This holiday has a strange significance for me now. In myths it’s the day when the veil between the mortal world and the afterlife is the thinnest. And one year ago today, that veil got pretty thin for me.
TW/CW in the post for some medical details and photos of medical-related things. There are no blood, pills, or needles shown.
I woke up just after midnight on October 31, 2017 with a terrible headache. I’d had a tolerable (but non-stop) headache for over a month before that, but had thought it was a pinched nerve or a strained muscle. But this pain was different.
I did what I should have done weeks before… I went to the ER. And a few hours later I had an answer: a blood clot in my brain.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail. Suffice it to say that the days that followed are now lost to me, as I was in the ICU with IVs of very strong drugs being pumped into me. My parents flew up from Texas to be with me. Eventually I was moved to a regular ward, and about a week later they let me go home.
I’m talking about this now because I want to explain what happened to me, how it affected me, and why my presence online has all but vanished. Before the clot was diagnosed I had been dealing with pretty constant pain, as well as depression and increased anxiety. There were some incidents online as well that frightened me. (Again no details, but someone had threatened to dox me.) So I was already scarce online for these reasons.
After the diagnosis, things didn’t improve. Even once the pain faded to tolerable levels, once my parents flew home and I returned to work, I wasn’t back to “normal”. Blood tests once or twice a week for six months. Injections twice a day for weeks. A small pharmacy worth of medication to take. And the depression and anxiety just got worse.
I clung to the few safe spaces where I knew I couldn’t be triggered into an anxiety attack. I carefully curated what content I would see online. And I abandoned everything else, because I simply didn’t have the energy and strength to handle it.
That included writing. A year out and I regret that, but I know it was necessary for my mental health. I let my books fall to the wayside; to this day I have no idea if anyone read Changing Colors, as it came out just a week before I was hospitalized. I all but left social media, I let friendships dissolve, I stopped reading.
I apologized on twitter for this, and I’ll apologize again: I am so sorry. To my friends, to authors that I respected, to those of you who read my books. I’m sorry.
My physical health was cleared in May, after months of pain and frustration. Having that seal of health was like having a weight lifted off of my shoulders. But, as many of you know, mental health isn’t always so easily healed, and to this day I am battling depression and anxiety. It means I still avoid social media, I am very careful about what world and national news I consume, and I’ve cut people out of my life who were toxic and harmful.
I’ve also been making an effort to do things that make me happy. I dated a really awesome woman for a few months earlier this year, and we parted as friends. I went to Europe at the beginning of October, met two of my favorite people on earth, and had an amazing time. I’m watching a lot of hockey.
And I’ve started writing again.
Of all the things in the last year, I think that’s the greatest triumph. Since May I have written three full books– one novel, and two mid-length novellas. I am working on half a dozen other projects. Words are flowing, and being able to put these stories onto the page is helping me to slowly find stable ground, mentally.
And I’m finally ready to talk about the projects I’m working on.
A tangent: before I got sick last year I was working on the first book in a new series. I was so excited about it and had already pitched it to a publisher. I told a friend about it… and she then announced that she was stealing my plot, word for word. She’s reiterated her plan to steal my characters and plot as recently as a couple of months ago, even though I’ve cut her out of my life. That kind of betrayal and theft, on top of already poor mental health, made me extremely distrustful and afraid to talk about my books. Until now.
Sucker Punch is the first book in the “Hockey Gods & Monsters” series, which blends contemporary sports romance with paranormal. Alex Fanning is an AHL goaltender being called up to play in the NHL… but he’s also half-vampire, in a league (and a society) that doesn’t welcome Para creatures like him. Keeping his genetics hidden is going to be difficult enough, and falling in love with Sasha Petrov, one of the defensemen on his new team, isn’t going to help.
World Turned Upside Down is an intensely personal novella in many ways. Set during a winter season at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, it’s the story of Simon Bancroft, a young man who learns that fantasy and reality are two very different things, when his crush on scientist Asher Delaney becomes something he never expected to encounter: love. I lived and worked in Antarctica for about three years, and WTUD is my love-letter to the continent and the community there.
Both of the above have been submitted to a publisher, and I’m waiting to hear back on if they’ll be accepted. I’m currently working on “Hockey Gods & Monsters” Book 2. I have a super fun romantic suspense series in the pipeline. I’m trying my hand at an ultra-tropey Western romance.
There is definitely a sequel to Heels Over Head in the works; it is fully plotted, and will give readers a chance to explore more of Brandon’s past as he and Jeremy work towards their future (and Val begins the path towards finding love of her own). It’s tentatively titled In the Deep End, and will be self-published… hopefully in early 2020!