I hope the title isn't misleading. This post is personal, not topical.
It's been a little while. Some of you have reached out to see how I've been doing and it's heartwarming to be so cared for. I can't say things have been easy--and how can they be, during tumultuous times like these? But I'm still here, doing what I do.
I took some quiet time away from social media for healing (see previous post) and I'm happy to announce that I'm feeling physically healthier than I have in years. I've been laying low, in avoidance of COVID, because I'm not willing to risk my only recently regained health (or the health of those around me). And I'm not entirely sure my immune system is strong enough to battle it and win without taking some serious damage.
I took even more quiet time throughout the summer and fall to absorb and process the losses of some dear friends and family members. 2020 has been one hungry monster, that's for sure. In addition to the passing of irreplaceable human loved-ones, our dear, sweet Luna crossed the rainbow bridge as well. You might know her as the Dalmatian-Heeler from my bio, my Instagram, or every book acknowledgement I've written. Our Tennessee feral rescue kitty Tucker was lost in the same week (though, I hadn't updated pictures on this website to include him or any of our Tennessee rescues).
I don't want to tug too hard on your heartstrings on my behalf. Things are difficult right now for just about everybody around the world. Like most people, I work daily to keep my chin up, be productive and find positivity in the little things.
One of those "little things" is, Echo! She's a 3 1/2 month old miniature Texas Heeler and our very first puppy. She keeps us on our toes, to put it mildly (herding dogs, amIrite?). Now that she has all of her shots, we can't wait to hit the trails and take her canoeing. I'll probably do a photo-dump on Insta soon. Just you wait.
In writing news, I have an awesome group of beta readers going over my YA fantasy manuscript as I pour over edits using my newly rekindled brain-power. lol Not a lot to give you as of yet, though you deserve medals for your patience.
One bonus: I've been working on a conlang to accompany this book. Yes, that would be an invented language. As a kid inspired by Pern and Middle Earth, I would hand-write dictionaries for my fantasy worlds, but it was a slow-going process. Now, I've hit the ground running, studied up and have done my best to deliver something truly immersive. I built it to flow parallel to English (aside from certain particles), so it wouldn't be too hard to deconstruct. Mostly, I wanted readers to have fun with it.
Would you like a sample?
"Sutkai thur bōmen! Ōhä Ritkäni nōssiv. Thur änjiess rōti dimuti aet ōm vär, aeré thur taoti ké jiss ōhä mä mōtti, aet haem lubumti vé maissi dinuti."
"Hello my friends! This is the Ritkani language. I still work on it every day, but I hope that when this book is done, it will take your breath away."
When everything is finished, I'll have a dictionary, a web translator and some other fun goodies to play with.
Anyway, back to work I go! I hope all of you are keeping safe, staying healthy and finding some cheer in this wild, wild world.
So, I’ve been gone a while. Thought I’d talk about that. There will be a TLDR at the bottom.
One year after I traveled to Tennessee for UtopiaCon and my book signing, my husband and I packed up our things, gathered our many rescue pets, and moved 4,000 miles to that very state. I’d only visited the once—and he, not at all. But the call to adventure had sounded, and in addition to a desire for new experiences, we were eager to outrun the staggering inflation and housing crisis of my beloved home-state. Frankly, we couldn’t afford a million dollar home and wouldn’t risk losing our rescue family to increasingly constrictive rental agreements. Our pets are our family, and we would not send them back to the kill shelters we’d rescued them from in the first place.
This move has taken me farther from home than I’ve ever been and has given me more food for thought than I’d have gained if I’d stayed in a familiar place.
But the move wasn’t cause for my silence, or my absence.
As it turns out, I’d been falling ill, likely, over the past 6 years (the last 2, being the most difficult). The thing was, I didn’t realize it. It happened slowly. So. Very. Slowly. There were some signs, to be sure, but like any hard-working artist hell bent on making their dreams reality, I ignored them. I was so focused on my work, on the hustle, I didn’t pay attention to the signals and subtle cries for help my body was sending. When illness sets in gradually, you have the time to acclimate, to accept a new “norm”. It’s dangerous. I’m lucky it wasn’t deadly.
My warnings came in the form of migraines, dizziness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, increased social anxiety, to name a few. I buckled down harder, blaming myself for not being tougher. Blaming my naturally introverted personality for losing my ability to cope socially (something I’d worked very hard to achieve since high school). All these things were piling up, and I began to self-isolate.
I did what we’re taught to: Don’t complain—work harder.
By the time we reached Tennessee, my symptoms had culminated to a point that drove me to depression. My anxiety was so heightened, I couldn’t come down from it. My heart raced like a tiger was chasing me at any given moment. I was suffering from reoccurring panic attacks too, the kind that crush your chest and numb your arms. Two solid years of this. I blamed it on life stress. I blamed it on past trauma. I blamed it on fear for not releasing another book fast enough—like a kid, late to turn in a final assignment and awaiting public retribution from their teacher.
In addition to the aforementioned symptoms, I began to lose my cognitive functions. I had trouble expressing myself and couldn’t think clearly enough to ask for help. I suffered major memory lapses, often forgetting what I was saying mid-sentence.
I never stopped writing. My new manuscript, the one I’ve been hinting at, had already undergone a first wave of submissions to major publishers. I was in a revision stage, rewriting to make this book the best it could possibly be. But now, I’d sit for 8 hours a day, struggling to write a handful of paragraphs—a devastating fall in productivity, considering I’d written the original manuscript in 3 months. Depression whispered in my ear that this was my new normal. That I was going to continue sinking, and that whatever good I’d done in life was behind me. (This was a lie.)
Eventually, all creativity abandoned me. I truly hope that someday, society will understand without judgement or blame, that artists need a connection to creativity as much as we need blood in our veins and air in our lungs. Being without it was worse than all my symptoms combined.
BREAK ON THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE
During that difficult time, respite was found in the company of my husband, our rescue family, and the natural beauty of the land surrounding us. Eventually, I took up watercolor painting and freshwater shrimp-keeping to practice focus and relaxation. lol Because all I need are more pets.
After 6 months of treatments and procedures, I am feeling more like myself than I have in years. In fact, only by becoming healthier did I realize how sick I’d become. (Sick-ception?) I am so grateful for how understanding my agent has been, urging me to focus on my health before all else.
I’ve chosen to talk with all of you about this because I don’t want it to happen to anyone else. I know it’s difficult when medical care is expensive and hard to make time for, but please take care of yourselves. If something is making you feel “off” don’t wait for it to become normal. Depression and anxiety come in many forms and for many reasons, but if it appears in your life when you don’t expect it to, try to get a medical checkup. It just might be your body asking for help.
THE WORLD AT LARGE
I feel like I’ve awakened from a long dream, just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic to arrive. Finally feeling well enough to go outside and see people again—must stay home. It’s an easy decision for me though. I have books, snuggly pets and video games. Besides, I’m an introvert. I’m essentially a social-camel! I can survive long distances without needing to drink from the pool of social interaction. But seriously, it isn’t worth it to me to risk contracting or spreading this virus. If I’m being extra cautious, so be it. I don’t lose anything by chilling. If I really need to stretch my legs, I have Red Dead Online and a yoga mat. Not to mention, I hear modded Skyrim is lovely this time of year.
Wherever you are in the world, my heart is with you. Stay safe, stay healthy, be good to each other, and in the immortal words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. We'll get through this, together.
TLDR: We moved to Tennessee, rescue pets and all. I gradually fell ill, resulting in a culmination of depression and anxiety. I was diagnosed with anemia, advanced h.pylori, celiac’s disease and a benign abdominal tumor. Feeling much better now! Staying home during pandemic. Still writing. Forever and always. Big love!
Upcoming Books: Update
I've gotten some excellent feedback on my new YA high-fantasy novel (yep, I'm still keeping the title secret--let's just call it "The Road" for now), and I'm currently hard at work making revisions for optimal excitement and allure. I cannot wait for all of you to read it when it's ready!
In addition to that moody and mysterious fellow, I've completed outlining another new, original-world fantasy. You can expect an exotic flair from this one, an all new magical system, and lots of monstrous creatures.
In short, we're in the calm of the storm before books begin raining down again. Get your umbrellas ready! Book spines and thick plots hit hard!
If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (I'm still having technical issues with FB), you may have seen a few pictures pop up while I was visiting Utipiacon this year for my very first book signing.
Being the ambivert/introvert that I am, I love meeting and talking to people, but I'm terrified of "the spotlight". Yep, I get stage fright, big time. The shaky hands, the cringey awkwardness, all of it. I was more than a little nervous about stepping behind the signing-table, the way so many of my author-heroes had. But I was excited too, and thrilled to challenge myself.
As it turned out, the stories about Utopiacon were true! Absolutely everyone I met was friendly, supportive and enthusiastic about our shared passion for all things speculative-fiction. After the very first afternoon, I found myself completely at ease. I spoke with so many wonderful readers, authors, editors, designers, and reviewers, that rather than feeling drained by the long weekend (introverts, you know what I'm talking about it), I wound up feeling energized. I didn't want it to end.
Nashville was incredible. I don't know when or where my next opportunity to visit will be, but I can't wait and I truly look forward to meeting more of you!
That's it for now, but check back soon for updates on those two new series I'm working on. Concept art will be incoming!
I've heard great things about this convention and I can't wait to meet all of the wonderful people involved in it, the staff, editors, authors and readers alike!
Prepping for a convention...
My recent radio-silence has been a combination of prepping for the con and one technical difficulty after another. Bleh! The robots have risen against us! But I'm here now, and that's all that matters.
DIY goes a long way, as an author, and I've hand-designed the following things for my table: New logo, standing banner, printed table runner, glow in the dark wrist bands, buttons, stickers, bookmarks (portraits by Volta), postcards (sketches by Brittany Willows) and business cards, as well as having worked on the limited book prints for the signing.
Swag for the swagalicious! Come to table 49 and get it while it's hot!
I'd post pictures of all of those things right here and now, but I had all of it shipped to a bestie in Austin, TX so I wouldn't have to lug it from Hawaii. Hopefully it all looks good...elsewise, we're all in for a surprise!
Here's a preview of a few of my designs:
Joined by my two sisters and one of my fantastic besties, I will be roadtripping up from Austin, TX to Nashville, TN in one crazy-long drive! Being that I'll also be flying in from Hawaii and connecting in San Francisco, I might just be a brain-eating zombie that not even the brilliant Isaac Marion could return to humanity by the time I get to Nashville! You've been warned. (Note: I can be effectively distracted by cookies)
Keep an eye on my Instagram. I'll be posting pictures of my travels beginning Tuesday the 20th!
Last thing, I've overhauled the website! Hope you like it.
I think that's enough yammering for now. Seize that summer, lovelies!
UTOPiA-CON 2017 #BookFreaks #StepWriteUp
Good news, everyone! (Yes, I love me some Futurama.)
I am thrilled to announce that I will be flying across the great blue Pacific to attend UTOPiA-CON this summer in Nashville, Tennessee! This fantastic, annual writer/reader’s convention will have its doors wide open from June 22-25th, 2017.
I’ll be signing books and handing out awesome War of Princes swag on Friday and Saturday in the exhibit hall, so feel free to swing by, say hello and grab yourself some goodies! (If my name isn't on the Signing Authors list on their website, it just hasn't been updated yet.)
UTOPiA 2017 is going to be a true wonderland, packed with incredible authors (I mean, look at that lineup), brilliant readings, illuminating talks, constructive workshops, and an award-ceremony and after-party event that should not be missed. Check out the sparkly schedule here. Did I mention that the theme is “Freak Show”? I think I’m in love with this convention, and I haven’t even gotten there yet. #BookFreaks #StepWriteUp
If you can make it, I look forward to meeting you--and if it isn’t in the stars for you this time, keep an eye on my social media for pictures and updates! (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook)
Good gravity, I think I’m going to have a fan-girl meltdown, myself. I simply cannot wait.
Hope to see you there!
And in related book news, I'm currently working on a set of revisions for my new fantasy novel. Having a lot of fun with it and I cannot wait until its ready for you guys to read.
Let's be honest about this, the day the patronus quiz was released on Pottermore.com, I shrieked like a banshee, turned translucent blue and haunted my own house until I could reach a laptop to take it. Theatrics aside, I discovered my animal protector, and like so many others, I was surprised by the result...
I'm a friendly, cheerful, skip-through-the-flowers sort of person, so I was surprised that my patronus wound up something as gruff as a badger. But hey, I like badgers, they're tough, smart little jerks and they'd make one hell of a guardian. If you got something interesting, post it down in the comments!
Podcasts and Worthy Mentions
My patronus brings us right down to this awesome podcast I'm shamelessly addicted to. It's called Hello from the Magic Tavern. Be warned, parents and children, it does have some mature content, and plenty of whimsical debauchery. That being said, I'm a complete fan-girl over it.
In the podcast we follow Arnie Niekamp, an average dude from Chicago, who has fallen through a portal behind a Burger King and wound up in the magical land of Foon. Here, he selflessly uses his podcasting equipment to interview the folk of this Tolkien-esque fantasy realm. His two regulars are an enthusiastic, long-named wizard named Usidore (oh, believe me, I have his entire name memorized) and a shape-shifter named Chunt who is most often a badger. So, being a fan-girl, you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that my patronus was a badger...possibly Chunt himself! The whole show is based on RP (roleplay) and improvisation, it's really quite genius!
After Tweeting in my excitement that Chunt turned out to be my Patronus, I nearly died when Chunt himself liked the post. The next day, Usidore the wizard liked it too, and my inner fan-girl took over, much the way the Hulk transforms Bruce Banner. Before my fan-girl spree could turn into a rampage, I was placated by tacos. Ahh...the noble taco, bringing peace and contentment to all the land.
Well, that's it for now guys! Halloween is around the corner, so I hope you're having a great, spooky autumn! Catch you on the flip side.
Guys! I wrote a list of books/shows I recommend for binging on Labor Day weekend (and throughout September), and the Vampire Diaries website picked it up! My inner fan-girl is curled up in fetal position right now, rocking back and forth and muttering about the narrowing degrees of separation between my desk and the Salvatore brothers! ;)
Click the image above, or HERE to check out the list on their website! Mmm...Vampire Diaries. What? I'm not drooling--you're drooling!
As if that isn't awesome enough (ERMGR they're on my Twitter!! *brain explodes, blood everywhere*), my entire series is on sale through the month of September! Each book is $1.99 until the end of the month, so its a great time to drag your friends into The War of Princes world and watch them experience the same things you did while reading. Am I the only one who stares at their friends while they're reading? Heh...heh... >_>
With that, my friends, I'm off! Hope you're off to a great start to September!
A few of us have crazy dreams of seeing these characters up on the big screen somehow (no simple process), and climbing up in the rankings certainly helps! So, thank you loyal readers, for all of your reviews and recommendations, and thank you new readers for joining the WoP family!
...here in the jungle (about a week ago), a storm tore over Hawaii causing a flash-flood right before my eyes. I live beside a year-round stream, and when this storm struck, my stream turned into a raging river in less than two minutes! The overflowing waters had dragged all kinds of debris along with it, plugging my driveway bridge, and with nowhere else to go, the furious flood invaded my yard and climbed up my driveway, headed for the cottage I live in. I could hear the water dragging rocks--it sounded like boulder popcorn--so loud! I really wish I'd gotten video, or even some photos, but I was actually worried about my safety at the time (a rare occasion for an adventurous country-girl like myself). Luckily, the water pushed the debris out from where it had been clogging the bridge, and began to drain to regular flood levels.
For a minute there, guys...phew.
Anyway, I hope you're all having an excellent spring! More updates to come...as always, thank you for reading!
I'm fairly certain my husband and sister thought I needed emergency medical attention as I began gasping, shrieking and staggering around my living room without warning. Luckily, I wasn't suffering any injury (or long anticipated psychotic break?), and when I told them what was going on, they began shouting with me. Cheering, it seems, is contagious.
Check it out guys! Just click the pic above or click THIS to see the BuzzFeed post. To be mentioned at all, let alone at the top of a list such as this, in such stellar company... well, I am both awed and honored.
Hope you're all enjoying Lastland!
It's major announcement time, so I'm just going to dive right in!
You can PRE-ORDER now! The entire series, including the long-anticipated Book 4 will be released January 5th, 2016!
The first three books have been re-visited and revised, and even have a few all new scenes! Perfect for the avid re-readers, continuing readers and newcomers alike! Many of you will notice that Book Two, formerly DRAGOON, has been renamed PAPERGLASS. Also, the series name has been rephrased as THE WAR OF PRINCES. Same books, new names.
"Why change the cover art?" you ask. Well, I'm an art-lover and was excited to see what our designers would come up with. Also, I wanted all of you original readers to easily be able to show that you were there from the beginning--the original books are like rare special-editions now. Paperback copies have been pulled, so for the time being, we're digital-only.
Introducing Book Four: LASTLAND
Keep an eye on this blog, Facebook and Twitter for new updates, as I'm going to have a new year's giveaway, as well as some new content here on the website. Thank you guys for your patience and your unending support. And now, let the adventure continue!
A. R. Ivanovich is likely typing away at her desk, with a cup of heavily caffeinated tea and a cat on her lap.