In my fifty odd years of life, I’ve seen some stuff. From the Global Financial Crisis, to recessions, to SARS, AIDS, 9/11 and numerous other crises, we have rolled with the punches and I thought I’d seen the scariest things, the worst of humanity.
I was wrong. With the current COVID 19 pandemic, I’ve seen the worst of humanity come to the fore. Stores are struggling to keep up with demand as our basic needs are swept up in a rush of panic buying and people physically fighting one another to buy a roll of toilet paper. Selfishness has overtaken many – and I’ve seen an ugly side of humanity. I suspect it will get worse before it gets better, but I’ve found a bright side I hadn’t expected.
Writing is giving me a respite from the craziness, the fearmongering, the anxiety I’m struggling to cope with. My battle with Bipolar Disorder, severe anxiety, OCD and panic attacks is well known, and the situation in the world currently is setting off a whole lot of triggers, which are proving detrimental to my mental health. My GP has already recommended I stop watching the news and I’ve taken her advice – although that doesn’t mean I’ve buried my head in the sand regarding COVID 19. What it does mean is that I’m drip-feeding myself with news reports, as and when I can cope with them. And in the meantime, as I’ve mentioned, I’m writing, editing, planning – and I think that is the thing that will get me through these trying times.
In fact, I suspect that in many ways, being a writer is heaven-sent because it gives me an outlet. And that makes me a very lucky girl because I have somewhere to be, somewhere to hide out. The worlds I create in my head are a balm to a scary bloody world that quite frankly, I don’t really like much right at the minute.
Stay safe out there, and remember – be kind to your fellow humans.
Boy. Every time I think I’ve delayed putting up a blog post by months, I manage to break my own record. (And no, that’s not something I’m particularly pleased about.)
I join you in something of a world gone mad – as Coronavirus spreads across the world, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve actually found myself stuck in some crazy movie. World War Z seems to have happened and I’m seeing people stockpiling toilet paper and stealing face masks and alcohol swabs from hospitals.
And I can’t get my head around it. The worldwide panic seems to be happening in a different world to the one I’m living in. I keep reading the reports, and while Disneyland is closing down and football games are being played without audiences, I’m reading that the death rate from the virus is less than 2%. It seems so strange, and I waver between panic and placidity over what’s to come.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complacent. I’ve washing my hands carefully and thoroughly to two renditions of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ and I’m naturally retiring so I’ve pretty much contained myself at home most of the time anyway, but it still bothers me that this is something out of my control. Out of everyone’s control. I’m less worried about myself than I am about the single most important people in my world – the Darling Husband and the Gang of Four. I think the thing that most freaks me out is that having traced the family history, I’m fully aware of the losses suffered during the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 and I don’t want that to happen to my family, or anyone else’s family for that matter. I just hope this doesn’t reach those same levels of morbidity, because that would be a terrible thing.
So my advice (such as it is). Follow the advice you’re being given. Don’t be an asshole and buy up all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer – leave some for others. And stay safe.
(I’ve placed this under five minute fiction, but there’s a lot of truth which cuts close the bone in this short burst.)
“Are you okay?”
It was a question I’d been asked half a dozen times so far today, and each time I’d repeated the same simple response. “I’m okay.”
Except I probably wasn’t. My mother and I had a complicated relationship, fraught with emotion and difficult at the best of times. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t abusive, or based in hatred. It was a relationship based on love – but too much love. The fact of the matter was that she’d loved me too much, obsessively – and she had her own mental health problems. The diagnosis I’d come up with that she was most probably a narcissistic sociopath – but she didn’t believe there was anything wrong with her. With my own diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, a severe depressive disorder and numerous anxiety issues, we were almost destined to clash.
And we did, regularly, with fireworks and anger, and on my behalf, a healthy dose of hatred. She came close to driving me out of my mind, even though she didn’t intend to. She just couldn’t bear to let me go.
The cost of that obsession was high – instead of living out her twilight years with a strong, loving relationship with her daughter, we ended up in a tempestuous, argumentative battle, which ebbed and flowed, but never improved.
And I’ll admit, I often wished her dead. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it was a reliable indicator of how distressed she made me, because that love came with arguments; battles in which I would always be painted as the one ‘in the wrong’, with her a masterful twister of words, working on my weaknesses to bolster her arguments. No matter what happened, that was her main ammunition – preying on my weaknesses to further her own agenda.
So yes, my answer to the question of whether or not I’m okay is to say ‘I’m fine’.
But the answer is so much more complicated than that.
I hadn’t realized just how long it had been since I wrote a blog post, until I checked on this page today. 2019 is one of those years which has gotten totally out of control, not least because the DH (upon our arrival in Queensland in January for a new posting) had no sooner arrived at his new base before he was given the news that he was to be discharged on medical reasons. Consequently, we’ve spent no time settling into our new home before we began prepping for the trip back across the country to our home state of Western Australia.
I have to say, I’m cheering over this change in our circumstances. While we couldn’t have anticipated the need for a medical discharge, it means one important thing to me – the opportunity to go back to be reunited with seventy five percent of our family – our three boys, who remained in Perth when we travelled across here. Not only has it been a wrench for us, but also for our daughter, who chose to come with us to Queensland. We’re an extremely close family, and being apart from the boys has been extra especially tough – even more so because we went from living with the six of our together in one (boisterously loud) home, to just the DH and I for a couple of months, and now us and our daughter. I can honestly say it’s been one of the toughest separations I’ve every dealt with, and there will be lots of catch-up hugs, and teasing, and laughter, when we get back home just a day or two before Christmas.
With everything going on, there hasn’t been much done in the way of writing, other than a number of small, practice pieces I’ve written to keep my hand in. The cast of ‘Tokens’ are particularly vocal, and I suspect there will be one or two new novels coming from the setting of Garrison, Montana in the future.
Right now, I’m up to my armpits in prep work for the move home, but I thought I should pop my head in and say ‘Hi’. For those who have come across my novels and in turn started following my adventures through ‘The Worlds of D.S. Williams’ – Hello! Welcome! – It’s great to meet you!
There has been some fun during our whirlwind, eleven month sojourn on the other side of the country, in particular we had a visit from BIL and SIL, during which we visited some of Queensland’s theme parks, one of my favourites being Dream World. Tiger Island is always fun to visit, and with my brand-spanky-new 80X Optical Zoom camera, I was able to indulge my love of close up photography. I also realized I apparently have a bit of a ‘thing’ for paws – they pop up regularly in my photo files!
I promise I’ll try to do better with updates… just let me get back to my home state, where no doubt lots of new adventures will be had as the DH and I settle into his retirement.
The dog was taking me for a walk, not an unusual occurrence at 10am in the morning. Given that Geoffrey the Bull Mastiff was one hundred and twenty pounds of pure, dopey muscle, it was the best time of the day to go walking. Mainly because there was no-one else alive in the immediate vicinity; no people, no mailmen, no delivery vans, no cats, no dogs and no birds.
With any luck, anyway.
Except for this morning, of course.
Coming out of the house, I set off in the usual loping, leaping, half-run and half-walk required to keep up with Geoffrey. A most unusual gait, which, I suspected, conveyed precisely who was in charge of our walk.
It wasn’t me.
And this became exceedingly obvious when Geoffrey caught sight of a man on the other side of the street and in his wisdom, decided we should cross the street to give the man a closer inspection.
Imagine the scene, if you will. The man – perhaps in his mid-thirties, tall, with one of those builds which suggest he carries lean muscle – wearing pristine grey trousers and a black, button-down shirt, glances up to see a lumbering, drooling mass of russet fur, towing a medium height, slightly overweight woman wearing black three-quarter length leggings and an oversized man’s t-shirt.
It was a recipe for disaster…
The cemetery was still, quiet. It seemed as I walked further into the grounds of the majestic, gothic church, its dominating presence overwhelmed the city beyond, forcing it into silence. No sound penetrated this far into the grounds, and the thick moss beneath my feet also muffled any footsteps.
I walked among the stones, reading the heartfelt epitaths to loved ones, the words which reduced so many lives to the bare bones of existence – date of birth, date of death. What had these people done in the gap between those dates? How had they lived, laughed, loved?
I stopped in front of the grave I sought, dropping the carryall containing my tools at my feet. I scanned the marble a second time, confirming the name, birth and death.
“Time to wake up,” I muttered.
Retirement is not working out for Rick Keller.
Betrayed by a friend. Tortured by the agency he used to work for. A debt called in by an old adversary.
While Rick has been hiding in the north country, MONIKER has been building a supernatural army. This time when they call him in, they don’t need an agent — they’re eliminating the competition. No matter how fast or far he runs, it won’t be enough.
So this time, he’s going to burn them to the ground.
Ms. Brune is an excellent storyteller, and she outdoes herself with this, the second book in the Rick Keller Project. The action comes fast and furious, with the reader taken along for the ride as Rick Keller finds himself in a whole new bucket of trouble.
With quick quips, non-stop action and a range of well-written and interesting characters, I would thoroughly recommend this book as a great read. Things don’t always work out well for Rick Keller, but his life is certainly never dull!
I’ve been considering this situation for quite some time. Being bipolar means my ‘feels’ are sometimes exploded beyond what is rational, my decisions are spur of the moment, and taken without thought of the ramifications.
So it is with no small amount of consideration that I’ve come to this decision, a decision based on what I think is best for me.
As of this week, I am unlikely to update this page, or my blog page in regard to D.S. Williams and Leah Dempster’s writing work. Promoting myself is something I’m increasingly uncomfortable with, and in all honesty, the effort doesn’t seem to make any difference.
There are so many authors out there. So many. It makes my head spin when I see the amount of writers who are publishing, and trying to get their work noticed. And it suddenly occurred to me, a few weeks back, that what I’m doing isn’t fun. I’ve gotten myself caught in a Catch 22 – I’m publicising to get my books noticed, I worry because I don’t get sales, and in all honesty… it occurred to me that I don’t want to reach the next level. Or the one after that. I don’t want to publicise myself, or my books, or try and cajole people to read them. I don’t want to attend meet & greets, or conventions, or book signings. It isn’t my style, never has been, and never will be. I don’t want to be ‘famous’. I don’t want to be well-known. And in all likelihood, that would never happen anyway, so why flog myself to death trying to achieve something I don’t want?
The past six months, I think, for all writers have been tough. Tougher than I’ve experienced before now. Quarter 1 of this year netted me a grand total of $36… that’s for three MONTHS. I’ve just received advice regarding my Quarter 2 royalties and they amounted to just over $28.00 – again – this is my income from writing books for THREE MONTHS. Clearly, if I’m relying on this gig to get rich, it isn’t going to happen.
And I’ve found, more and more lately, that I don’t write much, and if I do, I write with one eye on what readers are going to like or not like. I’ve forgotten to write what I like and that’s a real shame, because I’m at my happiest when I’m writing from my heart, rather than my head.
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to write for me, write for the fun of it, write as though nobody is ever going to read it but me.
My books will remain available, although I suspect I’ll be following through with a decision to part ways with my publisher at the end of this upcoming quarter. The books will revert to being self-published, available for anyone who has a desire to read them. New books might end up available, if I decide they’re worthy of being shared. But the decision will be based on my heart and gut, rather than a need to please others and with one eye on the bottom line.
The next few months are going to be stressful as we move into a new chapter of our lives. We’re leaving our (adult) kids behind here in Western Australia while we move to Queensland for a few years. There will be lots of changes, lots of new things to get used to, and I hope, new writing adventures for myself without the pressure of being ‘a published author’. In the majority of instances, those pressures are ones I place on myself, but I think it’s time to step back, and take a good look at the direction I’m heading in.
Pheweee. It’s amazing what you come across when you’re editing a first draft, stuff you didn’t even realise you were writing. Or repeating for that matter.
In Tokens of My Confection, which is heading towards publication in (hopefully) the not too distant future, one scene involves my heroine Cady, who is hanging out with her sisters in Garrison Park, making a snowman on Christmas Eve.
When I wrote the first draft, like a lot of writers, I was just trying to get it out of my head, getting all those little bits and pieces and all the ideas in a pile on the page. At that stage, I try not to think too hard about the final product and avoid, wherever possible, editing while I’m still getting the story out of my head. (Of course, I’m completely hopeless at that and do get bogged down with the editing part, because let’s face it, I’m OCD and anxiety-ridden – I strive for ridiculous levels of perfections. But that’s a post for another day.)
The editing process has been a little choppy, particularly because the Darling Husband surprised me with an announcement last week that we would be moving at the end of the year. He’s a nearly thirty year veteran of the Australian Air Force, and we’ve outstayed our welcome here in Western Australia, but this time we’ll be moving without our Gang of Four – seventy five percent, at least, will remain in Western Australia while we post to a base on the other side of the country. (Another reason for OCD and anxiety issues).
Consequently, the editing of Tokens, which started of swimmingly, has stuttered to a less than auspicious pace, while I try to get my head back in the game. (And simultaneously worry about my beloved family being split apart for a couple of years). Today, I’ve been working on Chapter Twenty Six, which includes the above-mentioned snow scene which has turned out to need a considerable amount of editing. The scene itself is fundamentally good, and I’m happy with it, but its the persnickety details which are giving me grief. And in this case, it’s the snowman the girls are building and the amount of time I’ve mentioned ‘snow in their glove-covered hands’. Obviously, I wanted to set the scene, and give the reader a ‘vision’ of what is happening in that scene – the scenery, the women, their outfits, what they’re doing. But I obviously (obviously!!!) got bogged down on those glove-covered hands. They’re EVERYWHERE! And repeated with endless abandon. And way too much. Over and over and over…
You get the picture, and as a writer, and an editor, it’s one of the things I warn people (including myself) to avoid. Don’t ever hit your reader over the head with information. Don’t repeatedly repeat the same piece of information. Give your reader some credit and know that they can invest themselves enough in the story so that when you mention someone’s eyes, you don’t lead with the color of them each and every time. (This is something I’m guilty of doing!).
And once you’ve put those gloves on those characters, and set them to making a snowman in a park in the middle of winter, don’t keep beating the reader over the head with THE GLOVES! They’re there! We know they are on their hands! Don’t beat this snippet of information to death!
And now, I go back to the grindstone and beat those gloves into submission!
‘Til next time.
Part-time librarian Aurora ‘Roe’ Teagarden lands smack in the middle of a baffling murder case in the fifth murder mystery from #1 New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris
Roe never liked Detective Sergeant Jack Burns, but she never wanted to see him dead – especially dropped from a plane right into her own front yard. Luckily, even Lawrenceton, Georgia’s finest, know that Roe couldn’t possibly be in two places at once, so her name is crossed off the suspect list.
But then other strange things happen around Roe, ranging from peculiar (her irascible cat turns up wearing a pink ribbon) to violent (her assistant at the library is attacked) to potentially deadly (her ex-lover is stabbed). Clearly there is a personal message in this madness that Roe must decipher – before it is too late . . .
This would be my least favourite of the Aurora Teagarden books, mainly because there doesn’t seem to be a legitimate reason for the characters doing what they do in this one. There’s lots of unrequited love/ex-lovers changing their minds/unexplained infatuations going on which frankly, at certain times in the book didn’t seem to make sense. And given that the vast majority of these situations revolve around our heroine, a bookish, wavy-haired, glasses-wearing married librarian – it just seemed a little odd to me.
Having said that, there was plenty of mystery going on, it just didn’t seem like really brilliant mystery in comparison with previous books in the series. I almost felt as if in this one, Ms. Harris was ‘phoning it in’ – making the plot suit where she wanted it to end up, and to hell with how that worked out on paper. Despite that, it was just strong enough to keep me invested in the characters, and wanting to find out who the culprit was in the murders.