Fraud or Applaud: How I Made Imposter Syndrome my You-Know-What

0

For the most part, writing is a solitary activity. I spend a lot of time in my own head and it can be a lonely endeavor.

Most writers, from time to time, suffer from a weird phenomenon called “imposter syndrome”. It’s not just writers, I suspect it can strike anyone in any field. This syndrome is manifested as a crippling self-doubt and an inability to fully celebrate successes because it feels like you lucked out or a mistake was made. Surely, you don’t deserve it. You know, how it would feel to find your middle-school-self in a Trigonometry class when you really should be in the remedial math class, but somehow everyone thinks you are a math prodigy and the whole school is depending on your math skill to save it from disaster. Yeah, something like that.

Like many others, I suffer from this syndrome. Sometimes to the point where I feel like even the grocery lists I write are crap. It’s been a tough few months personally for me and that only serves to exaggerate the feeling.

To make writing the best it can be you must have feedback, which sometimes just serves as fuel for the syndrome. What do they say? Comparison is the killer of joy? I have hooked up with various critique groups over my time as a writer. Some were a good fit depending on what piece I was offering up and others not so much. Horror is not everyone’s cup of poison so to speak. I’ve been fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of some lovely ladies who also write in the genre of horror. To say they have encouraged me and inspired me is the understatement of the year.

When it came time to share a piece of writing with the above mentioned ladies (published, confident, Masters of Fine f’ing Arts degree holders, and professional creators) I panicked. Nothing I could write would be worthy of their time.

I’d poured my guts out to these ladies at one point and they never judged or pulled away, only supported. I felt safe with them, so despite my feelings, I submitted.

One overcast Sunday afternoon, we gathered at my dining room table nibbling on snacks, talking about anything and everything. We all uploaded our pieces so we could start to take a look. I was chatting with one dear lady across the table about ex-husbands and toddlers and gluten-free muffins. I knew the lady next to me was quietly reading my story. My heart was pumping but I tried to play it cool.

She gasped and covered her mouth at the pivitol plot point.

It felt good to know that this rough draft of a story that I didn’t feel excellent with could get that reaction. She smiled at me and gave her approval.

It was then that I knew.

I might feel like and imposter more often than not, but who cares. I’ve got a writer community…no scratch that…a family. A dark, twisted, spooky family of writers where I am accepted no matter what. It’s helping me churn out work and that feels good.

My wish for anyone who reads this, no matter what you do or where you are in life, I hope you have or find a similar family.

I’ve got a short story coming out in an anthology with some well-known authors (take that imposter syndrome) later in October, two novels in the works, and something with my writer family for the future. Not too bad for an imposter.

Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

*image courtesy of 4657743 from Pixabay

I’m Back, Sort Of…

1

Sorry I’ve been absent from this space for a while. My Dad ‘went to the big truck stop in the sky’, as my brother likes to say. His health had been declining for some time thanks to F*&king Alzheimers. It is such an insidious disease, the worst, heartbreaking, pure torture. It did not win, however.

He wasn’t always able to communicate it, but I know he still loved us, even if he didn’t remember us. We remembered everything about him. He’s one of the reasons I love Fortean topics, he was open-minded and curious about that stuff too. He is the reason I love the outdoors and animals and most everything good about me came from him. He’s the reason I hate war movies. He was a World War II combat veteran, a true badass, but to see what he went through is too much. He’s the reason I will forever love the smell of axle grease and diesel fuel. He owned and operated his own trucking company and drove over the road until he was 86!

We laid him to rest next to our mother, he waited a long time to see her again.

I haven’t written any fiction or even been able to focus for a while now, but I know he’d expect me to get my shit together and get to work. So I will. Even if tears stain the keyboard, which they probably will. Grief takes over whenever it wants.

Have a coffee (we always drank coffee together on the mornings I came to take care of him) or go for a hike, go fishing, research UFO’s, hunt bigfoot, be badass, be strong, or be kind to animals or some other human today to help me honor my pop.

Now, time to blow my nose, dry my eyes (for now) and get to work. Love you forever, Pop.

scan_20190301135519

Spooky Inspiration In New Orleans…part 1

2

My husband and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary this year and decided to take a rare trip by ourselves. You see we have/are raising five kids and haven’t gotten away by ourselves for more than a night in over 8 years! We decided to go somewhere we had never been before, New Orleans! It seemed like an interesting place to explore and maybe I could get my spooky creative juices flowing.

In part one of this two-part blog series, I’ll share some of my overall impressions of the city to warm you up for the spookier entry of part two!

You never know what to expect when going someplace you’ve never been. If our hotel was any indication of what the rest of our experience was going to be like, we were in for a good time! The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel is classic elegance and charm. From the people to our suite, to the hotel bars, to the food, to the rooftop pool and bar, every little thing was spectacular.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We got a full view of some of the damage left behind by Katrina from our room. It is a shocking contrast between the scene from the window and the elegance of the sitting room of our suite, most notable was the back side of Charity Hospital.

Founded in 1736, The Charity Hospital for the Poor is the second oldest public hospital in the US. The now abandoned building, built in 1939, was at the time the second biggest hospital in the US and was primarily for the poor and needy.

The story of how the rising flood waters in the wake of the winds and rain from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 trapped 360 patients and 1200 staff inside the large art deco style building for five days is both inspiring and heart-wrenching (click here for more). It was difficult to imagine the situation as it unfolded from here in the Rocky Mountains, not so much looking at it with my own eyes. It would be no wonder if lost spirits roam the empty hallways. We didn’t explore it any further as it felt that would be somehow disrespectful to the heroism of the doctors and nurses and the anguish of patients and their families.

As you can see by the nearby cranes and construction, the city is thriving and plans for redeveloping the old hospital site are being explored.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To celebrate our anniversary (the whole reason for this trip) we took a River Boat Cruise down the Mississippi on the Creole Queen. It was pretty incredible. I have never been on a big boat like that or seen the Mississippi River! Here in Colorado most of our rivers have rapids, but not this one! It was hotter than Hades, but the breeze off the river was wonderful. The food was delicious, and the sunset was quite romantic!

 

 

As far as spooky juices flowing. The river served up some various sights that may work their way into a storyline or two.

 

The sugar factory – loading sugar and monsters at the pier! It’s how the otherworldly creatures traverse the Earth, moving to always more fertile hunting grounds. Perhaps the zombies will hold up here until the time of the apocalypse begins. Look at the pilings under the pier, beings of the night slumber under there in the daylight, waiting for darkness to fall. The murky water – perfect for underwater creatures, aliens, or mutant alligators to hide out, seeking their next meal from unsuspecting boaters gone overboard. Not to mention, it could not be better for covering bodies. Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, standing guard during the day, but even it is overtaken by the darkness.

Oh, pardon me! I got lost there for a moment! Writers are never completely on vacation. New Orleans was a terrific choice for creative fodder, but more on that later.

We took some time to wander around the Garden District and it was everything I’d hoped it would be. If I ever strike it rich, I’m buying here! I fell in love with the distinctive New Orleans architecture. It was peaceful, dynamic, beautiful, and mysterious all at once. It wasn’t hard to imagine many of the homes being sanctuaries for sophisticated vampires!

Coming up in part two: cities of the dead, haunted places, strange sightings, and of course…bourbon street.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

fullsizeoutput_2ea0

Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

Meet Nate Camden From my Novel DREAD

nate.jpgI’ve done a few author interviews for book blogs and such, but never has someone asked to interview one of my characters, until now! Author and blogger R.J. Davies asked just that and I think it is probably the coolest interview I have ever done!

I didn’t realize how much I missed the main character of DREAD, Nate Camden, until he started answering the interview questions. The photo to the left is an image I used to help me create his character(unable to find photographer or model credit other than it first appeared on the internet in 2009). Check out the interview here:  http://rjdavies.tumblr.com/post/172642019516/interview-with-protagonist-nate-camden-from-joy

Then check out DREAD to get the rest of Nate’s story. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 12.38.00 PM

Women in Horror Month a Peek Behind the Pages: Women Who Create Nightmares, Jeannie Wycherley

1

All during February for Women in Horror Month I’ll be highlighting my sister nightmare makers and their work! Today’s installment is the incredibly talented Jeannie Wycherley. She is going to share her thoughts on why she writes horror. Take it away Jeannie!

27294950_10156848787559897_313360739_n (1)

Getting Under the Skin of It With Jeannie Wycherley

The reasons I write horror are a little oblique, to me at least. I’ve wanted to ‘write’ practically my whole life, but I got caught up in being an academic and having a career. When I finally listened to my soul and put pen to paper, I simply explored the things that were in my heart and in my mind. I was in a dark place, severe anxiety, depression with suicidal ideation, so those early forays were bleak and black and unhappy. In any case, people always say ‘write what you read’ and I would say a third of what I read is horror, with the rest made up of classic Victorian literature, historical drama, and murder mysteries.

I’m a writer, yes, but being a woman who writes horror puts me in a unique place because it allows me to dissect female experience based on my own inimitable experiences as a female, using scary situations. The things that terrify any of us are likely to be different in every case, so I utilise the emotions and knowledge that I’ve gained as a woman and a human, and they become my monsters. I find this process absolutely fascinating. Getting under the skin of all my characters, regardless of who they are, gives me a real thrill.

I’ve always hated the ‘woman-as-sidekick’ character, or woman-as-victim, or the female teen scream queen. We can be those characters for sure, but since I noticed I had the central role to play in my own life, I’ve always enjoyed stories where the woman is complicated and multi-dimensional. While I think it is important characters are likeable and can be identified with, I don’t mind incorporating faults and flaws.

As a result, Crone, has received high praise for the characterisation of the witch Aefre (including an Indie B.R.A.G Award). She’s not just evil for evil’s sake, she actually has her reasons, because let’s face it, when you or I make a decision that will have repercussions, we usually have a line of reasoning behind it that we find rational (even if no-one else does).

One aspect of writing that I love, even when I’ve plotted a good outline, is when the character runs away with story themselves. I found this with the character of Elizabetta in A Concerto for the Dead and Dying (my long short story written for the Mrs Dracula anthology and now available by itself). She is a vampire, but as I wrote, I became very aware of how nuanced she was, so this is a very bittersweet story.

Horror and dark fantasy are immensely satisfying to read and write. Women in HorrorMonth is fantastic because it highlights some of the wonderful writing out there, tales you may not stumble across otherwise. I recommend casting your net wide, and trying out a few new women horror writers! Enjoy!

Links

 

Crone http://mybook.to/CroneJW

A Concerto for the Dead and Dying http://mybook.to/ConcertoDead

Deadly Encounters http://mybook.to/DeadlyEncounters

Follow me: https://twitter.com/Thecushionlady

https://www.facebook.com/jeanniewycherley/

Website: https://www.jeanniewycherley.co.uk/ 

 

Jeannie Wycherley has always been blessed with a wildly overactive imagination. Her formative years were spent inhabiting the glorious worlds that other writers had created, and even now she finds it a wrench to leave Narnia and Alderley Edge behind. As a child she loved history, and visited many sites of interest, with her family, in the UK and around Europe, and was a keen – and sorrowful – observer of the evil man perpetrates. No surprise therefore that she went on to study history at University, and left – or was eventually politely turfed out – with a PhD in modern and contemporary social history.

After 16 years teaching in higher education, Jeannie hung up her mortar board and scaled down her life. She moved home to Devon with her husband and the fur-kids, three beloved dogs who are spoilt rotten. They all reside in Sidmouth, Devon, where a rocky coastline meets the glorious East Devon countryside, providing immeasurable inspiration for Jeannie’s writing.

Jeannie writes dark stories, suspense, horror … and just the plain weird. As Betty Gabriel she has written some erotica – just for fun! She has seen her short stories successfully published in the UK and the USA. Her debut novel CRONE is available from April 2017.

 

WiHM9-GrrrlLogoWide-BR-S

 

Women in Horror Month Blog Series

1

WiHM9-GrrrlLogoTall-BR-SFebruary is a terrific month! Winter is in full swing, but Spring is just around the corner, it’s my birthday month, and it’s when we celebrate Women in Horror Month!

“Women in Horror Month (WiHM) is an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre.

WiHM celebrates these contributions to horror throughout the year via the official WiHM blog, Ax Wound, The Ax Wound Film Festival, and with the official WiHM event/project database in February. This database in conjunction with the WiHM social media fan base— actively promotes do-it-yourself annual film screenings, blogs/articles, podcasts, and any other form of creative media with the ultimate goal of helping works by and featuring women reach a wider audience.

This inclusive and positive movement is open to everyone, just as we believe the horror genre should be.”

All month long I’ll be doing my part by highlighting some sister horror authors with a blog series called Peek Behind the Pages: Women Who Create Nightmares. These talented ladies will be sharing their work, telling us why they write horror, why they believe female voices are important to the genre, what they love about horror and advice or encouragement for other writers!

Stop by and spread the word to support my fellow nightmare makers!

candle-1646765_1920

Tales from the Ghost Town Writers Retreat

15493618_10154899107475972_7094799763006043672_oI have had a difficult time writing this past year. I have a novel that I have started and stopped more times than I care to admit and a Christmas project that I decided to postpone from the planned November publish date. I had amazing momentum coming into this year, but it fizzled quickly, and I’m not sure why.

I decided many months ago to attend the Ghost Town Writers Retreat at the beginning of August to see if I could get my groove back, then my Grandma passed away a few weeks ago, and I almost canceled. Losing her hit me harder than I expected and I just wanted to hide out. My darling husband took time off from work to go with me and said it would give us some time away from the kids together, I suspect he knew I needed him to give me an extra push.

The retreat was held in the small mining town of Georgetown, Colorado. I’m a Colorado native but can say I’ve never hung out in Georgetown for anything more than a bathroom break, fill up, or to get to the pass to go to Clear Lake. I remember when I was little my parents looked at buying a piece of property there. The day they went to look at the property they dropped me, my two siblings, and my grandparents off at the little park in town to eat lunch so they could speak to the realtor without distraction. My sister would not play or leave the bench she sat on. It wasn’t until I told her where I was going that she said the park was full of spooks and they demanded to know why she was there. It scared the hell out of her, and that’s why she wouldn’t play. Weird story, I know, but totally normal in my family.

Georgetown is only about an hour from our house on I-70, but the ride up was hairy. The retreat needed to borrow some grills for the Grill and Greet, so I volunteered ours. Since my husband was coming along, we took his truck and loaded our old gas grill into the bed. The day was overcast, and the wind was picking up. Just as I inquired if the grill was safely tethered a huge bang shook us. The grill had fallen over but not out of the bed. Sadly, the handle didn’t survive. After readjusting the bungee cords, we journeyed on. We drove through dense fog, drenching rain, and pounding hail. It didn’t help that I woke up that morning with a nagging headache. Maybe it was a sign to go home, I thought.

fullsizerender-3.jpg

I-70 Westbound

 

When we got to the hotel we discovered that it would be some time before for our room would be ready and we were a little confused about where to check in for the conference, but we did figure out where to take the grill. After an uninvited cloud burst, my husband helped cook up some buffalo hot dogs and burgers, and we had a tasty little dinner with some fascinating folks.

One of the things I really wanted to do was check out the park. I still had a headache, but the next morning I grabbed my camera and off we went. The moment I entered the park through the iron archway my headache was joined by a turbulent stomach. No one demanded to know why I was there, but it felt heavy and strange. My husband asked if it used to be a cemetery because it gave that kind of vibe. As a side note, I got a terrible headache working on this piece, and I kept getting an error message when I tried to upload the photos of the park, it took several tries. Coincidence? Maybe, but my husband says I should quit messing around with this subject!

img_9390.jpg

The Park Entrance

Even though my head and tummy were very unhappy, I continued to hit up all the sessions I could. Every single session was terrific, and the presenters (some first timers) were great. When we got home and were describing some of the things we learned my daughter laughed and said it sounded like a murders’ convention! Most of the sessions were held in the historic Heritage Center, the old school house. The building restoration was fabulous!

The marketing sessions were beneficial, as that is the area I dislike the most about this author thing and find the most challenging. I’m a quiet, shy, introverted person which is a huge hindrance to my marketing efforts. I made a commitment to myself to move way out of my comfort zone in the coming months regarding this.

I also had an epiphany. I believe my difficulty in writing has come because I know the marketing will come after. Yes. I hate it that much. I think I got some tools and resources at the retreat that will help me, though.

Being the very first Ghost Town Writers Retreat, there were some hiccups and places where there is room for improvement. I thought Georgetown was a great location and I had the best burger ever (after my tummy finally settled down) at Round About Burgers. The waffles at The Happy Cooker were amazing, and the Family Dollar is stocked better than a full sized Walmart! It turned out to be more of a conference than retreat, however. I would have liked more opportunities to meet up and write with other writers. And coffee! Coffee at the venue for morning sessions, please!

I wasn’t sure where or how to sign up for editor/agent sessions, but since I didn’t feel well, I opted not to pursue it. Maybe for next year,  the signup and location information could be available a few days before the event begins.

There was a walking ghost tour that I would have loved to attend, but it happened on Sunday evening, and I was already jonesing for my kids. We opted for the train, mine tour, and of course, the cemetery.

We really didn’t need a ghost tour anyway. I drug my husband around the town late on Saturday night, just to see what we might see. He always warns that I better not get him arrested, but I’ve been doing this to him for years, and so far we are arrest free, knock on wood!

hamil house

Haunted Hamill House After Dark

 

Even though I didn’t feel well for the first three days, I feel like I got out of it what I wanted. I have a strategy to push through my writing wall, and I got to spend some time with my husband. He got a better idea of what it is I do and struggle with and ended up getting into it himself! I said we should just write spooky books together and forget everything else!

IMG_7195

My Handsome Husband – It Looks Good on Him!

 

I can only imagine what it takes to organize a thing like this. The speakers and moderators were great. The movie screening of Dead Awake was fun, and I wanted to ask Jeffery Riddick (Dead Awake, Final Destination) what led them to cast Lori Petty (Orange is the New Black), she was great by the way, but my head was killing me.

How you go about contacting all these folks and getting them to come to a retreat in a tiny Colorado mountain town is beyond me. I’m grateful for the opportunity and that I ignored my headache AND did not go back home. I am already looking forward to next year, but I think I’ll stay away from the park…or not!

roy and joy