Sunday, August 14, 2016

Important: Please Read

Hello, everyone!

As many of you know, I created a new website: I'm super proud of it, and hope to fill it with more content soon.

Having said that, it is time that I retire this format of Ravings, as it will have a new home at my website, making access to everything that is Rebekah all the more convenient.  I will still keep this blog alive for the sake of keeping these posts out there, but no new entries will be posted here.

Thank you all very much for your patience.  I love each and every one of you.

Love and Coffee cups,

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Tons of Fun

Hi, guys. It's been a while.

Life has been...crazy, to say the least.  I've been transitioning into my last year of college (I graduate May 2017! Woot!). I've been faced with many obstacles.  And ALPHA has proven to be the hardest story I've ever written.

On the plus side, I begin the last semester of my internship in the fall! Yay! I'll get to spend three full days in the classroom AND experience the first day of school from the teacher's point of view! I'm super excited about my writing, both the specific stories I'm writing and my career in general.

I got my first summer job! I'm a server at a local restaurant. The food is awesome and the people are so friendly. I've only been there close to two weeks, and I already feel at home.

Back in March, I attended EvilleCon, an anime convention in Evansville, Indiana.  It was so fun!  I got to meet so many awesome people, including Bryce Papenbrook (Eren Jaeger from Attack on Titan and Kirito from Sword Art Online), Jessica Calvello (Hange Zoe from Attack on Titan and Rip Van Winkle from Hellsing Ultimate Abridged 4), and Eric Stuart (James and Brock from Pokemon and Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh!). I also got to meet some fellow authors, including Robert Midgett, a young author who is only in high school, and Shane Moore, who is a fantastic author and a former police officer.

EvilleCon 2016 VIP Reception
I got Kaiba and Eren to do the #sororitysquat!

The staff at EvilleCon are pretty dang awesome, too! I felt so welcome there (special thanks to my minion Lee for taking care of me!); I practically felt like royalty. They even brought me Starbucks one day. I was constantly apologizing for being a diva, but they insisted that I wasn't. If you ever wanted to go to an anime convention, I HIGHLY recommend EvilleCon.

I'm also going to be a guest again at Imaginarium this October!  I am super pumped to once again participate in the region's largest creative writing convention. If you haven't registered yet, why not!? It's gonna be a ton of fun!

So much has happened in 2015 and even now in 2016. A lot of negatives, but a lot of positives, too. But I know a lot of positives are coming my way. I miss you all!

Love and Coffee cups,

Friday, December 18, 2015

Triggers and Loyalty

Walking out of that doctor's office and receiving those diagnoses back in July made me rethink everything about myself.  And I was expected to start up the semester only a few weeks later, with an officer position in two fraternities, an internship, 18 credit hours, AND managing a writing career?

All aboard the Nope Train to Screw-that-ville.

I had first pitched ALPHA--and was offered a contract for it--in the fall of 2014, the same time I received a contract for Gears.  I got the idea from watching documentaries on YouTube and Netflix about MKULTRA and the Cold War.  I knew there were plenty of books and movies that dealt with the victims of these experiments, like Manchurian Candidate and the Bourne saga (okay, so that wasn't MKULTRA, but it was still in the same vein).  But what about the agents who were a part of it, the ones who actually committed the atrocities?  Did they have even a shred of remorse?  I was eager to explore that side of history.

What I didn't know was the can of worms it would open.

Obviously, if you're going to write a political novel, you're going to have to immerse yourself in political culture.  Not being so far along in my recovery, I had no idea that this would serve as a trigger for my mania.  I found that the more I talked about politics, and the closer the issue was to my heart, the angrier I got.  I was--I am--a political Hulk, ready to smash at the drop of a hat the second I heard racial slurs, the second I saw maltreatment of people who were underdogs.  Not only were they the victims of MKULTRA's experiments, but they are victims even today: racial profiling, abuse.  Hell, Donald Trump recently called for a ban on all Muslims.  And then the people in power, the ones who receive untold amounts of power and privilege, want to complain that they are being lashed out against?  Hell no.

My thoughts, my feelings began to stew inside me, turning into bile.  And living in the Bible Belt with a conservative family (and attending a college in the home county of a certain county clerk), there aren't many people I can really vent to.  So I turn to the page to release my anger.  In a way, ALPHA has become much more than a spy novel.  It's a story about the underdog, a cry on behalf of those who cannot cry out for themselves for fear of judgment.

I like to say that ALPHA is a story of loyalty.  What does it mean to be loyal to your country, your family, yourself?  Howard must make choices that test his loyalty to America, to his family, and ultimately, to himself.  But I believe that ALPHA is a test of loyalty for me as well.  With the way that ALPHA is going, it's going to test and stress almost every relationship I've ever had.  It's going to flip the idea of the "American Dream" on its head--if it even exists to begin with.  That's what makes writing it so hard.  The issues, while close to my heart, are triggers for my disabilities.  And I'm excited yet terrified of the effects that it's going to have on my relationships with my family, my friends, and even you, my beautiful readers.

There is one thing I do know: I am not giving up on this project.  But all I can do is keep trucking along, and hope and pray that people are patient enough until I can learn to control the monsters inside me.

Thank you all for your support.  I love each and every one of you.

Love and Coffee cups,

Saturday, July 25, 2015

In The Pit

You ever feel dead?  You ever feel like that the things that once made you happy can't even give you joy anymore?  I've felt like that.  Multiple times.  And part of me is still there right now.

Here's the thing about Bipolar Disorder: you go up and down.  Imagine riding a drop tower at an amusement park, only it doesn't stop.  You're always going up and down, up and down, even past the point of nausea.  But that's only part of it.  Sometimes the seats get stuck at the bottom, and you want to get out of the seat, but you're strapped in.  You're stuck, and nothing you can do can bring you out.

I've felt stuck lately, especially in my writing.  Sure, I've worked on ideas, and did some writing exercises, but little to no progress was made on my novels.  I've been going to the doctor for my meds, and taking them properly.  I've even started seeing a therapist.  But it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel if you're in the blackest pits of depression.

When I went to the therapist, I learned a few things about myself that relieved me and terrified me at the same time.  They gave me a lot of answers, but also raised a lot of questions, too.

Instead of Bipolar II Disorder, I actually have Bipolar I Disorder, which means that my episodes can last up to two weeks at a time.

There's also Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, triggered by a sexual assault which occurred a year ago.  I'd have nightmares where I'd see their faces, or that same fear would creep up on me when I'm out in public, hiding, praying that they weren't there, that they wouldn't see me.  And when the episodes from PTSD hit, they can also trigger Bipolar Disorder episodes.

And it doesn't help that on top of that, I'm also on the Autism Spectrum.  It may not seem like it, but it's actually hard for me to talk to people; the way I act at book signings comes from a lot of coaching, both personal and from others.  I can't read people or understand sarcasm; you have to tell me explicitly what you're trying to say, especially if you're joking or flirting.  I could tell you everything about animation in film and as an art form; I've been called a walking encyclopedia.  Hell, just last week, my boyfriend and my sisters and I were watching my favorite movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I was listing off facts left and right, quoting the movie from memory.  I was even saying the names of the specific pieces from the score whenever they would begin playing, and singing along with the Latin choirs, and then going on to translating the Latin.  Yeah, you might want to take a personal note not to let me watch animated films with you.  Although I think if any of my books were turned into an animated film, I'd have a FIELD DAY with the commentary. XD

But sometimes sensory overloads can trigger an episode of Bipolar Disorder, which can cause me to work myself up to having a PTSD breakdown.  And sometimes when I start talking about my interests, I'll work myself up to a slight hypomania.  It's like a dangerous chain reaction, a triple threat, if you will.

I know I usually don't write stuff like this on this blog.  I guess the main reason for this post is to just get all of this off of my chest.  To be honest, I feel pretty raw right now, and a little shocked.  That's probably what's thrown me off.  Whatever you believe in or don't believe in, whether you pray or just send positive thoughts, I could really use those right now.  You all have done so much for me, and I'm thankful that you all are there for me.

Love and Coffee cups,

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Reason for Writing

Everyone has a reason for writing.  And if they say they don't, then they're lying.  Whether it's for the creation of new worlds, analyzing characters and their motivations, or just the pure enjoyment of the craft in general, there's always a reason for someone to pick up the pen, myself included.

I consider myself a philosopher of sorts.  But that may be because of the kinds of books I read as a child.  1984, The Giver, Brave New World, Animal Farm... The classics were always my favorites.  They always seemed so profound, always speaking to the reader in more ways than one.  They always had a message, whether it was a warning about possible dark futures of society, an allegory of past events, or a commentary on important issues.  They were able to share a vision of a brighter future.

I grew up in a conservative part of the southern US.  My family was your average southern US family: husband and wife, kids, pets, a farm, the whole nine yards.  Of course, I always knew I was different from my more conservative immediate family.  In fact, as I grew older, I found myself sympathizing more and more with my more liberal grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins (on my father's side, anyway).  For the longest time, the smallest of statements could spark a fiery debate ending with harsh words, cracked voices, and tears.  I had no outlet to release my pent up anger.  It didn't help that it was at this point when the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder had first begun to manifest themselves, making the episodes of raging mania even worse.  I felt alone in the universe without someone who could truly understand what I was going through.

Fast forward to my junior year of high school.  While my short story Chapparelle's World in seventh grade was what had catapulted me into the world of writing and made me realize how much I enjoyed it, looking back, I never realized how much of an outlet the creative arts could be.  I didn't think about how I could use writing to communicate; I always thought that it was just a source of entertainment.  But the summer before my junior year, I was asked to read The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy for a summer assignment for my AP English Language and Composition course.  At first, I thought I'd hate it.  I don't like being told what to read or what to write; to me, the arts should be a source of freedom.  But the more I read it, the more I grew fond of it.  The assignment asked me to find the thesis of the story, to ask "What's the point?"  I remember raising my eyebrow at this.  "But it's a fictional novel; theses are for nonfiction pieces and essays."  But I shrugged, not wanting to risk my grade, and read the novel, looking for "the point."  I have fond memories of this book (the accompanying assignment, not so much haha), and I learned a lot from that class (even though my complaints throughout the year may have said otherwise).  I learned that writing was so much more than words on a page; it's about telling a story, conveying a message.  And even if you can't see it, the point is still there, whether you're reading Edgar Allen Poe or John Green.  

Sometimes even a writer can't tell what the point is until after completing the story and looking back on it.  Our experiences shape who we are as writers.  For example, Gears of Golgotha was about so much more than a steampunk dystopian world; it was about an inner journey to finally accept myself for who I really am, and I couldn't tell until after I finished it and read it again.  The more I write, the more I realize that my stories always have a reason for being, and there is a reason for everything that happens.

I guess that's why I consider myself a philosopher: because I always have something to say.  I not only want to tell an entertaining story, but I want to convey how I feel.  Although part of me finds it hilarious that I'm completely comfortable talking to complete strangers about what I'm terrified of talking to my own parents about for fear of starting an argument.  It's just as well.  Maybe that's what writing's about: being able to be fearless.  The sky's the limit.  The only boundary that's there is your own fear.  Take chances.  Dream big.  Be not afraid.

Love and Coffee cups,

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Special Announcement: Imaginarium, New Books, and More!



Marine veteran Howard Turner has returned home from a tour in Afghanistan, but his battles are only just beginning. His marriage is falling apart. His son is addicted to drugs. Howard is battling symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But one night at a local bar would change his life forever.

After a series of unexpected events, Howard is recruited into MKULTRA, a reclusive department in the CIA. Officially, it was shut down in 1973, but as he learns, they are still alive and well. When the missions become darker and more twisted, Howard has to make the most difficult decision of his life--or face the fatal wrath of his new employers.


So? What do you think? :)

For those of you who missed my last blog post, while I was at Imaginarium, I accepted an offer from Hydra Publications to not only rerelease Gears of Golgotha, but to write more books.

This was the "more books" I was talking about.

While I was writing Gears, whenever I would take a break, I would often watch gaming shows on YouTube, especially Creepy Gaming, a show where the host, MulletMike, would take a look at creepy moments, games, urban legends, and creepypastas in the gaming world.  I would also watch Game Theory, a show where the host, MatPat, would analyze games through the lens of different educational fields, from math to science to history and even psychology and sociology. They're both awesome shows; I highly recommend them.  However, there was one topic that both of these shows covered: the legend of Polybius.  (You can find the Creepy Gaming episode here and the Game Theory episode here.)  In summary, Polybius was a game released into arcades in Portland, Oregon in 1981.  It was a hit; people went crazy over it.  But things soon turned in a dark and twisted direction.  Mysterious men would visit the machine and collect data from the game cabinets.  Those who played the game would begin to experience ill side effects, including nightmares, insomnia and memory loss; some would even commit suicide.  Allegedly, this was one of the many experiments conducted by MKULTRA.

MKULTRA was--or is, depending on who you're talking to--a department in the CIA which conducted brainwashing, torture, and interrogation experiments using drugs, hypnosis and other methods on American and Canadian citizens.  One of the most disturbing parts about it, though, was that the CIA recruited Nazi scientists--some even condemned as war criminals--for this department in Operation Paperclip.  Officially, MKULTRA was shut down in 1973 shortly after the Watergate scandal.

But what if they're still around?  What if they are still conducting experiments to this day?

ALPHA, as well as the entire trilogy, will toy with this idea that the government is still conducting human experimentation on unwitting citizens.  It tells the story of a man who starts to question the true meaning of loyalty.  What does it mean to be loyal to your country?  To your family?  To yourself?  Howard will attempt to answer these questions, and his true battles will begin.

There hasn't been an official release date set for ALPHA as of yet, but I will make sure to update you as soon as I receive further information.

Love and Coffee cups,

P.S. Don't forget to like my official author page and the ALPHA Trilogy page, both on Facebook!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Imaginarium: A Review

So.  This weekend I went to Imaginarium.  My first convention, selling my first book.  I expected spending a ton of money on books, meeting other authors and guests, and learning about the world of writing.

But so much more happened than I ever could have dreamed.

Those things that I described did happen.  I pretty much blew my bank account to pieces on books and even an octopus.  I rocked the panels I was on.  I had so much fun meeting the other authors and guests, including Jeffery Reddick, the screenwriter for Final Destination, and Dan Jolley, the writer of the Terminator: The Enemy of My Enemy comics and the story director for Prototype 2.  I didn't expect to sell many books, if any.  Who the hell would care? I thought.  The sci-fi/dystopian genre has pretty much taken over pop culture; this self-published novel would be just a penny thrown into the well of 2010's America, to sink down below its depths like a forgotten shipwreck.

But that's where I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

I sold out of copies of Gears of Golgotha on the second day of Imaginarium.  I was at a pitching session when the publisher asked me for a copy of Gears to read.  My younger sister, who was there along with Frank Hall (who was pretty much my go-to person all weekend, and he is awesome), ran down to grab a copy and came back up.  She handed me the book and said, "You're going to have to give this back; this is Uncle Frank's (not to be confused with Frank Hall) copy, and you've sold out!"

My jaw dropped.  I wanted to faint.  Sold out?  I sold out?  That obscure first-time author that no one had heard of sold out? (Turns out there was one copy left that no one noticed until later, and that was eventually purchased by Frank.)

And that's when the publisher told me that he wanted my next book that I was pitching to him.  I told him I'd think about it and went on with the day.

And then two other companies offered me contracts to sign with them.  I was pretty much caught up in a three way bidding war between three different publishing houses.  I felt like I was walking on air all weekend.  Publishing houses are asking for me?  I never really had much faith in my writing.  I've never really even let people read my stuff (you know, other than school).  But the first time I put myself out there, people are asking for me?  I mean, Tony Acree of Hydra Publications (who is AWESOME by the way) bought me dinner at the Blue Horse in Crowne Plaza to talk about my books!  I swore I was in a coma and I would wake up in my bed at my dorm or my house or in a hospital bed or something crazy like that.  After a lot of thought and consideration, I decided to accept a contract from Hydra Publications to not only rerelease Gears of Golgotha, but to write a brand new book.  I still feel like I'm dreaming, but I've never been so happy in all of my life.

All in all?  Imaginarium was the best weekend of my life.  For once, I didn't feel like I was the crazy hermit of my group.  People actually liked me and cared about what I had to say.  All of the panels were intriguing and fun.  I got to meet so many new people and pretty much started up my own library (you're welcome, Larissa and Faith haha).  The convention was run much more smoothly than most established cons.  If you are a writer, publisher, or are interested in the creative arts in any way, this is the perfect place for you to be.  The dates for next year should be announced soon.  I'll make sure to keep you guys updated.

Love and Coffee cups,

*CORRECTION: I accidentally called Dan Jolley the story director for Prototype 2, but after checking the website, he is actually credited as Lead Writer.