Archive for the Writing Category

So THIS is What it Feels Like

Posted in Mental Health, Writing with tags , , , , on April 25, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

Snoopy-midlife-1

Without going into detail on very personal matters, it’s contextually important that I mention I went through some traumatic experiences not too long ago. I wasn’t the only one hurt, and not even the one most hurt, but it did effect me in a deep way. That said, I have had over a year of healing, and at this point life is fairly stable and peaceful.

Recently I have found myself feeling… odd. At first I thought it was a continuing, though muted, pain from that experience, and in fact it could easily be mistaken for the logical conclusion of my personality metamorphosis from it. But something has niggled at my brain that this is different. The changes in me from the trauma are, at this point, mostly positive. I’ve grown and learned, become stronger, more mature, and more responsible. To be fair, I am also a lot less trusting and more cynical too, but even those, when used properly, can be very good things.

This feeling… is anything but good.

I’m going to attempt to describe it, both for your own understanding and mine. It looks, on the surface, like depression. Sleeping a lot, loss of interest in what used to make me happy, lack of energy, all of that. But I have gone to a therapist for it and gotten nowhere, plus each of these symptoms has a strange added caveat I’ve never heard of in any of my depression studies. I’m sleeping a lot BUT only because I’m tired; when I’m not tired, I don’t want to sleep, though I don’t really know what I DO want to do. I have lost interest in the things that made me happy BECAUSE I feel like they should have evolved inside me somehow, and it all feels so… repetitive now. Like I’ve grown as a person, but my interests haven’t, and I’m not sure why or how to change that. I have a lack of energy BECAUSE I’m not doing anything to build up energy because nothing sounds worth it because…

What’s the point?

Depression often has no rhyme or reason. You feel that way, and you can’t break free because you can’t understand it in the first place. I’m not only understanding this, I’m actively trying to study and change it. Every day. It’s not that I’m staring at walls, lost in my sadness. I’m staring at books, trying to find an answer to it. The big difference, I think, is that I still have MOTIVATION. Every day. To break free somehow. Yet it still feels futile. And the worst part is, it feels futile for a reason. It’s a conclusion I’ve come back to again and again.

I’ve already done everything I possibly can within the boundaries of the life I am capable of leading right now. In a word, life has gotten BORING. And in a way that is, well… depressing.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. With that in mind, I have changed up things in my life a lot lately, from moving to a different place to changing my financial attitude and habits, to crossing over into videos for my books. I’ve literally tried everything I can think of to create a turn in my path. Or a twist. Or, hell, even a little BUMP. But it remains as straight as it ever was, running into the horizon until it feels like the only thing that will change anything will be death itself.

And today, my brain finally told me what this IS, and I almost stopped breathing at the realization.

THIS, my friends, is what a mid-life crisis feels like!

It’s mostly touted as a joke in our society. Middle-aged man buys a Porsche. Middle-aged woman gets a boob job. Haha. Look at how silly they are, wanting to be young again. But I think nobody has actually explained WHY they make those choices at that particular time in their lives. It’s neither shallow nor, really, an attempt at regaining their youth. At least, not physically. No, it’s an attempt at regaining the HOPE and EXCITEMENT of youth. Plans made with nothing but potential ahead. Looking forward to the great unknown adventure that is life. New milestones to experience.

At 40, I have experienced almost all of those. And while some of them have been wonderful, some have been downright terrible. Still, either way, at least they were something.

I might have grandchildren to look forward to, though with how society is right now and how my children feel (which I don’t begrudge them at all), that may never happen. I might, still, have trade publication to look forward to, but after two and a half decades trying a million different tactics to get even a TOE in the door, that, too, is starting to look like a silly, frayed hope from yesteryear. I may be able to buy a house someday, but not if I stay where I am in my job, which pays the bills but gives no leeway for saving or paying off debt for credit fixing, and while I am thankful for that stability at least, I’m not seeing any place for advancement at all. In fact, one of my co-workers has been there for 11 years, and has had NO chance to move up the ladder in all that time.

In the end, I’m just… stuck… on a path with no more surprises, no more adventures, no more ANYTHING. And that, my friends, is what a mid-life crisis actually feels like.

Maybe I just need to buy a Porsche.

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Thank You

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , on April 23, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

As I type, my beauteous friend Kitty is editing the first chapter for Scribbler’s Storytime. I’m feeling a strange kind of anxious, like this is the precipice of something huge that will change my life forever.

I’m at work. The day job. And everything here is as it should be. Calm. Collected. Organized. Just as it has been since I started here last July. There is no indication that today is any more special than any other day.

And yet, I’m feeling the universe… shift.

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking. Maybe it’s just that I haven’t done videos before so it’s exciting. Maybe it’s the whole new everything I’ve been working on these last few months.

Or maybe it really is the start of the rest of my life.

In any case, this feeling has given me thoughts of those who brought me to this place. I haven’t done this alone, and while it may be a bit premature, I want to make sure that I acknowledge those who have worked side-by-side with me through this journey.

From the very beginning to today.

So here is a list of people to whom this is a shout out, from earliest in my life to most recent. Thank you — so much — for your part in this great adventure I am on. Without you, some vital steps would never have happened. You have encouraged me, supported me, and cheered me on, and I will never, EVER forget that.

  • Sue Edmiston (AKA Mom)
  • Joanna Crichton (AKA Grandma)
  • Jill Charles
  • Beth Engelhard
  • Misty Robins
  • Anthony Sandoval
  • Cisily Sandoval
  • Conrad Sandoval
  • Jessica Suzanne Turner
  • Kim Thacker
  • Deby Fredericks
  • Kelly Milner Halls
  • John Bladek
  • Jairus Kelley
  • Erin Greene
  • Ronnie Ryno
  • Tim Martin
  • Shelley Martin
  • Nick Jensen
  • Molly Severns
  • Kaye Thornbrugh
  • Debi Schwartz
  • Robert McDonell
  • David Morris
  • Stephanie Regalado
  • Jill Roberts
  • Lesley Sabga
  • Roget Rachford
  • Ksenia Anske
  • Jessica Douglas
  • Brandie Maxwell
  • Kitty Keighley

Please realize that this is not an exhaustive list. It does not include the myriad of teachers, professors, professionals, friends, and family who have, at one time or another, given me encouragement, read my book(s), taught me how to be a better writer, and a billion other things. Those listed here are simply the ones who I can say have cheered me on the most consistently through the years, started me on a major part of my career path, and / or worked hard to edit, draw, paint, and otherwise perfect my worlds. If you’re listed here, it’s because I remember you as someone who gave me hope and help when I most needed it. If you’re on this list, you know why.

And you are thanked beyond words. Truly. Thank you.

On Encouragement

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

Lately I’ve been rediscovering my favorite T.V. universe of all time: Star Trek. I started by watching “Voyager” from beginning to end (thank you Netflix!) because it’s my favorite-favorite. Now I’m around the middle of “The Next Generation”. I’m watching them from favorite series to least-favorite. (Sorry “Deep Space Nine”.)

When you’re a trekkie like me you learn a LOT about Roddenberry’s universe, including behind the scenes stuff that can be quite illuminating. One of those things, which seems to be the same for every series (though TNG is the most infamous for it), is first season flopping. Though arguments abound over which series is best, it seems each one has started hard but ended beloved by at least a few fans (and in the Star Trek fandom, “a few” needs at least one k after it!) Indeed, when one re-watches TNG especially, one can’t help but cringe jeeeest a little at how… well… BAD… the first season or so is. No matter how much of a fan you are now.

For a struggling writer like me, that is enormously encouraging.

I’ve been writing seriously since I was 16. I decided on that particular age because I was first published then: my own review in the local newspaper on “The Chronicles of Narnia”, though I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. Now 24 years later (you do the math), I am still writing… when I’m not at my day job.

People tend to react similarly when you tell them you’re a writer. Questions like, “are you published?” abound, as well as comments somewhere along the lines of, “I have a great idea for a book — you should write it!” I’ve learned to field reactions like this with a fair amount of grace; after all most people really have no idea how the publishing world works, and I’m all about education. That said one question in particular still grates on me: the dreaded, “do you do that for a living?”

The answer is no.

Still.

24 years later.

No.

At least I’m not alone. The vast majority of writers don’t make a full-time living on it, and those few who do are mostly not the Stephen King types. They’re lower middle class on down, and they work hard for the privilege of writing full time. Many spend more time promoting themselves online, through school visits (for kidlit authors) and the like than they do actually writing, which is what they’d really rather be doing. In a way in this day and age even writing full-time is more than one job. And despite all that hard work, most full-time writers struggle with bills and “dry” seasons when their royalties are lower than usual. Sometimes these “dry” seasons can be anticipated. Other times they can’t. As a mother with children to feed, clothe, and house, I have not been comfortable enough with even my best royalties to try quitting my day job.

There are days — even weeks — when this can feel terribly discouraging.

Most every writer dreams of being free to write what we love without fear of becoming homeless. To not only have an editor, but one to whom we can go with an idea and automatically get clearance — and a nice advance — to write it. The J.K. Rowlings of the world are few and far-between, but to be one of them: that is OUR lottery dream.

And it’s a pretty, pretty dream indeed.

The funny thing is, despite their sometimes awkward or insensitive questions, most people outside of  the publishing world are extremely encouraging and supportive of writers. We are usually seen as brilliant, creative, unique, and even akin to superhuman for being able to even write a book, let alone publish and sell it. To most people, whether we can pay the bills or not with it has little to no bearing on this awe they view us by.

To writers like me, the dichotomy of this can be somewhat bemusing, but ultimately encouraging. I’m a brilliant superhuman, guys!

And so I keep writing my books and watching my “Star Trek”, dreaming of the day when my own first season comes to an end. When I can finally say I’ve grown out of “The Naked Now” and am ready for my own “Inner Light“. Until then, I’ll take the questions with the compliments, and keep my eye on the future prize of answering that dreaded question with a yes.

Finally.

Yes.

Website Revamp, Baby!

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , on April 19, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

I’m gonna start with this awesome little nugget: I just found out I almost have 1000 blog followers! When and how did this happen? But most of you are very quiet. Say hi; I don’t bite! You all rock with your support. Thank you!

In case you can’t tell this site has had a bit of a makeover. I decided that if things pick up with “Guts and Glory” once the 3rd book is out, I MIGHT need this site to be ready. One thing I did was think about what people are looking for when they come to my site, especially those who ask for the URL from me in person — my books. Which before weren’t featured very well. *Facepalm* SO, now they are! I also shortened my menu and updated all the media and review information. I like it a lot more now. What do you think?

Other than FINALLY finishing Book 3, now it’s time for me to get on with completing http://gutsandglorybooks.com. That will take a lot more work, especially the fannish areas. My biggest challenge, besides Books’ Laboratory (anyone know how to create a game from scratch? EEP!) will be keeping everything safe for the kids who use it. I plan to have a requirement of the Nil Name quiz, so they can use that name instead of their own on, for example, the message boards (for the teens), the fan art area (for kids and teens), etc. I will also not have private message options, and I’ll need some mods and admins to help with the boards and chat.

Of course, the usage of these areas will be EXTREMELY small at first (and — let’s face it — possibly forever) but I don’t want there to be an issue I’m not anticipating, just in case. If anyone has any other ideas to keep the place on lock down, please let me know. The last thing I want is to make an unsafe place for my young readers!

But first, I need your help with the Nil Name quiz. I FINALLY got it to work for people other than me, so if you would be willing to take the quiz and tell me what you got and whether it was accurate, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you!

What’s Your Nil Name? Quiz

Uploading Killed the Video Star

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on April 18, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

The good news is, I got my first chapter filmed!

WOOOHOOO!

The bad news is, it’s been over a week and I still haven’t gotten it uploaded to my friend who’s editing for me until I can get better equipment.

Woohoo?

Now, I have pretty good internet at home. I stream Star Trek on Neflix like a champ, and even though there’s two teenagers and two adults using the wifi on phones and laptops and tablets (sometimes more than one at a time),  we hardly ever have issues. So why, then, won’t a simple 5MB video upload to Dropbox for me?

Well, as it turns out, download and upload speed are two different things.

Who knew?

Okay, okay, so maybe everyone. But bear with me. I’m new to this part of the digital age.

Today I’m at my day job which has excellent wifi, so I brought my old phone — which is what I use for my camera for now because it’s better than my current working phone in that capacity — to see if it’ll upload on their supersonic setup. I’ve been uploading all morning now, and just checked at my lunch break.

It’s 85% DONE!

WOOOHOOO again!

So all this is to say, no I have NOT given up on Scribbler’s Storytime. Just had a little glitch in the matrix, as it were. Soon — hopefully very soon — I’ll be sending everyone a link to chapter 1!

Moral of the story? If the obvious steps don’t work, carve some of your own. 😉

Stay tuned…

Jumping into Videos

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , on April 8, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

I’m just gonna say it.

I’m nervous.

I’ve done a LOT to really amp up the “Guts and Glory” brand, and am continuing to do so, but I’m not sure if anything will be enough. Plus, the day after tomorrow, I’ll record my first “readin'” for Patreon. It’s easy to SAY you want lots of people to watch you, but when you really THINK about it…

I’m nervous.

I just hope I do it well, and that people like it. I’m still working on my reading out loud skills, plus “Guts and Glory” has… special… verbiage in places.

Well, if ya don’t jump in, you’ll never know if you can swim, right?

This should be quite an adventure! Thanks for going on it with me. ❤

https://www.patreon.com/JessicaCrichton

More Updates from the Land of Nil

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , on April 7, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

Books2

Hi everyone!

WHEW! It’s been a wild ride these last few weeks, with “Guts and Glory” as a TOP priority for me. In fact, I have a few pretty big announcements, so without further ado…

  1. “THE COUNTERFEIT ZOMBIES OF NOC” REVISIONS ARE DONE! You can get the new, improved paperback here. The ebook should be out by tonight; I’ll let you know!
  2. I’ve begun serious work on book 3. No more revising the first 2 books. It’s time to FINALLY move on and show you how the kids do in the city of Num!
  3. I’ve started a Patreon! As Scribbler, I’ll be reading one chapter from “Guts and Glory” a week to you and your kids! Some of the fun stuff I’ve set up for my patrons there include a Nil Kid rollcall where Scribbler thanks you personally by Nil name, exclusive videos of my processes as I work on book 3, and audiobook recordings of every chapter to download. Check it out!
  4. Finally, GutsAndGloryBooks.com is up and running! Though I’m still working on the big, complicated areas like The Net Nest and Igh Schoo, you can see updates, earn your Nil name, and check out a few other little things for now. I’ll keep you updated on it too, of course!

Okay, whew! Gotta run. Lots to do! Thank you for keeping me company on this wild ride!

John M. Cusick

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