NANOWRIMO DAY 21

Guess what? It’s NaNoWriMo day 21. And I am okay.

Oh, I’m definitely behind. Probably not gonna finish. But that’s okay. I have written 15,480 words total that I am mostly proud of and I had a good long 5,000-word sprint just today!

My last Instagram post, and my last post on here, were pretty dark. I reached a dark place. On Instagram I wrote, “Part of me wants other people to know how I feel so that they can tell me that they care… but the darkness monster says even if people do care… so what? It’s not enough. It’s never enough. It can’t last and it can’t make anything different.”

Here’s the thing though… people showed up to care. And I found that once again, it DOES matter. When you have people that love you cheering you on, it doesn’t matter how many words you get or don’t get. And I realized that even if I didn’t live up to the expectations I set for myself right this minute, my life is still worth living. The darkness monster can go away. Maybe he’ll be back, but it’s okay. He’s just a liar I don’t need to listen to anyway.

So here’s to however many words I get to finish in the next nine days! Happy writing!

NaNoWriMo Day 7

So we’re a full week into NaNoWriMo, and I’ve written a grand total of 700 words since the start of the month. My account profile says my project is at 7,805 words, but that’s deceptive. I started with something like 7,100 words, but I wanted to reach 60,000 this month. I told myself that I would do better than I did last year. I told myself (and the rest of my sparse friends list) that I would update my blog and Instagram twice a week to keep myself on track. And I’m one week into the challenge and I feel like a failure.

Sequel (the platform I’ve been publishing my Make Me Maid of Honor series) announced they were shutting down this week. And that, among many other things, has got me down. I kind of expected it, but I still feel like a failure.

Can I be brutally honest for just a minute? Sometimes, like right now, I just don’t see the point. I’ve struggled with chronic depression for ten years, and I have to admit despite everything that’s supposedly “good” that has happened to me in those ten years there are days like today where I just feel like there’s no point in trying to be happy. Because eventually, I wind up right back here again. Hello old nemesis, the darkness monster. It seems like no matter what, you’re always following. No matter what temporary joy I can lay ahold of, you’re always there telling me it can’t last and it’s not enough.

I’m burned out. I’m heartbroken. I’m depressed again. And I don’t have a redeeming corner to turn here in this post. I’m still staring down a blinking cursor and I don’t have any idea on how to make it move. I still feel like a failure at everything I’ve ever attempted. And I don’t need an inspiring speech. I don’t need a phone call or a hug. I just need to write the next word.

Somehow.

While I Was Sleeping

Author’s Note: I wrote these song lyrics in 2015 about a long-term crush I’d had that I wanted to be rid of. I’m long since over it, but I still love the lyrics I wrote. I think there are many others who can relate to the feelings so I’m sharing it now.

You were here while I was sleeping,

In the depths of my mind,

Where all the secrets I’ve been keeping,

Are all I come to find,

Where once upon a time we danced,

With open hearts and woven hands,

Until I woke to dawn’s cold bitter light.

I don’t want to dream about you anymore,

This is the last my soul can take,

I don’t want to wish on any more shooting stars,

They fall so far,

And I reach until I break.

I’ve only ever fallen in love with shadows,

And chased whispers into heartache,

I don’t want to dream about you anymore,

You will never be with me when I wake.

I’ve worn a ballgown made of silver white light,

And a veil that trailed across the aisle and into the sky,

I’ve said I love, I will, I do, for all of time,

But only at night.

In the quiet breaths between who I am,

And what I wish inside,

I don’t want to dream about you anymore,

This is the last my soul can take,

I don’t want to wish on anymore shooting stars,

They fall so far,

And I reach until I break.

I’ve only ever fallen in love with shadows,

And chased whispers into heartache,

I don’t want to dream about you anymore,

You will never be with me when I wake.

Reality is where the sunset’s reflected in your eyes,

On picturesque painting that make me cry,

It was everything I ever wanted,

Everything I’d ever wished that it would be,

It was all for real.

Just not for me.

I don’t want to dream about you anymore,

This is the last my soul can take,

I don’t want to wish on anymore shooting stars,

They fall so far,

And I reach until I break.

I’ve only ever fallen in love with shadows,

And chased whispers into heartache,

I don’t want to dream about you anymore,

You will never be with me when I wake.

I Am From Poem

Author’s Note: This is my response to a common poetry prompt. When I was writing it, I was thinking about the things that made up the foundation of my childhood and what I still carry into adulthood. I wrote it just as an exercise but I was so proud of it that I wanted to share it. I hope you enjoy.

I am from fairy gardens constructed

with twigs and daffodil petals

sprinkled with the little round rocks

that were under the tire swing

where the other children would not let me play

because at three years old I wore glasses

I am from words on yellowed paper

read aloud by the glow

of the unicorn night light

magic worlds and lantern waste

that I carried close to my heart

even as all plunged into winter

I am from composition notebooks

that left graphite smudges on my eager hands

as I drew space cadets and superheroes

that traversed the galaxies inside my mind

and the pages I filled as I chicken-pecked

every key my fingers could reach

I am from the hymns sung every morning

verses forever engraved as melodies

that spring to my lips the moment

I hear the first note in the pastor’s sermon

and I can still play that holy book’s sonnets

reflect them back as the sun goes out

Announcing: We Be Attempting the Madness (Again)

Guess what time of year it is…

It be time to announce my lofty goal for November! That’s right, it’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2021 and I am attempting the madness yet again! The last NINE TIMES I have attempted NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, I have crashed and burned. I haven’t won a NaNoWriMo challenge since 2015.

But win, lose, or total apocalypse, I’m running again in 2021. And I must admit, I’m “cheating” a little bit. This year’s project is to finish Maid of Honor for Summer, which I have technically already started. But in a challenge with no real prizes, I think it’s okay to bend the rules a little. I will be sharing one chapter per week on Sequel, which I hope will help me stay motivated to keep going, and I will post bi-weekly updates to my blog here and on Instagram.

Looking forward to running the race!

Maid of Honor for Summer on Sequel

Announcing the next installment in my series about demon-slaying bridesmaids! The first chapter of book two, Maid of Honor for Summer, is now on Sequel! You can subscribe to the story here.

Annabella French has spent a year cooling down after slaying an incubus hellbent on stealing her sister’s pyrokinetic powers during last summer’s stint as Maid of Honor. But the time has come to put on a new dress and polish her blade because her emotion-bending cousin Pearl is getting married next.

Baby Sister

Song lyrics first written December 16th, 2007

Author’s Note: Don’t mind me, I’m just searching my ancient hoard for a song I wrote when I was sixteen about a hypothetical little sister. These song lyrics are meant to be something of a soft piano ballad, but I also imagined an electronic dance remix because that’s just how my brain works. I dug up this piece because I remember it being something I was proud of at the time and it does hit a squishy place in my soul to this day. You are invited to enjoy.

Endless alley, snowy cold,

Trials like rain, and toils so old,

Hopeless tears, Forgotten cries,

Little princess, barely alive,

Did you feel abandoned?

Did you try to walk alone?

Trying to find the path of heaven,

Just want to go home.

So baby sister, hold my hand,

And I promise we’ll make it through,

In the darkness, I’ll light a candle,

And I will be watching over you,

Baby sister, don’t be afraid,

Trust me to lead the way,

Baby sister, hold my hand,

And everything will be okay.

Moving forward may take all your faith,

And the sky seems not to give a spark of grace,

But though the road is hard and it seems so far,

Don’t forget how to hope and let time heal every scar.

Baby sister, hold my hand,

And I promise we’ll make it through,

In the darkness, I’ll light a candle,

And I will be watching over you,

Baby sister, don’t be afraid,

Trust me to lead the way,

Baby sister, hold my hand,

And everything will be okay.

Don’t dwell on times that are gone,

Stand your ground when it seems there will be no dawn,

To every night there is an end,

In every heartbreak, You have a friend.

Baby sister, hold my hand,

And I promise we’ll make it through,

In the darkness, I’ll light a candle,

And I will be watching over you,

Baby sister, don’t be afraid,

Trust me to lead the way,

Baby sister, hold my hand,

And everything will be okay.

Fairytale Princess

Song lyrics first written August 24th, 2012

Author’s Note: I wrote these lyrics while I was in intensive outpatient care for my first major depressive episode. It was my way of comforting myself, reminding myself that even the stories with the happiest of endings can be full of hardship and trial. Even though I felt like I had died, I held the promise of a full resurrection. I’ve been writing song lyrics to comfort myself since I was twelve, but to date this is the project I am most proud of and that feels the most personal. I hope you enjoy.

I am a fairytale princess

Trapped at the top of a stairless tower

My heart is wasted with my aguish

I fell prey to the curse’s power

I lost who I was meant to be

And there is no one coming to save me

Wrap me in chains and leave me to die

I will emerge like a butterfly

Tonight

I am

A fairytale princess

One day

I stand

Crowned upon my throne

I fight a war

It will be won

I have a kingdom

It will come

I am a fairytale princess

Lying in a coffin made of glass

The clock struck midnight while I waited

And it seems I’ve breathed my last

I ate the apple that poisoned my lips

And I’ve lost all hope of true love’s kiss

Prick my finger and lay me to sleep

This one last promise I will keep

Tonight

I am

A fairytale princess

One day

I stand

Crowned upon my throne

I fight a war

It will be won

I have a kingdom

It will come

In the real world

I’m just a girl

Swept away by the waves of agony

Lost in bleak reality

Slit my wrists and cried my hate

To the cruel twists and turns of fate

For the wishes I’d made

The dreams I’d obeyed

Stared in the mirror and despised my own face

Tore myself to pieces

To erase me without a trace

But today I’m still alive

Somehow I’ve survived

Locked in my tower

The curse losing its power

Rising from the deep

I awaken from my sleep

Maybe I’m naïve

Maybe I’m a silly little girl who just pretends

But I know

Yes, I know

How this story ends

Tonight

I am

A fairytale princess

One day

I stand

Crowned upon my throne

I fight a war

It will be won

I have a kingdom

It will come

CRYPTOMNESIA

3rd Place Winner in the Spring 2017 Science Meets Fiction Contest, co-sponsored by SciCom: the College of Science & Engineering science communication initiative and eleven40seven: TCU Journal of the Arts

      White-hot pain sears through my temples and I bolt upright, gasping.
      Metal wires pull me back and icy fluid splashes against my ears. I clasp my hands on either side of my head and find brain-probing crystals jammed into my skull. Steel cords cage my forehead and tether me down against a cold glass surface. I claw at the crystals and yank on the wires protruding from them, but the pain only intensifies. I scream, my hands convulse. I let go and my arms splash back into the freezing blue liquid that surrounds me. Hyperventilating, I look down at my body. Another steel cord wraps around my waist. Fluid laps up over my knees and soaks into my clean white body suit, staining it dark blue.
      “Tell us when you saw Earth.” A voice speaks from the darkness.
      I struggle to turn my head. Through the glass, I see a tall figure standing just outside the reach of the light. Its shoulders are broad, widened with armor, and its face is concealed by a glinting silver helmet.
      “Earth?” Shivering, I turn my head back up towards the light. Fluid leaks into the corners of my mouth. “It was a dream.”
      Soothing images flit through my mind, bringing hot tears to my eyes. I remember the feel of the grass between my bare toes, the scent of roses on the gentle breeze. I swallow down a sob and shiver again.
      He warned me this would happen.
      I hear the thudding of heavy boots. The figure moves around to the foot of the tank that contains me, I see the shadow of his image rippling in the water. A click reverberates through the room and the crystals against my temples hum. I wince.
      “You must have seen it in order to dream it. Think before the dream, Anastacia. When did you see Earth?”
      I shake my head, closing my eyes. “It was just a dream.”
      More thuds, another click. The crystals hum even louder.
      “Describe the meadow.” the voice says.
      The meadow. I remember running my hands through the grass and pulling handfuls of moist earth to my face, inhaling the scent. It was nothing like the packaged dirt distributed down at the green house, all dry and vacuum-sealed. It was alive, like flowing water and blooming flowers.
     “The smell…” I whisper. “It smelled like…”
     Just as I recall the scent and search for the words to describe it, the crystals against my head buzz. The smell vanishes, whisking away into the wind.
     I gasp and try to sit upright. The wires keep me down. I push my hands against the glass.
     “What did you do?” I cry.
     Something grinds and whirs in the darkness. 
     “Describe the sunrise now.”
      My hands shake as they fall back down into the water. The thudding of my heartbeat overtakes all other sound.
      Darkness was the first thing I remembered. I walked through an endless night, pulling my arms tight against my chest to keep out the bitter cold. Then, light glowed on the distant horizon. It crept into the clouds and across the ground like a small, shy flame. Color leaked into the landscape, color so bright and vivid that it stung my eyes. I fell to my knees and stared up into the sky. Layer upon layer of gold flew high into the atmosphere, and it seemed as though it carried on forever.
      I spun around and felt the wind rustle through my hair. Scarlet buds bloomed around my feet. As I watched, butterflies burst from the grass and danced on the breeze. Dewdrops wet my ankles as I raced across the meadow, chasing them. Music thrummed with the beat of their wings, and as I grew closer it swelled into a crescendo. The sun shined brighter, the colors quivered.
      I awoke laughing.
      I bolted straight up in bed and pressed my fingers against the beaded dream catcher on my temple. The dream images played again, overlaying themselves against the drab white walls of my room. I closed my eyes and lay back, playing the images again and again until tears streaked down my face.
      Breathing hard with excitement, I slid the dream-catcher into its tiny pouch in my bag and raced out the door.
      I bounced on my heels as I stood inside the monorail, swinging back and forth on the metal ring hanging from the ceiling. I flashed a wide grin at every passenger that gave me a quizzical look. They averted their eyes, absorbing themselves in their data pads. I stared out the window and imagined the golden sky in the place of the star-ship’s dark ceiling.
      I arrived at the dream-dealer’s shop in record time. Hugging my bag against my chest, I ducked through the dream-beads hanging in the doorway. Dream catchers of every shape and size lined the shelves, and thousands of beads lay stacked in rows beside them. Round glass screens played images of dancing androids and swirling stars. I clasped my fingers against the tiny pouch where my dream catcher lay and paced at the counter.
      Orion emerged from the back, tapping his thumb against a holographic blue data-pad. Dream-beads were braided into his shimmering dreadlocks and two glassy black dream catchers rested on either side of his head.
      “Tacia!” He grinned and laid his data-pad down. “Someone just sold me a flyer yesterday. You’re going to love this one, you speed through every hallway in the ship. Here…”
      He reached across the counter towards a rack of beads. I jumped forward, taking his hand.
     “I have something even better.” I gave his hand an extra squeeze, and reached back into my bag. “Look at this.”
      Fingers trembling, I withdrew the bright green bead from the center of my dream catcher. Orion closed his eyes and I slipped the bead into the black web of his own dream catcher on his temple.
      He gasped. His hand clenched against the counter.
      “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” I whispered. “Can you hear the music?”
      He let a slow breath out and nodded his head. “Yes, I hear it.”
      “And the smell?” I leaned closer, standing on my tip-toes. “You can smell the flowers? And the dew?”
      The corners of his lips twitched up. “Yes. All of it. It must be… It has to be…”
      He took slow, steady breaths. His eyes flickered back and forth beneath his dark lids. He jerked back from my hand, his eyes shooting open.
      “Earth.” he breathed.
      “Earth?” I laughed, drawing my hand back and rolling the bead between my fingers. “How would you know anything about Earth?”
       Orion slowly shook his head, shrinking back behind the counter. “What else could it be?”
       I held the bead out in the palm of my hand. “How much would a copy be worth?”
       Orion blinked, his mouth opened. He looked back towards the door and then leaned in close, lowering his voice.
       “Tacia, if I gave you everything I have, it wouldn’t be enough. But I can’t buy that dream. We need to destroy it.” He reached for the bead. “Don’t tell anyone you ever had it.”
       I snatched my hand back. “What? No!”
       “Tacia, that dream is dangerous.” Orion whispered, glancing back at the door. “You can’t be caught with it.”
       “This dream is beautiful.” I pulled my hand in close to my heart. “I won’t give it up.”
       “Give it to me!” Orion lunged across the counter, grasping at my arms.
       “No!” I fell backward.
       My shoulder collided with a rack of beads, sending them spilling across the floor. Orion rushed around the counter, reaching out for me. I thought he meant to help me up. I tried to take his hand, but he grasped at the fist I held close to my chest. I twisted over, crawling away from him.
       “No!” I shouted again.
       “Tacia, I’m trying to protect you.” He clasped my shoulders and pulled me back.
       “Don’t touch me!” I slammed my elbow into his stomach. He grunted, doubling over. I scrambled out from beneath him and bolted through the door.
       “Tacia!” he cried out after me.
       I kept running.
       For the rest of the day, I lay curled in my bed with the bead pressed on my temple. I played the dream over and over again, until I had memorized every color that saturated the sky and every scent that wafted through the breeze. I fell asleep watching the sunrise.
       I awoke in the early morning to the screeching of metal. My door caved in and two armed enforcers charged into the room. I threw the blankets back and cowered against the wall. The first enforcer seized me by the hair and pulled me from the bed. My dream catcher fell from my temple and spun across the floor.
       A steel-toed gray boot slammed down on the dream catcher.
       I cried out and reached across the floor towards the splintered pieces. The enforcer yanked me backwards.
       One last enforcer walked through the doorway, his armored fingers clenched around Orion’s shoulder. He shoved Orion down on his knees.
       Blood dripped down from the corner of his mouth.
       “I’m sorry, Tacia.” he said.
       The enforcer raised his weapon and fired. Red engulfed my vision.
       Red, like the petals of the flowers drifting through the gentle breeze. I try to capture them in my hands but they slip through my fingers and spiral into oblivion. Digging my nails down into the dirt, I try to cling to the grass. It wretches from my hands like rope in a cruel game of tug-of-war, burning my skin as it tears away.
       “Stop!” I scream, fisting my hands and pounding on the glass. “Give it back!”
       The crystals whine, and it seems as though fire ignites behind my eyes. Notes of discord disrupt the beautiful music playing in my memory.
       “Tell us when you saw Earth, Anastacia.”
       My back arches, my eyes plunge beneath the water. I cling to the butterflies, holding their fluttering wings caged in my fingers. They split apart in my hands, the torn pieces slipping out through the spaces between my knuckles.
       I gasp, and the fluid worms its way down my throat. I clasp the edges of the tank and pull my head up out of the water.
       “I don’t know!” I shout. Tears drip down through the blue liquid clinging to my cheeks. “But I remember it.”
       Somewhere, in the far reaches of my mind, a door unlocked. A dream stirred through a memory of another place, another time, a different me. I lay back against a blanket of soft grass and stared up at an endless golden sky.
       “I remember.” I whispered, falling back against the glass and staring back at the dark figure, pleading.
       He steps towards me, into the light. I can almost make out the soft blue of his eyes behind his dark visor.
       He shakes his head. “It’s better if you don’t.”