Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Warm Hands, Cold Heart

Howdy Folks,

So, I was inspired to write this post after a recent reiteration of what is becoming a common discussion in my life. It has to do with empathy and relating to other people in an emotional way. I preface this conversation with a statement that I have never spoken to a thearpist, so what I describe comes only from my own understanding gained from introspection and some pointed conversations with good friends. 

It has been happening for a long while, in retrospect, but it was only this year that it really came to a head. I have a good friend that I have known for a very long time. She was driving out to visit me, and the weather was predicted to be very poor thtat day, with the threat of hail, heavy rain, and even tornados. She was messaging me, expressing a mortal terror for driving in the bad weather, over and over, a key conversation marker that tells me she is VERY distressed. SO Ireplied that if she was too scared, that she should not come, or wait until tomorrow to come if she didn't mind chopping off the extra day. She immediately types back that she was now crying. I am absolutely puzzled. I presume she is upset because she doesn't want to make the decision to cut off one of our few days we get to hang out, so I repeat my opinion that if she's too scared, not to worry about coming out and to just send some extra days with our mutual friend whose house she is at. She stops messaging me. 

Several hours later, she arrived at my house, safe, and still very upset. She explained, in as clear of terms as she could, that what I had said upset her, that my purely rational reply had come off as very cruel and cold, to borrow words she did not use. I apologized, confused how such a thing occurred -- again. This wasn't the first time she and I have had this disconnect. Over and over, she has come to me seeking, I have begun to realize, emotional validation for feelings I don't understand, to be met with calm logic that often invalidates what she is feeling. It has been a painful process for us as we have discussed how to overcome this, and she has started prefacing things with "this is an emotion thing" so I can shift my response attitude to something more appropriate. 

It isn't only that I have responded to emotional situations without emotion. I struggle to recognize why/how people are feeling emotional about things -- panic over driving in bad traffic, emotional breakdowns over not finishing unimportant tasks at work, sobbing hysteria over inability to get out of bed. I don't know how to connect with these things -- I don't understand them in the least, and I nearly always miss the mark in my response I offer them. I have been called cold-hearted, aloof, distant, and even a bitch by folks more than a few times. I've hurt acquaintances, coworkers, and even friends unintentionally and without even understanding how. It wasn't until very recently, as I have been working hard at knowing myself so I could change for the better, that I truly came to understand that there was a "gap" I was not able to see before.

I have emotions, evident if you interact with me for even a few minutes. I'm not entirely unable to be empathetic with other people either, but the gap between myself and others has definetly grown to a point where people are really starting to notice. I know my personality has changed. Emperically, my  Meyers-Briggs has shifted from an ISTJ to an INTJ-A. I learned in college that personalities tend to change due to "big events," and I'd like to think going through and surviving an abusive relationship is one such thing. Hell knows I changed a lot going through that, not all of it for the best, and not all of it for the worst. I am actively working on changing what I have discovered I don't like, and I appreciate my very good friends that have been understanding and have been more than willing to help recognize when I have come upon one of my "gaps" and have adjusted their dialogue to help me understand them in the way I want to, but struggle to. I didn't even realize until very, very recently how much my coauthor took this upon herself before I even realized I had such problems, and I owe her more than just words for all the instances she carefully broke down the thinking and motivation behind her feelings in a way I could digest.

This isn't a ramble to call whatever this is I struggle with "good" or "bad," but simply to put into words something I deal with. Everyone has something. Thank you for taking your time to read this, and I feel free to reach out.

Until Next Time,

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Fateful Day

Howdy folks,

It is that time again -- bringing you the updates on what is happening behind the curtain. Frostfire has endured yet another revision -- its best one yet, in my opinion -- and is currently still out touring the agents, trying to hook a publisher.

But Lauren and I have not been idle while waiting. Not only did we finish a first draft of a pet project of ours, but we revised our outline from last year's nanowrimo novel and began working hard at finishing its first draft. We actually are just a chapter or two from hitting the midpoint of the story, so it shouldn't be long before it is finished, and I think it is about time to reveal exactly what that story is about.

Linryl and Vasille
Art by Jordon Kincaid

"Fated: The Doe and The Wolf" is a story about two girls as different as the sun and moon, whose paths intertwine time and again through the mysterious twists of Fate. Yet, as strongly as destiny seems to pull them together, their own secrets work to pull them apart, as Linryl hides what drove her from her country life to the city, and Vasille desperately works to keep her family's secret. But as they struggle against their Fate, a Fiend stalks the streets they walk, leaving dead girls gutted in its wake. Will they succumb and embrace their destiny, or will they draw a new Fate, one that ends in blood?

Until Next Time,

Monday, June 17, 2019

FROSTFIRE: Chapter One

Hello, everyone! Lauren here with a little treat for our followers and supporters. As many of you know, Anna and I are on our fifth draft of Frostfire and are back on the hunt for an agent. If you are a fellow writer, you may or may not know the importance of an established media presence. Anna and I have been working hard this year to build up our blog, Facebook, and Instagram. But as most things in life are, progress is slow. After a little discussion, we have decided to share our polished first chapter to Frostfire. So if you’ve ever been curious to see our craft and to understand what it is you are helping support, this is it. This is our baby. We sincerely hope you enjoy it, and look forward to the day we finally find our elusive agent and get to announce a publication date. Thank you for all of your support thus far.

Chapter One

Kyran jolted upright, his heart hammering in his chest. What had he… His head snapped to the shuttered window as someone screamed in terror over the clamouring sound of a bell. Kicking the quilted bedcover back, he threw the inn’s shutters out to find the village engulfed in flames. Bright orange light flared against the summer night as people scrambled from their homes into the muddy streets, panicked, fleeing in every direction, and over it all, a bell was tolling. He had to do something.
He gathered his things, jammed his feet into his boots, and threw his pack on his back, racing out of his room and down the stairs. He found the rest of the occupants huddled on the bottom floor about the fireplace, hands clenched in fervent prayer, their eyes trained on the light. Candles were burning on nearly every horizontal surface, creamy streaks of wax running across tables and shelves.
A scream outside cut abruptly short, and the supplicants flinched, but did not cease their prayers. Kyran looked from them to the door, but not a soul moved. He shook his head at them, and turned away, breaking into a run as he left the inn, headed towards the fire and screams to offer whatever help he could. These people had sheltered him for the evening for nothing more than a bit of field work. He wouldn’t just clutch his charms and pray for their salvation, not when he might help. Prayer could never achieve so well what action did, as his da always said.
The air stung his nostrils and throat, heavy with acrid smoke, and he struggled not to cough as he closed on the first building where he saw a woman running away from the flames. She looked back as she ran, her eyes wide in utter terror. He started after her to ask what had happened, when another motion caught his attention, and he saw it. Whatever it was. It was hard to see backlit by the fire, but it was small, no larger than a hound, crouched upon the burning thatch as if bathing in the licking flames.
The beast jerked on the rooftop, what must have been its head twitching sharply towards him as if scenting him. Kyran stared in blank incomprehension at the strange beast, recalling the old tales of salamanders crawling from logs after they had been placed in a fire.
Its outline shivered in the firelight before it threw its head back with an ear splitting shriek. Kyran clapped his hands over his ears, gritting his teeth against the piercing pain. The sound trailed into an excited chitter, but before he could even pull his hands from his ears, the beast launched from the rooftop. It smashed into his chest, knocking him flat onto his back, its claws biting through his shirt. He shoved at the thing, its body hard and oily like an insect, but it clung to him, digging hooked toes into his skin, its mouth opening wide to double rows of serrated bone, so close to his face he could feel its breath.
In a flash, light traced through Kyran’s skin, pale blue lines that glowed like starlight as he let his control over the power in his blood slip just a fraction. The beast’s carapace crackled hideously under his palms, and it recoiled with a pained squeal, fire erupting from the tips of its clawed feet as it leapt off his chest, knocking him flat again.
Beating frantically at the flames, Kyran scrambled backwards, his breath coming in short, panicked gasps as the beast let out another chittering yowl racing towards him again, and he loosened his control even further. The lines of light beneath his skin flared to almost blinding brilliance, and the ground let out a torturous scream as the muck froze in an instant, turning to hard, slick ice beneath him. The creature skittered backwards, hissing and spitting as the ice scrawled outwards from him. He yanked his knife from his boot, brandishing it towards the creature as he gained his feet, at last getting a decent look at the beast in the light cast by his blood. Its proportions were wrong for an animal, gangly, but far too alien to be a human, and it wielded fire. Stars above, but what was this thing?
It feinted towards him, and he thrust the tip of his knife forward, sending it shrinking back. He quashed the panicked sounds at the back of his throat with sheer will, as he had when he had been young and learning to hunt, and focused on the creature, tightening his grip of control again. As the light of his magic dimmed, the beast lunged, long claws reaching for his belly. He twisted out of its path, slicing at its hindquarters, his knife biting into its flesh. It let out a high, keening wail that sent gooseflesh rippling over Kyran’s skin as it skidded across the ice, steam hissing from the wound on its flank. He followed it, trying to mark it again, but the creature hissed and scuttled out of reach, the ice crunching as it sank its claws through the thin veneer.
“Get back!”
Kyran whipped his head around at the man’s bellow, and spotted a rider bearing down on him and the creature, the sound of its gait lost beneath the roar of the fire and the clamoring bell. The horse’s flanks were lathered and heaving, its muzzle frothing from exertion, but the rider seemed to be struggling to keep his seat, his feet bouncing, his hands too wide on the reins. He was going to go over its neck the moment it changed directions.
There was a hiss behind him, and Kyran turned again to see the beast lunging over the ice, its jaws stretched wide.
Magic surged down his arm, lashing into the beast’s hide with another crackle of freezing flesh. The beast squealed and fell back, clawing at its face and neck, only to be engulfed a moment later by a black and crimson ball of flame that hurtled past his shoulder. The icy ground popped as the fire flashed the ice to steam, and the blast knocked the creature from its feet, sending it skidding over the ice and muck.
Kyran’s eyes widened in shock, his pulse nearly stopping in his chest as he whirled to see the rider, on foot now, his horse pelting away with a terrified bray. Another mage? He had never seen one before. Stars, he had started to think he was the only one.
“That ice!” the rider yelled, pulling his own dagger from his side. “Was that you?”
“What?” Kyran asked, dragging his eyes back to the beast as it began to circle, its attention switching between them.
“The ice!” the man shouted back, black fire limned with crimson dancing along the fingers of his empty hand. “You’re a mage! Is that your magic?” He thrust his hand forward, and more fire erupted from his palm, but the creature leapt out of the way, turning as it did and lunging again for Kyran, coming in low. The moment he raised his knife, though, it balked, turning its lunge aside and simply running past him.
Kyran turned to follow it so it could not get behind him, keeping his dagger raised as it continued to circle, looking for a place it could dart in below his guard. He cut a glance at the man, at the fire he wielded so openly in front of him, and swallowed the denial on his tongue. “Aye,” he finally answered, nearly choking on the word as he admitted it aloud.
“Watch your back,” the rider warned him, closing the gap between them and taking his side. “It’s after you.”
Kyran shot a quick glance at the man, but he couldn’t make out much before the creature made another quick scuttle towards him. As one, he and the rider thrust their hands forward, sending a blast of freezing air and black fire surging towards the beast. It leapt back, but could not entirely get clear. The rider’s fire caught the beast’s backside, setting it ablaze, and it bucked wildly, shrieking in pain before it dropped to the ground and began to roll in the mud, smothering the flames in the thick mud.
“Trap it!” the rider bellowed, circling out from Kyran’s side, obviously aiming to hem the creature between them.
It took Kyran a second to grasp what the man was asking of him, until he saw the water gathering in the furrows the creature had gouged into the earth. The man was asking him to use his magic.
With a cry, he thrust the tip of his knife at the monster and shoved his power through the metal towards the beast. The creature wailed in pain as frost splashed across its skin and the earth around it, enrobing it in a cocoon of frozen muck. It twitched, trying to move, to run, but it was trapped by the ice, part of its limbs frozen into the earth.
“Hold it!” the rider shouted, taking his dagger two handed and falling on the beast, driving the blade into its hide with an audible crunch. The thing screamed, its body going horribly rigid as something beneath the man’s shirt glowed with iridescent light. Then, as Kyran watched, its body began to simply fall apart, its limbs and skin, and muscle dissolving before his eyes as if consumed by some inner fire until there was nothing left, not even ash.
The man sat back on his knees, letting out a short breath before looking up at Kyran. “Was that the only one?”
Kyran nodded, gathering his senses again, bringing his magic back to heel under his control. “Aye,” he answered, his blood dimming beneath his skin. “I dinnae see another.”
The man nodded and got to his feet, wiping his dagger on his trouser leg before sheathing it at his hip. “Good.” He looked directly at Kyran, the firelight casting deep shadows over his face, but Kyran thought he could make out that the man’s eyes were blue. “You did good with that magic.”
The compliment caught him off guard. “Ah, thank you,” he hesitantly offered in return.
“It work on fires?”
“Aye, it does.”
“Good. We’ll get these fires under control, then…” The man flicked an eye up and down him, taking in his Isleish garb, no doubt. “You don’t live here, do you?”
Kyran gave the man a flat look. “No.”
“Let me buy you a drink then. As thanks. You know where the Drunken Wind is?”

Monday, May 6, 2019

Quoteable Quotes

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat." 
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Ace at Romance

Howdy folks,

It's been a hot minute since I've posted here. I really hit the ground running with this fire season. In addition, I have been working hard with Lauren on the newest drafts of Frostfire and Fated. Fingers crossed for both of those.

But, setting those aside, I wanted to talk about a question I have encountered recently after having come out as asexual and aromantic. To elaborate, I do not experience either sexual attraction or romantic attraction to people of any gender presentation. Neither do I lament this lack. I have had sex, both good and bad, and been in an intimate and long relationship. My point of view of the entire matter has always maintained that there is always something so much more productive I could be doing. It just doesn't do anything for me, as I never experience that "itch" so many people have described to me, that thing they must scratch. Sex is just an activity, one I could as easily replace with something more productive, like writing or baking a cake. And as far as romance, I admit I am willing to reevaluate my interest in that one day, but for now, the entire concept of being in a relationship and beholden unto another person simply does not interest me, and actually seems...unappealing, though I understand why other people seek it -- for companionship, reassurance, comfort, and many other reasons.

An enamel pin I purchased off of StoreEnvy from Kerin Cunningham
Somewhat understandably, I have been asked how this affects my writing, especially in the writing and enjoyment of character romances in stories. While I do not seek romance or sex in my personal life, I do enjoy watching characters in movies, shows, games, and books seeking it for themselves. There is a bit of a disconnect between myself and the fictional counterpart I am following if the plot is based heavily on characters experiencing and being influenced by lust alone, as that is not something I have ever experienced. I prefer to enjoy stories of complex relationships that develop over a long period of time (I mean a long time. Like several novel lengths). I also prefer novels to focus on issues apart from the relationship, which I like to see develop alongside the bigger plot narrative.

An acepride flag button from Laura, and an Ace Illuminati pin from Lauren (a long standing reference to not only the old internet meme, but our character on the game Secret World).
As you might gather, I am not an enormous fan of romance novels, though I do not dislike them. Often I read them with the intent of absorbing new and different ways to present language for those more romantic scenes I would like to include in my own stories. Often, this is how I personally achieve including romantic subplots in my novels -- I mimic either what I have seen in other novels that worked for that story or I base it on the observations I have made of the people around me. People watching is a favorite hobby of mine, and a great way to form new and interesting characters and perspectives.

Another important source of perspective for me are my widely varied acquaintances who do not mind my very odd questions about their sex and love lives. I am extremely grateful for their patience and understanding in trying to give me answers to questions they likely never expected to try to answer -- such as why people find lingerie appealing and why couples tend to have sex on birthdays, anniversaries, and other such occasions.

I am certain this very long post has opened up even more questions, and, so long as what you have to ask is respectful, I do not mind fielding them. Feel free to hit me up through our Facebook page.

Until next time,

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Quoteable Quotes

"The ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."

--John Augustus Shedd

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Now In Colour!

Howdy Folks!

So, as promised in thanks for all the help in choosing the subtitle for Frostfire, below is Barrett in marvelous colour, courtesy of the dark haired beauty of our pair -- Lauren. The original artwork was drawn by Laura Ann of Ethereal Illustrations. You can find more of her work (and commission her for your own purposes) on Facebook.