Love Yourself First

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Some lessons you just need to get engraved into your skin to remember them.

This summer I feel like I’m emerging from a birth canal. The world around me feels bright and new, and I feel wet and slimy and vary between staring wide-eyed and wanting to cry. On Monday, after fifteen months of separation, my divorce finalised. My last day of day job is next Friday. Three days later, I move into the first ever apartment where I will live alone. A dating relationship is at an end. I got my final royalty cheque from my former publisher. I decided not to move to California.

It’s no wonder I feel a bit reborn.

On Monday at the courthouse, there was one case before us that had to adjourn briefly.  The magistrate called us up, and because it’s a no-contest, no-fault thing, we were asked twenty or so questions and told to fill out a form. Boom bam, baby. While we were filling out the form, the previous case returned. The plaintiff took the stand to testify, and every relieved feeling that had been swirling in me vanished in a puff of  smoke.

Within a minute, the woman was sobbing on the stand. Her grounds for divorce? Cruelty. And her testimony was one of the more brutal things I have heard from another human being. Within two minutes, I could tell she was in full PTSD flashback mode. I had tears dripping into my lap. My friend who came as my witness and my ex husband on either side of me were tense and teary as well. By the time we finished the form and could vault out of the courtroom, all three of us were wide-eyed and swallowing hard.

It’s probably a testimony to the state of my relationship with my ex that when he said, “Aren’t you glad I’m not an abusive asshole?” and I responded by throwing my arms around his neck, that was a totally normal thing to do. He’s a good man. We just weren’t right for each other. And I think both of us are thankful that we were able to high five and hug out our parting.

He left to go have a party. And on the on-ramp to the highway back north home, I turned to my roommate and said, “I want to go get a tattoo.”

I’m planning two large pieces for later this year, and I’d intended to get my back piece first, followed by a partial sleeve. But on Monday, I knew I needed to get a different one first. We drove to downtown, to the tattoo studio my roommate goes to, and they had walk-in time. Three hours later, I walked out with my first tattoo.

My roommate says she needs at least six reasons to get a tattoo, and I like that way of thinking.

Mine is the ogham transliteration of “mo gaol ort,” which means “my love on you” in Gaelic. Here are some of my reasons.

1. This was the inscription on my wedding band, which was entirely my doing. I picked the jeweler, the design, everything about it. It always felt more like mine than a product of our marriage — or a symbol of our marriage. I’m not sure from whom the love was supposed to come in the context of our relationship, in retrospect.

2. I’ve always wanted an ogham tattoo, and this will be the first of at least two.

3. It is a reminder of the good times in my marriage, and a reminder that there were good times. It is a reminder that good times do not necessarily reflect the right relationship.

4. It is a reminder that in that relationship, I was not my truest self. Because of that, I was unable to give myself fully to the relationship, and there was no way the relationship could be successful when I myself was stunted.

5. It is a reminder of the things that matter desperately to me, and a reminder to keep myself focused on those things if I hope to find or create a fulfilling life.

6. Most importantly, by inking the words “mo gaol ort” into my skin, by my own accord, with deliberate and purposeful agency, it is a reminder to love myself. That any love within me must first be my own, for me. It is a reminder that I deserve that. That loving myself is the single most important thing I can do to be a whole person. Whether alone or in relationship to others, loving myself is a prerequisite before I can extend love outward.

Today I read a pair of articles about what it means to “hold space.” To hold space means to allow another person to exist, react, grieve, grow — all without judgement or offering unsolicited advice. It means we journey beside them without trying to guide them. At the end of that article, it links to another very necessary piece, because in order to effectively hold space for anyone else, you have to hold space for yourself first.

Many of the lessons in that second post are layered into the ink that now dwells in my skin. It’s okay to walk away. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to ask for help. Listen to yourself. Find inspiration. Seek out meaningful experience. Create. Acknowledge your emotions.

Taking care of ourselves is the first step.

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The Word Volcano

CC attribution: Wolfgangbeyer
CC attribution: Wolfgangbeyer

I’m prolific.

My obsessive and hyper-focused nature tends to converge in my writing, and I end up having months where I’ll write over 100,000 words between blogging and fiction, and if there’s anything that’s earned me as many wide-eyed stares as waltzing out of the loo with my skirt tucked into my panties, it’s that.

Everyone has their own creative style. Some people are like the Colorado River, and every day the Grand Canyon gets just a little deeper. They create with a steady trickle that sculpts their work over time.

Some people are like lightning, with inspiration striking out of the clear skies and hitting them with electricity.

And then there’s me.

I wrote maybe a couple thousand words of fiction in February and March this year. I had a lot going on, to be sure, but in reality, I was dormant.

In January I wrote over 70,000 words on my epic fantasy to finish it. Most of that was within a couple weeks, and 45,000 of those words happened in a weekend. April’s going to be another one of those months. But between them? Nada.

I’ve decided that I’m a volcano.

I used to think there was something that was wrong with me, because I couldn’t be a river or lightning. So much of the conventional wisdom out there says that you should be writing every day, even if it’s a little bit. It took a really long time for me to realize that there wasn’t anything that made my way bad. It made me feel crazy when I’d write like a fiend for weeks on end and then nothing for a couple months.

But here’s the thing: I was getting stuff done.

That’s ultimately what made me give the finger to conventional wisdom — I was finishing books. Words were happening, and whole books were coming out of it, so I wasn’t failing at writering. I was just doing it differently.

In my dormant periods, I’m always absorbing. I’m melting rock into magma, compacting ideas and pressurizing them. I read a lot. I pay a lot more attention to the world around me, to people on the metro and what they look like, how they move and what they say. Everything becomes fuel. A dormant volcano is hungry, hungry, hungry.

And then it erupts.

When that happens, I will write for 20 hours a day. Obsessively wording from the moment I wake up until the moment I glue myself to the bed to make myself sleep. I’ll get up and do it again. I’ll have 5,000 word days on a low day and 20,000 word days on the high end. It’s not fun. It’s frenetic. It’s lava spewing everywhere, and smoke and pumice and obsidian forming in the aftermath.

Instead of immediately falling dormant afterward, I have aftershocks. I can’t be not busy when the first eruption ends. I’ll scribble, move quick in every direction, find something else to obsess over until a couple weeks later I can breathe, sleep, and return to quiet for a while.

It’s not particularly pleasant to work this way, but it works for me. As I said, I am obsessive and hyper-focused. When I can tune in to one thing like this and get it done, I feel better about the world.

What type of creative are you? Are you a river or a lightning bolt or a volcano like me?

 

All By My Big Self

BabyMeridaAdorable

There are a lot of things I’ve learned since going indie with STORM IN A TEACUP and planning to follow with the rest of my UF books for the foreseeable future. I’ve learned that just because you can check your sales every day (or erm…hour) doesn’t mean you should. I’ve learned that Amazon’s algorithm is an interesting little beast. I’ve grown a renewed appreciation for math and data that I thought died a horrible death in high school algebra class.

On Friday I enrolled myself in KDP Select, because frankly, the handful of Barnes and Noble sales I’ve gotten were just about enough to fit in both hands. Within a day, my rank had catapulted into the 5,000s and then into the 2,000s, and I was ranking in my browse categories for the first time with this book. Today I’m ranking in the main UF category around Jim Butcher and Kevin Hearne and…and….okay. O_O

And the other huge thing? I realized that Storm had passed 1000 sales.

None of those things happened with my debut.

For me, the biggest thing right now is a strange sense of pride. Not strange in that it’s weird to feel proud of selling 1000 books, but strange in that I can most liken it to accomplishing a new, difficult task for the first time as a child. Like learning how to tie your shoe, or getting your legs to cooperate in the triple jump in track practice. It’s also somehow like the way I felt living in Poland when I would be talking to a native Polish speaker in Polish and realized after an hour that all that time had passed and I was understood. We had had an exchange of ideas in a language I wasn’t born into. With Storm, it’s a sense of looking out there at readers and knowing somehow I reached them. I did this. I made a thing. I got to them myself, and they’re responding.

There’s been a sense of relief this weekend that is hard to quantify — after fourteen years of knowing writing was the thing I wanted to do and ten of grasping my way toward publication and six of writing full time in addition to a full time job, seeing my book selling steadily feels the same of having someone confirm that they saw the lights flicker too. I’m not imagining it. It’s real. It’s happening. It’s not all in my head.

A sense of maybe, of possibility, of hoping.

None of this is to say that this happened all because of me — far from it. There are 80 people who saved me in December, and a couple hundred more who form a community that I could not have gotten through 2014 without. Those people sharing and reviewing and talking about my book is the only reason others outside that sphere are finding it. I’ll never stop being grateful for that.

The relief and the “I made dis” doesn’t come from having poofed something into existence and had people flail at it. It comes from a decade of working within a framework where if I wanted to share my stories with readers, I had to be a camel and fit through the eye of a needle, because they only existed on the other side of that little metal hole.

The relief and the “I made dis” comes (belatedly) from realizing that a needle is a narrow object, and it doesn’t take all that much to, you know, walk around it and get to the other side. That may sound like utter bollocksy common sense to you all, but…well. Let it never be said that my tenacity hasn’t ever taken skin off my back.

I’m still trying to thread that needle with other projects, but I can’t quite explain the relief I feel knowing that my books can find readers without it.

There are many roads to readers, and mine may have been a bit roundabout and still ongoing, but I found one. I feel like a big girl now.

dean, supernatural, jensen ackles, winchesters

When the Game Changes

I am — and always have been — a planner.

I was that kid who started drawing up ideas for my November birthday in February. (Hmmm, I turn 31 this year. Nice prime number. I should do something snazzy.) I floundered writing as a pantser until I got some weird externally-bestowed permission to plan out my books, and then I just ran with it.

(Sidebar: we are not amused with Stephen King’s assertion that outlines are the crutch of bad writers who wish they were writing a master’s thesis. Not everyone needs to spend 20 years reinventing the wheel, Stevie-boy. *grumble* Everybody arts their own way, and more power to them whatever it is. Good day, sir.)

Over the last few  years, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time trying to plan my writing career. Anyone who’s ever tried that knows its sort of like herding fish in the open ocean armed with nothing more than a flimsy bit of slimy seaweed. (Not that I have much experience with that.) Ultimately, when it comes to traditional publishing, there’s really not much you CAN plan for. You don’t know if your manuscript will snag an agent or an editor, and if it does, how long either of those things will take or what they will mean when they happen.

I’ve seen people go from query to agent to book deal in literally a week and a half. I’ve also seen people query for 4-5 years and not get an agent. Or get an agent and not get a book deal. Or the agent turns out to be not so nice. Or the book deal falls through. Or the agent has to leave for whatever reason. Advances are huge. Or they’re tiny. Or they’re non-existent. Or they’re somewhere in the middle. They arrive on time. Or they arrive after eight months of OH-MY-DOG-BUT-THE-MORTGAGE.

I’ve seen people who had agents squabbling over them not sell, and I’ve seen people who sell huge flop.

Essentially, you can’t plan this shit.

Sometime last year, the unthinkable happened for me. I sold four books. Three to a major publisher. And then in the space of three weeks in September-October, my imprint closed and the other pending book deal with a different publisher floundered, and we backed slowly away after someone changed the game without telling us. This is the first time I’m talking about this publicly. Suffice it to say that it hurt. A lot. THE MASKED SONGBIRD came down from sale the week before Christmas, and I was a hurty ball of mess.

The game changed. It changed fast. It changed hard.

At that point, I had already been making other plans though. I had started self publishing my little Eva Jamieson smexy books. I had planned to self publish STORM IN A TEACUP, the book that had the deal fall through.

So when the book came down, I already had ideas lined up — once my rights reverted, I’d self publish my urban fantasy and submit the epic I was working on to editors. I’d go full hybrid steam ahead.

But the game kept changing.

Let me just say: for a planner like me, it’s really, really hard to stay grounded when everything is shifting beneath your feet. Where do you stand? How do you walk straight? Are you DRUNK? What is happening, and why do I have glitter in my hair?

Samglitter

STORM came out at the beginning of this month, and it became my anchor. It was, for the first time, something I had control over. When everything was shifting, ironically enough, it was a book called STORM IN A TEACUP that gave me back something I’d been lacking.

Looking ahead, things are still changing — and very quickly. Within a month I’ll have probably two big crazy sets of news.

The important thing for me, regardless of which path of publishing you choose (traditional, indie, hybrid, self), is to find the things over which you have power and do the best you can with them. There are no guarantees regardless. Books sometimes surprise you, and that can happen in the self publishing world as easily as the traditional publishing world. Ultimately, you have the power over your craft, to keep bettering it with every book you write. You have control over that. You can keep pushing yourself.

You have control over how you handle setbacks. Maybe not how you react to them (Dog knows I’ve spent plenty of time in the fetal position crying into my cats in the last year — and anxiety isn’t something you can just flip the switch on), but how you respond to them. How you care for yourself, and how you press on (whatever pressing on means to you).

You have the power to decide each day what it is that will help make things better, even if it’s only a teensy bit better. Some days that might be outlining a new book or writing a few thousand words. Some days it might be watching your favorite episodes of Buffy with an entire pizza and a Big Mac and a double Filet-O-Fish and a carton of cookies and cream and an entire bag of jalepeno Cheetos and NO YOU DO THAT NOT ME SHADDUP.

Some days it might be doing a Whole Other Thing.

For me, it was a lot of those things (ahem). It was also finding out that I could set a schedule for self publishing and work to grow my career that way while I worked on things I felt were more suited to the traditional market. It was figuring out what it was I wanted most from my career and setting out goals, specific goals. Like a motherfluffing business plan or something.

It could be any number of things for you. The crux of this is that the game will always change. If there’s anything I learned in the Year That Will Not Be Named, it’s that the game will keep changing. At all stages. Pre-agent. Post-agent. Pre-publication. Mid-contract. Sometimes those changes are hard and scary and painful and feel like someone’s pulled the whole ground out from under you. I had several of those moments last year.

But if you keep stringing ropes from tree trunk to tree trunk and rock to rock, if the ground falls away beneath you, at least you’ll have something to grab on to.

loch ness, scotland, highlands, rainbow, loch, nessie, scottish highlands

How the Scottish Referendum for Independence Gave Me New Creativity

Aside from the obvious inspiration for my debut novel, there’s something sparkly happening in Scotland that has brought me back to life.

Today is the day Scotland votes on independence. The ballot question is simple: Should Scotland be an independent country? One box for yes, one box for no.

It’s easy to think of the politics in something like that. And they’re present, of course. But the real magic has happened in Scotland’s people.

National Collective, an organization founded by Ross Colquhoun a couple years back, took point on involving creative folks — artists, writers, designers, architects, actors, musicians, and more — in the discussion on Scottish independence. What happened next was the stuff of an Upworthy video, clickbaity title included.

All over Scotland, National Collective started getting people involved, using social media with facility and power and passion. They grew to thousands of members. They engaged with the Yes campaign. They mobilized each other and their peers, and together they mobilized a generation — and more.

What I’ve seen in the past two years since I first met Ross and wrote a little op-ed for their website back in August of 2012 is a picture of what a society could look like if they cared. To see Scotland take up the banners of fairness, justice, peace, and diplomacy is one thing — to see her people do so in the name of building those things themselves and committing to being better no matter how much work it takes, well. That is the stuff of legends.

The debate on Scottish independence has been fascinating for many reasons, but for me, the part that brings tears to my eyes and goosebumps pebbling across my skin is seeing the webs of connections the people of the Yes movement have forged across their country and the world. How voices in Iceland and Catalonia and Quebec (and here in the US) have raised in support of an independent Scotland. How the #YesGenerations conversation on Twitter showed families reaching across generational lines to have dialogue and how the passion of the youth to build a better nation helped convince their grandparents to give them the chance to try.

That is the kind of land I want to live in. One that values its people and knows that its human capital is far more priceless than pounds or dollars. One that feels the need to protect its elderly from cuts to necessary programs and one that welcomes immigrants and for whom an independent Scotland is for all who live within its borders, regardless of where they came from.

Watching this debate has fueled within me an even stronger desire to be there when Scotland goes her own way. I cannot predict the outcome of today’s vote. All I can predict is that it will be close, and it will leave Scotland changed. Those in Scotland who have risen up to engage with this very important question aren’t going to go away.

A big thing that has come out of this also is the concept that being an idealist and accomplishing something are not mutually exclusive ideas. Those working toward Scottish independence are far from having their heads in clouds or sand or both. They’re out there working, learning about policies, actively engaging in changing that which is within their control. This is the generation that will make up Scotland’s next leaders, and this is something of great value in a world where the recession has made many cynical and apathetic about their abilities to effect change.

So today, I’m looking forward. Scotland has taught me that it’s possible to exercise control things small and large alike.

Whatever the results are today, I’m behind the people of Scotland. Create. Innovate. Thrive.

 

A Sexy Cycle: The Normalizing Power of Erotica

venice, romance, italy, blue
Image by Gnuckx, used under CC license.

Last week, fellow Scribe Kristin McFarland wrote about this being the golden age of smut. She of course referred to erotica, and described it (very aptly) as romance without the fade to black.

No curtains drawn, no blurry watercolors to be found. Erotica takes you not just into the bedroom, but underneath the sheets with the protagonists. It’s no secret that erotica has existed for a long time. Kristin wrote about how this golden age has come to be, and as I read her post and chatted with her about it, we both realized there was more to say on the subject.

50 Shades of Grey has been credited with bringing kink out of the closet. Detractors (myself included to an extent) will remark that its story is far from a normal, healthy BDSM relationship. Safewords ignored, consent in the titular shades of grey when it’s something that ought to be black and white, stalkerish behavior, and abusive red flags are all reasons I agree with that — but I will give it credit for one major, major thing: its normalizing power. Because of its success, many other authors have followed in its wake. My new rave is one Kristin already mentioned, Abigail Barnette’s The Boss trilogy. For me, that series is what 50 Shades wanted to be — Barnette created characters who have their issues but who deeply love and respect one another, for whom consent is first priority, and whose kinks are not acted out in an abusive manner. Also, her characters have lives and goals, friends and families and all the nuance that comes with them.

Erotica as a genre is something I’ve come to love. Over the past few months, I’ve read Mina Vaughn’s How To series featuring the elusive Dommes (or FemDoms) in a market saturated by male Dominants. Her books are often funny and lighthearted, but they depict BDSM in a down-to-earth way that gets me coming back for more. Tamara Mataya writes books with women who know what they want. I was fortunate enough to get a sneaky beta peek at her newest project, also centered in the BDSM world, and lemme just say — you want to keep an eye on her. I’ve also been reading Sylvia Day, Tiffany Reisz, and Amanda Byrne — all women to watch.

One thing that has struck me about the erotica genre is the power it has. It not only can erm…move you in unexpected ways…but in a world fraught with sexual shame and dichotomies and Madonna-whore complexes, erotica is a refreshing look at what things could be. Today I wanted to look at how erotica could very well change the world.

1. Turning Shame to Sex Positivism

Women especially are taught from an early age that our bodies don’t belong to us. “Don’t wear that; people will think you’re a [slut, whore, easy, tramp, floozy].” “She’s asking for it in that.” “Aren’t you just a pretty little princess?” “Don’t touch yourself! Dirty!” It’s reinforced in myriad ways through a culture that objectifies women’s bodies. Even Meghan Trainor’s smash hit All About That Bass is centered around the message that having curves is good because boys like women with booties. Not because your body is right and perfect as it is just because it is — but because of how men relate to it. It took a whole bunch of listens for me to put my finger on what bothered me about it, and since then it’s lost a bit of its empowering punch for me, also because of some backhanded jabs at women who happen to be slender. “And no I won’t be no stick figure, silicone Barbie doll…..I’m bringing booty back, go on and tell them skinny bitches that/Naw, I’m just playin’ I know y’all think you’re fat.”

There’s been enough shame, thank you. Let’s agree that all body types are worthy and that no matter what you look like, you’re a fucking 10 just because you’re YOU.

Erotica has the power to depict sexual relationships in a way that is positive and reverent — even when it gets right down to the sweat, the fluids, and the tumescent members. (Heyo, 10 Things I Hate About You)

In erotica, women are allowed to own their sexuality, to be the sexual instigators, and to be the ones with the higher sex drives. For me, reading stories where that was the case was more true to my own experience in several of my past relationships, and if I’m any indication, that can be a massively validating thing for any reader.

Sex positivism is something I long to see more of in the world and in fiction, and erotica not only allows for it, but it celebrates it. Stories have power to change the way we think. Seeing a protagonist take ownership of her body, her sexuality, and her desire can make others feel good about doing the same.

2. Exploring Kink

When even basic “vanilla” sexuality is colored with the marker of shame, exploring other proclivities can be even scarier for people. Erotica is a glorious safe space. As Kristin mentioned, with the advent of e-readers, anyone can read anything anywhere without the fear of someone scoffing at the cover or calling them out.

Beyond that, erotica is a place where readers can live vicariously through protagonists who might be into things we’ve never tried. From light bondage to caning, fisting to anal play, erotica is a safe space to engage with ideas and see how they can play out. One of the most awesome things about erotica for me has been to see writers who ensure they are depicting kink in a way that celebrates the kinkster code of Safe, Sane, and Consensual. (Or, alternatively, Risk-Aware Consensual Kink.) This means erotica writers who don’t shy from condoms and other barrier methods, who frankly discuss risks, and do it all with flair that makes even escapism something to emulate in real life.

Even if you don’t want to rush out and buy canes and spreader bars, beyond all else, erotica is a safe zone. You can pull the pages up to your chin and learn more about what you like without any pressure to actually try it until you’re ready. And bonus — unlike in pornography, you don’t have to worry about any chance of humans being exploited.*

Another major tenet of erotica’s magic is communication — especially in kinky erotica, I love seeing partners who make sure they speak their needs, use their safewords when necessary, and check in with each other to ensure that things ARE safe, sane, and consensual. It’s beautiful. Even for those who are not kink-inclined, there are many lessons to be learned from that.

3. Normalization

Finally, erotica has enormous normalizing power.

One of the biggest landmarks in the study of human sexuality was Alfred Kinsey’s reports on human sexual behavior. His studies took taboos to task and revealed that many things that had been seen as abnormal or overly risque were, in fact, incredibly commonplace. Masturbation, homoerotic feelings, female desire — his study shone light into previously darkened corners of how humans behaved in bed (or wherever else they happened to get their grind on). It created a conversation out of the realities of human sexuality, and that conversation helped lay the groundwork for the sexual revolution.

Erotica has that same power. Depicting female masturbation, fun with toys, kink, etc. — all of those things allow readers to see themselves on the page. By depicting equal, consensual, communicative relationships all across the spectra of kinks and and vanilla lovin’, erotica can show us something to aspire to in our own personal lives.

What do you think about the genre? How has erotica taught you about yourself, if you don’t mind sharing?

 

 

*I’m generally porn-positive, but I’m incredibly cognizant that there is always a chance that, especially in the jungles of free internet stuff, there could be some serious exploitation issues. This is one reason I advocate paying for it; you can generally find out from pay sites how their actors are treated, etc. Plus, compensating people for their work is good.

THE MASKED SONGBIRD Arrives!

elephant, trampoline, elephant on trampoline gif, gif, animals

 

It’s here!

IT’S HERE.

*breathes into paper bag*

You know those dreams where you’re stripped naked in front of the whole class? Yeah, well I never had those until I started working as a server. Then I had dreams where I had the whole restaurant as my section, every table got sat at once, I couldn’t get drinks for everyone, they all got REALLY angry……

….and then my clothes disappeared.

That’s ever-so-slightly how I feel with THE MASKED SONGBIRD flapping around in the wild. It’s my book. One I wrote, finishing the final words two years to the day before this one. And now it’s out there for everyone to read.

It’s a little terrifying. They say life imitates art, and as I read through the .epub file I was given by my publisher, there were some things in the book that stuck out to me like a cowlick or a sore thumb or other things that stick out. More like a sore thumb, because as Buffy would say, “Do they really stick out? I mean, do you ever look at thumb and go, ‘Wow, that puppy is sore?'”

But I digress. The point is, you all probably won’t notice those things, but I see them in every chapter. Bits of my life and subconscious that got woven throughout this story without my active decision-making. One character has traits of several of my good friends and my own inner voice snapped together like a rubber-band ball. Sometimes his words sound just like my best friend Julia. He breathes Scotland and is a baker like Jordan. He comes through for people like my bosom friend Kristin. He’s an activist like my Albannach and National Collective friends, a painter like my mother and my uncle and my aunt and my grandmother and my grandfather and like another good friend of mine.

Yet another two characters share names with a friend who passed, a Scottish patriot and an historian who loved the legacy of his country and hoped for a better future for his daughter. His name, David Ross, became these two characters I love.

I didn’t mean to do any of that. Any of it. I guess “write what you know” just bled out like that. I wrote the book in six weeks two years ago — and barely had time to think. Some of it didn’t click until after I’d sent the final draft to my editor after my last chance to review. I sat straight up in bed at 3 in the morning wondering how in the world I’d missed all that.

And deeper still, the setting itself is so threaded through my soul that I can’t read the book without thinking about walking arm in arm across the bridge in Inverness in the cerulean summer gloaming at 2 AM with Julia and Jordan. Or see the aquamarine crescent that is Achmelvich Beach. I can’t think of the coming referendum without wondering what 18 September holds for my beloved Scotland; she’ll be fine either way. I just wonder. And hope. And however much my life ended up imitating my art, I can’t predict what will happen.

This post turned super mushy.

crowley, supernatural, mark sheppard, demons, feeling the feels

So sue me. Mah book just came out. If you don’t want to listen to me be mushy, well…

Go read it. 😀

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emmie mears, the masked songbird, harlequin e, harlequin, debut novel, debut, fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, superheroes, superwomen

Mildly hapless Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. She’s got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a flatmate to share rent. Gwen’s biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty quid until payday and not antagonizing her terrifying boss.

Then Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishing strength. All of which come in handy the night she rescues her activist neighbour from a beat-down by political thugs.

Now Gwen must figure out what else the serum has done to her body, who else is interested and how her boss is involved. Finally—and most mysteriously—she must uncover how this whole debacle is connected to the looming referendum on Scottish independence.

Gwen’s hunt for answers will test her superpowers and endanger her family, her friends—even her country.