Happy New Year – Introducing the Idiomatic Podcast (Coming Soon)

I haven’t met some of my closest friends in person. I’ve only spoken to one or two of them through Skype, and another handful on text message. But I love them.I love talking to them about writing and reading and the triumphs and failures of the craft. And for a while I’ve been playing with a thought…

What would it be like to share these thoughts with other people? To share our comedy and our wins and losses and our anger at Keith who never gets off his ass to write even thought he totally should and we are so disappointed in you, Keith.

What would it be like to podcast?

Tough, I think is the proper word. Hard as hell, even. It involves time, which I do have a bit of. It involves money, which I now have more of thanks to a new job. It involves knowledge of software, of which I have zero. It involves patience. And patience? I have that in abundance.

I can’t say what spawned it. Maybe being back at the chat room, talking about New Years writing goals. Amber brought it up, reminding me that I had this idea.

It exploded from there. Ideas thrown about. The purchasing of a microphone and a Mumble Server. Reading, experimenting with this and that. Downloading Audacity and wondering why I had the, ahem, audacity, to think I could do a podcast. it would be classic Kathleen. Invest time and money into something. Give it an honest go. Flounder. Fail.

Not this time. We have a plan. And hopefully, starting the second Sunday in February we will be able to share it with you. The Idiomatic Podcast. A group of rotating authors, some early in their careers, some just lifting off, some veterans, talking writing, books, tropes, and more. The first couple won’t be perfect. We’ve promised ourselves we’re only allowed one F-Bomb per episode. The dreams are big. Could we get local authors on to take part? Could we interview people? What all do we talk about? Well we have that covered enough. There isn’t enough time in the world for us to talk about everything on our minds, so hopefully my audio editing skills will magically present themselves.

Get ready, you idiomatics. We’re coming for ya’.

Extra Life 2016

It’s that time of year folks. Extra Life 2016 is almost upon us; 14 days and counting. Somewhere, in my brilliance, I thought I could make a $2000 goal. That was silly. I am silly. As it stands I am currently at $410 plus some change donated by my lovely coworkers. Not bad given that I haven’t bombarded social media the same way I normally do. If you’d like to donate to my Extra Life campaign, you can do so here. If you need some convincing, read on.

The What:

Extra Life is a 25 hour video game marathon that takes place every fall. Gamers around the world gather to play video games, board games,  and card games for 25 hours while simultaneously raise money for local Miracle Network Hospitals. I play for Alberta Children’s Hospital. ACH is my jam.

The Why:

I’ve spoken about my medical misadventures more than a few times. I haven’t held back when discussing how nasty chronic pain is, or how vital I have found music and books when it came to surviving my hospital experiences. When it comes down to it, a person can’t be expended to spend hours upon hours of their formative years in the same place with the same people, repeating the same experiences, and not develop some sort of affinity for the setting. For me, that has been, and always will be, the Alberta Children’s Hospital. The old hospital, now the Richmond Road Treatment Centre (Where my chronic pain clinic is now located, fancy that) became my home away from home. I knew its walls, its art work, its doctors and nurses and orderlies. I knew it better than I knew myself, and consequently found the earliest pieces of who I am grew and were nurtured in those walls, by those people. The old ACH holds a very special place in my heart.

It also terrifies me. Like, literally, I usually pee myself a little bit when I have to go back there. Three spinal surgeries with awful, debilitating pain will often create that negative connotation. And yet, for whatever reason, I also love it. Despite having only one surgery in the New Children’s Hospital (which will be celebrating its Tenth Anniversary this year!) I find myself still associating it as a home-away-from-home. It is still inexplicably mine, though I have grown so much older since walking through its halls as a patient. It is a place I ‘graduated’ from, phased out of, and in so many ways, it was the first place to dub me an adult. Sure, I had already graduated high school and gotten a diploma and could vote and had to do my own taxes, but only when I was told I could no longer go to ACH did I truly feel like I had grown up.

It was mesmerizing how sad I was to leave the hospital, to leave behind the nurses who had helped raise me in so many ways, and the doctor who had been like a father to me for the last seven years.

Growing up sucks, but growing up and leaving behind that was more difficult than any tax equation or ‘adulting’ I have had to do since then.

I love the Children’s Hospital. I hate what it represents in many ways; all my fear, my pain, my awkward youth. But I appreciate how I can now look back on it with wider, if not world-weary eyes, and see what it meant to me and how it shaped me into the woman I am today. That is why I take part in Extra Life. It is giving back, if only in the smallest way, to a place that helped shape me into the sarcastic, annoying individual I am today.

I couldn’t be more grateful.

The When:

November 5th, starting at 10:00 a.m.

The Who:

As always, Cheryl will be joining me for her own live stream! Last year I was pretty damn sick and I flaked bad on her. This year I am making it up. Because Alex and I are moving this monday, we will be having a pseudo-house warming party with some close friends who are invited to come over and play card games as a break in the evening!

The Small Details:

I’ve decided this year to try doing a single game from the start. Namely: Fallout 4. I’ve only done a single run of Fallout 4 so far, so I think it’ll be fun to start all over and make the biggest, sarcastic, jerkiest character I can. I’m going to call her Moira BulletStomper. Yeah.

I’ll be streaming on my Twitch channel here!

Tweets will happen intermittently here.

How can I help?

If you have a dollar to spare and you’d like to donate, you can do so on my fundraising page here!  Alternately, I encourage you to join in the fun! Tell your friends, get groups together, and use November 5th as an excuse to reconnect with some old buddies and raise money for your local Children’s Hospital. It certainly doesn’t have to be ACH! You can pick any hospital in any region!

This really is a wonderful cause. I can’t do sports. I am not so good at the mathing. I don’t politic or science well. But dammit, I can game, and I can write, and on November 5th I’m going to be doing it #ForTheKids!

As a bonus, here is my spine from… one of the surgeries. I don’t know. I’ve lost count.


The Magical World of Commerce

I wouldn’t say I’m burnt out by writing; far from it. If anything, I have more drive than ever to get back into book 2 since I completely redid the entire damn plot. The problem is I have other responsibilities. I have work, book club, cleaning the house, taking care of the pets, laundry, beta reading, and a brand new John Connolly book which is definitely calling out to me.

So, yeah, I’ve got some stuff I have to do. I’m a little busy. And because I get easily distracted I have made a point of not obsessively checking the stats on my KDP page for the ebook versions of Between Fire and Pines (hello, buy me on ebook here!).  I logged in every hour in May. In June I checked every other hour. In July I did it maybe three times a week. Now we’re into August and I hadn’t even considered checking how sales had done until someone on Critique Circle asked me how many I had sold.

I honestly had no idea. Twenty maybe in hardcopy online? Another ten as ebooks? Who knows. I’m not Wonder Woman!

The usual process goes something like this: I post on Twitter and Facebook several days in a row, I see a couple ebook sales. That is how it works. Very simple. But I haven’t been marketing in the slightest. I’ve been bored with marketing, more keen on getting off my ass and writing some excellent explosions (I am a one-trick pony and the pony is EXPLOOOOSIONS.) I get bored of waving pictures of my book in people’s faces, crying “Here! Look at this! Buy me!” Which is ironic given that the first piece of advice I gave to Amber about social media work was ensuring that you stick to a schedule that your fans can rely on.

Ha, Doctor, heal thyself. Or in this case, Communication Professional, listen to your own damn advice.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I go onto the KDP and see that between the end of July and August I sold some ebooks! I wasn’t trying. I have no idea how that happened! I’m fairly certain everyone I know has bought a copy, so it certainly can’t be friends or family. Are… are random strangers buying my book? Did some random person with no emotional investment in the time I have spent on this project actually purchase my book?

What the hell? Is that even possible? Is that allowed? Are people allowed to buy books when they don’t know the author? I mean, maybe they are, maybe they aren’t! I have no idea given that I am new to this particular club and have only just recently sacrificed the necessary woodland creatures to Baphomet to summon the powers of creativity.

Being an author can be confusing at times.

Of course, realizing that yes, random strangers can and just may buy copies of my book, whether through bribery or blackmail, has forced me to realize that yes, I ought to get back into marketing and, hey! Maybe if you stick to a schedule, things will actually turn out for the best!

And if not there is always another sacrifice to the glorious leader, Baphomet.

The Code Book One: Between Fire and Pines is available on Amazons everywhere!

Header image by Eliphas Lévi (1810-1875) – Scan aus: Hans Biedermann –- Dämonen, Geister, dunkle Götter, Graz: Leopold Stocker Verlag 1989, Lizenz für Gondrom Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Bindlach 1993 S. 45 ISBN 3-8112-1008-4, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5947736



Win a Copy of ‘Between Fire and Pines’!

With the release date for Between Fire and Pines nearly hear (28 days, oh my god, I’m going to puke) I figured I ought to do, you know, a contest or something. Would you like to win a copy of my debut novel? Maybe? Maybe not. Who knows! It might be trash! But free things are fun! Contests are fun!

Between Fire and Pines takes place heavily in a newly reopened Alcatraz. It also contains what I am told is just a plethora of explosions and fire. Therefore, the rules of the contest are simple:

(In the immortal words of my buddy, Keith)

Photoshop your Alcatraz pictures to include some fucking fire.

I like it. Thanks, Keith!

Tweet the pictures to me (@KathleenSawisky) and tag them with #BetweenFireAndPines, because I am a major egomaniac. All tweets get entered to win, so the more pictures, the more chances you have to earn a sweet ass debut novel signed by yours truly (also, I wrote it. I wrote that thing.) And no taking screencaps from films that involved Alcatraz blowing up. I’ll know. I’ve seen all those films.


The Code: Between Fire and Pines

My New Year Resolution, apart from not being such a big baby when it comes to chronic, debilitating pain, is to finally get off my ass and get The Code published. In the first week of the new year I found an editor and got a quote. $1575, and a 6 to 8 week turn around time. I made contact with my fabulous artist again, and set my plan into motion.

Because I am trudging away at paying my student loans and my credit card, and because I can’t rightly expect my husband to pay for all the bills, I estimated that it would take two months before I could even afford the deposit of $700 for editing services. It was far too long.

I’ve always been amazed by the generosity of strangers, and it struck me that my best option to speed up the process might be to start a campaign to help pay for all that is required. Enter GoFundMe.

In four days I’ve already been able to raise $315 thanks to dear friends and family who have patiently put up with my dreams of writing over the years. Today I turn to you, lovely readers.

I’m hoping to raise $1800 to cover the remaining costs of hiring Maddison Barut on again to do the art for tee-shirts and postcards that will be offered as rewards for contributions. She is so talented, and the cover she created for The Code gives me chills every time I see it.

My editor is out of town, back next week. By then I hope to have the $700 deposit ready for her. Any small contribution would help! If you donate $35 you get a tee-shirt! $40 gets you a signed copy of the book! A friend donated $100, so I’m pretty sure I owe her a kidney.

If you’d like to help out, please visit the GoFundMe page here. I won’t be too annoying about it, but you can expect to see a few more writing related posts in the next little while (and hopefully less My life is awful please make the pain stop.)

If you can’t afford to donate, or don’t care enough to donate but do care just enough to talk about it, please consider sharing this with your friends and family online and in the terrible place known as The Real World.

Also, Keith doesn’t want anyone to see this picture. Here it is.

Keith and Parrot Lovin'

Suck it, Keith. Oh wait, you already did.

Chronic Pain Diaries: That Old Waiting Game

On Friday I have my appointment with the good doctor to get my spine poked and prodded. First time in nearly two years. I didn’t make the connection before, but since I’ve made an attempt to be more, shall we say, self-aware, about what my body is doing and trying to tell me (insert witticism re: the separation of body and spirit), I’m very, very aware of how damn nervous I am.

My tummy has gone full wibbly-wobbly, and I’m having a difficult time kicking the nerves that have settled into my brain. Why my brain decides to go all negative-nelly every time appointments come close when the rest of the time I am, generally, fairly positive, is beyond me. Why now? Why worry about the worst outcomes now instead of focusing on what will probably be good news? Hell, why not stay completely neutral until I have an answer?

I suppose after so many years of getting the obligatory check-ups at the hospital and receiving less than stellar news regarding the state of my spine, I just have a tendency to expect the worst. I could probably talk myself out of it, but the trouble is that this sort of nervous, negative, niggly knot in my noggin (HA!) permeates every aspect of my life. What is even worse is that I know it. I am like Muggy, the self-actualization Robot from Fallout New Vegas DLC Old World Blues who knows that his only purpose in life is to collect dirty mugs, and he hates doing it, and he despises the fact that he knows it is his only purpose. I know how my negativity impacts those around me, but try as I might I can’t kick myself back into shape.

It is classic Chronic Pain mentality. I don’t want to go to work today. I want to curl up at home with a blanket, a cup of tea, and a book. I have not one but two girl’s nights that I’ve been invited to this weekend and the thought of going to either makes me sick to my stomach because I can’t imagine a state of happiness existing, even temporarily, after my appointment on Friday.

To me, the hospital seems like a whirling black hole that I have been drifting listlessly towards for some time. Now I’m being pulled into the void and I can’t bring myself to focus on what is on the other side.

It’s problematic, because this is exactly what we are taught to avoid in CP classes. We aren’t supposed to get caught up in the negativity, but instead make a concentrated effort to imagine… well, happiness. We meditate, listen to music, write, draw, create and destroy. We force ourselves to become part of the world around us by contributing to its beginnings and ends. We focus on anything other than pain. Maybe it’s been so damn long since I’ve had to fight this mental battle, but the idea of being part of the greater metropolitan Earth makes me feel exhausted.

I know this is just a bad day, maybe two. I know it won’t last because I’m not the sort of person to let it dig under my skin and fester. I know all this, courtesy of perfectly rational thought, and yet I cannot shake the nerves. The more I try to distract myself with the larger Universe, the stronger the pull of the black hole. Whatever is on the other side, good or bad, surgery or another year of waiting, I have to find a way to get back to the old me. What is particularly troubling is that I’m not entirely certain if the old me is happy-go-lucky or doom-gloom-and-shrooms (I was trying to go with rhyming. In reality, I find fungai to be disturbing. Largest network of connected organisms? Creepy as hell is more like it.)

Two more days until I cross that event horizon. I’ll see you on the other side.

The Happiest Mole

When you grow up in a family where mole skin pigmentation are aggressive and common, elementary school health classes can often be, let’s say, intimidating. Because, like all things health-related during that age range, there is less focus on everyone having a different type of body, and more emphasis on basic health standards. Dirt isn’t always bad. If you are bleeding, get a bandaid. Sometimes moles can mean cancer.

Cancer? Goes my little eight year old brain. Cancer means death! Death is bad!