On writing and mental illness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so in honor of that I’m going to tell you what it’s like to be a writer with a mental illness.

I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) almost five years ago. Now the way it was explained to me was that there are different stages ranked 1-5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the worst.

1. This is the lightest stage, they will have recurring nightmares, but otherwise seem unaffected.

2. They have nightmares like in stage 1 but they also have flashbacks when triggers are hit.

3. This is where the illness takes a bigger tole on the person. They have nightmares, flashbacks when triggers are hit, they also gain some other traits that look like other mental illnesses, most specifically they will have heightened senses, especially when it comes to memory. Most people remember about 7-9 items stored in their short term memory, people with PTSD will store 15-30 items in their short term memory. As well as remember more in their long term memory and be able to pull it out at any moment. At this stage the person with PTSD will also show signs of Bi-Polar Disorder and Depression. However, they can still work and live a daily life, and with years of help from a professional will be able to live a normal life.

4. The person with PTSD gets worse, more signs of more mental illnesses (that they don’t have), however it is still treatable.

5. The patient can no longer function, and most of the time…they will commit suicide when they feel like they can no longer exist as everything will give them issues.

There’s a reason why I remember more of Stage 3 than any of the others, I was diagnosed with that stage. When I was sixteen I was put onto medication for Depression. That didn’t help, it only made it worse. I spent most of my time doing “research for a story” finding out the most painless way to die.

I never thought about going through with them, since I really hate pain. But when I was nineteen I decided that I was done with the world. I was never going to make it as a writer or as anything else. (I found out later that it was the medication I was taking) So I stood outside of a friend’s house with a knife in my hand and shouted up at the heavens, demanding why I was here! Nothing was good! Nothing was ever going to be good! That’s when I heard a voice in the back of my head say: I made you! And because of that things are going to get better.

At that point I stopped taking the medications for depression, after that I stopped having suicidal thoughts.

At the same time I was diagnosed with PTSD I was also diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), what most people know as having a split personality. Now I actually knew about this one. When I was a kid, I had an imaginary friend who was real, but no one believed me. I’d talk to her and she’d respond back, in time I came to call her my twin Sarah, because she spoke like me, looked like me, but she was different. She had no fear, she was assertive, she was controlling, and she took no crap for no one.

When I was about thirteen I went looking through a book of baby names. That’s when my other personality chose her name. Alexandra Lee. But her nickname was Lex.

Now the only reason why I even knew I had this split personality was because I self diagnosed myself when I was thirteen. At the time I was having a LOT of blackouts, stress will do that to you. So I googled it and found out that everything I experienced whenever Lex was most present was signs of having DID.

I even lost a whole year of my life because of this illness. I cannot remember anything that happened when I was 8. except for one day, when my brother sliced my arm open and even that was fuzzy because I had a different memory of what happened. One that I remembered most clearly. When I brought that up to my psychiatrist she said that sometimes your other personality will create new memories for you when it’s something they can’t fully block from the main personality’s mind.

After a year of seeing my psychiatrist she was able to put the two personalities together so I am again one whole being. I still hear Lex in the back of my head anytime I let the world get to me due to PTSD. “What the hell are you doing!? Don’t be so hard on yourself! You’re better than this.” But that could just be my own brain telling me that we can kick Mental Illnesses butt.

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, because of my two mental illnesses and seeing a psychiatrist I am now able write any character with those two illnesses..I am also able to provide help to a friend who is writing a character with PTSD.

However, writing is hard when sometimes what you write causes a trigger. Now I don’t get flashbacks as often, however I do get a mantra of evil every now and then. “You’re ugly, worthless, stupid, an idiot, a nerd. You are such a little witch! Why can’t you be like your brother? Why can’t you do anything right!?” That whole mantra goes on. And anytime someone hits something close to that or anytime that I end up hearing that I can’t do anything right the mantra starts going on in my head. And even writing in first person when my character gets told that she’s worthless it hits me…I’m working on trying to separate it. However, it is hard.

Now that all of this is said and done, does my Illness define me? Not at all. If you ask anyone that I know if I have a mental illness, they’ll tell you the same thing. I didn’t know until she told me. Or I didn’t know until she started crying because of something that was said to her.

Your Mental Illness doesn’t need to define who you are! I have been told so many times over the past few days that I have a big heart, that I’m amazing, and that I’m a great person. And anytime I hear that, a new Mantra starts up in my head: “You’re amazing! You have a good personality! You have a huge heart! You are loved! I love you when you are you!” And hopefully one day, that mantra will overcome the mantra of evil.

Keep on writing dudes! And don’t forget to be awesome!

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Why Fantasy?

Inspired by Hunter Lee’s blogpost Why Suspense? I started thinking about this shortly after reading Hunter Lee’s post about why she write’s suspense. And asked myself…”why do I write fantasy?” So here are my thoughts on the matter.

Growing up in the home I lived in fantasy was “evil”. There was no magic, no creatures of “evil”, nothing even remotely fantasy related that was allowed in the house around the time I was six. So what made me want to write fantasy? What could possibly be my motive?

Well let’s put it this way, to quote my boyfriend “kids are like sponges, they will pick up anything and everything over the years.” And it’s true. My favorite Disney movie is “Beauty and the Beast” it has been since I was very, very, VERY, little. (Trust me, all hell broke loose when my parents tried to sell that movie at a yard sale and I stole it back.), it stuck with me for years what the plot of the movie was. And many others will find different plots that movie centers around, but the one I found was “Beauty is Found Within”. It had magic in it and true love broke the curse.

But that still doesn’t explain my love of mythical beasts, especially dragons, which is something that I’ve loved since before I can remember. One thing I did remember for years after that dreaded yard sale were a few movies that just lingered in my mind.

The first one I don’t remember the name of, but it was about a magic painter with his magic paintbrush. The reason why I don’t remember all of the movie is because we never had all of it. But I thought that it was amazing, the fantastical world that introduced different kinds of creatures and one human who had to fight the monsters that threatened the valley.

The second movie that lingered in my memory was “Flight of Dragons”, it was a Ranken/Bass movie from the 70s (if you don’t know who they are they do all of the Christmas specials we see every year, Frosty the Snowman, the Little Drummer Boy, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer, etc). And it was about two kinds of dragons, evil ones and good ones. That was my first experience with mythical creatures. They explained how dragons could fly, how they could breathe fire, and showed that they weren’t just there to be evil (unlike how Smaug is shown in the Hobbit (and don’t get me started on the fact that “Smaug” in the Peter Jackson movies is a Wyvern not a Dragon!) as being pure evil). That movie also inspired Miriam Arrowhead (a character from another series I’m writing) with one character “Danielle“. Miriam is even red-haired like her and is an archer.

So what does that have to do with me writing fantasy? Everything! Because of Beauty and the Beast, Flight of Dragons, and that movie I can’t remember the name of, I started to create my own little world that I could jump into on a whim. A fantastical world full of people who couldn’t possibly exist in the real world. My own little piece that was my own. And no one could take it away from me, no matter how hard they tried.

I named that little world “Jericho” after the mighty city that was rebuilt when the walls of Jericho came down (yes, that’s a bible reference). And to this day, Jericho still stands after everything that has happened to it. And so my little world still stands.

When I was younger, I used to actually go into a trance-like state and escape into that little world. In order to escape reality. I hated real life. (Note the past tense there). Real life was cruel to me. I was abused, by people with their own problems, and it wasn’t just my family either…I was beat up by two girls just because I was white and they claimed I was racist because “all white people are racist”. Isn’t that statement racist in and of itself?

Now that trance-like state only lasted for around 6 years, before I was forced out of it. And I dread to think what might have happened were I not. But once I was pulled out of it I started to come out of my shy little shell I had erected before me. I was fragile and didn’t trust anyone.

But once I was pulled out of that shell, I met some lovely girls. They are the very same girls that I dedicated my first book to. The ones who said “let’s play a game!” And on the spot I came up with a fantasy story about a girl who was transformed into a cat who had to protect a princess. And thus, Fire of the Night version 1 was born.

I didn’t know that was what I was doing though…Because when I was thirteen I was only reading American Girls, Lord of the Rings (my dad’s books), Mandie, and Boxcar Children. I was tugged into the library by my mother and she told me that since I was thirteen I was ready to read teen fiction. “Now what’s your favorite Genre?” “…What’s a Genre?” She then asked me to tell her what things I like. “Dragons.” “That’s fantasy.” She then proceeded to look through the books and found me an author I still love to this day. Tamora Pierce. She brought to life a world of fantasy that didn’t have mythical creatures until a few books into it. But it taught me how to create character that people would one day adore.

And that’s how a fantasy writer is born.

Keep writing, dudes!

Life, the Universe and Everything else

Yes, I know I’m bad at updating the blog. I’m trying to get better….

But it’s that time again to explain what’s going on in the life of the writer. The home I’ve called home for the past four years was put on the market in January (when I was in the middle of editing Trigger), which added to the stress. It was recently bought and now I have to move in July.

So there you have it, why I haven’t been on long enough to post. I’ve been going through stuff that I own to find things that I can get rid of or sell.

But worry not I have been writing ^-^. That I promise. And editing, and everything else. Just been really busy. Including working on Web Design on the side, which is something that I enjoy! I really really do. Especially working with HTML by hand. Don’t ask me why I honestly have no idea…

That’s all I have for now. Keep being awesome!

Safety and Snow

Hi all! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Sorry I’ve been super busy, working, working, more working. And then writing as much as I can! I’ve also been doing NaNo *points to sidebar* as you can see I’m at 30,000 (if not more!) words in the sequel to Trigger. It’s titled: Safety.

Here’s what it’s about!

“I only have two months before the Majiks make their way into our world. I don’t think I will survive this war. However, someone took a step into my world. I warned him not to, but he took the plunge anyway. Damn, I don’t need anyone else to get hurt in this war because of me!

The safety has clicked off and the trigger is prepared to be pulled. I cannot afford to love this time. I need to be strong and fight. I only have a few people on my side that can help me destroy the evils in my world. Joy’s Army as she tries to call them. Army? It’s more like a fanclub!

There’s Boss or Joy. She is the brains of this operation. She calls the shots and makes the rules. The rest of us just follow her. Maggie Lynn. This is our cop in. She works undercover for us and provides information on whereabouts or the latest news that has not hit the stands yet. She also knows that the higher ups are Vampires. What kind… we don’t know. Vivanna Rodriguez. Another in. She is the former lover/pet of the Nosrekcin leader, Eresh Esan. She talks to him, he keeps tabs on the other vampires. Win-win. Shamira Celeb. A pickpocket dragon shifter. She steals any information we cannot get for ourselves. But she has been distant lately, having gotten married under our nose.  Kelsey Ryuu. Shamira’s cousin. This is our tactical supervisor. She has a fake eye invented by Marissa, but keeps it hidden underneath her patch. Richard Chase, a Private Investigator that turned out to be a Berserker. Also, turns out that according to Seer—and I’ll get to her—the one that can help me tame the beast within. She’s already tame! Viper, the leader of the Zodiac Assassins and one of our more useful allies, she’s usually hiding in the background. And lastly, The Seer, she’s not part of the group that Joy has formed, but she keeps an eye out for me…even when I don’t want it.

This is my crew. We are protecting your world from the dangers that you face. You are welcome from the bottom of my heart. However, if the Majiks gain enough power and take over your world…pray to whatever god you think can protect you.”

Honestly, it’s been an interesting ride in the life of Rose…and several people are promising to become spinoff series including:

1. Maggie-Lynn Stevenson

2. Frost Lindome

3. Richard Chase P.I. (although his are mostly mysteries and kind of a prequel until he came to find Rose)

4. Víðarr and Zillah

5. Shamira and Kelsey Ryuu

7. Luna Lily

8. Seer (again another prequel kind of series/her own world, and most of it will be co-written with my friend Noel, who writes Death)

Among many more. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Trigger is set for a release date of January 17th 2015. Just in time for my stepmother’s birthday! :D. Happy Early Birthday, Sheila! ❤ I wub you! And I hope you end up liking it!

Anyway, tomorrow is my dad’s birthday, so I’m going to make sure I bug him and let him know that his birthday still registers on my life XD. Even if I didn’t have enough money to buy him a present this year. *pout* oh well there’s always Christmas.

As for the snow part of this <_<. I can’t tell you how much I dislike snow. I don’t like driving in it, I really don’t like walking in it, and it’s all because I was buried in a snow bank when I was six.

However, I will give snow this it gives plenty of reason to stay at home and drink hot chocolate! :D. Yay for hot chocolate and whipped cream *smirks*

That’s all I have for now. Keep on writing dudes, and I will too.

Friendly Enemies!

It’s available now! 😀 So so so so so happy! ^-^

It’s available through Me (via email at LydiaJoyNickerson@gmail.com)

Create Space:https://www.createspace.com/4665354

Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/Friendly-Enemies-Fire-Night-2/dp/1495914216

and Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Friendly-Enemies-Fire-Night-Book-ebook/dp/B00N77JB62

 

Though why the amazon kindle one says that it was published yesterday? I have no clue. Oh well. Silly kindle.

Anyway just thought I’d letcha know that! ^-^ 

 

Write on dudes!

 

Two new book covers, life, and everything else

Sorry for  the radio silence. Was working on my stories (which I need to edit still. But, Fire of the Night 2 WILL be released this September 1st of that I can assure you!), working, and trying to have a life XD. Yeah, not so hot for keeping up with blogs. But I will try to remember to start blogging every Saturday when I get home from work.

 

As you can see on the side I have added two new stories that will be writen in. The Seer (a side story from Barrel of a Gun) and Safety (Barrel of a Gun 2). So things are being planned out! Just gotta get into the groove of it. I’ve been attempting to write at least a little in Trigger in order for it to have a release date of January 17th 2015 (just in time for my stepmom’s birthday ^-^). As for Hidden Revelations (Fire of the Night 3), I have a cover idea planned out I just need to message my artist friend for the commission and then beg the friend who has done both book covers for FotN AND the book cover for Trigger <3, as for writing the story…I think I might just have to either scrap what I already have or print it all out and figure out what I need to do with it…because it’s moving too fast for my liking. I dunno what I’m doing yet. I’ll figure it out.

 

Now on to the book covers! The big reveal for FotN2 and BoaG1 😀 😀

 

 

 

TADA! FotN2! Done by Mercy and the artwork done by my artist friend. On the back cover there will be a hidden Aidan if you can see him 😉

 

book cover

As I’ve said before this book is coming out on September 1st. So keep an eye out for it or even just check my website: http://lydiajoynickerson.webs.com/ I’ll probably be excited over it.

 

Now look at Barrel of a Gun. Doesn’t this one look very actiony? ❤ I love it! So much! I can’t wait to see this one in print 😀

Trigger book Cover

 

That’s all I got. Write on dudes!

Book Cover WiP and Happiness

 

 

 

 

 

So today didn’t start out so awesome. I’ve been feeling sick all day, girly problems *grimace* but I did get to see X-Men Days of Future Past with my boyfriend ❤ so that made my day better. Back in January I ordered a commission from my favorite artist and today I got to see his WiP!

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Doesn’t it look epic? 😀 Once it is done I just have to beg my friend who did my cover on the last book to do this one and then hopefully still have it release in September… hopefully O.O. OMBob! It’s happening! I’m excited over it :D.

Now on to happiness. I have recently gotten rid of 2/3 credit cards. Woohoo! Just one to go (and that one is probably going to go away in about 2-3 months.) All that leaves are my student loans and I can deal with those just fine.

I also quit working my second job. So now I am down to just one and more freetime. Though I have been reading and working on a lot more cosplay!

Which brings me to NDK! I’m going to go as Fem 4th Doctor, Fem Barry (from Alan Wake with my boyfriend as Alan Wake), and 1950s Fluttershy (an outfit of my own creation!).  I already have all of the 4th doctor, part of Barry (just need a red puffy coat, headlight, and christmas lights, and a hawaiin shirt, but I got the boots, socks, and pants), and all but the skirt for 50’s Fluttershy.

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Look at how cute that is!

That’s all I have for now!

 

Keep on writing, dudes!

On Working Two Jobs, Having a Boyfriend, and Writing

Alright, so on a serious note, Writing should not be a hobby. If you want to write and be published you need to consider it a job (if it can’t be a full time job that’s fine too, so long as you treat it as a job).

When I first started writing it was a hobby, writing in my spare time and having fun on the side. When I was about 18 I got serious about it. I spent at least 10 hours a day writing and sharpening my skill.

Now on that note, writing is not a lucrative field unless you are well known and popular. So while I would love to have it as a full time job and just spend my days writing I have bills to pay! So in order to pay my bills, thereby keeping internet and a roof over my head, I work two jobs (not including writing). Are they fun? Maybe! I enjoy my day job and my night job is great because I work with some fun and interesting people.

So my days are spent like this: Sunday (Writing and rest), Monday (I work 2 shifts so inbetween them I write or clean), Tuesday (I only have about an hour inbetween jobs so I cannot write), Wednesday (1 job, writing and spending time with my boyfriend) Thursday (same as tuesday), Friday (1 job, writing), Saturday (1 job, playing WoW with my dad).

So basically one job I work 40 hours a week, second job I work around 9-12 hours a week, and writing? I think I average between 5-20 hours in a week. And yes I count research as part of my writing job. Even if it’s just researching different elves (like reading Tolkien) or finding out how people portray their dragons.

Let’s also add that having a relationship is work as well! I try to spend more time with my boyfriend than I do writing. But the nice thing about my significant other? Even if we’re in the same room (me doing my thing and he doing his) we’re still spending time together, and it’s amazing <3. He’s also supportive of anything I do.

So there you have it, how I juggle writing as a career and working two jobs, and having a boyfriend. Also, having two cats is fun to XD they’re like little kids in a way so I also juggle that, but I make it all work!

Write on Dudes!

Officially Happy!

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Here’s me holding the softcover of my first ever book: Treacherous Beginnings. Which will hopefully be available for purchase come the end of February.

I brought it into work to edit it on break and had five people ask me if they could buy it! XD

That’s all I got this week, but I figured excitement was a good thing to have today 😛

So Many Evil Words, Chat Speak, and Fire of the Night: Friendly Enemies!

I have a writer’s forum called Creative Station and I decided to put up a whole thing about the evil words that pop up in any author’s life. So I’m putting it here as well XD.

Their, There, They’re

Their: Their is used if you can use it as something that is relating to them or themselves (be it person or animal). Examples: “It’s their clothes.” “They all have their own theories.” etc
There: This is a position. Examples: “It’s over there.” “See that thing over there?” etc
They’re: Literally this is “They are” combined into one word. Examples: “They’re so snooty!” “They’re over there discussing their plans.”

To or Too
To: This word can be used as a preposition or as an adverb. As a preposition it is used mostly as an action like movement. Example: “I placed my back to the window.” As an adverb it is used as a way to explain a direction, contact, or as a way to bring someone out of unconsciousness. Examples: (direction) “I need to run to the store.” (contact) “The wind slammed the door to my body!” (way to bring someone about) “I brought him to with smelling salts.”
Too: This can be used instead of “also” or “as well”. Examples: “I have that problem, too.” “Is it possible I had that idea too?”

Effect or Affect
These two are the most tricky of all of the words dry.gif. I think that no matter who you are these words will effect you tongue.gif.
Affect:

QUOTE (Merriam Webster for kids)
Now as a side note, I used the Webster for kids because it makes it a little bit easier to understand (in my opinion) : to produce an effect upon: as a : to produce a significant influence upon or change in <paralysis affected his limbs> b : to act upon (as a person or a person’s feelings) so as to cause a response <the criticism affected her deeply>
Effect: this is what happens when you affect a situation. The affect is the cause. A good example is this: “The law went into effect today.” It can also be used as an accomplishment.

Who or Whom
For this you get a comic: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/who_vs_whom mostly cuz I’m lazy but also because his ideas make sense.

It’s or Its
It’s: literally “it is” combined into one word. Examples: “It’s a beautiful day outside!” “It’s attacking me!”
Its: this word is possessive. Examples: “my child is proud of its drawings.” (of course if you know the gender you would use she’s or he’s and that’s a good example of when you can use its) “It’s its kennel.”

Then or Than
Then: this is something that will follow something else, that time, or soon after that. Examples: (following) “First came the chicken then the egg.” (that time) “It was better back then.” (soon after that) “I opened the door then turned.”
Than: this word is used as a comparison. Examples: “Oranges are better than apples.” “I’d rather eat dirt than Lima beans.” (no offense to people who like Lima beans :P).

 
 
Chat Speak. *sighs* This is one of my pet peeves. Especially when people do it via facebook (while on their computer) or on their phones that have a full keyboard and no text limits. “How r u doing?” My response? “I don’t know how r and u are doing. I’m doing great though :D.” Uggggggh. I’m cool with some short hand, like: lol, rofl, omgosh, gmta (great minds think alike). Those are fine, but when you shorten you to u and are to r and everything else. It makes it hard for me to read and chances are that I will ignore the text. I’d rather have a full written out text than a shortened chat speak! It annoys me! So so so much. What makes it even better is that my dad (who I know has a grasp on the English language!) uses chat speak when talking to me. Hence why I call him anytime he uses it.
Anyway, that rant is over.
 
 
 
 
Now on to Fire of the Night: Friendly Enemies.
 
I originally thought that I was going to need to wait until December of this year to publish the second book of the series. But I looked through it last night, wrote a couple thousand words, added other things in, and recreated the whole prologue.  And even though it ends on a cliffhanger there is a third book in the works. But I’m rambling, the point is that you might only have to wait until September for Book 2: Friendly Enemies. Depending on when my cover is done. I commissioned my artist friend earlier this month to do the art work and soon I have to beg my friend to do the cover itself. So cross your fingers!
 
Now let’s put into perspective how many words were in the first book, it reached a little over 8,000. The second book reached over 13,000. I’m telling you now there is a point to this series. A definitive point and a plot. It was just too huge to put into one book and it jumps years so much to get to the point of it that it made sense to make it into a smaller book but a longer series. In book 2 you get a taste of what the plot is in the prologue. In book 3 the point is emphasized and you finally get into the hang of the story.
 
So far I have about 15 of the books planned out (and let me tell you they get longer and longer as the time goes on) but only titles and ideas for covers for the first 7. I have recently lost my journal that I had everything about Fire of the Night written in. So I must find that before I go any farther in the series.
 
That’s all I got this week!
 
Write on, dudes!