Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Big Thank You to All My Write-a-thon Sponsors So Far!

I want to extend my gratitude to all the wonderful people that have sponsored me so far. Your belief in my dedication and talent mean the world to me. It's like having your own personal cheering squad rooting for you to accomplish your dearest dream! Not only have you supported me in my writing, but you've also supported the Clarion West Writers Workshop and are helping them continue to offer quality workshops to the speculative fiction writers of tomorrow. So far my donors have generously helped me raise $434! My goal is to get to $500. Sponsor me here.

There are 261 writers participating in this amazing Write-a-thon. We've got 108 sponsors and have raised $4,970 so far. Let's make it past $5,000 soon!

My Sponsors (in no particular order):

1) Reverend Mary Miller - Ms. Miller runs Crossroads Tarot Consulting, offering Tarot and Psychic readings.

2) Terrie Schultz - Ms. Schultz is an artist and runs the blog, Through the Chaos Gate, on art, myth, and writing.

3) Jonathan Maberry - One of today's Top Ten Horror Authors, A New York Times Best Seller and multiple Bram Stoker Award Winning Author. Check out his official site.

4) Patti Larsen: The award winning YA adult author of the paranormal. Read more here.

5) Julianne Snow: The author of Days With the Undead. Check out her work here.

6) Maureen Albertson: Fellow cat lover, and lover of mythology, art, and books.

7) Matthew Duckworth: fellow writer, English Professor, ceramics artist, and Tour guide and Salvage Expert at Commonwealth of Letters. Read his blog here.

8) Erin O'Riordan: blogger and author of erotica novels. Visit her site.

9) Lisa Morton: Bram Stoker Award Winning Author. Find her here.

10) Gina Koo: fellow animal lover and bearded dragon owner.

11) Rosalie Peevy: My lovely mother.

12) Christopher Billington -  fellow animal lover and law student.

13) Craig Wallace - fellow animal lover and bearded dragon owner.

14) Stacey Turner - author and owner of Angelic Knight Press. Visit here.

15) Adam Peevy - My lovely brother.

Thank you all so much!

As always, happy writing and happy reading!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Tisket, a Tasket, a Nora in a Basket!

Well, not really, *grins* but hopefully, one of my short stories will be in an editor's inbox soon, after some market research. I've spent the better part of tonight working towards my second Write-a-thon goal, which is to submit works previously written. Soooo ... I dusted off my external hard drive. And I still haven't found the pencil that pesky demon stole from me, so it's a good thing my laptop is working again. The computer gremlins walloped it the other night and I ended up with a blinking purple screen. Pretty, but not conducive to writing. *chuckles*

I pulled out an oldie written a few years back. Ironically, this is before I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), which Karen, the mother in my story, suffers from. I hadn't left my second husband or learned how PTSD can affect someone, so I used my good, old, reliable imagination, along with my previous experiences from my first marriage, and came up with a story called: I'll Always Be With You. PTSD flashbacks come on unexpectedly when you're first diagnosed, before you learn to identify what "triggers", as therapists call them, bring them on. For Karen, her trigger is her husband's cat, Paddington, an orange tabby, which her son, Henry, is very attached to after his father dies tragically.

Here's a teaser from the beginning of the short story:

What was he going to say to her? What if she’d catnapped Paddington? How would he get her back? He punched the rusty doorbell with a shaky finger. Beethoven’s Symphony #5 in C Minor rang out and Henry jumped. He should have expected something dark and dramatic, but he hadn’t. The door opened, revealing a late twenty-something woman, about five six with short black hair. Her smooth skin glowed in the loose, ivory gunnysack dress she wore, a pale pink ribbon tied in a bow around her fragile throat. She cradled an orange taxidermy cat in one arm, posed like a flamenco dancer with its front paws above its head. The cat wore a flamboyant red and black dress with layers upon layers of ruffles and lace.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. This link also offers more information about abuse and what to do about it.

I'm also providing a link about PTSD.

And if you'd like to read more about me on my Write-a-thon page or sponsor me, you may do so here: My Sponsor Page.

As always, happy writing and happy reading!

Monday, June 23, 2014

What Write-a-thon 2014 Means to Me

I want to take a moment to share how precious my this Write-a-thon and my sponsors' and readers' belief in my writing ability is to me. It is one of the best gifts I have ever gotten. Writing and reading have always been my secret place, my safe place, my escape place. When I was five years old, my parents moved from our neighborhood where robberies were becoming commonplace and out into the suburbs. I was a quiet child and never minded being alone. My mother read to me all the time and when I learned to read and write and got my library card, a whole new world opened up to me. Suddenly, I was reading about mice riding motorcycles and taking trips in boats and other fantasies, which was a blessing because I was severely picked on in school. I was the shortest and the youngest AND the new kid with glasses AND asthma. And I also wasn't Jewish, like most of my classmates, so I couldn't go to all their celebrations. I never even got invited to one party. To make matters worse, I dressed like Punky Brewster and had half my hair long and the other half short. And I wore boyish clothes and was often teacher's pet because I was so well behaved. Girls did not dress like boys in the suburbs, as I soon learned from my classmates' teasing. Nor did they have hair like mine. And while I certainly wasn't as poor as kids in the inner city, I quickly realized something I never had before, I was the poor kid in the neighborhood now, wearing second hand clothes and hand me downs, eating the same cheap lunch every day, and never going on cruises or vacations over school breaks or getting expensive jewelry and toys as gifts or even twenty dollars or more allowance in the second grade! I didn't feel poor, but I was called poor and teased for being different. I retreated to my safe place, books. I loved the school library.

In the third grade I had the most wonderful teacher, Mrs. Krahn, whom I give credit to setting me on the path of becoming a writer, as this was the first time in class I was ever given the opportunity to create my own stories as homework. From the first day of creative writing, I knew I wanted to be a  writer and nothing else. Writing became the way I expressed myself.

By sixth grade, the teasing had gotten so bad, I didn't want to go to school any more. My mother would have to pry me from my sheets and I screamed and cried and begged her not to make me go. I discovered the trick of holding a thermometer to a light bulb to fake a fever, which was the only way mom would let me stay home. She told me I couldn't watch television or play and I had to promise to stay in bed. That was fine by me. I spent the entire day safe, reading and reading and reading. I even used to sneak out of bed at night and sit in the hallway where there was light to read, when I should have been sleeping. Sometimes my mother caught me, sometimes not. I unwisely used to hide my books under my bed, where she always found them.

The bullying made me so sad; I told my mother I wanted to die. I didn't know the word suicide in the sixth grade, but that's exactly what I meant. I used to skip my gym class, where I was often bullied because of my severe asthma, glasses, and small stature. I escaped to the library. I think my gym teacher and the librarian knew what I was doing and took pity on me because I always got good grades and never got in trouble. My mother pulled me out of that school the end of that year and sent me to counseling. And then I got to go to Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts, where I majored in drama and art, and found my self esteem.

And that's where I also found Mr. Silver, my eighth grade English teacher. Mr. Silver had long silver hair and a puffy biker beard. He was a leftover relic from the 60s, a rebel, the cool teacher everyone loved. And he introduced me to interpreting literature, symbolism and hidden meanings. I couldn't get enough of that class!

I took this inspiration with me into my freshman year of high school, beginning to write poetry, most of it the angst-filled, cliché teenage writing you would expect, but I enjoyed myself so much. I still read all the time too. I was never without a book. And when I was just sixteen, I had my first poem published. I remember how it felt to get that acceptance letter in the mail. I was invincible! I was a published writer! And I'd been bitten by the writing bug.

In college, I majored in Creative Writing and English. And I graduated with honors in May of 1998. I never gave up on my dream of being published with the big dogs. I remember writing at my desk in my cubicle during my lunch hour, getting up early before work to write, at night, working on the work laptop my boss generously let me take home, in front of Law and Order, on the couch with my family. That writing bug was still in blood. I also read more than I slept and I didn't mind being tired when I got up for work at 5am.

Then in 2003, after being laid off in the recession of 2000, I became severely ill. The pain was unbearable, as were the tests the doctors performed. I couldn't dry myself off from the shower, I couldn't drive, I could hardly walk. I cried and cried, consumed by a fiery pain that baffled doctors. I  finally saw a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, a very severe case. I didn't even know what this disease was, hardly anybody did in the early 2000s. All I knew was my life had changed forever and after two years of living with this disease and going through thirty different medications, I finally accepted fibromyalgia and filed for disability in 2005.

Since 2008, I've had ten operations, survived a tornado, been hospitalized for a colon perforation, which resulted in an iliostomy bag temporarily and the removal of my colon. I've had multiple pulmonary embolisms from an undiscovered blood clot in my left leg, due to a broken foot in a cast, gotten diagnosed with a blood clot disorder, discovered I have extra ribs connected to my collar bone, which resulted in two of those six surgeries, and survived a semi truck totaling the car I was a passenger in, resulting in an entire year of therapy and more procedures for herniated discs. I got the swine flu in 2008, a severe case that landed me in the hospital in isolation. Between 2012 and the middle of  2013, I spent four months in the hospital, thanks to the blood clots and the colon operation and reconstruction on my small intestine, so I could digest food and use the bathroom again without my intestine sticking out of my stomach, covered by a bag of shit pasted to my side.

And then I left my abusive husband last year, after eight years of marriage. I've been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and PTSD from the emotional and mental and physical abuse I suffered. I learned that physical abuse included more than just being punched, which thankfully, I left before that started happening. I moved back home at 36, almost 37 years of age, and am living with my pets in my parents' living room for now.

But through it all, my one pleasure that could not be taken from me is the gift of story. When I laid in my hospital room late at night not sleeping or I've laid in my bed now, feeling sorry for myself, I stop and think about my writing I want to work on or the book I'm reading.

I still read voraciously. Sadly, I haven't really written much since 2008, when my run of illnesses began. Before that I had just begun getting my stories published online and in print. And I was blogging regularly. Then everything came to a halt. Until, one day, I read about the Write-a-thon online. And I decided that now was the time for me to get off my butt to enter the world of publishing again. Because damn it, if a tornado could blow right by my block, leaving my place undamaged, and I could survive without a colon and live through a severe case of swine flu and multiple pulmonary embolisms and all the other crap, and could find the strength and courage to leave an abusive marriage with no job, on disability, with no savings, and my good credit ruined, then I could certainly sign up for this fundraiser and get writing again!

I'm still struggling with health issues and learning to live with PTSD, anxiety, and depression, but I have hope because I'm at this keyboard again, writing to you, my faithful readers and generous sponsors. I'm going to live up to the goals I've set for myself because this is all I've ever wanted. I may be having another back surgery soon, but I'm feeling pretty good about signing up for the Write-a-thon. And I've enjoyed getting back to my blog. And I'm looking forward to the future and the opportunity to share with you all the stories I have inside my head. And to be honest, I'm looking forward to that high of seeing my name in print and getting another writing contract to sign. But most of all, I'm looking forward to finding myself again through this experience because I've been lost for a long time.

So thank you, my readers and sponsors. Thank you for believing in me. For cheering me on and always having my back.

And if you haven't sponsored me and would like to, I'd really be happy to get your donation. 100% of your donation goes to Clarion West to keep their foundation running, so they can continue to offer quality speculative fiction workshops. And if you can't sponsor me, but would like to follow me on this six week journey, you can read about my progress here and on my sponsor page.

As always, happy writing and happy reading!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Write-a-thon 2014, Day One

I'm  sitting in my kitchen with my laptop looking out at our backyard and the pool, thinking about mermaids.

I watched the new special, Mermaids: The New Evidence, on Animal Planet. I'd enjoyed the first mockumentary too and was excited to see this one. It did not disappoint. My writer's mind went whirring and then tonight, I looked up mermaids in this book I have, Fabulous Creatures and Other Magical Beasts, written by Joe Levy. This beastiary is filled with a plethora of creatures. I adore beastiaries and snatch them up whenever I can afford to do so. They are excellent inspiration for story ideas.

I've been kicking around the idea of doing a short story or novella about a young man who falls in love with a woman he's never met. She lives in the apartment above his and spends a lot of time in the shower and has a beautiful singing voice, but he's never laid eyes on her. And yet, he's fallen in love with her, tucked in his bed, late at night, imagining her face, her beautiful face that surely must be as enchanting as her voice. This is what I'm going to start writing.

Mermaids are dear creatures to me for two reasons. First, I've always loved the water and felt at home there. My mother had me swimming before I even entered kindergarten. I remember fondly taking lessons at the local YMCA in the summer. I was fortunate enough when I moved at age five to have a pool in my backyard. I swam every day in the summer and often imagined myself as a mermaid with perfect, long flowing tresses. Of course, that never happened, but I did learn the joy of swimming laps and have found that to be not only great exercise, but a good stress reliever as well. When I'm in the pool, the entire world melts away and my busy monkey mind is soothed. It's become a form of meditation to clear my head. I always feel better after going for a swim.

My second reason is a beautiful family legend. When my great grandmother, Babushi, came over from Poland on a ship, she claimed to see a mermaid nursing her babe on a rock before they reached Ellis Island. Babushi took this as a sign that coming to America was a good choice. And it was. My grandparents owned their own butcher shop for awhile and later my grandmother ran her own catering business after they moved from New Berlin to Whitefish Bay. Grandma Lesniak worked hard and saved her money. And she helped my father go to college. She strongly believed in education. My mother, Rosalie, was the first child in the family to graduate with a college degree. And she did it with a 4.0 average at fifty! I am the second generation of our family to have graduated from college, with honors as well. Sadly, my grandma passed away a few months before I turned six, but I know she watched me walk across that stage to collect my diploma that sunny day in May. She would have been proud to read the stories and poetry I've had published. I know she would have been so happy to see my first anthology I got featured in. I was too!

Two hundred and twelve other people are participating with me. So far I've raised $394, not counting the new donations made after this last week's report. I'm more than thrilled to be sponsored by anyone for any amount. Every penny helps Clarion continue to provide speculative fiction workshops. All of your donation, every cent, goes directly to Clarion. I am just a writer plodding along faithfully on my laptop. *grins* What do I get for taking on this six week fundraiser feat? Well, I get more motivation to write and I get to meet new people in the industry and network. Maybe, I'll get a few stories written and a few published, alone the way. And I know I'll get a lot of blog entries done too.

If you'd like to sponsor me or read about my writing goals and follow my progress on here or my nifty sponsor page, that'd be just ducky. You can also sponsor other writers or even a whole zoo of writers on the sponsor page!

Click here.

And don't forget to check in with me. I'll be posting more about my experience and sharing a new story too.

As always, happy writing and happy reading, my demon hunters! And a big thank you to everyone cheering me on and everyone that's generously sponsored me!

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Full Circle Challenge: Write-a-thon 2014

Who: The Clarion West Writers Workshop is a literary nonprofit organization providing quality speculative fiction workshops to beginning authors.

What: The Write-a-thon 2014 is a fundraiser supporting The Clarion West Writers Workshop

The Clarion West Write-a-thon is trying to complete The Full Circle Challenge; they want to get 360 people signed up for this fundraiser. Sponsors have offered $360 when they reach milestone signups.

1) At 240 people Clarion West will receive $360.

2) At 300 - $720

3) At 320 - $1080

4) At 360 - $1800

When: The Write-a-thon takes place from June 22, 2014 - August 1, 2014.

Where: You can participate anywhere. You can even write in your pajamas or naked! No one will know. *grins*

 How: Register to Write here

There is no fee to participate. 100% of your sponsors' donations goes directly into the program. You don't have to be an experienced writer to join, but if you are, you're also welcome!

The Write-a-thon is six weeks of you writing towards the goals you set for yourself. There are no limits or expectations on what your writing goals should be. You don't even need to share you writing with your sponsors, though some participants choose to do this.

Sponsor Me: If you'd like to sponsor me or help me reach my writing goals by cheering me on, you can sponsor me here.

As always, happy writing and happy reading!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Clarion West Writer Workshop Write-a-thon 2014

I'm back and I'm participating in The Clarion West Writer Workshop Write-a-thon 2014. It's six weeks of me getting off my duff and bringing you new blog posts at The Demon Stole My Pencil, writing a few stories, which might appear on my blog, if I ever get that pencil back from that pesky demon, and me willingly submitting myself to the flogging of various editors, as I send out submissions! It's going to be fun! *grins*

The fundraiser raises money for The Clarion West Writer Workshop, so all of you can continue to be offered exciting speculative fiction workshop goodness!

If you would like to sponsor me for this charity event, you can just click my nifty sponsor link below. 100% of your donation goes to the workshops. I am but a humble word slave, plodding along. The writing fun begins June 22 and ends August 1, 2014.

You're also invited to participate with me. There is no entry fee and all writers are welcome, whether you're working on the next War and Peace or just getting started, you can help raise money too!

Thank you and happy reading and writing, as always!