Gina Penn, unabridged.

The Etcetera

le coeur de la mer

Another year has come and gone. Another spring, with its new blooms and promise of new life. Another summer, both hot and exhilarating. Another fall, with leaves of fire and crisp evening breezes. Winter is now coming and even though it’s only November, it already promises frigid temperatures and the white stuff a little too early.

The year has been a docile one for me. A lot of quiet evenings due to too much time on my hands. Now that my life is more in order than it ever has been, at least in the physical sense, time is the result.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Alone time is great for unpacking your thoughts and putting them in order. It can help one reprioritize and figure out what the next steps are. Usually people who have a lot of thought unpacking to do are those who have had a metric ton to store away. We tend to store away extra furniture we don’t know what to do with. The trick is remembering it’s there and doing something with it before the bugs find it and start destroying it, one nibble at a time.

I’ve been unpacking the same room for six years.

Mental unpacking can also be slow torture. This may be why so many people avoid it. Unpacking means confronting unpleasant things. The things that happen to us, things that are done to us, things we do to others, and things that change our lives forever. As a student and lover of psychology, I always come back to the why. One thing that’s taken me six years to realize is that we don’t always get the why, no matter how hard we search for it. That’s when we have to try to move on. It can be hard moving on when there’s no explanation to a why, like trying to walk with a broken pinkie toe. You can still walk but that toe will constantly nag you.

Six years ago I went through a divorce and the beginning of a long hibernation. The divorce was sad, the end of something always is, but it wasn’t the reason I went into long hibernation mode. My hibernation mode for the last six years was due to someone else. A man I was with during my separation that I fell very much in love with. If I’m to be honest, and where else can I be honest but here, I’ll admit that me falling for this man was very much like sinking into the Mariana Trench. The deeper I sank, the darker it got. And it’s taken me six years to get to a point to where I might see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Six years. But I am not out of the woods yet.

That’s how hard I fell.

Love can be a great thing. When it’s happening to you, the world is softer, brighter, happier. When you’re with that person, and you think the feeling is reciprocated, there is nothing quite like it. Those sweet conversations until the wee hours of the morning. Those little gestures, like making a meal or tiny kisses for no reason, are both treasured and cherished all day. Learning new things about that person and trying to use that information to make them happy becomes a goal. I cherished every single moment I was with him and really believed it would go somewhere if I worked at it. I had known him for years, and never did he display the type of behavior that would indicate what would befall my future. I truly believed that I had found a good man with a kind heart and warm soul.

Boy was I wrong.

The feelings were not reciprocated. Turns out that for most of a year this man put on a very good charade, Oscar-worthy, in fact, and once he found a new girl (and by girl I mean just that; a young girl of 21 and already with a kid when he was in his thirties), he had no problem ghosting me out of his life. Ghosting is a new term for simply disappearing from someone’s life without any explanation, warning, or goodbye. And that’s exactly what he did. After ten months of seeing him almost every single day, going on dates, cooking and eating meals, gifts, holding hands, grocery shopping together, truck rides, parties with other couples, long conversations about nothing and everything, he simply disappeared. Gone. As though we never existed. I got one text that said he had a new girlfriend who was now living with him and that was it. He never even bothered to give me my stuff back.

After that, life didn’t get any easier. I lost my home and my car died. I had just moved into a house I was renting only to be asked to move out (due to the landlord’s own divorce, seems the fever was contagious) less than a year later.  Then, several of my family members died all within a year. My aunt in early 2013, my uncle a few months later, another aunt about a month later, another uncle a month after her, my own mother in October of 2013, then my cousin a few months after her in early 2014. 2013 and early 2014 was the time of death for certain. At the time, I was living in a tiny, 500 sq ft apartment with my dog and my cat and trying to survive day to day. I was broke and terribly unhappy. I look back on it now and still wonder how I made it through. At the time I did not have any friends or family I was close enough with to talk to and was literally down to my last few dollars and shreds of sanity. I contemplated suicide every day.

I went on like this for months. I turned into a zombie. I even attempted to date someone and it lasted almost a year but I never really scratched the surface there. To be fair, neither did he. I think we both needed each other for the same reasons and once the well had run dry, we were both more than happy to find the exit. We’re still friends to this day and I have no ill feelings toward him. I have only had one other relationship in the last six years and it ended two years ago. I have dated no one else since then. Nor do I have the energy to, right now.

During the last quarter of 2012, all of 2013, and most of 2014, I basically existed. I was an empty shell, left to rot on a filthy beach. I was alone a lot. I couldn’t write anymore. That passion had left me the way he had. I tried to write but the words wouldn’t come. It was like calling an old lover who answers the phone but won’t speak a word, only the sound of their breath on the other end of the line. I contemplated constantly about what I did wrong and how I deserved to be tossed aside like a piece of garbage without one single word from him to offer closure. Fits of tears were not a daily occurrence but an hourly one, making work difficult. Long, ragged, hysterical bouts of sobbing were had a couple of times a day, usually at the beginning and end of the day when I was not at work. These hate-filled sob sessions always left me feeling more angry, bitter, cynical, and empty than ever before. Sometimes a good cry will clean you out the way you toss food gone bad from the refrigerator. I never felt cleaner or better after those cries. I only felt myself sinking deeper into a dark depression, with terrible thoughts I’d never had before. Dark, angry, murderous black thoughts that would leave me feeling both terrified and ominous. It took every drop of energy to get through each day, from sun up to sun down. Dragging myself to work, failing my desire to not think about it anymore, to just get over it the way so many people seemingly have. Nothing to come home to, no one to talk to, no plans after work, no people in my life to help soften the blow. When a person has no outlet for these thoughts, they become filled with bitterness and despair. The fire simply burns until there’s nothing left but ashes and the faint smell of smoke.

The only saving grace I had didn’t come until around mid 2014 when my friend came into my life and we started making plans and doing things together. What began as a casual friendship turned into the life vest that kept me from drowning in a turbulent sea. I finally had something to look forward to and a reason to not simply give up. She was the open window where the fresh spring breeze comes in, turning a stale, moldy house into one that’s bright and airy.

I began to surface from these depressions more and more often. At first, it was only occasional. After a long season in the dark, the light is not only hurtful but scary. How can I trust this person? Do I really want to risk going through another loss? Why should I even try to have a friend when it’s just going to crash and burn, the way everything else does? And as I held my breath in anticipation of the other shoe dropping, I found the other shoe simply wasn’t dropping. During those early outings of meals and museums, I kept thinking, today’s the day she’s going to decide I’m not worth the trouble. She’s going to stop returning my texts and move on. Find somewhere else to dig that’s a little less rocky. But she didn’t. And still hasn’t as of this writing. She’s my best friend and the best human I’ve ever known.

As I previously stated, I’m still not out of the woods yet. I don’t think I’ve unpacked all my furniture. There’s still some big pieces with sheets slung over them in the dark recesses of my mind. I’m not sure I ever will. As I also stated earlier, I am obsessed with the why and to this day, I still haven’t received one. I doubt he’s given me a second thought in six years. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him though, in one way or another, and whenever I do, I still feel that sharp pinch of hurt in a place that hasn’t yet healed. A bruise on my soul that’s turned from bright purple and blue to a faded yellow but still very much there. I’m a slow healer and the fact that when he disappeared he not only obliterated my sense of self but also my one passion-writing-makes it even worse. I had one thing going for me, one thing that made me different and unique and he took it from me, the way a rapist will tear away not only a girl’s virginity but also the naive belief that people are basically good inside. If any good is to be learned from the last six years it’s that I can be painfully alone without other humans for very long periods of time which will come in handy if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse. I won’t deny it’s stripped my sanity just a little bit but I haven’t murdered anyone so there’s something to be said for that.

If you’ve read all this to the end, thank you. Thank you for hearing the journey I’ve endured the last six years and thank you for being patient. I’m not sure if there’s any wisdom here, probably not, but I hope at least one person reads this and can at least relate. We are all floating alone in our own sea, but occasionally an island appears and offers at least a temporary escape from the isolation. All I can say is don’t stop swimming.


Another Year Gone Bye

We’ve said goodbye to 2017.

It’s been a busy year for me personally and a scary year politically. The latter is for another post.

For the personal part, I bought a house last year! It was time. My credit finally reached a point where it was good enough to pursue. And after a lot of searching, both external and internal, I finally found one that I liked enough to write a check for. It’s not the end of my rainbow, my rainbow ends somewhere in the country with some land and a little farm, but for now, it’s exactly what I need.

My new place was built in 1900 and is in a shotgun style. It’s a rare double decker and was completely rehabbed the year before I bought it. Tall ceilings, transom windows, and plenty of character of old.

There are big plans coming down the pipe for this cute little place of mine, namely a wine cellar, a walk-in closet, and some redecorating the half bath, but it’s on its way to getting there. I’m looking forward to blogging about it in the future.

Also on the financial front, I’ve started investing for my future and my nest egg is getting bigger every month. It’s a thrill watching money go in, knowing where it’s going to be in a couple of decades. The only person watching out for me is me and I don’t plan on working until I die.

I lost my cousin Nathan not long ago. This was particularly difficult for me because we were very close growing up. Unfortunately, our paths went in very different directions as we grew up and his wasn’t in a very good way. He’s now one of the many who have been lost due to overdoses, something that’s a real problem in this country. I think about him often and miss him. I hope, wherever he is, he found the peace he so desperately needed in his life.

This girl has made a promise to herself to start doing yoga on the regular again. I was pretty active in it for a while, before the place I went to decided to drive their prices up so I quit going. My friend Mander went with me and also quit going because of the price hike. They have since started a new monthly price structure and I’ve re-upped my membership. This is something I need to do for myself so I can finally do that dancer pose I keep telling myself I’m going to do. By year’s end, this will happen. And not the easy dancer pose either. I’m going full-bendy.

Also, this blog needs some attention. As do my books. They’ve been neglected long enough, due to the instability my life has had these past few years. Now that things have settled down a bit, this is going to change as well. At least, I hope.

Let’s hope this isn’t the first and last post I write this year.

Happy New Year! Cheers.

 


2016 Winding Down

Well, the year is almost over. 2016 has been a year for a lot of change and learning.

I last blogged in April and I know that’s terrible. It’s been over six months since you’ve seen a blog from me. I feel awful. It’s been a busy year. That’s not a good excuse but it’s the one I have.

The book writing continues! The first draft of my untitled trilogy is almost complete. It started in 2011 so it’s been very slow going but I’ve run into a few road blocks as far as this novel goes. I’ve had to rename some characters and change the plot around a bit. Of course, there was also the gap between 2013 and 2014 but we don’t need to talk about those years.

Also, I can’t believe Trump was elected. WTF.

We’ll let this one go for now and I will communicate more as the book matures.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful Christmas as well.

Cheers.

G


Proof

So it’s been two weeks since my last post. I’m getting better!

While my own stories have kept me busy, I’m finding I still have some time to fill. So, I have decided to begin offering proofreading services to authors.

I’ve been around the writer world for several years now and feel I have a lot of experience and wisdom to offer. I was once in your shoes. My path has taken me down a more modern, self-publishing avenue, however, a manuscript, regardless of where it’s going, still deserves to be proofread. If you’re neck-deep in the large and often intimidating world of online writing, publishing, and conferences, almost ready to drown in everything the publishing world has to offer, feel free to send me an email at ginapennfiction@gmail.com and ask me about my proofreading services. I’ll do my best to make the process quick, easy, simple, and fun.

Why should you choose me?

I really can’t answer that question. Only you can. I can, however, promise you that I’ll read your manuscript more than once and give it all the attention and love I give my own. I can promise you I’ll catch tiny nuances, write them down, and tell you about them. I’ll look for spelling, grammar, typos, continuity, and tell you about anything that doesn’t make sense to me. I have a quick turnaround time (depending on length, of course) and my pricing is competitive. I’ll take a sample chapter and proof it for you and you can decide whether or not you want to work with me. If not, we part friends. If so, then you’ll get all my hard work, dedication, and experience for a lot less than most proofreaders out there. I’m relatively new to the world of proofreading so I don’t have a huge clientele, which is an advantage to you. I’m not too busy for you.

If you’re interested, feel free to hit me up. I don’t have a preference as far as genre, however, I’m most in touch with thrillers, mysteries, horror, and fantasy.

Thanks for your consideration.

 

 


Three Months

So, it’s been three months since the last time I blogged. That’s not as bad as a year. But it’s not great either. I deserve a bit of credit.

Not much new to post. Work on the current wip is slow and not steady. I feel sporadic bursts of energy to work on it. Unfortunately, the story is so much like another book that’s been published, I’m tempted to just trash the whole thing and begin anew. I absolutely hate this idea, however, it will feel cleaner to me and also be the path least likely to bring the comments “Oh, this book is fanfic from that other book.”

No, it’s not. The book my book is similar to was published in 2013 (and I’ve never read this other book). I began writing my book in April 2011 (lots of written proof here on this blog).

I don’t want to have to defend my writing. It’s also a little disappointing that my work is so unoriginal that it’s almost identical to this other book.

I no longer criticize George RR Martin and how long he’s taking to publish his next much anticipated Game of Thrones book. He’s been quoted as saying that he’s suffering from a bit of writer’s block as well as the desire to make it perfect. I can completely understand this now.

Writing is difficult and life gets in the way. My life has gotten in my way plenty of times in the past four years. I am my own worst enemy here.

Also, on a more personal note, I have some changes in my life coming up soon which will probably keep me from blogging or writing. Not that anyone would notice. Change can be both good and bad simultaneously, and I do hope this one is good.

Take care, all. xoxo

G

 


Year

It’s been a year since I’ve written a blog post.

I logged in to WordPress (half-fearing I wouldn’t remember the password) and saw the site had completely changed. New buttons, features moved around, layout completely new. Where am I?

I feel a little bit of shame and regret because of my laziness and lack of blogging. There was a time I was somewhat diligent about it. Then I thought; what have I been doing other than writing? And the shame I felt at that answer was even darker than the shame I felt at my absence.

New Year’s resolutions are ridiculous. They don’t work. I heard a statistic the other day that said only 8% of “resolutions” are actually kept. That says something about humanity.

So, I’m not making a resolution. I’m not calling it that. But I would like to promise myself to blog (and maybe write) more and social media less. I don’t know if I can accomplish this feat, however, I would like to try.

G


The Storm Hits at the end of September

My upcoming book The Storm is slated for release at the end of September. What day? I don’t know. Probably the very last day (precisely when Halloween season is in full swing). At the rate I’m editing it, likely at the stroke of midnight on September 30th I’ll still be working on it. 

This book has been a challenge for me since it was completed in 2009. As soon as I finished The Storm, I began work on The Dark Layer. The Dark Layer has been available since 2011.

I don’t know why The Storm has been much more of a struggle. It’s no secret that the editing process is difficult for me. Always has been. For me, the fun quotient is in the negative region during the editing process. Writing is fun. Editing feels like work. Which is also precisely why being independent works better for me. 🙂

However, editing is a necessary process, otherwise my books would be two thousand pages long. I realize this is probably a bad thing.

Also, it’s again no secret that the past two years have presented some pretty rough personal trials. I got divorced, then became involved in a very unhealthy romantic relationship, moved, went through another gut-wrenching breakup, got involved in another bad relationship, moved again, another breakup, and again, and now here I am, still trying to recover. But I’m slowly finding my way back to myself again. And when I say slowly, I do mean slowly. Very slowly. I’m still angry, bitter, hurt, humiliated, and overall feeling debased. I still have a lot of unanswered questions about so many things. But, for the first time in a very, very long time I’m recognizing bad habits and patterns and trying to find my way back to my peace of mind. It isn’t very encouraging to focus mostly on your flaws but it’s been a very eye-opening self-discovery indeed.

Anyway, I’m not trying to boo-hoo over my spilled milk, only to offer an explanation as to why The Storm has taken such a long time to finish. Another reason could be that as I’m editing The Storm, I’m also writing book one of my first trilogy, which I’m very excited about. This trilogy is a change in direction for my writing and has a huge cast of characters (instead of just a main character and a few supporters) so it has taken up a lot of the free space in my brain. Now, whenever I read The Stand or any of the Game of Thrones books (or basically any book that contains a huge cast of characters), I’m in total awe of the writer. It isn’t easy keeping all those people and their stories/issues/personalities inside your head. Those writers are truly in a prestigious class all their own. 

I will do my best to continue to update this blog when I can so whoever reads and appreciates my little stories will be in the know for the upcoming book’s release. 

Whoever has stuck by me throughout my recent trials will find themselves richly rewarded in the end. 

Thanks again. 

Keep reading,

Gina

 


The Little Con That Could

So I went to Marcon this weekend. This con took place in Columbus, Ohio at the convention center. I was asked by the one and only Griffin Barber to attend this con because he told me he would be making an appearance there (along with the magnificent Alistair Kimble) and since it had been several years since I’ve seen these two, and the con is only a short drive, I decided to attend.

I almost didn’t. Unfortunately, this con fell on a busy weekend and I almost blew it off due to other plans. It’s a con that’s somewhere between small and medium and it isn’t really a con that falls into my genre. Also, and this is the most unfortunate reason, because I’ve fallen so far out of the writing world that I didn’t really feel as though I belonged there. I’ve fallen out of touch with my writing and wasn’t really sure I was up for a couple of days surrounded by writers and their questions about how my work is going. Work on The Storm and The Other Sky is just under steady, I’m sad to admit, and talking about it exhausts me. I didn’t want to be the downer of the group.

I’m glad I chose to go. Turns out, it was exactly what I needed. Being surrounded by my people again (writers), hearing about their projects, and hearing a few words of praise from Griffin about a story I wrote really did wonders for how I feel about my writing. The drive home that night after saying goodbye to my friends was the first time in a long time that I started thinking about writing again on a regular basis. After a few years of believing that the bulb had burned out permanently, it turns out all I needed was for someone to flip the switch.

As a writer, you never really know if your work is affecting anyone unless they tell you. It’s a very lonely job. Usually, you only hear the complaints. Your work is too violent, too wordy, too long, too this or too that. You don’t often hear the praise. For some reason, when people love something, they keep it to themselves. But people love to spread around what they hate. So, you’re sitting in your office, slaving over every last word you’ve written, wondering if you are the only one who really gives a crap about any of this.

I’d forgotten how great it feels to chum around with writers and talk about the craft. Now that I’ve been reminded, I won’t forget that again.

Thanks Griffin and Alistair, for throwing me the life jacket.


I’m A Big Fat Liar

I know, I know…The Storm isn’t out yet.

2012 was a super crappy year for me but 2013 has been worse. I won’t bore you all with the details but take my word for it; this year has been magnificently terrible.

I’m working on it. I hope it’ll be out soon but at this point I’m not making promises. My excuses are lame ones. I’m aware of this. I wish I could elaborate but I don’t dare make it public. I don’t want pity. I just want my life back.

I appreciate your patience. I hope I still have a few readers left when the book finally does make it out. If not, well, I guess I deserve it. Perhaps one day I’ll share my troubles, however, today is not that day.

G


Gone But Not Gone

Hello all,

Lack of content. My site haz it.

There are many reasons behind why The Storm isn’t finished and why the blog hasn’t been updated in so long but unfortunately those reasons are very personal and unloading them here would be highly unprofessional and quite honestly, would piss some people off. As much as I love to piss people off, I made promises that I intend to keep.

2012 has been a very, very difficult year for me, personally. I got divorced, had to move, and basically begin again. I dated someone that meant a great deal to me but the relationship ended. I’m not putting the blame anywhere, it is all my fault that nothing has been accomplished, however all these things have had an effect on me emotionally, psychologically, physically, etc… and my brain had to shut down somewhere. And so my muse went to sleep.

I hope 2013 brings more writing time. I want to bring The Storm to those faithful readers who have been requesting it. Right now, my mind, body, and soul is still healing from the roller coaster ride it has been riding for this whole year. Hopefully these experiences can breathe new life into my work. If there’s one thing I can attest to, it’s that I’ve certainly learned a lot about humanity this year. And most of it ain’t good.

Hang in there. And thank you to those who have not lost faith in me. I appreciate you and you know who you are.

Gina