn town full of people suspects.” Emery snorted.
“So, I narrowed it down to people that have a good serious cause to take him out.”
“A little over half the town,” he shook his head, “So who is the last person anyone saw him with?”
The sheriff paused. “My daughter.”
Yes. This collaboration has done well beyond my expectations. I knew people would love it, IF they gave it a chance, but I never knew people would give it a chance. We may not be on the NY Times Best Sellers list, but we have had so much Amazon love. Every single time the rankings start to dwindle another spurt hits and we are better than before.
I had the chance to talk to a very inspiring author that has graced that good old NYT list and he said so simply, “So what is next? You have this book and you do marketing and publicity, so tell me… What is next?”
My stomach would have knotted and I would have held my head in shame IF I didn’t have a reply. Thank God for a reply and a good friend like A.T. Russell that asked me this same question several months before.
7DS is no longer just a book. Nope. 7DS is an official invitation only collaboration. Several books featuring seven authors and a theme. 7DS.
Lots of books are in the works and luckily I learned so much from the Sins. The next 7DS project I would like to debut to you is………………………Are you ready? Of course you are.
SEVEN DWARF STORIES
Tall tales of the short people that made Snow White what she is today. Who are they? What sort of lives did they live before living in the house together? How did they end up in one house together? This is not your run of the mill fairy tale. Be prepared to be, as one story would show, blown away.
I would like to officially introduce you to the authors of this new 7DS venture;
Stephen Penner– The wonderful author of Wrath (Seven Deadly Sins) as well as the official 7DS illustrator. If you listen to me at all, you already know all about this guy, dontcha?
A.T. Russell– The main man behind Greed and that Thingy (Seven Deadly Sins)- The author that feels like my long lost brother. It wouldn’t be a 7DS without him and his elaborate visions for future 7DS projects.
Everett Powers– Author of Canals and The Mighty T. I heard about him from the two guys above and WOW! I see why others hype this man. He is everything an author should be.
Dawn Jayne– The wild imagination behind the debut novel, Uprising. This woman has a personality to match the electricity of her mind. I had to have her.
Mark Souza- Here is one of those authors that you have to sit down with one day and ask, “How in the world did you ever come up with that?” Read the synopsis of his debut novel, Robyn’s Egg and you will fully agree.
Michelle Horst– Oh, Michelle Horst, a.k.a. Sunshine is just that. She lights up every virtual room. A fellow fantasy author, she snagged my heart from the start. I’ve never been intimidated by very many people in this world, but this woman, author of VAALBARA: Visions & Shadows, makes me want to be a better everything I can be.
And me. Yes, HBIC returns for another short and I was lucky enough to snag these fantastic authors to join this 7DS project.
Stay tuned for updates on this project as well as the announcement of more 7DS projects in progress.
I do not blog in a dedicated or routine manner. I like it. If you don’t expect it on a regular basis, maybe you are more likely to read when I do post! (Right?)
Lots of things going on. I have been truly busy. I am getting grey hair and I barely have time for my evening wine (except on special occasions). In case you missed it plastered all over the internet, I HAVE MY OFFICIAL BOOK COVER FOR LIVIAN!
I am blown away by the detail both obvious and hidden with this cover. I can’t wait for you to read this! I have worked with a most fantastic editor to bring my dear book up to par. I’ve learned so much to carry on even bigger and better for the rest of the series. (Thank you for being a blessing, dear editor!)
Champagne Book Group is a remarkable digital publisher. They have really impressed the heck out of me. Be sure to check out their other titles- So many talented authors under one house-
LIVIAN isn’t far away at all now!
SEVEN DEADLY SINS is also doing very well. We have smoked the charts- the charts I wasn’t sure we would ever touch. LOL. The feedback alone has been worth its weight in gold. I love hearing people enjoy something that we all created together. The wonderful things that have blossomed from this project, and continue to do so, soar past my wildest dreams. Have you checked the SINS out yet? Of course you have….but if not, click the photo…
I do have lots more interesting 7DS and publishing news and updates for you. Stay tuned! Thanks for reading!
I have made it clear that this literary journey is, to say the least, a learning process. Beyond the books, blogs, bewares, and Bransford, I find most of the true valuable learning assets is the company of other writers. I do not mean the endless free advice that many are more than willing to shower you with. I am talking about connecting to someone else as they travel down their own path. I have decided to highlight some of these wonderful people who I have been blessed enough to stumble upon. Please welcome Dawn Kirby, Author and friend, to my humble little blog as she allows me to interview her about books and life.
-What non-religious book would you say has influenced your life the most?
Dawn: I would have to say it was To Kill A Mockingbird. I read it when i was
in 7th grade. It touched me deeper than any book ever has. There are
so many life lesson within Harper Lee’s words it’s hard not to take
away something new each and every time I read it.
-What character that you have created is currently your favorite? Why?
Dawn: Raine, without question. He’s big, he’s gorgeous and he’s unlike any
man I’ve ever met. He smells like a storm and the passion he has for
all things is just as strong. He’ll protect those he loves to the
death and won’t hesitate to bring Hell down on anyone who dares cross
him. On the other hand, he can be as sweet and loving as a child. What
woman doesn’t want a knight in shining armor by day and a fiercely
devoted lover by night?
-What aspect of the writing journey do you consider to be the most
Dawn: Having patience. It’s an important part of any writer’s journey
throughout the process. Once you get your story written you have to
edit it, let others critique it (not everybody reads at lightening
speed), edit it again, write a query, wait for a response, get
rejected, write another query….you get the point. Without patience
being a writer becomes a thorn in your side rather than a way to get
your “voice” heard.
– Somewhere, someone is sitting down to write for the first time.
What advice would you offer them?
Dawn: Just do it. You never know what you can accomplish if you don’t try.
Even if it’s just writing your thoughts down to share with a few close
friends. You’ll always be able to look back and say “I did that”.
-What are you currently working on and what can we look forward to in
Dawn: I’m currently editing my first book, SECRETS in the Serenity Series
for publication and writing “LUST” for your fabulous “Sins”
collaboration. As soon as those are completed I’ll start editing book
two, DECEIT and writing book five. In between I write a weekly serial
called TURNING for Sabrina Ogden’s book blog.
– What do you enjoy consuming your non-literary free time doing?
Dawn: Anything that gets me out with my family. Movies are nice, but getting
out of town and seeing them happy and recharged would be grand.
*LUCKY 7*- Give us seven random book titles from your book shelf.
To Kill A Mocking Bird ~ Harper Lee
Much Ado About Nothing ~ William Shakespeare
NightWatch ~Sergei Lukyanenko
Harry Potter (you name it) ~ JK Rowling
The Black Lyon ~ Jude Deveraux
Pride Mates ~ Jennifer Ashley
Heart Shaped Box ~ Joe Hill
I would like to thank Dawn for her time and allowing me to share her with you! If you would like to keep up with Dawn Kirby follow the links below.