Blackbird: Chapter One

Greetings blog land! Well, it’s been well over a year since I blogged and I really wasn’t in a good place the last time I wrote something. I’d like to get back into doing it but right now I’m focusing on the release of my new book, Blackbird, which will be available as of June 15th. The cover reveal is tomorrow and I’ll post the cover here as well, but for now here is the first chapter of what is going to be a new series.

Chapter One

            The memory of the pain was always raw and not something she liked to relive. It was only when something forced it to the surface that it would replay, involuntarily, in her unconscious mind. Once it began, it simply could not be turned off. The blood, the screaming, the cold when she was discarded out into the night scared and disowned. Fifteen is too young to be all alone, especially with such a burden.

Chelle stirred in her sleep, the concrete floor cold underneath her as the events played themselves out once more. She felt it all. The searing and ripping as her back released its secret for the first time, like rusty, jagged blades slicing her open, spilling her blood and dignity all over the floor of her parent’s tiny rundown living room.

Her father, who thought of himself as merciful, had brought out the belt…again, and there was no one to save her. There was never anyone to save her. No siblings. Just she and her useless mother, standing watch as leather met skin over and over.

Crack, crack, crack…

 

When the beatings first began she had pleaded for sanity, for understanding. It had only taken one or two of them to understand that any plea for clemency was falling on deaf ears, and so, she had taught herself to endure it, biting down on her lip so hard that she drew blood each and every time. Her teeth had left a small but permanent scar on the bottom one which she now always covered with lipstick. Not because she was afraid others would notice, but because having to see it staring back at her when she looked in the mirror was unbearable. Chelle was loath to see her reflection as it was.

There was no memory of what she had done to deserve the beating on that night. It was something so insignificant that she hadn’t bothered to file it away. What she did file away – which her subconscious mind liked to drudge up at unexpected times – was the anger. Raw, biting anger that had overcome her like no other time before. An anger so powerful and unforeseen had risen from the core of her very being at the sheer exhaustion she felt for having to endure his sick little ritual for so long. It was rage she lived with now as a constant companion, having to keep it just below the surface lest anyone find out what she was.

On that night the anger had nowhere to go, and with nothing to stop it she had felt the stabbing pain and the blood running down her back as her shirt was left in shreds, hanging on by bare threads as they emerged, one from each shoulder blade.

Wings. Giant black wings that sprouted from her back. So heavy and awkward that they had leveled her to the floor. Something else happened too. As she stood and reached for her mother, a scared and whimpering child in pain, she had grabbed her father’s old and cigarette burned easy chair to steady herself. Although worn and ready to be discarded it was a sturdy piece of furniture, one she had jumped on and bounced in for many years, and yet under the slight touch of her hand it broke into pieces. Stumbling into the kitchen she had fallen against the table, shattering that as well sending splinters of wood scattering all over the kitchen floor.

Horrified and frightened her father had grabbed his .22 gage shot gun, aimed it at his only daughter, and with unsteady frightened hands screamed obscenities at her. “What the fuck are you?” he had yelled as he pointed the gun as best he could while trembling violently. “Get the fuck out of here! Fuck off and don’t come back.”

Don’t come back? But where was there to go? Now everything blurred as she sought out her mother and she heard her own voice, small and frightened, beg, “Mommy…please!” Her mother had taken one look at her and stood behind her husband, now pale and trembling as well, frightened of her own flesh and blood. All of her mother’s life was now fear. Fear of her brutish husband, and fear of Chelle, who was now confirmed as a monstrosity.

“Dear god, Chelle. Please just go. Do what he says. Go and don’t come back.”

Don’t come back. Those three words cut her worse than the razor sharp wings that had torn their way out of her very bones. She stood for one moment longer, hoping against hope that they would change their minds. Praying that they would put down the gun and help their bleeding, frightened little girl. Her father had simply steadied his finger on the trigger to show that he was serious.

Fine. If that was the way they wanted it she wouldn’t come back, not ever, not even if they begged. Chelle threw the door open, breaking it from its hinges as she did and ran out into the night confused, scared…alone. All her life she had been alone in one way or another, and now at twenty-five she was still alone, waking up on the cement floor of an empty house, a stranger’s laundry room.

Sitting up she hugged her knees to her chest and rocked back and forth still reeling from the dream. Why couldn’t it just leave her be? Wasn’t it bad enough she had to keep herself separate and apart from the world? There was no peace, not even in sleep.

Checking her watch she was even more aggravated to see that it read 5:30 a.m. She had only been asleep for an hour and now she wouldn’t get back to sleep at all. Of all the luck, especially on a day when she had volunteered to work a double. Work, today would start at 11:00 a.m. and not be over until 3:00 a.m.

Working at the bar was draining and over the last three months she had seen a lot of young waitresses come and go, mostly because of ‘Billie the Bitch’. Billie had flawless straight teeth, a fancy upbringing, a fake tan and hair so blonde that it was practically a shade of white. Over the last little while she had been taking more liberties to be the bitch that she was, seeing as how she was now engaged to the owner and about to marry into one of the most well-known families in Halifax. Her real boss, Robert Cole, was the owner of many successful bars downtown and Chelle worked at the main haunt, ‘Cole’s Bar and Grill’.

It was a mid-priced establishment where families would eat in the dining section during the day, but turned into more of a party place after ten o’clock. The tips were good and the pay was decent. There weren’t too many assholes compared to other bars in town and it was certainly better than stealing to survive, although she wasn’t sure what she was doing right now by squatting in this house was any better, but it sure beat the March cold. Thank god for snowbirds. If it weren’t for seniors who vacationed in Florida she would be in a shelter, or freezing to death on the street.

 

This particular house had kept her warm for two winters now. The thought of getting a place of her own had crossed her mind. She had enough money saved but putting down roots just seemed scary. She’d called a place home once, and as awful as it had been she had felt like she belonged there, but what was the point of getting used to something and getting attached only to be told to leave and never come back. Fear kept her running, but it also kept her safe. Nothing in her life was permanent. The only normal thing she had was a bank account and that was only because most places in this day and time wouldn’t pay you without one. She hated it.

Grabbing her backpack and never turning on a single light she felt her way to the bathroom. The layout was familiar to her from having done this hundreds of times. Once in the windowless bathroom with the door safely closed she turned the light on and proceeded to wash her face with the supplies and towel in her bag. She never used any of their things, except for water. She washed her clothes by hand in the sink or tub and dried them on the drying rack in the laundry room. Just because she slept here didn’t mean she had to intrude any more than she already was. The less space she took up in the world the better. A connection to anyone or anything only left you hurt. This job was starting to come with connections and if it hadn’t been for the great money she would have moved on already. Three months was usually the limit.

Turning the light off again she made her way back down into the basement and crawled into her sleeping bag once more, this time to stare at the ceiling and think of something, anything else. There were books upstairs on shelves that looked enticing and would be a great distraction, but she couldn’t bring herself to touch them, and so she simply lay on her old sleeping bag on the concrete floor. When the sun rose and she could see without having to feel her way around she rolled up the sleeping bag and placed it behind a stack of boxes. She needed to get out before any of the neighbours were up. She knew their schedules because she had watched them for two years now and so quickly grabbed her backpack, headed up the basement stairs and out into the street, locking the door behind her and then placing the key above the doorframe in the hiding place where she’d found it.

All of these neighbours were retired and so they rarely made a move before 9 a.m. Now it was time for her to find some place to be. A coffee shop would do, or perhaps the library, the big new one downtown. Maybe she could find a little space there and doze off for a bit before having to report to Cole’s.

 

 

 

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I Don’t Care

i don't care

If you’ve ever had depression you know not just the feelings of complete and utter hopelessness and sadness it gives you but the feeling of indifference. The lack of ability to care about anything can be just as debilitating as the deep dark sadness itself. I have things going on. Things that range from semi-important to crucial and I just don’t have the ability to care about any of them right now.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I don’t want to care, it’s that I can’t. I know I should care but the depression has gotten to it’s all too familiar point of numbness. Depression really is different than sadness and I wish people would stop comparing the two. I know we are nowhere near that point but it would be nice if people would realize that if I could think my way around this I would.

It’s gotten to the point now where I am considering ECT once again. The first round was cut short due to the memory loss, but that seems to have resolved itself and, you know what? If I have to live with a bad memory to not feel like I’m walking around dead inside I’ll do it, because that’s just how I feel. Totally dead inside.

I’ve even researched a procedure called a cingulotomy. That’s a surgery where they take out a piece of your brain. Not sure if this would even be available to me here in Nova Scotia but again, if I have to lose a piece of my brain to feel halfway decent it might be worth it.

This feeling of numbness, hopelessness and despair every minute of every hour of every single fucking day is taking its toll. I can’t do the things I want and need to do. It was bigger things at first but now even little things seem like a monumental task. Showering, cleaning, playing with my son etc. All of these things I used to do feel like they are marathons now. Getting up every day is getting harder and harder.

Remember the scene from Star Wars where they are trapped in the trash compactor, grabbing anything and everything that they can to brace the walls that are closing in? It kind of feels like that, only I don’t have a Wookie or Han Solo to help me (not that they were of any use in the movie either). It feels like that with the exception of I’d just be standing there unable to care that I’m about to be squished.

Hopefully I can find a solution before someone takes out the trash.

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Thunderstorm

Thunderstorm

Today was one of those days. It was a struggle. I had lots of good intentions about today the night before. I was going to get up, go pay the rent, get groceries and take care of a few other errands I’ve been putting off. That was my intent, but I ended up doing none of those things because I just couldn’t leave the house. Luckily I have a very nice husband who was able to complete the tasks that needed to be done today, but for me, the day was a write off. And speaking of write off, guess what else doesn’t seem to be happening? Yup, actual writing.

Aside from this blog post (which I’ve been trying to write for the last two hours) I haven’t been able to keep going on my work in progress either. It’s frustrating. I swear some days I feel like I could take on the world, and other days, like today, I feel like the world is just running me over. I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m filled with self-hate.

I work hard to remind myself that depression isn’t cured, it’s managed. Someone once likened it to the weather. It may get rough but it always changes. This is true. I’ve been through it enough over the years to know this, so why does it feel in these times like the world is ending? This disease makes no sense. I’m really sick and fucking tired of it.

What’s the purpose of this blog post? I’m not sure. Maybe I just need to vent, which I maybe shouldn’t do here. I like to think of topics that I’m passionate about and write about those, but tonight I just don’t know which end is up and so here I am, blogging.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that my weather system changes soon. I want the sun to shine. I’d make it shine if I could. Right now I’m just sitting here, outside in a thunderstorm feeling cold and wishing I had some earplugs to drown out the noise.

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You Matter

You matter

There’s a tree in my living room, lights on my window and people posting memes about whether or not it should be ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’ on Facebook. Must be December! Traditionally this is a time of year when I feel very stressed. All I can say is thank god for online shopping! My moods are improving bit by bit thanks to a new drug, but it’s not always easy for me to go out and do what everyone else does and so it really has been something I’m very grateful for.

Something else that I’m grateful for is just simply the fact that I’m still here. There were times this year when it could have easily been otherwise. Thankfully it wasn’t and as we are almost at the close of another year I can’t help but look back at what 2014 has been like.

In March I lost my Dad somewhat suddenly, and then later on in the year I lost several other people, not through death but through realizing that anyone who can say or believe terrible things about me is not someone I want around myself or my children. That was a rough transition too. There was also another hospitalization, paralyzing depression, and Electroshock Therapy. I also released The Devil and the Dirt Road (my first horror novel) The Unborn and Progeny (books 3 and 4 in The Vampires of Soldiers Cove Series). I guess you could say it’s been a full year. Ups and downs all around.

December always makes me contemplative, and so as I reflect back on the events of my own life this year, I also think about others in my life who are no longer here, especially the ones who are not with us because they ended their lives by their own hand. This can be a terrible time of year for people who are alone and/or suffer from mental health issues (although it’s a myth that suicides go up at Christmas. They actually peak in the spring) and I also think about those of you who may be reading this that are contemplating doing the same.

To you I would like to say this:

You matter! That’s it. Even if you think you don’t, trust me, you do. Someone needs you. Someone wants to see you and is thinking about you. People don’t always take the time to show it but that doesn’t make it any less true. Please, if you’re suffering, reach out and talk to somebody. That might be all it takes. If you’re reading this you obviously have a computer. Please google suicide hotlines/crisis lines and talk to someone. I used to volunteer at a crisis line back about seven or eight years ago, and trust me, each and every person sitting in that chair answering that phone cares about you. They wouldn’t take time out of their busy lives and go sit in a tiny little room for hours on end for free if they didn’t.

I have a book coming out next year (I’m looking at a February release) called: The Option. If you’ve read my blog or been on my Facebook page you may have heard me speak about it. I had originally called it Brotherhood of Man, but the title has been changed. It’s set in a dystopian future where people are openly encouraged by the government to end their lives via a live ceremony if they have become ‘non-contributors’ and one man’s struggle to come to terms with his uncle’s decision to partake.

Since the topics of depression and suicide are something that have touched me and most people I know I will be donating $2.00 from the sale of every paperback to FEED Nova Scotia (They actually run the provincial crisis line now). The eBook will be available for free as much as possible and will never be more than $0.99. It will also be available for free through Kindle Unlimited for those of you who have access to that.

Charlie Gower is a protagonist near and dear to my heart and I am excited to share his story with you. But for now, please reach out if you are suffering. Moods are like weather patterns, they can shift, so don’t give up.

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Taking Up Space

blog

So, as a lot of you who follow this blog know, I suffer from a pretty nasty mental illness and recently underwent a bout of Electroshock Therapy. Are you tired of hearing about this? I’m tired of living it. About three weeks ago I decided I’d had enough and I was going to go back to work. Money is tight on disability and Christmas is coming. I’ve managed to get creative though so things are ok on that front, but what happened when I told my psychiatrist I had been looking for work sent me back to my bleak reality.

She said there is no way I should even consider working right now and my condition is ‘severely guarded’, and that it’s a good possibility that if things continue on the way they are now that I’ll be looking at a hospitalization sometime in the new year. Hopefully not sooner. Going into the hospital during the holidays is terrible. I’ve lived that a couple of times and have no desire to do it again. The awful realization that she was right hit my smack dab in the pit of my stomach. I can’t work, it would be a disaster. I hate it. I feel like a leech. I feel as though people are whispering about me, looking down on me and surmising that I must be sitting at home because I’m lazy. There’s a lot of, “I know someone with depression and they work.” Or, “I have depression and work. You just have to suck it up.” The thing is when I suck it up and try to do that, at some point I end up hallucinating.

It’s not easy feeling like you contribute absolutely nothing to the world around you. This has been going on for years and I have not been able to have anything close to a career. Right now the writing is the only thing I’d compare to a job, and at that it’s really not. Not for me anyway because unlike a job, if I don’t feel like I can get out of bed that day (or for a few days) because my brain is going crazy and refusing to function I don’t have to write. I can totally skip it and not have to call somebody to make up a ‘legitimate’ excuse.

It’s a struggle. Some days I feel ok, and even in the last week or so I’ve felt really good. My psychiatrist put me on Abilify as a boost to the Prozac and since it’s also an anti-psychotic it has an added benefit. I felt so good that one day last week I actually felt motivated to do things. It lasted an entire day and was a strong enough sensation that I remembered what it felt like to want to clean your house and make the dinner and do the shopping. I had one day of normalcy, but sadly it hasn’t come back. I’m hopeful that it will.

For now I am stuck with the guilt. I feel guilty for living and not contributing to the world in the way people think I should. I feel guilty for being alive, period. I hope that through my writing at least, that I can contribute constructively to someone else. If I can provide an escape from the drudgery of your everyday mundane life perhaps I am doing more than just taking up space. I hope I am.

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PROGENY. Book 4 in The Vampires of Soldiers Cove Series is coming November 5th!

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To pre-order book 4 in the US go HERE

To pre-order in Canada go HERE

To pre-order in the UK go HERE

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What Writing Is Not!

what writing is not pic

Question: What are a writer’s obligations to a reader?

Other than to provide them with a story, not much. Although from scrolling through various posts on Facebook and Twitter you would think it was a hell of a lot more. Over time since I’ve started self-publishing I’ve seen readers say things like (paraphrasing here):

-Writers need to know that cliff-hangers are only acceptable if the next book in the series is already available.

-Cliff-hangers are not acceptable AT ALL!

-It is not acceptable to kill off a main character. Ever!

-Books that don’t contain a HEA (that’s, ‘happily ever after’ for those of you not familiar with the term) are not acceptable.

-It’s not acceptable for the protagonist to be a jerk, or be flawed in any way.

I could go on and on. This is just a small sampling of what I come across on a daily basis while scrolling. I think we’ve, sadly, gotten to a point where a lot of readers feel that a book is a ‘product.’ Although a book is something you buy and pay money for, it is NOT a product, it is a piece of ART! It may or may not be art that you personally enjoy, but it is art nonetheless and as such you have no right to bark at the artist as to what is ‘acceptable’ and what is not. If we were to take dictation from people as to what to write and how to write it there would hardly be any point to sitting down and doing it in the first place. A piece of writing is a piece of that individual’s soul. A lot of writers, myself included, use this art as a method of catharsis. If I sat down and wrote simply to follow a bunch of rules people think I should follow to make my book more enjoyable to them I may as well just sit on my ass and eat ice cream, and I do that plenty enough already!

Honestly if you feel that passionately about writers following all these god forsaken ‘rules’, perhaps you should be plotting a novel yourself! Write it following these directives you hold so dear, but be warned, someone is waiting around the corner to point out any and all rules YOU would be breaking. There would also be some who would say your book is ‘boring’ or ‘predictable’ as it doesn’t take any chances at all.

There are very few TV shows that actually inspire me to be a better writer, but The Walking Dead is one of them. The reason? They routinely break all of the rules I’ve listed above, and then some. Both the show and the comic have little to no regard for avoiding cliff-hangers or killing main characters. My god, that’s what makes the show so exciting. You never know who is going to bite the dust from week to week. Quite often it’s someone I’ve grown fond of. The writers are absolutely fearless and I am always in awe of how thing play out. It’s popular in part, I believe, because very few shows right now are taking the kind of chances they are. I salute them.

Of course you are welcome to like what you like. If you want the things listed above there is nothing wrong with that, but if you read a book that didn’t give you any of those things it just means you didn’t like it, not that the writer did it ‘wrong’. Writers are very appreciative of anyone who likes their work, but most of us don’t want to write a certain way just to placate people. It feels like selling out. That’s the beauty of building your own world. There’s no way to do it wrong because there is no ‘wrong’. And like I said, if you’re that passionate, Nanowrimo is coming up. Try creating your own.

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