A Look Back at 2015

Now that the ball has dropped for the new year and all the confetti has fallen, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year. 2015 was filled with a bunch of amazing new experiences, new friends, and new stories. Here are a few life-changing events from last year, some good, some bad, everything memorable.

Plenty of Trips

We were fortunate last year to have the World Horror Convention be hosted in Atlanta, GA. It was the first time it had been there since the early 1990s when it was first getting started. I had never been to a writing convention before, let alone one dedicated specifically to horror, so this was a very new experience for me. It had a huge impact on my writing. For the first time I felt more comfortable in the genres that I work in and with how difficult my writing can sometimes be to categorize. [May 2015]

In June I went on a family trip down to the beach, introducing them to a quiet little island I love to visit near the border of Florida known as Amelia Island. I got to see my nephew, who wasn’t quite a year old at the time, get to see sand and the ocean for the first time. It was really hard to get him out of the water! Even though the temperatures were unusually high (over 100ºF every day), everyone had a blast. [June 2015]

September was quite a busy month for us. We decided to go to DragonCon for a single day last year since we couldn’t book a room for the whole weekend. (Every major hotel sells out typically in a matter of minutes each year.) Still I love going, and this time I even tried doing a cosplay. We took Marta up, which saved us the headache of trying to find parking, but we did end up standing in line for over an hour to get tickets. Atlanta is damn hot in September, so I did somewhat regret my Victorian gown, but it was still lots of fun. We also found a new friend and then got asked to pose for *so many photos*. The rest of our evening was put on hold because we found ourselves getting interviewed by a news group and then had to pry ourselves away from fans to grab some food. I think that was when I started to love cosplay. We’ve already booked rooms and bought tickets for next year by the way, and we may even be putting together a panel. [early September 2015]

Later that month, our awesome new friend convinced us to go to AWACon, just north of Atlanta. We were dubious at first, because the only fan convention we had been to was DragonCon, and this one was much lower key. However we had worked on our cosplays a bit more by then, and even attended some group photography sessions while we were there. That was so much fun, that we’re already planning to go next year as well with even more updated cosplays. [late September 2015]

The following month, we were off again on another family trip, this time down to Disney World to enjoy the Halloween event. We had never been during Halloween before, but this was such a surprisingly good time that again, we’re planning to go next year as well. Their musical number this year featured the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus (they change it up each year), and it was such a blast!

They had a special parade and fireworks displays and we even got pictures with Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. On top of that, we ran into some friends completely by accident. They had to move across the country a few years back. We ended up spending a whole day with them in Magic Kingdom. Obviously that trip was meant to be. [October 2015]

New Stories

I was so inspired after going to the World Horror Convention in May, that I went into Camp NaNoWriMo with an attack plan. I outlined 4 weird horror stories and then set about writing them. I finished them all. Three of them I got edited and shipped out to publishers, and one of them was picked up almost immediately (“Tiny Necks” due out in February). Another horror story, one I had almost given up on, also got picked up too (“A Slippery Customer” due out in January). Both of these stories made it so I could get membership into the Horror Writer’s Association as an Affiliate. Honestly, it’s all been going so well, I’m still rather shocked. I also finished up a fantasy story recently that had some very high praise from several critters on Scribophile. If you’ve been on that site much, you know that positive feedback must be earned haha.

On top of these shorts, I also finished up a very dark YA werewolf novella that I’ve been struggling with for years and started shipping that around. I also finished up the final draft for Beyond the Treehouse (aka. Madam Cloom’s Garden) which has been a work in progress for at least two years. It too has started making the rounds, and I’m pleased with how far it’s come.

Friends Lost and New Ones Made

SalemFluffy

Salem 9/29/2009 – 12/4/2015

Last year wasn’t all cheerful though. I had made a post back in September about my sweet kitty Salem’s declining health and how worried we were about him. We thought he would get better, but that didn’t happen. His health only went downhill, and throughout several of our trips he had some worrisome issues.

I got a call from the vet while standing outside of Pirates of the Carribean with my friends who I hadn’t seen in ages. In a corner beside plastic swords and jolly rogers plaques, I talked with a vet about whether it was time to put him down or not. Thank goodness I was in the Happiest Place on Earth, otherwise I probably would have broken down into tears that moment. While my friends went to go ride on a roller coaster, I watched a parade pass by and had some time to do some thinking. Sometimes being away from home helps you analyze what needs to be done.

Salem had gotten to the point where he couldn’t even jump up on the couch without stopping to breathe hard for a long time. His lungs just couldn’t take in oxygen easily, and you could tell he was suffering. On December 4th, we made an appointment to euthanize him. That was such a difficult decision. Our parents were there, surprising us as we were about to walk out the door, and their presence really helped us get through it. Our kind vet, who helped us from the very beginning, said that at least we can choose to end his suffering. That was a long and difficult two weeks afterwards for us while work wound down and the Christmas holidays approached.

Quickster_UpsideDown

Quickster — Adopted 12/19/2015

Knowing what we would have to do, and having a second kitty at home who would be very lonely without his friend, we had already been in touch with a family who needed to rehome their deaf cat. They were worried about putting her up for adoption with her disability, and we were happy to step in and help. So we now have an adorable little deaf kitty, named Quickster, running wildly around the house. It took about a week to get her and Watson used to each other, and now they play regularly. She can get rather cranky when she doesn’t get her wet food in time, but she loves to snuggle and is such a sweetie. Since she’s deaf, she tries to look at everything all at once (as you can see from the picture), which I think is a pretty smart way to do anything.

All in all, 2015 was a heck of a year with lots of ups, but some very deep lows. I’m hoping 2016 is full of even more high peaks as well. I know I’ve been absent for a while, but life’s been a little chaotic. To get back on the blogging wagon, I’ve signed up for WordPress’ Blogging 101 event this year, so you’ll likely see me posting a lot more often. Especially since I’ve got two anthologies coming out soon!

Cover Reveal and Kitty Update

It has been a ridiculously crazy few weeks! Sometimes it feels like I’m barely able to keep afloat of everything that’s going on, and when that happens I find myself at a loss for words when I finally come back to blog. Now I have to figure out how the heck to even start.

Why not begin with the good news? Take a look at this fabulous cover that’s coming up for Creepy Campfire Quarterly #1, which will feature my gruesome horror story, “A Slippery Customer”, set to be released January 20, 2016.

Creepy Campfire Quarterly #1 -- Cover

Isn’t it awesome? I’m really looking forward to reading all the other spine-tingling short stories too! Be sure to drop by the Facebook page and drop a Like, so you can stay abreast of this series. They’ve got additional horror books set to come out soon, including a Science Fiction horror themed one.

In other news, my cat Salem who I’ve had for 6+ years has been diagnosed with severe asthma. This was after he had to spend a weekend in an oxygen tank at the vet’s office, poor kitty.

SalemWe’ve got him on pills daily, which he absolutely loves to take trust me, and he’s doing better. He’s still coughing regularly and gets out of breath too, but at least he’s not having to live in an oxygen tank anymore. We also learned that he’s probably much older than we thought. When we adopted him they told us he was around 2 years old, which would make him around 8 now. Instead the vet estimates he’s at least 11. It’s just one of those things you can’t predict when you adopt fur babies. He’s been getting lots of love though, and other than his daily pill, we let him do pretty much whatever he wants.

Here’s hoping he keeps feeling better!

Learning to Play Nice

So last week ended on a bit of a crazy note. Well a family member’s wallet got stolen, so they needed a ride around town to do a police report, notify agencies with phone calls, and other urgent, panicky duties. I had to leave work early to be an impromptu chauffeur. So not a lot of fun there, but things are beginning to quiet down now at least. Had movie night with friends over the weekend and did a bunch of work on the front bed of our house. It’s coming along quite nicely, even though I ache all over today. Digging trenches and lugging stone blocks around is definitely tiring before starting the long work week. But it’ll all be worth it once it starts wrapping up.

In other news, our new kitty Watson is playing along quite nicely with our resident kitty athlete, Salem. Watson was even allowed to visit downstairs and hang out all day yesterday, a privilege Salem had been reluctant to give up for the last few weeks. They were sharing windows, playing, and even had a good time chasing each other up and downstairs. I’m pretty sure Watson’s going to lose his extra few pounds with Salem playing with him every day. Winking smile

WindowsWatching

In other news, I got some news last week from Pink Narcissus Press that I’ll try to post about in more detail later. Complete with images!

Life in all its strangeness

photo 3

Andrei, when he was able to relax

The last few days have been kind of weird, which is mostly why I haven’t been updating more frequently up here. Saturday was a sad day for everybody cause we had to put one of our kitties down. Andrei was well over 10 years old, and never quite seemed the same after he had his ‘accident’. We’re not quite sure what happened exactly since we weren’t home at the time, and for a full day he just laid in one spot. When he stood up he was shaky, and although the vet said he’d passed a kidney stone, we think there must have been more to it – a stroke or something. After that he couldn’t see very well, couldn’t hear very well, and always walked in circles. In the same direction. Indeed if he wasn’t asleep he was endlessly walking in circles until he wore himself out. Needless to say, he had no interest in finding the litter box and barely seemed to know us anymore. His only joys were the fireplace and wet kitty food.

He’d been like this for a full year, with us making numerous visits to the vet, and each time they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. In the end, he was getting even worse by tracking his feces around the carpet and then promptly stepping in his food. We were worried he’d get not only himself sick, but his 3 year old kitty companion Salem. This was a very difficult decision for everybody involved. I’d never had to make a schedule with the vet for euthanasia before, and kept strong for my sister all the way to the end. I admit it’s going to be some time for me to remember him as the cute kitty that loved climbing into sinks to sleep and not the kitty that walked endlessly in circles, but I think it’ll get easier.

photo

Salem looking adorable

We’d been expecting this for a year as I said, even though the act of doing it felt like a punch to the gut. The next day we went down to Petsmart and picked up a new kitty that needed a nice home. He’s perhaps the most lovable cat I’ve seen, and was amazed when we got him home and he just wanted love. He’s so grateful to have a place to live and no longer be kept in a cage. Apparently he’d been up there for three weeks without getting adopted, which is never good.

So lots of emotional turmoil lately, but with a new beginning. I guess it all works out in the end, right?

In more lighthearted news, I’m going to start getting allergy shots soon. Last year I found out I was allergic to everything from grass to trees, dust, cats (even though I’ve always owned two!), and slightly to milk. The milk was surprising too since I used to drink a glass of it a day as a kid. Lately I’ve been more a fan of soy milk anyway, but still. I admit I’m a bit nervous, shots are never fun, but weekly shots (eventually monthly shots as my body adapts) sounds even less fun. Anybody had a good experience with these before? Know any good tips?

I think it’s 2-4 years worth of weekly to monthly shots, so it’s definitely a commitment to start them. The allergist told me it would help my asthma too since he thinks that’s brought on by my allergies. Still not looking forward to it though!