Why I Write

ink jar and quills (image by Charles Stanford)
(image by Charles Stanford)

I have been dealing with what I’ll call anxiety induced malaise of late.

As such, my creative work has stalled.

There is a school of thought out there that says anxiety, depression, and the like drive the creative person to make better art. I’m not going to say this is 100% wrong. When a person is sensitive and able to feel things deeply, that can be a gift. I have experienced that. However, it can also be paralyzing. Lately, I have been paralyzed.

I have especially struggled with my writing. I had a number of projects in the works, but suddenly that shifted. One novel I was working on (a sort of companion to Sideshow) seemed frivolous and unnecessary. Another novel seemed precious and overwrought. You get the picture. Each time I sat down to work, it all seemed to be without purpose. I wanted to do something important, but nothing seemed important enough, so I did nothing.

I’ve been here before. It’s far from the first time. I have always been a person deeply affected by the world around me and my effect on it (or lack thereof). I often struggle with being productive when I think that what I’m doing isn’t useful or helping anyone, and at times, it paralyzes me. Who am I? What do I have to give? When I run through my talents, I usually find myself coming up sort (blame the anxiety and some lingering threads of that teenage angst), but there is one thing that still remains: stories.

I write historical fiction not simply because I love history.  I do love history, but more importantly, I love the stories of history. So often in a history class we are taught to memorize names and dates, but we see these people as far away and nothing like us when in reality, we have so much in common with them and knowing their stories helps us to see that. Knowing their stories helps us to understand our own world as well.

When I wrote Sideshow, I initially struggled with trying to explain why I set the book in the in the time period that I did. The 1950s are a polarizing time to write about. They are so easy to romanticize, what with the poodle skirts and roller skating car hops and the birth of the American teenager, but under the surface of all that, there is a lot going on, most of which would bubble over quite fiercely in a short amount of time. I wanted to address these issues in a story of what is often portrayed as an “idyllic” time. I wanted to write a story that talked about some of the parts of that time that still ring true in our world today.

Additionally, I included the flashbacks because just as I do not exist solely in 2017, but also in 1992, 2001, 1988, 2010, etc as the years I lived through helped shape who I am today, the same is true for the people of the past.

Take for example the flashback to the incident with Abby’s mother. This is a history that Italian-Americans did not often talk about or acknowledge to their descendants. I myself had to learn about something similar happening to one of my own ancestors from archival documents and not from anyone in my family. This story as well as the others included in Sideshow were important to me because just as these events shaped Abby’s perception of her own identity, there were events happening in the world around me that I knew where shaping the identities of myself and everyone else for years to come.

So…the telling of stories…

It may not be much, but this is what I have give the world. So…I suppose I must find a way to continue.

Are some of my projects frivolous or precious? Yeah, probably.

Do I feel weird mentioning them on social media when so many more important things are happening? Definitely.

Do I think my words are even close to enough to change anything? No. Not really.

But deep down I know it is one of the few things I have that can help anyone (as self-centered as that may seem), so I have to keep trying.


Not a stand alone piece in any way…

The next installment of Season of the Witch, “Daughter of Detroit” is out for edits right now. I’m pretty excited about it. I really enjoy Clarissa as a character. I feel like her out-of-time disconnect really speaks to me. Like many of the Season of the Witch characters, Clarissa has a hard time connecting with the world around her, but unlike many of those other characters, Clarissa desperately wants to. She wants to be part of the world and finds herself ill-equipped to do so. (A lot like someone else I know. *whistles innocently* but that’s another blog post for another day.)

What I’m pondering today before I dive into edits and try to make my self imposed deadline, is one observation my boyfriend made: “Well, it’s not a stand alone piece in any way.”

Which is completely true. It’s not a stand alone piece. It hasn’t been for awhile.

Season of the Witch has been slowly moving away from being stand alones since I decided to write a sequel to Jaclyn of the Lantern. Even Jaclyn, though, benefits greatly from the added knowledge acquired by reading on. Since Red, when the series diverged from the originally planned six novellas to a much more extended set of episodes, I have known quite well that the stories in the series are all part of a greater mythology, a larger artistic work that hopefully, one day, will be collected into a single tome (Hence the Patreon, which hints at this goal. I would love to make said collection an illustrated and unique work of art, but that’s way down the road). The fact that the pieces are not stand alone is not a failing, but it makes me wonder though if I need to rethink my release structure. I mean, it is a -huge- experiment after all. Sometimes, I think I’m flailing around in the dark with this self publishing thing.

As things currently stand, I put out an installment once every few months by publishing it on Smashwords. I do this so that I can get the largest amount of formats for the smallest investment. By using this method, it creates a separate “book” for each installment, which I don’t necessarily mind. I started doing this with Jaclyn because at that time the plan was six stand alone novellas, but I’ve kept it up because as of right now I’m not aware of a more effective method, and besides, in my mind, it adds something to the endeavor. I jokingly call Season of the Witch my “comic book project” for this reason. But is this really best? Or is it just confusing to people who come to the project expecting full length stories, only to find something a lot more episodic than what they were after? Is there a release structure that would be more indicative of what the series truly is?

I’ve been thinking a lot about comics and sequential art lately…

Or do I just think too much?

Goal Lists are Goal Lists, Belated or Not

Okay, so it’s a almost two weeks late at this point, but here we go! It’s a post that will probably be of no interest to the majority of you, but will hold me accountable to my goals (and who knows maybe you all will hold me accountable too): Housekeeping, [Writing] Resolutions and Goals for 2015!

Every so often I make about a million new years resolutions or write up a 101 in 1001 (which I’m actually considering doing again this year because I made a -few- too many new years resolutions), but then I forget to stick with them. Whoops. Then for a few years I don’t make any because “haha! Look at us fools and our arbitrary concept of time!” *shrugs* Anyway, I feel like this year you get the best of both worlds. I made a ton of resolutions and I’m writing them out two weeks late because…well… we’ll blame the arbitrary concept of time. I won’t bore you with all of them (at least not until I get the latest 101 in 1001 sorted out), but I figure this is as good a place as any to be accountable to writing goals.

  1. Submit and display more of my work publicly. 2014 ended on a bit of a high note for me. One of my short stories was accepted by Interlude Press for their Summer Love anthology. This was big news; partially because they’re a lovely bunch of people and they accepted my work, but also because it was the first thing I had submitted to a journal or anthology call since 2008. Yep… Rejection scares terrifies leaves me cowering in the corner of my room weeping before I’ve even submitted anything. It’s a tough world out there. This year, I’m going to try to choke down the fear and put more out there. Maybe There will be rejections. That’s a given in the creative world where everything one does is so utterly subjective. Still, if I don’t put myself out there, there’s also 0% chance that I will get to hear the worlds “Congratulations!”
  2. Speaking of rejections…last year I got a lot of “this isn’t for me”s in regard to The Black Guard Chronicles, which is unfortunate, but with the help of some lovely editors and workshoppers, I think I’ve got a plan of rewrite action, so I will be putting a lot of energy this year into getting those rewrites done and maybe someday Dosia and her crew will see the light of day.
  3. Season of the Witch seems to be moving along nicely, which I am definitely proud of. The seventh installment is on tap for my birthday (!) and the eighth (which features Clarissa – I bet you all thought I forgot about her, didn’t you?) should be available in mid April. I hope to release two, if not three, additional volumes this year, as well as begin work on a print edition. Now, of course, I shall shamelessly plug the patreon. I will continue Season of the Witch through to its natural end and all ebook versions will be free no matter what, but your support means the world to me and allows me to do more with the world.
  4. I will learn more about marketing this year…and actually implement what I learn. In the past, my marketing of my own work hasn’t been great. I tend to rely heavily on passive discovery, which I don’t really think works as well as I would like. Actually, I think this accounts for the lags in some areas (*cough*WDYSSAY?*cough*). This year, I want to try more active marketing, but don’t worry, I’m not going to be spamming you with “support my patreon!” “buy my book!” everyday. Anxiety gnaws at me even thinking about it.
  5. Finally, behind the scenes-wise, I’m playing around with a few new ideas, but nothing’s concrete enough yet to make a definite decisions. Just keep your eyes peeled.
  6. Oh! Also! I will update here more often. Maybe some stories. Maybe some poems. Maybe just some musings from yours truly. I promise this is actually going to happen this time.
stay tuned for the 101 in 1001

Powering through moments of Self-Doubt

TW: I wrote this to discuss a anxiety spiral I deal with.


I sometimes get these weird moods when it comes to my writing. I refer them as my “Fitzgerald Fits” because the first time I read a biography about everyone’s second favorite alcoholic expat author I really recognized a lot of his complaints and concerns (definitely not all of them, but…I’m tangenting now…) They’re something I’m sure every writer gets from time to time, though. Let me break it down for you.

  • Halfway through a project I start to worry about it, doubt it, wonder if it’s actually coming along the way I envision
  • I start looking at other things I’ve done and the poor response, low readership numbers, etc (assumed or actual, keep this in mind. Anxiety is a lying liar and tells me things sometimes that aren’t necessarily true.)
  • I decide, “Well, if I’m not popular, that’s okay. Lots of great writers weren’t popular in their life time, but they wrote works that stood and shaped our society.” (In keeping with our Fitzgerald theme, I often remind myself about how during most of his life Gatsby was his poorest seller.)
  • Then I look at my work again and decide that it’s not literary enough, serious enough, important enough, to stand this required test of time. I mean…A LOT of what I write has supernatural elements. Beyond Frankenstein  and Dracula how much of the cannon really does?
    • Well, Wuthering Heights kinda does…and Shakespeare…I suppose. Okay, I’m making myself feel a lot better, actually, wow…
    • But still, I start telling myself how I’m not like those great authors. My work doesn’t have those lasting, serious elements.
    • Well, at least my early work doesn’t. I’m only in my late 20s. I’ve got time to write my masterpiece!
  • Someone posts something online charting the relative age that authors wrote their first masterpiece. I ignore the actual ages and see how often it was their first or second book. Often it was. Anxiety makes me pretend that the nature of the publishing industry in different time periods has nothing to do with this.
  • Anxiety tells me I’m too old to write anything great or accomplish anything because I’m no longer an ingenue and the world keeps looking toward younger and younger people for genius. And, of course, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.”
    • I’m really close to 30!
  • The panic spiral continues for awhile until I decide to just power through the project I was halfway done with. I reread what I’ve written, decide to change some things here and there, but usually I do get excited about it again!
  • Process starts over at the first point at least two more times  on average before I finish the project, with other nuanced and project specific steps added it.

It’s a struggle that I think a lot of those in creative professions can relate to and I don’t have the answer*. I can spout empty platitudes about how you should “write the story you want to tell” and ignore any other considerations, but that’s not going to stop you or I for doubt our talents or whatever else we’re doubting. The only thing I can direct you to is the penultimate point, the one where I decide to power through. It doesn’t work for everyone. Some people can’t reread their own work without trashing it. I am lucky to not be that way (I think it comes from being trained as an archivist…aka another story about lack of fulfilled ambitions, but we’re not going there today)…most of the time. There’s something that works for you too. I promise you’re a better artist than your brain thinks sometimes. I believe in you.

A Super Cool Birthday Present for Me!

I had been working on a post more generally about this being the 28th anniversary of my birth, but that will have to wait. I have some great news!

My novel, What Does Your Smile Say About You? has been chosen for publication on JukePop Serials!

Now, some of you may be wondering what that means, so I’ll give you a quick overview: JukePop is a fun, new publishing mechanism that curates and manages serials (stories released chapter by chapter — much in the way good ole Charlie Dickens once did it). On JukePop readers cast votes (helping the authors get rewards) and can communicate with the authors about the stories.

That’s why I choose JukePop as a mechanism for WDYSSAY? Smile has been described as “Game of Thrones in sweater sets”. It’s the story of four competing sororities at a small liberal arts college and what happens to them over one contentious pledging period. Sure, we are squarely set in the Chick Lit genre here and I am proud of that. I think there’s something to be said about a diverse cast of girls who I assure you will be doing more than just in-fighting against a rather inconsiderate house ghost. But the thing about WDYSSAY? is this: I want to hear from you, my readers, about the story, and your input will be what make it a success.

The first chapter is live, so head on over and check it out: What Does Your Smile Say About You?

My Epiphany Gift To You

The snow has piled up out there and the wind chill is around 40 below. I can’t think of a better time to curl up with the latest installment in the Season of the Witch series: Bethania’s Broomsticks!


In 2013, Alice Peralta is having some trouble with her son (namely remembering where he came from). While in 1277, Bethania Peralta attempts to escape the wrath of her father by joining forces with the infamous Witch of Winter. Along the way, the two women learn a great deal about themselves and what they have in common.

In keeping with the theme of Season of the Witch, this novelette explores the story of La Befana with a touch of Roman and Alpine mythology.

Check it out. I think you’re going to love it.

Three Epiphanies

In honor of a few people I love and admire


The farm boy tuned out the Frenchman talking to his company. He was more interested in seeing where he was. He had never set foot outside Ohio, but he knew this place. He knew it better than he was willing to admit. His father had left through the same port that he was entering now. His father had become a man by leaving, but he was still a boy; a boy who woke up each morning to milk the cows…and there were no cows in the infantry.

He dared not speak, tell a soul what he was thinking when he saw the words: Le Havre. The other boys had looked at him funny when they heard his last name. They still treated him with an air of suspicion. They were wrong, of course. So very wrong. But, what would they do if they knew Alsatian soil could have been his home?

But it wasn’t his home. He knew that too. He owed France nothing. He belonged to France even less than he belonged to Ohio.

Ohio. He never thought he’d miss Ohio.

He thought of home and all the deferments piled up on the kitchen table: only son. He knew it wouldn’t keep him out forever. Not as the list of names in the Times and the Reporter continued to grow. And now here he was.

The Frenchman was babbling on still…and must have seen something in his eyes. “Where you from, son?” He asked, sounding far too much like the farm boy’s own father.

“Strasburg,” he said, not thinking.

The Frenchman lowered his eyes and touched the farm boy’s shoulder.


The blinking light almost looked like a star as it went overhead.The other men had cowered below deck, but not him. He wanted to see it. He had to see it.

“What if the Commies have bombs on it?” they had all asked.

He knew it couldn’t hurt him. He was strong. He was brave. He had managed to survive this far. And besides, the satellite was something bigger than what they were doing.

Taking a deep breath of the salty air, he pressed against the rail and watched the reflection of the stars out in the black water. He wondered vaguely what it would be like to escape to space. Escaping to sea hadn’t been enough. And yet…

At home there was his wife

and a baby girl.

He wasn’t running from them. He’d just forgotten how not to run. He’d try to forget for a little while longer as Sputnik raced across the sky.


She didn’t know why she wore bright red lipstick. It clashed with everything about her complexion. But she was here to do something and it seemed to make them happy. Happy was really all she could give most of them at this point.

The last man she had seen had lost half his face in a mortar blast. He hadn’t even known it. He’d just looked at her…like she was some kind of angel. But she was mortal. And her brother was out there. And the men she loved. Someone loved that man too.

The least she could give was red lipstick.

She carefully closed the door behind the doctors as they rushed in. They told her nursing would bring fatigue, but she had never imagined fatigue could be like this.