The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Zippered Flesh 2!

Next month Smart Rhino will be releasing Zippered Flesh 2 More Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad! edited by Weldon Burge.

My story, After Darque, is in this release, along with other brilliant stories by the extremely talented Bryan Hall, Chris Larsen, L.L. Soares and Daniel I. Russel.

You will see a few familiar names in here as well from the first Zippered Flesh like the eerie Charles Colycott and Michael Bailey. Man those two creeped me out in the first one. Lisa Mannetti makes another appearance as well as Johnathan Templar and Jezzey Wolfe. 

The first Zippered Flesh was a brilliant concoction of madness and mayhem and I am sure Zippered Flesh 2 will be just as Darque.

To see the full table of contents check out, an up and coming new publisher in the horror field making his mark.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Writing Your Demons and Devouring Mental Illness

Stories circulate in my head on a constant basis. Reeling them in and trying to get them into neat little boxes that eventually intertwine and could possibly become something interesting and cohesive is an entirely different matter. So I keep either a notebook or an electronic version of a notebook with me at all times. I write down ideas, thoughts, weird things I've seen and wait for the magic to begin.

My son and I have recently begun watching the X-Files from the beginning and I realized a few elements of the show had wound up in my stories. Weird. I love the way the brain works. I love that human memories can take a dozen different experiences, warp them all together into one gigantic blob and put them in our frontal cortex where we would swear this really happened. Nothing explains this clearer to me than looking back at old X-Files episodes and realizing that's where this fit in. Or raising children and hearing their version of a childhood memory.

Everything gets stored in the brain. All those inane experiences that we shrug off are sitting in the three pound, synaptic firing, vision inducing hunk of meat screaming to be let out. Whether it is in a verbal backlash or in a new story. I prefer the story. I can take all experiences, good, bad, or indifferent and release them upon unsuspecting characters to see what happens next. I love that feeling. It is so cathartic to fight your demons on paper and let your characters sort out the aftermath. Because, let's face it, as writers that is what we do. We fight our demons on a daily basis whether we think we do or not. At least, we do if we are any good.  That's how we make sense of the world. That's how we figure out why bad things happen. And that's where we try and get a grasp on our demons. I also believe it keeps us sane. More sane than the regular population. As a group of people, horror writers purge their inner thoughts, they vomit their greatest fears, and they defecate their emotions on paper. 

We can take an abusive childhood and turn it into the next zombie apocalypse where the parents get devoured one piece at a time. Or we can take depression and create a survival story of being trapped in a blizzard, surrounded by hungry bears and getting out alive. We may not realize it at the time in the throes of writing, but we are killing the childhood bullies, the beasts, and the monsters with every stroke of the pen. And with any luck you gain an audience. And a few royalties.

So yeah, we may be a little weird and we definitely see the world in a way most of the population doesn't, but we also understand human nature a lot more clearly than most. Because living in our heads we have to understand the demon in order to defeat it. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Nibbling on a Hoof

Been living in Winnipeg now since August of 1989 I think. Cannot remember. And we have been in this house since 2000. Twenty four years of junk accumulated in one place. So as the old joke goes, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Guess I will have to start nibbling on a hoof, paw, pad or whatever those huge woolly mammoths have on their feeties.

Going to concentrate on upgrading my education this year and finish a certification in Publishing, along with a BA and a potential MA in Writing. I am a firm believer in keeping your mind and skills active. Don't care how old you are, or what you know, keep learning. The only thing that will continue to put food on the table and money in the bank is knowledge. And that is the only thing they cannot take away from you. I always said if I ever won the lottery all I would do is study. Anything. And everything. I live in my head and I might as fill it up with as much as it can stand. I do believe that is the one thing that kept my brain working so well after my ruptures. I know the best way to build new neural pathways and structures is to learn something new. And after the brain surgery I decided I needed to learn something completely new in order to facilitate brain regeneration and healing. Don't know if it worked, but I think it helped keep the brain damage from being much more extensive than it could have been. Every day is still a new day to me, but it could have been much worse.

When I was at home recuperating, I taught myself how to create and design jewelry. It is a great hobby and something I thoroughly enjoy. I work mainly in semi precious and precious gem stones, sterling sliver and gold.

I started out with bracelets and designed the first piece for cancer awareness. It is loaded with over 50 sterling silver beads, opals, rhondinite, and Swarovski crystals. Then I created the Brain Aneurysm awareness bracelets for men and women and also in a medic alert option. Went onto rings and chains and took off from there. 

So education will be the next four years and beyond to quote Buzz Lightyear.

Next will be the most difficult thing; sorting through 25 years of accumulated junk, papers, treasures, memories and stuff. Endless, reams amounts of stuff to decide what to keep (not much), what to sell and what to throw away. We have decided to get rid of as much as possible so this will be the belly, backside and part of the buttocks of our woolly mammoth friend, one I am not going to enjoy munching on.

Pass the hoof and the barbeque sauce.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Full Circle

 Decided this is going to be another year of firsts for me. Most years are...I do not allow the grass to grow under my feet. Never have. I have always lived in my head and always five years into the future. It is great for planning, organizing and seeing the 'big picture', but sucks though for living in the moment. I have also realized that with the decision to pull up stakes and move with the possibility of writing and editing full time, I have come full circle, where I was meant to be. All the running around trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up has finally materialized. Wish I knew then.......but then again I will never be that person sitting on the deck, at 80, wondering what my life could have become. I will have done it.

I remember being a kid, must have been 6 years old I am thinking, just immigrated to Canada from Holland. I spoke English, Dutch, German and French and I was in this brand new country where people dressed funny and it was cold. So I started writing. The very first story I wrote was about Dracula and a duck. They met up somewhere in Saskatchewan and became friends, until Vlad got hungry. The teacher loved it and had me read it at a school assembly.

Twelve years later I am standing in the recruiting office for the Department of National Defense. I was running away from home; needed to get out of a very abusive, soul sucking, child crushing household. I remember going to the office and saying "So what pays the most?" They point to Aircraft Mechanic and I said sign me up.

Fast forward another 6 years and I was plugging away at writing, not really serious about it because by this time I was married with three kids under three and living in Germany. My husband was in the military. I did write a horrific non-fiction novel about my childhood and my life though. Must remember to look for it one day and see if it is any good. Might be something in there to salvage. I do recall it is entitled "The Monster Under the Bed", my biggest fear being of the dark and the thing that lives under the bed to grab you before the lights go out. You must have done that at one point, your hand trembling on the light switch, your arm stretched out as far as humanly possible, your leg stressed to the point of dislocating but getting as close as possible to your bed, and mentally preparing to flick that switch, to hit the bed before the dark hits. Yup that was my childhood. Filled with monsters, torture, pain, abuse and a few other dwarfs that shall remain nameless for now.

Kids are fabulous aren't they? Perfect fodder for psychology experiments (yes I did but that will be another post), perfect little beings that as parents, you stick all your dreams, promises and commitments in, hoping that they have a better life than you did. Both my husband and I swore we would never raise our kids how we were raised. We would love our children unconditionally, we would talk to them as if they were people, we would inquire about their feelings, thoughts and emotions, and above all, we would listen.  And we did. Our children are by no means perfect. And we did struggle. Man did we struggle, with Autism, ADD, Bi-Polar Disorder thrown into the mix with the normal teenage anxiety and hormonal roller coaster ride. But we loved our kids. We listened to them and we treated them like people, not like objects to be owned and cast aside, a huge difference in the way my husband and I were treated. Did it make a difference? I think so. Today they are wonderful adults. My grandchildren, by the way, are perfect. And I like them. But having kids wreaks havoc with having any free time. Especially when you are struggling to make ends meet and trying to do what's best for special needs children in the mix. Writing was dead last. Nothing happened for years.

I cannot remember when it was, but I did start writing short stories. Embarrassing short stories. Bad short stories. I still have them and read them from time to time when I need to cringe......I worked at several careers, aircraft mechanic, psych nurse, hair stylist, procurement specialist. And in the process my work started to become a little better.

November of 2005 I was sitting in my favourite chair in the living room of the house we are still living in and I found a website that was catering to Canadian Horror authors just starting out. My finger hovered over the send key for a few seconds and I instantly felt sick to my stomach when I depressed that little rectangular button. Because, for now, I was a writer. I had never submitted anything and no one could tell me I sucked, therefore I was a writer. Now I was sending my thoughts out to professionals. Crap! What the hell was I thinking? If they told me I did not have any talent I was seriously farked. Anyone who is a writer will understand this line of reasoning. We all have very fragile egos when it comes to what we create with our heads. One month later they told me they loved my story and published it. And it won story of the Winter. I was spinning. And yes, my husband died in this story. Actually, the story was about a pet peeve of mine. My husband had decided to X-10 the house. You know, remote control the lights. The lights would turn on and off at any given moment; in the middle of a TV show, the middle of the night, middle of the day. Drove me batshit. And he would tell me, 'all you have to do is find the remote, press this button, find this button, press that switch, jump up and down on one leg saying I love technology and turn around three times'. I would look at him and think, or I could flick the switch.....He did not see the I killed him in the story. It was published on his birthday. And it was this story that got me into the Horror Writers Association. Fitting.....

2010 my brain blew up. Woke up one day with the worst headache of my life. An ice pick had buried itself above my right eye and burrowed into my brain. With every beat of my heart, the pain grew larger and larger, kept pulsating and growing. I downed 200mg of Gravol, 1000 mg of Tylenol, 1000 mg of Advil and 500 mg of Muscle Relaxants and called my husband, slurring and drooling, saying if the pain didn't go away in 20 minutes I was going to the hospital and I went back to bed. Found out later this was bad. Real bad. At this point I had a 15% chance of survival. And I went to sleep. Had a wicked migraine for five days in a row, but the rupture sealed. Still did not know at this point that I had ruptured. A month later it happened again.......another 15% chance of survival. Wouldn't be another four months that I would have surgery to repair this and in the meantime, my brain kept bleeding.

During the recovery phase I found out I have another aneurysm and they cannot clip it. This would be a permanent fix. The upshot of this would be though that I would not be able to write because the neurosurgeon would have to cut through too much brain matter to get to the aneurysm. Where the bubble is located, is one of the rarest spots to have an aneurysm. So I wait to see what happens next.

Kept writing and sobbed when I finished the first story after the brain spatter. Did not know if it was going to work or not, but it did. Submitted a few more stories and they were accepted as well. Kept writing and in 2012 decided Americans should be subjected to my awesomeness so I decided to hit up a few American publishers. If you understand writing, it is difficult. The writing, the planning, the editing, the sweating, the cursing, the crying......and if you understand Horror, it is even more difficult to get noticed. Especially if you are a Canadian. But a few were accepted and it was at this time I decided I needed to get way more serious about my 'hobby'.

Then I found out my friend died. She was 51. And my life changed again. I realized I HATE Winnipeg with a passion. I hate having to be here at all the 'family' functions and sitting there like a piece of decoration while the 'real' family intermingles. Because of  my childhood, all I ever wanted was family. That was it. Just a huge family to love, laugh and cry with and when I found out my husband had six sisters and a brother I thought I hit the jackpot. I was finally going to have a family! But that's not what happened. There were the sisters and then there was everyone else. After 30 years of trying to fit in and not quite making it, not having help or support, I decided I didn't want to play anymore. And my husband supported me knowing everything I had been through and all the pain this had caused. So we both decided to become away to a climate where we can have more than three months of summer, where we can walk the beach 12 months of the year and where I can write full time. Full circle. Only took 44 years to get here.........

Hippie, Gypsy, Writer, Artist

I decided I want to be a hippie.  No, wait. A Hippie.....looked up the the synonyms and I guess it kind of fits:
                    Main Entry:bohemian
                    Part of Speech:noun
                    Synonyms:artistbeatnik, dilettanteflower child, freespirit, gypsyhippie*, iconoclastwriter

I am an artist, a writer, definitely a freespirit, always wanted to be a gypsy so I am guessing Hippie, it the way, when you read this, you have to read it with a Southern accent, because in my head, that is how I sound. Always.

2012 was a wake up call in a series of wake up calls for my husband and myself. A friend, with whom we were both close to, died. She was 51, out walking her dog and collapsed. Olle and I started a family with Donna and Seigi. We raised kids together, had fun together, laughed, loved and shared memories. It was a huge blow. Completely unexpected and out of left field. And it changed the way I thought how life should be. 

I work in the Federal Government as does my husband. We both have stressful, demanding, professional careers. Generally, I love what I do. Generally. It is the attitude of the people I work with that makes me insane. But then I guess being a Hippie, working with IT and the egos they share, I can see where the twain shall never meet. 

Three years ago I survived two ruptured brain aneurysms. Yup I am an over achiever. Could not have one. Nope. Had to go and have two of the damn things. Had a 15% survival rate.....twice......Now I have another one and I am still trying to deal with that one as well as the recovery of the damage done by the first two.

So the juxtaposition of these two events made me realize, I do not like what my life has become. I love my husband to death. Been married 29 years, together 31 and would not change it for the world. Besides he gets to die in most of my stories......Love my kids and grandchildren. They are a wonderful generation of growing minds. New souls to torture and mould. 

What I dislike is the obligations. The 'have-to's', the 'you are part of a family (but not really) so you must do this'. I dislike the stress, the anxiety of layoffs, losing our house. The sickness and health issues that I need to work around on a daily basis. None of these things are working for me. Or for Olle. So we talked about what we wanted. Turns out, it's not this......

We both see ourselves moving a thousand miles west, living in the Okanagan, raising dogs, growing wine and vegetables and herbs and flowers, walking the beach, watching the sunrise from our deck, drinking Absinthe, cycling and living life on our terms. And we decided to go for it. Obviously this will take some planning, learning how to dismantle a life and build a new one, but what the heck. Neither one of us are afraid of challenges. We have seen plenty in our lives from poverty, to mental illness, to child abuse, to near death experiences and back. What the heck. Could be kind of fun.