Unexpectedly Ben

Benedict The Orange, Duke of Cumberbatch © TAR ☀ 14

Benedict The Orange, Duke of Cumberbatch © TAR ☀ 2014

That’s not a photo. Well, it started as one, but then Thorny took it home and used it as a reference to paint it on his computer. That’s a painting, and in a couple more days, it’ll be hanging on our wall. A forever reminder of this great cat and the gift my man gave me for my birthday.

I want that reminder. Ben has become so much more than a pet. I didn’t realize that at first. He was just cute and fluffy, a good lap warmer, and didn’t mind me resting my kindle on him.

In the past week, though, he’s taken on a new role. He helps me.

A thunderstorm snuck up on me a couple nights ago and shocked me awake. Ben was right there beside my pillow, the first thing I saw. Instantly, I knew where I was. There’s been times when seeing Carter hasn’t snapped me back anywhere near that fast. But there was Ben, I was with him, and he came over to purr and rub all over my face. He got to sleep curled up by my chest after that.

Understanding that moment for what it was, I sought him out the next time I felt I needed grounding. We’ve got a little routine going now where he gets brushed or lots of petting while I just chill. Brings me down again. Hell, even him “attacking” my hand and “clawing the flesh from my bones” gets me laughing at him and back into myself.

When the puke-o-rama this weekend began and he was napping on me, I did accidentally teach him to fly. He’s forgiven me for the most part, but he was a comfort then too. Petting him really does soothe me, even when the problem is a stomach bug.

I love this cat, and I fucking love this man who gave him to me.

A Messed Up Weekend & A Very Good Monday

This weekend, a bunch of us were supposed to go to the Gay Games Rodeo right here in town. I hadn’t mentioned anything about going because I wasn’t sure I would. It’s a lot of stress for me, but I wanted to conquer it one bit at a time. Well, I succeeded :) Sort of.

I was all set to go Sunday morning, but Alec and Carter got either food poisoning or a 24-hour bug. They’d spent Saturday very much indisposed and couldn’t handle wandering a fairground with all those smells. We figured we could take Sunday to rest and then go on Monday, Jazz and them taking the day off. The rest of the group didn’t want to go without us, but couldn’t get out of working.

But Monday dawns like a frickin monsoon and none of us want to see a rodeo in rain and possible thunderstorms. So we didn’t go :(

I was ready, though. I so was. Yeah, a little nervous and all, but I was gonna do it. I’d already spent two days riding, perfecting my technique, saving a horse every chance I got. (Jazz has leather chaps.)

Turns out, though, that the fairground actually has an “indoor arena” :/ I’d have slogged through mud to get to it. {sigh}

But then came the really great stuff. Aside from having another day to laze around with my cowboy pirate ;) I did two awesome things: mailed 11 TAR(baby) orders and finalized a 5-painting commission! :D

Can you believe it?! I almost couldn’t! :D

I am almost sold out on a couple paintings, but more is on the way :) That little availability bar will go back up very soon.

Oh, and there will be new paintings in there soon too ;) I think you’re really going to like them.

I was just really fulfilled and happy and validated by both of those things. I’m an artist. I really am :)

Thank you <3

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Going Through Recovery

The first step toward recovery is admitting there’s a problem. It took me a year and a half to admit that and, when I did say it out loud for the first time, I was in a room full of strangers. Sure, I knew their names and could see their faces, but the only thing I knew about any of them was that they were in that room for the same reason as me: we were all addicts. Knowing we shared that one thing made everything else about them and me unnecessary information. I didn’t need to know if they had kids, were queer, had served…it was all irrelevant, just background. We’d come together from out of the dark like ancient Man from the forest to the firepit. All we needed was a shared connection to get us through the night, the hour, or the next few minutes.

meetingI don’t think I’ve made a secret of the fact I was in rehab or that I’m in AA now. I’m sober, but that doesn’t mean I’m cured. I haven’t had a drink in 4 years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want one. Some days far more than others. I may not go to a meeting every week, but I do go a few times a month. I’ve gone every day for the past few days because there’s a comfort to that group of strangers coming together to help each other and themselves through our common struggle. I don’t need to know what they do when they’re not there, what they believe, or who they think they are. I don’t even care what they think about me. I just need to know that when I stand up to speak, they’ll listen and respond, helping me feel like I can do this for a while longer.

Sure, every now and then, I’ll learn something about someone when they speak. A hint about a job, family, lover will usually come up at some point because in those relationships are pressures that make us wish for relief. But no one pushes for more because we know why we’re there and that’s the only focus.

I’ve considered here to be the same sort of environment. We know each other’s names, there’s usually a visual to associate with each of us, and we’re here for a mutual purpose. The topic might change from time to time, but we prop each other up or cheer each other on, and leave this space feeling like we’ll make it through. I’m not looking for more than that. Not there, not here.

A Great Big Thank You

You-Are-My-Sunshine

I just want to send out a big THANK YOU to everyone who’s supported me in the journey that has been writing and publishing SPLINTERS. Your words have been encouraging for years now and to see the things you have to say now that the book is out there really humbles and amazes me. You call me Sunshine, but you all are mine <3

This is going to be a big week for a few reasons.

First, as requested, I’ve added some new items to the Sunshine Shop :) You can now get all kinds of things with the SPLINTERS book cover printed on it. There’s even a very special signed-by-the-author version of a few things <3

We all had a lot of fun over the weekend, but I’m going to let Alec talk all about it on Wednesday. Just know it was fantastic fun and someone finally has something he’s been wanting for a long time. You would’ve thought we went to a strange sort of baby shower ;) Be sure to stop by tomorrow for the official day of celebration.

And lastly, I’ve been working on something for a while now, hinting, teasing a little, and it’s finally ready for the big reveal. No, it’s not another book, but it is me being artistic. I do hope you like it, but you’ll have to wait until Friday to see it :P Deedles, you should be especially thrilled, actually, because you supplied the name of this thing ;)

Horcruxes

Harry Potter fans will probably recognize the title of this post. Maybe you can guess why I’m even referencing them. I never really got into the whole phenomenon, but I’ve seen the movies. Recently, they did a marathon of them on TV. I caught the last two, and in one of them, there’s an explanation of just how the big bad guy managed to make himself mostly immortal. I’ve seen the movies before — T has all of them on DVD — but this time, I really listened, I guess, and a particular part struck me.

The kids have to find and destroy horcruxes — these objects with spells on them — in order to make Voldemort vulnerable. To make a horcrux, you have to split your soul and put that bit into something else for safe keeping. To split your soul, you have to kill someone. It was unthinkable that Voldemort split his soul seven times. Killed seven times.

U.S. Marine Sgt. Bryan Early, a squad leader assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, leads his squad of Marines to the next compound while patrolling in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Dec. 19, 2013. Early is responsible for planning the squad’s patrols, the safety of his Marines and achieving his commander’s intent, before, during and after an operation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Long/Released)

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Long/Released)

I’ve never really talked about the number of people I’ve killed. Most of the time, I justify it as preserving the lives of others. One died, five lived, and so on. It was more than just my job, I did not enjoy it, but it was something that had to happen. Only once was it done in anger and vengeance.

I’ve spent some time reading about the fifth commandment and the Catechism as a whole. I believe in the sanctity of life, and don’t like that I had to kill. I understand that “thou shalt not kill” is often phrased as “thou shalt not murder” and I can see the difference. I know there is justification to killing in warfare, and that some expand that to capital punishment and self-defense.

I still sometimes struggle with it anyway. Seeing it discussed in a kid’s movie threw me. My first thought was on how the hell to explain what I’ve done to a child. To justify it to that innocent mind. I don’t want to lie. Yes, I know, why would I have to, but the nephews know I was a soldier and that a bomb in a war took my leg. I figure, eventually, one of them will ask if I’ve ever killed anyone. Clay already asked me if I got to keep my guns, so I know all of this is somewhere in their heads.

There are adults I can’t quite explain it to either. I cannot discuss it with my father. He straddles the fence on being a pacifist. He’s told me he can’t talk about any of this with me. Not that I want to talk about it with him, so that’s fine. I just know some people have very strong feelings on this subject.

I’m sharing this here because it’s been on my mind and I’d like to know if you all have any advice on talking to children (11 and 8) about what a soldier does sometimes and why. If you’d like to share your opinion, that’s good too. Just know that I will not regret what I did because I do know it saved lives and I had to choose one over the other. And no, I won’t tell you how many, but mostly for privacy reasons since it’s on record. Thanks, guys.

How To Live With A Writer

Now that Thorny’s book is out there (on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Smashwords), I thought it would be a good time to discuss how those of us who are the partners of writers can survive the authorial process. Having come full circle, I think I can speak with authority on this subject now.

The Idea

If your writer spends inordinate amounts of time staring into space, brace yourself. They have an Idea. Such things require cultivation and, therefore, a lot of brain power. Anything that doesn’t immediately support The Idea is inconsequential. Your speech is white noise while they’re working on The Idea. They will not do chores, nor remember to do much of anything else. The only thing for you to do is wait and remind them to eat and bathe regularly.

On Being Stuck

Should you enter a room and discover your writer on a horizontal surface with a wide-eyed expression on their face, don’t panic. They aren’t ill; they’re Stuck. This is when The Idea proves complicated. It can be shocking to your writer. The Idea now requires additional, deeper thought. Do not mention Writer’s Block unless you are prepared to declare allegiance to the same side of the debate over its veracity that your writer already maintains. Again, no other activity is possible while Stuck, and you can only wait.

Beta Reading

Read at your own risk! Should you volunteer to read what your writer has written, you will be required to spend a great deal of time answering questions about what you read. It is a test, and you are doomed. Your writer will ask you the same questions repeatedly, question the truth of your answers, and demand you not sugarcoat anything.

If you want to make it out of this alive, you have two choices: A. answer with brutal honesty and prepare to grovel for forgiveness afterward; or B. sugarcoat everything and prepare to renew and support them when other, more qualified people, provide the brutal honesty. Either way, you will not win.

Not reading has it’s own risks, such as passive hostility, sighing and whining, and bribery that will not be followed-through on.

Sex Scenes

If your writer expresses interest in writing Romance, encourage them to do so with everything you have. You will get laid often and with various levels of creativity. Experimentation may be necessary at times in support of The Idea, but as this might be the only direct benefit to you of your writer at work, embrace it.

When The Idea is working, you will be rewarded for your support. When The Idea is not working, you will be able to offer distraction and possibly be praised for getting your writing Unstuck. Try not to feel abandoned or ignored if your writer returns to writing immediately afterward; that is not their intention and they will eventually remember you’re there again.

The Proper Responses

Writer: “I can’t do that now because I’m working.”

At no point should you say, “That’s not real work.” Either they will yell at you or ignore you. Being ignored isn’t as fun as it might sound. Say instead, “I understand.” You might as well also do the chore or other task yourself.

Writer: “I hate my book! I’m never writing again!”

Say nothing. You should always have a stash of treats available when this happens. Hand them over, don’t linger, and provide more if your writer’s eyes stop shooting fire. Occasionally, this could result in angry sex; let them win.

Writer: “Everyone’s better than me. No one will ever buy my book. I might as well give up now.”

Lavish with praise and encouragement, but do not be specific to any portion of The Idea. Offer treats as above. Distractions like an evening out or other joint activity may also work. Be sure to have tissues nearby as crying is likely. Take caution: offering examples of worse writers will bolster your writer’s confidence, but your writer is the only one who can determine if the other writer is actually worse; you must prepare for this ahead of time. There will be no sex, only cuddling.

Writer: “Oh, my God, I’m finished.”

If your writer is excited by this, celebrate their triumph. If they are devastated, do not ask what’s wrong, but instead, respond as above to encourage confidence. If your writer has not already done so, this will be when they ask you to read it; have your response prepared. Sex may or may not happen.

Publication

Depending on your writer’s involvement in this final stage of The Process, you may or may not have a normal human being back with you again by this stage in The Process.

If your writer signs with a Publisher, your work is now complete and your writer will return to normal. Some encouragement may be required, depending on the amount of time involved in The Wait before Release Day. By now, you should be well versed in how to support your writer though that.

If your writer chooses to Self-Publish, your support will be extended toward understanding and supporting such concepts as Formatting, Layout, Distribution Channels, and Marketing Strategies. Study hard and you will make it through this. Adapt the proper responses as necessary when problems and triumphs occur.

Release Day

If your writer’s book is with a Publisher, you may only be needed by your writer occasionally to offer support, treats, and tissues. You should write the Publisher a letter of thanks for handling everything. Consider yourself blessed.

If your writer is Self-Publishing, know that plans will fall through, sales figures will be more important than life itself, and the sound of incoming social media messages of some type will surround you. It is a frightening time, what with the mood swings and binge eating, but because you have survived thus far into The Process, you will now survive Release Day. Use what you know. Recruit and train others to step in when you need a break. Accept or call in favors. You will make it through this. If your writer breaks into the Top 10, don’t question what the hell that means, just cheer. You may now initiate the sex in celebration.

Congratulations!

You’ve survived! Treat yourself to something nice and know that you have earned it. But remember, this time of elation will most likely cause your writer to forget entirely the struggle to reach this point. Because of this phenomenon, your writer may be hit by a new Idea in short order. Don’t despair. You can do this. Now you know how.

SPLINTERS on Amazon

So Amazon went a little early. Oops. Since it’s already selling, I’m just gonna go ahead and tell you all right now.

I SOLD MY FIRST BOOK!! :D

eBook cover (click to embiggen)

eBook cover (click to embiggen)

Buy Links

:star: Amazon Kindle

:star: CreateSpace Paperback

Description

Waking up in a strange place isn’t a first for model and actor Allan Seville, but discovering himself alone and bound to a rough plank in the middle of an open Texas range certainly is. With no memory of who did this to him or why, panic sets in, until rescue comes riding up on a big, brown horse.

There’s more to Duke Walters than a handsome face and sexy drawl. In the arms of this rugged cowboy, Al discovers a peace and safety he never knew he needed, and now doesn’t want to be without.

But someone wants Al out of the way and drugging him during a movie junket in Houston is only the beginning. A world of differences may separate this cowboy and diva, but when danger strikes again, Duke might be the only one who can get them out alive.

I wrote a book. It's buyable now. I'm gonna go relax.

I wrote a book. It’s buyable. I’m gonna go relax now while you read it.