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Glitter Tits

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I have done a thing. Being a volunteer at a pop culture conventions, was an awesome part of my life for a bunch of years. Through that time I made some incredible friends, had some amazing experiences and some not so great ones.

This year I had to make the choice to walk away from this part of my life. I kind of knew it was coming but wasn’t ready when it did. To help me get through I started to write down some of my memories.

This little book, mini book if you will, is the culmination of that. I don’t mention celebrity names, I don’t mention any names except mine. I don’t think it makes that much difference, the stories are still great, or not so great as a few of them are. And there are a few ‘what were you thinking’ moments of mine that made the cut, so feel free to laugh with me.

If you are a pop-culture convention goer, or fan, please buy it, read it – my little love letter to this awesome scene. Share the link with your friends, boost the signal. I love this scene and know there are still experiences I want to have.

 

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Holidays

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I am currently on leave from work and I am busy, but in a way I like to be. I am writing. I have set myself various goals for these weeks off and I aim to be productive.

So many people were asking what my holiday plans were and then wondered if I wouldn’t get bored being as I’m not going anywhere this time.

Thing is for the last little while all I have really wanted to do is write. I have a novella length project that I’ve just finished the main edit on and it will hopefully be published before the holidays are done. I have also gotten my edits back from my editor and after a pain in my butt stuff around by my cover artist, I have commissioned a new artist and will hopefully have that soon, so Book three in the Oparna Legacy can be published.

Also my faith has hit the forefront of my life again and I have a project tied into that which I plan on making substantial headway on during this time off.

Then of course there is the new series I have started working on as well, an urban paranormal crime series that I think will be kind of fun.

So that’s it for my holiday plans and I can’t help but think my 6 and a bit weeks leave isn’t going to be anywhere near long enough for me to get all the writing done that I want to do.

Tough Times, Tough Decisions.

The start of this year has been tough.

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Unexpected expenses, but that’s life, just work more to deal with them. Broken promises, disappointing but life goes on. the weight of additional expectations, but you adjust and step up to the new mark.

Then in the space of less than two weeks I lost one of my regular coping mechanisms and one of my work colleagues committed suicide. Two separate events, both having a profound affect on me.

Life isn’t always easy to compartmentalise and as much as I’d like to treat these things as two completely separate events, from a mental health perspective, that’s not necessarily how it works. They are, by virtue of the fact I experienced both, inextricably linked.

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I have always been open about my own battles with depression and my history of self-harm. I also have people both incredibly close to me and in my wider circle of friends that struggle with/deal with depression and anxiety on a daily basis.

But I also see myself as a strong person. Someone who will stand up for myself, my family, my friends and any underdog who doesn’t seem capable of fighting for themselves. Here though is where I get tripped by one of the quirks of my brain. Because I will fight for others, sometimes I expect those others to fight for me. Why? When they won’t even stand for themselves? I have no idea. It makes no logical sense. That is the way it is though and when they don’t, the little voice in the back of my brain pipes up. ‘Cleary you don’t mean that much to them. Why do you think anyone cares what you are going through?’ Some of you will know that voice I speak of.

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Again logically I know my inner dialogue lies. Knowing that doesn’t stop the room closing in, the clouds blocking out the light, or the quicksand pulling me emotionally down.

Here is where coping mechanisms come in. I run, walk, hit something – any kind of solitary workout. I get lost in a book. Sometimes I just repeat to myself while I am lying there, ‘this too shall pass.’

I have something else though. I have people around me I can reach out to. People who understand, to the limit you can understand, the fucked up nature my headspace.

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Which brings me to my work colleague and their very final actions.

I work in an incredibly high stress job. The number of suicides is staggering. We all know it. We know the mental health stats. We know there are people, even professionals, we can talk to. And yes I have availed myself of that service.

Still this person, this bright shining star, in possession of a uniques and larger than life personality was clearly suffering.

Why? I think it’s probably the biggest question after something like this. Why didn’t they ask for help? Why did they isolate themselves? Also what the fuck we’re they thinking? I wanted to be so angry with her. We weren’t the closest but I still would’ve been there if she’d asked. And I know she had people close to her who are wondering why didn’t she just reach out to me?

The answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know what she was thinking. I don’t know why she didn’t reach out. I don’t know if or why she thought she wasn’t worth helping.

I don know her actions have had a rippling affect on those who’s lives crossed with hers. I do know she will be sorely missed. And I do know thinking about it still makes me cry.

Helping-Hand

And so I will say it again, as I have before, if you are struggling for any reason, reach out. Do I need to say it again? Reach out. I will say it as often as I need to. Reach out. You are never alone. There are no easy fixes or quick answers, but there are people who would hate for you to not be in their lives anymore.

Of course things sometimes aren’t that simple. Sometimes the people you expect to support you don’t. For what ever reason. Which brings me to point two, but before I get there, remember don’t give up and don’t believe the lies. One set back isn’t the end of things.

Now this second thing.

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I’ve already talked about coping mechanisms. We all have them. I attended a specific event several times a year as a way of de-stressing. It gave me a sense of belonging, a place to let go and be me. In my regular role, it was a place I thought I was useful and quite frankly, good at. I made heaps of friends, had problems I could solve and then bitch about, and fun moments.

Things though have been changing and I don’t claim to understand why. This last week and a bit though, things have come to a head. I know I was usually in a fortunate position, but I felt I’d worked for it and earned it. It seems this was not the case.

For reasons I do not know I was removed from that position and put somewhere I didn’t want to be. Oh don’t get me wrong, it is another position other people desperately want to be, but not me. I’d done it once because I was told I had to, sure it wasn’t exactly the same but it was similar, and it broke me. Plain and simple I had a mini breakdown.

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I told them this when the move came up this year and I was told that’s terrible, what can we do to help, and where else would you like to be? I  just wanted to go back to my comfort zone, but it seems this was not an option. So my choice was, do something I was pretty certain wouldn’t end well for me, or go into another area to learn something I didn’t want to learn and be isolated from the very people I had gone to see.

I didn’t want to make this choice. I though long and hard about the decision I ended up making. I cried (yes I am stupidly emotional at times, but I’m hardly the only one and I don’t care). I had many internal debates. I overthought. My stress levels went up. The clouds began to close in.

In the end I knew my initial gut reaction was the one I’d have to go with. I had to walk away.

deucesNow this is something I have devoted hundreds of hours of my life and thousands of my dollars on, and I knew I had to walk away.

Support I expected didn’t come.

I don’t know all of what is going on behind the scenes, or in other people’s lives. I still don’t know why I had to make this decision. I just knew I was hurting and it didn’t seem to matter.

Then something happened.

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Support came from unexpected places. Sometimes it’s the people you don’t expect that see things, they see the struggle and understand.

We tell ourselves we should just get over things, deal with things or suck it up. Really that’s not what we need at all. Oh absolutely there are times when those things are all completely valid pieces of advice, but not always.

Sometimes what we need is someone to say – I’m here, what do you need?

The answer isn’t the same for everyone. It could be; ice-cream, a shared laugh, company, a hug or even nothing – because you’ve already done it and I no longer feel alone.

I am very introverted by nature. I love the quiet, home and not being around people, though I can certainly do the opposite. I know though that life is never something we get through alone.

So one door shuts and I’ll have to find another door to open. The ache of the losses will pass and life continues on it’s sometimes not so merry adventure.

For the love of everything, please don’t be afraid to reach for help, it’s there. I know it is. Just maybe not where you thought it would be.

Perseverance

Sometimes I wonder why. Then I scoff at myself because I know why. I write because I have to, there are ideas floating, sometimes churning around in my head that have to be let out. That want and demand a life of their own, silly as that may sound.

The other day I was in a book store and I was looking at all these new titles that I thought I wouldn’t mind checking out even though my bank account isn’t that friendly and I wondered what I was playing at thinking myself an author. I am one though. I am also published, sure I haven’t cracked the traditional market but does that make me any less an author? I don’t think it does. I work incredibly hard on my books, I write, I edit, I re-edit and I pay for a professional edit. This whole process takes massive amounts of time, mind space and effort, so I guess I shouldn’t really question whether I am an author.

Yes I wish I could see my books on a shelf, and maybe one day that will be a thing. For now though I just have to persevere with what I do, slog through the daily effort of juggling a full time job, a family and writing, in the hope that one day I will earn the break I’m working towards.

When It All Gets To You

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Today isn’t the best of days, mostly it was fine, then some news came that kind of threw me, but then I’m kind of used to life throwing me curveballs. I had a few moments of fuck it all! I’m done, I’m sick of putting myself out there and getting slapped down. It doesn’t matter if these things are public or been kept quiet enough that the only people who know about it are me and hubby, they still hurt. That is life though, isn’t it, I mean if we’re honest about it all. Sure some people seem to have it all but for most of us life is just a bit of a rollercoaster. I know I will be fine, I may want to give up but in all likelyhood I won’t, I’ll just pick myself up and throw myself back into things. All things considered though, it feels as though today is a good day to share the following that I wrote a little while ago.

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So for consideration…

Not that long ago I was involved in a thing at work that messed me up pretty bad, not physically but mentally. I thought at the time that I was dealing with it fine, I took a mental health day to process it all and then went back to work for the next regular shift 2 days later. Then it all fell apart. I was asked a few questions, received unexpected support and saw anger on my behalf and that shattered through the walls I had put up around my mind. We compartmentalise, it is one of the ways we survive.

I admitted I wasn’t coping, no easy thing even when I’m balling my eyes out at work still trying to protest that there is nothing wrong and with just a few hours off I’d be fine to get back into it. I was lucky, I had support. More than that I had understanding, more than I realised. I work with a lot of really tough people, we have to be to do our job. It’s hard for strong people to admit they need time, help or have cracked, but we need to if we want to do the job for a long time.

I realised very quickly I needed to allow myself the time to work through everything related to the incident and a few other things that had contributed to my mental health issues. I saw a Dr and then booked in my first appointment with a psych. 

There were moments I was fine with the path I was taking but there were also moments when I felt bad, like I was letting people down because I was taking time off work. I needed it. Without question I know I needed it. It took several weeks, Dr’s appointments and a couple of psych sessions. Time is a great healer, but it wasn’t just time, it was also the support I had. 

So here’s what I learnt from this experience: It doesn’t matter how strong we are mentally, it doesn’t make us impervious; admitting we need help is hard but doesn’t make us any less in any way; talking about it to outside people helps with processing that which needs to be worked through; having a support network is important – know who you can reach out to and allow them to come alongside you, support you and make you accountable.

I took my time, then I took my normal leave and did what I do on leave – reading, writing and conventions. Now I feel like I’m about ready to get back into things, except for the part of me that wishes writing could be my normal job, you know the one that pays my bills.

That all aside, the whole point of this is to let you know that sometimes it is hard to ask for help or even accept it but take it from someone who’s been there, do it! It’s not a failing, not a weakness, in fact view it as a strength, because sometimes other people’s strength is just what we need. Sometimes time and help is what gets you back to where you need to be to do that which you are meant to do.

The world needs more of you, just sometimes you don’t need to it alone.

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Power of the Creative

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A couple of days ago I woke to a social media feed filled with messages about what Stan Lee had meant to people from all over. I too added my voice to this. The worlds and characters he gave us spoke to so many and allowed many to realise they aren’t alone, that they can dream and achieve and that they should never let the naysayers have the last say.

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Stan is not the only person to speak to the heart of people. I have just spent another fortnight volunteering at a pop culture convention and it seems to me that society needs its creatives for it is they who can speak to the heart of matters more freely than others can bring themselves to. It is the creatives who nuture hope and dreams in those of us who feel we don’t quite fit in with what  society says is acceptable.

Yes I am fortunate that I have met many actors whose work I admire but ultimately that is not the reason I do the conventions. My reason is family. Not blood family but family none the less.

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My vollie family and regular con attendees have given me a place I feel welcome. I know this is not a feeling that solely belongs to me. Often those of us who feel we don’t quite fit, function just fine in ‘normal life’, we go to work we get on with our lives but at home we hide in worlds that come from other people’s minds. 

Characters show things we go through and this tells us we can’t be the only person struggling or experiencing something. Characters told me it was alright for girls to be smart, to be heard, to fight, to not be limited by what others say is acceptable behaviour, and that it is okay to break the mold. They let me know that perfect is a crock and life is messy but to be embraced in a manner that is true to self.

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I sometimes wonder at the reactions of people when they meet the actors who play their favourite characters because I think surely it is the characters they love not the actors. I’ve never had the same visceral reactions that some fans have. (However I did have a total ‘ OMG that just happened moment’ when I was kissed by the gentleman who voices Optimus Prime – and it was more to do with the gentleman himself rather than me being a fan of the Transformers.) Even though I wonder I sort of understand, because when someone shows you that something is okay for you to feel or be, it is a powerful thing.

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Personally my attachment is to characters rather than anyone who portrays that character. My attachments are a visceral thing; I swear at them, cry and laugh with them or because of them, I draw back into their worlds when I need to comfort myself, I become thoroughly invested in their lives. My goal as a writer is to create characters that other people like, or even better love. When I write it feels as though my characters talk to me. I don’t plan when I write, my characters tell me where they want to go. They are my friends. It seems natural to me that characters have life, they need life to speak to others. I only hope that in the course of putting words to paper that I do them justice.

I hope you’ll buy my books (Becoming and Steps to Destiny) at Amazon, {the links are Au but you can buy they from any region} if you haven’t already, but even if you don’t, do yourself a favour and buy someone’s book, go meet a new character today, you might be surprised at the outcome.

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Being An Author

I guess I really am an author. I have two books published now and a third in editing stage.

I love the cover for my second book and the thanks for the art go to the amazing Mel Schwarz, and the graphics were done by the awesome Peter B.

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I’m pretty happy that the second one finally got out, later than what I’d hoped but what are you going to do, some times life simply doesn’t go according to plan. It will mean (hopefully) that the gap between two and three won’t be as long because the first draft for three is already finished.

Other huge things are happening for me I’m about to venture into the unknown. I’m going to speak at a conference. It’s not the first stage I’ve been on, not by a long shot but it is the first where the audience is made up of professionals expecting to hear from another professional. I believe I can do this but there are still occasional doubts. I had a moment the other week when I was thinking about the people I will be talking to and I wondered why I thought I could do do this as they are all grown up and the like. Then I realised I too am a grown up I just somehow seem to forget that about myself. What it is is that I don’t take myself as seriously as I seem to think these kind of professionals do. I guess I will find out.

Also on the writing front, I jumped out of bed this morning to write down another idea. It’s good to know I have enough ideas to keep me writing for a while yet, I only wish the need to work and pay bills didn’t interfere.

I know I haven’t got a proper handle on keeping regular with my blog updates, I really wish I was better at it, I used to be. Again though, life gets in the way and sometimes something has to give. For me it is this. Here’s hoping that I will get better at keeping this updated sometime soon.

Wow

It is difficult to fathom two things. One that it’s been so long since I posted, I mean November was the last time, really, that seems wrong somehow. Two that we are already into April of 2018.

Let me see how much I can remember to catch you up on.

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I went on a mini cruise in January with my family. It’s the first time I’ve been on a cruise and I loved it. It was what my munchkins referred to as an ‘old people’s cruise’, and they weren’t wrong. It was a small boat but still it was good. I had nothing to do, no responsibility and it was great. I didn’t have to clean or cook. I thoroughly not having to do anything except read and write and spend some time with said munchkins, but I didn’t have to do that because they had their cousin to play with. Awesome.

Long and the short of it is, I really want to go on another cruise, just a bit of a bigger boat this time.

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Then there is work, lots of work, but I’ve got to pay the bills somehow.

So onto the writing side of things.

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I thought I was in really good position to publish book two of the Oparna Legacy for April then something happened. I don’t talk about my faith very often but its there, it underlies much of what I do. I don’t advertise it because I have issues with organised religion and I really don’t like being shoved into claustrophobic boxes. Anyway the long and the short of it is the big man up stairs gave me a task. This task was research heavy and became something like an obsession. Every waking moment it seemed, was taken up with working on it. It was something I’ve never tackled before and something somewhat out of my comfort zone. However it is now done, or at least the bit I can do at the moment is. And no I’m not going to be more specific because I really can’t, there is nothing more I can say until the next stage happens, if there is a next stage.

Oh and I also wrote two short stories that I have now submitted for competitions, both of which were more of the literary fiction type, nothing spec fiction about them at all. It is such a challenge to write in different genres, it may not be something I want to dabble in for a full length project but it is still worth dabbling it in.

Moving on.

In all of that I actually did get book two finished, given a solid second edit, got it to the beta reader and did the read aloud edit with my hubby (who doesn’t read but is a very happy listener who points out good things and bad). As a side note, I find reading aloud a very useful editing tool, because it forces you to go over every word in a way you sometimes don’t when you a a fast reader as I am, and know what you think you wrote, which sometimes you totally didn’t.

I now just need to find the time to catch up with my beat reader, do all those changes and a final edit before I send it to an actual editor.

Then just for fun I have also finished the first run through of book three, and I’m working on two other full length novels, one of which looks like the start of a series that will be longer than three books. So plenty of writing left to go in my very active mind.

Now you are up to date.

I’m on leave and it’s almost Nova time again. Here’s hoping I stay organised enough to update you on a way more regular basis.

 

Escape

Sometimes you just need to read, find your happy place and immerse yourself somewhere that isn’t the here and now.

This can mean going back to authors you love and finding something new from them, which I have done recently. My motivation truthfully was spending time with the truly delightful Keri Arthur, I stared at her backlist and realised I had big gaps. Two new books have been added to my collection and I’ve finished them both and adore them both and cannot wait to revisit them. I know a lot of people don’t understand that, the need or desire to return to a story already read but for me that is totally a thing. I love revisiting old friends, for that is who they become to me. Sirens that are private investigators, dragons that drink, ogres that fart and witches that run away from their families to werewolf reservations, what is not to love?

 

Three Things

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A beautiful friend of mine has recently started a business pushing (sorry selling) make up. Now if you know much about me, you’ll know that make up is one of those things that is a very low priority in my life. I wear it on stage or for special occasions, I’m just too lazy to bother with that in my everyday. I’m not going to write here about my lack skill or disinterest in make up, what I am going to comment on is something I think is incredibly important – women’s self esteem.

Now my friend knows the women she has targeted, we’re nerdy, geeky and a few other fun descriptors, so she caters to that by running fun little competitions. Her interactive approach certainly dragged me in. But targeted marketing is not my topic.

What has driven me to write this post is one of the games she posted where it said: what would your warning label say and state three things you like about yourself. Can you guess which part sparked this blog post?

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The warning part turned out to be easy. Everyone can have a little fun with that. Turns out though that writing publitlythree things you like about yourself is somewhat more difficult.

Part way through writing my three things I started to feel guilty that I hadn’t written down anything about being a wife/mother or family related. I don’t know if its’ just me or women in general but so much of our identity is derived from others, at least when talking in a public forum. My family are hugely important to me and I’m incredibly happy with my life for the most part. Sure there are always things that aren’t perfect, but what is a perfect life and why would i want it anyway when I am clearly not perfect. That may be a whole other thought stream though, so back to my current topic.

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When I settled on my three things I’ll admit to being a little surprised that I could have written more, so I will use this opportunity to get into this a little more. This may seem a little self indulgent but it’s my post and I’m going to be unapologetic about it.

Things I like about myself:

My brain, it functions well. I read, think and love to learn.

My body, I have abs, I worked hard for them, I needed to as I’m in my 40’s, have had two kids and wasn’t blessed with a metabolism that means I can eat what I want. I am stronger and fitter now than i was in my skinnier, younger years. The problem is when I google my ideal weight, I am currently apparently over weight. Crap is what I say to that. If I got down to my ‘ideal’ weight, what I would lose is most of my muscle mass and I like being strong. Sure I wish the last o f my mummy tummy would go the heck away but I’m pretty damn proud of this body of mine otherwise.

As a person I’m proud of my determination, fierce loyalty and my work ethic. I am comfortable with the fact I am a complex creature who is basically an introvert. I love feeling capable and strong. I have a giggle when people say I’m scary and feel a little bemused when people call me inspiring. I enjoy my job, to the bemusement of most and I’m proud to say I’m a published author – though part of me is still a little disappointed I had to do it myself in the end. I know I don’t comfortably fit into the boxes society likes to use and I’m good with that. My friends are the ones who accept the many, sometimes broken layers, of who I am, abrasive edges and all.

Now to the point of this self indulgence. Introspection. It’s always good to acknowledge our strengths. Knowing what we like about ourselves can help us through the harder and darker moments of life, if we allow ourselves to embrace them.

This leads nicely to the second part of my thought process from that little game. Whilst the warning part was easy and many participated, more than a few didn’t write anything for this second part. I haven’t asked why this is but I do have a few speculations. When life isn’t perfect, or even good, it can be hard to see the positive to find the things we like. Most of us don’t like to toot our own trumpets because we are socially coerced into believing it is wrong, arrogant or something. Thirdly, sometimes we just don’t know how to answer that question, when taking a close look at ourselves it’s so much easier to see the flaws and things we don’t like.

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This is sad. Think about it. So much of what society pushes subliminally (and sometimes not that subtly) is that a successful woman is one who adheres to, or measures up against certain stereotypes and appearances. We are judged by how we fit into the boxes, not how we colour those boxes in. Women are still taught not to rock the boat, we still know that our success can be undercut by men – this is how Weinstein got away with what he did. We are shown pretty pictures and told, this is the ideal.

Well I’m going to call bullshit. Women are varied, and strong and flawed and more than capable in achieving whatever goals they set for themselves. Sometimes our own worst enemy is ourselves, we allow ourselves to quietly sit where society has placed us, we pick on other women who don’t fit that norm and thereby reinforce the crap. It is time we stopped doing that. It is time we embraced ourselves for the awesomeness  and individuality that is in all of us.

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After all this my point simply is, finding three things about ourselves that we like shouldn’t be hard, and certainly admitting and embracing them shouldn’t be shied away from. i challenge you to look deeply into yourself. Look at your perceived flaws from a different perspective (I’m not bossy or a bitch, I’m organised and focused, I get shit done). Look at yourself in a positive light, examine the things that make you you. The sum of your parts, good bad, indifferent, is what makes you interesting. It is what makes you not fit the mould and proves you are no Stepford woman. Look at your body and be proud. Look at your achievements and what you do well and take satisfaction in them. Look at your personality and shout about how awesome you are.

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There is an old Japanese custom where a broken item is repaired with gold, making it more beautiful because of it’s flaws. It is about time we allowed ourselves to embrace this.

I am flawed and I am awesome.

Shout it, believe it.