Wednesday, May 18, 2016

After a long hiatus, a wee (long) update.

It's been a long time, dear readers.  Some things have changed, others not. Some for the better, some not. Whether tomorrow might be better is a matter of opinion.

While I was MIA, I started a new book series (speculative fiction) called The Glimmerings. I get asked the Classic Writer Question often: "Where do you get your ideas?" That has no easy answer. I can tell you where this series came from, but the next one might be different.

I'm an introvert, a devoted hermit type, in fact. I dislike crowds, despise social interactions of groups in excess of five persons, and avoid them whenever possible. It's not that I truly am anti-social, it's that it's painful for me in terms of sensory overload. Unfortunately, what makes me a visual and other artist also makes me, well, weird. Like many creative people, I embrace that weird and make it mine. It's not in me to do otherwise. A kind word would be "eccentric." I am indeed eccentric. And, erm, more.

So, to get back to The Question.

In preparing to go endure the chaos of the Kentucky Book Fair 2015, I needed some distraction. Rolling some scatterbrained mindchildren around in the playground mud, I mentioned to my long-suffering, at long last understanding husband that I had an idea for a purely fun story. "It'll probably be just practice."
He listened patiently to my premise, rolled his eyes, and said encouragingly, "I dunno. It sounds kinda weird to me." I sighed. He hastened to add, "Do it. It can't hurt."
So I did.

The result was nothing I would have personally planned. I'm an old, crusty, established tomboy sort. A horse enthusiast from an early age, once a wannabe veterinary medicine student (health problems did that in), a nontraditional country gardener, someone whose least favorite color (and I don't really have a favorite color, which is a story all in its own) is pink. I don't read romances. Never did. They don't have enough "meat" to hold my imagination for more than an hour - and I'm a self-taught and later encouraged speed reader, so that's about all the time I need to devour and discard a slim, shallow volume of powdered sugar writing, as I've called it before.

In short, I took supernatural elements (magic?) and let it vine in lush overgrowth, flowering wildly on a frame of... romance. I did. Adding humor, some Scots and Appalachian flavor stirred in, plus any other elements I could grab that made me smile, I poured out a 62,000 word novel in... oh, dear... three weeks! Two days before the Book Fair, I emailed it to my editor, who, bless her and another patient friend, came to the Fair to support me and help keep my social equilibrium on an even swing.

It was such a vast change from my nonfiction books, which I wrote under the pen name "R.L. Mackintosh," that I chose a new pen name for them, R. Lee Tipton. I'm still the same old me, of course, but then both names are variations of the reality. I ended up making a decision to stick with the second, simpler name. Any books from now on will be published under that nom de plume.

Those who have read the books seem to like them and want more. I've got the fourth volume in progress, as a result. In addition, I'm also writing a mainstream novel titled The Bones of These Hills, and a historical Appalachian novel called Song of the Rain Crow: Psalms from the Book of Memories.

That is, if I can endure. This year has been hellish. Due to greed, political misuse, bank standards, disability and disability income standards, lack of adequate or real health care, and subsequent lack of income, we lost the home we struggled so long to keep, a home designed to work with our waning health and the issues of getting older and poorer with less options in an economy and country not sympathetic to same. We're struggling, as a result, more and more. There is little in the way of assistance for recovery from such a series of economic and health damages.

I need to promote books, yet have no suitable budget for same, or even for maintaining a roof over our heads. My husband and I are foreseeing some necessary surgeries, yet cannot use the usual medications for related conditions. There is no pain relief. None. The stress of moving while ill has left weakness and injury from falls resulting from same. Neither of us is able to work, and those who could have helped replied, "We don't have to." And that's that.

There are good people out there. Lucky for us. We have friends at the Furnace Mountain Zen Center and related parties. They're real human beings, all of them. Good people, good hearts. I thank them for everything they've done.

There are challenges to be met. We're working on those. Housing, first and foremost. Working equipment, including a computer (mine met the big Blue Screen of Death recently) and some sort of chair and desk arrangement that lets me keep my legs elevated. Regulating the sources of chronic pain. Surgery aftermath. My mother's advanced age and health, the lack of family or other support from anywhere but her hospital. There's more, but hardly worthy of adding, since the aforementioned is most important.

My mind doesn't stop. That's the annoying part. Day, night, socially acceptable subjects or not. Once the fountain is started, a writer sees no down time. There are no days off, no vacations. Everything we see, hear, feel, smell, touch, encounter, or, in some cases, imagine, is fuel for a furnace, an unending flow of Where Do You Get Your Ideas answers, all in the form of more questions. I could no more stop the flow now than I could sop up all the water that has gone through Niagara Falls in the last five hundred years. It's stupid to even suggest such. Anyone ignorant to the mindset should now be forewarned.

I don't know when I'll be able to update more, but I will try. As of now, I'm pitching for invitation to the Kentucky Book Fair 2016, taking with me the five nonfiction books in the Tooth, Claw, and Hoof Stories series... if they approve The Glimmerings. I'll endure the crowds and hustle and bustle. Because this is what I do. It's what I can do, and will do, and have done. For as long as my hands and mind can create, I will.

Because... well... I'm not just an old tomboy introvert writer sort. I'm also stubborn and cross-grained, with a curiosity as big as imagination can stretch it.

How about you? Want to come along for the ride? Stardust and moonbeams make for a playground beyond compare.


~ R. Lee Tipton, author