• Personal

    Going On From Here

    I am feeling human again today, barely, after surviving an absolutely cataclysmic hangover. I say this as someone who once drank most of a bottle of Gran Marnier and had a four day hangover while LIVING ON A BOAT. You think you’ve had a hangover? Try having on while being on a rocking, lapping, creaking boat and see if you don’t want to die.

    Like a lot of Americans living abroad I went to bed the other night worried because the election was so very close, but still hopeful that sanity would prevail. It seemed impossible that this huge sociopathic orange festering monster could sway enough people to actually get in. I mean, I know people are horrible, but surely they’re not that suicidally stupid, right?

    As it turned out the next morning, they were.

    I’d woken at 4:00 am and gone downstairs as I had a feeling and couldn’t go back to sleep. Turned on the TV, and while it wasn’t all over it was obvious which way it was going to go. I felt as though the whole world had been knocked offkilter during the night, that impossible things had happened – I actually don’t know how to say it except that it felt inconceivable. But you know what they say about that word. Figuring that the whole world was ending in flames, I started drinking scotch and continued to do so throughout the entire ugly day.

    Anyway, I’m back, the headache has ebbed and I might be able to eat something today. Yaay me. The world has gone on, it didn’t actually end, and we must all somehow find a way to live in it. People are starting to fight back (a bit late after the fucking fact, I might add), all of the racists and misogynists are celebrating and we’ll all go on somehow. Some of us less well than others, but hey…what’s a back alley abortion or a hanging or two?

    While I was sloshed to the very brim with scotch I made the decision to cut a lot of people out of my life that I’d cut a lot of slack previously. I grew up in a small town and left two weeks after graduation. My sisters all stayed, got married, became stay-at-home moms. Their politics are very, very different than mine. Their world is very different than mine, which is something that I can’t blame them for – when you live in a small town with a destroyed economy, when you basically don’t know a single black person personally, when the only Muslims you see are on the TV, carrying black flags and beheading people, you have a certain world view. When you’ve never gone out into the world and worked, you don’t know how hard it is for women. When getting pregnant is just a prelude to getting married and settling down, you don’t understand about girls bleeding to death in the back of back-alley abortioner’s filthy vans. This is a very slight exaggeration, I know that most of them have seen a black person on the street now and then. The point is, they are a product of the place they’ve grown up in, one very small sliver of the world.

    The next day I reconsidered (or as much as I could with a brain that had turned to grey mush). I have very little family left and what I have is precious to me. And in the end I thought no, I did the right thing. We all overlook the racist memes that certain members of our families post on Facebook, we chide them when we see them reposting shitposts about Obama and Hillary and Muslims wanting to do away with Christmas. Hey, most of us grew up with that uncle or grandfather that said racist things at Thanksgiving, you roll your eyes behind their back and love them anyway. It’s just what we do.

    For a long time conservatives have been making snarky comments about how Muslims should be policing their own communities, it is their responsibility to stamp out extremism first. And while I generally despise the people saying those things, there is a certain amount of truth in that these beliefs are overlooked by the people who love them. We forgive our brothers and sons because we love them, and then they plant a bomb or go join Daesh. It is the same thing here. People feel justified in their misogyny and racism, they feel that since no one says anything against them it is okay. They feel that the majority of the US are with them. I don’t want to let things slide anymore, because it’s really NOT okay, it is wrong and I will stand up and fight against this no matter who you are. Even if you are someone whom I will always love very, very much. And that is an extremely hard thing.

    I’ll close by saying that I do understand. I’ve lived in cow towns, I was in 4H as a kid, my dad was with the Sherrif’s Department, my mom with the church, the County Fair was the high point of the entire year, and Walmart coming to our town was the best/worst thing that happened to it. But still…but still.

    These two posts say it so much better than I could, they’re worth reading to understand (if not forgive): Rural America and How Half of America Lost Its F**king Mind

  • Personal

    This and That

    It’s been a while since I last wrote anything, as I’ve been feeling…not good? Off-kilter and rudderless, not quite enough to be thinking breakdown, but definitely not normal.

    Yeah, yeah, I know…as if I was ever normal. :D

    What I always was, though, was full of plans and ideas and projects that I wanted to do, a thousand and one things that I was in the middle of, or planning, or had dropped to make way for new ideas. What I am at the moment is stagnant, kind of like someone in a fairy tale who sat down to sleep in a wood and never woke up, grown over with brambles and blanketed with fallen leaves. It’s not pleasant, but I don’t know how to get out of it.

    It’s November, time for NaNoWriMo, and I have several projects that I’d worked hard to clear some space for, and I’ve done nothing but panic every time I sit down to write. No exaggeration, actual panic as though someone had reached a hand into my chest and squeezed. Horrible.

    It’s the same with everything else, it’s all coming out broken or I get breathless at the thought of starting. I hate it, but I’m really not sure what I should do. Bah.

    I haven’t been doing a lot of gaming recently due to the need to give my hands a chance to recover. The doctor thinks it has something to do with lupus, but I’ve lived with that for a long time and I think she’s mistaken. There’s a definite connection to repetitive stress from gaming, also making it difficult to lift anything. I’m still subbed to FFXIV, and really want to get back into the swing of instances and so on, but can’t face it right now.

    One surprising thing that I’ve really been enjoying is Overwatch. Granted I’m no longer a kid with fast-twitch reflexes, but the strategy of it all is fascinating. I’ve actually been watching some of the World Cup matches and enjoying it, and watching e-sports was always something that I would rather have pried the eyes out of my head rather than watch. Go figure.

    So that’s it, I suppose, that’s where I am this month. Stuck like a character in a fairytale who got lost in the woods and slept for a few years, or a century.

  • Art,  Personal

    Baby Steps

    This story starts with a hangover. More accurately, it starts with the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 and the documentary on it that Phil chose for us to watch, which made me sad and angry and sad all over again which led to a few strong drinks and finished with initiating a re-watch of Firefly (which I’ve seen so many times that I reserve it for those times when I am very, very sad). I woke with the mother of all hangovers which lasted for more than two days.

    We were talking about the various 9/11 memorials, all of the various things to fill the space at Ground Zero and to me all of them are small, low to the ground. It’s as though we no longer want to hold our heads up. None of them replace what was lost, and I think that is incredibly sad. We should have decided to build the biggest, tallest building in the world, set a new record, put one finger up against hatred and ignorance that went all the way up to the sky. Sheath that fucker in red, white and blue glass, make it the shiniest goddamned building in the world.

    It may surprise those who know me that I am very patriotic in a way…I love the country that I was born to. I love what we stood for, what I was told America was all about when I was a child. I believed in our goodness and our bravery. And you know what? I hate feeling guilty for that now.

    The swing to the far right over the last decade or so has changed us so profoundly that I’m not sure if we can ever get back again. The decent, salt of the earth people that I grew up believing in have been replaced by the Tea Party, the deep corruption in our government, and the rabid bigotry and hatred of Donald Trump and his supporters. I can’t say that I believe in America without somehow feeling as though I’m aligning myself with the dregs of humanity, flying their freak flag of hate loud and proud. I am instead silent, and sad.

    Anyway…back to the mother of all hangovers, the very Kali of alcohol-induced regret.

    I’ve taken some baby steps back to my art, trying to find the enjoyment in it that I used to have. And so each morning I’ve been doing a speedpaint type of thing (except, you know, not really painting). One project per morning, finish by lunch no matter what. These were the first two days (the sci fi one really needs more detail work, which I will do because I can’t bear to leave it like this).

    Soldier The Princess In The Tower

    Save

  • Personal,  Writing

    Lists and Terror

    I’m a great list maker and planner. As you can see from my previous New Years Eve resolutions, however, I’m not always a successful completer of lists. Nevertheless (refusing to learn from past failures) I now have a list of projects that I want to work on as time opens up prior to the end of the year:

    1: Art. New Styles. New Skillz.

    As a book cover artist I get a bit tired of doing the same type of covers, and I’m sure that readers must get tired of seeing the same types of covers over and over again. This has led to some of the stress over the past year and dissatisfaction with work. I know authors, with everything riding on the success or failure of a new book, want something that they know readers in the past have liked. I know that, and I do understand it…but each time I get a brief for an urban fantasy cover that needs a tough-but-beautiful heroine with great hair wearing leather and jeans, standing in an urban landscape with magic effects on her hands or on her weapon of choice I feel tired. That’s not to say that I don’t love the hell out of that type of book, I really do love me a kickass female hero. And yet…I think we can all do something a bit different.

    Part of the problem is stock. Most commercial stock images are outtakes from fashion or advertising shoots, modelling portfolio shots and so on. The models are pretty, but there are a lot of “model-y” poses (as one would expect). Action shots are really, really difficult to find and it’s even more difficult to find ones that haven’t already been used since everyone else is looking for those as well.

    Now, lacking the finances to set up a studio again and shoot my own models, I’ve been looking at CGI models for bodies and costume. I’ve used a lot of these in the past, and when paired with a real model’s face and hair it’s difficult to tell that they were digital, especially when overpainted. This is one option for more interesting model shots with more life and action to them. Acquiring the 3D modelling skills needed to create the figures, skin them, and light them properly is a bit more difficult, more of a high learning curve.

    So, that’s one thing.

    2: Writing = Panic Mode.

    For several years now I’ve been trying to clear the spare time to do some writing. The Clockwork Bluebird, my first project, needs re-working with a new ending and I have the sequel partially written. I have other projects (very different ones!) also pulling at me for attention. I am, I GODDAMN AM, going to devote some time to these so that I can get enough momentum going in order to not fall by the wayside in despair after I go back to work after the holidays. I’ll probably never be a great writer, maybe not even a good and professional one…but I think I could not embarrass myself. I want the chance to try, anyway. I want to tell these stories as best as I can.

    1. The Tatterdemalion Dancer. Clockpunk-fantasy sequel, underground carnival which is also a war between the Fae courts. A Goose Girl/Red Shoes mashup. :D
    2. A twisted Alice tale of madness: Suckerpunch meets Alice in Wonderland.
    3. My pooka story.

    That shit is hella scary.

    3. The Rest.

    Other projects include work on the various cosplay outfits that I have littering the front room, which I’ve turned into a workroom. I want to put more time into my photography (and as a side note be able to use more of my own shots rather than having to buy so much stock!).

    So…yeah. The list. Lists are terrifying.

     

    Postscript: A video which captures The Tatterdemalion Dancer perfectly. <3

    LE CIRQUE FEERIQUE Reel from Company XIV on Vimeo.

  • Personal

    Wedding

    The backyard rustic wedding was wonderful! It was actually a handfasting, performed by a pagan but softened to suit a very mixed group of family and friends. Perfectly lovely.

     

    Wedding

     

    Wedding 13707515_10154770830257289_2839788114743285843_n WeddingWedding Wedding 13939577_1744598362423409_987339615836185240_n

  • Personal

    Off Like a Herd of Stressed Turtles

    …or something like that, anyway. :) Leaving early tomorrow, having accomplished only a small amount of everything that I needed to before I left. I’ve been throwing things into my suitcase without my normal planning, so I will probably end up with fifteen black shirts and no pants or shoes. I just remembered to pack underwear this afternoon. Anything I miss, I guess I can hit Walmart for once I get there.

    Don’t have too much fun while I’m gone… :D

  • Personal

    Dark Days

    In a couple of weeks I’ll be going back to the States for a visit, for my daughter’s wedding. It’s been several years since I went back (just before my father died) and has been fourteen years since I moved to the UK. I’m nervous about going back.

    I miss everyone, of course. I miss my daughter every single day, I miss the rest of my family, and I even miss the country that I grew up in.

    That country, of course, isn’t the same one that I’ll be going back to…and that scares me.

    Everyone seems so very…strident, to say the least. I’m sure there were almost as many misogynists and racists when I lived there, but most people knew enough to keep the worst opinions to themselves. Not now, though. Everyone is flying their freak flag, bolstered by the approval of other neanderthals on their social media home of choice. It’s bad enough that presidential candidates are running quite successful campaigns based on hatred, and their supporters hail them as “straight-talkers” who aren’t afraid to speak their minds. In other words, this guy is saying what we think. Yee fucking hah.

    I’ve lost most of my family over recent years. The intelligent, intrinsically good people that I loved have turned into raging God-n-Guns “make America great again” conservatives and gradually I’ve muted them, slowly shutting them out of my life. I love them, I would give a kidney or my life for them…but listen to a constant stream of nastiness via social media? Ugh. Life is too short to wallow in that kind of cesspool, so I let them slowly slip away.

    And guns, lord the guns. Astronomically more massacres by gun in the US than anywhere else in the world, classrooms of kids being slaughtered, people at church, you name it. Just this week, black men shot dead by the police in two separate murders, and last night five cops were killed (presumably in retaliation). Guys in beards, beer guts and Dixie flag tshirts walk around carrying assault rifles openly. It all scares me. This is my home, the country I grew up in…and I’m terrified to go back.

    Right now I’m thinking weddings, and love, and hugging my daughter again. Everything else can slip away.

  • Personal

    I’m Alive!

    Wow, it’s been…let me see…a very long time since my last post. After being offline for so long I was really snowed under with a lot of work and things just slid. As they do unless one makes an effort, which I shall have to.

    Aside from work I’ve been doing a bit of gaming and pretty much fuckall otherwise. Black Desert came out, which I’ve just scratched the surface of due to The Division also launching. I got addicted to The Division, I admit. It is so much fun, and simply one of the most gorgeous games I’ve ever seen.

    Character creation still kind of sucks, and I’d hoped for more. Still the default faces and hairstyles and not a lot of choices which is a shame for an otherwise amazing game. I’d really, really wanted to do a version of Carol from The Walking Dead for my character (since, although I have a massive girlcrush on Michonne, Carol is the most badass), but I had to settle with the character that I’d chosen in beta.

    We’ve been mostly running in groups of four with some good friends, which makes encounters and (fer shure!!!) the Darkzone a lot easier. A lot of it isn’t tuned to be too easy, so you can’t faceroll most of it which I like. It’s a challenge without having stupid don’t-stand-in-the-fire dances. Mob AI is extremely well done. The few cutscenes are nicely done, voice acting is great, and as you piece together the story you come across funny, profane and absolutely heartbreaking moments.

    Huge /applause on this one – if you haven’t tried it, you so very much should!

     

    Division3Division2Division4Division1Division5

  • Personal

    Happy 2016

    Well, Christmas kind of sucked. :)

    There was a surgery, which I woke up from and started drinking fluids, etc. in recovery. Then a lot of bleeding and a second, emergency surgery wherein I of course started vomiting. Aspirated some of that, and ended up with pneumonia. Not fun. So I spent most of the days at the hospital hooked up to IV tubes and catheters and oxygen tubes, all so very much not fun. I vomited and/or wee’d on pretty much everyone in the entire hospital, and was naked in front of more people than I think I ever have in my life. Mind you, I’ve been naked in front of a lot of people…but I reached a point where it was commonplace, as all the people currently in the room at any one time had probably already seen my ass. Including visiting family members, yaay. There is little dignity available for patients in hospitals.

    Now I’m home and am pretty much still flat on my back in bed. Pneumonia is the worst. Sitting here at my desk for a bit is a big accomplishment, although I feel as though a small child is sitting on my chest and I’m struggling for air. You would think that sitting in a chair would be rest just like being in a bed, but no. So it will be a bit before I am back at work, sorry.

    One of the worst things that I had to do after I was released? Giving myself injections. If you know me personally you know that I have a deep fear/horror of needles. I can’t watch them on TV without feeling ill. And I had to give myself injections for five days. Five. Days. When the nurse explained it I was in disbelief and then I cried…and when I say I cried I mean that streams of water shot out of my eyes as though someone had squeezed a water bottle. I cried like a cartoon character.

    I mean, I did it. Cowboy up, put on my big girl pants, my daddy didn’t raise no pussies and all that. But lordy did that suck.

    Being sick is full of ass.

    Anyway, ready to collapse now so I wish you all a wonderful 2016, and I know that people with January covers will be worried. I’m going to check mail this afternoon or tomorrow and get back to you all, and hope to be back at work soon. <3

  • Personal

    See You In 2016

    NOTE: I won’t be answering email until after the holidays, and won’t be available on Twitter, etc. Thank you for being patient, and I wish you all a wonderful holiday and a great year to come.

    Peace on earth and goodwill to all. In our current world, could there be anything more important?

    Happy Holidays