So y’all get a Three-for Thursday. 🙂 I still wrote a poem for each day; I just didn’t get to post about them.
Actual deadline day, so we went for a kinda haiku. Definitely needs work, but the photo is from Kamakura, Japan. I was able to catch one of the golden eagles that hang around there diving for a fish.
This is from Meiji Temple in Tokyo, Japan. There was a raven on the tori, which looked really cool. It was a super foggy, rainy day, so it took some cleaning and cropping to get the photo to a place where I was okay with it…
I’m also watching American Gods, so Odin’s Ravens decided to poke their beaks in and make this cross-cultural. And about warrior sacrifice and corpses.
I call the pair “Munin at Meiji.”
This pair is more whimsical and based on American soil…and from Arisia, where I got to go to an Absinthe Tasting room party. There’s a long history of absinthe and artists, so that’s where I went.
Poems and photos are rough and raw; I’ll edit and fix them up later. My April challenge is about the creation, not the finessing. Please do not copy or share the photos or poems I’m posting. I am not finished, and sharing them can hurt my future plans for these pieces. Thank you!
Not that I figured I’d get far in any poetry journey without a faery poem, but in going through the pictures I’ve taken and am using for inspiration, there’s no less than three that are titled “Faery ________.” If you’ve known me or been following me for some time, I’m sure you’re shocked. Completely and utterly shocked. <insert sarcasm>
This particular photo is “Faery Bed,” and I’ve named the poem to match. I took this picture in Scotland while I was doing research for my MacArthur series of books. It was at this wonderful and magical place, Traquair House, which is the oldest inhabited home. It has a hedge maze; secret passage ways; Victorian furniture (including a writing desk in the room and a canopy bed!); delicious food (with option for a romantic dinner with fancy crystal-ware!); all sorts of trails through the woodlands, wetlands, and gardens; free range farm animals and peafowl; and nesting grey herons that sound like dinosaurs. Really, what else could anyone ask for?
I found this copse of azaleas that looked like a canopy bed and had recently discovered our camera did this “punch” thing with colors that makes them more vivid. (This was 2012, well before cell phone camera and Instagram filters.) Even without the color “punch,” I was intrigued by what looked like a faery bed of purple flower petals beneath a branching canopy of twisted limbs and green leaves. This was the best of several pictures I took, and I knew I’d write something to match it eventually.
The poem, like all of what I’m posting, is in its rough draft form, too. My aim is to compose the poems this month, and then go back and edit later.
Please do not share the photos or poems I’m posting; I am not finished, and sharing them can hurt my future plans for these pieces. Thank you!
Three months into the year, and it’s a FOURTH convention schedule I’m posting! Woohoo!
(At some point my personal blog posts will be more than convention schedules; I promise! I have thoughts on a variety of things and some health updates, too…)
Anyway, I know it sounds redundant, but this is another beloved convention of mine! Conbust!
Conbust is a student-run feminist SF/F convention held at Smith College every spring. I found out about Conbust through Broad Universe, not realizing that such a gem was basically in my back yard. (I grew up in Springfield, about 15-20 minutes from Northampton.)
I have a pretty ambitious schedule this year at Conbust, so if you’re looking to follow me to all my panels (and they are pretty awesome panels, so you might want to), make sure you are loaded up on your favorite coffee or energy product! I’m scheduled in the very first panel slot, the very last—with eight panels in between!
Also, I’ll be traveling to and from the convention with my friend and editing colleague, Suzanne Lahna, who has their first novella out. They’ll be on a bunch of excellent panels, too. Find out more on their blog!
Since Conbust is on a college campus, I won’t be hosting a party here, and we don’t have either a Broad Universe or New England Horror Writers table here, so it’s all panels and catching up with some of the great people I only get to see at this convention. I’m excited!
Oh—quick note, these aren’t the official convention descriptions. They’re mine—and subject to change depending on the audience / panelists. I’m also not listing the panelists here because there were some last minute changes that I don’t know got finalized… but just check the guest list! I’m on panels with almost all of these spectacular people!
Without further ado, here’s where I’ll be:
Friday, March 23; 5:00 PM; Room 101 – Fandom and Criticism
Can you criticize what you love? Should you? Why is it important?
Friday, March 23; 6:00 PM; Room 201 – Hero, Protagonist
Discussing writing the protagonist hero, or analyzing them.
This was my favorite panel of last year’s Conbust. Actual reenactment fighters play out writer battle scenes! Of course, now I need to figure out which gods’ awful fight scene of mine needs the most work / will provide the most entertainment to the audience…
Saturday, March 24; 10:00 AM; Room 101 – Suspension of Disbelief
What throws a reader out of a story? How can writers avoid these pitfalls? What’s the term “Flying Snowman” (coined by John Scalzi) and what does it mean to writers and readers?
Saturday, March 24; 11:00 AM; Room 109 – Freelancing: More Ways to Make Money Writing
This panel will discuss the ways people can make a living working with words. No, it’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible. See if this career works for you or if you want to stick to the day job.
Saturday, March 24; 2:00 PM; Room 204 – Everything but the Writing
Note above panel on making money while writing? That’s Making Money Writing 101. This is Making Money Writing 102 and talks about the business decisions you’ll have to make if you decide you want to make money while writing.
Fairy tales is my jam. So is writing for kids. This is a thing that far predates my efforts, though, so I love studying and talking about it. Come discover all the nerdy, geeky goodness children’s fairy tales have to offer!
Saturday, March 24; 5:00 PM; Room 109 – Fairies
Rather apropos that this is in the same room immediately following Children’s Fairy Tales. Except the fey are NOT just for children. In fact, they can be kind of predatory on children—or humans in general. And they go waaaay beyond “fairy tales.”
I’ve been sad, angry, lethargic, overwhelmed to the point of being unable to get out of bed. I would never use “depressed,” though, to describe how I felt. Part of it, I’m sure, is stigma. Another part, however, is knowing my friends who have been depressed – clinically or situationally – and who at one point really did want to end their lives.
I was bullied through a good part of school. In first grade, my best friend told me she was leaving me to hang out with the cooler kids. In fifth and sixth grade, my best friend and I were belittled by teachers and physically threatened by classmates for being different. I became the lead drummer in junior high because I spent every lunch hiding in the band room, practicing so I could avoid the lunchroom where no one would sit with me and I’d gotten shoved and told “Stop following us! We don’t want you around us!” by a group of girls I’d thought were friends. In high school, things changed because there were over 2000 kids, so enough of us outcasts and geeks found each other and made our own group – but we all knew we should never travel alone. Regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, or if we were Magic the Gathering people or Dungeons and Dragons players, we employed the buddy system and made friends with the librarians who let us stay there rather than the more dangerous realms of lunch rooms and study halls.
Through all that, I never came close to wanting to end my life.
My emotions didn’t go to the dark level I saw in others, so I didn’t want to take that term “depression” from them. I was worried about appropriation before I’d even heard the word “appropriation.” I loved these people, and I respected what they were going through – even when it made me feel helpless. It wasn’t about me feeling helpless; it was about them. People who were hurting the way I’d hurt – only much, much worse.
I’m going to get into a confessional that some people might just consider “woo-woo” or “New Agey” or some other diminutive term that downplays the intense levels humans can connect. This is a #sorrynotsorry moment where I think such people are wrong.
A friend of mine, also a writer – keeping names confidential – and I regularly share how we both are deeply affected by others’ emotion, and how that affects each of us in our writing and working lives. We remind each other to protect our energies – because if someone is very excited, we get that way. And if someone was hurting, we take on that pain in hopes that it made them hurt less. Often unconsciously. Often to a level where we need time to physically, mentally, and emotionally recover from a particular conversation.
When I started learning about energy work in my adulthood, I’d been told by more than a few people I needed to protect myself better when it came to energy. I did. Somewhat.
Until I didn’t.
I was visiting another dear friend of mine who was going through an especially difficult time in her life. She was successful, happily married, brilliant in literary gifts as well as science… And for the first time, she was actively thinking of ways she might end her life. She was even planning ways she might do so with as little impact to others as possible – because she didn’t want to hurt anyone. I listened, we held each other, and I just wanted to do something to help.
Perhaps I did. I don’t know. I know she is still alive and at least posting happy things on social media.
I also know that I was more drained than I’d ever been. And a few days later, I was feeling things I’d never felt before.
I didn’t want to kill myself.
But I didn’t want to do anything. I hurt. Everywhere. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt utterly and completely empty, like there was nothing inside and nothing good would ever happen again. My brain was spinning its logic wheels; there was no reason for me to have these emotions. My work and money issues were actually doing well, I was writing a story I really enjoyed, no one I knew was terminally sick or dying or dead…
I was sitting in the car while my husband had run into the store and I was just sobbing uncontrollably.
Not only were there all those negative feelings, but the fact there was no logical reason for me to have those feelings, feelings I’d never felt before, was utterly terrifying.
Fortunately, I do have a wonderfully supportive husband who took how I was feeling very seriously and spent the day doing things with me. He looked online for ways to help “reset the brain” while I napped. Then we went walking in the woods. After that, we visited our long-time friend, apothecary, and “kitchen witch,” who smudged me and suggested foods with garlic, tumeric, and chocolate. My husband drove to all this so I wouldn’t have to, and he listened to me going on and on while he drove. Then we went home and I took the “day off” and snuggled with him as we binge watched Supernatural.*
The feelings alleviated as the day passed, but not entirely. It was not an immediate fix. Not for a week, maybe two, did I feel even close to my usual self. And the memory still chills my stomach and grips my lungs so I feel I need my asthma inhaler.
Those feelings – the combination of them all at once – that is how I understand depression. It’s not just one thing. It’s everything all at once at the loudest volume and THE HIGHEST PRESSURE. And no strength to handle it.
I’ve never been diagnosed as clinically depressed. In fact, I even got turned down for a weight study because, during the interview, I had no signs of depression whatsoever.
But it happened to me.
It happened to me, and it can happen to anyone. It could happen to everyone; you don’t need a diagnosis.
Do I know what my other friends with depression know? Certainly not. I know enough about emotions that they are not the same for any two people. And everyone has a different pain threshold. Can I speak for people who suffer clinical depression or any other type of depression? Absolutely not.
But I can say how I felt. And I can share the stories I’m permitted to share. For those who are suffering, you aren’t alone – even if someone might only share a moment or a piece of that pain – someone has felt desperation and depression. Someone believes what you say you feel. Someone wants to help.
For those who don’t understand, can’t imagine…perhaps my short moment will give you pause, will describe it in a way you can understand and help you empathize. It happened to me; it can happen to anyone; so everyone needs to be aware and everyone should be more compassionate. I hope that adding to this conversation, we can build a better support system and a kinder, more aware culture.
If you are experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts, here are some resources for you. Remember, you’re not alone and people care about you:
http://www.nami.org/ – The National Alliance on Mental Health has a lot of resources you can call for emergency help, to educate yourself, to find community support, and more.
* When I had my writing colleague who has confided about me about her depression beta read this article, she gave me a lot of great feedback, but one thing she told me was that I needed to detail what I did to get through my depressive episode. I was reticent to do so because I get infuriated at all the “inspirational” posters, memes, messages, etc. that say “You don’t need pills; you just need to walk in the woods.” I want to slap the people who post them because it’s insulting and outright deadly. Period. Long explanation short: Sometimes natural, herbal, cognitive-behavior methods work; sometimes they don’t and medicine does. There are good reasons to take medication and there are good reasons to not take medication. Respect what works for each individual, share information and techniques, but NEVER shame someone or belittle their choices or needs.
About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
I’m very pleased, today, to have a special visitor here at A Novel Friend thanks to Terri Bruce’s Blog Tour! Ian, the cowboy from Terri’s newest release, Thereafter, took a few minutes out of his adventures in the Afterlife to chat with us!
Thanks for stopping by my blog here, Ian! Terri and I do a lot of talking about horses, so I was excited to meet the cowboy she’s been talking about. I know Thereafter has just come out, so a lot of people might not have read it yet. Can you tell these folks a little about yourself in the book?
Well, it’s gonna sound mighty strange, but me and a bunch of other folks are stuck by this river in the afterlife—we’re all dead, you see. And there’s this woman, Irene Dunphy—well, she comes along with a plan to spring us all. So I end up fallin’ in with her and this other fella—Andras—and we set about trying to get on out of there.
Before you ended up where you are now, what was your life like?
I worked on a horse ranch in Kentucky. Weren’t much excitement—it was sun up to sun down back breaking work. It was hot, it was dusty, and the only good part was headin’ to Ms. Lydia’s Dancing Girls Emporium on Saturday nights.
Being a horse person myself, I’m curious to how horses are in the Afterlife. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Well, I don’t rightly know, now that you mention it. I ain’t never seen many horses running around the afterlife. There’s a few, now and again, with some of the older folks, them that died in way back times, but otherwise, ain’t too many. God only knows how Irene ended up with a horse—she don’t strike me as much of a horse woman, prancing around in that little nothing of a dress she wears and all.
What were some of your favorite pastimes or hobbies before? How has that changed?
Outside of Ms. Lydia’s, there weren’t much time for much else in the way of hobbies. When I got hitched to Irmaguard, I had to give up Ms. Lydia’s, which was a damn shame. But Irmaguard, God rest her soul, was a sure-fired jealous woman so there wasn’t any help for it.
What did you think of Irene when you meet her? How does that change as you got to know her?
Oooo-eeee! I was looking over this vista, admiring the view, and all of a sudden this woman, well, more of a blur, really, comes flying at me like a bat out of hell. I didn’t know what she was doin’. She tackles me, and the next thing I know I’m flat on my back, lookin’ up into a mass of red hair, the most beautiful brown eyes, and the sweetest little mouth I ever did see. She wanted to take off right after, but I sure wasn’t lettin’ her out of my sight that easy. Then I found she was fixin’ to find a way across the river, and then I certainly wasn’t goin’ to let her out of my sight! I been stuck there by that river for a couple hundred years and was mighty sick of it, I can tell you.
Something I always like to ask folks I interview is this: What is a question you want me to ask? And what would that answer be?
Well, now, that’s a toughie. I guess, I wish you’d asked when I wish I would have lived; I can tell you that Irene told me a bit about the future and it sure did sound good. I wish that’s when I’d been born. Life sure does seem like a lot more fun.
Thank you kindly for stopping by my blog, Ian!
No problem! And shoot, thanks for havin’ me!
Find out more about Ian, Irene, Andras, and Terri by picking up Thereafter! Here are the details!
Nothing in life is free. Turns out, nothing in the afterlife is, either.
When recently-deceased Irene Dunphy decided to “follow the light,” she thought she’d end up in Heaven or Hell and her journey would be over.
Boy, was she wrong.
She soon finds that “the other side” isn’t a final destination but a kind of purgatory where billions of spirits are stuck, with no way to move forward or back. Even worse, deranged phantoms known as “Hungry Ghosts” stalk the dead, intent on destroying them. The only way out is for Irene to forget her life on earth—including the boy who risked everything to help her cross over—which she’s not about to do.
As Irene desperately searches for an alternative, help unexpectedly comes in the unlikeliest of forms: a twelfth-century Spanish knight and a nineteenth-century American cowboy. Even more surprising, one offers a chance for redemption; the other, love. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to have either if she can’t find a way to escape the hellish limbo where they’re all trapped.
Read More: http://terribruce.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=311#ixzz31l8bBDvk
Justine Graykin‘s second post in this tour tickles me to no end. I’ve been a fan of her Archimedes Nesselrode since she started reading excerpts from it at Rapid Fire Readings years ago. It was an audio book first, and I just don’t do audio books. So, when she finally, finally, finally had a huggable book published, I did, indeed, drive all the way up to her release party in New Hampshire so I could immediately hug my own copy. Squee!
An Excerpt from Archimedes Nesselrode by Justine Graykin
Archimedes Nesselrode, my newly-released novel from Double Dragon, is mostly gentle and whimsical, a tale of an artist with strange and wonderful creative powers. But these powers also have a dark and frightful side, one which even the artist himself fears.
In honor of the this shiversome season, I offer to the readers of my dear friend Trisha’s blog an excerpt from the book in keeping with that spirit of darkness.
We join the artist and his devoted housekeeper attempting to escape from the vengeful anger of Zarah Trebbiano, the operatic diva whose advances Mr. Nesselrode has rejected.
“Get in the car, Mr. Nesselrode,” Ms. Mare said firmly, “I shall handle this.”
“Oh, yes, get into the car, Michel!” the singer mocked. “Do as your woman servant says! Spineless worm! That is all you are! Gutless and spineless!”
“That will be enough!” Ms. Mare snapped in an imperiously commanding tone that any school mistress would have envied. “You will leave immediately and do not dare attempt to contact Mr. Nesselrode again in any way!”
“Call off your dog, Michel,” Madam Trebbiano said, “her yapping annoys me.”
“You are a crude, ill-bred woman who ought to be ashamed of herself, but is too arrogant to realize it! Now, good night to you!” Ms. Mare turned on her heel to go. Her employer had still not moved.
“Ill-bred?” the singer cried. “This from an illegitimate brat of the serving class! Oh, yes, I know who you are! You’re the housekeeper, aren’t you? Do you think to improve your position by coddling your master? A bit of advice to you–don’t attempt to bed him! He is a passionless, impotent fish!”
“How dare you?” Ms. Mare cried in outrage.
“Can’t you say anything, Michel? No, you pathetic, sniveling poseur! I should never have wasted my time with you! You are not a man at all!”
“That will be enough!” Ms. Mare commanded, uncomfortably aware that they were beginning to attract a crowd. “Mr. Nesselrode, get into the car. We are leaving!”
“Go on, Michel! Run with your tail between your legs! That’s all you’ve got down there! Go home with your faithful dog! Perhaps you can reward her with a few limp-wristed caresses! Or do you prefer little boys?”
“Zarah, shut up!”
The transformation of Archimedes Nesselrode from rabbit to wild-eyed fury was sudden and astonishing. He spun around to face her and his voice rose into a screech. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”
Madam Trebbiano was shocked speechless, taking a step away from him. Ms. Mare was frozen, her mouth open. She had seen him annoyed, fretful, peevish and irritated. She had never seen this. His eyes blazed with madness, but not the gentle, harmless madness she was accustomed to. His face was twisted horribly and malignantly. The winged snake flew up into the air with alarm and darted over to Ms. Mare, coiling about her legs and cringing, afraid of her own master.
“You summon great passion in me, Zarah! Oh, yes! You inspire me with wild emotion!” He laughed, but it was a fearful, maniacal sound. “You are fascinated by my magic, eh? I’ll give you a demonstration! See what I create in your honor!” He held out his hands. To Ms. Mare’s horror they were dripping with scorpions. If there was any creature which inspired greater loathing in her than spiders, it was scorpions.
Madam Trebbiano’s expression showed much the same sentiment. She was grimacing in revulsion. Archimedes Nesselrode, quite monstrously insane, walked towards her. “Embrace me, Zarah! I’m all yours!”
“Get away from me!” she cried, backing away. But she found her retreat blocked. They were no longer standing on a city sidewalk. Archimedes Nesselrode had conjured a chamber of horrors.
The stone walls that enclosed them slanted at bizarre angles and intersected with unbearable asymmetry. The seams where the stone blocks met were cracked and seeping with fungoid slime. From the slime bubbled shapeless things which crawled and dripped to the crazily tilting floor. The ceiling was thickly hung with sticky webs which seethed with black legs and bloated bodies.
“Gifts for you, Zarah!” he shrieked, his voice cracked and shaking, “From the bottom of my heart!” He threw the scorpions at her, and began to laugh hideously. He became swathed in robes of black and scarlet, and from beneath the folds of the robe erupted monstrosities, deformed and hideous. Writhing hunks of severed flesh, embedded with eyes, oozing like open wounds, they flopped and crawled around him. Zarah Trebbiano screamed and clawed helplessly at the venomous creatures that clung to her, stinging her repeatedly.
Stunned with horror, Vivian Mare stared, unable to believe that her timid, sweet employer could have so suddenly mutated into this terrible monster. It took an act of strongest will power to break the paralyzing spell.
“Snake, for pity’s sake, let go of me!”
My thanks to Trisha Wooldridge for her gracious hospitality. Archimedes Nesselrode is available as a paperback through Amazon and as an ebook though most major distributors. You may learn more about this and my humble self on my website, at justinegraykin.com
About the Author:
Justine Graykin is a writer and free-lance philosopher sustained by her deep, abiding faith in Science, Humanity and the belief that humor is the best anti-gravity device. Author of Archimedes Nesselrode, a book written for adults who are weary of adult books, she is producer of the BroadPod podcast. She lives, writes and putters around her home in rural New Hampshire, occasionally disappearing into the White Mountains with a backpack.
A few years ago, at the Broad Universe / Spencer Hill Press table at the very first Anthocon, this sweet young woman wandered over. There was chemistry between the bunch of us right away and the group of us table folk absconded with the lovely Kendra L. Saunders for dinner, got her to join Broad Universe, and all promptly bought copies of her first novel, Inanimate Objects, which is a beautiful story of art and immortality in the vein (there’s a pun there…) of The Great Gatsby. Trust me, you’ll love it!
Then she wrote an entirely different styled book, Death and Mr. Right, which I (and the rest of my friends) also fell in love with. For entirely different reasons. In the humorous style of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, Death and Mr. Right is a romp through Boston and beyond with the diva-like Death (recently-made-former agent of nightmares) as he tries to get back his job, the list of the names of the damned that he lost (oops!), and above all, not fall in love.
As you might imagine, things aren’t going so well…
Kendra is an awesome person, and she is kindly sharing her awesomeness on my blog with an interview!! Why? Because Death and Mr. Right is now available for you to love and laugh milk out your nose over, too!
Thanks for stopping by, Kendra!
Oh, thank you so much for having me! And I just wanted to say- thank you so much for The Great Gatsby mention. That’s one of my favorite books.
What kind of research went into writing Death and Mr. Right? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
While writing Death and Mr. Right, my friend Megan took me to Boston for a full day of exploration and research! We wandered Newbury Street and some of the popular spots, then down by the swan boats, which I guess a lot of people think are really pretty. I found them to be extremely depressing, haha. The most beautiful spot in Boston is the Church of Science, across the street from the Prudential Center. We found it by accident, because it started raining and we made a dash for cover… the reflecting pool in front of the Church of Science is just breathtaking, though, even in the rain. You feel like you’ve teleported to Italy or something. If Death and Mr. Right becomes a huge cult hit, I want to offer tours of the major locations in the book, and that would be the most important one. I took a lot of pictures of it, which can be found on my facebook page!
Also, during my research, I found out that Pandora’s “Box” was actually a jar! That was a cool fact that I had no idea about previously.
You also have a passion for fashion, which definitely seems to find its way into your work. As the person who is constantly getting notes from her critique group that she adds too much horsey stuff–but generally isn’t into fashion at all–I’m curious how you are able to let in just enough of your passion into your writing without overwhelming–and while making it interesting for those of us who normally don’t think about fashion? 🙂
The newest book, The Unlove Spell, has maybe the most of it, because Marling lives in New York City, her friend Kyran is a fashion label obsessed metrosexual and Viktor Arson is a total babe, so we usually hear about what he’s wearing. In one part, Kyran says something about standing outside of an Alexander McQueen store and feeling too afraid to walk inside, lest he burst into flames of unworthiness. So there was lots of designer label talk in that one.
I have had the extraordinary privilege to meet a lot of designers that I really admire and have conversations with them in interviews or just while hanging out, and have learned so much. For my freelance work, I talk a lot about fashion (in interviews and articles) and I’ve been an InStyle subscriber for ten years! So it’s very possible that my projects in the future will have more and more of a fashion theme, but generally I try to describe in humorous ways, usually, or with a very light hand. That being said, I recently wrote a short story inspired by one of Zac Posen’s photos on instagram, about a designer, and I’ve been inspired for several pieces by fashion, models, and designers. Music and fashion are my greatest inspirations!
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
Definitely for me, writing is a way of processing things that have happened to me. Maybe someone was really cruel and I couldn’t react at the time (I’m a slow reactor and very bad at confrontation), so I process it in fiction. Maybe I met a stranger who was intriguing but disappeared from the fabric of my life… I can bring them to life in fiction. Maybe someone is dancing around the edges of my life… I can get to know them through fiction. Maybe there’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit (England, Austria, etc)… fiction is a transportation device. And if I miss a place, a person, a feeling, I can resurrect it in writing. Truly, writing is the best and cheapest way to live a thousand lives.
Also, getting to travel in the name of research and promotion is great. I’ve had wanderlust all my life and this is the perfect job to allow for that.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
My writing space changes from day to day but my favorite place to write is at the Concord, NH Starbucks. I’ve written most of THREE novels there (and even dedicated Death and Mr. Right to them!) I like to have a latte (no sugar) and a cup of water at the table with me. My doctor made me promise to cut back on caffeine, but the smell of espresso is just magical! I have to have headphones so I can retreat into my mental writing cave. Spotify has become my best friend… it’s an online music database that allows you to listen to whole albums or playlists that you create, for free. It’s great because the artists don’t lose money and you don’t have to pay to listen to new albums. I have a playlist for every major project I’m working on, as well as a “soothing” one, a “love” one, a “girl power” one and lots of others! Plus with spotify, you can receive suggestions from other spotify users. Fabio Costa (Project Runway contestant and co-owner of NotEqual) is one of my favorite people to get suggestions from. He has great taste in music and we can nerd out over indie albums together. Feel free to find my playlists and check them out, and be sure to check his out too!
If I’m home, I like to sit in my room surrounded by my stuffed animals. Because I’m a grown up.
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
Well, most people don’t realize I have an embarrassingly extensive knowledge of Sting’s discography. Not even a joke! I have all of his albums up until the lute one, and even some singles. And I have “Soul Cages” on vinyl, thanks to my friend Isaac. I’ve also seen a couple of his movies- The Bride (which I told the Nostalgia Critic he should review) and Brimstone and Treacle. And yes, I own his books too. He’s been a major creative influence on my writing and life. The lyrics from “Soul Cages” are just surreal masterpieces to me. He’s a master storyteller.
Also, Andrew Bird wore the scarf I made for him in a music video with Margaret Cho. Look it up! So cool!
What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
Oh, there have been so many of them! But my greatest was definitely going to New York City in May of this year for BEA, staying at the hip Jane Hotel with my sister, getting dressed up in my gorgeous Dmitry Sholokhov dress and high heels, attending a fancy breakfast as a guest author, taking a taxi to the Javit’s Center, signing review copies of Death and Mr. Right to tons of strangers and familiar faces alike, and Dmitry joining me at the event as my guest. It was amazing! We chatted and caught up a little after he arrived and I met his lovely friend Anastasiya, and then we posed behind the Spencer Hill table and suddenly there was a whole row of people standing in front of us with cameras. I’ve never seen so many cameras in my life! It was a surreal experience. Even Dmitry commented that it was a lot of camera flashes. I felt like a princess or something! Later that evening, my sister and three of my best girlfriends got together with me back at the Jane Hotel for drinks and conversation, and then my dear friend Megan and I took a late-night walk along the waterfront. To have so many wonderful people with me for that event was a beautiful experience. And Dmitry has been such an inspiration for me, both as an artist with a lot of ambition and big dreams and good sense of humor, and also because he was the muse for Viktor Arson in “The Unlove Spell.” It was the most magical day of my life! (If you don’t know about his work, you should look him up on twitter and instagram, both of which are @dmitrysholokhov )
Now that we have had a taste of your awesomeness, what are the deets about your book so we can all buy it? (ISBN, where to buy it, etc.)
Death and Mr. Right drops October 1st. It will be for sale in most Barnes & Noble stores, on amazon and worldwide at bookdepository.com. There are many things you can do to make this funky little book into an indie success. You can call or visit your local bookstore and ask them to order a copy of the book, you can tweet me ( @kendrybird ) with the hashtag #deathandmrright , you can take a picture of yourself with the book and tweet it or instagram it with the #deathandmrright tag… I’m going to feature the pictures on my site, along with a link of your choice, if you’d like. So hit me up!
You’ve got a very active life in social media, and you promote your work in a lot of untraditional ways. What advice can you offer other authors who are looking to help promote their books and are trying to get online more?
Choose two social media platforms that you really like and concentrate on those. Some people try to do it all- facebook, twitter, instagram, blog, pinterest, tumblr, whatever… it gets to be a burden, especially if you’re new to it. I suggest you use two that you really like, and use one more for personal contacts and one more for ‘fans.’ Facebook is great for personal contacts and twitter is great for fans. With facebook, you have more of a human connection, but you also have the gatekeeper of adding people as your ‘friend.’ With twitter, you speak and anyone in the world can listen. Post about what makes your life unique. Fans and followers want to see things they can’t see in their own lives, like places you’ve traveled, cool people you’ve met or whatever else. Also, don’t be afraid to tweet people you admire. Everyone is so connected now, and there’s comfort in that, even for someone ‘on top.’ I’ve interacted with Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Ross, Tom Hiddleston and many other of my personal heroes on twitter. So don’t be afraid to try talking to one of your heroes!
Speaking of your active online life, how can fans (un-creeper-like) stalk you to find out what you’re up to and what else they can possibly give you money for? 🙂
I LOVE to hear from everyone! My twitter handle is @kendrybird and I’m on instagram @kendralsaunders and update my website regularly http://www.kendralsaunders.com In addition, the radio interviews I do go up on my youtube channel after they air. I’ve interviewed Dmitry Sholokhov, Michelle Lesniak Franklin, Fabio Costa, Melissa Fleis, Miranda Levy.. you can hear those on my youtube channel! http://www.youtube.com/KendraLSaunders I also upload video journals there from my travels. Recent ones include my trip to NYC for Death and Mr. Right’s signing at BEA, and my adventures at NYFW!
What are you working on now, and what other projects can we look for from you in the near future?
I’ve recently finished writing The Unlove Spell, which is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever written. It’s about a young witch named Marling, who lives in New York City and isn’t very good at magic. She tries to put an unlove spell on her former lover, sexy Russian writer Viktor Arson, to keep him from falling in love with anyone else, but she accidentally puts it on herself instead. The story begins five years later, when their paths cross again and she finds out Viktor’s family are actually fae royalty. The fae and witches have a long, ugly history, and Marling has to decide… does she really love him, or is that just the unlove spell she placed on herself?
It’s a comedy and it’s fun and it’s set in New York City. It’s currently with my very favorite agent, so my fingers are crossed!
I’m also mostly finished with a poetry and short story collection about these two people who are never quite right for each other, but they keep crossing paths in different lives and realities. It’s really melancholy and I’m excited about the idea of sharing it with the world!
Once again, thank you so much for stopping by my blog, Kendra! It’s always a blast to hang out with you!
Thank you so much, Trish! You’re amazing, and I have so much respect and love for you!
For the good part of about two years, now, my friend and fellow Dragon*Writer, Anthony Francis and I have been working on the DOORWAYS TO EXTRA TIME anthology–and it finally comes out this Tuesday!!
I am so seriously proud of this baby…there was a lot of beauty and a lot of heartache (some amazing, amazing, amazing stories got sent to us–and we couldn’t even fit them all!!) and a lot of time (heh!) and a lot of sweat and blood into this anthology. I hope you love it as much as we do!
We’re planning a bunch of promotional thingama-gigs over the next month or so, so stay tuned. 🙂 If you happen to be going to DragonCon this year, though, check out our release party at Ray’s in the City! Consider this your invitation!
And just in case you needed more incentive than an awesome anthology, free food, and cool people… well, we’re also raffling off this AWESOME stained glass piece from Stained Glass Creations and Beyond!
Now, onto the coolness of this anthology. Here’s the back copy:
Everyone wishes they could get an extra hour in the day.
But what if you could?
What if you had a special device that gave you an extra day every week? You could use it to get ahead at work…unless your boss had it too.
What if you knew a spell that gave you an extra hour every day? You could use it to correct a mistake…or make a new one.
What if you could just stop time? You could accomplish a myriad of wonders…if you only knew how to get time started again.
Time loops and time travel, time apps and time outs, time machines, time merchants, and more can be found passing through these doorways into worlds where time can be spent like money…or where extra time can only be bought at a terrible price.
With stories and poetry by Jody Lynne Nye, Walter Hunt, Erica Cameron, Martin Feekins, Anthony Francis, L.M. Graham, R.E. Gofstein, Melina Gunnett, Betsy Miller, Susan Mittmann, Brenda Moguez, Jenny More, Ira Nayman, Errick A. Nunnally, Kate Saturday, Gayle Schultz, Rich Storrs, Keshia Swaim, Aimee Weinstein, and Trisha J. Wooldridge, Doorways to Extra Time presents twenty twists on the idea that if only we had a little extra time…
I’ve known E. C. for several years through conventions, Broad Universe, and online chatting–and she’s an amazing resource on medieval history–which she beautifully works into her novel. Because I am such a history buff, I was thrilled at the chance to pick her brain at all this cool info!
Let’s start with a little blurb about the book, Elisha Barber.
England in the fourteenth century: a land of poverty and opulence, prayer and plague, witchcraft and necromancy. Where the medieval barber-surgeon Elisha seeks redemption as a medic on the front lines of an unjust war, and is drawn into the perilous world of sorcery by a beautiful young witch. In the crucible of combat, at the mercy of his capricious superiors, Elisha must unravel conspiracies both magical and mundane, as well as come to terms with his own disturbing new abilities. But the only things more dangerous than the questions he’s asking are the answers he may reveal…
I’d really love to hear about the research you did to make Elisha’s knowledge as a barber surgeon real. What drew you to this profession?
When I started out, I only need to know a little more about medieval medicine for a scene in another novel, but what I found was fascinating to me. It was another way of viewing the European Middle Ages, a popular setting for fantasy, that would allow me access to all levels of society, and also engage with characters in a more intimate way. Medical treatment and the need for it create great vulnerabilities, openings into the spirit as well as the body. Medieval medicine was fragmented by philosophies handed down from Greek and Roman sources, by the demands of religion, and by social class—it’s rich territory for fiction.
I wanted to write about a less traditional fantasy hero. We’re used to reading about knights, princesses, remarkable children—Elisha is a mid-career adult, respected in his sphere of influence. He works among the poor and desperate of London’s lesser neighborhoods: prostitutes, carters, laborers, for whom he’s the best medical care they can afford. When he’s forced to the front, he finds himself serving beneath the full weight of the medieval hierarchy: a surgeon who manages the hospital and works with knights and lesser nobility, a physician who advises only at the highest level, yet insists on supervising Elisha’s work, and all of the political layers outside of medicine—the warriors, royalty, lords and ladies who are the more usual denizens of the fantasy novel, and to whom the barber surgeon is beneath contempt.
Where did you go for this level of research?
I started with some general resources, like Medicine: an Illustrated History, which grounded me in a broad understanding of the period. I moved down through the books that would take me closer to the source, specialized compendia of knowledge like The History of Magic and Experimental Science. From there, I took note especially of any primary sources I could study. That lead me to Galen, the first-century physician who developed the hugely influential theory of the four humors, and to medieval practitioners like Ambroise Pare, a French barber-surgeon, or Guy de Chauliac, surgeon and personal physician to Pope Clement VI. Any time I could, I read works written by the practitioners, or by their contemporaries and patients. I was a bit stymied in this area because I never learned to read Latin!
I also had the chance to visit some specialty museums of medicine, or to locate exhibits about medicine within larger collections in places like the Museum of The City of London. Lately, I’ve been accumulating a collection of period-style surgical tools I can bring to signings and readings to illustrate the research.
What were some of the more amazing, gross, crazy things you found out?
One of the popes died of a surfeit of emeralds, which he was eating at the recommendation of his physician in order to cure a humoral imbalance. That’s pretty crazy! They believed that all material things had properties—hot, cold, wet, and dry—which related to the humors, so when a cure could not be effected by bleeding the patient, say, because the wrong astrological sign was ascendant at that time, the patient could also be fed a diet meant to balance these properties.
What are some interesting facts you learned but that didn’t make it into this book…or the series? 🙂
I haven’t written much about disease as opposed to wound healing or individual ailments—as of yet. But in the 14th century there were three modes by which disease was believed to be transmitted: breath, skin (touching) and gaze. This includes the notion that a young woman without a husband or a calling to God might emit a certain poison affecting those around her. The so-called “maleficent gaze of the venomous virgin.” Still want to use that. . . but I haven’t quite found the place for it!
Where should readers go to learn more about the book?
E. C. Ambrose wrote Elisha Barber and the rest of “The Dark Apostle” historical fantasy series from DAW books. Published works include “The Romance of Ruins” in Clarkesworld, and “Custom of the Sea,” winner of the Tenebris Press Flash Fiction Contest 2012. In addition to writing, the author works as an adventure guide. Past occupations include founding a wholesale business, selecting stamps for a philatelic company, selling equestrian equipment, and portraying the Easter Bunny on weekends.