[I Am] Untitled: Action and Apathy

Welcome to my UNTITLED series, where I get overly personal, melodramatic, and attempt to rage my way into self growth.

Well, I started this post a few days ago feeling fired up to actually do something instead of just talking about it. I’ve been much clearer headed and settled since coming back from Costa Rica, probably due to vacationing and feeling inspired and what I talked about in my last post.

That being said, I’m afraid I’m starting to fall into a familiar feeling: apathy. It’s usually the beginning of a mental health cycle for me, one involving depression and everything else. There’s probably no real reason for it besides yay mental health, though perhaps it’s in reaction to going back to normal life.

Since I’m trying to spin everything in a positive light, I’ve decided to look at this as practice accomplishing goals when I just feel like a numb zombie. It might even help, as I tend to be hyper-logical when I’m apathetic (even if my logic is often flawed). Apathy is usually the step before my negative-spirals, so it will be interesting when that hits.

ANYWAY. Let’s get into my three idea/ideals I talked about before and how I’m going to implement them. In case you need a reminder, they are:

  • At the end of my life I want to leave something that will benefit those who come after me in a way that’s healing, joyful, and constructive.
  • Take responsibility and find meaning in my place in the ecosystem.
  • Always be learning.

Also, I think I’ve whittled down the main barriers in the way of accomplishing these: paralysis, depression, and direction. Or maybe the third one there is the tool for how to get over the first two.

So, thinking about direction. What’s that saying about how each journey starts with one step? I think I need to start small. Not only because I get overwhelmed and paralyzed, but so that I can start building a foundation and get an idea of where tf I’m trying to go.

So. I had one idea basically fall in my lap. A coworker of mine sent me a class on Regenerative Agriculture, which basically fits into all of my Idea/Ideals: I’d be learning about ecological repair. And with my paralysis issues, I often need a kick in the pants to keep up something, which is why I love taking classes.

Unfortunately I just checked and classes have already started. Whelp. Guess I’ll be doing that one sometime later down the line…

In the same subject vein, I found an environmentally-focused podcast called “Sustainable World Radio.” I actually stumbled upon the first episode (How Mushrooms Can Save the World) a while ago and it was fantastic. It’s apparently been running since 2008, and still putting out episodes (as of Dec. 2019 anyway).

I originally started listening to podcasts because of [peer pressure and] Print Run Podcast (if you’re a writer and don’t listen to PRP, you should. Erik and Laura are funny, snarky, intelligent, and I leave every episode feeling like I’m more knowledgeable, know what’s going on with the publishing world, and how to apply it all to my writing). Sustainable World Radio came to me by way of googling environmental podcasts in one of hyper-focused moods about a year ago.

Just looking over episode titles, there’s a ton to learn (and it’s free, so, yeah). My work often has me sitting and doing mindless tasks for hours at a time, which is perfect podcast time (and I don’t lose my sanity, so bonus). That being said, I definitely have to be in a particular mind-set to be able to listen and absorb. My brain also has a habit of just deleting motivation or my ability to focus; that’s when externally-driven structure and goals are really helpful.

But I’m going to work to listen to this podcast more. There is too much free, fascinating information for me not to be taking advantage of it, even outside the world of environmentalism.

It’s a start.

I’d also like to pair this with something actionable, something I’m physically doing. This one will be more difficult for as I’m really good at sitting by myself absorbing information, not so much the applying it part. We’ll get there.

But anyway, I think this means volunteering. I talked a little bit about my all-or-nothing brain in my last post, and I’ve fallen into a similar trap here. I’ve always been so (probably selfishly) focused on getting a job in some environmentally-focused manner that all I do is apply for jobs (and, if you know anything about the PNW, everybody wants that, so, yeah). But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do anything. And if I eventually want to do something like run a nonprofit or clean up the world or whatever, I have to actually get experience in, you know, doing that. It can’t just be academic stuff in ma brain.

I am very easily exhausted and need a lot of down-time or get burned out, so I haven’t really volunteered since I was in college. I really, really don’t want to burn myself out; it’ll then be back to square one with all of this. So I’ll need to be really intentional about recovery time.

(Guh. I’m so tired of managing myself already. Why can’t I just do things without physical/mental consequences. Actually I’ll probably get more into that in a later post. ANYWAY.)

Since I am a super introvert who is connected to no one and nothing, this will require a lot of Googling to find volunteer opportunities in the area.

So far I’ve found a politically-focused environmental group of some sort, a park-building project, and a local watershed advisory council. I’m sure there are a ton that are into the city as well, but I think I’d rather stay very local first.

Anyway, I’ve reached out to all of these now to see about volunteering or projects or meetings that they have. There’s my small step for now. We’ll see how this goes.

Til next time —


[I Am] Untitled: Travel

Welcome to my UNTITLED series, where I get overly personal, melodramatic, and attempt to rage my way into self growth.

I want to address something I don’t think I fully fleshed out in my previous post. As I’ve mentioned, if I’m just a big ball o’ restless energy desiring adventure and to smash myself into a new person — why don’t I just travel for like a year or something?

Ignoring how privileged that is for a moment —

Traveling — the escape, the exposure to new things, the adventure, the opportunity to meet new people and experience new cultures — is something I’ve craved since I can remember. It’s not just something I want to do; I think adventure might be a core part of my makeup (which is funny, considering I’m so often paralyzed from even making an impromptu trip to the grocery store).

Yet I’ve always held myself back from doing something really big — like the one-way ticket to anywhere I mentioned, or signing up for AmeriCorps, or whatever. Some of this is my weird paralysis, some situational, some is trauma-related.

But now, in this moment, I tell myself I have a horde of four-legged children. I have a partner who’s attached enough to his job that he can’t/won’t drop it just because. We have familial obligations and financial concerns and things that might fall apart and —

The reality is, all of that is fear talking. All of this could be figured out, if the adventure was worth the sacrifice of stability and actually making money and whatever else.

But then, I feel like I’ve gotten past the stage of socially accepted fuck-off-and-travel age though. Like I’ve somehow wasted my early 20s being responsible and restless and going in circles. That’s a lie too; it’s never too late to travel and do whatever you want. And it is a heck of lot easier now than it’d be after owning our own house or something that would fundamentally tie us to one place. Even if it’s the wrong move, I can figure it out, and then I’d know.

I just got back from Costa Rica, and had an absolutely incredible time. We’ll be paying off the credit card for a while, but it was worth it. That country is filled with such an intensity of wildlife and color; I even enjoyed the temperature and humidity (and I am not a heat person). Being there… was a little like feeding my soul.

It struck me, that as I looked up at the stars in Costa Rica one night, the same stars I look at in the Pacific NW, how content I felt. Was it just because I was on vacation? Was it because I had the ability to stop and breathe? Was it because I’d been exploring national forests and bio-luminescent lagoons and another culture?

I still dealt with my black-hole brain and other issues while I was there, and I definitely needed recovery when I got back. But it felt like some part of me was being ‘fed.’ Like I was breathing into a space in myself I didn’t normally get to breathe into. As if a frantic space in my head finally relaxed.

Which kind of makes it sound like the answer is to my issues is travel, doesn’t it?

I’m not independently wealthy, so it’s not like it’s feasible to travel all the time, though there alternate ways of traveling. I could do what 1Bike1World does and just cycle through the continent with a cat. I could make it work, somehow, I do think that.

But I want to interrogate this idea a little more.

My desire to fling myself off a cliff is because of gnawing restlessness; adventuring and traveling seems to suit that need. But I don’t think it solves the actual problem.

I think the contentment I felt looking at the stars in Costa Rica was because I was doing something interesting. I was learning. Experiencing. Enjoying. Something I’m missing desperately in all of my life-crap. And because I feel deprived of it, it’s that much more impactful.

I think the learning and experiencing was the core of it, not wanderlust itself.

I think a big part of this acute restlessness is just my ill-content with myself and what I’m doing. Traveling may help ease the symptoms, but will it solve the actual issue? I want to try to get the core of it, not just run away.

Furthermore. There’s that saying about traveling — the one about how you leave home to find it. And I think I recognized looking at the stars in Costa Rica that I haven’t found it. I’ve found people who are home and things I like; but I want to belong to a place. I don’t think I’ve ever made a place my home before. I want… I don’t know, roots, I suppose. I want to belong somewhere and have somewhere belong to me.

I’ve always felt pulled in two directions. Half of me wants to throw off all bonds of constraint and wander and explore till I fall off the earth. But the other half of me wants this belonging.

All that being said. Now I’m going to sound like I’m reversing my position here and say that I think travel is going to be instrumental for me figuring myself out. But I don’t think it’s the answer. I need to be more intentional about it. It seems silly, but I think my head got stuck in a paralysis loop of “well if I can’t do The Big Adventure then I’m just stuck and whatever.” I got into the all-or-nothing head-space. And that’s not how it goes.

Even though part of me hates the idea that adventure has to be planned, that I have to organize around responsibilities, so really I’m walking through life dependent on other people’s whims instead of my own.

(Yeesh, all of this sounds so self-centered. I’m just getting melodramatic, as I warned you all, trying to deep dive into my f e e l i n g s.)

ANYWAY.

So travel can be a tool. Especially as it helps break through my paralysis problems. But the answer, I think, is to figure out how to craft myself and my life around things that will be fulfilling long term. Which I suppose that’s a duh, we’re all looking for fulfillment. I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to that understanding. Or maybe I knew it and just had to talk myself there.

And hey, traveling fits into my Learning Idea/Ideal I talked about in my last post. (Though, traveling via airplane or car isn’t exactly environmentally sound, which I’ve been thinking about lately.)

All right, if you’ve made it through this rambling mess a post, I congratulate you! This one kinda of stumbled around, and I’m not entirely sure I made a coherent point.

Now I’m gearing up to actually do something with all this rambling about myself. Not that I think the rambling will stop, since I overthink everything. But I’m going to try to turn the overthinking into … you know, actually doing something.

Anyway, whatever. Have some Costa Rica pictures, because it’s beautiful and wonderful there.

(You can see the full story on my Instagram if you’re interested.)

At the Manuel Antonio National Park

Some other highlights.


[I Am] Untitled: Cliffs

Welcome to my UNTITLED series, where I get overly personal, melodramatic, and attempt to rage my way into self growth.

I’m forcing myself into publishing this post, because I promised myself I would. That being said, I pretty much want to panic-delete everything I’ve written as this feels incredibly self-centered and overdramatic when there are real issues and problems in the world. But anyway. Here we go.

I want to jump off a cliff and smash myself into a different shape.

I’m starting to understand all those books like where someone decides to blow up their entire life and buy a one way ticket to literally anywhere. I feel like I’m going to come out of my skin, and for fuck’s sake, my life is fine. I even like parts of my life and my self.

I’m privileged. I have a great partner and parents. I’m thoughtful. I’m compassionate. I’m not as smart as I’d like and I wish my memory didn’t suck and

Okay, we’re getting into negatives again. I’m doing the avoiding negatives thing. *clears throat *

I had a further rant about adventure and wanting to travel (which is true, mind you) but I think there’s an underlying problem that’s more poignant: I think I want to jump off a cliff because I’m too good at making Safe Decisions. I listen when the world tells me to accept reality and learn to dream smaller. Being Safe is my default; I adapt to make myself and everyone around me the most comfortable. It’s not just a habit at this point, but a compulsion. And I think it’s slowly suffocating me.

My hope is that I don’t actually have to jump off a cliff or blow up my life to figure out how to change. (I think my partner would definitely appreciate that, and I’d rather hang on to him.) In this sense, something came up in conversation the other day that I think I can use, for my maybe-or-maybe-not cliff-jumping. The concept was:

Extroverts find adventure through people. Introverts find adventure through ideas.

I don’t know if this is wholly accurate, and honestly it doesn’t matter, because this has been stuck in my head, and this is my self-journey, damn it, I’ll discard it later if I don’t like it. Plus, this is my big Fuck You to the seeming-endless paralysis inside of me. I’ve got to start somewhere, to somehow figure out this screaming restless, so I can actually do something productive.

So. We’re going to start with: Introverts find adventure through ideas.

I’ve always been a kid who wanted to do Great Big Things, and none of what I’m doing feels big or great or even working towards that. This is not to say that I don’t take pleasure in simple things. Or that somehow it’s bad if someone isn’t “reaching for the stars.” Honestly, I have a sneaking suspicion more goddamn walks in nature might ease some of my issues. But there’s just… there’s this restless mania that I have to channel into something, and it’s not going to be “being good at office work.”

Sidebar: Maybe all of this is the dying throes of my childhood self, learning that I really can’t just save the world because I want to. Maybe I’m just a tiny, insignificant cog in the wheel of capitalist civilization, the loneliest society there is. But I think that reality might kill me.

What’s the phrase? Keep writing so reality does not destroy you?

Anyway. Let’s get back to finding adventure through living by ideas.

I want to try to break this down into something digestible, something I can try to utilize (since I am trying to make changes and not just complain my life away). I tend to overthink everything to the point of paralysis, and as mentioned in my previous post, have completely forgotten how to believe or trust in myself, so I’m really going to try not to overthink this. I am giving myself permission not to know all the answers right now.

So, I’m going to list ideas (or ideals) that I think are my core being that I actually like (or if we’re being pessimistic, three ideas that I want to represent and grow in myself) which I can use as a driving force. Then I can start to set goals or steps or I don’t even know, to try to create some sort of purposefulness in myself.

This has been noodling around in my brain somewhat, so this was actually easier than I thought to come up with some things that felt true. Despite the fact that even as I write this I’m doubting everything and I’m doing this wrong and what do I even

Hooo-kay, here we go.

Idea Numero Uno:

At the end of my life I want to be leaving something that will benefit those who come after me. In a way that’s healing, joyful, constructive.

Idea Numero Dos: (I don’t know why I’m writing in Spanglish)

Western Civilization has the notion that humanity is somehow separate and disconnected from our local and global ecosystem. Our environment has been showing us otherwise. I want to take responsibility for my place in the ecosystem.

(That means… well, it means a lot of huge things, which touch on environmentalism, sociology, politics, racism and socioeconomic issues — just to name a few. Not going to get into all of this here.)

Idea Number Three:

Never stop learning. I think stagnation — mental and otherwise — comes from a lack of learning. Knowledge can give the world. It keeps you humble and curious and alive.

Sooo. Yeah. We’ll start there, with those three. Those three big, giant… I have no idea what to do with them now… concepts. And I am absolutely not being overwhelmed, or spiraling into ‘what does this even mean,’ or wondering how this could even help me turn myself into a being that I can appreciate.

Now I just need to think on how I’m going to break up these big ideas into little goals I can actually enact. And then… somehow make myself do them. I will start working through that in an upcoming post. Meanwhile, I’m going to stare at the ceiling a while to see where it gets me.

Also, my brain has been barfing up other frustrations and randomness, all of which I’ll go into, because, as I mentioned in my previous post, I am learning to acknowledge and respect all my thoughts and feelings again, and this is how I’m doing it. By vomiting up them all in public.

Haaaaa, I’m doing it anyway, because I’m not letting myself be paralyzed by things like fear and how self-centered this is and if anyone is actually listening and the right way to run an online presence and —

Yup. Time to sign off.

Till next week everyone. Stay safe, practice compassion, do something daring.


[I am] Untitled

I’m not even sure how to start this one.

Not just because it’s been… oh, I don’t know, 9 months since I blogged last. My inspiration to share my thoughts and write in this manner just… dried up. I didn’t even feel guilty about not blogging, really. I felt like I should, and I wished I was, but I just…

Didn’t have anything to say. It didn’t even bother me that much — as much as it should. Which is the second reason I’m not sure how to start this post. Somewhere in the last year I forgot to care about my own thoughts.

I’m melodramatic; I spiral into negativity at the drop of a hat; I battle intrusive thoughts. Add in the fact that I’m working to deconstruct any -ist thinking, and it’s frightening how much of my own self I cannot trust. In trying so hard not to blow around in some emotional storm, I think I’ve caused the slow death of any kind of self-belief.

Why would my thoughts matter? Especially in a world of endless noise. Even now, I’m sneering at myself.

Most of what I do is done in rote. I write fantasy characters in screwed up situations, because I always have, and there are faint glimmers of myself in there. I edit, because that’s what I’m supposed to do next, and there’s a kind of dim pleasure in seeing things come together. I go to work, because I’m supposed do, the job isn’t hard, and making money is the only way to do anything in this world.

And then.

Recently, I had two poignant conversations that helped bring to light how well I’ve been shoving myself into a smaller and smaller box. It’s not like I’ve ever been a particularly self-confident person, but in my doubt of everything, all I’ve done is make safe decisions that make me hate myself. And I’ve got to do something to change.

I’m restless. I don’t know how to fix it.

I’m sad. I don’t know why.

I’m angry. I’m pretty sure I know that reason, but I don’t know how to release it productively.

I’m tired. I don’t know where to find energy anymore.

I’m twenty-seven-goddamn-years-old and I feel like I’m twelve and a hundred all at once. I’m paralyzed, sticking to the same elements that have made up my life so far, instead of trying to pinpoint the nebulous restlessness I can’t seem to get over. The world is f*cking on fire, and I can barely step outside the door in the morning.

So I’m making a decision. A decision I will have to make over and over and over again if I’m going to change this. I’m going to start small. I’m going start caring about my thoughts again. I’m going to be melodramatic, and vent my feelings. I’m going to be selfish, and give a shit about myself. I’m going to take time, and figure out what is wrong with me, so I can stop spiraling this slow death. I’m spending too much time keeping my pieces together to actually live.

Because at the end of this damn thing called life, I want to look back and be satisfied.

I want to know I made something better, and I didn’t just waste oxygen.

I want to build or leave or heal something wonderful, something that will help bring healing or joy or happiness to those who come after me.

Melodramatic? Sure. But maybe if I accept it, I can do something with it.

For anyone reading this and wondering what the hell to expect in this blog… well, 2020 is going to be the year I rage until I figure out how to finally take a step forward — in my dreams, my health, and my sanity. It will have to be a decision I make over and over again. And maybe you can find some comfort or truth in my stumbling attempts to figure out this bullshit.


Writing on Google Docs

So I started something new, this past NaNoWriMo (yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m like 5 months late, I know). What with working full time, the train not always having a seat during my commute, and being too exhausted after work to actually do anything creative, I’ve been frustrated with my writing progress. Recently, I started implementing a new writing tool that’s shifted my writing process. And it’s been interesting.

If you remember, I mentioned the newest twist in my writing career. Since then I’ve been determinedly working to rewrite and revise my manuscript, though it’s taking longer than I expected (who’s surprised?). The revision so far has been equal parts awesome and terrifying, as I wrote in my last post.

Last November, I decided that I should use the energy that NaNoWriMo inspires to get a chunk of these revisions done, as I knew a decent portion of the manuscript needed to be totally rewritten (new words = word count for NaNo). That being said, I also knew I’d need to implement a new writing process to make any progress, what with the above mentioned full-time job and general exhaustion.

So I started writing on my phone with Google Docs. On the train, in the bathroom at work, even sometimes at work if it was slow. I didn’t think I’d ever be someone who wrote on Google Docs, let alone my phone. I have a problem with not being able to see my whole manuscript at once, or bounce between sections if I need to, and the narrow-view of Google Docs (especially on a phone) sounded stifling.

I’d previously tried it out a few months earlier on a different project I was playing with, and had quite a bit of success with it. It was so nice to be able to write on the train when I didn’t have a seat, in the checkout line at the grocery store, or waiting in the car to pick up a friend.

But this other story I started from scratch, just let the fingers fly when inspiration struck. The manuscript I’m rewriting is 115k words and a complicated mess of plot-lines, emotions, and motivations. I needed to be able to jump between scenes and move around sections with ease in order to rip it apart and put it back together again.

But I wanted to try it. So I started implementing a bit-by-bit process. Instead of uploading the whole thing and slashing through it, I uploaded sections at a time that I knew I’d have to rewrite. I’d tear the scene apart, keep a few segments I felt were good, and rewrite the rest, using the skills I’ve gained in the past three-odd years. Then, at the end of the day, I’d paste whatever I’d finished back into the main document to save (and for word count purposes; which got tricky as I had to separate previously-written from now-written, but that’s another subject).

Churning out rewritten scenes was also helpful because writing transitions to merge scenes or fill in a hole of information is often a nice, concise section to get done when time is limited. It set up the time where I ‘sat down to write’ (on weekends or the rare evening where I wasn’t exhausted) very nicely into smaller pieces. Plus, there’s a satisfaction to getting a hole filled that isn’t found as much when writing linearly.

And honestly… that worked out really well for slamming out sections. For NaNoWriMo and getting a big chunk of the manuscript rewritten, it was perfect.

Then about two months ago I found myself in a sticky situation. I am ripping apart this manuscript, taking it in a new direction that (I hope) is both different and more true to the original story. But especially in the midst of NaNoWriMo, where I would skip brand-new sections where I didn’t quite know what I was doing yet, I left critical scenes unwritten. Reaching the culmination of those scenes farther along down (as I left big holes where things scenes were, to focus on rewriting scenes and slamming out word counts), I was patting around in the dark without the proper detail that those previous scenes would provide.

So I turned my attention back to those scenes I skipped before in my effort to keep up momentum. I needed to write sections that are whole new scenes intricately connected to the events around them. And this has made it much harder to utilize Google Docs as a tool.

I kept freaking out that that sections were going to ‘feel’ different, written in isolation from each other. Or the logic/thought processes won’t flow. Or. Or. Or.

I definitely flashed back to previous writing habits, where I had to see everything all at once or I can’t write anything ahhhh. When in actuality, I just needed to chill and get the damn thing on the page, and worry about smoothing it all together later. (In fact I’m pretty sure Delilah Dawson wrote a thread on Twitter about this, something about her #TenThings on first drafts.)

So for the past couple months I’ve been stealing snippets of time during lunch break or in the evenings to get things done, where I can see the whole document (I’ve been using Scrivener, if you’re interested). The process has been very slow, but it has been steady. It’s gotten me to a place where I’ve been able to focus big picture and figure more out about how the littler pieces fit into the whole.

Now the manuscript resembles swiss cheese. But, it’s pretty easy to tell what needs to be done to get it done. So it’s back to Google Docs again.

I think the trick is (at least for me) is organization. If I know the main thrust of what I’m writing, and how it fits into the chapter/arc/whatever, it really works. The method that seems to be working for me best is to copy+paste the whole chapter along with the ‘hole’ or section I need to work on. Then I have the lead up, which starts me writing, and where it needs to end, which helps me aim.

This works less well for me in a crux scene, where I have to weave several things into each other. If I can’t jump around to make sure I’m covering everything I need to and have all the details right, I feel metaphorically blind.

Yet in other cases, I think it’s been beneficial to write in the narrow-view of one-section-at-a-time. With only one scene to write on, it makes me focus. Despite my wanting to see-the-whole-story-all-the-time, that can end up fracturing my attention and making me spin in circles. With only one thing to focus on, I’ve got to push through. (I think this could also be used with something like Word or whatever you like, but at least for Scrivener, it’s too easy for me to bounce between sections and start spinning, as I mentioned.)

So after all of that, I wanted to try to condense my whole experience into something actually helpful. Here are some bullet points I think we can glean from all of this:

  • Organization is key
  • Don’t worry about the whole; focus on pieces at a time
  • Don’t stifle yourself to one tool if it’s not working; switch when needed

At the end of the day, like ANY writing advice, this is going to be helpful to some and not to others. It all depends on your writing process and how your creativity works. My hope is to give some ideas on how to use tools to your advantage, but this is entirely dependent on you!

And on that note… I’m going to go finish a fancy ballroom scene where my MC is wheedling an internship out of a hospital CEO so she can sleuth to where she thinks there are victims of her sister’s killer…


Manuscript Update

Hello all! It’s been a while. These past several months have been an kaleidoscope of working, sickness, holidays, recovery, and writing. I am not nearly as far as I want to be for the manuscript revision/rewrite (see last blog post), but I’ve made great progress and I’m equal parts fascinated and terrified on how this story is reforming. It’s different, yet somehow more true to the original story, but really different.

And wow, that was a total lie when I said I’d be blogging more the end of 2018. Guess I fibbed that in my last post! To be honest, I rather holed up in my brain the past couple months. Not just over this project, but also due to a few health issues that arose and am now solving. Then there was the holidays… which is always way busier and less downtime than you think.

THAT BEING SAID – immediate family, partner, and I disappeared to the beach over New Years for several days. There was no cell phone service, and limited Wi-Fi — disconnecting from the world was just what the doctor ordered. I forget sometimes how much social media weighs on the brain. I’ve let it become a constant barrage of information, my go-to task when I’m not doing something, and I think it’s made my mind tired. I’m not sure exactly how to fix that problem as a writer needs to have an active social media presence — but alas.

Anyway, I’m getting off track — let’s get back to writing.

This rewrite is much darker and deeper than the manuscript before. Looking at it now, the original manuscript almost seems… shallow, in parts. Not all of that was bad, and some of it inevitable considering my writing skill at the time. But I am greatly enjoying the depth and complexity that is forming through this revision, even as I worry that it’s getting a little too heavy.

It’s equal parts weird — because this is not technically a first draft. But also incredible — because I’m finding ways to fall back in love with this story by re-imagining areas that had started to feel stale. I guess that’s why they call it a ‘revision.’

(Ha. Re-vision. I don’t think I’d thought about how accurate that word is in this moment. I am, in a lot of senses, adjusting my vision of this story. Anyway moving on — )

I’m going to write a post soon about the actual process of this rewrite, as I’ve discovered a few things I think might be interesting to y’all (particularly, writing using Google Docs, and on my phone!? I never thought I would say I’d done that). It’s coming along much slower than I would have liked (surprise, surprise), and I will definitely need to do a heavy edit once this manuscript is put back together. I’m aiming to have the big parts done by the end of January, heavy edits by February, and fine-tuning by the end of March. Which means it’ll actually be done sometime in May, but let’s not talk about that.

Then! BETA READING, MY FRIENDS!

This is something I think I lacked for the first time around with this manuscript. I had a few readers and input, but I didn’t have the sample size or input that I really should have — and needed. I’m really looking forward to getting critiques (as much as the idea of criticism makes me want to crawl into a hole) especially from from fellow writing peers and friends.

Buuut I’ve got to get this manuscript done first.

On that note, I should head back to the writing trenches. I’ve managed to do a little bit every day, and though the incremental progress is driving me crazy, it is very satisfying to see it slowly-but-surely coming together.

That’s the update, folks. Tune in soon, where I’ll talk about some interesting writing process tricks and how that’s fitting into this big ol’ messy manuscript revision.


Twisting Writing Journeys

It is with a bittersweet heart that I announce PRIDEM and the Obsidian Divide series will no longer be released by Glass House Press.

After three great educational years working together we have decided to go our separate ways. Glass House Press has shifted gears — I absolutely wish them the best of luck in their endeavors! — and I ultimately decided that I needed more time and attention than they could provide. I have learned a lot under their mentor-ship and am eager to flex my new skills.

So! I am back to staring at the query trenches, my friends. It’s definitely not where I thought I’d be as we near the end of 2018, but I’m shockingly optimistic. The “it wasn’t meant to be” platitude can be annoying, but I’m feeling it a lot lately to be honest. I’m really looking forward to the next adventure in my writing journey.

So, what’s next?

After three years I’ve grown a lot as a writer and a craftsman, so I’m going to spend the next couple months in deep revisions for INITIUM. My aim is to have it done by the end of this year and start querying again early 2019.

Then, who knows?

Meanwhile, I’m hoping to focus a lot more on blogging again. I know I’ve been slacking a ton in that department this year — it’s been a strange ride this most of 2018! You’re still going to see debut author interview posts from my lovely authors18 comrades, so expect that still.

Alright, I’m off to my non-writer day job which I’ll spend itching to get home and write. Till next we speak, wishes of joy and success to you all!


The Frustration of Changing Writing Habits

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I’m pretty sure it’s a solid fact of humanity that we’re not very good with change. Sure, there are the exceptions. But from changes at work to changes in our own selves and relationships — especially if we’re not expecting it — change tends to make us all react in bizarre and unhelpful ways.

Writers are particularly finicky. Hell, we can broaden that statement to artists in general. A lot of us have particular elements or situations we need in order to write (like needing silence or white noise or a cup of tea handy or a particular kind of music playing). Changing or not getting a particular element can throw a writer off, terribly.

But what happens when the routine itself… changes? What happens when the tried and true methods no longer work?

I used to be able to write in almost any scenario; music always helped, and I liked to shift positions and sit weirdly all the time. But the only consistent element in my writing routine was that I worked best during late morning and late evening. I could write other times, but it was only when those particular times hit that I really got on a roll.

I’m sure you can guess my next statement.

My writing routine is changing. Heck, it’s changed. In the evenings I’m usually too exhausted to form coherent sentences, and during the late morning I’m at work, so that doesn’t work. But even before I started working full time I was noticing a shift.

I’m not sure how to pinpoint the causes. Working full time is an obvious one for part of this (equaling lack of time and exhaustion), but even going to college full time and working, I made writing happen in the snippets and furious late night sessions.

What is it about now that’s messing up everything?

Maybe this is combined with plain ol’ growing older. I’m almost 26. My brain is officially shedding any functions I don’t use often, my body is setting into a shape with a much lower metabolism, no one is really interested in my hopes and dreams so much as where I’m working and what I’m doing with my life. I have responsibilities. I can’t skip work because I don’t feel well or because I’m feeling particularly inspired by a story. I’m managing to handle my migraines and my health. I’m working on saving enough for my own place.

I’m no longer a driven, mature kid – I’m an adult and the behavior is expected of me.

It’s not exactly the thing the sparks the imagination. Between everything – pressure and responsibilities and mental issues – it’s so very easy to fall into a rut of… nothing. Daily actions repeated for necessity but no desire.

Why is being an adult so busy?

In my last Behind the Scenes in Publishing post, I touched upon how my approach to writing is shifting because of the business side of being an author has been taking up a lot of brain space lately. I think that has a part to play in my whole writing routine being messed up, too.

Struggling or being unable to write seems to be a common complaint among my fellow debute-ers. Between marketing and exposing your heart to the world with a book baby and exciti-waiting for this book thing to happen… can we really be surprised that energy level and creativity might be a little shaky?

The other day I realized I haven’t finish writing for almost three years. Besides the commission from my publisher of writing Pridem (the prequel to my Obsidian Divide series that will now be my debut), which was different because it’s short and I already knew the story. I haven’t finished anything since I signed my publishing contract, in fact, which I talk about more in depth in the above blog post I mentioned.

I’ve written quite a bit, and almost finished a few projects… almost. That scares me. I’d been consistently writing at least one book a year before that. Between focusing on learning all this marketing and working full time and various other stressors (starting with mental health and ending with plain ol’ ridiculous life situations), it feels like my writing escape is starting to become… just another stress.

A stress I highly enjoy, mind you. But the BUSINESS part of being an author has taken over my head, and it’s leaving me terrified I’ll never write a book again because I’ve always written from a place of hidden-in-my-own-world. That doesn’t really exist anymore. Maybe it can be at an idea’s inception. But at some point I have to think about selling the thing so I can keep writing. Writing isn’t just escape and satisfaction when my brain is on fire. Writing is now… creativity making a world people can escape to and maybe learn from that holds a piece of my soul.

Which means, really, that my way of approaching writing has shifted. So maybe it’s no wonder that my routine is up in the air.

I did have a bit of an epiphany the other day. And it’s a silly, simple thing, that we often hear as writing advice but I didn’t really understand until this moment.

I’ve got to figure out how to get back to writing for myself. That’s how I wrote all of my other stories. Maybe some people can, but I can’t seem to write without the passion for it. It just falls flat, boring. It also feels like pulling myself through molasses to get anything on the page.

And yeah, that ‘business’ side of writing is constantly in my head. But, as I read in an article that I now can’t find, that’s what editing is for.

I’ve got to banish thinking about genre and craft and market and character arc and just write. And then when the whole damn messy thing is out on pages, I can turn it into something that I can actually use as Professional Author.

It’s bizarre, this uneasy marriage between creativity and business. I’ve always heard of it but never realized how crippling it can be to learn how to balance it.

Anyway, I’ve somehow wandered off my original subject, writing habits — but the vomit of words above seems to have a lot to do with it. The point is, I’ve somehow got to get back to my well of creativity, and I think fostering new writing habits is key. My old writing habits have to change, for obvious practical adult-life reasons, and because I think it can nurture my creativity.

I guess my point of all of this is, maybe don’t be afraid of writing habits changing. As humans, we’re creatures of adaptation and change, our lives by very definition cannot stay the same. Maybe our writing — the content, the style, and the way we go about it — is meant to change, perhaps with each era of our lives. Be willing to try new ways of doing something.

Now… off to build new habits, inspire creativity, and make something great.


Published: Behind the Scenes (June 2018)

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Well, it’s been a while since we’ve had an update with this! Partially because hey it turns out debuting brings out a whole plethora of various doubts and weird quirks you didn’t know you had, made especially worse if you already struggle with these things. But also because not a lot has really happened. It is pretty mind-boggling how slow publishing works. But I digress.

If you’re not caught up: I sold my New Adult alternate-history fantasy series late 2016 to Glass House Press. Since then, I’ve been detailing my journey of what goes on behind the scenes for fun, but also in the hopes that someone might gain some benefit from it. My publishing journey will obviously be different than someone else’s, but there might be some inspiration or advice in my tale.

Just in case you need it, here is:

The last time I wrote on this subject, I spoke a bit about marketing in my perspective, and the start of designing Pridem’s cover.

Some updates about that! Pridem’s cover is still in the works. It’s hopefully going to be done in a couple weeks. We hit a few snags with designers, but I’m still very excited about what’s happening. There’s a lot of excited-waiting in publishing, that’s for sure.

Hell, if you’re interested, I’m going to be revealing sneak peaks in my newsletter that you can sign up for here. (You’ll also get snippets from Pridem and other goodies.)

Which leads me into marketing updates! I know, the concept of marketing is super scary. It’s sounds like a really dry, painful thing to do, and it’s not writing.

Honestly, I’m finding a lot of things about marketing is pretty fun (I think I’ve mentioned this before). Because while you’re going to have to put in a lot of work to make yourself successful as an author, I’m pretty against the idea that you have to do things you absolutely hate just because everyone tells you that you need to. In the same vein, it’s easy to get sucked into all of the information you can learn and have.

Maybe that’s me; I tend to get obsessive about something when I know I need it and it’s remotely interesting. And marketing is the kind of thing that never ends, so I’m fast reaching the burn out stage of it instead of just learning and moving on.

It’s causing a weird shift in my writing. Because I’m focusing on the Business side versus the Creativity side of authorship (as I should, but also, maybe a little on the unhealthy side), I think my approach to writing has changed. And it’s kind of uncomfortable.

I’ve heard that this is pretty typical. When you move from Writer to Author status (whatever that really means), you have to think about actually selling the books you write. For me, I wasn’t thinking about an audience or selling books for a looong time. I wrote because my skin itched if I didn’t. I wrote because the pictures in my head were so vivid I had to write it down. I wrote because it was an escape and a comfort. I was also a kid when I started writing, so most of my experience takes place in the fury and passion of teenagehood. Needless to say, this change to the reality of authoring may be particularly harsh.

I think the truth of it is you have to find a balance (my favorite word!) between the business and the creativity. Or maybe a more accurate word is a harmony. Because focusing totally on one or the other isn’t going to help garner success.

Well, I’d been figure out this harmony damn quick, because it seems to be having a very tumultuous effect on the actual writing part of writing. I realized the other day that I haven’t finished writing a book since I signed with Glass House Press. I don’t think that’s a coincidence, because before that I was fast on my way to finishing two books a year. The anticipation and excitement and frustration is immense, and I think I’m letting the stress of being successful overshadow all. Honestly, getting my book out is starting to become a relief simply because all this exciti-waiting is taxing.

Actually, hold up. I have completed a book since then. PRIDEM was completed under the guidance of my editor early last year (duh). That was my shortest novel yet, and it was under deadline, so that was definitely a different kind of getting a book done! I guess more accurately, I haven’t finished writing a novel in over a year.

I don’t think I can blame all my problems on debuting, however. There are a few personal issues that have cropped up over this time period, along with learning how to manage a mental illness and straight up learning how to be a friggin’ adult.

I think I might have had some unreal expectations about what writing would look like once I was an adult. As a homeschooled teenager, I could write as soon as I finished my work. In college, it was busier, but about the same. Now… with all this responsibility and my body saying hello to late 20s and life and adulting, writing time has to be squeezed out between responsibilities and exhaustion.

(Actually… I did delve into our perceptions of what an author’s life looks like in a blog post found here)

I wanted to mention this in my official Behind The Scenes In Publishing series because I think there should be some warning about how long publishing takes, and how much it messes with your head when it comes to creativity. You may not have as much of an issue – god, I hope you don’t! – but I did want to give a heads up.

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Jumping around a bit, I have a piece of advice I want to impart:

When you debut, I HIGHLY recommend that you find a debut-authors-of-your-year group and join. I joined #Authors18 late last year and it’s been a whirlwind partnership of advice, guidance, general support, and commiserating. Debut author groups are all in a similar situation of needing reviews, help, and someone to listen – often, everyone is willing to help you out if you’ll help them out. And it’s a serious boost to know people who are going through the same stresses you are.

Also! In case you haven’t seen from social media or from my newsletter, I got a pretty author logo:

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This is actually a present from my publisher, because GHP is super awesome. But I think it’s pretty dang cool and I’m glad to be using this to tie my writing presence together!

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Final updates:

My editor and I touched upon development edits in the actual content of Pridem. She’s trying to ease me in slowly and develop a good working relationship, so she sent me a taste of the first few pages instead of an overwhelming chunk. I’m already loving her insights and how she’s pointing out things I’ve overlooked, though I’m so hungry to really dive into it! She’s very good about layering in compliments along with suggestions for improvement.

Either which way, I’m so ready to make this book the best it can be. It might be easier to tear this book apart because it was technically written at my editor’s behest and isn’t as close to my heart as the rest of the series, but I’ve also been readying myself for constructive criticism for a long time. I’m itching to do this.

Oh, speaking of the whole series, it has an official name. My editor and I worked out a name for the whole series based off of some particularly crucial world-building events and overall themes, and it is officially: The Obsidian Divide series. I think it’s unique and catchy enough to do the job!

And! My editor and I almost have the back cover copy and tagline done (back cover copy: what’s on the back of the book that makes people want to read it). So I’ll be revealing the official description of Pridem and what to look forward to as soon as I’m able. (I have an unofficial version on my blog’s front page “Home” if you want to check that out.)

That’s probably where I’m going to end things, because this is getting pretty long already. I’m hoping to have cover updates and edit updates here in a month or so, and I’ll detail all those adventures next time!

 

If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all my adventures and get sneak-peaks into my New Adult alternate-history fantasy, sign up here!


Debut Authors of ’18: Rachel Dacus

Hello and welcome to my blog series dedicated to author interviews for 2018 debut authors! This has been started as a way to support some of my fellow ‘debutantes’ of 2018. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each of these I share struck my interest in one way or another.

(See past author interviews at the end of this post!)

This one struck my interest immediately, just from content and themes. I cannot wait to dive into it!

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GENERAL

– Author Name: Rachel Dacus

– Book Title: The Renaissance Club

– Book Genre: Time Travel with Romantic Elements

– Release Date: January 16, 2018

– Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing

THE BOOK

The Renaissance Club is the story of May Gold, a young art historian who falls through a fold in time during a tour of Italy. May’s luck accident brings her face to face with the artist hero she’s specialized in, and dreamed about, 17th century genius sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. The meeting turns her life in the present upside down and forces her to decide if her adventure in time will ruin her life, or lead to a magical new one.

TEASER TIME:

“Sorry!” she said, backing up.

Signorina, watch where you’re going!”

The young man in black frowned and didn’t apologize. With his long, dark hair and white sleeves rolled up on muscular forearms, he looked like an art restorer. A black jacket was draped over his shoulders. He held a long wooden measuring rod, the kind used by architects centuries ago. Maybe he was rehearsing for some sort of pageant.

“Ladies are not allowed here while I’m working,” he said stiffly. He aimed the rod at the nearest column and sighted up along it.

“I know you!” she exclaimed. She knew him well.

He straightened his jacket and bowed. “Everyone in Rome knows Cavaliere Bernini. But you may not be here. I need silence. I have a very big work to complete.”

His finger pointed up at the four twisted bronze columns, where May was astonished to see no bronze canopy on top. Tons of bronze had simply vanished. She looked back at him. Bernini lifted the instrument and peered up at the nearest column. Her living, breathing idol moved to one side to get a better angle. Lean and strong, he was even more handsome than in his self-portrait.

Now he was so intent on his investigation that he seemed unaware of her and the fact that her pulse was pounding. How had she come here, and where exactly was she?

He lowered the measuring rod, framed the air with his hands, and used his fingers to make rapid computations. He stared at her so intensely that she shivered. She remembered that searing gaze in his self-portrait.

“You’re disturbing me, signorina.” He turned away, clearly expecting her to leave.

How could she possibly move? Here was her genius, his hair curled with wiry energy, materializing the restless mind under it. His prominent cheekbones gave him the Neapolitan look that had embarrassed him and made him fabricate a Florentine heritage. He made a few quick calculations and looked at her again, eyes narrowed.

“I won’t say a word,” she promised.

He was obviously contemplating how to throw her out. Bernini wasn’t much taller than she was, but he made every inch of the difference count. May stared back, as defiantly as she could, while stunned and unable to forget the many times she had imagined his powerful arms pulling her close. She stared back, asserting herself silently as his historian. Historians didn’t blink. Though most never met their subjects face-to-face.
– Where did you get the idea?

An art history tour of northern Italy, much like the one depicted in my story, kindled a wish to meet some of the great artistic geniuses behind the Renaissance. Though I know in real life, time-travel isn’t possible, I found a way to meet one of the most spectacular artistic geniuses who ever lived—by recreating him as my hero!
– What’s the story behind the title? 

No one has ever suggested I change the title since the first query I sent out or the last editor at my publishing house. The title comes from the touring group, who named themselves The Renaissance Club.
– No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

An older woman, a member of The Renaissance Club, also has an adventure in time on the tour. It changes her life and her view lof her employee, our main character.
– Tell us about your favorite character.

Though May and Bernini are my main characters, the story couldn’t exist without time travel guide George St. James. Based—amazingly—on a real person (and I won’t say whether he could go time traveling or not), George has his own complicated backstory and reason for helping others to realize their full potentials. The time traveling quirk he developed as a child was something he had to learn to tame, and like the person he’s based on, George became a master at turning unusual ways of looking at life into a way to serve others.
– If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do? 

I’d certainly spend a day with Bernini. Like May, I’d just watch him work. They said Bernini could chisel marble for eight hours straight without stopping. He himself reported that while working on a sculpture, he was in a state of bliss. I’d like to observe that, though I would need a lunch break! But who knows what would get started by simply observing a charismatic genius. As May discovered, all kinds of delicious complications might arise.
– Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

Bernini and George St. James are based on real people. Bernini, of course, on himself, the real 17th century artist who evolved the Baroque style to its height of expressiveness. George is a composite of teachers and tour guides I’ve known.

 

WRITING PROCESS

– How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

I began with the concept seven years before I sold it to a publisher. That’s a long, long journey, and a nearly gave up toward the end, but because I had such fantastic help from top editors and beta readers, I just couldn’t. I’m really hoping my next book will be a shorter journey!

– What kind of research did you do for this book?

I read everything that can be found on Bernini, attended a year-long art history course on The Italian Renaissance, and completed that course with a three-week tour of the art in Italy made by Renaissance geniuses.

– What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

I removed one character arcs and demoted a point-of-view character to a much smaller role.

– Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a definite pantser, though I try to hide the fact by constructing careful outlines, spreadsheets, plot graphs, and timelines after the novel is finished.

– What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

My favorite part is drafting. The thrill of delving into my subterranean imagination, moving into that not-quite-conscious realm intrigues and amazes me, every time I do iot.

– What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

Revising is definitely the challenging part, because it engages both the analytical and creative sides of the mind, a balancing act that reminds me of juggling on a bongo board—which I once was taught by circus performers in exchange for giving them a few ballet lessons.

– Can you share your writing routine? (e.g. How do you carve out your writing time? Where do you normally write?)

I write for one to two hours every morning, first thing if possible. Longer if possible. My longest writing stint is probably about six hours.

– Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

The way I overcome it is by juggling multiple projects. If I can’t write on one, I switch to another and find my flow.

– If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don’t give up!

– How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Too many to count.

– Do you have any writing quirks?

Probably the overuse of the word “awhile” which spell-check keeps telling me should be two words.

 

THE WRITER

I’m a grant writer and fundraising consultant for my day job, the proud pal of a Silky Terrier, who bosses me and my husband around, and a volunteer for several local nonprofit organizations. They work on a local level to move impoverished people back into the mainstream, and provide day excursions to delight children who are living in poverty. Doing all these things keeps me far too active. I’d like to retire and write all day, but I’d never trade away seeing the perfect smile on a child’s face!
– How did you get into writing?

I blame my mother and a wonderful bookstore in Long Beach, California called Acre of Books, which introduced me to the idea that I could own such books as the Oz books, Nancy Drew, and the rainbow fairytale books. I took the owning one step further and started writing books for myself to read.
– What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like to feed and watch animals and birds, grow orchids, sew, shop, and hang out in cafes, preferably writing.
– Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

I write grants and mailings for my nonprofit clients, and have authored four poetry collections, one of which is forthcoming in 2018. I also write plays and have the fun of seeing them occasionally produced.
– Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

Because my father was a rocket scientist, my name is on a floating piece of space junk.
– Which book influenced you the most?

Probably Emma by Jane Austen for its witty treatment of an entire village and the best unreliable narrator ever.

 

WHAT’S NEXT

– What are you working on right now?

I’m working on The Romantics, the story of two half-sisters who clash over their inheritance, a cottage in northern Italy, with its resident ghost, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
– What’s your favourite writing advice?

Never give up!

– The book you’re currently reading

Currently I’m reading The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.

OTHERS

Q: Why do you think fiction can change the world?

A: Because stories touch the heart deeply and become part of the reality of our lives, when we move fully into them. Every story has a purpose, and is about human growth, and that’s the force that can change everything.

THE PITCH

When young art historian May Gold slips through a fold in time while touring northern Italy, and comes face to face with her artist hero, 17th century sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini, it ignites a powerful attraction that takes her on a romantic and creative journey. This adventure will challenge her to decide what she would give up to be with her soul mate and live a creative life—perhaps even the time in which she lives.

BLURBS

Enchanting, rich and romantic…a poetic journey through the folds of time. In THE RENAISSANCE CLUB, passion, art, and history come together in this captivating tale of one woman’s quest to discover her true self and the life she’s meant to lead. Rachel Dacus deftly crafts a unique and spellbinding twist to the time-traveling adventure that’s perfect for fans of Susanna Kearsley and Diana Gabaldon. — Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

 

The Renaissance Club is a beautifully written story about a woman torn between two worlds—the present and the distant past. This time-travel adventure kept me guessing until the end about which world May would choose, and if that choice would be the right one. Highly recommended for lovers of time travel fiction or anyone looking for a compelling story about a woman trying to find happiness. — Annabelle Costa, Author of The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend.
BUY LINK

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Renaissance-Club-Rachel-Dacus-ebook/dp/B07832TVWN/ref

 

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BIO

Rachel Dacus is the author of Gods of Water and Air, a collection of poetry, prose, and drama, and the poetry collections Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner, The Pedestal, and Valparaiso Poetry ReviewThe Renaissance Club, her time travel novel involving the great Italian sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini, is forthcoming in January 2018 from Fiery Seas Publishing. Her fourth poetry collection, Arabesqueis forthcoming in August 2018 from FutureCycle Press.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website: racheldacus.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rachel-Dacus-Poet-Writer-514837478526919/
Twitter: @Rachel_Dacus
Instagram:
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rdacus/pins/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/987726.Rachel_Dacus

 

Previous author interviews:

Pamela Kopfler – BETTER DEAD

Anna Quinn – THE NIGHT CHILD

Clarissa Harwood — IMPOSSIBLE SAINTS

Negeen Papehn — FORBIDDEN BY FAITH

Clarissa Goenawan — RAINBIRDS

Cass Morris — FROM UNSEEN FIRE

YZ Chin — THOUGH I GET HOME

Jennifer Haupt — IN THE SHADOW OF 10,000 HILLS

Carolyn M. Walker — IMMORTAL DESCENT

Samantha Heuwagen — DAWN AMONG THE STARS

Rachel Pudelek — FREYJA’S DAUGHTER