Making a New Map

How does one get unstuck in life?

How does one deal with being so lost that they have finally gotten tired of throwing their hands up in the air? Of starting all over once more.  Of staring at the end and knowing how much work it is going to take to make it a beginning. If one is a writer, you write.  You talk about it with people and then you write some more.

photo4.jpg

My to-do list will always exceed my can do list.

This is me doing just that.

This is me working it out.

Today, I crossed off 11 of the 14th things on my to-do list off.

I did good, today.

All and all, it was pretty spectacular for someone who has been sleeping through much the last month of her life one of two sofas.  My living room is a mixture of items I have been given over the last five years.  There are only a couple of items in the room that I purchased. A lamp shade I purchased with an ex-boyfriend  from Ikea that looked vaguely like one of the chocolate oranges you see around the winter holidays. It is absolutely hideous.  And fits perfectly.  It works in the space.  It adds something to it  The rugs and one of the bookcases as well as the TV make up the rest of the items that I purchased.  Well, beyond the books which even some of those were passed on by the dearly departed.

There are a lot of things in my home that came from death.  The death of a friend or loveIMG_8514 one has filled my living room with furniture.  My favorite lawyer bookcases and the desk where my TV sets all came from a friend’s parents.  They gave me these things after her death because I needed to furnish my new home and they were moving. It was too much for them to stay where she had died. So much of the last two years of her life were spent with them watching her.

I wear a set of rings they gave me everyday. These belonged to my friend. It is my way of remembering her. Of honoring her. I feel naked without them. If I forget these things then I will dash back into the house.

Death and the past are constant companions. Maybe that is why I have such a hard time mapping out my future direction. So much of the home I cherish has come from the past. When you walk in my house, it is clearly that I have an affliction for darker things.  I stopped repacking the entirety of the Halloween decorations years ago..  My living room, the first room, that you see has seven skulls in it.  One witch, two bats and a couple of dragons. The only room without a skull or something Halloween in it is my bathroom.

Then there are the books. Lots and lots of them.  A great deal of them are histories from around the world.  Scattered among these are the skulls and various nick-nacks.

My house sometimes scares my landlord. I have been a good tenant for the last five years which combined with being a writer as well as teacher has ensured the good will of the landlord.  Thus he has learned to humor me. I may be odd, but I pay my rent on time and don’t cause trouble.

Drapped in death and the slightly macabre my home gives most visitors a sense of peace. What is more peaceful than death?  The long sleep.  The goal for me in decorating has been to create a place that is inviting.  So far,   it seems to be just that.  I have worried in the past that my collections and love of skulls would turn people off, but as far as I know I haven’t scared anyone away.  And if I have then I have no problem with it since they didn’t tell me they were uncomfortable.  I can’t fix what I don’t know is a problem.

The map I am trying to layout currently is going to take me away from this place sooner or later. This is the second place that has been totally mine in adulthood.  I have lived here longer than anywhere else since I graduated college.  Before that I lived with my birth father after my mother and I lost our home.  I would spend the next three years living like a guest in his house.  My picture rarely made the wall of family photos and when it did, it was only for a short time.  If you walked into my father’s home, you would never know that I was his child. There is no evidence of me there at all.

The house I live in now is home. I love the idea of the life that I have built for myself.  I am proud of  how far I have some in the last couple of years.  And then there is the shame I feel for not having gotten farther. Why don’t I own a home? Why do I live so close to the edge?  Truth be total, my family won’t allow me to fall too far. They have always been there to save me from rock bottom.

Another truth be told, I have been coasting for the last couple of years.  I am smart.  This isn’t a bragging. It took me a long time to realize that I am in fact intelligent.  My mother and sister are genius so being an intelligent woman runs in my family.  I am not a Mensan like them. I haven’t bothered with the test or like my mother has suggested on more than one occasion when I as in therapy had a psychologist sign off on the paperwork.  She believes in me.  She has always seen the intelligence that has been bouncing around in my head. Years of being talked down to by my birth father, grandparents and the rest of my siblings taught me that if I wasn’t as smart as my sister and mother I wasn’t smart at all.   So I never pushed myself academically.  It was either sink or swim.  I am good at floating.

My mindset was that I only had so much intelligence. There was no way I could be as smart as other people.  Talent was something I lacked and could not develop.  Psychologist Carol Dweck calls this a fixed mindset.  I didn’t really see that I was coasting a great deal of the time just below success. I honestly thought that if I was meant to be successful it would just happen.  I never quite got there but I am never far off from it,

Don’t get me wrong, I do work hard.  Sometimes I work too much.  But that is mostly to make up from having coasted. Or when things really need to get done.  Or when I get the energy. Lack of energy has been the theme of the last couple of years.  Truth be told, I believe that I burnt out before I ever became a teacher.  Ironically, teaching is where I finally began to believe in my own intelligence.

I have been working since I was 12 years old.  Given the nature of the employment,  I worked long days and made little money (75 to 100 a week), which at twelve was big money since I didn’t have any money.  I saved pretty much every penny I yearned for either school clothes or my college fund.  I made it through college and went where life and opportunity lead me. I didn’t explore much. Kept waiting for a sign or something.  The course catalog was the sign I missed.

Kept waiting dreaming of that door to open. Kept dreaming of it.  Didn’t know how to manifest it.  People kept telling me I could do this or that.  I didn’t believe them. Seriously, I thought because  of my learning disablity (dysgraphia)  that I would never be a writer. Mmm, who was an Amazon Best Selling Author? And who is going to continue to write no matter what? Me.

I follow some very talented people online. Some of whom I am friends with and the thing about their talent. The secret to that talent is that they work at it. They keep working on it, made mistakes and kept working on it. They do the work.  (Thank you, Lisa from Halfmoon Creative Works  for reminding of this. )

I wrote Blood Child in a heart beat. I did the best I could. I got help from professionals and friends to make  and after months of hard work, there were mistakes.  There are always mistakes. No matter how hard you work there will always be typos and things you can do better.  You have to learn to do them better fix them the next time around.

The next book is coming slowly, but it is coming.  It is going to take more energy and way more work.  It is time for me to take the skill I have and begin to refine it.  I just need to shake things up and make a new map for myself.  One where I am growing.  Get out of the comfort zone and back to my happy.  My happy often comes from learning new things, traveling and having conversations.  Things that my depression and anxiety nearly robbed me of.  Things I can’t always do from where my life is right now.  From where I have directed my life.

IMG_8493Happy isn’t easy.  Happy doesn’t always mean that you feel well happy. There isn’t a glow to it always.  My happy maybe more of a flow.  When I am flowing, I am growing I moving with my life and better able to see opportunity when it presents itself.  I think though for me it is a little bit like the lamp in my living, not always pretty by itself but given a chance a thing of beauty.  The trick of manifesting that thing of beauty is seeing the potential, not listening to doubt and doing what is necessary to make it shine.  The lamp shade, didn’t natural fit the lamp.  The lamp itself had to be taken apart and reassembled.  It is still a little wobbly when bumped.

My new map is going to be made day by day.  Word by word.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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 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.

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

 

A New Day Another Page (April Page 19)

It seems like today is going to be a two page day since yesterday’s page was published today by accident, sorry. A page a day and no excuses. Next month, I plan to continue this exercise until it becomes a habit and that habit become the next book.

One thing I also need to do is organize my home office aka the dinning room so it works better as an office, not just a dumping ground. So a new book case and maybe a new vacuum if the old one can’t be fixed. My office needs to be a place where I can work and if I can’t work there then I will go to a bookstore or a park.

There will be lists of chores, a bad days, colds and family events and everyday I will need to sit down and write. Everyday I will sit down and write. It is the only way, I can be a better writer and a successful writer. I need to write and I will write.

This week is the last of a series of hard weeks where my weekends disappeared in the blink of an eye. Math class on Saturday, second job on Sunday and back to work on Monday. Monday’s and Wednesday’s are my long days so I write and write in between my classes.

A friend reminded me over and over that I did it. I am a published author and that is an amazing thing. I put my energy into writing the next book and the one after that and the one after that.

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.

Preview: Blood Child Chapter 1

Blood Child

Coverart by Steven Warrick

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.

Blood Child is being released on February 13th, 2015. Friday the 13th. 

If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work, subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter, like her page on Facebook .

The Pages So Far

1554406_504872652960925_1373652490_n (1)Thus far 2014 has been going smoothly, my resolutions are still in tact and the first storms have been weathered. Pages are flowing together and life is moving forward. There is another storm on the horizon as Luke will need to go back to the vet this week.  A week ago he was attacked and injured by another dog.  He was doing great, but has developed a cyst.  So back we go.  The first visit pushed the production of Blood Child back, but regardless of that happens on Thursday, Blood Child will begin the formatting process this week.

This week is actually a great week for me to work on book production. It is exam week so my classes are winding down and there won’t be many papers to grade.

Work on my second book, My Dragon Friday, has been moving slowly. I start back on the manuscript and then stopped, edited and repeated the cycle. In the last month, I have only added a page or two to the text, but it will be finished. Not sure when but I will finish it. I just need to get back into my writing groove. I know that I spent too much of the latter part of 2013 working to work  and didn’t get the writing I wanted done. The quest to be debt free isn’t one that I can accomplish over night and sacrificing my other dreams for that one goal.

There are a couple of blogs and articles that have really helped me see some of my thinking errors.  The first was on Cracked.com entitled 5 Things That Have to Happen Before You Fix Your Crappy Life. Now my life isn’t crappy, but there are things that I have been trying to fix for a long time this article helped drive home the point that things really aren’t going to get better overnight.  I have been holding on to the paradigm that one day a miracle is going to come along and fix this or that and even though things have been getting better they still aren’t fixed.  I felt trapped in a never ending cycle of failure because no matter how things were improving they weren’t fixed. Somethings can’t be fixed quickly and life doesn’t have a finish line.  The second was by one of my favorite bloggers, Middleagebutch, called Getting Unstuck.  I have been stuck in my writing life and her blog helped me get over the idea that I am the only one stuck. The only one not writing.

The pages of this year are coming together and as the plot unfolds, I can’t help but smile. 

Five Resolutions to Keep

1486871_633317343381861_1056690583_nSome believe that resolutions are trite, especially New Year’s resolutions.   And with the prodigious rate that New Year’s Resolutions are dropped and forgotten those holding that opinion are completely justified.

A resolution without conviction and a back-up plan is destined to fail.

You know the saying that “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  Well, if you say you are going to lose weight in the New Year and make only vague plans to join a gym then you have just planned to fail.

This year my plan is to be successful.  Success being defined here as a healthier and happier Lu.

Lu’s New Year’s Resolutions.

1.       Walk three to five miles a day. 

I said "Walk, not car ride, Luke."

I said “Walk, not car ride, Luke.”

Plan:  As soon as I wake up take Luke for a walk around the block if not further. When I get home take Luke for another walk which helps him stretch his legs after napping much of the day and helps me detox.   Yes, it is time consuming, but after mapping and timing the walk for the last two week it only takes at most ten minutes.  Around eight o’clock, I will take Luke for the big walk of the night.

Following this plan, I have walked nearly twenty miles in the last two weeks. It does involve me making sure that I get up on time and working at least an hour of exercise time into my day, but results so far have been great.  I am sleeping better and generally feel better.

How I will measure this goal:  I use two apps for this. The first is Habit List by Scott Dunlap.   I have had this one for the last six months or so and use it to both track my progress and help keep me on track with other tasks that need to be completed on a regular basis.  My longest streak of walking Luke in the morning is 194 walks in a row which was only broken by a migraine.  I also use the app to remind me to change the house’s air filter and when it is time to take Luke to the groomer.

The second app is Map My Run.   This is what I used to figure out that walking around my block is .40 miles and takes less than ten minutes even with stops.  I have also used it to pre-plan walks so that I know which routes will take me to my goal.

Anywhere between 21 to 35 miles a week, I will have achieved this goal.  I am also giving myself another month to work my way up to it.  The wiggle room is necessary because my schedule with three jobs can vary and at least twice a week I don’t get home until nearly nine o’clock at night.

*Both Apps are available in the I-tunes store.

2.       Move my diet closer to the Mediterranean diet that my cardiologist recommended while eating out less.

Nummy Salmon soon to be appearing at my house.

Nummy Salmon soon to be appearing at my house.

Plan: Use the Amazon gift card a friend gave me to purchase a new cookbook.  Adapt at least one new recipe every week and make a shopping list to stay on target.    Replace butter with Olive Oil and east more fish.  Eat less processed foods and making more use out of my garden space.

As a Celiac, I find that a lot of the traditional foods I grew up eating are heavily processed and high in sodium.  Plus, as gluten free because more popular there are a lot of companies offering “gluten free” options that aren’t safe for people like me thanks to cross contamination.  Shopping for safe products can be a headache even with my Shopwise app. (Yep, there is an app for that.)  So I try and cook most of my meals.

Following this plan is relatively easy because I have gotten used to cooking for myself more and more over the last year and my diet is pretty close to it as it is right now.  Red Curry with fish or chicken and veggies is easy for me to prepare in advance for lunch so is fish with pineapple salsa.  I made cooked my lunch this morning while I was in the shower.

The hard part is going through all of the materials on what a Mediterranean diet is and incorporating more nuts into my diet. I am not a big fan of nuts since I am allergic to walnuts and get a bit tired of almonds. And forgiving myself for emergency gluten free burritos.

How I will measure this goal:  This is going to be tough since the reason I am not going on the diet to lose weight but to help out my heart.  My weight has actually never coming into the conversation with my cardiologist. He suggested the diet because it has been shown to reduce heart related symptoms.  It won’t make my floppy heart (see The Heart of the Matter) go away, but anything to keep the bouncy heart beat down time to a minimum is worth trying.

I will share new recipes that work on Twitter and monitor how I am feeling in my journal.  This week’s recipe is Pesto Glazed Chicken.  (Follow me on Twitter to see how it turns out)

3.       Cook more for friends.  

Plan:  Cook for my parents at least twice a month and friends at least once a month.  Why? Well, my folks have been feeding me all my life and it is time I paid them back. Plus, cooking is one of the things that relaxes me. In addition, it giving me the opportunity to try out new recipes.

Following this plan involves a lot of the same things as goal #2 because I will be planning out what I eat and using a shopping list more often.  Building in social time is good for my mental and physical health and keeps me from becoming a complete hermit.

Blood Child

Coverart by Steven Warrick

How I will measure this goal: Well, more than a few of my friend read this blog so they will be expecting invitations and can feel free to harass me about this.  (That includes you, Momma) I will keep track with my calendar and again journal.

4.       Finish Formatting and Publish Blood Child.

Plan: Spend the rest of my Kickstarter budget plus some of my own money and have the book professional formatted. Read up more on the rest of the steps involved in self-publishing and marketing.

How I will measure this goal: This is the easiest goal because the outcome is so tangible.

5.       Transform my dining room into an office.

Couch Office even with puppy assistance just isn't cutting it.

Couch Office even with puppy assistance just isn’t cutting it.

Plan: Replace my current dining room table with something smaller (still allowing me to have guests) and purchase a larger desk and chair.  A rug is also a needed addition as well as some sort of filling system.  It is just too hard to write in the living room all the time and not get seduced into napping or the wiles of the internet.  All of this can be done slowly over the course of the next couple of months with the money that I will be saving by not eating out and watching Craigslist.

The hardest part will be remaining patience and not trying to do everything at once which would blow my carefully planned budget.

How I will measure this goal:  By sitting in my new office space and writing up next year’s resolution blog.

Resolutions not on my list.

Losing Weight.  – It comes back and no matter how many times I set this goal, something always happens.  I have been the same weight for about three years now.   Saying that I am going to reach such and such weight by x-date hasn’t worked out.  I don’t drink soda except once a blue moon and fast food has been off the menu for a while which is why instead of a weight goal I have two this year to help me be a better me.  Since adopting this policy, I have been told that I am loosing weight at least once a week.  The scale hasn’t changed much, but my body has.

Get out of debt – It took years to get my finances where they are and it is going to take years to get them in to shape.  Besides, my debt load is pretty bearable and what I really mean by that statement is I want money to do the things I enjoy like going to conventions, buying books and shoes and traveling. All of which I have been able to do this past year as well as pay off two of my outstanding bills.

This next year, I plan to do much the same by taking at least half the money my roommate gives me and saving it. This way, I have bill money for the summer and cushion for the next time my car breaks down.  It also means that I will be able to work less and save more.

Finishing my next novel – It took nearly two years to write and edit Blood Child  finishing my next novel make take even longer.  Yes, I have a daily writing goal but the ups and downs of writing part time with multiple jobs has taught me that make such promises to myself is setting myself up for failure.

Getting a new tattoo – This will happen, but maybe not in the next year. Money and trust have to coincide; the money for the tattoo and an artist that I trust. So far it hasn’t happened and I refuse to frustrate myself.  Rushing into something that I am going to have for the rest of my life doesn’t seem like a good plan. 

Oh, it will be. I am planning on it.

Oh, it will be. I am planning on it.