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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Positives and Negatives

I know a lot of us were hit hard by the election and went into tailspin. I saw anxiety, sleeplessness and despair in my friends. Like some, my anxiety eating went into overdrive, so much of the weight I worked so hard to lose has returned. I"m not a substance abuser, but members of my family are and that's spiked.

This sounds extreme, but let's face it. This wasn't a normal election or a normal outcome. And ironically, the people I've seen who have emotionally snapped were on the winning side, which tells me they're also afraid, but suppressing that fear and anxiety even more.

Here's a good tip on how to cope: its called Negative Writing. Twice a day, write your innermost feelings and thoughts. Do it in detail and really did deep. My biggest fear at the moment? I'm facing a lot of pain related to a long ago assault, to be honest. And in spite of the hours in therapy, I still harbor a lot of the residue of that event. I'm still angry, and now that my hips and back and foot are giving me more trouble every day, the more angry and afraid I become. And then I hurt even more. I do my best to hide it, to not limp, to walk even when my foot or my hip is screaming and to power through headaches till I'm physically ill.  My whole body hurts so much I was just getting ready to go get screened for Fibro, which my sister has.

I think positive thoughts, I do my guided meditations about fields of daisies and white fluffy clouds, and my positivity becomes sour and another source of anxiety.

The other night, I was driving home and listening to a book review/interview on NPR. The guest was a wildlife expert, who'd been horrifically injured on the job and left with chronic pain. The book they were reviewing and discussing was Back in Control by Dr. David Hanscomb. The core of the method the guess used was a practice of Expressive/Negative writing and mindfulness. I was intrigued, so I went to the website.

After reading about Expressive Writing, I started writing "Letters to Pain." And I let it all come out. I write about the pain and the fear, the guilt and the gloom and doom. I do it before bed, and when I'm finished, I tear the letter into tiny bits and throw it away. The first night I did this, I slept like a rock and when I woke, I felt calmer, refreshed and my pain was receding. But partway through the day, I crashed and fell asleep on the sofa... with the TV on and the dogs and KJ doing their thing. When I woke up, I felt less groggy and nasty than I generally feel after a nap. That night, I started working on sanding the wood floors in my living room. That's a task I'd put off for a couple years. I worked an hour and quit. Not much progress, but damn, a little every evening is getting it done.

Every day is a little better. My anxiety level is backing off. My binge eating is easier to resist. I'm doing tasks I dreaded and my mood is lighter. And yes, the pain...its about 50% down. I'm stunned.

Give it a try, I think you might be surprised. And it costs nothing. Here's another article by Dr. David Hanscomb:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

State of the Belinda

Hey all, its been awhile! In fact, its been so long that I actually got locked out of my blog...yikes! LOL! But here I am, rolling on into 2017.

 The big news? Well, the big news is that there's no news. Which is disturbing, but not too unexpected, right? Last year at this time, I was sweating because I was being unproductive, feeling guilty, feeling frantic. I was working on books that simply weren't ready to go into the queue because they're not Belinda McBride books, but Bel Branigan books. (More on that later) I should be working on the sequels to Tenth Muse and the fourth Uncommon, and DESTINY. Poor girl, she's been through the wringer and I'm on the third incarnation of her story. But I hit that rock bottom for writers, landed on my feet and realized that even though I wasn't making money anymore, I'm still creative and still have so many stories to tell. There's just some healing to finish.

 As probably everyone knows, my mother had a period of illness that lasted about 3 years. For most of that time, she had a surgery almost every 6 months, requiring a lot of my time and emotional energy to deal with her recoveries. At one point, she broke her hip, walked on it for several weeks before we realized how bad it was. So another surgery and 6 weeks in the hospital. The worst was the year of the hallucinations. My. God. I think that's really what broke me, not only emotionally, but physically. Mom shifted in and out of lucidity on a random basis. Sometimes there were children playing in the room with her, other times she had ants under her skin. I spent a year sleeping in the living room so I could prevent Mom from going outside to "play."

 To cut this all short, I'm not one of those people who can channel my pain and put it into my writing. Instead, I sleep poorly, eat my angst and my body starts hurting. I get chronic migraines and digestive problems. I am a caregiver for a disabled niece, that's a full time gig itself. I'm isolated, only seeing friends on rare occasions. My exercise comes when I can slip out to go shopping and then I make a few rounds of the store. My social life is online.

 This kind of thing damages the psyche. It damages the body. It damages the very heart and soul, and while everything is as stable as I can hope now, I feel as though I've lost my voice. Not my writer's voice, but my ability to put words on paper in a coherent fashion. And this isn't the first time its happened to me. Its a bad place to land. I'm not in that  dark place anymore, but my healing process is slow. I know, because this isn't the first time.

I try meditation, self-hypnosis apps, brainstorming, rest, isolation...whatever it takes. And really, it just takes time and eventually something stimulates my writer's brain and here it all comes.

 I think I"m there. Thank God.

 In February, I committed to two multi-author projects. I then panicked, but remembered back when I was writing a couple novellas a month. And last week, I decided to start a brand new project from scratch. And I returned to doing research on a historical. In two days, I've written 6ooo words. Not too shabby.

 What have I learned from this? Mainly, don't stop writing. Even though I may not be creating, the skills get rusty when they go unused. I've been journaling this year, which is helpful. I've been drafting ideas. Writing letters to the editor which I never send. Putting words to paper is imperative, even if its not creative. Keep writing, even if its a nasty reply on a Yahoo article that you end up deleting!

 So, what's open on my computer? Here's a sampling. I don't have any particular priorities for these:

  Herma: the sequel to Tenth Muse. Its Hermaphroditus and Erik. A m/m urban fantasy romance.

Destiny. You probably already know about this. :) The final Doms of Dark Haven linked book will go into my Truckee Wolves world.

  Uncommon 4 is in development. But things are getting real for the guys. And Deirdre is getting real too.

  Mankiller: a 3 book historical series with a paranormal edge. This is the one I'm researching.
  Crest of a Knave: another historical, about a French emigre in post Revolutionary London.

 Re-releases: Three more Black Planet books will be revised for release this year, plus (possibly) one more to wind up the loose ends. Devil's Advocate, Black Wolf, Siberian Husky - I want to play with these, I'm going to revise them and move the series to Edinburgh. I totally love this universe and want to write a little more.

 What's set to the side for now?

 Arcada (Sorry!) I will return to it, I just don't have any burning ideas

Belle Starr: same situation as above, though I may do a Cali Polis novella

Artifacts: same as above, this is a short series I want to write for Tess. (Prince of Faith)

  Death Speaks: You've never heard of this, so don't worry about it. LOL!

And what's this Bel Branigan thing all about? I decided its time to split off into another pen name. Its not secret, but several of the books above (Mankiller, Crest, Death Speaks) aren't romance, and not erotic, so they're really going to a different market. That's all. :)

So watch this space, sign up for my newsletter, I'll keep writing, try to improve my sleeping and eating habits and take back my voice.

For now, Happy Tails!

Love you all!