A Little Announcement (CAMP NaNo)

It’s a little after six in the morning here and it’s just me and the cat and the one crow I’ve heard call before sunrise alive in the apartment building. I love the early quiet of the morning and how it allows me time to reflect and get grounded for the day before the rest of the world starts running in circles. It’s also the best time for me to write. I’m not writing this morning, though. Well, unless you count this blog. I haven’t written for a week. Even when I have a book in editing that’s unusual for me.

I’d like to say 2020 left me raw, but I was raw going into 2020. I was raw from 2019 and now sitting here in 2021 I alternate between my skin feeling like stone and parchment paper. It took a little longer for me to feel the effects of not going out (I’m still not going anywhere if I can avoid it. I live in a big anti-masker area and my anxiety doesn’t deal well with it in general.) and the effects of what my friends and I have started to call COVID economy. I go to bed thinking about the future and wake up thinking about the future -usually full of dread. I know it’s not sexy or whatever, but it’s where I am. I’ve always been honest about mental health, because too many times it gets swept under the rug. I always figure, if I let one person know that they’re not alone in their struggles that’s enough for me.

My friends have been incredibly awesome during all of this. Some days I feel like we take turns between freaking out and being the voice of reason. I love them to death and would be lost without them.

I’ve received a lot of advice about writing and words of encouragement that go every which way. For me, not writing isn’t a choice. When everyone says to take a break or try something else, I’ve done that before. Writing suits me – it’s solo for the most part. It enables me to put ideas into words that I couldn’t otherwise. So, all their well meaning advice about doing anything else goes out the window, because I can’t give up. Burnout is part of the process sometimes and anxiety/CPTSD makes it worse when it does happen.

And throughout my lifetime, I know the one thing that combats anxiety – keeping busy and sometimes switching things up. We’re going into storm season here which means maybe I am crazy for what I’m going to do. Though, all the best people are bit crazy, if you ask me.

As many of you know Camp NaNo is next month. It’s the baby sibling of November’s NaNoWriMo. I usually avoid writing camps, because I write so much normally. I always feel like maybe they weren’t meant for me. With my current lack of motivation (not inspiration. I know what the next book in my series is about – I know who and what and why. Hell, I have a short from a dead character with something to say that needs to go into editing soon.) I just lack motivation – or the ability to turn off dread of the great WHAT-IF? So, I’m going to participate in Camp NaNo. I’ll probably (hopefully) start writing on the book I’m planning to use it for ahead of time, but since I’m aiming for somewhere in the neighborhood of 75-90k words, I think that’s fair. Camp Nano is all about finishing up projects anyway.

I think going into Nano will give me my motivation back and give me a reason to blog more. Switching things up just enough to get me moving again and I need that. I need something to focus on and I think it’s time for me to do Camp again.

If you haven’t heard my latest novel launched yesterday: Book 6 of Love by Glitter Bomb: To Save a Sidhe

To Save a Sidhe by [Maggie Hemlock]

Writing, Creativity, and Anxiety


Okay, time for some real talk, guys. It’s no secret that I have anxiety and CPTSD. I talk about it everywhere. On purpose. I always think if one person reads something I say and doesn’t feel alone I’ve found a little purpose in my discomfort. That’s important to me.

Since the beginning of 2019 I’ve felt like I’ve been ‘living between the anxieties.’ Basically, meaning I shove as much as I can of the good stuff in between all the crap. Yes, 2020 was crap for everyone. Extroverts everywhere have told me so. Introverts too – but not always because of the lockdown. But it’s been a little over two years since the last time I had a period of time where life was on the level and it’s starting to wear on me in ways I can’t hide. People notice – long droughts from posting on Facebook. Blogs that are sporadically scheduled at best. Some days, I think it’s never going to change. Some days I know it’ll never change. The world will keep revolving, but I’ll always have anxiety and big triggers. I’ll always have to live in between them. That doesn’t mean I don’t have good days – because I do. But I also have nights like tonight:

-Sales are down. Covid economy. Other writers are experiencing similar things. I know a few indies who have thrown up their hands at it all in the last few months. I’ve considered it too. I’m not to that point yet. I am doing side jobs again, though. More work for the same amount of money leaves less time for self care. It can’t be helped. It is what it is.

-I’m behind on work because of lost sleep last month before I could find a vet willing to fix my cat. More lost sleep as cat had difficult recovery.

-Storms – with a possibility of isolated tornadoes in my area Wednesday – Friday morning. So, yeah I’m already feeling the sinking feeling in my stomach.

-My editor and I are in the middle of editing a book. We live in 2 different states. We’re both in areas possibly effected. If the net or power goes I’m more behind.

-People telling me not to worry about being behind in a ‘creative career’ art takes time. Yeah, those same people have never finished a massive artistic project and made a living off of it for the most part. See my point up there about sales being lower and me on the brink of saying ‘Oh, enough’s enough. I give up.”

-I miss people who I’ve lost to covid. I miss so many people and don’t believe the world will ever be the same.

So, the next few days belong to anxiety. Mostly, storm anxiety. It’s not going anywhere. I’ve done therapy. I’ve done everything. Living in Missouri ruined me for any thunderstorm. Alongside anxiety, needs to live someone able to answer e-mails and put in edits and stay positive on social media and not ride the doom spiral. We’ll see what happens.

What does this have to do with writing and creativity? Everything! Every writer friend I have – has anxiety. Mostly, major anxiety filled with triggers and panic attacks and everything that comes with it. It’s as if imagining the worst is good fuel for novels. Sometimes, fixing ‘the worst’ in fiction soothes the soul. As a writing I believe I write to fix all the things I can’t fix in the world. Bad guys eventually die – the good guys mostly win. People fall in love and have a chance to live their lives without hell raining on every side.

Some days, it’s all I can do to wait until after my coffee kicks in to get to the keyboard and hammer out the details of the lives of fictional people. I’m thrilled to do my job. It’s the one part of my life I know for sure I enjoy – the writing part that is.

So, what is anyone to take from this? Live between the storms. Live between the bad times. They’ll always be around the corner, but the time in between belongs to us.


My Week 2 Quarantineathon Readathon Wrap Up

Today I’m blah. Reading is blah. Writing is blah. Today is blah. I wrote few really emotionally challenging chapters today for Sky’s book. It’s only 11 AM and I have what I can only call an emotional hangover. I’ve written plenty of emotional scenes, but this is the first time I’ve actually had an emotional hangover from writing. Like pure numb verging on sad emotional hangover. I always knew Sky’s book would be difficult to write, but here it is. It’s moving along.

So, let’s talk about what I read this week for the readathon. This week the prompt was to read a book with an at risk character. This book had 2 of them. One was a chronic pain sufferer, Rachel, seeking a way to live with her pain and break her dependence on abusing narcotics to survive. The other was a terminally ill older gentleman with a neuro degenerative disease named Harry.

The 100 Year Miracle

The search for a ‘cure’ led Rachel to a fictional island with a greatly written backstory and lore. This book had me with all of its twists and turns.

Also, as someone with chronic pain I related so freaking hard to Rachel. It was good chronic pain rep (if you ignore her extra pills.) But the way the author wrote her with both desperation and determination was incredible.

It wasn’t all depressing and pain, though. There was adventure, mystery, and witty lines like this: The waitress looked like she wanted to be in the middle of an argument with a handicapped person about as much as she wanted to antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.

It was full of laugh out loud lines like that at times.

Next week’s prompt is to read about an essential employee. I’m reading a autobio/memoir of a medical examiner. Tune in next week to find out if I made it through. This was the recommendation of a friend – HI MEG! Well, hi if you’re reading this. lol I’m excited about it, but also I know anything cardio-vascular makes me squirmy.



What a Novelist Learned About Themselves in Self-Isolation So Far

I’ve finished my second book for #Quarantineathon and will do a blog about it soon, but the readathon has got me thinking about somethings I’ve realized along the way. I’m still staying home and just avoiding people in general for the sake of my own health. Yep. This is my plan for the long run. It’s mentally and emotionally challenging, but I think it’s the best way forward for me. Just a warning from someone with PTSD and anxiety some of these are probably morbid and deep. Others are absolutely silly and ridiculous. Read ahead, but you’ve been warned.

1. I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of suffering.

As my longtime readers know I have an unhealthy obsession with wondering about what comes after death. I’ve had it for years. Not just in a spiritual seeker way either. Like I used to have panic attacks about falling into oblivion. I don’t think I was ever really afraid of dying. I’m afraid of suffering. Hearing about how this virus kills people scares the shit out of me. I’ve had healthy anxiety off and on my whole life. I think this is why. I think it’s pretty common too, but it’s something I didn’t actually put together until recently.

2. I don’t fear not getting to do everything I want in life. I fear being forgotten.

I was born with a TBR list too long to ever read. I want to see more of the world than my bad foot and bank account will ever let me. I’m okay with that. I still have great experiences. What I fear is doing nothing worth remembering. I have friends who tell me I have people who enjoy my books – I’ve impacted a small corner of the world. Okay, yeah, but I’m afraid I’ll be forgotten. One day I will. John Green talks about this a lot. That he fears something similar and one day that will happen no matter what we do as individuals. I’ll settle for cheering up and making as many people laugh as possible for the time I’m here.

3. I am NOT a workaholic. Writing is a coping mechanism for me.

Seriously. I write to explain the world to myself and to better understand the world around me. Something about sitting uninterrupted for hours at a time tapping away at the keyboard soothes my anxious soul. When I can’t or don’t the world is too much.

4. I’m an introvert, but I miss the people at my local grocery store.

I want to know how my favorite and usual cashier’s grandkids are. I want to know how the lady at customer service is doing on weight watchers. I don’t have contact with them on social media and I miss my weekly updates on their lives.

I also miss the old people who always chose me to ask where something was or if I’d help them get something down. I miss hearing their stories and seeing their smiles. I miss the rugrats darting in between carts and laughing. It was never really a personal experience, but as an introvert it was an experience I loved.

People are creatures of habit and I saw a lot of the same folks every week. I miss them. I doubt they’re reading this, but if you’re in a little town in WV and have a customer who always asks about your grandkids -it’s me!!!! lol

5. I don’t get bored of reading.

I always thought there would be a point I got bored of reading. There’s not. I’ve gotten bored of particular books. Don’t give me that look. We all do it. I just haven’t gotten bored of reading.

6. I hate when another person reads to me, but I love audiobooks. I like them more than Netflix.

Seriously, this one through me for a loop. Before this crazy all started I mostly listened to them while I gamed. (Stardew Valley and Sims 3 if you must know). Now, I listen to them while I clean and  cook. Sometimes if I’m overwhelmed by my own thoughts (and it’s not storming) I’ll lay down and just listen to half an hour of one doing nothing else. It’s nice to focus on.

7. I have more of an online support network than I thought.

Now that I all of my social activities are online I realize how many people I speak to every day and how much I enjoy those conversations. I knew I cared about them, but I didn’t realize how much.

8. I love talking about books. 

Okay, so there was a time in my life I knew this. Then I started hanging out with a bunch of people who didn’t read. My reading time shrank and so did how much I talked about books. (Not Harry Potter. Still brought it up every time I could.) Now, I talk about books all the time. I do it on the phone. I participate in r/52book. This is the first month I’m participating in a reading on r/bookclub. (Both are on Reddit for those of you unfamiliar with the platform.) We’re reading Journey to the Center of the Earth. This isn’t a book I’d have picked up on my own. It’s an okay book, but I love talking about it with other people.

9. I’ve been sad for a long time.

I’m good at ignoring sad. I’m really good at it given my early childhood and teen years. I’m okay with being sad, because so much has happened to me over the last few years that has really added to and brought to the surface my PTSD issues. I don’t really ignore it anymore, though. I can’t. It’s me and sadness alone on the computer trying to avoid each other. It doesn’t work.

I’ve cried. I’ve journaled. I’ve admitted to myself how much some people close to me really broke my heart. I admitted and accepted as much as I want to be a stone hearted bitch, I’m not. At times I’m a bleeding heart and that’s why I cut out toxic people so much. I know they’ll hurt me and I just don’t have time to be hurt over and over. I don’t need those people in my life.

10. There is no limit to the amount of times I will watch Orange is the New Black.

Seriously, sometimes I have it on all the time if I’m not reading, working, or listening to an audiobook. I keep going back to it when there’s nothing to watch.

11. Left to my own devices I maintain weight, but don’t lose it.

I’ve been on a weight loss journey for a long time. With being home so much I’ve cut myself a lot of slack. Anxiety messes with my appetite in both directions. I won’t eat all day one day and then only eat dinner. On another day I’ll snack all day. Then the next I’ll eat three meals. This is me when I’m not tracking calories. Somehow over the last month of not tracking I haven’t gained or lost a single pound.

12. I probably should make a twitter account.

I hate drama. So much of what I see from Twitter is drama. Damn it hell, though, that’s also where so many readathons are based. I’m thinking about it, but probably won’t make an account.

What have you learned about yourself during this chaotic time?


What I Inherited from My Estranged Mother

I’m taking a day off today from writing. I’ve said it was to take care of filing my taxes online. I said it was because Saturday I wrote emotionally challenging scene. Both of those things are true, but there’s something else too.

Mother’s Day is a bitch for me. My mother never really was a mother even when she was around. I mean, in my early years she was there physically, but a combination of mental illness and drug addiction left her anywhere but actually there.

Full disclaimer: At the time my father wasn’t much better. He’s somewhat better now, but we don’t connect. Not really. This coupled with various drama throughout my family leaves me making my own family with my friends. I love them.

It also leaves me feeling lonely. I spent years wondering why I couldn’t connect with my father? We have nothing except blood and a caffeine addiction in common.

So if I’m not like him or any of my aunts or uncles where did I come from? I mean, yeah, I partially raised myself. Sometimes I joke that books raised me and they did in someways.

Where did those books come from? My mother. It’s a mixed bag. I remember her buying me books during her clean periods. I remember her reading them to me sometimes. I think this is why I don’t remember learning to read like a lot of people do. I think it’s wrapped up in my early childhood abuse/neglect memories and my PTSD programed mind protects me from it.

But the books were there. I remember one traumatic reading experience. We were reading Disney’s Aristocats (Spelling?) I loved those stupid cats and watched the movie and read the book a lot. Sometimes she read it to me. By the time of this memory I was probably 5 and preferred not to be read to, but I mean I was 5 any attention was good attention, right?

Well, she was reading it to me and she skipped half of the middle. I wasn’t going to stand for it. So, she went back and read it inserting her own crude language. I wasn’t having that either – this was my book. My story. I often imagined myself an extra kitten in the story. Well, that went over about as well as you expect with an addict. She whacked me across the face, ripped the book apart, and continued to beat me with it. Gone was my favorite book of the time.

After that I hid my books from her. I hid a lot of my things from her. Hell, at some points I hid the baby from her. The literal baby. My brother.

I continued to read, though. At school. At my grandma’s. Anywhere I could find books. Then we didn’t talk about reading again until I was 9. We were snowed in and I ran out of library books. She tossed me a book of mommy porn – basically one of those romances from the civil war era. I can’t remember the name of the book and I’ve tried. I’ve searched and even asked around Reddit, but apparently I don’t remember the right details.

I don’t know that my love of reading came from her. During her short clean periods she did read her romance novels. What I gained from her was the ability to escape into books – I had to. And sometimes in there I wrote my little stories. The first one was writing an episode of Flintstones to add myself in. Yep. Seven year old Maggie wrote fanfiction for The Flintstones. Yep.

So from all the things I inherited from her – trust issues, relationship complications, PTSD, scars, years of therapy, and more. What can I take away from all of this?

I became a writer and a book lover. They were my friends when she and her long line of abusive boyfriends chased off real people from my life. That love of story telling and immersing myself in a good story was the sole thing I snatched and kept for myself.

I’ve been asked why there’s not more moms in my stories. I usually answer with ‘Well, I write Mpreg!” lol And that’s part of the truth. The other part is I’m afraid my own mother would creep in there. I mean there are obviously some mom’s in my stories. (RIP Miriam)

I’ve always wondered what my life would have been like if my parents supported me during my early years. I got good grades until my last year of high school when I just stopped trying for the most. I’d sleep through class because sleeping at home wasn’t an option for me. I wondered what would’ve happened if my mother had read the book and hadn’t torn it to shreds.

I don’t know honestly. Maybe I would’ve still become a writer. Maybe my stories would be LGBT lit mainstream. I dunno. I love what I write now. I don’t think I’d be the person I am today. I loved stories because they were all I had. As an adult my life still circles them and I wouldn’t change that for anything.




I Did a 30 Day No Soda Challenge and this is Why I'm Not Looking Back

All the way back in simpler times of February 21st of this year I started the No Soda Challenge. I say simpler because of the recent developments and won’t ramble into thoughts of what should’ve been done differently between then and now. But it was February and in my small town it was simpler times.

See the source image

For years I struggled to lose weight (I lost a bunch and then gained half of it back after a trauma in my personal life) and with a life long addiction to soda. I hail from a part of the country where it’s not uncommon to see people dilute soda (pop, soda water, Coke, whatever you call it) into their small child’s bottle. Thus, in 1989/1990 my parents did too. I’m 30 now and this has been a life long addiction that I struggled to break through my 20s. Nothing really stuck, because quitting soda sucks! It really does. I won’t sugar coat my experiences with quitting. The first week was hell. i thought I’d die before I made it to day 30. Now, it’s been 32 days and I’m going strong. More or less, but more about that later.

First, let’s break it down by days and week.

Day One: I was okay. Tired, but I started the quit the night before so I was surviving. I drank coffee and tea (no sugar or sugar replacements) and survived just feeling brain dead.

Day Two: Felt like I was going to die. Tired. Had a headache. Everything made me want to cry. I missed carbonation. I didn’t supplement it, because I tried that before but somehow it always led me back to soda.

Day Three: Hell came to my small town. Usually, what happens is I give up about this point. Quitting soda gives you heart palpitations. Even my doctor told me this, but they give me panic attacks. So, I had a panic attack that night sure I was dying not from quitting soda but from some mysterious thing. Yep, that’s how panic attacks work. Eventually, I fell asleep.

Day Seven: By the end of the first week I was in awe of the fact I stuck it out that long. I was posting on my FB author page so I had some accountability to those who followed me there. I think this was my biggest motivation. I was posting daily updates and didn’t want to fail in front of my readers. It was only 30 days after all.

Week 2: I was back to work as normal, but had so much catching up to do on The Crow King’s Heir (Book 8 of the Hemlock Wolf Pack Saga), because my first week off soda left me too brain dead to keep up with my normal word counts. So, I buckled down and worked. I still missed carbonation. It took me forever to get awake in the morning and I started dreaming about gas stations full of soda fountains. The dreams were so vivid I tasted my poison of choice: Pepsi.

Week 3: My third week of quitting soda was an exciting day. I finished my first draft of The Crow King’s Heir and a state of emergency was declared in the United States. Needless to say I wasn’t thinking much about soda at the time. I continued to make daily updates on my page, because I wanted to go on with life as normally as possible.

An old friend made a joke that she thought I’d only quit drinking soda at the end of the world… I was not impressed.

By the end of the third week I didn’t really miss carbonation anymore. I did still crave sugar at times. I’ve let myself have a couple glasses of orange juice a week. I know that fruit juice is just as bad for you with the sugar content – but it’s a happy medium for me. When I quit soda I was drinking probably 4+ cans a day. So, three glasses of orange juice a week is a huge improvement.

Week 4: I wasn’t really thinking about soda or how long I’d been quit. I was pretty sure I was done with it for good by this point. I didn’t want to waste anymore calories or money on it. Don’t get me wrong sometimes in the morning I still want the sugar.

Yesterday, I had a tiny drink of soda poured from a 20 oz bottle of a friend – freshly opened don’t worry about cooties and it didn’t taste right to me. It was like sugar beer or something. I can’t describe it. I didn’t even finish the tiny bit that was given to me. Seriously, don’t worry we practiced social distancing. She stood outside my window several feet back and we used hand sanitizer. She just wanted to check on me.

So… Why aren’t I going back?

  1. Don’t want to waste the money. It’s expensive to keep up with how much I was drinking a day. According to my QuitThat app I’ve saved just over $60 bucks so far.
  2. I’ve lost 9 lbs since quitting soda. Seriously, I’m not doing that much different. If anything I’m getting less exercise since I haven’t left the house since 3/14.
  3. I get full quicker and I’m not starving in the morning.
  4. Fruit tastes so good now – so sweet and delicious. I’ve always liked it but it’s a huge treat now when I have my daily fruit.
  5. I don’t want to worry about it during the ongoing current events.
  6. The health benefits are huge – we’ve all heard about them so I won’t list them here.
  7. I feel as if soda as I remember doesn’t exist in reality. What I remember is what my tongue with its taste buds ruined by years of soda recalls. That’s not how soda really tastes.
  8. I’ve come this far and don’t really want to give up the progress. I mean 32 days is a long time after being addicted for 30 years.
  9. My anxiety isn’t as bad.
  10. I don’t feel so stiff all over when I wake up in the morning.
  11. Quitting a 30 year habit makes me believe quitting cigarettes for good is possible. I quit last year for almost 7 months before falling back into the trap.
  12. Diabetes runs in my family. Quitting soda reduces my risk.

If you drink soda, I don’t care. lol I mean that in the nicest possible way. When I first told my friends I planned to quit – they all had the same worry: I’d nag them to quit. We all do things that are bad for us and we know we do. If you want to quit – just know you can do it. I did it. If you don’t, cheers! I’m not here to tell you how to live your life.