General, Order of the Hunt, Reading, The Wraith, Writing Process

Drum roll, please…

Fam, you may have already seen this on my Instagram but if not, I wanted you to know what’s going on with me.

This month I have:

  • Finished Order of the Hunt and sent it off to my editor
  • Dove deep into planning out awesome stuff for the future of my brand
  • Took inspired action to write a Halloween-themed short story involving the characters from The Wraith’s Bargain.
  • Searched through various drafts of my books to find the very best deleted scenes that I could polish and share as extra content.
  • And! I created a Patreon.

That’s right, fam. I’ve made the decision to provide exclusive bonus content to fans to tide them over until the April release of Order of the Hunt. If you don’t know much about Patreon, it’s a membership site where you pay a small monthly fee in exchange for access to extra content from creators. It supports artists and gives you more of what you love. Really, it’s a win-win.

And, everyone who joins before Nov 1st 2020 will receive a free Halloween short story about Dana and her friends – regardless of which tier they join.

My Patreon is comprised of three tiers, depending on how much you want to contribute or how much value you want to get out of the membership. I may add things in the future, but here’s what we are starting out with:

Tier 1: $3 monthly

This tier is for those who want to be a part of a community where everyone shares your interest in the books! You’ll get access to the exclusive Facebook group, receive behind-the-scenes updates and content, and twice monthly Q&A threads to ask me your burning questions (like about what really was going on during The Wraith’s Bargain).

Tier 2: $10 monthly

Everything from the previous tier PLUS:
You will receive monthly exclusive content about the world of the books, including deleted scenes. When books are near completion, you’ll also get early access to chapters. You’ll receive a complimentary digital ARC (advance reader copy) of new releases.

Tier 3: $15 monthly

Previous tiers PLUS:
You’ll receive first looks on drafts and works in progress.. and the ability to give input. You may be able to influence some aspects of the story! This tier also will receive bonus novellas as they are ready and access to exclusive short stories a few times a year. You’ll receive a complimentary paperback ARC (advance reader copy) of new releases (ship to USA only).

Sign up today to get access! I don’t plan on offering that short story again any time soon so this is your only chance to grab it.

Comment below and let me know what you’re most excited for–or what you’d love to see!

Personal

Was that a cough?

You know what’s been really hard this year? Having a body.

I’m not even joking.

Being a human right now pretty much sucks. You have to put yourself in danger to get your basic needs met. Your very lungs could betray you by bringing the virus into your body. Your brain can betray you–especially those living with anxiety–in the worst way.

I was listening to a podcast the other day and the host said something along the lines of: “Your beliefs create your reality. If you are sick and you believe you’re well, that’s the placebo effect. You actually become well, and it’s more effective than medicines in some cases. The opposite is true as well. If you’re healthy and believe you are sick, that’s called the Nocebo effect; you actually make yourself sick.”

That was something I needed to hear as I’d been struggling recently with whether or not I’d caught Covid-19 at work. I’m religious about wearing my mask–except in the one place I can’t, which is at work. Which is the one place I was exposed to not one, not two, but three people who tested positive.

There’s a cosmic joke here, in that many of the symptoms of the Coronavirus are also symptoms of anxiety. Chest pain, shortness of breath, chills, gastrointestinal issues, fever… yes, anxiety can cause a psychogenic fever. Granted, it’s a low fever, usually 99-100 instead of the 100.4 plus that is a real fever, but still.

Combine that with the beginning of allergy season? Hoo boy.

Long story short is that I recently was convinced that I had contracted Covid-19. I went to CVS, stuck a giant Q-tip up my own nose, sneezed all over it, and waited two days for my results.

Negative.

Thank the universe for that! But it goes to show that our minds are very powerful. As soon as I got that result, I felt better. Well, except for the normal allergy symptoms. But the rest went away.

What I’m trying to say here is…

While some of us with issues like anxiety disorders don’t have much of a choice, everyone can make an effort to try and keep their cool and try to remain positive about their situation in the world around them. That same podcast host that I mentioned earlier also said something along the lines of: “I’ve noticed I experience more anxiety when I don’t accept the world for what it is. But once I accept it and move to work through it the best I can, the anxiety goes away.”

During that week or so when I wasn’t feeling the greatest? I wasn’t accepting the situation. Anxiety sucked the creativity out of me and honestly I lost the will to do many things — like work out, pay attention to what i was eating, post to instagram… etc. All I wanted to do was escape reality through fantasy books. I was reading voraciously and really enjoyed the stories I was consuming. But it wasn’t healthy.

Did I have a point here?

Don’t be too quick to despair when things seem to be going downhill. I have a friend who is convinced that the worst thing will always happen to her–and spoiler alert, it does. Meanwhile, I have the opposite outlook–and my results are generally better. Even with things that are just luck of the draw.

And when all else fails and you can’t get out of your own head…do what I did. Grab a good (preferably big) book and settle down until the storm passes. Even just the change to your mindset the escape will give you can help your situation immensely!

Cheers,

Jo

General

On living authentically

Since the pandemic hit, I’ve seen a lot of changes in people. Some for the better, some for the worse. Some (me) have let go of their health and let themselves become immersed in doomscrolling and comfort eating. Others (also me) have taken it as a wake up to take care of themselves and to work whole-heartedly toward their dreams.

One of the things I’ve always admired in other people, older women especially, is how some have learned to live authentically.

What is living authentically?

Well, my friends, that’s the question of the day. I actually googled this to make sure I’m giving you the correct answer here–Living authentically is essentially being true to yourself. Living your life the way you want to, not beholden to the limiting beliefs of others. It means speaking your mind, saying what you mean, and sticking to your word. It means taking care of yourself–your body, your mind, your soul–so that you can then take care of others. This could be self-care days, healthy diet and exercise, and moving away from toxic influences in your life. It means working toward your dreams… because if you don’t, what’s the point?

But there’s a struggle many come across…

How do I live the way I want to when I’m stuck in a 9-5 I hate, when I have bills to pay? When I have a family that depends on me?

How do I dress the way I want when I’m beholden to a corporate dress code?

My answer? Baby steps.

I’m still working toward it myself. My day job is a lower-level leadership position in a corporate environment. I have to look professional, speak professionally, and have zero personality.

At least, that’s what they taught me.

But since the pandemic started? I’ve seen a lot of people doing weird shit in public with zero ramifications. So I decided to test the theory in the worst possible place: my business.

What I’ve been wanting to do? Shift my aesthetic toward the one I’ve always admired. I want people to think I’m a witch.

But.. I’m at work. So? Corporate witch.

Let me tell you, there’s just about zero out there on Google about how to be a Corporate witch. Though apparently there’s an indie book by that name that I haven’t read. Anyway, I had to figure it out myself.

So the first thing I did? I started being more genuine when speaking with others. Aside from the boss, I’ve been letting my personality shine through a bit when talking casually with my employees. I also started allowing myself to wear things that still technically fit the dress code, but aren’t what you first picture when you think of corporate attire. Some plaid pants here, black nail polish there, and what I’m wearing today: a black and red pocket dress with leggings underneath. Actually talking about my book if someone happens to have heard about it. Little things that make me feel more real.

And? It’s working. One day I commented on how badly it was storming outside and that it was a bit apocalyptic. One of my employees said that seemed like my aesthetic–that, and the universe imploding.

I was overjoyed, fam. He was totally right, I love dark stuff like that!

But the moral of the story here is: being more myself, even in a corporate environment, hasn’t actually negatively affected me at all. I would argue the opposite.

I have yet to wear my witch-hat out in public–it’s been Summer here, after all–but I’m working toward that in the fall.

So, tell me… what steps are you taking to be more yourself? Or have you taken in the past? I’d love some tips!

General

Creating during a Global Crisis

Hey, fam.

I’ve been a bit quiet. Because of, you know, the pandemic. It’s all you see or hear about any way you turn. Those of you who follow my twitter probably witnessed me losing my shit about my job being ‘essential’ and my having to continue working and chance exposure.

Turns out, it wasn’t work where I was exposed.

A family friend visited my house, as they often do. We said our goodbyes as we knew the safer at home order was imminent. We didn’t know when we’d see each other again. That was a Friday.

I had a three day weekend by chance, and then I returned to work Tuesday. While I was at work Wednesday, I got a phone call. He was sick. They were going to the hospital for a Covid-19 test. I told my boss I’d had contact with him. I was sent home.

Thursday they call me, they say I can come back on Friday because I shared with them the hospital wouldn’t test him yet because he’d been keeping his fever under control with meds.

Friday, I was back for an hour. They asked for an update on him. I tell them his symptoms. They send me home again.

Sunday, he goes to the hospital barely able to breathe, nearly convulsing. They say he definitely has it, give him the test. It takes 7-10 days for a result. They give a test to the person he lives with, too. Someone who is much, much closer to me. I tell work. They tell me not to come back until the 14 days are up and to consult with my physician as to whether I need a test.

I continue taking my temperature every day.

Why am I telling you all this?

The world has gone to shit. My anxiety has skyrocketed. I’ve barely been able to focus on my creative endeavors. Mostly I zone out and half-pay attention to my daughter and husband.

Don’t judge. It’s a coping mechanism. I haven’t processed this world-wide trauma yet. I think most of us probably haven’t. It’s easier for those who haven’t been exposed. I’m stuck in this house 24/7. We’ve gone into the yard a few times, but shortly had to come back in. Once a bug flew in my daughter’s face and terrified her. The other time, she fell and hurt herself on the concrete. Now she wants to stay inside, too.

No really, why am I telling you this?

What’s saved me these past few days?

Books.

I’ve been reading book after book on my phone. Fantasy, to be as far as possible from reality. Things I haven’t read before so it has my full attention. Things I figure probably have a hopeful, if not a happy ending.

Creators have a job to do, right now.

People are relying on artists to stay sane. To stay connected. To feel something other than abstract horror at the reality we’ve been forced into.

So Thank an Artist today. Send them a message. Leave a review. Do something to show your appreciate. Cause it’s hard for us, too. We need the encouragement to keep going just as much as anyone else does.

And hopefully, things will settle down soon.

Until then, Stay TF home.