'We're about ten days out from releasing the brand new version of Asylum. I'm excited about it! I'll be revealing the cover within the next few days.
Today, I thought I'd share with you the story behind it.
As a child, I had two seizures--one grand mal and one petit mal. We went through the whole neurological work-up, EEGs, hospital stays. I wasn't epileptic. The doctor believed they were triggered by playing video games (the first one) and using a green-screen computer (the second one). Of course, as a kid, I was horrified, but I dealt with it.
Jump ahead many years later. I'm working at Disneyland, and on New Year's Day 1997, ventured out with a friend. I'd been living alone, and my brother sent me one of his Nintendo consoles to keep me entertained on those lonely dateless evenings. (Oh, there were many. Sad, indeed.) Anyway, my friend and I went out for a lovely lunch, then headed to Pier One to do a bit of Christmas clearance shopping.
I started to feel a little dizzy. Sometimes, certain kinds of lights toy with my brain. I was about to tell my friend I needed to leave...and that's all I remember.
Until I woke up in the hospital.
Oh, there is no more disorienting or disconcerting feeling than waking up in a hospital.
A nurse checked me out for a moment, then handed me a cup with two white pills in it. She said I had to take them before I could leave. I had no idea what they were, but because I was in the "trusted, knowledgeable" care of a doctor, I followed orders. They soon sent me on my way with a prescription for more of those pills and a follow-up appointment with the doctor.
So they put me on Tegretol. They told me I couldn't drive for 6 months. Ha! Living alone in LA and working two jobs...how could I obey that? I took the med, but proceeded as normal. And I can tell you, that med played with my head. I remember working a show and hearing the beat of the music behind what was being played. I had to really focus and stay ahead of myself to keep up.
Within the next couple years, I started to wean myself off the med. The original prescription was 4 a day - 2 in the morning and 2 at night. There had never been any discussion. No checking of my past medical records. No EEG. No anything. Just a doctor handing out medication. And he never said I'd have to take it for the rest of my days. It was expensive, and I had no insurance to cover it. So I worked down to 2 a day. Then 1.
I was going to work for a cruise line, and they wanted to know about this lovely little piece of my medical history, because apparently they did more checking into my background than the doctor did. I had to be examined and released by a neurologist. This doctor determined that I was doing fine and that the dosage I was taking wasn't therapeutic enough...so he told me not to bother with it anymore.
I was free.
In the wee hours of the night, when one is trying to sleep, but one's brain just won't let them, thoughts come. And sometimes, I'd lie awake and wonder why this happened. Did I have a brain tumor that triggered these random seizures? (Well, of course not, but darkness always makes things worse...) Even years later, I was angry and frustrated with that doctor who never bothered to check my records. Who just thrust brain-bending pills into my hand and forced me to take them.
This is how Asylum came about. At least part of it. This is part of Trista's story, although the background is a little different.
That's one thing I love about writing--weaving very personal parts into a larger story. It gives a unique authenticity and perspective to the character. No, going through all that wasn't fun, and at the time, I had no idea I'd incorporate it in a book. But looking back, I'm grateful.
What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right?
Today has been a Monday. It's been a week of Mondays all in one day. In fact...
This morning, we had a mishap with keys and transportation coordination. This afternoon, speed bumps all over the place. I'm ready to go to bed and start over. Even my blog post is late!
So, if you're feeling Monday-ed... Here's a little empathy from Nathan Fillion. Because we all could use it.
Yesterday would have been my dad's 72nd birthday. I thought I'd re-post this blog entry in tribute to him, as he passed away five and half years ago.
Shortly after his death, I wrote Ten Things My Dad Taught Me. While the thought behind these ten statements is a few years old, the principals remain the same.
#1: Don't call people during the dinner hour.
My dad hated it when people called while we were eating. He always told me not to call folks between 5 and 7 pm, in case they were eating. I still hold to that.
We spent many a long winter's day indoors when we lived in Woodland Park. My dad gave me an intellectual treasure when he taught me about the game of chess. I miss those childhood days - wind and snow blowing outdoors, while we waged war on the checkerboard battlefield.
#3: Classical Music.
My dad instilled in me a deep love for classical music. For as long as I can remember, he had an elaborate stereo system and a collection of LPs that would rival any enthusiast's. I remember that he would lovingly wipe off the vinyl before and after playing them. He gave me Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and even lesser-knowns like Glinka.
My dad was quite possibly the world's best math teacher. He made math look easy and did all he could to help people understand it. I learned a lot from him...and it's from him that I get my tendency to figure number patterns when I'm bored. He loved, lived, and breathed math.
#5: Enjoy a good steak.
I remember a time when I was little. My mom and brother went to the mall, and I went with my dad to Black Angus. Who wants to shop when there's steak involved?! I loved eating out with my dad. He always picked the best places.
#6: Everything you do will take longer and cost more than you expect.
Yep. That about sums it up.
#7: My love of science-fiction.
My dad took me to see Star Wars. My dad made me watch Star Trek. Somewhere in that magnificent brain of his, he had a dream to fly among the stars. And through science-fiction, he's helped me reach them.
#8: Correct vocabulary/pronunciation/grammar
You're vs. your, regardless instead of irregardless, recurrence instead of reoccurence, etc. Thanks to Dad, hearing those irksome words (and a whole list of others)...and seeing them in writing...drives me bonkers.
#9: California is a great place.
My dad always had a thing for Cali. When I was fortunate enough to land a position with Disneyland, Dad came for several visits. He loved watching the sunset at the beach. I'll always treasure those moments with my dad...and Cali will always have a special place in my heart.
#10: Treat your elders with respect.
I still remember the day my dad decided that we (the kids) were to say “Sir” and “Ma’am” when talking to an adult. I thought he was the meanest dad in the world. Today, I’m so thankful for that. That little showing of respect has made a huge difference in my life, and it’s something I intend to pass on to my kids.
Hug your dad today. You never know when he won't be around to do so...
Last week or so, I wrote about the seasons of friendships. Some are meant to last, others are meant to die away. Then there are those people in our lives who may not be a constant, but once you reconnect with them periodically, it's like no time has passed.
I just reconnected with a friend like that.
I've known him since I worked at Disneyland. He got me through some difficult times during those crazy just-out-of-college years. While there, I wrote a series of poems and short stories for him, simply to make him laugh. I guess you could say he really launched my writing career. We saw movies together and just enjoyed each other's company. It's a special friendship that could never die away.
After I left California, we kept up with our lives via email. I shared with him about my work, my relationships, my engagement, my marriage, my kids, my books. He told me all about what was going on in his world. No, email isn't the same as real-life, face-to-face conversations, but we worked with what we had/have.
It's been a while since I heard from him. So when I had a dream about him the other night, I had to email. It was short. Just telling him about the dream and how much I miss him.
This morning, in my inbox, I had two emails from him that made my whole day. I'll get to see him in a couple months. I'll get to introduce my family to this man who has meant so much in my life. How lucky am I?
See, some relationships, no matter how sporadic, will never die. Because God bonds hearts in such a unique way.
I, for one, am thankful.
My favorite time of year is about to commence in T minus 2 days and counting. I am so excited! I love Fall!
I love the long shadows and cooler temperatures. I love the amazing colors that pop all over the place. I love the earthy smells and smoke from chimneys. Apples, cinnamon, and yes, even the pumpkin spice. Cozy blankets, long sleeve shirts, jackets, boots... Mmm!
The season, for me, starts with school supplies in stores. I get giddy when I see the special aisles with pencils and glue sticks and loose-leaf notebook paper. Of course, I love school supplies, too, so that may have something to do with it. But it also is a harbinger of what's to come...Halloween costumes...and then (trumpet blasts) Christmas decorations! I admit, I relate well to Buddy the Elf.
My daughter's birthday kicks off our holiday festivities. Mine follows shortly. By then, we're completely entrenched in Halloween/harvest stuff. As Andy Williams crooned, it's the most wonderful time of the year!
I am fortunate to live in a place with Aspen trees. Their colors are extraordinary! I especially love looking up at the mountains and seeing patches of gold among the evergreens. It's a magical place. And when we get our first dusting of snow on America's mountain (Pike's Peak), it's glorious!
I know I'm not alone in my love of all things fall. What are some of your favorite things about this season?
Last night, I got to go see a high school theatrical production which shall remain nameless because I am adjudicating it for an awards program. I was really impressed with the level of talent and the quality of the production. It's one I am familiar with and have loved for a long time.
My kids have enjoyed the few age-appropriate performances I've taken them to. This one seemed right up their alley, so we made arrangements for them and my husband to join me. I am SO glad we did. They had a blast! Completely taken with several of the characters, they requested autographs after the show. This took the high schoolers by surprise, which was fun to see, too.
We stood off to the side and watched the crowd of actors and parents. My girls were starry-eyed and smiling. I remember being their age and falling head over heels for my brother's actor friends/characters. So taken in by the magic. That's what I love about theatre.
On the way home, they all said they wanted to go back and see it every night of the run. Ah, if only that were possible. (I felt that way when I saw a matinee of The Who's Tommy, and paid a crazy amount for a second ticket for the evening performance.) I told them, the theatre bug strikes again. I had a good dose of it when I was younger...and it propelled me into studying it in college.
I wonder if it will be the same for them.
When I am working on a project, I find the names of my characters popping out at me from unexpected places. Like most authors, I imagine, I've taken inspiration from my environment, but when the environment seems to be inspired by my writing, it's a little unsettling...but really cool.
For instance, I've been working on revising Asylum. The main character's name is Trista. So I walked through Target's toy section the other day with my kids and saw this...
Interesting, huh? It gets better. Her last name is Carlisle. At a restaurant not long ago, I received this...
It happens all the time. I took a picture of a ride at Chuck E Cheese one night because it was called the JettRider. Yup, two of my characters from Poison and Fusion (and Reconciled, if I ever get the blasted book written...) I was even reading a book for work a few days ago and came across this...
Yeah, that would be Jett and Rider's last name. And a handful of others.
I love when I see stuff like this, though. It feels like confirmation. Validation of what I'm doing. Like the universe agrees with it and wants to cheer me on. Sure, I know I'm bonkers because that's just not how things work. But I hold onto these magical moments anyway. They keep me going.
Book Three is killing me! Okay, not really, but it's been the hardest book to write. Why? I wish I knew.When I first created the Crown's Call series, I hadn't planned to write the Heralds of the Crown trilogy. It came out of the backstory of the first novel I wrote (Valor). As I started exploring the history of my characters, it became evident that these stories needed to happen. And of course, they had to be first because no one understands a series that starts on Book Fourteen... (like Asylum. Long story there.).
So now that Poison and Fusion have happened, I have to figure out a way to rescue one of my beloved characters. And I've done so, but the details leading up to that dramatic rescue are what's troubling me. I want to do it "right" in order to set the stage for the rest of the series.
I wrote it one way...and changed my mind. I went back and revised it to reflect a different way. And in the midst of revising, I'm finding stuff that is so good, I don't want to lose it. Which means I have to go back and revise it yet again to tie in the later components. Sure, revising is part of my job as a writer. It's what we do. But this one has taken an enormous amount of energy and thought.
Perhaps that's a good sign.
Because this is the one that wraps up the trilogy and launches readers into the next sub-series, all the pieces have to be in place. And when that jives, it's going to be a masterpiece. (Not bragging...I'll just be proud of it.)
Despite my complaining, I'm really excited about this story. It's thrilling, frightening, and wonderful. I just have to get it right now. And I'm taking my time in doing so.
Ah, the beauty of self-publishing...deadlines can be delayed.
The last couple of months have been crazy for me. My husband and I both work full-time. His job is on the far side of town, so I've been delivering kids to and from school. I volunteer with a local writing group. I'm part of a weekly critique group.
Life on its own is very busy.
So where does writing fit in?
I wish I could say I write in every spare moment I have. I carry my notebook with me. My brain is always spinning with my characters, settings, and plots. Distractions are everywhere, though, so getting anything on paper (or on the computer) is tough.
Still, this is my passion. I have to tell these stories, for me if no one else.
I have to make time.
Much like I did when my kids were younger, I write when they go to bed. I don't watch television. I've limited my social media time (although I still fight that battle!). That gives me a good solid two hours every day to work on something writing-related.
As I've mentioned previously, I always have several projects going at once. I'm working on Reconciled, revising Outlaw (link coming soon), starting back into Time Spinners (again, link coming soon), and trying to plot other ideas as they come.
If only I could forgo sleep...
As I revised (rewrote) Asylum, I had the privilege of interacting with some of my characters I hadn't seen in a while. Yes, I realize I'm talking about them like they are real people, and yes, I know they are not. In my head, though, they are fully manifested. I see them, hear them, know them. That's just one of the cool things about being an author. We're all a little crazy.
A faction I created with a presence throughout most of my series is the Ghosts. They are amazing people who stand for truth in a universe that will fall for anything. They cling to justice and righteousness, even in the face of death. They fight for honor in the name of the Crown, hoping to leave behind a better place for future generations.
I stumbled across a beautiful verse from Romans today that suits this faction perfectly.
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:9-10 ESV
That's a good charge, don't you think? Something we all can adopt, regardless of the beliefs we hold. If we all tried to practice these things, I think the world would be a much better place.
As I observe people slinging insults and rudeness about which "side" is better, it crushes my soul. There's a much bigger war here to fight, and it doesn't involve petty arguments.
Love genuinely. Everyone is worthy of love. Hold fast to the goodness and light. And I love that last part... OUTDO one another in showing honor.
Puts it all into perspective, doesn't it?
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3