The Sharp Knife of a Short Life

Mom

My mother died.

I don’t remember her, not on any conscious level. But her absence has been a void in my world that I…

I can’t even begin to express.

But the love she gave me, in her short life, all she got to live, before I was even really aware…

Has kept me alive.

Has made me a man who truly loves, and who can accept love.

Has kept me alive.

Has nurtured hope, even when I can’t make myself stand.

Has kept me alive.

I don’t even have a photograph of her. But I feel her smile in me. Life with her would have been so much goddamned better.

But she has kept me alive.

Mom, this song of the week is for you….

The Band Perry – “If I Die Young”

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I’m Back. Ish.

Tim, with hat

Hi.

Nice to see you. Yeah, I know, it’s been a while.

I’ve been largely offline for months, and so socially out-of-touch that calling me a shut-in would be sadly appropriate. In that time, I haven’t accomplished much to speak of, either; I was in almost full retreat from the world and I let most of the things I’d been juggling crash to the ground.

I stopped doing social media. I rarely answered the phone. I mostly left my cave only to get the mail (about once a week) and to go grocery shopping (every week or two). I even stopped reading my personal email for the most part, and as a result I now have over sixteen thousand unread messages in my inbox to dig through.

Basically, my motivation and energy collapsed into a black hole and I went with it. It was a surrender to fear and failure, but also a release I needed to keep breathing. At first, I thought that I’d get back to things tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that…but as time passed, I was more and more weighed down by my own indolence, and I came to see that this break from responsibility, and from the world, was very possibly necessary for my actual survival.

How did I get to this dark and dreary place?

I had some physical health problems. Nothing major, but enough to wear on me. I felt weak and, because of the depression, unable to care for myself as well as I need to.

People close to me had health problems, including someone who is now fighting cancer and relying on me for help as she undergoes treatment.

My beloved cat, Scamp, was killed by a coyote.

I ran into professional obstacles. My indie-published version of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, beautifully illustrated by Gary Chaloner, wasn’t exactly selling like gangbusters in spite of great reviews and responses from people who read it. As I write this, the book has a 4.6 stars out of 5 rating on Amazon, and it has had rave reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and folks like Daniel Pinkwater and Zack Stentz (a screenwriter of Thor, X-Men: First Class, Fringe, and other notable productions). But it has only received 17 new reader reviews since its release in May 2013 (the rest were from its earlier edition from Putnam), and that’s not enough activity to help it rise in Amazon’s algorithms to be seen by more potential readers. I wanted very much to continue the series as planned, in fully illustrated volumes as nice as this one, but I was losing faith that the market would support that.

Also, as some of you know, Gary had to leave the series because of scheduling concerns, and when I hired artist Tess Fowler for the second book, she ripped me off. This was a blow to my budget but even more to my confidence. With that unfortunate trauma fresh in mind, I was faced not only with finding another artist but with the fear that this sort of thing could happen again. And, as noted above, I wasn’t even sure whether I should stick with the plans for illustration at all.

And all that was stressing me out like crazy.

So, I sank. I disappeared. I hid. I hibernated. As much as I could, I recovered.

My only real joy during this time came from my son, who is now away at college and thriving and who is an exemplary human being who makes me very proud, and my hot tropical sweetheart, Nydia, who is always there for me and ever understanding of my battle. (Happy Valentine’s Day, baby!)

Thank you, also, to those of you who may have messaged me, worried by my absence. I’m deeply touched by your concern and hope this post answers your questions. It’s times like this that you find out who your friends really are.

Now what?

Now…I drag myself back into the light and try to rebuild.

On the personal level, I’ll be tentatively reacquainting myself with the world at large. I’ll be back on social media. I’ll start digging through my email. I’ll keep fighting the ever-hungry darkness that is my depression, and I’ll try to start taking better care of myself again.

On the professional level, I’ll ease myself back into writing, and I’ll be putting a great deal of thought into how best to expend my energy and resources.

As for Doc Wilde…I remain committed to the character, and to his fans. I remain committed to the folks who supported us on Kickstarter, and to the promises I made to them. I’m sorry it’s taking so long, but I’ll make good. The ultimate state of these books will depend on how the market continues to receive them, and if I am able, I will deliver fully illustrated volumes to match the first book. If the market remains soft, I may be forced to settle for nice covers. Regardless, the books will come. (In the meantime, friendly word-of-mouth and honest reviews on Amazon and other sites could be very helpful, and would be very appreciated).

So, onwards and upwards. I’ll be around.