home is where the…i have no bloody idea

(This piece is longer than I had intended so grab a cup of coffee or beverage of choice.)
Dear Internet,
I’m taking a break from working on the “How To Write Fiction” MOOC, and oh boy aren’t I in for a treat.
In the pre-week comments I stated I wanted to strip everything I knew about fiction and if the critiques I’ve received on my first draft are any indication, I’ve got a long way to go. (However the general underlying response was my first draft was intriguing, so I’ve got that going for me.) If I would have taken this class even a year ago, I would huff my work was perfect and the cleansing was not necessary. This time, I am not so angry that I’m throwing insults about “how dare they” around the cabin.
(Or maybe I’m still sedated from the Klonopin I took the night before.)
This is all prep work for NaNoWriMo, which I’m hoping will allow me jump start my novel, get a rough draft done, and so I can feel accomplished. I have plotted out some of the work, wrung my way through other;  fingers crossed I’ve not created a hot mess.
 


I’ve started using marginalia from the British Library’s collection again in the featured image as it is in the public domain, it’s pretty, and because I can.


I’m still sick because my body is an asshole and has nothing better to do. I’ve started week three of a cough I can’t shake, which I think has more to do with quitting smoking and getting rid of the crap in my lungs than being actually sick. Whatever the case I sound like death’s rattle when the coughing fit starts with the bonus of learning how to spit like a man.
Sexy.


We’re now inching towards the end of week two of TheExHusband’s jeep still indisposed. It’s sitting in a parking lot of the local mechanic who, it turns out, is the only mechanic on duty. TEH is adamant of giving the guy business since the shop recently did super minor work for free. It’s frustrating and endearing at the same time, with the lean towards frustrating than endearing. All plans have been canceled as we wait to find out the status of the damned thing, so goodbye East Coast, I still love you.
I’m championing selling the piece of shit for scrap and buying a new/used car from a dealership in Louisville rather than some shady garage (as he did this money hole a few summers ago). It’s a good shot I’ll be driving him down to Louisville once we find out the status of the Jeep (which I’m betting is a goner. If I’m repeating myself it is because it is my every desire the thing is beyond repair).
In the meantime I’ve had TheBassist ship me my winter things because it’s dropping into the low 40s and high 30s. There is a good chance if I’m still here by the end of the month or early November, there will be snow. Literally, winter is coming.


I’m 80% doing okay, taking into factor the most recent meltdown (that was three weeks ago? Fuck. It felt like yesterday.), the sickness, the Jeep bullshit, and other maladies. I’m anxious about the right things instead of jumping off the ledge about others.
It’s lovely to be at Throbbing Cabin in the summer and early fall for a week or two. I could handle a month, but we’re now closing in on two months in late fall and we’re getting close to becoming batshit crazy. The nearest villages are 10-12 miles away and the big city of Traverse City takes 30-40 minutes to get to. Three of the closest villages are tourist traps and after a while you get tired of $15 burgers and trunk slammers from Florida. I often go walking around our area but without a proper coat it gets a little chilly and I can only walk in certain areas thanks to the big hills and little valleys (and the goddamned golf courses).
I’ve completed 98 straight days of meditation. Tada!
Throbbing Cabin is 1000 sqft and surprisingly we’re not killing each other or fighting (just crazy from lack of things to do), which I consider with all the circumstances to be a small victory. TheExHusband turned on internet the first week I was up here, brought up a TV from the old house; which coupled with my Roku means we’ve got loads of things to keeps us entertained. He works all day in the second bedroom which we flipped into an office for him in the summer of 2014 while I work on the breakfast bar in the kitchen. We are more or less out of the other’s hair.
It’s cozy and we do not lack for anything. I have my coffee maker, there is a working regular stove and apartment sized fridge. The closest of all the villages has an all in one gas station / deli / pizza place/ grocery / video store. They even sell Lisa-milk and GF food stuffs. The village also has a post office, two resturants, a free library inside the bank, a meat shop, a knitting store, and a local art gallery. For laundry and weekly groceries, out to TC we go. The area is pretty much perfect except for the location and the so dark you can slice it with a light saber which does not make even a dent into the denseness. However, lack of light pollution does make for a pretty sky.
The cabin is well heated from several space heaters. While there is baseboard heat, the first winter we were here, and only for 2.5 weeks, the electric bill was $500. For 2.5 weeks. Two space heaters heating up this entire place will run TEH, for a month, around $150. The baseboard heat will only come on when it dips below freezing so the pipes don’t freeze, which if the weather is any indicator is going to be end of this week, early next.
(And my rush to get the fuck out of here is compounded by the storms of 2013-14 bought 240″ of snow to the area. That is not a typo.)
(I know I keep flipping between “we” and “his” when discussing about Throbbing Cabin because of all the work I’ve put in to it, it still feels like “mine” even though TEH got it in the divorce. I declined his offer of ownership as so much work needs to be done, such as $15-20K for a new septic tank and drain field. It’s lovely to visit but I don’t want to own this place. At all.)


I’m 1100 words in and I haven’t even touched the main point of this piece which is “home,” what it means, and how I want to achieve it. (This is inspired by Theodora Goss’ piece on a similar topic on crafting a life.)
Which is a very good question and the apex of my problems since I was born and one I keep struggling with it often takes over my life.
The original plan was to move to the East Coast, retreat for a few months, look for a job, and get a place of my own, preferably with TheBassist. The plan changed. Then it was to Grand Rapids for six months while I healed emotionally and mentally which turned out didn’t happen and it was suggested I couldn’t, shouldn’t, live alone. Then it was to Louisville, then CT. Now it’s at the cabin, then more than likely Louisville, then who the fuck nows. If I end up in Louisville longer than two months, it’ll be the first time I’ve stayed anywhere longer than 1/6th of a year since October 2014.
For all intents and purposes, I am homeless. My possessions, what is left, are at TheExHusband’s house. Some of my things are at TheBassist’s. I’ve pared down my car goods to between 1/3 – 1/2 of what I took to The East Coast last October. I’ve been living out of two small bags and a bag full of toiletries since the first week of September when I arrived at the cabin.
During all of this whiplashing around, the goal and my greatest desire has been a job, financial independence, and a place to call my own.
I’ve applied for, between writing and librarian career tracks, 150 jobs since February of 2015.  I’ve made a grand total of $150 off my writing since August. My day to day living funds ran out in July (TEH has been supplementing me since August). My mental health, while mostly stable now, still has it’s downsides (mostly brought on by pre-menstrual hormones these days). I’ve taken my crazy pills daily since November 2014. I’ve racked up (and half way pared down) nearly $40K in credit card debt within the last year.
These are the facts.
I’m not revealing the minute details for sympathy, understanding, or a handout. This is what it is. This has been the apex of my life since forever and a time ago.
What am I running from or who or why?
I’ve been moving house every two to three years since I was 13. Throbbing Manor, where I lived for four years, has been longest place I’ve lived on my own since I was 24. Prior to that, my mother changed our living locations every 2-3 years from ages 13 – 24. So insofar as actual living space, I do not know what home means.
(When I’ve been at TheBassist’s or TheExHusband’s, even if room was made for me in their space, it still feel like “their” space, not mine. I was just a temporary boarder who happened to be cute. (It should be noted that was never their intent to make me feel uncomfortable, they went above and beyond to make me comfortable, but that is how I often felt.))
It’s been remarked numerous times over the last 20 years I’m running from something because of the shifting or it’s a pathos of my disease. I’ve never known physical space as mine, it was always someone else’s, even when I’ve had roommates. I’ve always felt like a visitor instead of a primary occupant.
(Which is why if you’ve ever visited me at any of the places I’ve lived, there has hardly, if any, decoration to showcase my personality. Decoration was in the form of my clothes, which are cheap and easily disposable.)
I know I’ve romanticized where I want to live. Do I want an adorable apartment in a big city? A home of my own in a quaint little village? A flat somewhere in Europe? This parallels the kind of life I also romanticize. Jet set traveler? Famous writer? Raconteur around town?
I want to be everything, live every place, and be every person.
This, obviously, throws a wrench into daily life plan and reality, most which seems to blur together into one grey line.
If home cannot be about a place, then what about being with a person? If i could not feel at home with the two most important relationships in my life, TheBassist and TEH, then how does that bode for me? What does that say about me? I’m too frightened to forge a relationship with anyone, romantic or platonic? Why do I destroy everything that should be the best of my life?
If home is not about a place, or a person, what about the material things? I have my cases and cases of books, 50-60% I’ve now donated. My clothes, shoes, and accessories which I’ve significantly pared down and donated the rest. Personal objects or things I’ve picked up over the years, donated.
I’m cast adrift with no thing, person, or place to call my home.
If it’s not a place, or a person, or things. Then what is home and how do I get there?
xoxo,
Lisa
P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!
 

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2010, 2001

giving birth to the world

Dear Internet,
When I gave birth to my first self-published book, The Lisa Chronicles: Vol 1: 1998, in January, I experienced a divine feeling, for that is the only way I can describe it, when I hit “publish.” Here was something many years in the making in which I was able to clean up, organize, and present as my baby.I knew it wasn’t going to be a big seller as the singular goal was to give it life.
Sales have not been spectacular but I want more of that feeling. I want to give birth to writing things and even for just a little while, feel like I am queen of the world.


I want to say the last year has been one for self discovery and I want to believe I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. I want to believe all of this is worth it, all the pain, the smearing of my reputation and name, the rejection from several communities has been worth it. I swore to anyone who would listen that I had to sleep with me at night and as long as my conscious is clear, that’s all that mattered.
But at what price does “doing the right thing” come?
I keep talking about my exhaustion levels. I keep mentioning how this lifestyle I’ve jumbled together from bits and pieces is tiring. I harp on how this is effecting me. Underneath it all, all I feel is I must do something with this life of mine. I must take what has happened and create some kind of purpose or meaning. If this doesn’t happen, I feel, then I beat myself up over and over and over again for being a failure. A loser.


I stare at my screen, that taunting cursor winking at me. A million and a half ideas and nothing is coming forward from my brain to my mouth to my hand. My sketch book is a mockery. I cannot get it out of my head if I cannot make a living at doing this, wha then will I do?  This thing, this writing, chasing that dream that so many have gone before me and so many of them magnificently failing. When editors tell me they love my voice and my writing, I am convinced they tell everyone the exact same thing. How is my voice unique and how can it make matter?
What if everything I’ve been telling myself is a lie? What if this is all there is?
xoxo,
Lisa
P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2013

in the woods, late at night

Dear Internet,
Everything is delightful at the cabin.
The tree guy came out and 10 trees need to be removed either for some tree disease, growth problems, or were hit by the storm. TheExHusband (TEH) is here to chainsaw and chip away at the pieces that are easily chippable and chainsawed. He brought up a TV, the argument being if he wants to rent this place, there are things that renters are going to expect: Like a TV with some kind of DVD appliance and a working upstairs bathroom. I think TEH’s goal is to get most of the reno and repair work completed by the end of 2016 with renting beginning 2017. So if anyone wants to rent a cabin in Leelanau Peninsula, mere minutes from Lake Michigan and cute as balls towns, just let me know.
I’ve been doing all kinds of writing while I’m up here. I woke up the other night with two lines stuck in my head, ending with writing 1K words on paper before falling back to sleep. When I transcribed it the following day, it wasn’t half-bad. Not awesome, but not too shabby for half-asleep notes.
One of my problems is organizing the ideas. I get it, I’m a librarian. I’ve been known to organize my underwear. But this is a hot mess. Here is what I’ve been doing AND is working for me: I’ve created a project in Scrivener that tracks stories in progress, stories completed, pieces I’ve sold, and so forth. I use a Google spreadsheet to track markets/submissions/payments. But ideas themselves, fiction and non, live everywhere. I originally bought my Filofax as a proper planner, finding I could not keep track of things digital (strange, no?). But the calendaring was insane (putting the same event on paper and digital), so I ripped out the calendaring pages and turned it into a one stop project/writing book.1 Once I organized the beast, trascribed the ideas and notes from all the other places into the appropriate sections, my writing life is much more manageable and easier to transport.
My non-fiction work has been selling, which has been awesome, but to non-paying/token markets, which has been frustrating. I am keeping to my guns and not submitting to markets I would not personally read. It’s a weird balancing act: One group proclaims: “Get your name out there, submit everywhere and everything” and there is my side which is to submit to only places you would read or want to read. I’ve been told it’s about building a  personal “brand,” which makes me squeamish. Dude, all I ever wanted to do was write not worry about this “branding” bullshit. I am tenacious but also stubborn as hell about such matters.
My fiction has been a struggle. A big struggle. It’s not for lack of ideas or writing the beginning but for getting past the beginning and finishing the damned thing. My novel is so stalled right now, I can’t even joke about it anymore.
I can create pretty great flash fiction, but anything beyond 2K words is eluding me and it, unsurprisingly, frustrates me.  Because I’m broke as fuck, I’ve signed up for the free MOOC from U of Iowa, How Writers Write Fiction. The two big writing cabals to hone your chops are the U of Iowa’s MFA program for fiction and Clarion SFF, both of which I cannot afford, so this MOOC has been a benediction from the gods. (There is a whole argument on whether to get a MFA. Or not. I wobble back and forth on what to do but for now the idea is just shelved.)
Other MOOCs of similar ilk are more generated, I found, on teaching people the inner workings of writing, such as how to construct a sentence and so forth. Stuff you find in high school composition class. I was/am not opposed to heading to a community college (cheap, local) but I’m not in a place long enough to actually attend the classes. Internets for the win.
I’m traveling again at the end of the month and as I said to TEH this morning, what I am taking with me keeps getting smaller and smaller. When this whole journey began, Jeeves was so jammed there was barely room for TheBassist: And he was driving. Now the amount of shit I’m carting around is 1/3rd of that. In fact, for the last two weeksish, I’ve been living out of two, medium-sized, bags for clothes, two baskets carrying my books to read and other writing miscellany and lastly messenger bag which holds my laptop, cords, and Filofax (see above). Teddy is always in the house with me; what more do I need?
I can easily answer this question: A home, a place for my books, and a world to call my own.
I am exhausted.
xoxo,
Lisa
1. How I organize my writing/projects: Front matter is that week’s-ish TODO list, the tabs (stories, books/freelance, jobs/classes, misc) bought from Etsy, extra paper also from Etsy, and last but not least, my beloved erasable gel pens.
P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2000

i’ll do anything to write, but, I won’t do that

Dear Internet,
I’ve been on a massive pitching frenzy in the last few weeks. I “sold” (no payment) a flash piece to 101words.org and I have an interview and another review on No Flying No Tights, also upcoming. Currently, I have 12 pieces outstanding, including pitches to big name websites. Anything interesting showing up on freelancewriting.com, I snare ferociously. Everyday I find at least one job to apply for, one more pitch to write, and several fingers to cross.
(A magazine I queried, who seemed to love me, reneged when I submitted my pitches. My followup went unanswered. A small note, “Sorry, these aren’t right for our site” would have been appreciated.)
(I know this frenzy of finding freelance work is what I should have done last year when I officially left my job to write full time, but, hindsight and etc.)
Rejection, I know, is all the name of the game.
Here is what I also know: Non-fiction is my strength. Based on what I’ve done so as much as writing fake articles for the applications, I’m good at what I do. It’s not Pulitzer (yet) but it’s pretty decent.
My love, what I want to do, is write fiction. Again, my strength seems to be in short (flash sized) pieces. 1000 words or less, I’m your girl. It’s the bigger chunks of text that perplex and make me nervous. I can do stream of consciousness on Twitter to the tune of 70,000 tweets at 140 characters per tweet is, well, a lot of characters. (Last count approximated about 10 books based on what I’ve tweeted. Holy. Shit.)
So I work hard everyday writing something, no matter how minute, in the fiction world. I have a project I’m challenging myself with by writing 100 stories that are only 100 words a piece. I’ve got 10 so far. It’s a start.
Also in the writing mix, I’ve not worked on any Freyja Thomas stories in quite some time. That’s another thing in my todo pile that seems to get bigger and bigger.


The thing about being a burgeoning paid author is we’re willing to take just about any opportunity thrown at us to get our name out there. freelancewriting.com is a great resource, along with my trusty Google alert which looks for “fiction” and “call for submissions”, ProBlogger, and Writing Career have been great sites for fiction AND non-fiction. Also, I cannot forget my favorite site of all, Duotrope. There is a lot out there and it’s a matter of finding the right niches for me.
I am specifically thinking of sites like UpWork, which is where you barter work for pennies on the dollar. Literally. Lots of the employers have small budgets, want content created with no byline, and created on the super cheap. By cheap I mean $1 for a 300 word piece. Not $1 a word or $1 per sentence, but $1 for 300 words. Fuck. That. I tried it for a week and the amount of work vs the payoff was worthless. Fiverr is another example of this great American capitalism.
There are a lot of other sites out there that prey on the same ideology: Starving writers need to eat, write for pennies, do not receive bylines or able to show their clips. The more you work, obviously the more money you make, but to what cost? Why spend your time giving other people credit for your work when you can use that time to create (and sell) your own?
That, my friends, is the million dollar question. Not pennies, but million dollars.


In other news and world reports, I bought lisa.wtf sometime back and I’m using it as my portal to all of my sites. It was getting confusing on what sites to put on what signature file, hand out, and other tides and greetings. This solves the problem. (For those wondering, no, I do not use this URL for profesh stuff. Let’s be real here.)

Go check out lisarabey.com with its brand spanking new front page and some updating. I’ve been writing so many damned author bios (each site has a different word count), that it seemed easier to have them all in one place.

xoxo,
Lisa
P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

This Day in Lisa Universe: 2014, 2000

things I have written

Dear Internet,
It’s been a busy week over here in Lisa-Universe. For starters, the written word pieces I mentioned a few weeks ago, published. The first piece, “How To Divorce Your Mother In Three Easy Steps,” is available over at WittyBitches.com. The piece proved to be pretty popular.

Preen.
Preen.

That was pretty exciting.
The second piece published, for No Flying, No Tights, is a review of a new manga series, Manga Classics, which specializes in classic books translated into visual prose. My first review, Manga Classics: Emma, is now up! I interviewed the author, Stacy King, yesterday (I’m currently transcribing a 45 minute video call into text. Oi!), which will be published sometime in the next few weeks. The nice thing about doing reviews of this calibre is the publisher is sending on books from the current collection for me to read and review. I adore that this job has a lot of perks.
This, of course, means I got to update my bibliography and resume. I’ve also added a few sample clips that I churned out this week for writing jobs. It’s nice to see published pieces from places that I do not own. This has been, in the writing world, a pretty awesome week.

I’m on the East Coast now and have been for the last few weeks. The whole reason I am here is to go job hunting, which — isn’t happening. I’ve had nary an interview or even a phone call since I’ve been here; it’s incredibly frustrating. I’m forming plans, as I always do, but what I can tell you is I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. While I don’t necessarily feel as if I’m at the end of my rope, I do feel as if I’m running up against walls.
If it were not for the published pieces, I don’t know how I would feel.
In order to keep myself relevant, I’ve been teaching myself to code. I know, I know, I’ve been on the offense in regards to coding not the only thing in the tech world. But as more and more positions I’m interested in start to advertise they want coders of varying degrees, it was time to bit the bullet and get with the program.
I’m constructing my entire education around various coding classes I bought over at Stack Social and Udemy. I’m also looking into Code Academy for additional classes.
The thing that is having me chomping at the bit is where I’m located, there is nay a place for women coders to hang out. Interestingly there is very few social clubs for programmers as a whole. I’m only a short train ride away from NYC and yet this area is a wasteland. I’m working on finding online spaces for women to get together and that has also been slow going.
It’s all a wait and see game, one of which I have grown weary.

MINI watch
In other good news, I took Jeeves in for an alignment this week and the wait was three hours longer than they had quoted me — so the manager gave me a MINI watch. With my MINI car collection (nearly a dozen and growing), my world domination of MINI is coming to fruition.

Mentally? I’m doing – okay. Not 100% great but not down in the dumps either. I’ve long correlated my mania is a tip off of my hormones racing at the beginning of my period but this is one thing I find I cannot 100% control. Hell, even 50% control. My feelings of sadness, anxiety, and loss of overall control have very realistic seeds and I have to keep reminding myself of those things are natural, not disease based, things.
I’m seeing a therapist now and I have signed up with the local Depression Bipolar Support Alliance group, giving me a support system in place. I’m also mediating daily — I’m on a 37 day streak! But I still feel anxious most of the time, I’ve got a new fear of driving, which is apparently not unusual but it makes for interesting dichotomy in regards to the fact I’ve been driving for over 20 years, including several coast to coast trips. Why now? It’s a new thing, for sure, but why and what is what perplexes me.
Therapy better fucking help. I’ve got things to do.
The therapist and I talked about my hyper-sexuality and the coinciding factor I do not get a lot of pleasure out of the sex act itself. She pointed out, with my sexual history, by initiating and fucking someone first, I’m in control (as opposed to previous experiences where my control was taken from me). Once those words tumbled out of her mouth, suddenly everything clicked into place and I sighed a huge sigh of relief. I no longer had to be the goddess of fuck anymore — and that in and of itself is freeing.
xoxo,
Lisa
P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2010, 2003

in which we have reading and writing adventures

Barker at the grounds at the Vermont state fair, Rutland (LOC)
Barker at the grounds at the Vermont state fair, circa 1941. Courtesy of The Commons, Flickr.

Dear Internet,
It’s a long, lovely holiday weekend and I’m digging into my stack of books, aided by hot tea, for entertainment. Since my own book has stalled, I thought it would be a good time to take notes on the books I’m reading to see what worked and what didn’t and apply it to, hopefully, jump start my own writing as well to see what makes me happy reading. (AKA, these notes are mainly more for me than you, but hey, if you get something out of it; Awesome!)
The number one rule you’ll see anywhere on writing is, “read more,” but is that all? Yes and no. Below are some of my notes from chewing through a few books this weekend.
If influenced by a particular era, do the research. In reading a book set during the Belle Époque (France’s version of the Edwardian era / American Gilded age), the book should have a feel for that period. This one did not and it felt what details were made available were slapped on from Wikipedia. Just no.
Alternating POV should move the story along, not show the same scene from different prescriptive.  Thus far, I’ve finished three books this weekend, of which two used alternating POV as a story device. One used it well to advance the story, spending less time on recreating the setting, while the other not so much. In the second, I felt as if the author was slapping my hand for not getting something right so they had to tell me again.
Chapters are not always necessary. Yes, they break up the scenes and action, but if done stealthy, the shift between could remain seamless without the use of chapters. Chapters may be like periods, pauses to break up the scenes, but are not necessary. Terry Pratchett was the king of lack of chapters. In one of the books I read this weekend, the switching happened with the alternating points of view and was so seamless, it took me half the book to realise there were no chapters.
The length of a book, by page number, does not necessitate how good it is. The ones on the longer side are more than likely just like to hear themselves read. Get it? (They all can’t be winners.) One book I’ve read recently, and was quite good, was a slim 150 pages. Another book that was pure dreck clocked in at 400. Length does not mean everything, as much as we like to believe.
Give the book an old college try and read the first 50 pages. I’ll go out on a limb and say this applies to writing as well; if you can’t make the story palatable within the first 50 pages, neither will your readers. And readers? There are too many good books for you to read terrible ones.
If heavily using phrases of a language that isn’t your primary language or the colloquialisms of a particular thing, include an appendix of sorts. It’s presumptuous to think your readers are going to have the same breadth of knowledge on the same topic you’re writing about. An aforementioned book set in the Belle Époque period heavily used ballet terms and dropped French like it was ice cream sprinkles. This makes sense because this was the subject matter, BUT if you aren’t familiar with ballet or spoke even rudimentary French, a lot of what was happening with the characters would be lost on you. Yes, I get it, we learn by reading outside our comfort zone but there is a difference between needing to look up “demagogue” and wondering what in the hell is “battement développé” and having translate.google.com by your side.
There were a few more main things I forgot to write down, but this is the gist of it. So it is true, the more you read, the more you learn. Hrm.
x0x0,
Lisa
P.S. Last winter I decided to put together a newsletter for those who read my stuff but can’t be arsed to check it out daily (no worries, I get it, I do!) so this is a monthly round up. I’ve decided to resurrect it again! Called Skaldic Press Presents, you can check out the archive here (http://tinyletter.com/amostunreliablenarrator/archive) and subscribe here (https://tinyletter.com/amostunreliablenarrator).
P.P.S. There are GIFs involved!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2014, 2000, 1999

looking for book reviewers / beta readers

Dear Internet,
So – who knew! Memoirs / biographies / non-fiction books are not in high demand for book review bloggers on the interwebs. Even better, if you have profanity or explicit sex in the book, the number plummets even more.
So I’m taking this into my own hands, as one should.
book reviewers
If you’re up for the challenge of reviewing The Lisa Chronicles, I’ll send you an uncorrected ebook (.mobi format) ARC if you’ll do the following:

  • Read The Lisa Chronicles
  • Write a review and rate it on Amazon and/or GoodReads and/or LibraryThing or similar site
  • Let me know when the review is up so I can give you ever loving thanks. 🙂

If interested, contact me or comment below.
beta readers
I also need beta readers for my fiction / creative non-fiction. I had a list from a few years ago but I’m not going to presume that people would still be interested. The writing, for now, is going to be under 3,000 words. At some point in the near future, I’ll be adding in book chapters and creative non-fiction.
You don’t have to comment on every story and some stories do have a time line, but if you think you can comment a few times a month, I would love to have you.
If interested, sign up for the discussion list.
Questions?
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2010, 2010, 2001, 1999

WIP: January writing schedule summary / February writing goals

Dear Internet,
Italicized is the original list. Regular text is add-ons. Bold is completion and totals.
Projects for January (apparently I was overly ambitious):

  • Plow through current library loans and ARCs from NetGalley and get reviews written
  • Collate notes on the Edwardian mystery, continue with research, and get most of the structure sorted
  • Collate notes on the 45th parallel project and continue with research
  • Research (aka read) stream of consciousness novels
  • Finish or shelve in-progress short stories and submit completed ones; submit at least one a week
    • Total submitted: 3
      • To be fair, I had forgotten about this particular goal, but, I did do it and finished three in a week and submitted all three!
  • Get most of Vol 1 of secret Kindle project formatted and edited – Completed January 31
    • Huzzah! Finished this on time and started the print version. Thank the gods this first bit is over.
    • Vol 2 (year 1999) and Vol 3 (2000) started.
  • Continue note carding ideas / quotes / etc for future projects
  • Query/submit non-fiction pieces
  • Continue shilling to get more submissions for so glad is my heart
    • Launch is planned for February 16!
  • Outline and begin 3rd Triangle novel
  • Blog writing count for January
    • Words written: 7,633
    • Number of posts: 13

February projects:
The above, plus!

  • Print proof The Lisa Chronicles Vol. 1
  • Finish organizing The Lisa Chronicles Vol. 2

Previous WIP

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

and with that, it is done

Dear Internet,
My deadline for completing the book for Amazon was January 22 at midnight. I made it with 1.5 hours to spare. It felt like I was back in grad school all over again! But the book is finished and ready for pre-orders.

TLC-Cover-Final
Operators are standing by! Pre-order me now!

From the forward,

Dear Internet,
In May of 1997 I moved, for a boy, to California to gain riches and fame. In July of 1998, having ditched the boy and gained neither riches or fame, I started putting my diary online. I named it The Lisa Chronicles for who better to tell my life story than me? While I didn’t think I was extraordinary, I seemed to continually get into extraordinary circumstances. What I also wanted was the ability to connect to others who were like me: the scared, the frightened, the unsure, the outsiders, and any other group that felt rejected by society. Adding in 1998 I wanted to eat the world, what better way to do that was through the Internet?
What can you expect from the first volume? Love, conflict, obsessions with people, places, and things. Rotating cast of characters and adventures. Sprinkle of song lyrics here and there. Pop culture references galore. Sex. More sex. Profane words and a bipolar girl desperate to connect with a world she did not understand.
While this work has been edited for grammar, clarification, and the obvious typo, it remains largely unchanged from when it first appeared online nearly two decades ago.
And lastly, every word here is true.
xoxo,
Lisa

I have been asked by several people on the process, editing, and WHY I decided to go to Amazon first.
Why Amazon
I’ve been following the self-publishing world for about 10 years (probably longer actually). I wanted to do a chapbook or something along those lines.

  • What persuaded me to go with Kindle (as the first step in the world publishing biz) and ebooks is because:
  • Your book is pubbed immediately across ALL of Amazon’s global sites
  • You can set the price and have control over royalties
  • You have complete control over everything
  • You can use Amazon’s print service, CreateSpace, to make print copies
  • Kindle ebooks is available on all devices via the app, so it’s not necessarily proprietary unlike ibooks or nook. iBook is available on Apple devices only and Nook is now defunct. HOWEVER Kindle ebook format is proprietary while iBook/Nook use non-proprietary ebook formats so you can use any app for those books.
  • Amazon’s reach is bigger
  • It’s super easy to EXCEPT the cover creator. I ended up spending $10 for an image from iStock and following Amazon’s guidelines to make the one that I thought was far better.

Now that it is safely up in Amazon’s cloud, I’m looking into adding it to iBooks and other eBook locations.
So that describes the whys, now for the process.
Process/Editing
Because all of these were journal entries from my online journal, I cut and pasted them into a Word document. I was pleasantly surprised to find the book was 117 pages NOT 50 as I originally thought. 1998 has 51 entries while 1999 has 88, which means the second volume could well go close to or over 200 pages. Yowza.
After the entries were in the Word document, I began the process of creating a style guide for me to follow. This included everything from how to format dates to whether or not I was to use AD or CE when speaking of years to how to format images. I wrote all of this down to refer to as I worked.
While I was working, I also created a separate list of To Do items as the book got nearer to completion, including book bloggers, writing an introduction and so forth.
On the document itself, with a style guide now more or less in place, I started line editing. Line editing, to me, was to read each line out loud to catch missed words or wrong spellings, correct them and also grammar. As you can image, this took forever. I corrected a lot of mistakes but if you go through it again with a fine tooth comb, you’ll find more I’m sure. The reading out loud is an old trick I was taught in grad school since my brain processes faster than I type, so I drop a lot of words.
I did a massive spell check, which took several hours, to correct all common spelling mistakes and to add words not found in Word’s dictionary. I also did a search and replace function to make sure there was consistency across spellings such as cd’s became CDs and so forth. For images, I decided to use tables to place them and decided on a width of each image for singular and multiples. Additionally, I broke each month out like a chapter to make it easier to read.
All in all, I probably spent close to 50-60 hours doing the line editing, proofing, prepping and other work. Now that I have a process of sorts in place, time frame for next volumes will be more based on length of the volume rather than figuring out style guides.
Takeaways
I learned a lot about the process of writing and editing a book, which I’ve more or less outlined above. What was more interesting to me was the comparison between 26 year old Lisa and 42 year old Lisa. I discovered a lot of things about myself that were embarrassing, depressing, enlightening, comedic, and shocking. Some things never change, while others, change was definitely a good thing.
While there are a lot of things about 26 year old Lisa that 42 year old Lisa would never stand for, much of who I am today still shines like a diamond after all these years.
I found that,

  • 26 year old me was a classist, racist, abelist, and other -ists that make me cringe today. I decided not to erase those words because I’m not going to white wash my history.
  • I could clearly see the patterns of mania vs depression in my writing. When I was manic, it was a hot mess of grammar and spelling mistakes, while I was stable or depressed, my writing was a lot more measured.
  • A lot of my problems then (instability, unable to commit, etc) are still prevalent today. Now that I see the triggers and patterns, I can easily work on them where I’ve been struggling before.
  • After reading nearly 118 pages, the startling realization that I’m everyone’s favorite crazy ex-GF smacks me across the brain.

With that, now on to volume two!
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe:  2011

year in review: 2014

Dear Internet,
Working at home today and getting supremely in the groove. Re-discovered that I used to do a round up, by month, of things that went on in the previous year as a year in review. This seems like a good idea to continue insofar as giving me a perspective for the year and helping me figure out what I need to improve or cut back on.
Previous years: 2000, 19971996

Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s wish for 2015:

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead.

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It’s too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them.

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.

It’s been a helluva a year. Here’s to 2015 being boring and slow.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2013, 1999