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!
Times, they are a’changing.
Etiquette has a way of changing with the times, sometimes, for the good- usually, not so much. I still pull off the side of the road when I see a funeral pass, and after I say a prayer for the family, my alter-ego uses my extensive knowledge of four letter words for anyone that doesn’t. I send thank you notes and I mentally note thank you notes I don’t ever see.
On the other end of things, I remember wearing a lovely, slightly low-cut red silk blouse while pregnant and my sweet, lovely, proper grandmother going off on me like I was a pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of a magazine—nude. Sigh.
Obviously, it is a give and take on what morals you want to bend, and which ones you want to lock in your family tree for centuries to come. Of course, like my grandmother and the red maternity shirt I wore, we don’t get to choose what future generations abolish.
Now here is my pondering thought of the day, and I warn you; I am lost on this one. Social media etiquette – now this is a topic I will touch on a good bit in the future but today, I ask you…
Death and Social Media:
I never know on funeral sites if lighting a virtual candle is tasteful or helpful in any way. I try to picture life 50 years from now and wonder if anyone will say, “Not many people came to the service, but Grandpa could have set the world on fire with all those virtual candles, eh?”
Is it proper to post a status online for the family, to let them know you care? Or does it look like attention seekers not directly related? Is it just a ploy for some to let the boss see the tragedy, light a virtual candle, and snag a round of golf before returning to work late in the afternoon?
And the BIG question, which as time goes by, is becoming more obvious and kind of an elephant in the room. What do you do with those on your social media that have passed away?
I am getting a rather flourishing collection of these lovely people on my social media. People I truly cared about and have fond memories of that I will never forget. At the same time…. There they are. I get leaving the pages up are good for many mourners, but some of us are just lost. Do you wish them a happy birthday and tell them you miss them? Are you a jerk if you do not? Do you like a post someone places on their page about missing them? Or are you saying you are happy they are sad if you like it? Do you untag photos of them? Do you have to leave them up forever if they pass? And how long do you repent if you maybe accidentally beat their score on a level of candy crush and it posts to your profile? (I have not done this, but i have seen it.)
So yes, I ask you- say it is you that has passed on.. In all seriousness, mostly, at least. I know humor breaks tension on hard topics- but really, you have passed.. Do we delete you? Do we post to you? Do you want a real funeral or a facebook event so more people can “attend” around the world? Do we randomly tag you in old photos? What can we do to keep closure with modern social media venturing into this new territory?
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.
If you aren’t on my facebook writer’s page, then you probably haven’t heard my recent news. I was lucky enough to get some really fantastic offers for LIVIAN to be published. I have officially signed with the publisher of my debut novel. LIVIAN will come out through the Burst Imprint of Champagne Books sometime in June 2012.
I am currently waiting to hear what my editor is going to throw my way. (I have an editor. I may feel differently once she puts me to work, but right now I am thrilled.) Some time soon, artists will be creating the cover of my book. (This is where I throw out my Carlton Banks Happy Dance.) I am with a group of fantastic authors. The publisher has provided me with a lovely mentor to help me through the publishing of my first novel. Right now, I am just taking in my many blessings.
I have also just published my official website. www.picarellawrites.com. I will be posting short updates on the site.
That is all for now. I have been dying to share this news and now I have. Thanks for reading!
I must admit, I have been thrilled to see the recent connections from users on twitter creating a facebook and vice versa. For some time, I have almost felt as if I had alter egos for each account since so many tweeters were not on facebook and most facebookers did not seem to have a twitter account. Finally, the social networking world unites!
Happy as I may be to see so many of you wonderful people on both sites, as a long time user of both sites, I would like to offer some opinions. I hope that you see this as helpful. Everyone is entitled to use either site as they wish, but for authors, publishers, business sites, and general networking- some things work on one site that do not work as well on another. I am about to break this down from what I have seen/experienced. I hope this offers some help to you all.
It seems that most literary minds are much more adjusted to tweeting. Most of them live there, only visiting facebook now and again. Twitter is great because it is personal without being too personal. Tweets. Tweets are simple, sweet, and very matter of fact. You can tweet to hype yourself, your friends, your interests. You can tweet random jokes, links, and even photos. You have a following. How great does it feel to have followers? Pretty darn spiffy! Of course, we are limited to but 140 characters per tweet. That can kind of suck, especially considering we are the wordy-sort of folk.
Another good thing is shout outs. We have #MM (Mention Monday) #WW (Writer Wednesday) #FF (Follow/Friend Friday) and #SS (Shout out Saturday). We spread the love the majority of the week along the land of Twittersville. Twitter is great for that! I can not tell you how many times I have followed someone because they were listed in one of these shout outs by someone that I have found to be enjoyable or of like-mind. In return, I have gained some fantastic followers as well by being listed in these shout-outs. Win-win.
Facebook is grand. The butt-kicker of myspace. (My-what?) The entire world basically at your finger tips. We have photos, status updates, events calenders, birthday reminders, groups, games, blogs, polls, questions, surveys, photo-tagging, family, friends, high school pals, exes, and now- lots of literary minded folk! (Oh, yeah and we can type beyond 140 characters) We also have the debate. Profile, Group, or Like Page. Hmmmm. What to do?
Keep in mind, I can only offer an opinion here.
GROUPS– they pretty much suck. I can create the “Michelle Picarella” group right now and add every single person on my friends list- my family and friends can add all of their friends, and by the end of the day, I could have well near 50k people in the official “Michelle Picarella” group. Sounds great? Sure…If you aren’t the one randomly added to a group that you had no choice in joining. Your notifications are officially flooded. Your email as well if you get notifications emailed to you, and somewhere in Idaho, someone is wondering, “Who the heck is this Picarella person and why am I in their group?”……DELETE.
Groups are good for the more facebook-savvy sort. Groups are also probably the most abused application on facebook. IF people like you, they can choose to follow, like, add you. Forcing yourself on someone- never good. Have some pride. You are going to come across like that nasty vegetable your mom shoved down your throat as a child. Do you really want to be someone’s boiled okra? I didn’t think so.
PERSONAL PAGES- Bluntly, the name says it all. Personal and page. Yes, I do have many people that I have never met and most likely, never will on my personal page. Many of them-writers or literary sorts- that do not have other means of communication on facebook. Here is why a personal page should be a personal page.
- Many of you have personal emails, phone numbers, and even addresses listed on your personal page. I am sure some of you do not realize this- but you do. That is unsafe.
- FYI- You can only have so many friends on a personal page. After you have reached the limit, you do not see friend requests, if you have any that you have sent, those people can not add you. The end. Trying to rebuild those “friends” on to a like page- unlikely.
- People tend to post personal things on a personal page. It’s awkward. If someone does not really know you, but support your craft or business on a personal page that you have created, they really do not care if your cousin has pink eye, or if your child said something cute. That is what family and friends care about.
- It is harder for others to help promote you from a personal page. Like pages, blogs, websites, can be shared with more ease than a personal page ever could.
- You need to allow some personal space between you and fans/supporters. If you allow someone you know nothing about to know when you are eating, where, what you had- when you vacation, how long you will be gone- Please, do not be shocked if you happen to pick up a random stalker or robber.
Yes, you are a writer, editor, publisher, or any business/trying to promote/sell something. THIS is where you should be. If you want people to like you or something you are involved in, a LIKE page is where people go to LIKE something. I think it was called that to make it simple. Leave it that way. You can run as many pages as you wish. Say you are an author AND you have seven books, a blue grass band, and an HOA. You can have a page for each of those things. Book lovers can like your books without hearing about your gigs or what day the neighbor down the street actually took down their holiday decor. That simple. It is the way to go.
That being said, there are things that you should avoid. Things that could hurt you more than help you, even with the best of intentions.
THINK BEFORE YOU….
- Post personal information on your LIKE page
- Post things on your like page that have nothing to do with what people are there to like.
- Post updates on your like page as if it were tweets. If you flood fans with facebook status’ such as, writing, taking a break, writing, who’s writing?, eating, writing, check this link out, writing?” You will find that you will not have many like fans, OR even worse, you have been hidden, which means, you think people like you,but they are not seeing a single thing you say. That is going to be great when you actually do have something to say like, “Book comes out today! Buy it!”
- Send shout-outs as if you were on twitter- This works GREAT on twitter, and even once in a while on Facebook, but people do not accept the twitter shout-outs on facebook as well. You are basically littering a newsfeed, spamming it. This will also lead to un-likes, or being hidden. Not what you want. *I tested this theory last week. I have been @ on facebook by some wonderful pages. It was an honor. I felt great. I gained 6 likes in ONE DAY! Holy cow! BUT….(There is always a but…) When I returned the favor, and I did a few shout-outs in return, I actually lost five that had been fans of my page for some time. Who knows how many hid my updates. Do the math. Gained 6…Lost 5… So I gained 1 like on my page in the end. A great sign of bad marketing. I strongly suggest NOT doing this on facebook. Keep it on twitter.
A FEW THING TO AVOID ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
- Being Emo- Nobody want to hear that mess. No one wants to hear that you are a writer, but you think your work sucks, your life sucks, things are so bad. You have time to write. You obviously have a computer and internet. Get over the emo. You probably just got a rejection because an agent or publisher checked you out and saw what a Debbie Downer you are. Who wants to work with that? Stop searching for compliments. We don’t have time to pep you up. We are all busy not sucking.
- Posting rejection counts. Really? That is not okay. If you say, “Got my first rejection today.” or something along those lines, okay. But if you tweet or FB: “Rej Ct= 186” Don’t tweet. Edit.
- Posting in anger that you wrote something controversial and you got a rude reply. That is what you wrote it for. To ruffle feathers. Get over it. There is always going to be a jerk out there, sure. But if you post something and get lots of people ticked off, you either did it just to tick people off or you do not have the skill level to politely express your point of view. We don’t want to hear that you are deleting people, or banning them from your site. They were just as entitled to have an over the top opinion as you are. Many of us can post on touchy subjects and disagree fully- yet still walk away as friends. What are YOU doing wrong?
- Posting that you hate facebook or twitter and are going to delete your account. The only people begging you to stay are the ones that are too nice to say, “Shut up or do it.” No one forces you to social network. You are there because you want to be. People so commonly stress freedom of speech without noting the value of the freedom to simply not speak if you have nothing worth saying.
- Using four letter words. If the only way you can emphasis your feelings is with foul language, you are most likely not creative enough to be in the literary world. Sure we all know them, use them from time to time- but if foul language is as much of your literary wardrobe as shoes are in your physical wardrobe, you really aren’t presenting yourself as creative or educated.