My Lonely House

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The rebound.

Everyone knows rebounds are destined for disaster. Most of us have been through one already, or at least witnessed the fallout of a hasty new relationship after a breakup–with friends or family, on t.v. or in books, heard about it in love songs, read about it in poetry, seen art about it. The list goes on. This is no great mystery. Why do we do it anyway?

For me, pressure to begin dating as soon as final divorce documents were signed was intense, and expert dating advice abounded.

“Just have fun with it. Keep it light.”

“My sister met her doctor hubby on a dating site. You should try one.”

“Yay, we can hang out again. I’ll be your wingman like in the old days!” (Translation: Misery loves company. Everyone knows dating is a nightmare.)

The urge came from within, too. Mostly it arrived like my descicated philodendrons crawling out of their pots, across the door jambs and up the window panes, in search of lifegiving water and light. Anywhere!

Because, the divorce process was like a trek through the desert, holding scabby hands with a wounded enemy who occasionally vomited on me as my only chance of sustenance. I’ll admit I spewed on him regularly, too, and probably with more acid. Yet, the nightmare didn’t end once the judge whacked the gavel. Next came a new wasteland, with no hand to hold. Not even in friendship.

After years of clinging devotion, Mr. X moved in with another woman only a handful of weeks after he moved out of our family house.

Ex-family house.

My house.

My lonely house.

The moral superiority I felt with never having been unfaithful or not having a standby lined up blew out in the hot stinking blast of his exit. All I was left with was a hand mirror.

I needed to remember who I was, before I was mired in monogamy and sexual obligation. I needed to reclaim the artist I was, before I stopped working to be a stay at home mom. I needed to feel special and important and authentic, and have someone understand me for who I really was, instead of judge me after over a decade of actually living with me. I needed to know that true love was still possible and that great sex was available and likely, all the time.

Enter, the rebound.

Poor Mr. R. He was no match for my subconscious. Had I considered, even for a moment, what Mr. R needed? Do I really need to even answer that? Heartbroken people are so selfish.

Well, I can’t feel too sorry for Mr. R. He broke my heart again presently.

But, why? Wasn’t he the perfect replacement, the one who I had been searching for all my life? It’s laughable once I write it down. With some distance, I can now see the holes in my delusion…

I’d picture the private corner office he was sitting at (not a cubicle), while thinking of me all day long. Sure, the evidence showed that he drank like a fish while watching sports in bars most of the time, but I believed he led a rich inner life and one day I’d see it. Remember that one joke he told two years ago about attending seminary school? Of course, I knew that there was a good reason he would only communicate in texts, too. Maybe phone calls were a thing of the past. And no, he wasn’t ignoring me–it was my fault for being too pushy. I don’t need kindness, because I’m not a needy girlfriend (friend with benefits).

All of my suffering arose from my own disappointment each time he showed up–or didn’t–to be just exactly who he was. In reality. Yes, my heart was broken when he dumped me. I was in madly in love, after all. But, I was in love with my imagination. I had absolutely no patience for the real Mr. R.

Being patient means to welcome wholeheartedly whatever arises, having given up the idea that things should be other than what they are. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

So, why is patience even necessary?

Because it’s the remedy for anger, and anger–or resentment, or constant disappointment, or depression–is a destructive force that places blame outside ourselves and prevents growth. Anger is not accepting what exists before us, and grasping at wishes instead.

Wish in one hand, shit in the other, see which one fills up first. Stephen King

Mr. R wasn’t the problem. The problem was a mind that wouldn’t accept reality and a heart that was rushed straight past the healing process. Yeah, I was sad. I had just gotten divorced, for crying out loud. Denial of reality only brought me more pain, each time my fantasy crumbled a bit more. Each time another bandaid was ripped off.

It was a slow torture that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. So, please take my advice and run screaming from rebound relationships.

Yeah, right.

I hope yours is easier than mine…or at least quicker!

This was Mean Greeting Card #3. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

Thanks for liking, commenting, and following!  Visit my contact page HERE for social network links, or sign up for my mailing list HERE to be the first to see new work.

 

 

 

 

Wicked Blog Tour: Climb Onboard!

Welcome fellow awesome bloggers and thank you for stopping by! Wicked Lover is almost here! Get ready for the tour, July 1-12, 2015.

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First of all, a caveat: this is a virtual tour for my new book, but I’m calling for all bloggers, whatever your blogging fancy. Everyone reads–or should.

Now onto the goods…

I’m counting down the days until the launch of my second novel, Catchpenny, on July 1, 2015. Here’s why you want to be involved in the book blog tour I’m organizing:

1. This is a fun, quick read.

I’m celebrating the release of Catchpenny, Part One: Wicked Lover. In it’s entirety, the novel is a four-part serial directed towards new adults and young adults. The story hovers between contemporary romance and coming of age. Translation: it’s definitely got some heat, but it’s not fluffy cheese. Leave that for the soufflés. Part one is only 77 pages, filled with offbeat romance and action. Take a look at the synopsis…

Have you ever wondered about that girl at the edge of the crowd? The one who has dark, bushy hair that hides her eyes while she’s reading, but tight shirts that don’t even try to hide the size of her breasts? You’ve heard the rumors, you know the rude nicknames, and you wonder what she really does when she’s not in school. She never comes to parties and she lives in a neighborhood where nice girls never venture. Everyone tries to ignore her…but there is something about her that’s impossible to ignore. Especially for the star quarterback, apparently. Because he just asked her to the Homecoming dance, after dumping the head cheerleader. 
 
Catchpenny tells the story from the eyes of “that girl,” and Wicked Lover is just the beginning of this coming of age serial novel. The small town minds of Shirley County have underestimated Meg Shannon for too long. She’s even more fun than she is trouble…but maybe she has finally met her match.

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2. I’m providing great content for your blog.

My brand is artist turned author–all my imagery is gorgeous, unique, and original. If you sign up for this tour, I will provide you with the best eye candy to draw people to your blog. Check out some banners that I created for my last virtual book tours…

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See Joss Radillo‘s post on Chapter 5 Books that was a mini art show of my character’s (my) paintings and drawings HERE….

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I take the time to write thoughtful answers to your interview questions (should you provide them). Read a sample interview with Meglena Ivanova HERE.

And I have other merchandise to sell besides books. The title, “Wicked Lover,” was actually inspired by a song of the same name written by Her Last Boyfriend, the brainchild of my better half. You can link to a free listen on Spotify, and to the song on iTunes. In fact, have a listen now: spotify:track:5QSzzjhxaboo8cJEEPCnM9

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I also have cover art T-shirts and tanks, printed on demand by Print Aura, that I think will be hard to resist. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a wicked lover?

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Of course I will provide bloggers with books excerpts, a Rafflecopter drawing, and interview material. Here’s the Rafflecopter package I provided for The Tramp’s tour…

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3. I’m very into social media and blogging.

I will always blog about your blog if I’m on it! Really, take a look…

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And also…

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And then I’ll tweet that and your original post to my 12.5K Twitter followers and post it on Facebook (and I promote my FB author page heavily during my tours), Tumblr and Pinterest. I’ll also log your link into HootSuite and schedule regular tweets and posts for several months to come.

Additionally, during a tour I like to participate in blog challenges in order to direct as many new viewers to my site as possible. Last time I did the A to Z Challenge and doubled my followers in the month of April. Check it out HERE

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Excited yet? I am!

So, what’s the give and the take?

I am looking for review posts, interview posts, guest posts, promo posts, and anything under the sun that fits YOUR blog. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t restrict my virtual tours to simply book bloggers. Though I love those folks (and I’m one of them), I’m happy with any kind of audience.

For example, on the tour for my last book release, I wrote a guest post for Conscious Companion. It’s a fabulous blog about animal care and has a large, eclectic, very interesting following. I wrote a piece about how my pets always make it into my books, especially my dearly departed Bichon Frise Henri. It’s a good read HERE, but it’s a tear-jerker…

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I will do most of the work, with a digital press kit of great imagery, excerpts, author info, merchandise links, and give-aways. What I ask for in return is that you gratuitously dip into that press kit and provide obvious links to my blog, and to where viewers can buy my book on Amazon. The nature of your own blog and the type of post you plan to do will be up to you. Bloggers who decide to do a review of the book will receive a free ebook (format of his or her choosing, like .mobi, .epub, or .pdf) and/or a free print copy of Catchpenny: Wicked Lover.

Let’s sign you up!

Spots open from July 1-12. Email me at layercakeproductionsllc@gmail.com with your desired date, your blog URL, and the nature of your intended post.

Thanks so much for reading this far!

Evidence Of Life

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Facebook is only as cool as your friends, right? Sometimes something really good comes out of that juggernaut of social media. Today, it was me being nominated for the “3X5 Art Challenge.” For five days, I’m supposed to post three images of my own art, and then nominate another artist to join the challenge. At first, I thought it seemed like a hassle and I could’ve slapped my “friend” for nominating me to do a glorified chain letter. But only for a few minutes. Because almost immediately I started considering which art I’d like to share, and who I’d love to nominate in return. It made me look at some of my old work (that I hadn’t considered in years), think hard about what it meant to me then and now, and then wonder about connections that I’ve made with other artists along the way.

My first post was about a photo series I shot back in 2004, since the friend that nominated me loves one of them. These are a part of “Evidence of Life,” and were some of the most difficult art pieces that I’ve ever produced. The final image was a simple snapshot, but what went into each was anything but simple. I shot these photographs while was recovering (physically and mentally) from a cataclysmic car crash. I was still alive. Wasn’t I? Barely. Each photograph describes, as closely as possible, my inner self on the journey to the brink of death and back.

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Those three are what I posted on Facebook. The first one was used as cover art by a band I met shortly after producing the series, called The Break Mission. Their album, “As Much Light As It Will Take,” was excellent. I highly recommend a listen: http://bit.ly/1yUoEj6

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My husband, Bill Wathen produced the album with Jeff Knowlton at Smash Studios, close to Times Square in NYC. Fun times.

The following image was another they used, also of the same photo series, for the back cover.

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Buy a print of one here: http://bit.ly/1Ex4e8f

Too Much Fanny?

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When I was in art school, there was no such thing as “too much nudity” in drawing class–heck in any class. We considered ourselves privileged to even have access to nude models and we used our own bodies when we didn’t, especially in homework. We were warned in beginner classes that, should we decide to use the drawing studios late at night (they were open 24/7, so we had no excuse to scrimp on homework), we shouldn’t be surprised or ashamed to find other students there in various states of undress.

College campus rape alarm bells are going off, right? I know. But I’m not kidding. Art school was different.

The thing is, all the drapery, color, and texture found in clothing is much more difficult to represent than flesh, in charcoal on paper, or paint on canvas. We sought perfection in depicting the human form, and we were encouraged to get every last detail correct. Every wart, every wrinkle. It needn’t be pretty, decidedly not. And the best way to investigate the human body in all its forms, glorious or otherwise, is in the nude.

Some models were old, some were overweight. My first wasn’t. John.

I remember my first figure drawing class vividly. We were to use nothing but charcoal and paper, but our supply list was extensive. Pressed charcoal, vine charcoal, charcoal pencils, ad nauseam. And the paper. My god is that stuff expensive. I was a good girl and brought every item on the list to class, set up my drawing station, and waited.

I had seen an older, attractive man, dressed in business slacks and a white dress shirt, talking with the instructor before class. He hadn’t appeared to be one of the other students. To my horror, that same man then walked in, dressed in a robe. He dropped his robe, and took his place in a central position–a strange, stage-like gathering of old wooden and metal school chairs, crusty drop cloths, and one or two cow skulls (for the adventurous), with spotlights pointed advantageously. Students were arranged, ringing him around the room, each with a sturdy metal easel and maybe a stool drawn over to set an art utensil box on. No sitting for us.

John was finely made, with a tattoo and a nipple ring.

As I fumbled with my materials, averting my eyes and trying to hide my blush, my instructor walked past and jammed his face into mine.

“What are you doing? Don’t waste time! Get to work! Go go go.”

He even clapped his hands together as he resumed his patrol, frightening the rest of the students out of any natural embarrassment at the sight of nudity. No, I’m going to be more honest than that. Penis. Right there. In a spotlight.

It didn’t take long for all those normal inclinations–what most people would and should feel when confronted with genitals early in the morning in a school classroom–to subside.

Penis in a spotlight? Whatever.

I remember stalling for maybe a few seconds once, while considering my next stroke, in that drawing class on another day.

“Draw, don’t think,” my instructor hollered in my face.

Then, he actually ripped my charcoal out of my hand, tore away the newsprint on which I had been working, then attacked the new page. One hand held the charcoal in a fist, chiseling out the form, while the other gripped the easel as if we were in the midst of a World Wrestling Federation live broadcast.

“Get it down and get it down NOW!”

At that particular juncture within the class schedule, the model was to move from one pose to another in 10-second intervals, and we were to draw as much as we could in a series of “gestures.”

“See? You missed it.”

The model had already moved on.

Instructor dropped the charcoal on my shoe, then banged my newsprint board with animal intensity. Growling.

Nudity was not sexual in the slightest in art school. To even have imaged so would have been the height of uncool–even worse, amateurish.

So, when I selected one of my old art school paintings as part of my cover for Wicked Lover, “too much nudity” never crossed my mind. At first. As I continue working on the imagery, adding graphics and text, I’m starting to wonder. The nude form–I think her name was Christy–is becoming something very different than what it–she–was in that painting class ten years ago. I’m not sure if the reason for my squeamishness is that I have been seeing so many book covers for romance novels or erotica that don’t show as much fanny, or if I feel guilty putting Christy on display in an international arena.

I’m still going to do it, though.

Look for the Wicked Lover in November.

(Names have been changed, to protect privacy.)

The Best Thing About Creating Imaginary Worlds?

 

While you’re writing, you get to live in that world most of your day!

 

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Candy, from The Tramp, just posted the above painting (without me in it, of course) on her Tumblr page. She says, “Lately I just feel like my mind’s in a carnival, with fireworks going off overhead, so I’m calling this one, ‘Celebration.’ This is turning out to be an awesome summer after all.”

She’s so cute and dramatic–I love her. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know exactly why she’s all excited: she’s falling in love with Sam Castle.

It’s hard not to get caught up in your own story lines and characters while writing. If it doesn’t feel real for the author, how real could it feel real for the audience anyway, right? So I hang out with imaginary friends and live in a fantasy land while writing a my books. I say roll with it (just like Meg Shannon would, from Wicked Lover).

 

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My favorite aspect of writing fiction is creating the characters. They become so concrete in my mind that they feel like real people, and once they’re firmly established, I have no problem knowing exactly how they not only look, dress and sound, but also what they would say, think, feel, or react to situations. The 16-year-old heroine of The Tramp, Candy Vale, is especially dear to my heart, because she was partially inspired by 16-year-old me (or how I remember that me). Her Tumblr avatar was made from a picture of me at that age, altered extensively with Photoshop.

 

Candy Vale, heroine of The Tramp.
Candy Vale, heroine of The Tramp.

 

From the very beginning drafts, since Candy was my main character, I found her thinking like I might about the more important issues she has to deal with, like religion, family, rejection, and of course boyfriends. Any real person would make plenty of mistakes in those high-drama areas, so Candy did, too. She often made the same mistakes I did, mistakes I regret to this day! Real people have flaws, and guess who’s flaws Candy developed. Impatience. Hot-headedness. The best thing about creating a character that shares those traits, however, is that I can create a story in which she triumphs in spite of–nay! because of!–those personal challenges. Oh, is that fun (see, I was always right to throw those temper tantrums, mom).

 

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The artwork that Candy posts on her Tumblr blog is, of course, my artwork. There was no reason to make any new work either, since (like most visual artists I know) I had stacks and stacks of the stuff that would likely have rotted away in a closet or drawer, had I not found better use for it. The first thing she posted was a piece of poetry about something upsetting that happens before the novel begins, and not only was it fun to write some melodramatic teenage poetry, but it allows a reader deeper insight into Candy. You can’t stuff it all into a novel, without ending up with War And Peace, after all.

 

Blue

Cobalt Blue.

Like the sapphires we never found in our creek, and the flowers you laced into my braids instead.

Maybe.

Cerulean Blue.

Like hope in a new morning sky, and faith that the sun will be there again tomorrow.

Not really.

Turquoise Blue.

Like the light I remember in your eyes, and the oceans of space and time between us now.

Closer.

Midnight Blue.

Like the vast, fathomless night, and the bleakness of a finished day, incomplete and disappointing.

Yes.

Screw Blue.

I’ve always preferred Red.

 

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The way that Candy uses artwork in order to communicate with others is a familiar experience for me, and many of my fellow artists. This is something that I wish I had understood when I was as young as Candy, but I didn’t begin making art until I was in college. If there is one thing I could express of value to young readers, it would be that art helps us to understand ourselves and people around us, and allows us to take a step back and calm down when all those hormones are raging. I could’ve used a little paint and charcoal myself back in the day!

 

 

The music that Candy blogs about is some of the music that inspired my writing, and posting a link is just a small thank you from me to them. I never listen to such music when I’m actually writing, by the way–I listen to white noise, mixed by Tinnitus Pro–but I think about my imaginary friends in their imaginary lives all throughout the day while I’m not writing, and contemporary music influences my thoughts quite a bit. Thank you, AltNation!

https://www.siriusxm.com/altnation