Friday, December 28, 2012

Redirect!

Hey friends!
It was brought to my attention that, in the chaotic whirlwind that is my life, I never updated this blog to say I have a new URL.

You can now find all my posts at www.arkahler.com
See you there!

Monday, September 17, 2012

EXCITING BIG PUBLICATION NEWS!!!

Friends!

The time has come where I can reveal the SUPER AMAZING FANTASTIC NEWS I'VE BEEN SITTING ON FOR AAAAAGES. (okay, maybe not aaaaages, but it feels like a long time because it's Just. So. Exciting!)


MY FIRST BOOK SERIES (AKA THE HUNTED) IS GETTING PUBLISHED!

Or, to quote Publisher's Marketplace:
Alex Kahler's MARTYR, in which a boy must use his chakra magic to fight the formerly human monsters who kidnapped his lover, and MENDER, to Patricia Riley   at Spencer Hill Press , in a nice deal, for publication in 2014, by Laurie McLean  at Larsen/Pomada Literary Agents   (world English). 
Translation & dramatic: laurie@agentsavant.com 



Isn't that AMAZING?
Even more amazing?

I'M GOING TO B.E.A. 2014

Right??
Not only are we talking big big exposure to my debut, but we're talking big big exposure to a debut series featuring strong gay protagonists. How wicked cool is that?

I'm so pumped to be working with Patricia and the entire crew at Spencer Hill Press, you've no idea. They're lovely, they're excited, and most importantly, they're really into the series. Big ideas are being thrown around that I look forward to sharing with you all very soon. Let's just say we're thinking beyond publishing a few (four, to be precise) novels....


And in case you didn't think my editor was amazing enough, she agreed to do a little interview with me. Which I'm sharing below.

Why did you pick up this series? 
Because I love it! I'm always excited to have the opportunity to acquire a book that I loved reading, especially one that surprises me. When I am considering a manuscript it is important to me that I enjoy it as a reader first, before considering it with my "editor brain" -- this story was an incredibly entertaining read from the very beginning and kept me reading much later than I planned to stay up that night! (And I LOVE to sleep, so I know it's a special book if I'd rather read it than sleep!) MARTYR was one of those books that I knew I was going to offer on as soon as I finished reading it, but it was also a story I couldn't stop thinking about for days after I finished it, which is equally important to me. The characters were a big part of why I couldn't stop thinking about this book, I loved them and there was so much about them that I wanted to know! I was also excited about potential for future books, the world building opens up so many directions that the series could go and I'm looking forward to "going exploring" (so to speak) as the later books in the series get mapped out!

What excites you the most about working on this project? 
So many things! I'm excited to work with such a creative author; I love working with artists who have backgrounds in multiple mediums as it always adds unexpected elements to the writing and editing process. I'm also excited to be working in an Urban Fantasy world, it's very different from my other projects (currently High Fantasy, Contemporary, and Paranormal) and every new genre comes with a new set of rules to play with.  

Who is your favorite character?
I loved the twins, but if I had to pick only ONE character... probably Tomás. I'm a sucker for the misunderstood antagonist and Tomás is so perfect at being just that! Plus, he's an incubus and I love the ways that WHAT he is affects who he is and how he goes about handling a variety of situations. (By which I mean, he has some fantastically steamy scenes!)

If you controlled an element, what would it be? 
I would probably be a combination of fire and water: I'm constantly transitioning between my emotional reactions and my passion for everything that I do. I am also very driven by my intuition, I tend to jump in head first when I feel as though I am onto something amazing. :)

Anything else to add?
I can't wait until MARTYR is released so that everyone can read it! I have so much more to say about it but ... SPOILERS! 



...and I'm going to hope that last little bit was a Dr. Who reference. Because Patricia's just that sort of lady, and that's why I love her.





So, keep your eyes peeled here and elsewhere as this builds and manifests! A huge thanks to all my friends, family, and amazing team (Laurie and Pam, here's looking at you) for keeping me going.
And remember.


This is only the beginning.
Love!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Little updates, before the BIG updates

Oh friends, what a crazy few weeks it's been.

After a good year of feeling like I was smashing my head against a brick wall, I think I've finally broken through. Either that, or life took pity on me, removed the wall, and plans on bringing it back in a few months. Either way, I'm content. Things are moving in big ways, and all the hard work is starting to pay off.

I spent the last weekend teaching circus arts at the Edinburgh Aerial and Acrobalance Convention (EAAC). I taught about four hours a day and trained the rest of the time. I can't really move right now. BUT! I got to play on a bungee trapeze, flip around on a static cloudswing, climb a Chinese pole, and learn handstand basics. I also spent the evenings with lovely friends. At one point, sitting on the patio of a cafe, watching the drunk acrobats juggle and the Icelanders teaching my friend dirty phrases, I realized that yes, this really was my life. And yes, I plan on keeping this whole circus lifestyle an integral part of it.
Other highlights: nights out and in with my Irish friends/flatmates. Watching the sun rise of Edinburgh's skyline. Morning coffee at the Black Medicine Coffee Co. And realizing I get to do this again next year.

In other news, I fly back to America October 9th. Yeah. To be perfectly honest, I'm actually looking forward to it. I move to Seattle the following month. There, I'll be opening an arts space, getting involved in the circus/cabaret world, and finding some Medicine Men to train under.

In the weeks before then, I'll be teaching in Madrid and wandering the UK and trying up all the loose ends I can. The really crazy thing was getting to EAAC and realizing that this time last year, I was teaching there and beginning my new life in Scotland. This year, I'm saying goodbye and moving on to something new.




The big things I want to talk about can't be talked about. Yet. But they're big. And I'm really excited. And you should be too.


Watch this space. Because Monday, September 17th, this shiz gets real.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On Fires and Focus

Hey loves,

It's been a while since the last update, and for that I'll briefly apologize. I've been volunteering full-time at the retreat in the woods, which has been good for me in a hundred different ways. Out of my head, into the world sort of thing. It's given me a lot to mull over, and the past few weeks especially have thrown a lot of light on things I'd been blissfully ignoring.

The main thing is perhaps the most obvious: I have to return to America.
I've been avoiding this thought for a while now. After all, maybe I'd find a job or a husband or a magical visa so I could stay in the UK. Life has thrown stranger things my way. But as the months passed and not much changed on the outside, I realized something pretty profound: I wasn't here to settle down. I came here to avoid the real issue.

Now, with a few months left, I'm facing the music. I need a goal and a lifestyle that isn't centered around writing because it's driving me batshit insane, thank you very much (though I won't stop writing, oh no. I have so many IDEAS). I need art and circus and spirituality. I need to create something big with my time and my life because anything less would be a personal disservice. Long story short, I need to stop screwing around.

All these thoughts came about while doing a course on manifesting visions. The program had many aspects--I walked on fire and glass, broke arrows in my throat, sobbed in front of strangers--but they all boiled down to creating the life you wanted to live. And there I was, not really knowing what I wanted to create. I mean, I thought I knew--write books, get published, tour. But that didn't feel like the whole picture. I'm not saying I have it all figured out on the other side, but I'm getting there.

The (oh-so-tentative) plan: Move to Seattle. Get a job of sorts. Live in a fantastic flat with beautiful people. Build my artistic empire.

The last one's the most exciting to me. It involves creating my own Tarot deck, working with metals, getting my photography up and running, and doing whatever else I so please. It involves creating not only an arts studio, but an arts venue: a place for burlesque and cabaret and circus performances, a place for local artists to show and sell their work, a place for musicians to entertain and youth to gather. It involves a cafe. Two big masquerade balls. It also involves a trapeze rig shaped like a birdcage.

That would be the ultra-condensed version.

The dreaming is there. The steps are appearing. I feel life tying up loose ends and pushing me in new directions. I'm up for the adventure.

Tonight I head back to the retreat. I'll be there for most of my time in Scotland. But there may be an adventure in Madrid to fill you in on late September. And teaching in Edinburgh. And an anthology release in October.

Oh, and this is me walking on fire. LOLMYFACE.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Travelogue : Norwegian recap

It's amazing how difficult it's been to start writing this.
At first, I blamed it on being busy, on trying to settle back in or relax or whatever. But the truth is simple: I didn't and don't want to admit that this set of adventures is complete.

The big Eurotrip is being postponed. Long story short, Adam and I made it to Oslo, fully intent on getting our bus ticket that would take us around mainland Europe and back to Glasgow. That's when plans fell apart. Timing and pricing and destinations were incorrect, and we learned at 8am (after an overnight train from Stavanger to Oslo) that we had hit the end of the road. So we cut our losses and came back to Glasgow a few weeks early.

Let's not focus on the end, though. Let's focus on what happened.

Sarpsborg
Oh, Sarpsborg. How you smelled like the local sausage factory.
Our time at the Circus Village was fast-paced, chaotic, and filled with great people and laughter. We met artists from all over the world, saw some fantastic productions, and I even learned that my life is incomplete because I do not own a hurdy gurdy. There were concerts til 3am and hot chocolate with rum. And on the last day in Sarpsborg, we canoed the border between Norway and Sweden before going back to watch horror movies and eat pizza.

Sjaman Gathering
The day after we left Sarpsborg, we headed north and west of Oslo for a weekend of volunteering at--you guessed it--a gathering of Norse Shamans. There's simply no way to put this experience into words. One weekend in a valley, surrounded by fir-covered mountains, where people are drumming 24 hours a day. We met storytellers and Sami mystics, heard tales of Odin and the origination of shamans and visionaries. It was, simply put, a once in a lifetime experience. I've spent a lot of time amongst shamans and medicine men and mystics of all faiths, but there was something powerful in seeing a lineage like that--traceable back to the Vikings and practically unaltered over the ages.

Stavanger
After the Sjaman Gathering, Adam and I got a ride up/over to Stavanger. Look at the distance between Oslo and Stavanger on a map. It's not that much. But we took a very leisurely route through the mountains that lasted two days. We passed fjords and snow-covered peaks, waterfalls and mountains and glades and stony fields. Every landscape you could imagine, really. And Stavanger was nothing short of amazing.
The city was cozy, on the harbour, with big cruise lines awaiting their crew. The city streets were filled with tiny shops and cafes. Amazing, amazing graffiti and painting. A gay bar with mirrorball mannequins inside. Adam and I opened the day with lattes in the book bar/cafe, which sounds as amazing as it was: bookshelves in a bar and a courtyard in the back with Moroccan lanterns and a giant concrete dragon. We ended the day in a 'gay cafe' that didn't really serve coffee, and the two middle-aged men were drunk and vogue-ing at 9pm. It was very strange. Book bar was easily preferred.

Oslo
As stated, we arrived in Oslo after an overnight train from Stavanger. It was, at best, an uncomfortable experience--the car was stuffy and hot. I didn't sleep at all.
Adam and I left the bus station a bit sad at having to cancel the long-term plans. When we actually saw Oslo, we had to laugh. First, Oslo was very clean, very open, and very very sunny. Boats in the harbour, music from the pier. A giant gay pride festival that took up two blocks and was brimming with families and stalls. And everywhere, everywhere, were beautiful people. I have never seen so many attractive men in my life. Apparently they've all just moved to Oslo. I'd move too, but the only thing we bought in the city was a bottle of water for (roughly) $6. Might need a job first.


It was raining in Edinburgh when we got back that night. I tried to be grumpy about it, but I had to admit--something about coming back to the drizzle and fog felt like coming home.
The neds currently yelling outside my flat? Another thing altogether.

Photos from Sarpsborg and the Sjaman Gathering below. Will put up Stavanger/travelling soon!


The cat is dead. Long live the cat!


Art for the big party


the party begins!

all that glows is gold

the food cart, where I spent most of my time. models: Adam and Helene

food cart and behind-the-scenes

the first hurdle of canoeing: crossing the train tracks

this bridge goes between Norway and Sweden. I think Sweden was on the right...

beginning of the gathering

11pm in the woods and all is glowing

midnight sun(set)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Travelogue: Sarpsborg, Norway Pt. One


Hey loves,

I write this on a mound outside of the circus village, watching the big top and listening to families walk by, speaking in tongues I can only pretend to understand. The actual upload of this is most likely taking place at a McDonald’s because—hate to admit it as I do—it’s the only place I can find with free wifi.

I feel like there are already a hundred stories I could tell you. The trip to Norway was filled with flight delays due to strikes and a train ride down the coast in the twilight. Our current locale—The Circus Village in the park heart of Sarpsborg—reminds me a great deal of middle America: gently rolling, filled with fields and forests and lakes.

My travel companion (Adam) and I have been hard at work ever since arriving. Volunteering basically means you do whatever needs doing; we’ve done partner acrobatics in shopping malls and kindergartens for publicity, made cakes, painted signs, driven around putting up fliers on streetlamps, and cleaned toilets. Now, our work is mainly in the café, cooking or serving and pretending we speak an ounce of Norwegian. We’re learning. In all, up until the village opened to the public, it’s been a lot of hard work. Now we have set hours and will hopefully start traveling and training more. For me, I look forward to afternoons sitting in Der Grone Elefant, our little organic circus tent café, writing out plotlines for two new books. Hey, it’s called a working holiday for a reason.

So, about those stories.

Our first night here we sat under a makeshift tent, gathered around a firepit and sharing stories and dirty with a group of Vikings. I also got to shoot a handmade replica of a Viking war bow, learned some string tricks, and realized that the stereotype of Vikings drinking from horns and drinking, well, lots and lots of alcohol, were all, undeniably, true.

A few nights back, we went to a backyard concert in a friend’s glassblowing studio. There was a barbecue and more chat til 1am.

We went to Sweden for an afternoon (because in Norway, that’s what one does when one wants cheap food). We didn’t see much because we just stopped at the supermarkets to hand out fliers and get cheap beer. Oh, and two giant bags of candy. Yes, the rumors are true: this place is hellishly expensive. Imagine paying at least $6 for an Americano (small) coffee. $4 for a loaf of bread. And a beer at a restaurant? $10. For the cheap stuff. Thankfully, we haven’t had to pay for a thing. Volunteering is the way to go.

I haven't had coffee this wonderful/strong since...ever.

There are moments where I forget I’m in Norway and moments that seem to define the experience. There haven’t been any fjords but the Vikings made up for it. I’ve been averaging three or four layers of clothing a day. I haven’t seen nightfall since arriving.

The journey’s just beginning, too. After this there’s talk of heading north to see the more majestic landscapes. There’s talk of Prague and Bordeaux because holy crap do we need at least a little sunbathing the summer. Maybe the cliffs of Northern Ireland.


No one really knows.
But that, I guess, is how you know you’re on an adventure.

And now, pictures!




Adam in the train in Oslo

The trains had wood panelling, reclining seats, and wifi. NICE.

The 22m tent.

The 6m tent, 16m tent, and cafe tent.

Christine at work in her glassblowing studio.

Glassblowing studio from the outside. So many pretties.


Some tiny town outside of Sarpsborg. That's apparently very haunted. And has a fort.

Our uniform. And posters for the Pluto Crazy show. Not pictures: kids with staple-guns helping us flier.


The tents at night

And one more.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Travelogue : Goodbye Glasgow

Hey loves,

This is gonna be short and sweet because my taxi's here in six hours and, oh yeah, I need to sleep within that time period.

I gave myself three full days to catch up on things before heading out and--surprise--that didn't really happen. I got all the important things done--said hello/goodbye to most people, packed all my stuff. But of course, there are loose ends.

Long story short, tomorrow I fly to Norway. That's pretty much all I know right now. Our friendly circus family is picking up my travel-companion Adam and I from the train station. We'll then be given a tour of the 'circus village.' And the next day we'll be traveling around promoting the event. If you have costumes, bring them! ...we'll just settle for a mask and the 'Circus Freak' shirts I designed. I can't imagine Swarovski would travel well.

And yeah. That's honestly the last definite plan I have.
One way ticket to Norway.
17 days of scheduled volunteering to provide room and board.
[...to be determined...]
Back to Glasgow by July 21st.


Oh yes, world. Let's go exploring.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Travelogue : Lendrick Lodge 2

Or, How to Heal


For the past few weeks I've been living in another world. I return to reality (aka the internet, Glasgow, etc) and find myself at a complete loss for words. How do I tell my family just how profound and simple volunteering at a holistic retreat has been? How could I possibly capture the weeks spent with healers and therapists and soul-oriented people? I suppose it's time to tell you the truth about me. No fronts, no funny quips. Just me.

Before I begin, I want you to know one thing: I am a skeptic.
When someone says "I can feel energy" I struggle to keep my eyebrows level. When someone says "This will heal you" I try not to counter with we'll just see about that. I'm a "try before you buy" sort of guy. Period.

Another thing.
For the past two years, I have been horribly depressed.
I've hid it fairly well from the majority of the people. Save for occasional breakdowns, I managed. I did what I thought I should do: I took my mind off it by immersing myself in work. In Massachusetts I waited tables and tried to launch an artist studio and trained with a circus group and assisted authors and tried to write.

In Scotland I wrote. A lot. I trained/taught. A lot. When I met with friends, I talked about writing or training or the terror of the future. I woke up and got on the computer and checked email and wrote and then I went to work and then I came home and checked email and tried to tell myself I was okay.

I was not--
by any stretch of the imagination--
okay.

Because none of that hard work was paying off. Studios failed. Jobs closed. Writing sucked away at my soul.
I told myself I needed to work harder. I added more pressure. If you get published it will all be better. You'll have money and a path and a purpose and all this hard work will pay off but damn it, Alex, none of that will happen if you don't push yourself past breaking.

And when things kept falling apart, I crumbled to insane amounts of personal pressure.
I wasn't just hitting a brick wall. I was closed in on all sides, and they were caving fast.



Another thing:
I barely registered this.

I've always worked in high-stress states. It started early on in school and it hasn't left. If I don't have a deadline, I make one. If I don't have work, I make it. The motto growing up was 'work, then play.' I just kept leaving out the last bit. Besides, my main job was teaching circus! I laughed! I had a blast! That was surely balancing out the intensity of writing. Right?


For the past two weeks, I've woken up with a stream outside one window and a mountain outside the other. I go into the kitchen and make a cup of tea. Then I work for eight hours. I clean rooms, make beds. When courses are running I work in the kitchen and chop vegetables. At first, I hated the work. I was a writer! A circus artist! I wasn't schooled to make beds and hoover hallways. I should be creating and making and pushing myself and...
you get the picture.

Over time, things changed. I started opening up to the people I was working with. I stopped viewing the work as a chore and saw it as an opportunity. I stopped trying to drown out the time spent cleaning bathrooms with music and just listened to the birds outside. I went for walks through the woods, up the mountain, to lochs. Just being in that environment--a place in the wilds entirely dedicated to healing everyone who walked through the doors--was powerful. But there was more.

There was reflexology, massage exchanges. There was a Reiki session that completely blew my mind. There were talks over meals and tea about everything from sex to Buddha to emotional response patterns and nutrition. Through it all, I started to feel.
The fears and expectations stopped meaning anything. The anger I felt toward people, the judgments I had, all started to vanish when I stopped pitting myself against them and realized we were all there for the same purpose: to help heal others and ourselves.


Now, I'm not there yet. Just being back in the city (and back in my flat with wifi) makes the old habits peek their heads in. Productive much today? Written anything good? I still panic about the future.
But I'm getting there. I'm making space.


And if anything, that's what I'd like you to do.
Your work is important. Really, it is. But it's not that important.
You're going to die some day. Make friends with that thought. There are so many cliche phrases that have lost meaning so I won't use them. Because they didn't work for me. I had to experience it firsthand.

Your path will be different from mine. That's clear. You might find peace volunteering for people or animals. But it's a powerful thing to get out of 'me me me' and help other people heal themselves. Especially when you're able to make that same commitment to yourself.

You deserve it. Really, you do. You deserve it so much that there's no excuse: you can make the time. You don't need any money. You don't have to be or do anything except, well, breathe.

So I ask you: what can you do to create space in your life? What are opportunities to volunteer and help both yourself and the community? How can you get out into nature and just be a body that breathes and bleeds like the rest?

Find it. Follow it.
You're worth the effort.
More next week.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Travelogue : Lendrick Lodge 1

Another short post.
For the past week I've been volunteering at a holistic retreat in the heart of the Trossachs. The place is beautiful: surrounded by trees and hills and moorland and streams. Stunning.

The work has been calming, the people loving. I've much to share after all this is over, but I've little time and much to do before I head back to work. Expect more very soon.

Needless to say, being surrounded by nature and getting out of my head and into the present moment has been a revitalizing experience.

If you are looking for a change in your life, or a few days to 'get away,' I highly recommend seeking out volunteer work at local retreats. It's fulfilling in an entirely necessary way.

For pictures, click here.

Travelogue : Glamsterdam

Hello loves,

I have half an hour of wifi to update you on the past few weeks of travel adventures, so allow me to be brief and stick to sharing through photos (link at the end).

The trip was fantastic. Four days of aerial, good food/coffee, beautiful scenery. It was my first time in mainland Europe, and it definitely fueled my desire to travel even more. We wandered through the park, the Red Light District, had a show and photoshoots and generally behaved like rockstars. Even our hostel was perfect--private rooms and a breakfast buffet and a view on the park.

I hadn't expected much of Amsterdam, I'll be honest. I only expected seedy alleyways and prostitutes. And yet, even the notorious Red Light district was beautiful and clean. Our practice space was an old cinema school turned squat turned art space, complete with gorgeous graffiti and its own restaurant bar. What was more, Amsterdam seemed full of the health-conscious. Everyone rode bicycles, the food was locally sourced or organic or homemade, and people were going for runs at every hour of the day. Even while there on an aerial bootcamp, I felt the desire to fit in and be healthier.

I think one of the reasons the place seemed so clean and safe was the fact that so much is legal there. Crime is low, vandalism and theft seem practically non existent. It's almost like the legalization of so much allows people to blow off steam safely and continue on with their daily lives in a wholesome way.

It gave me a lot to think about and a lot to look forward to going back to. But I'll let you look at the pics and see for yourself.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beauty Heals 2 : Jump

I suppose I should start with this: things are happening. Things I hadn't expected, hadn't dreamed of. The moment I decided to step out the door, my life began to change.

Now, this isn't to say that things are making any more sense. I still have no clue 'what happens next.' All I know is, in a week I fly to Amsterdam to teach circus arts. The next week I head to a holistic retreat up north to volunteer. And the first of June, I fly to Norway to volunteer/teach/train at a sort of circus gathering. After that? I have no clue. I might travel down through Europe, over to Nepal, then back to Wales/England. Iceland. Maybe not. All I know is, I'm bringing you with me.

The very thought fills me with butterflies. How do I plan for a trip that has no real shape?
So much of this trip (Scotland and the upcoming journey) has been about battling expectations. Giving up control.

Leaping.

like jumping in this bouncy replica of Stonehenge

I try to make decisions like this: what is the biggest risk?
Once I figure that out, I take the risk.

Obviously, in a (moderately) sane way. I don't go down the darkest alleys or drive blindfolded. Instead, I look at my options and decide which will take me furthest out of my comfort zone. What will shake up my life the most? And then--as much as that small, sane voice in me hates it--I take the option with the least security and the most potential.

It doesn't work for everyone, and it definitely doesn't work for every situation. But for all those times when everything seems monotonous and life is one big rut, it's the best way to shake things up. It's the most surefire way to learn more about your world and how you fit (or want to fit) into it.

So, what are the ways your life has grown stale? What are the ways you could shake it up and enter new, exciting territory?
Even taking a different street in your current locale can lead to new exciting things...

a fountain near Glasgow Green

according to legend, this birch tree was cursed--thus the odd shape.

one of many houses on the Pollok estate

giant. fuzzy. highland coos!

That said, there's one very important aspect of every outward journey:
coming back and reflecting.

And the best way to do that?

tea.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Beauty Heals 1 : Expectations

Hello loves, welcome to the first true entry in the Beauty Heals project.
Let's begin with a metaphor.

Yesterday morning, a panel in my ceiling fell down.


It began with a drip, then a drizzle. Then a flood as a wave of dirty water splashed to the floor, bringing with it a chunk of paneling that resembled wet clay the moment it hit the ground.

The entire thing shook me, not because of the physical action of a falling ceiling, but for the meaning my brain was applying to it. It became a symbol. It gained power.

When I returned to Scotland last September, I came bearing hundreds of expectations.
Since that time, every single expectation has been shattered.

I'm not being melodramatic: nothing that I had hoped to happen has happened. I didn't fall in love. I didn't get published (yet). I didn't find a way to stay longer (and immediately after being attacked, my desire to stay faded). I didn't develop the amazing social/nightlife I'd envisioned. Instead, I worked. A lot. I wrote for hours every day, taught 6 days a week, and had mounds of homework. And for the amount I worked, I didn't seem to get much in return. I got by. Barely. I saw friends at work and a couple times during the week. I was busy in many ways, and in many ways I was happy. But so much of my life was sunk into trying to get ahead while trying to get by, I didn't have the ability to just...be. No matter what, something just wasn't syncing up. What I wanted was so close and yet so far from what I was able to achieve, and every day was another added drop I couldn't release.


Now, I don't want to burst like my ceiling. I don't want to hold on to all these expectations, all these inane things that make me feel less than human. My life is more than my work/writing/productivity/success/fame/WHATEVER. My world is bigger than the walls of this flat and the confines of this screen.

I am more than this.
You are more than this.

We all have expectations that we have not met and cannot let go of--and these are holding us back.

So today, on the first leg of this journey, I invite you to look at all your past and current 'failures,' the things that make you sad rather than give you strength to move forward and push through.

What are they? How can you begin letting them go?
In what way would you like to heal?

As you ponder, I'll leave you with a song from the artist I watched last night. He is amazing, and the lyrics are more than appropriate.

 


Beauty is everywhere.
Let's find it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The 'Beauty Heals' Project

Hello loves,

As I mentioned in my latest YA Rebels video, I have a new project.  If you haven't seen the vid, allow me to plug...




At the moment, there's not much more to report than what's in the vid.  I don't have any travel plans confirmed though there are multiple rods in the fire.  I don't know where I'll be or for how long or what I'll be doing.  All I know is, this summer I'm going on a journey.  And I'll be sharing every step I can--the good, the bad, and the beautiful--on here and through Youtube, twitter, tumblr, etc.

Because all good journeys are meant to be shared.
Stay tuned.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Seven Days of Summer

Hello loves,

It's been a month since I've last updated, so allow me a quick rap across the knuckles for that.

It's been a busy few weeks.  My second and final term of classes is officially over.  I've practiced and performed for a whirlwind gig up at a beautiful hotel.  I've finished the first draft (and am nearly done with the second draft) of Cirque des Immortels.

Better yet, the past week or so has been filled with sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures which, being in Scotland, I'm trying to view as a good thing rather than proof we're melting ourselves.

And since it's supposed to snow tomorrow, I figure I should share these days of sunshine before they're a memory:





In other news, my mom and family friend are visiting this week!  And two weeks after, my dad's going to be here.  Expect many more pictures then. :)


Also...something new and lifechanging is bubbling in the back of my mind.  It's still coalescing into something tangible, but expect a new project on the near horizon.  Something bigger than words and images combined, yet both of those at the same time.  The only spoiler I'm willing to give right now is....
Beauty Heals.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

An account of being physically assaulted and mugged...

...or, my indoctrination into Glasgow.


When I first visited Glasgow a few years ago, a friend of mine said that you hadn't really lived here if you hadn't been mugged, raped, or stabbed.  It was a joking phrase but one that's stuck with me; Glasgow has a bad rep.  But I always thought that if you stuck to the right bubble of culture, you'd be fine.  After all, those nasty things happened to other people, and I wasn't an other person, I was me.


As usual, Life decided to prove me wrong.


So what happened?


First off, I live in a nice little cul de sac of families.  Trouble is, it straddles the line between a nice side of Glasgow, and a shady side.  Since it's secluded, it's always felt relatively safe.
At 10pm last night, while walking home from a very nice (and now ironic) chat about prolonging my time in Glasgow, I was jumped by two guys less than a block from my flat.  It was a rather typical situation: both guys were neds, both in tracksuits, and they were demanding my phone after they had me on the ground.  Instead of just taking the phone, they kicked and punched me, then grabbed my bookbag (filled with dirty gym clothes) and dragged me halfway across the road until I was able to free myself.  They took the bag and left me with a bloody nose, my phone, and my wallet.


What did you do?


I got home and immediately grabbed a rag to stop my nosebleed--it looked horrible.  I was covered in my own blood and figured that was the first thing to clean up.  I mentally debated calling the cops--after all, nothing important was stolen, and what could the cops really do?--then I picked up the phone and dialed the emergency number.  They kept me on the line and made sure I was okay as they sent a car over.  I figured they'd give me the once-over, say 'tough luck, kid,' and leave.  Instead, when they arrived they told me the suspects (three of them, as there'd been a girl on the sidelines watching) had been located next to the 'locus' (which is such a badass word) and in custody.  They had me change my clothes so they could run forensics, then took me to the police station.


How were you treated?


I'll admit, I have never had the best view of cops.  I've had fairly negative experiences before, so I didn't know what to expect.  I'm from a small town and have always lived in rural, hippy areas: I've never known someone who was attacked/mugged, and had no clue what was going to happen.
And this is where the night was salvaged.

I have to send a huge thanks to the Strathclyde Police Force.  I was kept in the station until 3am (five hours) because they needed statements and for me to identify the suspects, and every moment of my time there was spent sharing stories and jokes and secrets about the city.  If not for the fact I was there because, well, I'd been attacked and mugged, I'd actually say I enjoyed the banter.

When they took me back home, the driver got a note of panic in his voice and said, "buckle up, there's a situation and we need to respond."  My main thought was, oh shit, I have to pee as we raced down the roads at fantastically fast speeds...only to end up at my drive.
"You have to love doing that," I said as I got out of the car.
It's one of the perks.




So...now what?


In terms of injuries, I got off light.  A few scrapes and bruises, a bust lip.  Some torn and bloodied clothing.  My glasses are irreparable and I'll need a new bag.
The guys that did this are in custody and will be facing a criminal trial for assault and robbery.  Even though their home base is close to mine, I've been reassured I'll never see them again.  And, if I'm ever in any trouble or worried, I have a direct line to the local police.  I say my name and they'll be on the scene immediately, no questions asked.


Are you scared?


I want to say I'm not.  But I also don't like lying.  I forced myself out of my house today (with a friend) to visit the supermarket.  I passed the spot I'd been attacked and felt my breathing go a little funny.  And I will admit, everyone I passed, every person who looked at me, registered as a threat on my inner radar.  (Having blue hair means I get looks.  Not a good combination with mild PTSD.  I may change it or take to wearing a hat in this end of town.)  It will take a few days, but I know this will pass.  Am I going to take self-defense lessons?  Maybe.  Do I feel like a victim?  No.

Bad things happen all the time.  The strange thing is, you never expect it to be you.  I remember thinking, while on the ground and being pummeled, not oh shit, oh shit, this is bad, but wait, really? this is actually happening?  It's absolutely surreal.  And it will never be something that seems like it could be a part of your life, until it happens to you.


What's going through your head?


So many things.  I've been silent on this blog for the last month because I haven't known what to say.  I've been homesick and nostalgic and overly confused about what's going on.  I've loved and hated the city, the country, my program, everything.  But this seemed like a wake up call.

I've been considering traveling for ages, now.  After this, I know it's going to happen.  I'm going to be backpacking across Europe for the later summer months and catching up with old friends.  I'm going to be volunteering at holistic retreats and maybe working in a hotel or two in the Highlands.  I'm getting out of the city and into nature, because that's where I feel most at home.

And after this, although I can't say for certain, I'm probably going to head back to America.  I want to find an artsy little country community on the West Coast and settle in.  This helped remove my rose-colored glasses.
Glasgow is a rough city, and if I can like it here, the chances of me loving another--safer/cleaner--city are quite good. Especially if I can live on the outskirts in a nice little cabin nestled in the woods.

As for my thoughts on the event itself...I actually feel really bad for the guys who did this.  They lived in shitty housing, probably from horrible families.  They wanted my phone, which was a free pay-as-you go number from the Stoneage.  The police said they were known quite well for being reckless nuisances.  Their joy came from jumping strangers on the street.  Now they're in jail for serious criminal charges and are looking at a couple years in prison.  What hope can they have for a happy life after that?


I plan on forging ahead.  I was getting calls and texts from friends all through the night, sharing their love and support, and the kind thoughts keep coming my way.  I am blessed beyond measure to have such a support system in times of need.  It only further enforced the idea that no matter what
no matter where
you're never really on your own.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fighting Fierce and Waiting

After a good week and a half of fighting on the losing side of a cold, I think (think) I've finally come out the other end.  I'm not used to taking time to 'rest' and 'recover,' so yesterday, when I nearly passed out trying to walk to class, I took the hint and retreated to my den, where I made soup and generally stared at the walls because concentrating hurt.

I eventually settled on watching the Fantastic Four.

There's a reason behind my manic work ethic.
I am a Water-based personality, with bits of Fire thrown in.  What this means is, I don't give up.  If something blocks my path, I'll either burn it down or go around it.  Simple.  So when my life feels like it does now, I start to panic.  I set small fires to watch them burn, start new projects and spread myself thin in hopes of finding new ground.  Because right now, life is waiting.

I can feel it, though, the Next Big Thing.  It's not here yet, and I don't know when it will arrive, but I keep thinking of something my professor said a few weeks back, when I was in the pub and moaning about being unpublished.

"But, you have to take some comfort in knowing that you will be published."

There was an assurance in the way he said it, like it was just a matter of fact.
And that's why I don't settle.  Because maybe breaking into the market with an epic gay fantasy series is as difficult as everyone says it is.  Maybe the Next Big Thing is sitting unfinished on my harddrive, or percolating in the back of my brain.  Whatever the case, I'm not stopping until I get there.

I might have to keep waiting for that moment to arrive, but you damn well better believe I'll be fighting tooth and claw to get there, stat.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Photogasm

Lovely ones,
February is starting strong strong strong and I'm doing everything I can to keep that momentum going.

First, there's the lovely (and by lovely, I mean terrifying) new webcomic panel by Bea.

Second, I've finally uploaded all of the photography I did years ago, depicting my fantastic Hollow monsters.

And then, there's this.  I can't promise the blog won't degrade into my drooling over men with beards and various furry mammals, but... come on, you can't tell me this isn't the most adorable thing ever.
All I'm saying is, I wouldn't kick #30 out of bed for eating crackers.  Bearded ginger man with a tattoo and love of animals?  Where did I leave that engagement ring again??


And as a complete aside, my sister author (aka, both of the Laurie McLean Clan), Tori Scott, sold not one, but THREE books! Talk about a great birthday present!!! 

Let's keep the good juju rolling!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Preparing for the longest/shortest month of the year...

So loves, February is here in T-minus 1.5 hrs (for me, at least) and I seem to remember it being the most grueling time of the year.  Not only is it the month of love (or being told you should be in love, or if you are in love, being told you SHOULD EXPRESS IT WITH BUYING THINGS), but it's the month after January, when everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is watching CSI Miama just because there's sunlight in most of the shots.  Seriously, I've been debating fake tanning.  That's how bad Scotland winters are.



SO!

To offset this (and to celebrate my first e-royalty check that...should be coming soon) I'm putting up Ivy Gate and Jarrett for free on Smashwords.  Just use the coupon NW74R for Ivy Gate and XY62D for Jarrett and you're good to go!  Jarrett especially is filled with love and romance, and both coupons last right up til that chocolate coma wears off on Feb 15th.  Which, coincidentally, is the day when I'm releasing a really cool collaborative project that isn't exactly safe for work, if you know what I mean.

Tentacles may be involved.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Like a circus....

Loves, it's been a busy week.
Performed Wednesday and Thursday night.  In chains.  At a poledance showcase.



To a routine I'd never gone through all the way.  BRING IT!



Still waiting on the pro photos to surface--they'll be here as soon as I have them.  In the meantime, the beautiful cast of our little troupe.



And then my boss and me, pretending I can look serious...


Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is my real, honest-to-goodness life.  Then I can't stop grinning.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Dreamers' Call to Arms

Hey loves,

I've been thinking a lot about dreams, lately.  I'm not talking about the kind that pop up when you sleep--although those have been quite illuminating--but rather, the big dreams.  The dreams you had when you were a little kid, before reality smacked you back a few steps and taught you to dream with restrictions.

When I was younger, I had big, big dreams.  They were my lights in the darkness: I was going to get out of my hometown and see the world.  I was going to do amazing things, help people, be really happy.  There were facets that emerged and changed over the years, but they always involved travel, friendship, and a feeling of belonging.  I dreamed of opening a B&B in the Highlands, of a mansion filled with itinerant friends and animals and guests.  I dreamed of being a great artist, a great writer, of book tours and circus tours and jazz tours and bright lights and applause.  I dreamed of redwoods and mist-covered lakes, long mornings of coffee and books by a bay window.  I dreamed of love, perfect love, something you can't describe but can feel with every stitch of your child-like heart.  I dreamed a lot.

Can't you just imagine this by a loch? It's even for sale!

Then, a few months or years ago, I realized I'd stopped.
The big dreams had been replaced by smaller goals: find an agent, sell a book, start paying off my loans, find friends, find a place to live, find a job so I can pay rent, find...you get the drift.  Lots of 'finding,' really, and very little exploring.
And I hate it.  I really, really hate it.  Because now my dreams are all practical (or as practical as my logic gets).  Which means, in all honesty, they're not even dreams.  They're goals.  And those are not even close to being the same thing.

The dangerous thing is, if you don't dream big, what are you living for?  If you don't have something so outlandish, so fantastically impossible living in your heart, why are you getting out of bed?  These aren't rhetorical; I haven't been able to answer them.  If you aren't dreaming, how do you even begin getting what you ask for?  How do you know what to ask for?  Because in life, I've found, the only way of getting anything is to ask for it and let yourself receive it.  Sure, there's work involved, but life generally enjoys making you happy.  If you know what will make you happy in the first place.

If you aren't asking for your dreams--if you don't know what they are--how will you ever, ever get them?


It's time to start dreaming, friends.  We've all gone on too long thinking we had to be practical, rational, sane.
I've grown tired of it.  Have you?

What are your biggest, most terrifying dreams?  Don't censor yourself, especially not to yourself.
Be outlandish.

Friday, January 13, 2012

YA Rebels & WebFic

Hey everyone!

It's been a wild few weeks as I've tried to integrate back into life in the UK.  New projects have been going up like mad and even newer ones are just beginning.  Let's just say I've had to update my 'plate of work' to a buffet table.  Exciting. :)

To make things a little more streamlined, I've decided it was high time I started syncing my Rebels videos with this blog.  So, in case you missed it on Youtube, here it is!





I'm also pleased to announce that the next installment of my serial web fic, 'Academy,' is live over at Fear The Hunted.  Just click the happy blood-splattered link below.



And now, because it's time to go do some work and/or cook for friends, I leave you with this question:
What do you want to see me blog about?

Art? Writing? Circus? Travel? Deep life thoughts?
You decide. :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! Or, HOLY CRAP THAT'S A LOT OF REVEALS!

Friends!
My ears are still ringing from the bells/music last night.  I got dressed up/down and went to one of the biggest burlesque clubs in the world (or so they say) because NOTHING says "Happy New Year" like glitter and nipple tassels.


And today!
SO MANY THINGS!


First, there's the official reveal of the Cirque Des Immortels website!  Expect more content very, very soon.  Devyn and I have been busy little bees with various projects but we're keeping on schedule!


Next, today marks the OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE TWINS WEBCOMIC!  
You heard right: Bea and I have created a fantastic new webcomic, which will be updated every Wednesday! So make sure to bookmark that page and check back every week!  Magic, murder, mayhem!


AND FINALLY!
Today I'm releasing my personal New Year's gift to you:


That's right, I'm releasing the prequel to the novel that started it all: "Jarrett".  For all of you who wanted a little more romance sprinkled in amongst your monster-slaying.  At 10k words, it's like a delectable morsel of post-apocalyptic chocolate.

And if that wasn't enough, the story contains EXCLUSIVE artwork by Beatrice Schares...but you'll have to download it to see.  Trust me, it's worth it.

"Jarrett" is now for sale at Smashwords in all digital formats.  And, because I love you all, if you use the coupon LR26L at checkout between now and the 5th, you get it for FREE!



And now, I'm off to do a wee bit more editing before I let myself fall asleep pre-3am.
LOVE!