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.
Authors must be the most boring people in the world. We post books, share author links, retweet auto-correct fails, laugh at memes correcting grammar, and when we reach our maximum level of being sociable, we write.
I would say this is wrong, but it is true, but…. but, there is more. Authors are the most intense, outrageous, twisted little suckers in the world. We create people, give them life. We pick names, and towns or worlds. We give them history and attach you to them. We make you love them. THEN, we break their heart. We burn their houses. We kill their parents or loved ones. Sometimes, we kill them. We create things, torture them, and share with you in hopes that you will enjoy it. We are twisted and so are you or else, there would be no books.. and books exist! Oh Lord Almighty, books exist!
Here is a chance for you to see a bit closer how “interesting” we are. Well, in this case, me. I’m interesting, darn it! Yes. I am. Right? Yes. YES! Yes.
I was tagged in a blog post by a fellow author, Laurie Lyons. (Check out her Amazon page!) The challenge is to answer the following questions and then tag other authors. Because we can be quite the ornery sort, this is a vehicle to pull authors away from their imaginations and get them to tell the world about what is going on in their heads. Here goes nothing….or something… I hate that phrase.
Shelly, what are you working on right now? The second edition of Livian is nearing publication. In the back of that, you will find the opening of BOOK TWO in the LIVIAN series, Inennious. If you like steampunkery, dragons, fantasy beings, and possessed unicorns, keep up with me. I also have a short story in an upcoming 7DS Books collection based on dragons and multicultural faiths. I write Antonia, the dragon of Satanism. She’s probably not what your first thought suggests. It was an honor to work with these six other authors and I am proud beyond words of what we’ve created.
How do your stories differ from others in its genre? I don’t create in depth fantasy languages. There are no love triangles. Happy endings are never certain or promised. My fairies and elves could kick your butt. I add steampunk to dark fantasy with a spine carrying faith, doubt, loneliness, and my words bleed sarcasm.
Why do you write what you write? I only write what I wish to read and cannot find. Somewhere in the process of it all, a sort of obligation creates a nagging, dream-seeping tick until I make it a reality in fiction.
How does the writing process work? Before I start a new work, I form it well mentally and spend days, sometimes weeks, acting the character traits physically. Bless my family, friends, and strangers for dealing with my voices, accents, quirks, traits, and flaws for each character. Sometimes, my children are called fictional names of character that may somewhat resemble them. Sometimes, they answer.
I character map. I plot scenes and chapters. I wonder if I would cry if a character dies, and if my eyes get a bit soggy, I begin to plot their death. Sometimes, those fully plotted deaths make it on a page. If so, I drink and mourn and get back to it so my characters can do the same. I write in pajamas with sweaters on top. I forget and twist pens in my hair and fuss at anyone around for stealing my pens. Someone plucks a pen from my head and I usually apologize. I make a youtube soundtrack for the book, and I chair dance when I am proud of a scene…
Finally, after sleepless nights and mid-day naps, I write the final words and I get silly with some wine. The next step is months and months of revising, revisiting, reacting, reaching out to a round of beta readers and repeating revisions. Then, I return to a bit of wine and truly breathe…until edits, at least. LOL! This pretty much sums it up. I am a wreck when I write. I do hope the internet never sees an actual image of my pen-head, jammie-wearing, sweater covered- multiple personality-speaking writerly self. The mental image should be enough to scare you or convince you to buy the crazy chick’s book. You can guess which one I’m rooting for, right?
Now, the fun part. TAG! Here are three authors I think you MUST know and I want to know the behind the scenes of their books. Click, like, follow, and buy books from these authors and soon, I hope to see a similar blog post from each of them.
SARAH ASHLEY JONES– I was lucky enough to not only meet this lovely lady, but to cover panels with her at Nashville Comic-Con this past year. She is a rainbow firecracker author making one heck of a name for herself. Click here for her Amazon page.
JENNIFER WELBORN– A fellow, N.C. author, I have had the pleasure of working with Jennifer as an author with 7DS Books and as an editor. She is sharp, snarky, and you never have to wonder what she is thinking. LOL. Click here for her Amazon page.
KAT DAUGHTRY– The wordsmith of Romance & Revolution, Steam & Steampunk,and so much more. She is a 7DS Books author and her novels are with Twisted Core Press. She even released dual books (Steamfate & Imbroglio) with the same epic plot, but one for Erotica readers and one for New Adult. Lots more coming from her in the future. Click here for her Amazon page.
Now, check out these authors. Like them. Love them. Buy their books. Leave reviews. And soon, you should see these authors post about their work and tag three more authors each for you to discover!
The interaction with readers was overwhelming. This is not an event to do alone- not that it cannot be handled alone, but there are too many people to have wonderful conversations with for a single person to master. I met some “interesting” people- even a psychic that informed me of where I lived and how many children I had. (creepy) I decided to get smart and ask him what I was having for dinner. “Chicken…and you’re cooking it.” he whispered. What a let down. Well, he was half right. Thanks, Bojangles. I did not feel like cooking.
I loved the interest readers carried in the back story of each book on the Ring of Fire table. The conversations came back to back to back. Seven Deadly Sins was a huge hit right along with Stephen Penner’s SCOTTISH RITE. (Everyone loves that book.)
I also autographed my first book for a non-friend or family member. I don’t know if it is normal, but I will never forget the name. God Bless Kermit- the sweet fella that asked for my first stranger autograph. What a kick-butt name. Kermit. I like that guy.
Above and beyond the wonderful experience with readers, I must mention the biggest factor I see in attending a book event and why you must do it. Networking. Always the number one key- networking.
I made some fantastic connections, including library services, warehousing, book clubs, reviewers, and etc.. But my favorite connections were other publishers and authors working the event around me. I grew rather fond of some of these booth holders. You will see me promote them on facebook and twitter. I would like to especially point out the lovely ladies that spent the weekend across from me. While I was setting up my booth, my first booth ever- these ladies came in like storm troopers. Oh, the swag and set up they brought and put together quicker than Chuck Norris could slap a biscuit from your mama’s mouth. They made me sick. LOL. I would easily say they had the best booth for an author at this event.
Not only did they entertain me better than cable ever could, they taught me so very much and helped. I know my next event will be an even better experience and I will always be truly thankful to them for the insight and suggestions. So, here’s to you, AJ Scudiere and her right hand lady, Eli Jackson. I must do another event near you guys.
If this isn’t blog-worthy, nothing is. I have to share with you- with the world- what I was lucky enough to receive in the mail. This beautiful piece of art was created by my favorite author and illustrator. If you pay any attention to me at all, you have heard me talk/type about Professor Barrister’s Dinosaur Mysteries. This series happens to be a normal read in my house. We all love the Professor and his enlightening adventures. The illustrations have amazed me since the first book. Now, I have the world that resides inside of my own imagination on canvas. Stephen Penner has given me LIVIAN- in full color, down to the finest detail. He has told my story with his paint brush. I can not take my eyes off of this painting. This scene is exactly the world of LIVIAN that I see when I close my eyes. It’s perfect. Thank you, Mr. Penner. You amaze me.
Recently, I’ve had the pleasure to beta read for a fellow writer. I have wanted to beta read for some time, though- three kids, my own writing, and a move can put a road block on the “want” list. To sum it up, I realize that it is well worth fitting into the daily grind to have the chance to not only help a fellow author- but enlightening to experience the sheer enjoyment of getting your hands on a great read (that is not yet available for anyone to snag a copy of!)
This is not the first book in the series that I have read, and while I have several more books to catch up on the series- this is one that I must pass on to fellow readers.
Stephen Penner is the man behind my “must read” recommendation for young readers with the “Professor Barrister’s Dinosaur Mysteries”. The level for this series may be ranked for K-3rd grade, but as an adult, I must admit that I am hooked!
Penner’s ability to teach while entertaining is a sure proof way to keep you wanting more of the series. The illustrations of the books are wonderfully detailed without becoming overwhelming as only the greats (such as Shel Silverstein) accomplished with book art.
Normally, I would suggest a book/series with a genre or age group. In this case, young children, older children, parents, grandparents, teachers; all of those with a pulse- you will learn and enjoy doing so if you allow yourself to turn the pages of one of the Professor Barrister’s Dinosaur Mysteries.