A Week in the Life of a Writer

I want to try something different. A sort of stream-of-consciousness thing. Mental notes from a writer in the process of the first draft of a novel.

This might be a huge mess. But I’ve had a couple of new followers lately, so I thought I should do something to let you guys into my world.

It’s Friday, January 25th. I’m at the end of a stressful week.

I’m a freelance writer by day, so I’m pretty much writing every minute I’m awake. This week, I worked harder and made less money than I have in a while, which is always fun. That’s the way it goes, sometimes. Freelancing is a hunt, and on a hunt, you don’t always end up with a meal.

The novel is going well. It doesn’t have a name yet. I keep getting an instinct to hold off. This book is a rewrite of a story I started years ago, but many of the scenes are new. Piecing it all together has been hard. I’ve been working on it since I got back from Bali. It’s almost twice the length of BEYOND MY DYING MIND, which I guess gives it full “novel” status as of now. I prefer to write novellas, so we’ll see how much this one changes as it develops.

It’s Saturday now. January 26th. I was determined for this to be a mental-health day. I’ve been struggling with the negative mindset lately. I think it’s work stress. But today was a good day. I meditated, exercised, and went for a long drive. It was nice, despite that my car is old, lacking a radio, and always causing me a low level of terror that it might break down at any time. The grass was bright green in the fields after all the rain we’ve had. California is so beautiful.

The lock is broken on the driver’s side door of my car, so I maneuver in through the passenger seat. I like the challenge.

More meditation tomorrow. More writing tonight.

It’s 1:51 a.m. on and Sunday, January 27th, and I’ve completed my first draft!

I’m so relieved I can move ahead with my normal rewriting process now. The first draft is the hardest part, and none of the magic even begins to happen until somewhere in rewrite four, usually. I’m getting there.

I’ve been staying away from social media lately. I needed a detox. Although, I’m still looking at Instagram, but my feed there is mostly yoga routines and pictures of the Alps. Maybe I should stop scrolling there, too.

The thing about stepping away from this stuff is you create silence in your life, and then you realize how loud everything was before. You get used to this new level of peace, and it becomes harder to reintegrate. But maybe reintegration isn’t what I want. Maybe I need to walk through a silent world until I find something new.

I meditated today.

I get into the headspace faster now. Some days are easier than others, but no matter how “well it goes”, it always does me good. I sometimes convince myself I’m too busy, which is stupid. I stopped meditating for a few weeks due to work stress and feeling overwhelmed, and it was such a mistake. I felt myself begin to revert to the negative, depressed person I used to be as the days went by.

I commit to meditation. Exercise is so important too. I did two workouts today.

And now for another thing that keeps me sane: writing. Second draft. Here goes nothing.

It’s Monday, January 28th, and I’m hard at work on rewrite two. I’m putting heart into this story, weaving memories with fiction. I’ve never wanted to share too many of my real-life paranormal stories with the world. It feels too personal. Being able to explain aspects of my experiences through fiction is a pretty amazing gift.

I have a dream of becoming multilingual and being able to write books in different languages. I’m trying to learn Spanish right now, which I’ve failed a few times in the past. The way teachers showed us in school just didn’t stick in my brain for some reason. I’ve been using a language app to study and it seems a bit better of a method. We’ll see. If this goes well, I’d like to also learn Chinese and German one day.

Well, I’m off to clean, light some black sage, cook dinner, and relax for sleep.

It’s Tuesday, January 29th, and I just finished watching episode one of the new True Detective. So very into it.

Work is going okay. I’m all caught up as of now. This job is such a crazy cycle of trying to catch up and then immediately being desperate to find work again.

I’m back to working on rewrite two. I’m 32 pages in, and it’s mostly small changes so far.

It’s Wednesday, January 30th. It was a depressing day. Low energy. I took time off work. I wanted to get my taxes done, but I gave up halfway through because it was too overwhelming. I’m going to set that aside for a while, I think.

I’m feeling low today, so I won’t write too much. There’s a lot I could say, but I’m not a big fan of “venting”. I’ve never gone on a rant and then felt better afterwards.

I get to write about immunity within the federal court system tomorrow. Woo!

It’s Thursday, January 31st, and it’s a better day than yesterday. It’s been a rollercoaster lately.

It’s Friday, February 1st, and I’m back down again. See what I mean?

I’ve completed one week of this journaling experiment. It’s a tough day. I couldn’t work due to fatigue and not feeling well. It happens. The thing about using your creative power to make money is it’s not always there. If I become too drained and out of balance, I get writer’s block and can’t work. I’m working on this whole, embrace imperfection, go-with-the-flow thing. It’s the hardest thing to post this (or any) blog because I have so many worries over perfection. But I guess I’ll do it anyway.

So, that’s it for my week of daily blogs. I plan on continuing to rewrite the book throughout February and March, and maybe by April or May, it can be with beta readers while I focus on getting out into nature and enjoying the springtime. I want balance in my life this year. I don’t want to miss out on so much because I’m always working. Going to Bali was a good start, but I need more.

Be sure to check out BEYOND MY DYING MIND on Amazon, and stay tuned for more news about my next book!

I Went to Bali, and Things Got Weird

It feels like five years have passed since I sat down and filmed my “Happy 2018” video on Youtube, which has now been deleted along with most of my other content. I can’t believe it was this year I published BEYOND MY DYING MIND. Time is a strange thing.

Changing Course

I never could get comfortable creating Youtube content, so when Youtube rejected me from the Partner Program a few months ago, it was the final sign I needed to change direction. Although I enjoy being on camera and editing videos, I don’t like talking about myself. At least, not enough to maintain regularly scheduled programming about my life. I like doing other types of content that aren’t focused on me, but having to come up with ideas for my books, two Youtube channels, and all the articles I write for my day job was stretching me too thin. Something had to give. 

If you’re subscribed to me, hopefully you’ll stay subscribed. The Youtube dream might be dead, but I still enjoy making the occasional video, like the recent film I made using clips from my trip to Bali (and a layover in China). 

For now, my main focus is back on writing books. I’m 35k words into a draft at the moment. It’s another afterlife fantasy, this one with lots of supernatural elements. I’ve been tinkering with it since 2012, and I’m not sure how it’s going to end up, but that’s part of the fun.

Going Far

This year, I was determined to get out and do more. I spent a month in Bali, and it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. What a strange and magical place with many powerful energies at play. I faced a new, difficult challenge daily, something I hadn’t been expecting from such a blissful-looking location. I didn’t get a relaxing holiday, but I did get one perspective-shifting moment after another. Through the conscious abandonment every crutch, I had set myself up to suffer, but it was the best kind of suffering. The kind that takes you deep within and helps make you a better you. 

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I was going through all this alone, which made it harder. I’ve traveled enough to know that some trips, you make a bunch of friends, and some, you end up mostly solo. Bali was the latter sort of trip. Despite being surrounded by fellow yoga enthusiasts and healthy eaters, I didn’t really click with anyone I met. I did have some nice conversations, however. A few times, due to various challenging circumstances, I was forced to surrender control and be vulnerable in front of strangers, and I was grateful for the kindness I received. Along with most travelers who come to Bali, the Balinese people are chill and nice to be around. I’m thankful for how everyone treated me while I was there.

There were also the times I can always count on, plentiful or sparse as they may be. The moments you’ll always remember. Every trip has them, and Bali was no exception. Like the night I shared my fish dinner with that hungry cat, or the evening of the rainstorm, when that beautiful release of pressure normalized my inflamed system, and I sat there watching a waterfall pouring over my balcony. All those mornings when I’d wake with the rising sun to watch monkeys scampering over the rooftops and collecting fruit from the trees in the garden. The day I arrived in Amed, found that ancient tree on the beach, and sat on its thick roots, surrounded by a graveyard of washed-up coral. From there, I watched the wild dogs play near the crashing waves, red flower petals fluttering down from the branches above. I remembered: This is why I travel. 

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Going Further

In 2019, I’m entering new territory. A lot changed this year, and I have higher standards for myself now. It’s going to take work to live up to them, but I’m no longer limited by the idea that my wildest dreams are unrealistic. Not when so many of them are already coming true. 

A tall mountain is high, and there’s no shortcut to the peak. In 2019, I plan to keep climbing. I want a thriving career. I want to be strong, flexible, and amazing at yoga. I want financial freedom. I want to create a comfortable home where I can offer warmth and safety to others. I want love. More than anything, I want my stories to touch someone out there. I already have accomplished some of these things, but I take nothing for granted. Success is not final, and failure is never the end. It’s like plank poses in yoga. You hold ground with every trembling, burning part of you. You accept the work.

I wish everyone reading this a happy holiday season! What are your plans for 2019? Will you be traveling anywhere? Are you in the process of climbing your own tall mountain? I hope amazing things are coming for you. 

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BEYOND MY DYING MIND just 99 cents on Kindle and FREE on Kindle Unlimited! Check it out and please leave a review to help a new author! 

Release Day!

Release day for BEYOND MY DYING MIND is finally here, and on World Book Day nonetheless! I didn’t plan that, but it feels like a happy coincidence, and I’ll take it as a sign that I’m headed in the right direction.

Much Gratitude

I’d just like to thank everyone who supported me throughout the writing process. My family, my close friends, my Youtube subscribers, and all of my friends on Twitter, thank you. Thank you to my wonderful editor Amy McNulty and my awesome formatter Kelly Hashway. Thanks also to my team of early beta readers whose opinions helped push this book in the right direction.

A special thanks also to every kind and compassionate person out there for making this world a better place. This might be a time-travel/afterlife fantasy on the surface, but at its core, it’s a book about mental health and the ability to find happiness in a life full of  rough ups and downs. I know firsthand how hard that is, and I appreciate everyone who makes things a little bit easier.

What to Expect From Here

Please subscribe to this blog to stay up to date on what’s to come. I’m working on a six-part series of shorts that tie in to BEYOND MY DYING MIND as well as some of my future books. I’ll hopefully be posting part one within a week or two, so check back soon!

The next book I plan to work on is one of my favorites. I started writing it back in 2013, but inspiration kept leading me in other directions. It’s not a sequel but rather another standalone that loosely ties in with BEYOND MY DYING MIND. More info on this project coming soon!

In the meantime, I’m going to be making some improvements to my living situation, and possibly taking some time off to travel and enjoy life after a long period of hard work. Maybe I’ll start some of the video projects I’ve been pondering too. Lots of good things on the horizon!

 

 

Beyond My Dying Mind: A Life of Struggle, and the Chance to Make Things Right

Hello world. It’s happening. I’m a legit author with a book on Amazon again. I have no idea how to feel or where to go from here.

I don’t have a marketing plan. I don’t really have much experience. Since the story involves all these triggering subjects like suicide, social anxiety, and the afterlife, I want to discuss it with sensitivity, but I’m not sure how. What’s the correct way to promote a book in which characters travel through time to stop people from killing themselves? How do you send a message of hope and inspiration to help people stay alive in this world when you’ve struggled with the idea so much yourself?

Wanting Off This Rock but Wondering if the Next Rock Might be Worse

 

The book stars Noland Randall and Jasmine North, both in their early thirties before death, both losers in their own eyes. Now, in some in-between realm where souls often end up post-suicide, they can see there would’ve been much happiness had they kept going.

One of the factors that’s kept me breathing during the darkest times in my life is the belief that killing one’s physical body doesn’t end anything. I could never get past the idea that I’d wake up in some twisted realm like Spine Desert, the opening location in the book. Or worse, that my death would force the burden of suffering onto others, both the people left behind, and perhaps a new existence too, reincarnated into a world like this one carrying similar negative patterns and traits.

I’m happy to say I’m doing pretty good these days, but mental health is a delicate thing that can never be taken for granted. That’s a point I tried to make in this book. Even if someone is saved from suicide, they aren’t cured. They could still become suicidal again a week later. Staying healthy and happy is a process with no end point.

Social Anxiety | I Love You, but I’d Rather Jump from a Moving Vehicle than Interact with You

 

Not really. But that’s how intense social anxiety can feel. Terrifying. Crushing. Exhausting.

Since the living Jasmine’s crippling social anxiety plays such a huge role in the story, I thought discussing my own experiences might be a way to introduce this book to the world.

I can be social at times. If I’m in the mood, I can talk with someone for hours, and I enjoy meeting new people, too. But often, I prefer to be in my own world, and sometimes, even after a lot of time healing, I find it difficult to be around people at all.

If you’ve experienced social anxiety, I know you relate to the waves of dread rolling over your body. The thumping heartbeat. The shaking hands and trembling knees. The way it feels to see yourself become a high master in the art of avoiding people, leveling up your game every time you make a successful dodge. For the living Jasmine, this was her everyday life.

What’s helped me the most with social anxiety has been self-acceptance. Most of my anxious feelings and fears are just about wanting to avoid awkwardness, and the only reason for awkwardness is not being able to be yourself or speak the truth.

That’s the point of this blog. To say sorry if I’ve abandoned conversations, ignored messages, or not shown up to things. Sorry if I’ve ever avoided you in person. It’s not about you. I’m probably cool with you, and I might even like you. It doesn’t mean I always want to talk. The more I understand myself, set boundaries, and give myself permission to say no to things, the less reason there is to worry. And in turn, the more energy I have for people when the timing is right.

It’s the same for the living Jasmine, she just can’t see it. She’s spent so long isolated in a prison of her own creation that she’s lost the exit door. Because of her anxiety and PTSD, she thinks there’s no hope of ever having friends or being a healthy person again. Whether Noland can manipulate the course of life on Earth enough to change that in time, the story will tell.

If the Most Amazing Person was Standing in Front of You, Would You Feel Good Enough for Them?

 

This book tells of hungering for someone who feels out of reach. I’ve known that feeling. I’ve asked myself the above question and gotten no in response. It showed me what I still needed to work on. Healing is a process, and there are no quick fixes, but life is bursting with abundant potential, even if we can’t always see it. That’s the overall message I hope comes across in this book.

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Fans of What Dreams May Come, The Butterfly Effect, and 13 Reasons Why might enjoy BEYOND MY DYING MIND, a time travel fantasy available on Amazon.

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Blog Revival: Changing too Fast to Keep Up

Hello everyone. First of all, major thanks to the lovely Devon J. Hall, who designed my beautiful and mysterious-looking new banner, which I could stare at forever! 🌺

The Usual Catch-up Stuff

This past year has been transformative. So many changes, too personal and massive to get into but worthy of mention. I took a break from this blog due to being too burned out on writing and having no idea what sort of content I wanted to do. I switched my focus onto Youtube, which led me to a similar conclusion. I’ve been struggling to connect to my true vision for so long now.

The difficulties of needing income can lead you down the wrong path, but intuition always helps me readjust and go in a better direction. After chasing various dreams the last few years, I now see how unhappy I’ve been, and why it’s been so hard to manifest what I want.

I’ve spread myself too thin, pushed myself too hard, and hated myself way too much for not being successful. I’m now moving into a chapter of my life where I’m learning to accept myself easier. I just want to enjoy the ride, manifest what I can, and write as many great books as possible along the way.

Book News and the Plan for the Blog

I have a new book that’s going to beta readers in August. It remains top-secret until more of the details are figured out, but it’s a low/portal fantasy love story about an afterlife for suicides and a couple trying to right the wrongs they did on Earth. I’m nervous! This will be the first time my writing has been seen by outside eyes since I was still published.

I’d like to start using this blog for flash fiction and short series that interlock with my books. The process of writing books involves going through the story over and over, seeing it differently and learning things about what happened each time. I’m trying to streamline this best I can, but I also want my books to be perfect for you guys. While I’m working on that, it will be fun to experiment with shorter fiction and share whatever I come up with.

Creating Original Creatures: Inspiring Monster Lore from Around the World

One of the hardest parts of writing creature fiction is coming up with original ideas. It doesn’t matter whether your monsters are located in the physical or spirit realm—making frightening entities that people haven’t already seen zillions of times is tough. From things that mimic every form of insect, to gigantic, shapeless alien blobs, it probably exists out there somewhere.

There’s nothing wrong with creating a new story featuring classic monsters. As a long-time zombie fan, I know I’ll never get sick of reading or watching that genre. But if you’re like me, and you’re looking to create an original cast of horrifying creatures for your next book or film, you’re going to need to think outside the box to make your monsters different.

Monster Concepts: More than Just Design

It’s natural to start out by focusing on the physical design of your monsters, which is important. However, it’s often the other details about a monster that make it unique.

Some questions to ask:

  1. Why do your monsters do what they do?

Are they on a non-discriminatory path of destruction or going after certain entities? Is there a sentiment behind their actions, such as revenge, or are they driven by something more primal, like hunger? Are they individual entities capable of making their own decisions. Or, are they mindless drones?

  1. Where are your monsters from?

There are many places that monsters can originate from. Outer space. A giant crack in the ground. A gateway to hell. A scientific experiment gone wrong. If you’re looking for innovative possibilities for your monsters, consider giving them a unique origin. Any of the things I just listed still have new possibilities within them.

For example, aliens don’t necessarily need the “conquer and steal resources” motivation you see in a lot of stories. Is there another reason they are here? Think outside the box.

  1. How Do They Communicate?

Communication is another big factor that sets monsters apart. Look at the difference between the Anne Rice vampires and those found in the 30 Days of Night comics. The former are eloquent, well-spoken, and glamorous beings. They can go unnoticed or even pass as human in the right situation. The latter vampires are much more monstrous, and while they can also communicate, it comes off in a different way.

Another example: That iconic scene in the original Independence Day when the alien manipulates Dr. Okun’s vocal chords to communicate. That was a good example of using communication in an innovative way. Since the aliens did not communicate to mankind throughout most of the story, it made that scene even more powerful.

Finding Inspiration: Monster Legends

I’ve always loved reading about monster lore from around the world. Everyone knows about Bigfoot and Chupacabra, so I did some research and came up with three less-popular monsters to provide you some inspiration.

  1. Manticore

The Manticore is a creature from Persian mythology that seems to have a lot of variations. The general features include the head of a human with a lion-like body, the tail of a scorpion and rows of razor-sharp teeth. Legend has it that the Manticore uses its

venomous tail to paralyze its victims before devouring them whole. Some describe the tail as something that can shoot venomous spikes at enemies as well as function as a stabbing device.

The Manticore story dates way back to a dude named Ctesias, who was a Greek historian in 5th century BC. His detailed descriptions of the creature inspired Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder to include it in his book Naturalis Historia, which was super popular throughout the Middle Ages. According to Pliny the Elder, the Manticore could also mimic human speech—which ups the creepy factor by a lot if you ask me. I’ve always loved monsters that could lure people out into the dark woods by mimicking human voices. So wicked!

  1. Hungry Ghost (Preta)

The legend of Hungry Ghosts, also known as Preta in Sanskrit, originates from ancient India. It is believed that pretas are spiritual entities stuck in a hellish existence in which they feel a constant level of insatiable hunger, often for something disgusting, such as decaying flesh.

They have mummified skin, swollen bellies, and thin limbs due to starvation. Their necks are slender, and their mouths are too small to eat normally. Some pretas are said to be able to eat but not gain fullness and others can’t eat at all due to their deformed mouths. They must endure this terrible suffering due to acts of cruelty or betrayal that they may have carried out in past lives.

  1. Mongolian Death Worm

I was proud of myself for discovering a new cool monster I’d never heard of–until I realized the Mongolian Death Worm is such a well-known thing that Sean Patrick Flannery made a movie about it in 2010.

Legend has it that the worms, which hide out in the most isolated regions of the Gobi desert, are between two and five feet long and can kill a human via touch using its poisonous skin. It can also supposedly shoot corrosive venom from its mouth and electrocute victims from a distance.

In 1920, the Mongolian Death Worm was featured in the book On the Trail of Ancient Man by Roy Chapman Andrews. He described it as being

“so poisonous that merely touching it means instant death.” How he developed this theory is unclear, and unfortunately, no one has gathered any real evidence of the Mongolian Death Worm’s existence.

That said, many locals stand by the legend. And I’m a firm believer that things exist if enough people believe, so let’s make this happen, damn it! #MongolianDeathWorm2018

Well, that’s it for today’s blog. I hope you guys enjoyed reading about these creatures as well as learning some of my tips for coming up with original monsters of your own.

Love Andi

PS. Some people have asked about my writing. I am currently drafting book two in my series. The plan is to write the entire series before I begin rewriting and perfecting things, so it will be a little while before I release anything again. That said, I’m thinking of starting a fiction miniseries of shorts here on my blog to go along with the novels. I’m not sure yet, but if this would be something you guys would be interested in, please comment and let me know!

Also be sure to check out my Youtube channel, which is growing every day. Thanks!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A little late, but just wanted to say I hope you all had a great day. If you’re in a relationship, I hope you get everything you dream out of tonight. If you’re single, I hope you own it! Freedom and independence are gifts. Check out my latest video if you need a pep talk:

Quick writing update:

My apocalyptic series is flowing. I thought that writing my first book was the deepest learning experience I could ever know, but tackling this series has already taught me a lot. A lot of it writes itself, which is the magical experience I live for.

There’s a romance brewing, too. These characters developed an intense connection against my will. She was supposed to be with someone else. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt, but this was too powerful to be stopped. And I’m so glad it wasn’t! These two are one of the best couples I’ve written. They’re a perfect match, and it makes me happy that it wasn’t planned.

That’s it for now. Happy Valentine’s!

Andi