Transparency & The Hero’s Journey

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”

~ Charles Bukowski


You may have noticed I went radio-silent for most of last year.

If you’re reading this, you may be one of those lovely people who’s become invested in the stories I tell. First of all, thank you. I haven’t forgotten about you. In the interest of transparency, let me tell you what’s up.

Starting a couple years ago now, I began having a sense that all was not as it should be in my life. I was stressed, getting burned out with concerning regularity, and the things I used to take pleasure in- including writing- no longer brought me a sense of joy or fulfillment.

When you’re a writer and you stop enjoying writing, that’s a pretty clear sign something has gone horribly wrong.

Unwilling to live with this, I began tinkering with myself on both a spiritual and psychological level, and made some pretty big, pretty scary realizations. These led to some pretty big, pretty scary changes, including getting a full-time job outside my home for the first time since my son was born, and other, more personal things that re-shaped my world, altered my future plans, and (temporarily) knocked me off my stride.

Over the summer, I shelved all my writing projects, both out of necessity and for my own mental health. While my main focus now is on piecing my life back together, I am starting to feel the pull of storytelling again.

There will be ongoing changes to the way I approach my writing. Selling books is no longer my primary source of income, which means it is no longer the primary focus of my time (at least, for now). You’ll still hear from Lena, MacMillian, and the characters you love, but probably less often.

I’m also re-booting my approach to social media. That means winding down some things that just aren’t working for me anymore, keeping my focus on those places where my presence will have the most impact. If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, don’t expect to see much from me unless I have a new book coming out.

Most of what’s going on with me right now is private- the people who need to know the details already do. That said, there are a few ways you can support me if you are so inclined:

* Buy my books. I don’t have the energy to be coy about this. I’m rebuilding my life from the ground up. It’s exciting, it’s scary, it’s tough. Everything helps.

* Leave honest reviews. Aside from helping other readers, I love hearing what you think of my work.

* Tell your friends. Much of an author’s book sales come from word-of-mouth, and I’ll be relying on that now more than ever. Help me get Lena & MacMillian in front of more people who will love them!

The Hero’s Journey

This past year, I’ve felt like the protagonist in some cosmic book, taking the hero’s journey to the underworld and back. I’ve shed parts of myself that didn’t fit anymore. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve grown more, faster, than I ever would have thought possible.

It continues to be a rough trip, but I’ve been gifted with people by my side as I rediscover my path and recover my mojo. I’ve learned a lot: about myself, and what it means to be a good human. About the people who belong in my life (and don’t). About how to be patient and remain kind even when the world isn’t.

And I’ve realized: times like these are how we develop our own stories. The important ones. The ones we’re put here to tell. There are things you learn in the underworld that you can’t learn anywhere else, wisdom you can only access once the rest of your life has been burned away.

The world needs stories like that.

If you want to reach out, you can find me on Facebook and Instagram, rebuilding my life and telling my stories. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks in advance for your support.

I’ll see you in San Francisco.

Sunday #Poetry: Prayer To Persephone

“Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.”
~Joseph Roux


“Prayer to Persephone”
Edna St. Vincent Millay

BE to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be:
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell,—Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee:
Say to her, “My dear, my dear,
It is not so dreadful here.”

Sunday #Poetry: The Kindly Rain

“Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.”
~Joseph Roux

“The Kindly Rain”
Du Fu
translated by W. J. B. Fletcher

THE kindly rain its proper season knows.
With gentle Spring aye born in fitting hour.
Along the Wind with cloaking Night it goes.
Enmoistening, fine, inaudible it flows.

The clouds the mountain paths in darkness hide.
And lonely bright the vessels’ lanterns glower.
Dawn shows how damp the blushing buds divide.
And flowers droop head-heavy in each bower.

Sunday #Poetry: Vile Spring

“Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.”
~Joseph Roux

“Vile Spring”
Pierre-Jean de Béranger
translated by Wilfrid Thorley

I SAW her at her window set,
Myself at mine all winter through;
And well we loved who’d never met,
Our kisses crossed the avenue.
Between the lindens bare of green
The sight of her made all seem gay;
But now you’ve made the boughs a screen,
Vile Spring! Why can’t you keep away?

Their leafy arches serve to ban
For me that lovely seraph bright
I first saw feed her feathered clan
One morning when the frost was white;
They summoned her with songs that so
Became the cue for Cupid’s play:
There’s nothing lovelier than snow!
Vile Spring! Why can’t you keep away?

When she awakes you are the cause
I cannot see her leave her bed
As fresh as when Aurora draws
The rosy curtains overhead.
Now too at night I’m left in doubt
What time my fair star hides her ray,
And when she blows her candle out:
Vile Spring! Why can’t you keep away?

‘Tis Winter that I’m pining for:
Ah! what I’d give to hear again
The sound of pelting snows that pour
In music on the window-pane.
What good are all your flowers to me,
Your zephyrs and your suns of May,
When her sweet smile I cannot see?
Vile Spring! Why can’t you keep away?

Sunday #Poetry: Mid Winter

“Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.”
~Joseph Roux

“Mid Winter”
Carolyn Crosby Wilson

IF I were God, I’d mould hills rolling low,
Smooth them and shape them, sift them deep with snow,
And scatter them with furze that they might lie
Softly, against the wide deep-tinted sky.
In slow caress my forming hand would linger,
Then a swift finger,
Down some long slope, half carelessly would break
A jagged course for melting snows to take,
The outscooped valley’s length they’d run, and then,
Skirting new hills, go slipping out of ken;
And distanced far, a low-hung sun I’d light,
And paint blue shadows on the rose-touched white;
Then, wearied, put aside my colours and my clay
And fashion paradise and man on some less perfect day.

Subversive San Francisco

Originally posted on Para Your Normal (May 2, 2016)

When I was first approached with the topic “paranormal San Francisco”, I had to take a few days to think. I realized there were a couple ways I could approach it.

The first way would have been to talk about the actual paranormal community in San Francisco (there is a sizeable one) – the vampire tour guides, the corner-shop clairvoyants, even ghosts, if you believe in such things.

That would make for an interesting post, but it’s not one I feel qualified to write.

The other option is to explore why I believe San Francisco is the perfect setting for my Shades Below series. Surprise, surprise, this is the option I’ve decided to go with.

I grew up in the Bay Area. I’ve lived within easy driving distance of San Francisco my entire life. Strangely, though, I never spent much time there.

On the surface, San Francisco is…well…chaotic. The traffic is oppressive. The streets are narrow, steep, and confusing. Certain parts are vastly unsafe to walk through, and those parts lie right alongside areas meant for tourists. It’s common to find people who started in the shopping mecca of Union Square suddenly stumbling, wide-eyed and discombobulated, through the seediest alleys of the Tenderloin.

It wasn’t until I started researching the Shades Below series that I began to discover what lay beneath the dusty, dry-rotted surface. At this point, there’s so much I love about San Francisco, I hardly know where to start.

Here are a few of the top reasons Shades Below couldn’t take place anywhere else:

1) San Francisco is a city of ghosts.

There’s history baked into these buildings – sometimes literally, as is the case with the “clinker bricks”: bricks that survived the 1906 quake and were warped by the heat of the fires that followed, later salvaged and reused in the rebuilding of the city.

Walking along Market Street, you only need to look down to see the E’s and T’s still etched in the sidewalks, signaling where long-abandoned electrical and telegraph lines used to run.

The great breakers in the Aquatic Park near Fort Mason are constructed from headstones, discarded after the mass relocations of the city’s dead to the nearby town of Colma.

The more you learn about its storied and colorful history, the more you become aware that San Francisco is a city built in layers. It’s a city tailor-made for ghosts.

2) San Francisco is a city of misfits.

San Francisco has always attracted the people no one else wanted: the perpetual wanderers, the stupidly ambitious, the scoundrels and the downright wicked. Those people have left their mark. San Francisco is a place where anything goes. It’s a place where anything can happen…and usually does.

3) San Francisco is a city of magic.

Magic is energy, and San Francisco is a city of energy. But it’s more than that.

Magic is the view you get coming towards the city over the Bay Bridge: building after building emerging from the fog, as if waking up from a spell.

It’s the ragged figure snoozing on the sidewalk near Fisherman’s Wharf, who suddenly wakes up and starts to sing in the most beautiful, tragic voice you’ve ever heard.

It’s the accidental trip down a narrow side street that leads you to a brilliant green community garden.

No matter how often I visit San Francisco, I still find things to excite me, things to enchant me, things that make me feel like the first time I ever stumbled down one of its streets.

If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

Sunday #Poetry: Woods In Winter

“Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.”
~Joseph Roux

“Woods In Winter”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

WHEN winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O’er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river’s gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater’s iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.

December, 2017

Happy New Year!

I hope your holidays were everything holidays are supposed to be. I know mine were. December was a whirlwind of Christmas symphonies, tree-decorating, cookies, cocktails, and overall goodwill. While I did manage to squeeze a few words in, writing had to take a knee much of the time (I’m back at it now, I promise!)

For indie authors like me, writing is only part of the job description. Case in point: last month, I hunkered down and did my year-end business review. Writing is my passion, but it’s also my job; a job I would like to sustain long-term, ideally while making enough money to keep my kid in swim lessons. Things get so crazy over the course of the year, it’s crucial to step back at the end and take a hard, honest look at what worked, what didn’t, and what I want to do in the future.

It’s a lot more fun than it sounds. 😉

I charted some amazing progress last year (thank you, fabulous readers!), as well as identified things I can do better- for myself, and the lovely people reading my books. Expect to see some changes trickling down the line in the coming months, including more frequent blog posts and newsletters, streamlined updates (like this one!), and bite-sized content you can grab on the go. Let me know what you think!

Bring it, 2018.

WIP Excerpt

MacMillian stared at the place where John had stood. 

His mouth felt dry.  “What happened to him inside the elevator?”

Dr. Fakih shook his head.  “He never said.  It doesn’t really matter, I suppose.  It was my fault.”  He sighed again, and leaned heavily against the bannister.  “Ephraim, John, and I conceived of the idea of the elevator together, back in the eighties.  It was almost a decade before we were able to actually build it.  We were so proud.  It was—is—the only device of its kind.  It’s the place where all our disciplines intersect: magic, alchemy, science.”

Cyrus didn’t speak.  MacMillian waited.

Dr. Fakih’s mouth twisted.  “We were younger then.  Irresponsible.  More than a little arrogant.  We assumed just because we’d managed to create the elevator, that meant we knew how to use it.”  His eyes clouded.  “We were wrong, of course.  Poor John paid the price.”

MacMillian cleared his throat.  “What happened?”

“The first time we turned it on, there was a power surge.  There were four of us there: John, myself, Ephraim, and Corrine,” Dr. Fakih turned to Cyrus, “your mother.”

Cyrus’ forehead furrowed.  “She never mentioned that.”

“It’s not something any of us like to talk about.”  Dr. Fakih rubbed the back of his neck.  “The oculus became the focal point for an intense electrical charge, just like we’d designed.  But something went wrong.  It released a storm of electricity down the staircase, directly at Corinne.  John was the only one of us who reacted in time.  He jumped in, and pushed her out of the way.  The next instant, he was simply…gone.”

Cyrus stared.  “He saved my mother.”

“And it cost him.  Dearly.”  Dr. Fakih’s jaw flexed.  “After his disappearance, I worked night and day to figure out how to stabilize the elevator.  I succeeded.  Six months later, he reappeared in this very hallway.  We were able to keep from losing him again, but it was too late.  The damage had been done.”  He stared at a blank spot in the air.  “He’s never been the same.”

MacMillian studied the other man’s face.  “He said he’d lost a lifetime.  What did he mean by that?”

“I couldn’t tell you.”  Dr. Fakih took a deep breath, and focused on him again.  “Time is different in the wormhole, at least, according to current quantum theory.  We still don’t fully understand how it works.  A second could be a second or a decade or a thousand years.”

Cyrus spoke up, his voice low.  “So what does that mean for Lena?”

“That’s just it.  I don’t know.”  Dr. Fakih winced.  “For all we know, Lena could be an old woman by the time we get to her.”  He hesitated.  “There’s a possibility she might never have existed at all.”

“She existed.”  MacMillian straightened.  Something burned, white hot, deep inside him.  “She still exists.  And we’re going to get her back.”


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Sunday #Poetry: Snow Man

“Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.”
~Joseph Roux

“Snow Man”
Wallace Stevens

ONE must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Sunday #Poetry: Ring Out, Wild Bells

“Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.”
~Joseph Roux

“Ring Out, Wild Bells”
Alfred Lord Tennyson

RING out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.