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 fantasy/horror 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

My Author Rebranding: Navigating the Jungles of Change

Happy 2017! I haven’t posted here in ages, but now that a new year and new wave of energy has arrived, it’s time to get this blog active again.

I’ve been going through the process of rebranding my author name for some time now. I mentioned this on my author Facebook page, Twitter, and Youtube channel (you can check out the video here), but I haven’t yet done a blog post to officially make the change, so here it is: After much thought, I’ve decided to switch genres.

Knowing Myself as an Author

In case you can’t tell, I’ve had a bit of an identity crisis as an author. All you have to do is look at this blog. Do I write fiction? Am I a self-help author? A lifestyle blogger? I have a huge spectrum of interests that I’m passionate about, and it’s taken a few years to start making sense of my vision for my career and life.

When I first started writing, I didn’t have any ideas about what sort of writer I’d be. I wasn’t even aware of genre. I knew that some stories were about murder or monsters and others were about high-school romance, but I knew nothing about author branding. I therefore had no plan for my career. I was just writing my book because I loved the story, and when it was revealed to me that I’d written a contemporary romance, I thought, great! Romance is a top-selling genre.

What I didn’t realize was that I’d be expected to continue writing contemporary romance, and if I wanted to write my other stories, I’d have to start over with a new pen name. I didn’t like that. Trying to build a following on social media is hard. As I went through the process of learning about the industry, I began to realize I might have made a mistake.

My main goal had always been to focus on subjects that were closest to my heart: the spirit world, the afterlife, aliens, alternate dimensions, space travel, time travel, monsters, and so on. I like the big stuff. The crazy stuff. Stories that keep you thinking after they end. So when I lost my book deal, I thought it could be a good time to change direction.

My New Genre: What the Hell is It?

I haven’t faced the daunting task of trying to write a blurb about the series I’m working on now, which follows a group of survivors through the apocalypse and beyond. I’m calling it a supernatural horror with elements of science fiction and romance. It has some typical apocalyptic juiciness you would expect from such a story. At its core, it’s really about an intense connection between a group of people who experience the unimaginable together. They slowly put together a shocking bigger picture that continues to grow from there.

I talk a little bit more about it here.

The Law of Attraction and Happiness with Writing

I’m starting to accept that I’m a slow writer. I took seven years working on my first book. Did I end up with something I’m proud of? Yes. But at that rate, I’m only going to complete a few more books before death. I’m working on speeding up, but I also need to make this the priority in my life if I want to live the dream.

Then again, I’m already living the dream in some way. I love my characters. I love the adventures they experience and how those experiences make them grow and change as people. I love watching them learn. I enjoy witnessing them go through joy, grief, falling in love, or sometimes, even dying. Not every writer is blessed enough to enjoy the experience at the level I do. So while I haven’t found the full dream in life yet, I still feel grateful.

What the Future Holds

I hope to get a solid draft of book one within a few months. I’m not quite ready to reveal the title yet, but I’m getting there. I’m going to be giving it my full effort. Then, maybe some beta readers. I’m glad to be getting involved with the writer community again. I’m navigating the jungles of change, and I’m becoming the person I was meant to be.

To my future readers: I love you. Please exist. Please find me. Please let me provide you with stories you’ll enjoy. Thank you.

Happy 2017 everyone!

Andi

Self-Care Tips: Bouncing Back After a Breakdown

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or mental-health professional. Just another human who struggles with this stuff. I understand what it’s like to read advice that doesn’t work for you. I never want anyone to feel like I’m underestimating the seriousness of depression or other disorders. If you’re in a crisis and need help now, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. And just in case it isn’t obvious from the subject matter, TRIGGER WARNING.


Always keeping the faith. Always staying strong. Sometimes failing to “stay strong” and ending up with scars to show for it. I watch as my struggles hurt the people around me. I ache as those I love deal with problems of their own. It all gets tiring.

I could write a million blogs on how to stay positive, but this is about what to do in the aftermath of a time you weren’t able to. It doesn’t matter if one massive thing set you off or if it was a series of small incidents over a period of time. Upping your self-care game is the way to start feeling better and getting back on track ASAP.

 Recovery Tips: Self-Care is Ointment for Your Tired Brain

  1. Handling the Basic Elements of Life

It’s good to focus on physical things if you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to make sense of your situation. Water. Bathing and oral hygiene. Food. Fresh air. Sunlight. Exercise if you can. Work if you’re currently capable. The things you have to do. If you’re high strung like me, you probably get cracked out on adrenal hormones after any sort of meltdown and have the tendency to under eat. Other people devour their feelings. Whatever your tendency, just focus on getting nutritionally dense meals and plenty of fluids.

  1. Accepting Your Mistakes

No matter what kind of panic attack, episode, or negative experience you had, it’s safe to say it worsened your mood, and your current outlook likely doesn’t represent reality. It can help to logically work through how your view might be skewed by your emotions.

For example, when I’m struggling, I often end up feeling deep shame for making emotional posts on social media. I think that everyone is looking at me with disgust. And maybe some people are. I lose followers every time I post that I’m struggling, and yes, it does hurt. But screw it. I don’t want unsupportive people following me anyway. I refuse to feel shame for being human, and you shouldn’t either. Let people hate. Let them unfollow. Delete your upset posts if you feel you should, but don’t let them weigh on your soul.

The reality is that most people don’t care about what other people do or say, and even when they are upset by something, they’re often quick to forget. Look how quickly people forget about terrible occurrences like mass shootings. People will talk about something for days, then something new happens, and the first thing is almost completely forgotten. If people have such a short attention span that they easily move on from horrific, life-altering incidents, how long do you think they’ll remember your silly social-media rant? Life is hard. It’s understandable if you overreact sometimes. It’s okay.

The same goes for any other minor “mistakes” you made during your episode. Maybe it’s something as simple as forgetting plans with a friend because you were crying and lost in panic attacks all day. It happens. Apologize and move on rather than beating yourself up.

  1. Meditation, Prayer, or Mental Focus

I consider prayer one of the basic foundations of life, but not everyone shares my spiritual beliefs, and that’s okay. I’m not here to tell you what to believe. For me, giving it up to God is a powerful act. I wouldn’t be alive today without the love and guidance he offers me. That said, I think you can get a lot of the same benefits from releasing your struggles to the universe in some way.

If prayer isn’t your thing, consider writing in a journal as a way to release your pain. Let it all out. Get as nasty as you want. You don’t have to show it to anyone, but it’s a good idea to keep it around, at least for a little while. Examining it when you’re feeling better could provide you a window into the workings of your mind.

  1. Viewing the Setback as a Tool

Another way to help yourself accept what happened is by seeing if you can learn something from it. A setback can crack your psyche in two and allowed a deeper view within. Sometimes we don’t even realize what’s really bothering us. I didn’t—not until I began working with EFT and trying to manifest positive things with the law of attraction. When I started paying attention to my thoughts, it awakened something inside of me. This has only continued to unfold over the years, and I’ve found that my self-awareness is heightened even more after a major panic attack or breakdown. It’s a good time to be brave and dig deep. Understanding your triggers is the key to healing as many of them as possible.

  1. Creating a New Plan for Progress

Okay, at this point you’ve made sure that your basic needs are taken care of, forgiven yourself for any big mistakes you made during your episode, connected to God/your higher self through journaling or prayer, and taken an honest look at your triggers. Hopefully, you’re feeling a little more empowered, but if not, that’s okay. Brain chemistry is complex, and you might be unable to feel better at this time. Don’t beat yourself up about that, either.

Now is a good time to start coming up with a plan to feel better. I can’t give you an exact plan. I’m a writer, not a doctor or a therapist. People need so many different things. Your plan might be as simple as adding more exercise into your regimen or as complex as visiting your doctor to have a variety of medications adjusted. I’m not here to tell you what to do, but there is one thing I feel safe recommending to literally everyone: EFT.

EFT has helped me more than any other form of therapy. I’ve been working with it since my twenties, and it has increased my self-awareness by about a hundred times. It’s so powerful it’s mind blowing. The other day, I felt myself begin to go into a panic attack, and I was able to sort out my emotions and release all my negative energy after only 10-15 minutes of EFT.

It takes dedication, practice, and experimentation to learn about EFT and figure out how it can work for you, but it’s worth it. Please trust me—this practice is amazing. There is a lot of promising research about it too. One study showed that it can significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as reducing the severity of anxiety and depression. The best part is that it’s free!

Moving Forward: Doing the Best I Can

I decided a while ago that I was no longer going to try to be perfect. I’ve accepted that there are some limiting factors in my life, such as chronic pain, but I don’t want to let them stop me. It’s hard to accept, but there are shitty, awful people in this world, and I refuse to let them stop me either. I’m still working toward my dreams every day, and I hope all of you will continue to as well.

Thanks for reading! Please be sure to follow this blog and subscribe to my new Youtube channel!