insane in the Maine

You know that friend that drags you to a party that you don’t really want to go to because the only people there will be their old friends from college or their scrap-booking circle or their Menudo addict’s support group and ten minutes after you arrive your friend ditches you next to the dip of questionable origin holding a red Solo cup of brown alcohol while they disappear into some dark corner with the ex they constantly bitch about yet still want to re-enact a nature documentary with?

Yeah. That’s kinda what I did to this blog. Bitch move, I know. But I swear I have an excellent excuse and it doesn’t involve ex-boyfriends, equipment malfunction, meeting a future new ex-boyfriend, locusts, or anything.

I moved nine states away. Completely across the country the up-and-down way not the coast-to-coast way. Athens, Georgia to Orchard Beach, Maine. One thousand, one hundred twenty-one miles. Seventeen hours and thirty minutes driving in a car with four plastic bins full of my worldly possessions and one cat looped out of his skull on kitty valium.

What made me undertake such a journey?

The short answer?

I had nothing to lose.

I know people throw that phrase around a lot, but I mean it literally. I had already lost everything. About a year ago, I separated from my husband of seventeen years and moved into a condo that I could only afford because a wonderful friend offered it to me on the cheap. I wasn’t only leaving him, but my two dogs; my silly, sweet, fuzzy girls. From that moment on, I had to redefine my life. I had to rip out all the future pages of my life’s calendar and burn them. Everything I had planned, everything I had hoped, and everything I had built so far was now ash. For a while, I wallowed in the ruins. Sleepwalked through my days and pantomimed all the motions: sleep, work, eat, wash, rinse, repeat. I made writing the focus of my energy in a way I hadn’t before. On the plus side, I self-published a book and received some great reviews. But I was still reeling. I couldn’t see my future more than forty-eight hours ahead. I had no idea how to plan my new life.

Then I got a call from a friend. He offered me a way to rise from the ashes of my old life and create something entirely new. The prospect was terrifying and, I’ll admit, at first I turned him down. I’m not one to jump into things. I need to think and ruminate and come at from all angles. The next time my friend, Dave, and I talked, I had a few questions, he had reassuring answers. After a few emails and phone calls, I was ready to pull the trigger.

I was ready to move to Maine and work in the nebulous and exciting world of medical marijuana.

Now, anyone who knows me will snort and laugh at my choice of profession. Not that I have anything against marijuana, or “pot” as I’ll call it from now on just to save the keystrokes. I don’t smoke it. I have tried it, but wasn’t impressed. I have no interest in partaking in anything containing pot or getting high. That is probably one reason why Dave wanted me on board: he can trust me around the inventory. Another reason why people laughed at my new job has nothing to do with drugs. Simply put: I hate snow. I think snow is ugly and gross and ruins everything. Yet, I chose, willingly, to move to a state that will inevitably be covered in snow.

So, to recap . . . I decided to work with a product I have no interest in while living in a climate that I will loathe for a large portion of the year.

Crazy, right?

Yes. I agree.

But I was ready for crazy. Open to the chaos in a way that I had never been before. What was another pebble tossed into an already churning lake? Success would mean financial stability as I had never known it before. Failure would mean a slow dissolve back into the life I had left back in the condo in Georgia. Nothing gained, but nothing lost as well. Zero sum.

So, that brings me to the present. I am typing this from my bedroom in my new condo with an ocean view in Maine. In the living room are two nineteen year old boys who share the condo with me (also brought on board by Dave) watching television. My cat, Cain, is snoozing at my feet. Tomorrow, I will drive around and deliver pot to a couple patients, purchase a few supplies, and try to absorb as much information about this business as I can because there is a lot to learn.

I am excited and I am determined and I hope this venture is even a fraction as successful as everyone dreams it can be.

But even if this whole thing goes bust and I have to limp back to Georgia with my tail between my legs, one truth remains self-evident:

This will make for an excellent story.

For me, there is no better motivation.

And I can’t wait to share that story with the world.

 

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it’s a book!

A healthy, bouncing baby book. It’s small, as books go, but what it lacks in heft I like to think it more than makes up in personality.

And I have made clones of my book available to you, dear readers, for a nominal fee.

Just click on the picture of my lovely cover below to purchase a paper copy you can hug and squeeze and love and slobber on. If you prefer a more sterile option, just click here to purchase a Kindle version.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m kinda excited about all this. I’ve had my words published in a book before, but only as a small part of a much larger whole. This little book contains only my words. Arranged in sentences. Some of which actually make sense.

And, hey, if you do pick up a copy, could you do me a solid and leave a review when you’ve finished? I’m not fishing for glowing praise, either. I really would love to know what you think.

Thank you all from the depths of my wine-soaked heart!

Front Cover 6x9

guest post: Michael Rupured

If you’ve taken a peek  at my Pimpin’ tab (and if you haven’t then get on that like nowish), then you’re familiar with the name Michael Rupured. He is more than just a great writer, he’s the best gay boyfriend a gal could want and the most awesome editor a writer could ask for. And I’ve allowed him to take over my blog for the day so he can talk about his latest book. Show him some love, wontcha?

Thanks so much, Amy, for allowing me on your blog to talk about Happy Independence Day, my new release from Dreamspinner Press.

As you well know, having held my hand through the entire first draft, my first novel, Until Thanksgiving, takes place in 1996 in Washington DC. Philip Potter plays a supporting role in this thriller around the budding relationship between his nephew, Thad Parker, and Josh Freeman. Philip tells Thad about a lover who’d committed suicide thirty years earlier—an insignificant aside that later inspired After Christmas Eve, a mystery set in the DC area with Philip as the protagonist.

Philip planted that little seed and encouraged me to write a story set in 1966 for his own purposes. Researching gay life in the mid twentieth century for his novel was a powerful and eye opening experience. The fifties and sixties were the Dark Ages for gay men and women in the United States. Homosexuality was immoral, illegal, and classified as a mental illness. Nobody came out of the closet by choice.

Effeminate men and masculine women, however, found no safety in the closet and bore the brunt of society’s mass homophobia. As teenagers, hundreds of thousands fled or were kicked out of homes where ignorance trumped love. Those who didn’t commit suicide or get killed migrated to larger cities.

By 1969, thousands of these undesirables—unfit for military service, employment, rental housing, and anything more than scorn or ridicule—lived in and around Greenwich Village. For the gayest of the gay, the Stonewall Inn was the place where everybody knew your name. Happy Independence Day is a tribute to the misfits and outcast who, in the early morning hours of June 28 1969, became heroes in the fight for equal rights.

HappyIndependenceDay_revision

Blurb:

Terrence Bottom wants to change the world. A prelaw student at Columbia University majoring in political science, his interests range from opposing the draft and the war in Vietnam, to civil rights for gays, to anything to do with Cameron McKenzie. Terrence notices the rugged blond hanging around the Stonewall Inn, but the handsome man—and rumored Mafia hustler—rebuffs his smiles and winks.

Cameron McKenzie dropped out of college and left tiny Paris, Kentucky after the death of the grandmother who raised him, dreaming of an acting career on Broadway. Although he claims to be straight, he becomes a prostitute to make ends meet. Now the Mafia is using him to entrap men for extortion schemes, he is in way over his head, and he can’t see a way out—at least not a way that doesn’t involve a swim to the bottom of the Hudson in a pair of cement flippers.

Cameron is left with a choice: endanger both their lives by telling Terrence everything or walk away from the only man he ever loved. The Mafia hustler and the student activist want to find a way to stay together, but first they need to find a way to stay alive.

Available from:

Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Rupured/e/B00APR1O26/)

Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Rupured?store=allproducts&keyword=Rupured)

Dreamspinner Press (http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_732)

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hive mind

This Friday, I should hold in my hands a proof copy of the short story collection I’m self-publishing. It won’t be the first time I’ve seen my words printed in a paper and ink book, but it will be the first time all the words in said book are mine, all mine.

I’m excited. And nervous. Really nervous.

I designed the cover myself and it looks pretty good as pixels on a screen, but I have no idea how well those pixels will translate into a six by nine glossy cover. I’m dying to post a picture of the cover for everyone to ooh and ahh at, but if it looks like crap, I swear I’ll just die. Die! Like, I mean it! You, you just don’t understand! Ugh! Runs to room, slams door, and cries into my Benedict Cumberbatch pillow while The Smiths sing in the background (I know, I know, it’s serious).

Okay. Tantrum over.

But because I am still more excited than nervous, I would like to show you a bit of what’s inside the book. I wrote a Forward where I briefly mention either the origins or the motivation behind each story in the collection. Here is a snippet:

One thing you should never say to a writer is, “I have a great idea for a story you should write.” We hate this. Not because your idea is awful, but because we already have a million ideas buzzing around in our brain like a swarm of angry bees. But even though it’s often hard for us to pluck one of these idea bees out of the air and squeeze sweet story honey out of its ass, they are our bees, we cultivated them in our mind apiary with love. The last thing we need is for someone to thrust a strange, misshapen bee in our hand and tell us to milk it. We can’t work with your weird bee. It’s got too many wings and its stinger, is . . . is that a corkscrew?
All that said, when my sister, Tracey, told me I should write a story inspired by her dream where her Roomba ate everything in her house, I took her little bee and ran with it. What resulted is “Nature Abhors a Vacuum” and I had more fun writing that story than almost any other story in this book. Goes to show what I know.

unnatural birth

I think I have mentioned a time or eleventy that I’m self-publishing a collection of short stories.

Well, I’m not all just talk. I’m also flailing hand gestures and raised eyebrows.

The collection is imminent.

Empty, Not Hollow and Other Stories is due to hit Amazon on September 1st. It will be available in Kindle format or as a paper and ink book you can hold in your clammy little hands.

Kind of exciting, huh?

I am excited, but I’m also feeling like a pregnant woman in her fifth trimester in that I’m more than ready to hatch this damn thing. (I may not know how babies work.)

Writing the stories was hard enough, but formatting them for publishing is like a trial in Purgatory. I think I would rather roll a boulder up a mountain rather than spend another moment inserting page breaks or fixing abnormal spacing due to right justification.

Then there are the myriad of important decisions that need to be made and, once made, can’t be unmade. Permanent decisions. Like choosing a tattoo. A tattoo you give to someone else.

What size do you want your book?
I donno. Book sized?

Design the cover yourself or have someone do it for you?
I’ll take “Whichever Option Is Free” for 200, Alex.

Thank everyone I’ve ever met in the Acknowledgements or limit my shout-outs to a few close friends/family and hope everyone else understands?
But the janitor at my office is super nice!

Number the chapters in the Table of Contents or don’t?
*loads revolver with single bullet*

Which font? What size do you want that font? Different fonts for the chapter headings? Chapter headings in ALL CAPS? THE WHOLE BOOK IN ALL CAPS? THE WHOLE BOOK IN ALL CAPS WITH DIFFERENT FONTS FOR EACH CHAPTER? OR NO CHAPTERS AT ALL? ALL STORIES JAMMED TOGETHER WITH NO SPACES BETWEEN WORDS LIKE THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS RAMBLINGS OF A STERNO-EATING HOBO? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?

I crawled into a box of red wine and nursed from the bag until the world went black. Days later, I emerged, sloughing off the cardboard and unfurling my damp limbs to warm them in the sun. My new life cycle had begun. I was ready to fly.

Times New Roman, it is.

misery cubed

This is a post from the deep, dark past of my old blog. Even though I am now free range and no longer work in cube farm hell, I still enjoy this little ramble. It’s kinda like looking at an old picture of yourself with hair teased to within an inch of being a ceiling fan hazard wearing an acrylic rainbow sweater and blue eye shadow. Sometimes it’s good to look back and see how far you’ve come. 

The fluorescents are too bright.  I feel washed-out.
Cave crickets are translucent due to the perpetual darkness.  I am colorless from too much unnatural light.
Even the furniture is painted and upholstered in shades of non-colors: beige, taupe, gray.  All outlined in stark black like an illustration of something that should be real.
Is this life or the manual?
(See Fig. 1 – Female Employee slumped over cubicle desk.)
The coffee is flavorless and the creamer is synthetic.  The sugar looks too white to be trusted.  Much like the management.
The steady rhythm of telephones and the copy machine is like distant drums.  When they stop, the silence is unnerving.
Surrounding me are inanimate objects that demand my attention: blinking monitors, email notifications, stacks of folders and papers.  Yet the living avoid contact and look down when passing in the halls.
The only conversation I’ve had today was with my printer, coaxing it to give up a piece of jammed paper.
Here, all my natural instincts are considered signs of aggression.  I have to remember to speak softly and not show too many teeth.  Sudden movements and off-hand references from obscure movies cause confusion and fear.
(See Fig. 2 – Female Employee fashioning primitive weaponry from  rubberbands, paperclips and hi-liter ink.)
It is safer to not draw too much attention so I keep my head down.  Documents are strewn across my desk, multiple windows opened on my monitors.  Looking busy is my camouflage.
I pretend that I am biding my time, waiting for just the right moment to attack and unleash my fury.  It’s a hard ruse to maintain.  For now it is only about survival.  Towing the line while trying not to hang myself with it.
There is hope, though.  I am preparing a signal fire.  Every day I gather a little more fuel, building it bigger and higher.  When conditions are finally right, I’ll set it ablaze and the smoke will rise above the canopy and  my rescue will come.
(See Fig. 3 – Female Employee dousing cubicle in kerosene exactly three seconds before she realizes that the whole signal fire thing was supposed to be a metaphor.)

the unboxening

Okay, y’all know I’m a huge dork, right? Well, if you didn’t before, you certainly will after watching this video wherein I open my Loot Crate box. I debated for days whether or not to even post this. There’s a reason why I’m a writer and not an actress or newscaster or infommercial spokesmodel. So, sorry in advance for my face and my voice. And also double sorry that I totally mis-identified Bowser as Shredder in the video. Please don’t revoke my geek card for that snafu. And it was evening when I shot the video, so no comments about drinking wine for breakfast. I save that for my birthday.