A Clockwork Heart

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As she lay there, head on his chest, she heard the soft whirl of his artificial heart.  She could hear the mechanical sound of blood being pushed from one chamber to another via the automated valves.

As she listened, she realized how much she missed the sound his heart used to make.  The swoosh of a muscle slightly out of rhythm and the click it made at the end of a beat as it struggled to move the blood from one side to the other.  The sound that indicated a defect that nearly took his life.

She was grateful for his new heart and his continued health.  Yet there was something about prosthetic which made her feel uneasy.  Beyond anything else, she concluded that it must be the way it functioned.  It was smooth and calculated.  It was an even system unmatched by even the healthiest of hearts.

This new organ kept secrets  She missed the way her touch used to cause his heart to race and then listening to it pound and eventually calm after they had been intimate.  She used to be able to read him by listening to that heart.  Now, she could only guess at what he was feeling.

He placed a hand under her chin and lifted her face to his.  At first, she avoided eye contact, feeling guilty for her thoughts and irrationally worried that he’d somehow developed an ability to read her mind.

She couldn’t look away forever, and the longer she tried, the worse she felt.  She met his gaze and peered deep.  As she met his eyes, she instantly knew that he had no inkling of her longing.

The longer she looked, the more she realized she didn’t need his heart to tell her what he felt.  She had his eyes.  Were those to ever be in question, she had his touch.  She had the soft breath from his mouth on her cheek.  She had a sensation that she couldn’t quite name.  A warmth that projected from him to her.  A sense of calm and love that could only be felt with the deepest parts of her.

He leaned and kissed her mouth sweetly.  She let the emotion overwhelm her until her heart was racing enough for the both of them.

Letters

***The social anxiety part of me says that I need to put a disclaimer before the following letter because, to me, it sounds so serious.  Don’t worry, no one died, and I’m not quitting writing.  I don’t want to make anyone feel bad. This letter is just something that I needed to write.***

 

I’d address this letter to you, but I know it won’t be read by you.  I can’t claim that I don’t think about you often.  And I miss you more than words can say.  Most of me understands that I’ll never have you back, but part of me still believes that I can.

I often find my mind drifting to the past.  I think about the times when everything seemed great.  Happiness seemed abundant, and the future was full of infinite possibilities, nearly all of them good.

It’s hard to imagine a good future without you.  I try, and I can almost see the promise of what could be ahead, but mostly, it’s just a silhouette.  I still have the hopes and dreams that I had before, but they seem murky now.  They are muted and abstract.  The past is clear, but the future has become utterly uncertain.

Then there are times that I’m mad at you.  Perhaps you were naive.  There were several times when you were ungrateful.  The thought that what was could last forever clouded thoughts and judgement, and so much time was wasted.  Sure, you did good things, but I can’t help but think you could’ve done more.

Even when I have these thoughts, even when I feel a burning anger, I still long for those days.  I try to remember all of the things, good and bad, about you.  I hold tight to the memories of events and feelings.  As time passes, they fade, and I lose my sense of you.  Just as you disappeared from my life, I fear you are dissapearing from my memory.

I’ve thought of trying again.  Of going back, and seeing what, if anything, I could recapture.  Sometimes it feels like I want to go back more than anything.

But I can’t.

Even if I tried to recreate the circumstances that led to you, it wouldn’t work.  I’m different now.  And no matter how close I got to getting everything back the way it was, it would never really be the same.  It may be close, but in my memory, it’s perfect.  And no reality could ever live up to perfection.

I have to let you go.  My brain tells me that the future will be okay, that life goes on.  I know it does.  But holding on to you is holding me back.  Maybe I can’t make out the details of my future because I’m so desperately trying to hold on to the past.  If I’m to ever find peace, I know that I have to allow the fog of time wash over me and take your memory from my mind.

I’ll never regret you.  At the moment, you seem like you were the best part of my life so far.  I’ll never forget the things you taught me or what you showed me about myself.  That part of you lives on in my heart, and time can’t touch it there.

I deeply hope that I never have to write this letter again.  There’s every possibility that I will.  I’ve been through this time and again, but I’ve never felt so impacted by it before.  Perhaps the next letter will be a love letter.  Or a goodbye to this part of my life that seems full of hopelessness and gloom.  Maybe my next letter will be the one I write when everything gets back on track.

I hope so.

Until then, I’ll try to remember to let you go.

Goodbye, Past Me.

Love,
Present Me

I found Kara

I was looking at stock photos, and I happened across this one.  And the first thing that went through my mind was: that’s Kara from my novel Otherworlders.  Or at least pretty close.  Of course, as with any story, the reader tends to imagine what’s right for them and their interpretation of the story.  Which, in my opinion, is the best way to read.  But this is a little peak at what was going through my head when I envisioned her (even though I found this long after).

Portrait of post apocalypse girl which shows a gesture to the shot. Woman in protective suit and mask

Writing Wednesday – Get Published

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Last Week’s WW: Resolutions

aLTCOVER

See that cover?  It’s got my fella‘s name on it.  This will be the first thing that he’s published, and I’m very proud of him.  But I didn’t just come here to brag.  I came to offer a little advice: Publish!

It’s not an easy thing to do.  Emotionally, any way.  Publishing a work means letting it go.  It’s putting it out into the world, hoping no one hates it, but accepting the possibility that they might, and being okay with it.  It’s understanding that something you created isn’t yours anymore.  It’s splitting open your chest and placing it’s contents out for all the world to see.  It’s you at your most vulnerable.

It’s also you at your strongest.  It’s showing the world and yourself what you can do.  It’s proving that you’ve created something from nothing.  It’s wearing your iron armor and walking otherwise naked into the streets.  You’re strutting your stuff, and you want everyone to look.

Okay, fine, we’re bleeding and naked and we feel okay about it, hopefully.  It still doesn’t answer the question: How do I publish?

There are many answers to this question.  Of course, it’s starts with having something finished.  Something that’s hopefully been revised a few times and edited and ready to make that march into the world.  Once you have that, you have options.

You can hold out, wait for an agent, spend the time to craft the perfect query letter, revise it if needed, and try again until you get the elusive traditional publishing deal.

You can go for instant gratification.  You can hop on to Amazon right now, upload your writing, your cover, and pick out some key words, and in a few days, you’ll have a self-published work.  This option used to be frowned upon, but times have changed.  It is a legitimate way to get started, with even the Big 5 going after books that originally started as self-pub.  Some people are making real money this way.  Of course, others aren’t selling any copies.  There are no guarantees in writing.  No get-rich-quick, fail-proof scenarios.  And self-publishing takes a lot of work.  You have to get your story edited, you have to get a cover, you have to do the marketing.  Discoverability is, in my opinion, the biggest hurdle for self-published authors.

You can enter contest.  I’ve enjoyed entering Writers of the Future.  I’m sure there’s more like it out there.  Google is your friend.

There are also magazines.  Lightspeed is a popular one, and I know a lot of people who have been published in it.  There’s also Asimov, Clarskworld, Analog… the list goes on and on.  Check out their websites, see when they’re accepting submissions, and have something ready for when it’s open.

You can also do what I did: cyberstalk the authors you like, find out what they’re doing, and try to be a part of it.  I joke, but it’s also kind of true.  I followed Hugh Howey, who led me to Matthew Mather, and I think it’s from those two that I found a lot of my indie-author friends and even The Future Chronicles.

How’d I get published in The Future Chronicles?  I followed and I asked.  And then, when the opportunity came along, I submitted a writing sample.  That was the bulk of it.  I also supported them however I could.  it’s always good to give back to the writing community.  Those connections go a long way.  And now, my fella, based on his writing sample, interest, and connections, has a story published in ALT History 102, which is published by Windrift Books also.

So, don’t be afraid.  Pick a path, or try out few and see what works.  What’s important is that you get out there.  If you have a story, go for it.  Or write a story with the ultimate goal of publishing in mind.  You can do it.  You should do it.

Writing Wednesday – Resolutions

Last WW: Make Them Keep Reading

We’re already 13 days into 2016.  They say that a new year is a new chance. That it’s an opportunity to reset your life, or at least work on improving yourself in the ways that somehow eluded you the year before.

Many people pledge to eat better, exercise more, get a better job, and even write more often… Those are all great things to strive for.  Most resolutions are.

We’re just about 2 weeks in.  Many people at this point think that they have either lived up to your New Year’s Resolutions or already blown them.  I believe that way of thinking will only set you up for failure.

If you’re keeping up with a resolution, that’s awesome.  Good job.  However, once you get it into your head, “well, I did it” then you might have a problem keeping that momentum going.  You might find that later you’re saying, “well, I did it for awhile.”  Then you’re right back where you started, not doing the thing you wanted to do.

If you’ve already messed up your resolution, then I have good news: tomorrow is another day!  You don’t have to wait for a new year to come around to do the things you want to do.  Depending on your goal, every day, every hour, every week… is an opportunity to get back on track.

Did you want to lose weight and eat a whole pizza by yourself?  Well, you’ll have to eat again.  And that’s an opportunity to do what you set out to do.  If you want to write more, write more.  Doesn’t matter if you’ve been going strong for weeks or haven’t typed a word.  If you want it, you’ll find a way to do it.

Don’t let resolutions trip you up.

 

December Update

I’m pretty sure my existence has turned into a lifetime movie:

A writer living the good life in Los Angeles must move back to her hometown to take care of a cancer riddled family member. Her everything is tested as she must bring a mentally disabled old man into her home, return to working a 40 hour a week job, reconnect with old friends and family, face challenges at every turn, and try to make a life in a place that she left long ago…

It’s definitely a drama.  I miss the good ol’ days when I lived a situation comedy.

November Updates

Hi.  It’s been awhile.  There’s been a lot going on.  I’m moving.  I won’t be the LA writer any more.  At least, not for awhile.  I’ll still be writing, of course, but we’re headed back to St. Louis to help out family during this tough time.  Life has basically been turned upside down the last few weeks.

I don’t know what the future holds.  It all feels pretty bad right now.  But life keeps going until it doesn’t.  I will try to make the most of my time and my move.  I’ll do my best to keep you all updated, and hopefully get some real content back on this blog.

October Updates

Hi all.  Sorry I’ve gone quiet again.  I was just getting back in the swing of things when life went and turned stuff all around again.

First the good news:

I have a short story “Auto” in the anthology The A.I. Chronicles, which has been out for a few months now.  Yesterday, it had a great push.  It was ranked #31 on All of Amazon, and #1 in a whole lot of categories.  Thanks to that, my author ranking went up, and I can now say that I am an “Amazon Best Selling Author.”  I got to #16 in SciFi, for certain top 100 in ebooks, and I honestly believe top 100 on Amazon.  The way the metrics are reported, and the way they are delayed, if you’re not constantly pressing refresh, you might miss a big jump.  I went from somewhere around 5,000 to #136 in a day.  From what other people are reporting, I know my rank was higher sometime before it was 136.  How much higher?  I guess I’ll never know.  If nothing else, I am a Kindle Best Selling Author, and a Top 20 SciFi Author on Amazon.  It feels pretty great.

The A.I. Chronicles is currently on sale for .99.  I’ve also got most of my books on sale or free right now, too.

I also found out that my little sister is going to have her first baby.  She’s very excited and I’m excited for her.

The bad news: Continue reading

Mention Monday – San Diego Comic-Con

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Last MM: Author Meet-Up

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I know this is a bit belated, but I wanted to mention Comic Con, and I hadn’t gotten around to doing it yet.  In July I was lucky enough to attend the San Diego Comic-Con.

My day began with an author meet-up with Hugh Howey.  He brought donuts, there was maybe a dozen of us hanging out, it was an amazing experience.  Around the convention center, there were a giant mass of people.  There was a great deal of events, showcases, and costumed people outside of the comic con.  A person could spend all day just walking around outside.

(I had a picture of the horde of people outside, but I lost all my phone photos😦 so I only have the ones that made it to Facebook before I lost them all.) 

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect inside.  I went in and found a lot of vendors and more people.

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At first, I was dissapointed.  I thought to myself, “this is just a bunch of people selling stuff.”  Thankfully, I was quickly proven wrong.  They were showing a few exclusive trailers in the main area.  It was really cool to gather around and see sneak peeks.

Next, I realized that most things were interactive.  I met R2D2.  He was real, remote controlled, and beeped and moved and everything.

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There was a place to dress up with props and get your picture taken, which I seem to have misplaced that photo, too.  They gave away Yoda Ears for dogs.  The pair I got was too small to put on my dog, so I gave it to him as a toy.  He loved it and it became one of his favorite things to play with for some reason.

The Walking Dead had a neat, walk-through zombie area.

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I also got swag.  I got a free ARC book, as well as a few comic books.  I got a drawstring bag, and a pair of sunglasses that I still wear just about every day.  I got a poster, a water bottle, probably some other stuff…

The author area was great.  Hugh Howey was there, of course.  I arrived at his booth too late to get a free copy of Press Start to Play, but I did enter to win (and didn’t win) this arcade game (I loved Ready Player One):

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There were lines of people waiting for author signatures and lots of giveaways.  There were many more experiences.

All in all, I was utterly unprepared for Comic-Con.  I chose not to attend any of the panels.  For one thing, I didn’t want to have to wait outside in the heat for hours just to sit in the back of a room.  (Hollywood has spoiled me.  If I want to see a panel, I can just hit up the Paley Center, usually for free or $5.  I saw a lot of panels there when I first got to Hollywood, American Dad, Awkward, Vampire Diaries, and many more.  It’s a fairly intimate space.  There are other places and times I’ve seen things like this, too, like LA Book Festival when I saw Scalzi and Wil Wheton have a conversation and I was just a couple rows back.  Like I said, spoiled.  It’s the same reason big, expensive concerts don’t excite me.)  I learned too late that there were smaller talks going on in A hall.  Those might have been neat.  There were also a lot of other things to do there.  There were giant, interactive areas outside of the convention center, but that were still part of Comic-Con.  By the time I found them, I was exhausted.  I wasn’t prepared for just how much walking there’d be, or how stimulating the day was.

I would definitely go back another year.  In fact, I’m hoping to go back next year, depending on how life goes.  I’m hoping that the Halloween costume I’m making right now will be good enough to wear to it.

I can’t explain exactly why, but honestly, Comic-Con was one of the best days I’ve ever had.

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