Real Talk: Mental Illness and Faith

How do you guys feel about a Real Talk post today? If that’s not your jam, cool, cool, just skip over this and carry on with your life. BUT for those who want to hang around, just a heads up: I want to talk for a little bit about mental health.

I’m guessing it’s pretty obvious from the themes I touch on in my books, and the fact that I’m an author (therefore a creative), that mental health is something very close to me, and something I really struggle with. It’s funny — I’m such a huge advocate for people knowing they’re not alone in their mental battles that I often forget the same is true for me.

So I figure it’s time to shed some light on my journey, if only in the hope that maybe, just maybe, it’ll help someone reading this.

Ten years ago, you could say I was a different person. I was 23 at the time, just finishing up uni, and ready to go out and make my mark on the world. I booked my first ever overseas trip and I took off on what was meant to be a glorious 6-12 months post-uni gap year adventure around Europe. I was fearless — literally, fearless.

But then something changed. Something shifted.

The first day of my overseas adventure was spent at a hospital in London getting checked for blood clots after the long-haul flight. Now, that sounds a bit strange, right? Well, I had the awkward timing of getting a deep tissue massage the day before my flight, having read somewhere that it helps limber you up and make the long travel experience easier on your body. Unfortunately, my masseur was a bit too deep on the deep tissue, and by the time I landed in the UK, there were massive bruises all up and down my legs, enough to freak me out — especially since I’d read all about blood clots (DVT) prior to my trip.

So my first ever blood test was done by a foreign man in a foreign hospital in a foreign country. (Tangent related story: he was this huge African doctor, and I was so exhausted and so terrified and so convinced that I was dying that I burst out crying in his ER consultation room — cue mortification — and he just passed me some tissues and petted my hand and said in his rumbling, accented voice, “You know, where I’m from, we don’t have clean needles. You would probably get AIDS from this.” And he waved the syringe around, thinking I was worried about the needle and not at all helping with my anxiety, but it was enough of a distraction to calm me in the moment — true story!). On top of all that, I had no way to contact home because I couldn’t get a SIM card to work in my phone, and this was in the days before mobiles had easy access to the internet, so I couldn’t just FaceTime or bring up WhatsApp or anything. I had to wait until I was back at my hostel (hours later) before I could pay to use their public computers and contact my family. (It’s actually amazing how much technology has changed in just ten years!)

That first day sucked — a lot — but when my blood work finally came back, I was cleared of blood clots, and told to go and enjoy myself. I set out from the hospital, exhausted but exhilarated and ready to restart my adventure.

And I did.

For all of one week.

I had one good week before I got sick.

Not just “Ugh, I feel gross” sick, but coughing-up-blood kind of sick. By then, I’d spent some time in London, Oxford, Stratford-Upon-Avon (hello, Shakespeare), and Chester, and I was about to head up into Scotland, which I was so excited for. Given how unwell I was beginning to feel, I weighed up whether I should continue north, especially since it was so cold (and would only be colder the further up I travelled), and I hadn’t packed for that kind of freak weather. It was April so it should have been more temperate, but that year the UK experienced an unexpected cold snap (including snow) just as I arrived with my backpack full of jeans and tees (*insert eye roll here*). I decided that I might as well continue on, though, especially since I’d already booked my ticket on the Hogwarts Express (not called that, but that’s what the train from London to Edinburgh felt like!) and had my hostel booked.

So up I went.

To this day, Edinburgh is my favourite city in the world. It’s so beautiful, like stepping into a fairytale.

The problem is, I didn’t get to experience any of it.

I was meant to be there for 3 days. I spent those 3 days in a 12-bunk dorm (not advised) right next to the castle (that part was amazing), and I basically spent the entire time in bed. After those 3 days, I was meant to continue even higher and do a 3-5 day tour of the Highlands, which I had been so looking forward to. But I was just too sick to move, to the point that I only dragged myself out of bed to go to the Royal Infirmary (ie. the Edinburgh hospital). So that’s two foreign hospital trips within 10 days.

There were two lovely German girls staying in the same dorm as me, and I’ll never forget them and their kindness while I was all but dying. They went out and bought me bottles of water and soup and paracetamol, and one of them even called her doctor mother to find out what kind of over-the-counter medicine might help me. (Since the hospital just told me I probably had a virus and there was nothing they could do — no tests, no caring that I was coughing up blood and could barely stand… at the time, it was at the tail end of the swine flu, so perhaps they just assumed that was it). So I’ll be forever grateful to those two girls, because no only did they come to my aid, but they also put up with me coughing through the night and interrupting their sleep (along with the other people in the 12-bed dorm).

This sickness stayed with me long enough that I had to cancel my Highlands trip (devastating), and since I wasn’t getting any rest in the hostel with so many people coming and going (and I was acutely aware of disturbing them all with me being so sick), I splurged and booked myself into a B&B for two nights. That might not sound like “splurging”, but I had no money. I’d saved (and borrowed) enough for a very cheap backpacking trip, and my daily budget didn’t allow for B&Bs, not if I wanted my funds to stretch for 6-12 months. But desperate times…

The B&B ended up being a total miracle since I was able to get hot water (which had been limited at the hostel) and a quiet room for rest. I was still really sick, but I also felt a little human again.

From the Highlands (which I missed), I was meant to jump over to Ireland, but instead, I scrapped my plans and went back down to London, hoping that the “warmer” weather (comparatively) might help me heal faster, so that I could then continue over to continental Europe, as intended.

That plan didn’t end up working out — if anything, I kept getting sicker. I ended up at an NHS walk-in centre (a medical centre) in London, and they also did nothing but recommend some over-the-counter meds (without any testing), and by that stage, I was honestly ready to beg someone to check me into a hospital, that’s how sick I was.

And it was at that point that I realised I was done.

I was 2 weeks into my “amazing adventure” and I was miserable. I decided that my best course of action was to fly home and give my body a chance to recover, then venture back once I was healthy again.

But then the volcano went off.

I’m not kidding — the Icelandic volcano (Eyjafjallajökull) erupted, halting all air traffic. So I was literally stranded, sick, and without accommodation.

… For another four weeks.

Fun times.

I’m going to skip those four weeks since they’re irrelevant to this story other than for me to say that I remained incredibly sick that whole time — and then continued to be ill for another three months once I finally made it home to Australia.

Yup, you read that right. And I still have no idea what was wrong with me, since by the time I got home, I just wanted to curl up and never see another doctor again.

And I didn’t, for two years.

Those two years were full of bliss. They included a lot of changes in my life, my friends, my world, and all of them wonderful. (I also started writing books in that time, which led me to where I am today.)

But then… two years of wonder shattered in a moment.

The day before I was about to get on my first plane since that traumatic overseas trip, I became convinced — convinced — that I had a blood clot in my leg. Never mind that I literally had no reason in the world to have a blood clot, I was positive that I had one, and that it was going to move to my lungs/heart/brain/whatever and I was going to die.

Convinced.

Utterly convinced.

So I had a blood test — and it came back positive.

My world stopped.

That’s the only way I can think to describe that moment.

Now, I should pause here to mention that, prior to that day, I’d never had to face any kind of major health concern. Yes, plenty of injuries and broken bones and stitches and even surgeries (I grew up riding horses), but nothing that made me feel so totally and completely out of control, almost like my body was my enemy.

The problem is, I later discovered, that the blood test they did was so vague that anything could have made it be “positive” — from something as small as a mosquito bite, to something more serious (like I feared). So they ordered an ultrasound, and they expedited it since I was meant to hop on a plane the next day.

The ultrasound came back clear, the doc told me to enjoy my trip… but I couldn’t.

I couldn’t go.

didn’t go.

I was frozen. I was completely paralysed by fear. I couldn’t reconcile the blood test results, and was certain that something was wrong with me. So much so that my body began symptomising what I feared, making me have pains in my leg as if I did have a blood clot.

Something to mention here was that it was 2 years — to the day — since that overseas nightmare trip, and, as already mentioned, it was about to be my first flight since I’d returned. I didn’t know it at the time, but what I was experiencing was Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which spiralled very quickly into an unshakable anxiety disorder coupled with extreme hypervigilance.

It was… not wonderful.

The next six months became a black hole for me. I have only the vaguest memories of them, of going about my days in a fog of constant terror, certain every night that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. My mum had to fly over from Perth to keep an eye on me for the first two weeks because I was basically catatonic with dread. I remember having conversations with people where I would see their lips moving and I knew they were talking to me, but I had no idea what they were saying because I was so stuck and “lost” in my own head that I couldn’t pull myself out of the foggy, terror-riddled darkness.

Somehow, I still managed to function, even in those six months, though I have no idea how. I was referred to a psychologist, but because I’d studied a lot of counselling therapies at uni as part of my degree, I already had the theoretical “knowledge” in my head, but I struggled with putting it into practice. Plus, I won’t lie, I felt so stupid. I’m a rational, logical enough person to know that worrying about something doesn’t change it. But there was just such a disconnect within me — I knew there was no point in having anxiety, but despite that, I couldn’t not be anxious.

It was… exhausting. I was so, so, so tired, trying to fight an invisible battle, hour after hour, day after day.

Six months into the black hole, I decided that I had to at least try and break out of it. I had to find some semblance of my old life, grasp onto that, and push through in at least one, small way.

So I started writing again. I remember thinking, “This is my dream; I refuse to let go of it.”

It was a lifeline for me, and bit by bit, I slowly started to edge out of the black hole.

But the anxiety remained — I just learned how to deal with it a bit better.

This was eight years ago.

I wish I could say things had improved since then, I really do.

Some days are good. Some days are great. Thankfully, I have more good days than bad days… but I do still have bad days. Sometimes really bad days.

Mental illness sucks, guys. It’s irrational, and can strike at anyone out of the blue for no reason. Who’d have thought that one unpleasant “holiday” would come back to bite me two years later? When I think of PTSD, I envision soldiers who have gone to war and seen (and done) horrific things. That’s stressful and traumatic — in comparison, what I went through was a total non-event. And yet, my mind turned it into my very own kind of battleground: an immovable mountain of shadows, a nightmare that hit me out of nowhere… and decided to hang around.

The truth is, despite everything I’ve written here, I’m lucky in so many ways. While I’ve had little success with therapy, and I’ve chosen not to take anti-anxiety medication in case it stifles my creativity (a very hard decision that I still grapple with, since I love the idea of numbing the fears, believe me), there is something that I do have, that helps me more than anything else ever could. Or, not so much something, as someone.

If you’ve read my acknowledgements in any of my books, you’ll know I’m Christian. My faith is really important to me, and all of my books are filled with Biblical elements and themes if you choose to look for them (eg. the Library as the God-figure in The Medoran Chronicles, and the entire premise of Whisper being about the power of life and death in our words)… and honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything that I’ve done in the last few years without God giving me the strength and courage to keep moving forward, one step at a time.

Some of you reading this would have come to see me at events. I’m bubbly, right? I smile a lot, I laugh a lot, I seem super confident and talkative and friendly and just, all of those upbeat, positive things, right? Well, more often than not, I’m also terrified. During my Vardaesia launch tour last year, which was like 17 events in 15 days, I had a pain in my stomach for pretty much the whole time, and I was so freaking afraid that something was seriously wrong with me. My anxiety was at an all time high (to the point that my stomach was literally in knots, and after one of the events I even had to go back to my hotel room and curl up in a ball on my bed, shaking violently from fear)… but I got through it, and I did it smiling with no one having any idea that I was in pain, or scared out of my mind — and I only managed that because God was holding my hand.

I know, I know, 95% of you are rolling your eyes right now. “Oh, jeez, not another one of those crazy religious people,” you’re probably thinking. And that’s cool, you’re free to think what you want. But as for me, my faith is what helps me when the dark days come. And, honesty moment, they come a lot. It’s not just anxiety; sometimes it’s depression, and it’s almost always some form of obsessive compulsive catastrophising. There’s loneliness, abandonment, self-criticism, and deep-seated insecurities, among too many other things to list, all like little (big!) arrows shooting directly into me — all the time.

Part of it, I know, is because I’m a creative, and creatives tend to be rather sensitive to mental illness, since our brains are just wired that way. Yay for powerful imaginations (*sigh*). But having a reason for mental illness doesn’t take it away.

And, I’m not gonna lie, sometimes having faith through it is really hard, too. At least, in the sense of, if God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He just take my anxiety away? Take my fears and my sadness and loneliness and whatever I’m dealing with — why doesn’t He step in and make everything all sunshine and butterflies?

That’s a great question, and one that I wonder about a lot.

I wish I could tell you my answer, but I’m still trying to figure it out. But… isn’t that what faith is? Believing in something even when you don’t understand it? Like, I fly in a heap of planes, but I have no idea how they work — I just have to have faith that the engineers built those things properly, and faith that the pilots know how to fly them. Just because I don’t understand the mechanics doesn’t mean they’re not real. The same is true for God — I don’t understand why He does (or doesn’t do) some things, but that doesn’t mean He’s not real. I’m just… not an engineer, or a pilot.

I’m just me.

Some people think faith is a crutch, that only those with weak minds or low intellect or insert-insult-of-choice-here believe in. I get that — sometimes it’s easier to believe God isn’t real than it is to wonder why bad things happen in this world. Wars, disease, famine… those are all awful, so why does God allow them? And what about the other things a bit closer to home? What about your dog being run over by a car, your friends abandoning you, your boss firing you, your child being diagnosed with leukaemia… where is God in these things?

For me specifically, where was God when I was hit by PTSD? Where was God in the 8 years I’ve battled with anxiety ever since? Where was God when I was so tense from that anxiety that I inflamed my spine and couldn’t sit down — for four years — which meant I couldn’t meet up with friends in social environments, and I therefore lost pretty much all of them, leaving me completely alone with only my dark, terrified mind for company?

Seriously — where was God in my own personal nightmare of the last 8 years?

Doubt says God isn’t real.

Doubt says, if God is real, then He doesn’t care.

But faith…

Faith says God was with me — is with me — every moment. For every fear I feel, He’s whispering in my ear, “Don’t be afraid, I’ve got this. It’ll all work out for good in the end — you mightn’t be able to see it now, but one day you’ll understand. Just trust me.”

God is the pilot of my life — He’s the one flying the plane. And while I mightn’t like it at all when He lets me fly into storms (eeek), I just have to remember that He knows what He’s doing, and He’ll get me through those clouds to the rainbow on the other side.

Yes, okay, it might get a bit bumpy. Mental illness is bumpy — it’s up, down, and all around. There’s turbulence, good days and bad days. But as long as I remember that I don’t have to fly the plane, that someone else is in control and knows exactly what they’re doing, then I can breathe a little easier.

To me, that’s faith. Or at least, it’s my faith. I can’t speak for anyone else.

And, honestly, it’s really hard to hold onto that faith, especially when I enter those turbulent times.

But… can you imagine if I tried to bust my way into the cockpit and sat myself in the pilot’s chair and tried to fly that plane myself? Yikes, that’s not a good idea. And yet, that’s what so many of us try to do (me included — what can I say, I’m a total control freak).

I’m not writing this as some kind of preachy-preachy message, I just wanted to be real with you and share my journey from the last few years. Mental illness didn’t just affect my mind — it changed my life, in every single way. But… for as much as I hate it, there has been so much good come out of it, things I never would have experienced, people I never would have met, lives I never would have touched. I mean… if you’ve read my books, you’ll know. You’ll know. And I know you know, because you email me, and you message me, and you share your hearts with me, your stories with me, and you reveal your brokenness and how my characters and their journeys have helped you in yours.

All of that? It’s because of what I’ve gone through in the last 8 years.

It’s sucked… but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Because it gave me The Medoran Chronicles. It gave me Whisper. And it’s given me The Prison Healer — and everything else that’s coming in the future.

It gave me you — and, if I may be so bold, it gave you me.

Remember what I said at the beginning about how I’m always telling people that they’re not alone? Well, it’s true. And I hope some part of everything I’ve written here helps you feel that, even just a little bit. I hope it breaks into your own darkness, filling the shadows with light. Whether or not you believe in God, whether or not you have your own faith journey (though, I mean, what does it hurt to give it a shot, if you’ve never tried? If you’re willing to give Jesus a chance to be your “pilot”, shoot me through a message and I’ll help point you in the right direction!), we’re all in this together. Life is a little bit less scary when you do it side-by-side with others. After all, a battle is best fought with an army. There’s power in numbers. And for anyone struggling with mental illness, your mind is your battleground, so conscript the people around you for help. They’re your army — your friends, your family. So let them help you fight your nightmares.

… And if you don’t have anyone, then take heart, because for 8 years, I felt like I didn’t have anyone, and here I am, still standing, still fighting. Just, whatever you do, don’t give up. Because you have an incredible future ahead of you — just wait, you’ll see.

Right! On that note, I’m going to finish up, but I want to leave you with some of my favourite quotes from The Medoran Chronicles. Don’t worry if you haven’t read that series, there’s nothing spoilery in these, but hopefully you’ll find comfort and encouragement from them:


“All you can do is live in the moment and choose not to worry about what the future may bring.” – Draekora


“You can’t change what happened… All you can do is decide how you’ll react to it.” – Draekora


“Don’t waste today by fearing tomorrow, for tomorrow will come whether you’re ready for it or not.” – Draekora


“Don’t fear the shadows. Make the shadows fear you.” – Graevale


“On the days when you feel most alone, rather than dwelling on what you don’t have, instead consider what might lie ahead.” – We Three Heroes


“You are much too special to live a life defined by the opinions of others.” – We Three Heroes


“Some scars never heal. But even the scars we consider ugly can be beautiful when we look at them in the right light. When we see not what was done to us, but what we overcame.” – We Three Heroes


“Tomorrow is a new day. Your light will shine again.” – Vardaesia


“Don’t lose hope before we’ve even begun.” – Vardaesia


“What matters most is how we cope in the face of our suffering; that we get up and keep trying, remembering that each new day is a new opportunity for something to change; for something better to happen.” – Vardaesia


Hope was all she had left, but it was enough. Because in a future filled with uncertainty, hope was everything. – Vardaesia


Her past didn’t define her. It never had. She had fallen and she had failed, but she had never given up—and she wasn’t going to now. – Vardaesia


“Don’t doubt in darkness what you believed in times of light.” – Vardaesia


 

Best of 2019

Wowsa, where did the year go!? Talk about time flying! With 2020 now upon us, I thought I might share some of my fave movies, TV shows, and books of 2019. Some were only released this year, some are older and I only experienced them for the first time within the last 12 months. All of the following I highly recommend! (NOTE: for any younger readers (and/or the parents of), please check the ratings/blurbs of the following before watching/reading!)

BOOKS:

I had a busy, busy, busy year editing and releasing two books (VARDAESIA and WEAPON), both of which ended their respective series and therefore required extra care and attention. Not to mention, I basically lived out of a suitcase since I travelled so much for the billion events I did… and on top of that, I also wrote my next book (THE PRISON HEALER) and did a lot of exciting but time-consuming stuff with that (more news coming soon!)… SO I didn’t have a heap of spare hours for reading. That said, I was surprised by how much I did manage (I tried to R&R as often I was able, given the craziness of everything else). Sadly, only a few books really wowed me this year, and those are the ones I’m going to list here, in no particular order:

  • Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas (*releasing March 2020)
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend
  • This Love by Dani Atkins
  • The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
  • The Black Witch (and the sequel The Iron Flower) by Laurie Forest
  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

AUDIOBOOKS:

I’ve started to get into audiobooks this year, which previously I haven’t been a massive fan of (since I prefer to be able to imagine the ‘voice’ of the characters in my head), but I’ve now come to love this medium of reading! My faves include:

  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (obvs I’ve read and re-read HP too many times to count, but I listened to the entire series via audiobook this year — narrated by Stephen Fry — and OH, MY, it was magical!)
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris and narrated by Richard Armitage (the actor!)
  • Red Rising (the original trilogy) by Pierce Brown and narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds (interestingly, I tried a few times to read the physical books, but I struggled to get into the first one. However, I fell in love with the audiobooks — 5 stars for all three of them! Such an epic experience! I’m now afraid to continue on to the next ones set in the future since I don’t want to risk losing any love for the original trilogy!)
  • One Day in December by Josie Silver (narrated by Eleanor Tomlinson and Charlie Anson)

MOVIES:

It was a mediocre-ish year of movies for me (in comparison to the amount of TV shows I became obsessed with), but there were a few that I enjoyed. Only a handful elicited a “THAT WAS AMAZING!” response from me, but the following were all enjoyable. (I should note here that I’ve been told I have poor taste in movies/TV shows, haha. I like to find shows to escape into, which means I watch for entertainment purposes, and I’m not looking from a critical perspective. Many of these were ripped to shreds by reviewers, but I still liked them):

  • Avengers: Engame
  • Aladdin
  • Robin Hood (the new 2018 version)
  • Red Sea Diving Resort
  • Aquaman
  • Skyscraper
  • Small Foot
  • Mortal Engines
  • Frozen 2
  • Last Christmas
  • The Hustle
  • Forever My Girl
  • Wonder Park
  • Chalet Girl

TV SHOWS:

2019 was definitely a year of TV shows for me. I already mentioned that I travelled a lot, so I had a heap of time in hotel rooms to sneak episodes while I was getting ready for events, and also watching on planes, etc., or just when I needed to relax in between edits/writing. The following are the shows that I devoured, some of which were only released this year, many of which are older and I only just discovered (and sadly lots haven’t been renewed for more seasons):

  • Chernobyl (I cannot recommend this highly enough!!)
  • The Witcher (my newest obsession!!!)
  • Umbrella Academy (loved!)
  • Roswell, New Mexico (the new 2019 remake – amazing!)
  • Deception (devastated there’s no season 2)
  • Emerald City (again, devastated there’s no season 2)
  • A Discovery of Witches
  • The Order
  • V-Wars (lots of supernatural gore but I really loved this!)
  • Krypton
  • Once Upon a Time (the final season where everything is different)
  • Dynasty (the newer remake)
  • The Bold Type (similar vibes to Younger — so good!)
  • Another Life
  • Switched at Birth (wholesome and lovely!)
  • Manifest (so mysterious!)
  • Timeless (sad that there’s only two seasons, but it ended well!)
  • Alcatraz
  • The Crossing
  • Turn Up Charlie (not my usual kind of show, but Idris Elba is fantastic!)
  • Merry Happy Whatever (dysfunctional Christmassy fun)
  • The I-Land
  • Game of Thrones (I only started it this year since everyone was in such a tizzy about the final season, so I watched it all in about month)

… and of course there are new seasons of old favourites, like Younger, The 100, Suits, Arrow, Salvation, The Good Place, Lucifer, The Good Witch, Lost in Space, and probably a heap of others I’ve totally forgotten.

Looking at this list of shows, it’s clear that I lean towards the fantasy/sci-fi/magic/supernatural shows, with a smattering of drama and family shows thrown in to shake things up. It’s so weird to see it all laid out like this! How interesting! The same could be said of my books and movies. Of course, I read and watch a lot more widely than any of these lists show, but these are the ones that have left the greatest impression on me from an enjoyment perspective.

Your turn now! Comment below any of your favourites — books, movies, TV shows — that you’ve loved from 2019! I’m always looking for new recommendations and would love to hear what has inspired you this year!

September Debrief

I’ve decided that I’m going to attempt a monthly “This is what’s been happening in my world” update (mostly sticking to writing stuff, but also anything else exciting, too). So to kick this off, here are some of the things I got up to in the month of September:

First off, and VERY exciting, was that I got to announce that I have not one, not two, but THREE books coming out next year. Graevale (the fourth book in The Medoran Chronicles) will be coming out in February, Whisper (the first book in my new YA series) will be coming out in May, and We Three Heroes will be coming out in September — kind of a #4.5 book for The Medoran Chronicles (three novellas told from the perspectives of the main character’s best friends, D.C., Jordan and Bear). If you missed it, you can watch the trailer here:

Soon after being able to share about We Three Heroes, I had another exciting announcement — the US cover reveal for Whisper (which you can find on Goodreads here)! I’ve been working with the incomparable Kate Egan on this one (the editor of The Hunger Games) and I’m SO EXCITED for May 1st when it will be releasing simultaneously in US/CAN (through KCP Loft) and AUS/NZ (through Pantera Press). The AUS/NZ cover reveal is coming soon, but for all my US/CAN readers, here’s what you can expect to see in bookstores: 

Other than sharing exciting news, this month has been crazy-busy when it comes to actual writing work. Not only did I go through the first round of typeset proofreading on Graevale, but I also completed the structural edits for We Three Heroes. On top of that, I’m pretty sure it was early September when I did my final read-through of Whisper, too. So I’ve been juggling multiple projects and it’s been INSANE (but in the BEST way).

Also! Another seriously cool thing that happened this month (and admittedly, other times besides) is all the INCREDIBLE fan art that was sent my way. If you follow my social media (especially my Instagram account), you’ll see that I often re-post fan art in bundles once it’s started to build up a bit. But here are just a few that I want to show from an artist named Jodie in Western Australia who has been having some fun with my characters. *Please note that only some of these scenes have happened in the books, while others are more wishful thinking and at the artist’s discretion:

This is a scene from Raelia where Kaiden and Alex are dancing at D.C.’s birthday:

This is also a scene from Raelia (after Sir Oswald’s disastrous dinner party):

This is a wishful thinking scene between Jordan and D.C. (AU version of when Alex is hiding in the bathroom in Raelia):

This is another wishful thinking scene of a (hypothetical) first date between Kaiden and Alex after Medora has (theoretically) been saved:

This is a cute “Ronnigan Family Photo” (with Alex, Jordan and D.C. added, of course!):

This is a “selfie” with Alex, Jordan, D.C. and Bear:

HOW AMAZING ARE THOSE PICS!!!!! If you want to see more from Jodie, then be sure to follow her Instagram account (@jmaz_art). She also has a Red Bubble page where you can purchase some of her pics (or request others) and/or have them put on mugs or pillows or phone cases or stickers, etc.

Truly, I’m so honoured and humbled whenever ANY artist takes the time to bring my characters to life (whether in wishful or actual scenes), so THANK YOUUUUUU to all the amazing people out there who do so!! (FYI, I can barely manage a stick figure, so my envy knows no bounds!!)

I think that’s about it when it comes to writerly updates. As for any actual reading, as you can see, I’ve been a tad busy with multi-book editing, so there hasn’t been that much time to enjoy any other books. BUT I also had my birthday earlier this month and took a few days off, which meant of COURSE I had to read a book (or three). My favourite would absolutely have to be Sarah J. Maas’s Tower of Dawn, for a lot of reasons, but partly because I’m a critique reader for Sarah so I actually read ToD about 6ish months before it was released, so it was just an absolute pleasure to re-read it and see how the final version came together. This book — I have no words. I loved the early draft (which is saying a lot since, going into it, I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character that ToD focuses on) and I can honestly say the published novel is beyond 11/10. If you haven’t tried any of Sarah’s books yet, I can’t recommend them highly enough!!

Other than reading, if I had the chance for any downtime, I found myself watching the last few episodes from season 5 of Chicago Fire (THAT ENDING = GASP!!), the second season of Killjoys, the oddly addictive (and oh-so-fascinating on a human behavioural perspective) Lucifer, and the seriously awesome second season of Shooter.

As for movies, I watched The Shack (omigosh the tearrrrrrsssss — Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer are BRILLIANT in it!!) as well as The Mummy (erm, no comment other than to say I MUCH prefer the original), Snatched (which was actually super entertaining, and I’m not usually a huge Amy Schumer fan), and Hidden Figures (which was just perfect). OH! I also watched A Dog’s Purpose, from which I’m still traumatised, and Baywatch, which also left me traumatised (but for different reasons).

Jeez, it looks like I did a LOT of watching this month — but, again, I took a few days off for my birthday, so most of all that was earlier in September. The latter weeks were basically spent in front of my laptop, buried in words, or walking up hills, mountains, and staircases in preparation for doing fun things like hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on my upcoming epic NZ holiday in 4 weeks! (EEEEE, so excited!!)

That’s it for this month — for more regular (mostly daily) updates, be sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook.

Until next time!

Lynette xoxo

 

“I Can Handle It”

I’ve had a bit of a week, as they say.

Normally I try to keep this blog about book- and/or publishing-related things. But every so often I have a moment where I remember that I’m human, and that you are too. And just maybe you need to be reminded that you’re not alone, and me sharing parts of my non-author life with you may offer some encouragement.

So this is one of ‘those’ posts—the kinds that are impossibly difficult to write, but therefore all the more important to share.

As I said at the beginning, I’ve had a bit of a week. At the end of last year I wrote a post that revealed how I don’t deal well when it comes to anything medical. What I don’t think I said is that I actually have PTSD-inspired health anxiety. It’s not fun, especially since I can’t take meds lest I risk them messing with my creativity (or so I’m told). But unless something triggers my fear into panic-mode, I can generally get by dealing with just a low level of awareness 24/7.

But last week—well, there was a trigger.

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