Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I need your help picking a new story (or part of a story) to share!

I've been wracking my brain as to which story to work on next (either finish writing or finish editing). And before you ask: Yes, I am working on Sun Damage. A lot. And that's why it's good to take a little break to work on something else. Right? Right.
And I have so many new stories/pieces of stories that I'm excited about, but I don't know which one people would want to read first. So I am turning to you, internet friends and family, to help me decide.
Here's a little bit on each story. If any of them interest you, just vote at the bottom. I'm hoping to have it posted by New Year's Day!

Beholder(Short story): Beholder is a story about sight. And fish. And a serial killer. 

Shadow Tag (Story): This is flash fiction (I think). And it's experimental. Shadows move among his world, and only he can stop them. He can't even write about them without the lines being crossed out.
The rough draft. 

Stranger on The Train(Chapter one of "the android story"): Are you a human or a machine, and which is worse?
From my notebook. The first draft.

The Donor(The first part): A story about one girl and her desperate attempt at making some money for her family before time runs out (This takes place in the same world as The Sunshine Series, but it's very different). 

Ava's Song (a.k.a. a Sunshine Series horror spin-off)(excerpt):
Michael has searched an eternity for her. Now that he has her, he isn't going to let go. (characters include Evan, Ava, and Micheal).

Notes from a workshop on this story.

Six (excerpt): Corbin is in love with a box her mother bought at a yard sale for a dollar. It's never opened, but she still loves it. Maybe that's why she's been in and out of mental facilities since she was little. That and the shadows. They're everywhere. 

Vote for your favorite here:

What Story (or part of a story) do you want next? free polls 

Happy voting! Can't wait to share something new with you guys!

: )

Friday, November 15, 2013

How AFI Saved Me From Drowning

I had my first panic attack when I was in third grade. I don’t really know what caused it. I remember it, which is weird, because I don’t really remember many things, but it’s extremely clear in my head.
We were sitting on the floor in the classroom. My teacher was reading a book to us, and I was towards the back of the “circle” (because kids thought I was weird. duh).
One minute, I was fine and happy. Then I blinked. And things started to look unreal. The windows began to slant, the dark blue carpet became ridiculously scratchy under my palms. I started to sweat, even though I was freezing. Then I felt sick.
Something you should know: When I was a kid, I didn’t sneeze without permission. I didn’t get up from the table unless everyone else did first, I didn’t like people staring at me, and I did everything in my power NOT to get into trouble.
So when I suddenly got up and ran to the door, I guess it alarmed my teacher.
“Nicolette,” I remember her nearly yelling. “Where are you going?”
By that time, I couldn’t really talk anymore, but I remember trying to tell her, “I have to get out.”

What does this have to do with anything?
I’m getting to it.

Over the years, my anxiety and depression have been intense to the point where I can’t even leave the house, to so mild that when I look back on the intense times, I convince myself that it probably didn’t even happen the way I remember it. That I couldn’t have ever been that bad.

I remember in high school, it was so bad that I missed weeks of school because I was “sick”. Once, when my aunt came to visit from California, we went to a restaurant and she had to drag me outside because I had an attack at lunch and I kept worrying about everyone watching me.

Last year, I woke up completely paralyzed, believing I was in my father’s house, That I could hear him coughing, and smell his cigarette smoke.

I like to say that my anxiety comes in waves and lulls. I can go months or years without feeling anything extreme, despite the stress of school and work, or I can be completely calm and have no stress when it hits me and I can’t even get out of bed.

I don’t try to make it a secret that my sisterly and I grew up kind of in a messed up way. That’s not what this post is for. You can read through my other posts to see some of that.
But it’s important to know because I’ve always believed that if we grew up differently, stable, we wouldn’t be who we are now. Kelly wouldn’t be an artist. I wouldn’t be a writer. And Dana wouldn’t have the undying compassion for people that she has in her either.

AFI came into my life when I was both in a wave period and going through a really, really hard time. I was losing my step dad, I was hurting myself so I didn’t have to cry or have an anxiety attack, and I was really, utterly alone and closed off to anything.

They reached me. I heard one song from Sing The Sorrow and there was someone else there with me, not only inside the wave, but reaching out to me, saying it was going to be alright. That I wasn’t alone. That I didn’t have to be.

This was the band that brought me back from the dead. This was the band who taught me about words. How they can be used to heal someone, help someone. I found every album and devoured them whole. They made me hungry, but it would be a few years before I knew what that hunger was for.

I’ve been trying to delay writing about this, but I feel like the only reason I have is because I didn’t want to admit it: I’m in a wave again.

Call it what you want: sadness, anxiety, depression…it’s the same entity to me. It has claws, and once it has you, it’s hard to keep walking around like you’re not in pain. It’s hard to keep upright. It’s unbelievably hard to be normal.

For the most part, I’m a happy person. I like my job, I like learning, and I’m writing as a career, getting paid for it, being asked to talk about myself and my books at colleges and things like that. I’m so grateful and happy about all of it. But the claws are still in me, digging in. I can’t help it. It’s not something I can control like what class I take or what story to write.

A month ago, I saw AFI in concert. When I was 15, this was all I wanted to do. I’ve wanted to see them live for so long. But the morning of, I wasn’t excited. Not even a little.
I went to see my boyfriend that afternoon, and I was angry. I couldn’t figure out why. I wanted to cry, or scream, or jump out of my skin. He took me on a walk in the woods, which usually helps when I’m anxious. But all I did was break down over and over again.
By the end of our two hour walk, I did feel a little better. Drained, not okay, but not bad either.

Then the AFI show happened.
There they were: Davey, Jade, Hunter, and Adam. And they were so close. And the first song they sang was the first song I ever heard of theirs, back when I was 15 and under another wave. This time, the song seemed to be saying the same things: This is what music can do. You are not alone. 

But now there were new things too: Look at how far you’ve come. Look at what you can do.

Singing along with other fans, holding my sister, Kelly and crying with her during these songs, raising my hands along with the hundreds of other people who all have their own shit and problems and anxieties…It was something I’m still having trouble describing.

If you’re a lucky person whose life has never needed saving, or an unlucky person who has needed saving and had no music to save you, I doubt, that even if I could put it into words, you’d be able to understand.
When the show was over and I went home that night, I felt less heavy. Instead of drained, I felt like I should be writing, or painting, or creating something. I’m not saying that I’m out of the wave, not just yet. But I’m hoping this is the start. I’m hoping that this is the beginning of me reaching out and being able to stand without being in pain or thinking about the claws of anxiety.

I want to believe that. For me. And for them. Because without AFI, I wouldn’t be who I am. I can’t say that I would know who I would be, but I don’t think I’d be this person. The one who is under a wave and pretending to not be under a wave. 

Maybe one day, I won’t have to pretend. Maybe I will just be and that will be enough, but for now, I still have a life raft. It’s something I almost forgot I had until I saw them in October.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is: if you’re struggling with a mental disorder, I know how you feel. You are not alone. If you can find something else that tells you that in this world, while you’re under your own waves, you’re extremely lucky. Hold onto it and don’t forget that it’s there. But if you don’t have that, or can’t find it just yet, I’m here. My words are here (and I hope they help). It’s hard to believe when you’re under water, trying to convince people that you aren’t drowning, but you will be okay. Waves recede. Sadness lessens. The world will not always be a scary place. Not forever.

(You can go HERE to listen to their new album, Burials. It's what's been keeping my head above water lately)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A NEW STORY! Whoooo!

Hey, guys! It's been an extremely long time, hasn't it? Between my entire summer being taken up by writing and edits, and now starting my LAST YEAR of college, I feel like a new post is long overdue.

There's also some Sunshine Series news coming soon, so if you're not following me on Twitter, facebook, or goodreads, you're going to miss out on some AWESOME stuff in a few weeks.

But besides The Sunshine Series, I've been trying to work on a lot of short stories as well. I was going to wait until next week to post something, but what the hell. I have a new story (and serious procrastination issues), and I wanted to share it. : )

This was the first one I wrote for Advanced Creative Writing this semester, and it's one of my few attempts at flash fiction. So be easy on it (lol). So, here it is. Tell me what you think.



     “There’s nothing you can do,” she said. “It’s already done.”
     Her voice always wakes me up when I’m trying to sleep, but when I turn on the light, when I’m still in-between worlds, I think she’s there. Until I look around and find no one.
     I think about killing myself for the third time today when the waitress gets my order wrong.
     I wanted my eggs scrambled, but they stare back at me. Two yellow, runny eyes. It’s raining outside, causing the sidewalks to swell up with dirty water. I wonder if it will turn into a flood, lift the diner off of its foundation so it floats away.
     On average these days, I think about death more than I think about life. I know I’m too much of a coward to do it. I don’t even know if I want to, not really. But thinking, I can’t stop thinking.
     The second time I thought about it today was when I was in the shower and started crying for seemingly no other reason than the fact that my face was already wet.
      The first was when I woke up, reaching my hand across the covers to find the rest of the bed cold.
      “Sorry, hon,” the waitress says. “Can I get you something else?”
      I tell her no. I’m not hungry anymore.
I thought we were mostly okay. We never really fought, neither of us liking confrontation. We were together for almost three years before everything died. Pictures on the walls shrunk, flowers crumpled in on themselves before turning black.
     The fourth time I think about killing myself today is when I’m back in my car and the heat stops working. The rain soaked through my coat and I’m shivering. I wonder if the water will rise more. If it will go past my tires, get into my car and soak through the upholstery. If I stayed in my car all day as the flood swept through, would it be enough?
     A month ago, for my birthday, she tried baking me a cake while I was at work. I came home to a smoke-filled house and her crying on the kitchen floor. “I can’t do this,” she said.
     I asked her what she meant, but she only went to our bedroom and slammed the door.
     I had only seen her cry a few times, mostly when there were things going on that she couldn’t control. Her cat died, her parents got divorced. Things she couldn’t stop or draw out.
     She told me the next day that she was going to visit her parents and would be back in a few weeks.
     She didn’t come back.
     I called, wrote, left messages. I went up to her parent’s house, to her friends, her job, and they all told me they hadn’t seen her. Wherever she was, she didn’t want to be reached. She didn’t want to be found.
     I call out of work when I get back to the house. They tell me that if I continue to take sick days, they’ll fire me. I say it won’t happen again, but the pause between my response and my boss’ tells me that we both know I’m lying.
     I crawl back into bed, there’s no other place that makes sense lately.
     She always had problems sleeping. She’d toss and turn all night. I’m a heavy sleeper, but sometimes the motion of the mattress would wake me. I’d curl myself around her and make her still. Sometimes she’d sleep through the night that way.
     When everything ended, all I got was a phone call. She told me what she was hiding beneath her smile, her personality, and clothes. I told her we could work it out. That I was upset, but that I still loved her.
     “That’s why I can’t do it,” she said. “I can’t be with someone that could love me after what I’ve done.” The silence on the other end of the line buzzed through my ears, splitting my head in half.
     But in my dreams, she’s still here. I don’t think about life or death, or the consequences of either one. In between being asleep and awake, I can see her brown hair in my hands, leaking through the cracks in my fingers as we both stretch out over the mattress.  She’s unaware of what she’s done. How we’re both on a sinking ship, her in a lifeboat while I’m still behind the helm. I don’t care if the baby would have drowned us. I would have been happy to drown.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sun Poisoned is born!

As we speak, Sun Poisoned is processing on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and it is live on Smashwords. It will be .99  for the entire weekend.

Sunshine has been re-edited and re-formatted as well, and will be on Smashwords for pay what you want. 

And I am FREAKING the FUCK out.

You'd think it would be different, releasing your second book. It is in some ways. I know how to format now, for example. I know to do it earlier in the day so it goes up that day. I have learned some things.
Editor's notes on how to improve Sunshine.

But as far as what I'm's not different.

I spent over five years on Sunshine. Sun Poisoned took me only six months. That's insane to me. That I could create a book in such little time that's complete and exactly what I wanted. But it's happened.

I'm still scared. I'm still anxious. I'm still excited beyond anything.

I still have that familiar feeling of wanting to have my baby out there in the world, yet still trying to hold its hand when it tries to leave me.

Me, when I first started typing out Sunshine
...It's such a strange thing, making up stories. I don't think there is anything out there like that in the world. You spend all of your time crafting the characters, the plot, the words. You grow attached to them all (at least I do), and then you have to let them go.

People have asked me if I'm one of those writers who use "inspiration" from my life in my writing. The short answer is yes. And as much as I did it in Sunshine, I've done it even more in Sun Poisoned. I use writing to deal with this thing we call life. I hope the books find people who have a hard time dealing with life.

What can I tell you about Sun Poisoned?

Not a lot. You'll have to read it, or the reviews that have been trickling in. What I can tell you is this: It is full of love, music, betrayal, horror, lies, and then more love.

But mostly my soul. I put a lot into this one, and I hope that shows.

Here are a bunch of links, if you want to buy the book(s)

Barnes and Noble

Or if you want to learn more:

Or if you want to come to my AWESOME Facebook party with games, prizes, and a live Q&A with me via webcam (It starts at 12pm EST):
Party on the internetz

Thank you, though. If you're reading this, there is a chance that you've read Sunshine. And I want to thank you so much for giving my dreams a chance. All of the long hours, the stress of working, going to school, and trying to put out books doesn't matter when I think about how there are people reading them, and liking them.

We are the media. You guys have the power to make or break an author, especially an indie one. You can share everything, you can spread the word, you can shake your friends by the shoulders and tell them, "You HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!" Which helps us out more than you know.

When I see that someone is reading one of my books on Goodreads, tracking the progress and writing comments as they go, it's like I get to go on the whole journey again with them. I feel utterly and amazingly connected to you all, and that's what I want more than anything. I want to talk to you and see your feedback. I want to be a part of this thing we call life, with you.

Without you, I'd just be a writer, which is fine. But now I feel like I'm really doing what I've wanted to do since I was in high school.
So thank you. Thank you for making me an author. : )

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Principal's Breakfast: The mushy, my-sister-just-graduated post

I wasn’t always the smartest kid. I was creative, sure. I could paint, and draw, and make things up. I also got OK grades. A’s and B’s, and when it came to math,C’s...
But the thing is, I tried really hard to get all A’s.
Not because I wanted to please my teachers, or parents, or myself, even.
But because of the stupid fucking principal’s breakfast.
That’s right.
If you got all A’s in elementary school, you got to go to this breakfast to eat in the cafeteria with your parents, the principal, other straight A students, and some of your teachers.

Looking back now, I know it wasn’t the breakfast that had me killing myself over geometry or reading ahead in my science books.
It was because my little sister, Kelly, without a doubt would always get straight A’s, which meant she would get a principal’s breakfast.
She’d wake up an hour earlier than the rest of us to go to school to eat fake eggs with greasy brown sausage and spongy pancakes with a principal I had never even met, despite the fact that I went to that school for four years. She’d sit with Mom when she was lucky, and she’d sit with Dad when he was around...and when she was less than lucky.
The whole idea of sitting in that cafeteria now makes me gag. I don’t think I could do it now if I wanted to. Which I don’t.
So why, then? Why did I want it when I was younger?
Now that I can see the whole picture without a frame around it, I think I know the answer.

I wanted to impress her.
I wanted to be on the same level.
I wanted to be able to say, “my sister and I are in this group together”.

Kelly with her hybrid babies
As I’m writing this now, she’s just graduated from art school.
She’s taken what she’s learned from around her (good and bad) from our parents, our lack thereof, and the world around her, and she’s made beautiful things with it.
She’s taken what she once could not control and molded it with her own two hands.

I always knew she would.
I always knew she was so much bigger than the little box our “world” was made out of.

Maybe that’s another reason why I wanted to be a part of this secret-breakfast-club.
Kelly’s two years younger than me, but I had always seen her as two years ahead. She was smarter, more creative, more artistic, more ambitious. Hungrier.

I wanted to be with her in this place where we were somewhat seen as equals. Because I knew it was only a matter of time before she would go off and do what she was meant to do, born to do. And she would do it better than I could ever do it.
The morning of her graduation, she invited Dana and I to a “Special Luncheon” for “leaders, high GPAs, etc.”
We sat in a room with her professors, adviser, and other students who had all invited their parents.
We were the only sisters there.
All three of us, together, at this place where the president of her college spoke about how wonderful they all were, where her adviser broke down and cried when she spoke about her, where I sat and took it all in.
And in an instant, I was happy that I never got to go to the stupid principal’s breakfasts.
This was worth so much more.

Then the next day, I watched her graduate.
I only got about...two minutes into the graduation ceremony before I began to cry, but once I swallowed up the tears, I sat patiently until it was over.
Lists of names were read, they called her name, her honors, her fucking 3.95 GPA.
Then it was over.
I watched her walk out of the tent, and I had to wait until the rest of the graduates left before I could see her again.
And when I found her, I lost it.
We both did.
I hugged her for what felt like hours. She hugged me back.
People took pictures.
I didn’t care.

I told her how proud of her I was, what an amazing person I thought she was.
I couldn’t get much else out.

But here it is now.
The way I do everything.

All I could think about on the ride home, as I drove her and I back to New Jersey, was the damn principal’s breakfast.
I was always so jealous when we were younger. She was part of this elite world that despite how much I tried, I could never gain entry into.
And last weekend, I feel like I was there.
I’m still there whenever I look at her.
I never thought it was possible to be so overcome with joy, pride, and overall awe as I am when I think of Kelly right now.

Me, Kelly, and Marina: post tears and hugs
I feel like most of our lives was/is spent on trying to overcome the circumstances we were born into. A drunk dad, a shitty childhood, the list can go on and on and on...
Here I am, a year left at my own college, and I’m still behind her, watching everything happen.
She’s overcome so much already. She’s one of the only people in our family to go to college and graduate, she showed “them all” that she can do it.
And every time I look at her, I think I can do it too.

I love you, Kelly.