Mental Illness in Athering

So today I’m taking a little bit of a detour from Character Snapshots in order to talk about Athering’s approach to mental illness. I’ll be using examples from the books (Bellica and The Jade Star of Athering), so spoilers ahead.

Why? Well, it’s #BellLetsTalk day, and I like contributing to it on the blog. As it is also a Wednesday, I figured this would be a chance to talk about how Athering approaches mental illness.

In a word? Badly.

Let me elaborate.

Continue reading “Mental Illness in Athering”

Character Snapshot: Yarrow, 4020

Welcome to Character Snapshots, the new series where I interview my characters at certain points in their lives.

Today I’m interviewing Yarrow in 4020, after the events that take place in Bellica. Beware of spoilers!

Name? Yarrow Achi deZameera Zarqon. Er. Queen Yarrow, I guess now. That’s tough to get used to.

Age and birthday? 30 years old; Duema 2nd, 3990. If you want to give me a gift you will never go wrong with whiskey. Or porn. Puppies are nice too.

Time of snapshot: What day is it? I don’t know. I’m tired. Sometime near the end of Trinnia, I think.

Species? A year ago I would have said you’re insane for even asking, but that was before Rosa happened to me. Human. Or, Terran, I guess is more politically correct.

How do you spend a typical Jourd’Aradia? A good portion of every day, Jourd’Aradia being no exception, is spent being sick in the privy, because someone (a pause as Yarrow glares at her belly) doesn’t like any food, apparently. Whenever I’m not bent over the latrine and cursing every woman who didn’t tell me how much pregnancy fecking sucks, I’m spending most of my time trying to fix the mess left me in ruling this country. Which, actually, isn’t as bad as I was expecting, so that’s something. Truth be told, my sister had some good plans for Athering. She just didn’t get to implement them. And who knows how well they would have turned out. Her life wasn’t her own.

(Yarrow goes silent, a slight frown drawing her brows together.)

I take it you miss your sister? (Yarrow directs a glare my way.) Of course I do. I always loved her. Even when she hurt me the most. And to be honest, I think, had it not been for the human-pieced chess game the Goddesses were playing with us, I think Zardria might have done Athering some good. A lot more good than Zanny ever did, that’s for sure.

You mentioned the Goddesses. Do you consider yourself religious? Never have. I no longer doubt the existence of the Goddesses, but I don’t go for services at the Temple. Being Queen is quite a wonderful excuse not to; I’m so busy, you see. I am not thought less of for only showing up at Kore’s Mass or Midwinter or Ostara. Were I lesser nobility, that ease would not be mine.

So you believe in deities, but don’t follow a religious life? What’s the point in praying and ritual when I know They exist and are going to do with my life whatever They want anyway? (Yarrow shrugs, looks away. She is obviously uncomfortable.)

I think your cousin might tell me a different story. (A large sigh.) Of course she would. Ghia is an incessant meddler. Yes, alright, I do pray. That’s still not the same as considering myself personally religious.

Alright. I’ll leave that line of questioning alone. Thank you.

One more question, and then I’ll let you get back to ruling Athering. What is your favourite food? Ah, an easy one! I adore roast — big hanks of juicy, peppered beef, with a side of buttered and salted tubers. Also — though don’t tell anyone this; it’ll ruin my image — I really like asparagus. I know it’s weird, but I do.

Well, I like asparagus too. Thank you for your time, Queen Yarrow. Eh, thanks for giving me an excuse to step away from work for a minute.

Thanks for reading this week’s Character Snapshot! Comments are open for 7 days, and I’ll see you next week with some more tidbits from Athering.



How to Procrastinate

Working hard or hardly working? HA HA HA HA HA no seriously, I have a problem.

Procrastination doesn’t just come naturally, you know. We have to work hard at it. Really make sure we’re getting everything we can out of the time we waste.

After feeling awful for over two weeks because I haven’t been writing or editing, I finally got down to working on The Jade Star of Athering again today. I thought that working on it would make me feel better — and you know, it has. I’ve worked on it for maybe 20 minutes and written about 150 new words in it. Now I’m feeling “Okay, I worked on this, can I quit and do something else now?” That sort of ‘feeling better’.

Here’s the thing with The Jade Star of Athering. I set myself up for editing failure with it.

My natural writing state is to write a bunch and go back and edit it before moving on. I am an edit-as-I-goer. That was how I did Bellica, and while Bellica took way too much time, its finished first draft was about 10x cleaner than its sequel’s first draft.

I started doing Jade Star that way, too. It is, as I said, my natural state.

But then I published Bellica and became active in online indie author circles and started reading all this advice and…somewhere along the way I internalized the idea that the point was to get it written and edit it later. I’LL FIX IT IN POST, my brain drunkenly screamed as I tried like hell to finish my first drafts. THIS IS A GOOD IDEA, it further said, swigging some vodka (I don’t know where my brain got the vodka) before knocking over a lamp.

This worked out okay for Stranger Skies, which was fully plotted before I wrote it (and therein lies the difference, likely). I say okay, because editing Stranger Skies was still like dragging my carcass through a swamp made of death and tears in a way that editing Bellica wasn’t.

And now editing The Jade Star of Athering is turning out to be even worse.

Part of my issues are related to Fear of the Sequel, yes — I won’t deny that. There lurks a fear in me that I can only do great first books and whatever book is next in the series will fall short. Which is fair, as it’s basically a trope now that Sequels Always Suck, so it makes sense I’d feel that way about my own work (whether or not it’s true). But mostly, the big wall that keeps springing up is the fact that this finished first draft is the messiest pile of crap I have ever produced. And that’s because I absorbed “Don’t get it right, get it written” when I was finishing it.

Look, “Don’t get it right, get it written” is actually great advice for people who are not natural edit-as-we-goers. If you are the type of writer who works better editing after the first draft is done, then yes, absolutely, vomit those words onto the page and make it pretty, make it make sense, later. Do it, because it works for you.

It doesn’t work for me. And that’s a lesson I’ve learned, now, and I won’t repeat this mistake in the future. When I’m finished The Jade Star of Athering — which was supposed to be at the beginning of this month, by the way, and now it’s looking like I’ll have to push the release date — I’ll be working on From the Ashes, the next book in The Borderlands Saga. And I’m going to let my natural inclination to edit as I go take the lead, this time.

How to procrastinate: let writing advice override your natural inclination for editing as you go. Finish a first draft. Try to edit that first draft. Suddenly, everything will look better than editing that thing (including my publishing work, which I usually also try to procrastinate on).

On the plus side of this procrastination business, I’ve gotten some work done on the publishing-other-people’s-stuff side of my life, such as getting Kaimana Wolff‘s new book Broken Sleep done and ready for pre-order (I reviewed the book back in May when I was still working on it; very few changes have been made since then, so the review stands). Shameless plug follows.

BrokenSleepebookcoverfinal400xWhat has happened to Jane?

“All voices sing in unison: get out get out get out escape escape escape…” but violence and death stalk Jane along every bend of every way out….

Can you escape a past you never knew?

Four hardworking professionals live the good life–until one falls into a hole in a Vancouver street. As the world’s colors change, each man grapples with shadows of war as Jane tumbles into the abyss of the Disappeared.

Paul and Zack, thrown together by what may be Jane’s last testament, are hardly excited about cooperating with each other on any issue, least of all on the disappearance, weeks ago, of their mutual friend and her little daughter.

What did Jane expect of them–if anything? What does her story mean–if anything? And what, if anything, should they do about Matt, Jane’s beloved husband, the man each of them suspects?

Caught in an ancient web of caring and enduring, action and restraint, law and healing, Zack and Paul enact the next steps–in Jane’s existence as well as their own.

Available for preorder in ebook and paperback from these locations

Kindle US

Kindle Canada

Barnes & Noble




Note, the paperback preorder is only available from our Storenvy store, and not anywhere else. If you buy a paperback copy from Amazon or B&N, you are getting an older copy of the book which is completely different from this version. (Broken Sleep was originally published 9 years ago. That version is out of print, and the book has gone through extensive revisions prior to this version being released. They are basically completely different books.) The paperback of this version will be available via Createspace after the release date of September 23rd.

If you were hoping for an ARC of the book, there’s still time for one. Fill out this form and I’ll send you a copy of the ebook ASAP.

And now, I think I’ve spent enough time procrastinating. I even took a big break from working on this post to update my Facebook page and create a new cover image for it. I work really had at avoiding work, y’all.

Go order Broken Sleep, or request the ARC or something. Make my procrastination worth it! <3

Again I go, into the breach swamp….