Chasing the Muses and Other New Developments

The words "Chasing The Muses" appear on a violet sunset background.

 

With the approach of autumn, my life has once again taken some amazing new turns. Those who follow me on social media know that I finished my BA in English this year, and was accepted into an MFA program. I just finished my first 10-day residency and met the most amazing group of people, and made so many new friends.

I am almost done with the major revision of Nova Wave and have almost got all of the Weathered Collection stitched together. I am scheduling both of those for release in October. Probably Halloween. One of the things I am learning in the MFA program is how to edit and produce a literary magazine. I am so stoked about this, and as a bonus, I get to help a friend with a contest he is running in the magazine he edits.

This all comes on the heels of starting the YouTube channel for Twisted Candle Media. Little by little, things are coming together. The shows that I want to produce for TCM are called “Wild About Oklahoma” and “Chasing The Muses”.

“Wild About Oklahoma” will feature Oklahoma’s great nature spots, flora and fauna, and perhaps events as well. “Chasing The Muses” will be about creativity, specifically, rekindling and nurturing that creative spark we all possess. In order to help promote these, I will also be featuring blog posts on the Twisted Candle Media website.  I also feel that these will be run in regular seasons, like television shows. “Wild About Oklahoma” will be filmed in Spring and Fall, and “Chasing The Muses” will be shot in the Summer and winter. In this way, I hope to both maintain a consistency and provide variety for my viewers and myself.

Variety is one of those things that I believe is vital to the creative spirit. Well, I think that’s just about got us caught up for now. Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter, and go check out Twisted Candle Media on YouTube. I already have a trailer up for “Wild About Oklahoma” and have been working on the first few episodes of that as well as an intro video. Look for updates on the TCM website or on social.

Hope to see you there!

D~

Graduation and Vacation 2018

2018 graduation cap in black, with a red tassel and gold 2018 charm.
RSU 2018 Commencement has Commenced! This summer is going to be amazing!
Well, folks, I made it. The final grades are in, and it seems like there was no error after all. I have officially earned my Baccalaureate degree in English. Now on to the MFA!

On Sunday Hubby and I will leave on our first vacation in eight years. I know it’s eight years because our last vacation was our honeymoon in 2010. We’re going to Colorado, so he can give me a proper introduction to his favorite mountains. I am so excited, sometimes it’s hard to breathe. The air isn’t even thin here. I have no idea what it’s going to be like in the mountains. I can’t stop saying “in the mountains.” See, I’ve seen some pretty big hills, and I’ve been in the Superstitions, but Hubby is pretty sure those aren’t real mountains.

Yesterday we packed, and today we did housework to get everything ship-shape for Dad before we head out. Thursday will be the last-minute shopping, Friday is lawn day, Saturday I do some wedding photography for a dear friend, and then Sunday morning early we’re off and running. Well, driving. It’s a road trip.

Of course, none of this happened in a vacuum. I didn’t just achieve this on my own. There were many great teachers and professors along the way, each doing more than their fair share to open students up to becoming more. I hope I can make them proud. Then there was the world-class support of my Hubby and Dad. I hope I can be all they hope for me. They deserve every good thing. They have been my foundation and my inspiration. They have lifted me when I was low. There’s no way I could have done it without them.

I am hoping to get back and start right in on Weathered and Nova Wave in June. Perhaps I will find even more inspiration in the Rocky Mountains. It’s going to be wonderful to just be for a while.  I will be back soon, with stories to share and hopefully some great photos too.

Be well

~D~

Commencement is about to Commence!

 

My final semester as an undergraduate is coming to a close, much more swiftly than I thought it would at the beginning of the semester. As commencement is only a few short weeks away, and all signs seem to say I will indeed make it, I thought I’d make a post about some of the things this last semester has taught me.

Six years caught up with me overnight:

When I finished writing the essay for my capstone, I felt a huge wave of relief, not because the assignment was too hard, but because I had built up so much tension around the idea that somehow I might not pass. This had nothing to do with the faculty or my fellow students, it was just all of those old insecurities rearing their heads one last time to let me know they were still alive and kicking. The worst part is that I hadn’t realized how bad it had been until it was all gone. Over the next two weeks, I entered a sort of recovery phase. Every time I felt myself getting tense, I would breathe deep, stretch, or find something to help me loosen up, like music.

Yesterday morning I realized that all of that tension and stress was simply gone. I’d still have to do the presentation but that was, comparatively, simple. With the majority of the grunt-work done, I would be able to handle Spanish, Computer Applications, and Media Planning and Buying. I was going to make it. It was like the first real spring day after a long, cold winter. My neck and back popped in several places I didn’t know were even bound up. I lost five pounds in two weeks. I started to take care of myself again. With the cap and gown and the graduation pictures, I had hoped I was going to make it. Now it seemed likely. It was time to stop thinking like a student and start acting like a graduate.

Today, it seems even surer.

I realized what lay ahead:

With the approach of commencement, I have been able to start looking forward to a time when school is not necessarily all there is. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. Everything about going to college has built me up and expanded me. Still, I have a lot to accomplish, and while I still have the MFA ahead of me, in two and a half years, it is done, and I can work while I do the MFA. It’s time to start the rest of my life.

It’s time to do the writing.

I feel like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon of intense change. In doing the reflection for the capstone I was able to look back on my college career and see the distance I have gone. I was able to see some of the specific ways in which I was changed and to compare my outlook now to the one I had then. I’m not done, but I have come a long way, baby. In the end, I feel like I can pretty much adapt to whatever life throws at me. The voice is still there (the one that says yeah, right…) but I can tell it to shut up and go lay down now, and it must obey.

I have the most wonderful Hubby and Daddy a gal could have:

Seriously they have been so supportive. There were patches where I wasn’t very clear about what I needed, and even during those times, Tom would seem to sense what I needed and adapt accordingly. It still hasn’t always been easy. There were things we had to deal with, like a string of deaths in the family and his cancer treatments, that affected both of us more than we’ll either likely admit, but we came through them because we love each other so deeply and work so well together. 

Dad has been super supportive as well, as much as he is able. I moved in to stay with him two years ago after my stepmom died, and Tom came to stay when he started his treatments. Things have worked out remarkably well, and Tom is able to be here for Daddy when I must be at school. Even with the low residency for the upcoming MFA, I would be very worried if I had to leave Dad alone for two weeks. He’s doing okay for the most part. Better than two summers ago, but he gets quiet on the birthdays and anniversaries of those we lost. Today would have been Pat’s birthday. He’s been in bed a lot the last couple of days, and I’m sure it’s mainly because he misses her so much. As long as one of us is able to be here for him, I don’t worry too much, but I know it’s hard on him.

I will be almost 50 when I get my MFA. If I can do it, almost anyone can:

I made fair grades in school, but I wasn’t a straight-A student. I’m still not. I work hard for my B’s and C’s. I get plenty of A’s, it just never seems to be all of them. It may come as a shock, but I’m not a genius.  The bigger shock is that in the end, it doesn’t matter. What matters is maximum effort and the will to improve and get the job done right. At the beginning of my college career, I quailed at B’s, and C’s were toeing the line between life and death. When I failed (I struggled seriously with Algebra and Spanish,) I thought I was doomed, damned to a future of no purpose beyond cooking and cleaning. I like cooking, and I don’t mind cleaning, but the idea of that being my life’s sole purpose is horrifying to me. I require stimulation and self-expression. I need it like air. Literature and art give me those things in abundance, and I feel fulfilled when I’m creating something. If you’re forty and this sounds like you, then get yourself back in school. It may not be for everybody, but hear this– I wasn’t sure it was for me when I started either. I was terrified. I got over it. You can too. I would encourage anyone who is floundering to just sign up for a semester of classes. Get the financial aid if you need it, and go find your passion. Remember: It’s not a dream, it’s a plan.

 

Progress Report

 

So this has been a pretty eventful semester. Now that it’s nearly over, I feel like I can share some of the wonderful publicly. My followers on Facebook already know much of this, so I will skip some of the fascinating details and just hit the high points.

*

In September, I worked up the gumption to apply for graduate school. There was really only one choice for me right now, and it was the Red Earth MFA through Oklahoma City University. It’s a fantastic program, and it’s low-residency, which means that I just go twice a year for two weeks at a time, with one final residency at the end of term. This leaves the rest of my schedule flexible, which means I can get a job. This has become something of a necessity. Still, I worked up the courage and sent in the application.

*

Then, near the end of the month, by the request of Dr. Mackie, our poetry professor at Rogers State University(Who also happens to be the English department head,) Dr. Mish, who is the program’s director and also the current Oklahoma Poet Laureate, was scheduled to come to our school to talk to the class and to give a reading that night in the performance center. (Gasp!) I got to meet her one on one between classes, and she asked me a few questions and told me a little bit about the program. I was enchanted to say the least. It felt like the universe singled me out for a moment and graced me with a pat on the head. Then there was the reading. Some readings you listen to, and some you feel. Maybe I was already suffering some overbearing sentimentality, but I still believe it was just the authenticity and gentle power of her poetry that moved me to tears. Literally. I think there was mascara on my shirt at the end of it all.

*

Anyway, I finished up all the paperwork, and on November 2nd, I got an email from Oklahoma City University saying that I was accepted into the program. I flipped. I tried not to attach too much to whether I got in or not, but in the end, I was so ecstatic people probably got sick of me walking on air. I still get all giddy when I think about it, because I never thought I could even get as far as an Associate degree. And I had spent all that time telling myself that if I didn’t get it, it didn’t matter, because I would just go to work and write anyway, and practice. Well.

*

It did matter. It mattered in a big way. Now it matters even more. It’s the end of a tough semester. I am pretty much exhausted with school altogether, and yet here I am, getting ready to double-down. It’s not like I’m a twenty-something. I get bone tired and I get brain tired, and things just stop working.

But then I think about how much better the writing will be if I put the extra effort into it and learn more from people who have been doing this so much longer and more in depth than I have. It can only get better from here, right? Then I get excited, and the adrenaline kicks in, and I’m hyper-productive. For about thirty minutes– and then it’s nap time.

Fall Semester: My Senior Year Officially Begins

Tucking into homework after my first day back at college my senior year.

Alright, technically it’s my second year as a senior, as I took a little longer than the standard two years, but this year comes with all of the emotional impact that I didn’t really have to face last year. When all is said and done, I will graduate in May with a degree. This is a bittersweet time, and one to be savored for all of its emotional ups and downs.

 

I have made some submissions this year, as in more than one. Nothing has borne fruit yet, but that is probably as it should be. I will get more work published, and it’ll be better than before. I’m still learning, and this semester promises to be a busy one. In some ways it will be easier than last semester. We won’t be moving for one thing.

Tom and I have settled in and I have an office now. I’m repainting the office, and will be posting an update on that soon, complete with before and after photos. I have polished up my resume, and am ready to get busy looking for a job or internship for the spring semester. Even if it’s part time, it will help.

Tom is now halfway through his chemotherapy, and doing comparatively well. He has some side effects symptoms, but he is eating well, and isn’t having a lot of pain. Come the first of November he should be fully cured. We’ll continue to monitor him for the next few years, but every expectation is that the cancer shouldn’t return. Daddy is still doing pretty well, and seems to have mostly come out of the fugue that the loss of his wife created in him. He still has dizzy spells, but is taking his medicine more regularly and that is helping. Tom helps remind him. He’s been coughing so much this last week (He suffers from CHF) that the last two nights have worn him out. He’s taking allergy medicine, but it may not be working. He’s going to try switching allergy meds. I do wish he would go to the doctor. Still, we’re keeping an eye on him.

I’m so glad Tom is here to keep an eye on him while I’m at school. This takes a load off my mind that I’d scarcely known was there. Yesterday it became obvious though, as I sat in class, thinking that I would likely be in Claremore all day. I didn’t have to worry, because Tom would be here if something happened. What a relief!

To change the subject and get a little less personal, here are some of the things going on this semester:

  • I have lined up my first interview for the podcast and I have some video to work with in getting the You Tube channel up and running.
  • I have graduation to apply for, as well as graduate school.
  • Things are speeding up again, and that is also as it should be. I am eager to get back into the swing of things.
  • Today is job fair at Rogers State University, and I am going to go see who is there and catch up with friends I didn’t get to see yesterday.

So much going on this year, and all of the subjects are intense, but they are also right in my area of interest. I have Literary Traditions, Poetry Writing, Humanities Seminar, and Script Writing. TONS of reading, but so many wonderful books. Among others, I will get to read Gaiman’s American Gods and Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Words are rare that could express my excitement at being able to read these and get credit for it.

This semester will see a flush of new work and submissions. I will be polishing up the short stories from last semester, and adding the poems from this semester to my portfolio. Capstone will be coming up next semester, so I’ll need to start choosing works to accompany that. There’s a lot to be done, and I think that it’s going to be both fun and exhausting.

Life Changes and Continuing Education

Life has a way of throwing us curves. My past year has been full of them. For the most part, I’ve been able to keep all of the balls in the air, but there may have been one or two that escaped without my noticing. Let’s see if I can just give you the highlight reel.

  • In August 2016 I had a massive kidney stone and sepsis. Hospital and surgery for that, but recovered.
  • Dad’s wife and my dear friend Pat died before Thanksgiving, and grieving, Dad thought he would have to sell his house and move in with my sister or buy an RV. He was wracked with pain and packing up his whole life and moving would have been horrid. I can’t recall now whose idea it was, but I had been calling on the mornings to check on him, as he was feeling unsteady with staying by himself. He was having dizzy spells. I kept thinking about Grandpa Brown, and how fast he went downhill after Grandma died. Dad had already survived my mother. Being a widower twice over would hit him harder still.
  • The decision was made for me to go live with him, and hubby would follow after I graduated from college and started working. Then…
  • Near the end of April 2017, my husband was diagnosed with 3rd stage cancer. Without going into specifics, we were told that it was completely curable as far as they could tell, but that he would have to take chemotherapy. We would know more after the CT scan.

Naturally this rocked us to our very foundations. The decision was made that he would quit his job at the lake and move into town with Daddy and me for treatment, and his friend Jason would take over at the shop.

  • Jason couldn’t take over for reasons beyond his control. Tom was terrified of the financial impact all of this would have on us. And Dad.

Together, we have found a way to make it work, but the summer that I took off to re-write Nova Wave has vanished in the face of the move and chemo. We have a couple of backup plans in place for the finances, but it will still be a tough one.

  • Neither Dad nor Tom will tolerate me missing school or dropping it to work, so that will continue as of right now.
  • Tom will likely stay at the lake a little longer, at least until after the kids’ derby. I don’t like it, but it is what it is.

That’s where we are now, and this blog post represents the most words I have strung together since the end of school. The new plan of attack is to take the editing books I’m studying and the laptop with us to chemo and write during his three hour treatments, and hopefully more, once we get him moved in and settled. For now.

I think that my big plans for the October podcast launch are going to be pushed back. That will put lots of things on hold, but will also give me more time for planning and prep work. Thank goodness I hadn’t already done the Patreon launch.

Right now it is time to be physically active and get Tom ready to move. If he stays much longer than the derby I will be surprised, but if I know my hubby he will try to stay until August. That would make it a full six years. He’s going to miss it, but maybe he’ll get to go fishing more once he’s done out there. Maybe he can help me with my business. That would be nice.

Anyway, there is the long and short of the last year of my shifting circumstances. This is going to be an interesting summer, but perhaps I will get that book re-written after all.

~D~

Monster Carnival and Spring Break

Happy Customer at Underground Monster Carnival 2017! (Girl with green book titled Bone Sliver)
Happy Customer at Underground Monster Carnival 2017!

Monster Carnival was fun as always, and I got to bring home an original piece of artwork, a signed book by a new local author, and some cool swag. I also learned that cold rainy days kinda suck for even indoor events. Next year will be much better. Still, I got to see old friends and make some new ones.

I got to attend as a vendor this year, which means that even if I didn’t sell tons of books, people saw them, saw me, and hopefully may buy next time or go find them online.

The author in green monster makeup as a character from her books.
The author made up as a nova chimera from the book series.

I have made the decision to pursue Dark Lit Digest as a podcast and as a print digest of others’ works. I think it will help Twisted Candle Media get established as an actual publishing house. I just have to figure out how to pay people for their stories and art. I don’t want to be one of those publications that can’t afford to pay contributors. (Nothing against them, it’s just not the business model I choose.)

Contributor copies are alright, but they don’t pay the bills. I would like to build a name for TCMedia as a place where authors and artists in dark lit and art can go to see and be inspired, learn, and share their works. It’s not a nonprofit, so I hope to make some of the money up in advertisements.

Example Ad from Twisted Candle Media website.
Example Ad from Twisted Candle Media website.

If you know of a company or individual that might be interested in an ad on the Twisted Candle Media website or in Dark Lit Digest, go ahead and send them our way. Our starting offers are VERY reasonable.

Now that the obligatory promotional stuff is out of the way, I would also like to share what I did on Spring Break. Are you ready?

 

Homework and taxes.

Yep, that’s how exciting my spring break was. It’s all good, though because now it’s done and all I have to worry about is five more weeks of school and finals. Then I’m taking the summer to get everything up and running for the Etsy shop where I’ll have jewelry, handmade bookmarks and more, for the podcast, and the digest. And finish Nova Wave for publication in October 2018. And maybe write another.

Whew. That looks like a lot of work. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, here are some more pix from Underground Monster Carnival.

~D~

The author in nova chimera makeup- closeup.
The author in nova chimera makeup- closeup.
Lonnie and Michelle helping mind the store.
Lonnie and Michelle helping mind the store.
Panthro and Cheetara at Monster Carnival 2017. Thundercats Ho!
Panthro and Cheetara at Monster Carnival 2017. Thundercats Ho!
Joker and a friend pose with the Thundercats.
Joker and a friend pose with the Thundercats.

Okay So…

Things are ever changing in author land. First of all, I am accumulating rejections. Which is good. I don’t want a big head. Also, I now have two blogs, this one, and the one over at Twisted Candle Media to keep up with. Also, there are now 15 hours in this semester’s coursework, and taxes to be reported.

It can be a little overwhelming at times, but when it is I pick up Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and read in it for a while. And hope that eventually, my life will settle down somewhat. Maybe.

I like doing things like going on walks, going to school, going to events like the Underground Monster Carnival next month. So, I guess it’ll be a little quieter without school, but then there will be deadlines and perhaps a job to deal with.

Sigh, whatever brings home the bacon and lets me keep writing, I guess. (insert sad fiddle music here) So glad I have these problems.

Until spring break probably…

Be well,

D~

Out With The Old…

Toward tomorrow~

happy

There are a lot of reasons 2016, especially the latter half of 2016 were a challenge for me.  I won’t bore you with details, but I will say that things seem to be looking up for 2017.  Let us hope there are fewer big setbacks this year. In positive news, I have received my birthday present a little early. My blackout edition Blue Yeti microphone, swing arm and pop filter have arrived, as well as a few acoustic panels.  While the mic is as wonderful as my friend Jesse said it would be, the acoustic panels are a bit thin.  I may need to upgrade those for the next order. I also have room now for bookcases. Things are looking up in the study as well as the podcast areas.  I hope to have Dark Lit Digest up and running before the year is out,starting with the podcast.  I am also working on the website for Twisted Candle Media and hope to have it functional before school starts.

I am really hyped about the podcast, and in case you couldn’t tell, am really hyped about 2017 in general.  Ready for the countdown!

 

Finals are OVER!

For better or worse, this semester’s finals week is over and done.  Now I can focus on other important stuff like family and working on the second book.

bwworkspace

This semester’s been a rough one with so much going on in my world outside of school.  Here’s hoping that 2017 brings with it a change-wind that moves life in a more productive direction.  Not that I’ve been unproductive, but things have felt a little start-stop.

There is so much in the works right now, dear reader. This site is under revision, and I am preparing to create the Twisted Candle Media website and possibly a podcast to go along with it. While I do those things, I must complete Nova Wave, finish school, build the writing career, and find a place for Tom and I to settle besides our beloved lake. He loves it here, but it is getting time for him to look to real retirement, so he can actually fish.

The next few years promise to be eventful, to say the least. Bear with me dear reader, as I roll with the punches. It’s going to be an interesting ride.

Stay spooky my friends.

~D~