A Break From

Sweet Spring Break.   You will mostly be a break from my day job although I have work to do there for which I will be sneaking into school and completing later this week.  Not that I really want to, but lesson plans have to be written and prep.  Such is the life of a teacher.

The life of a writer is also similarly never ending cycle of work.  This week, I make no promises on what I will be accomplishing on various writing projects.  I will be writing, but school breaks tend to be horrible times for me to write as everything I put off during the school year gets shoved into a break.  I do promise to do a lot of reading.

Recently, I finished the “Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer.  I own both the book and the audio book.  I can’t recommend the audio book by enough.  It is like having Amanda Palmer speak directly to you.

Currently, I am listening to the audio book of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and narrated by Scott Brick.  And reading the Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead by Heather Pringle which is an invigorating look into the lives of the preserved dead.

After that, I am not sure. I have a lovely stack of to be read books waiting for my attention.  Although, I expect to be distracted by the latest offering by Edward Medina. Bones, Crowns and Gaman is the second novella in the Adventures of the X Pirates series.  The first book is the Demise of Foxy Jack which is available on Amazon Kindle. There is also a prolog entitled a Murder of Crows.

Alethea Kontis will be releasing the next book in her Arilland series on the 28th.  Sadly, this is the day that I go back to work so I will have to wait to dig into it.

If you need something for your reading list, check out my book, Blood Child, on Amazon.

Advertisements

The Work

The work is hard, but I do it. I try to complain less and listen more. I try to do my best.

I try and do my best.

But, lately the work of my life seems to be bring me down. One of my students confided in me today that she just wanted her struggles to be over. I didn’t want to tell her that they were only beginning.

She is about to graduate from high school.  Things are about to get real for her.

My students love me.  I know this to be true. They may not always like me. Once or twice a year, a student will come in to the classroom and announce that we are no longer friends.  That’s ok, I respond. I am good with being their teacher.

The one thing that bugs me. The one thing that keeps coming back to me is that they don’t see their teachers as a success.

All the complaints made by teachers (including myself) and the media about teacher pay have led them to believe that teaching isn’t a good career choice.  The thing is even with a budget I am struggling  to make ends meat.  There are no summers off for me.  I have to find work or go deeper into debt.  Most of the time both things happen.

In the meantime between lesson planning  and general life maintenance, I write. Lately the maintenance has been taking more and more of my time.  The cold, I wrote about over a month ago never really went away.  It is now a sinus infection.

My body pleads for sleep and my mind denies it.

The work has gotten muddled for me in politics. The politics of having male bosses with a mostly female workforce.  Being denied a promotion because the principal likes people he can talk to.  Not even granting me an interview for the position I worked so hard for.

Everything has gotten lost in my  inability to find a way to make all the things work.  Maybe I need to get a roommate again and give up the office that I took so long to create for myself. The office whose door is still undone.

IMG_0389

Maybe it is time to give up writing and worrying about making it a career. I have my book.  It has been moderately successful.

Maybe it is time to retired to an ordinary life.  Not the one I attempt to live.

Maybe, but let’s be honest. I have never taken the easy road. I have been back down from a challenge without a plan to regroup.

This is where I am now.

Here in the muck.

And that is ok.

Writing is hard.  Really hard. But it is always something that fills me with joy when I am not indulging  the fraud police (thank you, Amanda Palmer for that and so much more).  As does teaching.

Ignorance has I tell my students is not cute. You will learn things in this class whether you like to or not.  It is a lot like life.  You are going to learn something whether you intended to do so or not.

Good night all. Good luck in your work what ever it is.

Love,

Lu

P.S. . Check out my book, Blood Child, on Amazon.

Writer and the Cold

Writing was slow this weekend. Not because Captain A returned, but thanks to a lovely winter cold.

I spent most of Saturday in a hazy followed by a nap. Then another nap.  I did make it in to the land of the cognizant for a couple of hours to watch Deadpool with a friend.  (Great movie, but please don’t take your kids. Seriously, don’t do it!)  I thought about writing, even opened the notebook to begin writing.  It was a fail.  I ended up crawling into bed and staying there.

Sick Lu

Sunday wasn’t much better.  Although I did watch two more movies while I was at my sister’s house enjoying some homemade treats and doing pretty much nothing.  (Thanks, Zee-Mama)  I came home and went straight to bed.

This writer has been laying in bed all morning trying to summon the energy to get into gear.   And you know what it isn’t happening.

The dishes aren’t going to get done.  The laundry will stay slightly stinky and I will spend most of the day drifting in and out of napping.

And that’s alright. It is ok, to take care of myself and not to push myself.  It is ok to let my house get a little messy.

It isn’t a permanent state.

12744122_10153985437359917_2939983936358604927_n

What I can do right now is get some rest and take care of myself.  Burning the candle at both ends won’t help the next book get written or grade the student papers. All it will help do is give my cold a lease to stay longer.

Taking care of yourself isn’t a waste of time. It is necessary.

So, it is back to bed for me.

Love and Sneezes,

Lu

P.S. Check out my book, Blood Child, on Amazon.  It is only .99 cents for the month of February.

Happy Birthday, Blood Child

Signing a book for the lovely Squeaker.

Signing a book for the lovely Squeaker.

One year ago, Blood Child was officially released.   It has been a great year.  Thus far, little Blood Child has earned 8-5-Star reviews and spend sometimes on an Amazon top-ten list.

Thank you once again.   Enjoy chapter 1 of Blood Child.  The complete novella is available on Amazon for only .99 cents.

Chapter 1

“I am not drunk enough to talk about it now.”

The interview I had lobbied over six months for just turned on her heels and walked back into the shadows of the house, leaving the door wide open and giving me an excellent view of her curves. My appreciation for them was short-lived, since cool air slapped me as I hesitated on the threshold, trying to take in the house’s details. The ten-foot walk from the car had broken me out in a sweat, making it difficult to concentrate. It wasn’t even May, and already Florida was managing to melt British tourists and small yippy dogs into smelly, sticky puddles. Since I was British born myself, it was only being raised in the United States that kept me from disintegrating.

As I watched the current Countess Bathory return, it occurred to me that she was nothing like her infamous blood-bathing ancestor. She had no aura of power or authority. She was, in fact, a wino, judging from the bin overflowing with bottles on the front porch. Albeit, an incredibly attractive one.

Technically, she wasn’t a countess, having renounced the title but keeping the money she had inherited along with it. Only people in fairy tales give up both, and usually for love. As far as I knew, Ms. Bath was single.

Nothing about Emily Bath made sense. She was richer than Donald Trump and had more degrees than Neil Degrasse Tyson, yet she lived in a tiny orchid-colored house in a mismatched Orlando neighborhood. She taught high school—not even a regular high school, but an alternative one for students who had been kicked out. She could have done anything and willingly chose to work in high school hell.

The interior was incredibly modest, if not a little old-fashioned for a thirty-something heiress or anyone in her thirties. The floors creaked with each step. There was no TV in sight, just bookshelves and seating. All the furnishings looked like they were hand-me-downs from someone’s long-deceased grandparents. The sofa engulfed me in patterned floral pillows. The countess smirked as I struggled to right myself. At least she had a sense of humor.

Still nothing about the home spoke of the mounds of wealth she had; it was all understated and sadly normal. I expected more—craved it, to be honest.

Emily Erzabet Bath was the survivor of a modern-day murder mystery. Nine years ago she and her three older brothers spent the weekend at their late father’s estate for his funeral in upstate New York. Her brothers died, along with twenty other souls.

The manor had been drenched in blood, literally. It dripped off tables, pooled in puddles on the floor, and had unartfully spattered the walls. The first officers on scene inched their way around the edges of each room as they searched for survivors. They weren’t trying to preserve evidence. No one wanted to step in that much blood. It was inconceivable that anyone could have survived the carnage. Pieces of victims were carried out bit by bit for nearly a week. The local police chief was one of the dead, along with his wife, so state police were immediately called in. They in turn called the FBI. It was a forensic nightmare. It took years for them to sort everything out, and then the picture that the evidence painted didn’t make any sense.

People were found at nearly all the exits, but no one made it outside before being killed. No one tried to call for help. All the phones at the estate were working, yet no one used them.

The officers who found Emily broke into her room after following a blood trail, only to find her cloistered in the back of the closet beneath a bunch of old musky coats stained with her blood. The combination of the smells—musky fur, stale blood, and human excrement—remained with the two men. Their stomachs emptied upon seeing Emily broken and begging for help with her eyes. Ten years later, even mentioning her or her condition made the two turn green. They thought she was dead until her bloodshot emerald eyes opened. She was severely dehydrated, with deep bloody scratches that had turned her flesh into ribbons; her wounds would seep blood for days after her rescue, confounding the medical staff. It was months before she was released from the hospital.

Emily allegedly had fled to her room and remained there the entire weekend. She couldn’t explain how she had gotten there or what had happened. Her story just didn’t hold up. Many believed she was at least partially responsible for the deaths of the twenty-three people in attendance. Maybe she really didn’t remember? It was possible, but why did she hide instead of calling for help or attempting to leave the estate? There were more questions than logical answers in the bloody tale of Emily Bath. The tabloid media had attempted to keep the story alive, supposedly to get answers, even after the relatives of the deceased pleaded with them to stop. A couple of lawsuits, combined with the complete unwillingness of law enforcement officials to contribute to the macabre circus surrounding the case, finally brought things to an end after about three years.

Now, as the ten-year anniversary approached, interest in the case was reemerging, making this interview priceless. And I was the man who landed it—the first and only person to speak to the reclusive Ms. Bath on the record. Persistence, charm, and just a bit of cyber stalking had won the day; being unemployed finally had a benefit.

No evidence was found linking Emily to the deaths, according to the investigator’s report in my satchel. No evidence was found linking anyone to the crime. The report had cost a pretty borrowed penny. Now I was wondering if the expense had been worth it. She was just so ordinary. So painfully ordinary.

Emily returned from the kitchen carrying two glasses of deep-red wine. When I started to protest, she informed me that I would need it.

“Mr. Clark, please…humor me.”

“All right, Ms. Bath. Do you mind if I record this conversation?”

“Not at all. I would appreciate a copy. Also, my attorney, Mr. McNeal, would like you to

sign this disclosure agreement prior to us continuing.”

“I don’t think my editor would approve any agreement that limits or restricts the content of the article.”

“Let’s be frank, Mr. Clark. You don’t have an editor. And you haven’t had one for the last six months. Your freelance opportunities have dried up, along with your hope and savings.”

I wanted to protest, but she was telling the truth. I had been let go from the Times six months ago. Budget cuts or some other bureaucratic nonsense was the official reason; sleeping with my editor’s grandson was the true cause of my separation from the nation’s foremost paper.

In my defense, Philip was twenty-one, and I had no idea that he and my editor, Ashley, were related. She wasn’t amused to find us cuddling in the afterglow on her $1,500 sofa. It probably didn’t help that I was also sleeping with her and was too intoxicated to notice where I had passed out. In the paper’s defense, I was only great at my job when I was sober, and I was rarely sober. Drunk, I was just OK. Sad, but true; I could do my job intoxicated and get away with it for the most part.

Looking over the agreement, I was surprised to see that it didn’t restrict what I wrote—only that I share any new information I found with Ms. Bath and her attorneys, as well as proofs prior to publication. If I had an editor or had been attached to a company, I would have had them research it before signing, but I didn’t, and Emily had called my bluff.

“Why do you think I have access to information that you don’t have?” I asked.

She sighed, reaching for my satchel. Before I could protest, she pulled out the investigator’s report and tossed it on the ottoman.

 “You purchased that from Detective Anderson two months ago. My sources weren’t able to get a full report. They didn’t think to approach him directly, a misstep on their part.”

Her smile was the first hint that she wasn’t entirely innocent; I didn’t think she had killed anyone, but that still didn’t make her guilt-free. She just didn’t seem capable of mass murder. Still, everyone is guilty of something. It just might not be illegal. “Of course, your copy doesn’t include all the crime scene photos. I am willing to share if you sign.”

“Touché, Ms. Bath.”

“Sign and you can call me Em.”

I shook my head as I signed it, just to be dramatic. The wine was beginning to look more and more appealing.

“Anything else, Em?”

“No, the floor is yours. Let the inquisition begin.”

I had to glance down at my notebook to be sure where to start. Em had thrown me off more than the past six months without meaningful work. Or maybe it was everything that was riding on this interview going well. I was pretty sure Ashley had started to use her connections to blackball me when I didn’t appear to be suffering enough to satisfy her. Even Cat Fancy’s editor refused my calls. Pulling off this story would make me instantly marketable again.

Looking at Em, I realized she could have been her ancestor’s twin, except she was most definitely curvier. She had the same delicate almond-shaped eyes, china-doll skin, and brunette hair so dark; at first glance it appeared black. She leaned back into the plush sofa as if she were having a conversation with an old friend. Smiling, I began…

Five hours, two bottles of wine, and ten pages of notes later, I departed the tiny orchid house, making it back to the hotel as quickly and safely as possible. Luckily, I had experience driving during these conditions. Becoming inebriated in the course of an interview is never recommended or suggested, but Em had been right; the wine was necessary even for this seasoned drunk. I knew I could count on the recording to help me where my notes trailed off. Experience had taught me well to always have a backup plan.

If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter or like her page on Facebook.  Her new novella, Blood Child is available on Amazon.

A Good Man Died

A good man died today, or maybe it was yesterday.

News of his passing just reached me today

A good man died

And in his honor I’m drinking some whiskey

Some sweet Jack that he would have liked

My heart weeps and my world quakes

But its foundations still hold firm

I may weep and I may wail

But my world has not been shattered.

My grief does sting , but it cannot, will not eclipse

That of those

Who held his heart their hands

Who lost their sun and moon today

To them and for them

I hold my glass up high

And weep still more tears

For grief, I cannot comprehend.

IMG_2859

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will miss you, Chris.  Be at peace, you are loved. You are remembered. 

A Book Out and A Short Story on the Way

Blood Child

Coverart by Steven Warrick

February 13th is fast approaching and with it comes the one year anniversary of Blood Child‘s release.   Over seven hundred people have it in their hands and on their devices.

Thank you, because thanks to you, dear readers,  I made it on an Amazon Best Seller list.   For those of you who haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy, it is .99 cents for a limit time on Amazon.

“This is an amazing book! As the story progressed and more pages were turned I was beginning to wonder if this was going to be part one and I’d have to wait for a second book to find out what happened but then right at the end it all came together and was an ending I never saw coming. Excellent work Lucinda! Can’t wait for your next work!” – Amazon Reader

“Blood Child will keep you on your toes until the very end. You will not want to put it down. Grab a refreshment and cozy in for a good read.” – Marie Arminger

“Excellent. Grabbed my attention from beginning to end. I devoured it and now I’m craving more.” – Amazon Reader

I have begun work on the next book, Blood Ties, which is set to take place five years after the first book.  I won’t say much as it is very much a work in progress.

What I can talk about is Shadow Cat which is currently in the hands of my lovely editor, Zee.  It is a short story about a rather spectacular specter of feline making his rounds on All Hallow’s Eve.  ShadowsTale

Here is a brief taste of that Shadow’s Tale has in store for you.

The Florida air on All Hallow’s Eve isn’t crisp or chill, but muggy and dank giving way to a proliferation of minuscule costumes for all ages and sexes, although the ubiquitous robe with accompanying mask are still a favorite for the adolescent crowd. In days past, every neighborhood had houses with their porch lights lit declaring their intention to pass out candy.  But neighborhoods change.  City ordinances restricting teens from roaming the streets left some parts of the City Beautiful virtual ghost towns with only a few hearty souls daring to search out the few houses dispensing confections. The streets of these neighborhoods are far riper with ghosts and ghouls than one would imagine, but that is really neither here nor there since they are also well-suited to a black cat slinging his way home when all the good little kittens are tucked into bed or sleeping on people’s heads. A black cat not on a mission from some demeaned witch or demon, but one who has a story to tell.

The Good with the Bad

The day began with insomnia

drifted into lateness

and fell into despair

One found dead, the news feed reads

the reaper’s  prize

at last

sorrows grips friends

still other silent cheer the end of the road

two kids in a doctor’s office sick with the flu

 

two strangers cling to life

victims of happenstance

attended by the best

No news is good news or so the fellows say

No news is bad news worries the friends

beloved ones

Victory arrives late

lesson learned, acceptance obtained

a child born

new shoes,  credit extended ,

then end of an abusive relationship

 

No clever words need

or cliques expressed

Just another day

the good with the bad

the bad with good

perspective the only means of definition

 

 

An Old Friend Returns…Anxiety

Out of the Frying Pan and into the Lion's Mouth.. wait a second???

Out of the Frying Pan and into the Lion’s Mouth.. wait a second???

It would be nice to think that when things are going well that Captain A  would have no cause to come visiting.  The Fraud Police would stay in their precinct and every thing would be hunky dory.

But, Anxiety is an A-hole and doesn’t care about failure the way that it does about success.  Success provides it with so much fuel for doubt.

My fellow writers and creative friends know this to be true.  We are afraid to do what is most authentic at time because we are afraid of how people will react.  How they will see us? Will we face harassment ? For our art, personal appearance or both? Will be reject wholesale for sharing?

Captain A also doesn’t play the same game every time. Sometimes it speaks in whispers. Sometimes it brings us panic attacks.  More than one friend of mine, it has brought on the horrors of agoraphobia.   For the past couple of months, I have been afraid to see how my book sales have been going convinced that looking would just confirm that my book was a failure.   I have advertised here or there, but no plan of attack.   I just kept hoping that someone would see it and buy it.  Once or twice a month some did.

And slowly but surely, reviews came in. All good.  Friends told me how much they liked. One sweet lady who was brought to my book signing by friends has passed the book on to all of her friends who equally loved it.  Her words of encouragement have brighten more than one sad day for me.

But, still I thought I was a failure.  Or the next book will be and I will be found out.  When my new bossed bragged about all of his Amazon offerings, I thought of Blood Child as a sad little book. Nothing to brag about.

Then Bowie died and  I made the decision to work more on my writing, my art. Life is too short to wait for the right time. So on a whim, I offered my book, Blood Child for free on Amazon.  I didn’t expect much as a result of this as I done this before with mediocre results.  Mr. Anxiety predicted that I would get the same results.

Screenshot (2)

Then I checked the unit numbers and over a hundred and fifty people had downloaded my book.   Overnight, Blood Child   made the top ten on Amazon’s list of Short Reads for Mystery Thrillers.  And it stayed there for three days.  Over 503 people downloaded it.

For three days,  I was a Best Selling Author on Amazon.  On day two, Mr. A and his companions, the Fraud Police stopped in.  They stayed most of Sunday and only really departed today around noon.  I did very little promoting on Saturday. My mind was set on cleaning up my grandmother’s thread case.  Sunday, things happened, but I don’t remember working much. There was an attempt at work.  Some posts here and there. Monday was spent in the doctor’s off and a last minute push to get my book into more people’s hands.  More hands means more reviews and eventually more sales in theory.

I could have done more.  A dear friend of mine gave me so advice to help Blood Child stay on top and I didn’t do it. I hear it and didn’t act on it. I was too much in my head.  Everything seemed like it was too much.  There was a weight on my mind.  I felt like I was swimming through my own day.  I spend hours not working just watching TV and feeling like I messing up. And I was.  Sunday night, I tried to sleep in my new bed and ended up fleeing to the sofa.

My dogs came with me, which was awkward since they out weigh me.  Laying there in the chilly winter air being half smothered by dogs I felt ok. Not great, but ok. The kind of ok that you get after you have been crying. I hadn’t been crying.  Just beating myself up mentally for all my mistakes.

new photos 012

Like waiting to long to pay my traffic ticket and incurring another fine.  For not doing more to promote my book and work on other projects.  Not speaking up enough at work and not holding my tongue when it counts.

I could have done so much that weekend and I didn’t.   And Captain A and his friends would have me believe that it wasn’t a success that it wasn’t a big deal and in the grand scheme of things it might not be, but you know what I did something. I said “Hey, Universe, here is my book. Check it out.” And it did.

It doesn’t matter what Mr. A and the fraud police think.  Seeing my book climb in the ratings even for a couple of days made me feel good.  Thinking about it now, I am smiling. I am ready to brag, no, because I still have a long way to go in my writing career.

A long, long way, but I did something this weekend it was a success.

This latest brush with Captain  A  and his Fraud Police was a light one. I didn’t descent into a full panic attack or depression.

When I wrote “Anxiety and the Writer”, I was a little afraid to put myself out there. Things were going good so why ruin it by talking about good days.  Especially when you know that bad ones are coming.

I think the answer is in what author and poet, Cecilia Rodriguez Millanes, has said over and over to her students and readers, “If you are afraid to something, that is what you need to write about.”

When you do that you are finding your voice that authentic voice that all writers and author dream out. The voice that will pull readers into your stories, into the worlds that you have created for them and you create space for others to express themselves.

Thanks for listening.

Much love and best of luck,

Lu Lu, just Lu

 

Aftermath

 

Professional and fun.

Thank goodness, I wasn’t wearing this.

Friday, seventh period, screams ring out and I go running into a classroom.  Not my own.

Not a minute later, it is over and it is time to clean up the chaos.

There are lots of things to say about the forty-five seconds or so of fighting that took place that it is hard to describe the aftermath.  Shoes, earrings and weave scattered about the classroom, way too many people looking at us like were were exhibits at the zoo and the expectation that I automatically knew what to do next. I wanted to stay and comfort the senior who might have tossed her education out the door.

Instead, I gave my seventh period a quiz.

The two combatants were largely unhurt. I came out of Room 130 with a few scratches and a kick to the stomach.  One of the student’s who intervened ended up dealing with the aftereffects of a punch to the face. It was  a turbulent end to a largely uneventfully week.

IMG_0770

A peaceful classroom

The weekend was beginning to look like I needed a stiff drink and some quality time with my friend, Jim Bean. I ended up getting a nice long shower, an hour and a half drive to Lake Wales and a down home Southern dinner. There my problems didn’t have any traction and I was forced just to relax and let myself experience the here and now.

Bad things happen everyday.  Friday, two students had their emotions erupted and the lava flow took over the science classroom.  It could have been the start to a very bad weekend.  I had already burnt my hand; the fight at the end of the day just seemed like the icing on a very dry cake.

Then I was given the gift of time. Time to decompress and not think. Not think about the papers that need to be graded or the repercussions for the students involved. There was time for me to take a deep breath. There was nothing I could do for the students after I gave my statement.  Their fate is in the hands of administration.

I could be still recounting the fight, instead I am living my life.

I think I made the right choice.