Dear The Sorrows of Young Werther…

Fiction – von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang

– Classic German Literature

– Proto-Emo

– OhMyGod when is this going to end?!

Dear The Sorrows of Young Werther,

I read you as part of a favor to a friend. He had written a treatment for a screenplay that updated your story and put it in  a modern setting. He wanted me, with my brand new English degree, to read the treatment and give him my thoughts. I wanted to be able to understand the story from its point of origin and so picked you up and dived in.

Oh, my god! You almost put me on anti-depressants. I mean, Werther is a complete loser who kills himself after everything in his life goes to shit. And, of course, his shit life revolves around a woman. An engaged woman.16640

Most of what I remember about you is that the protagonist whines constantly. Like through the entire story. Whine, whine, whine. And then he kills himself. He was a total Emo prototype. Give him a pair of black, taper-leg jeans and a bad dye job and he would have all the early-2000 tween girls swooning.

And, yeah, I know it’s supposed to be autobiographical and it IS written in the form of a diary and sequence of letters. But, see, that’s why diaries and personal letters are usually burned after their authors die. Because the contents are often so damn embarrassing and filled with nothing but whining. We can’t all be Anais Nin for crying out loud!

Now, you do take on a very tough subject – suicide. A subject that has never been irrelevant unfortunately. And that has gained even more momentum in modern times over that past decade or so. And you do make a good point about the impossibility of understanding someone else’s interior life:

“It is in vain that a man of sound mind and cool temper understands the condition of such a wretched being, in vain he counsels him. He can no more communicate his own wisdom to him than a healthy man can instil his strength into the invalid by whose bedside he is seated.”

But, I think this is why the subject of suicide is so rarely taken on by authors. Because it is SOOOO difficult to create a story and protagonist that illustrates this most devastating of subjects without seeming pathetic, even irritating. The depressed person doesn’t MEAN to be pathetic or irritating, just like I’m sure YOU didn’t mean to be. But to someone outside of the situation, who doesn’t have the context of the person’s psyche, all he/she hears is “Blah, blah, blah, life is shit and everyone hates me. Blah, blah, blah.” Which is why a lot of people struggling with depression don’t talk about it. They figure no one cares. And, to a certain extent, their right. Let’s be honest here (otherwise insurance would be way better about covering mental health care)

I’m convinced that why so many depressed people end up as comedians. They try to so hard to convince everyone around them that life is grand, to NOT be irritating and pathetic, that they end up withering away inside.

And, please keep in mind that I to have depression. Have had since I was ten-years-old. I’ve contemplated suicide and dwelt in the “depths of despair” (love you Anne of Green Gables). But, damn, you not only made me more depressed, but EMBARRASSED to be depressed. Sorry, but Werther was a great example of why society doesn’t take mental illness seriously.

Keep Smiling,

RL

Dear Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage…

TEXTBOOKS – Fritz, Sandy

– Massage Therapy

– Touchy-Feely

– Breaking-up

– Alanis Morrisette

Dear Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage,

There’s never an easy way to say this, but… I think it’s time we broke up. It’s not that you’re not a good book… you are. In a way. But “we were together through a very tumultuous time in our lives”

Sorry, channeling Alanis Morrisette there.

Anyway, we were together for about eight months and I learned a lot: what effleurage means, that clients falling in love with me is called ‘transference’, and how to make sure I never expose a client’s gluteal cleft (aka butt crack) while massaging that region. But I think we’ve both gotten as much as we can from each other. I’ve moved on to a profession in massage therapy and you’re sitting on a bookshelf. I feel like I’ve grown and you’ve stayed the same. We’re just in different places now. Mosby's therapeutic massage

And, not to be mean, but we weren’t great together, even in the beginning. Seriously, you’re super boring and your photos of technique are really hard to follow. Not to mention that you often contradicted yourself from one chapter to the next AND you didn’t have very detailed or accurate illustrations of the muscles. That last one’s kind of a deal-breaker.

Anyway, I hope someone picks you up at Goodwill, which will be your temporary home after you leave here. Maybe you’ll awaken a nascent interest in massage therapy and propel a potential therapist to a new career.

Thanks for everything,

RL

 

Dear The Neverending Story…

I recently read Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in her Life by Annie Spence as part of my 2018 reading challenge. And I was intrigued by the idea of going through the various books in your life and reflecting on what they’ve meant to you. It’s kind of funny because, in some ways, the books, stories, and poems that I write are love letters to various people, aspects of myself, or to the world in general. I’m not divulging names. Don’t ask.

Anyway, I just loved this idea and thought I would give a shot to writing letters to the books in MY life. As I am a librarian, (though lapsed) I feel no compunction about stealing Spence’s idea to use subject headings to introduce my books.

And so, here is my first letter.

FICTION – Ende, Michael

– Fantasy

neverending

– Childhood Obsession

– Peanut-butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Dear The Neverending Story,

It’s been about 30 years since I first read you. Oh jaysus, did I just say 30 YEARS?! Shit, I need a Mylanta.

Okay, yes, I read you the first time when I was about seven or eight. We had just moved to Greenwood, IN and, until that time, my consuming love for your movie adaptation (the first one, not the crummy sequels), had taken up 90 minutes of every day. Like, seriously, I watched that damn movie EVERY DAY. For years. I had the dialogue for the entire thing memorized. Ask my mother, she would put the movie on for me and then sneak away to take a nap.

Well, when we moved to Greenwood, my mother decided it was time for me to read the source material. YOU. So, she took me to our local library (Ha-cha!) and we asked the librarian behind the adult reference desk (yes, in those far-gone times, you were shelved in the adult section rather than in the YA department), and she took us right to you.

You were so beautiful, even though the plastic wrapping your dust jacket was grimed around the edges and curling at the corners. I hugged you to my chest and we took you home. When I opened you up I was enchanted to see that, instead of plain black script, you were printed in alternating red and green ink. Damn, your hardcover editions must have cost a butt-load to print! I immediately set out on my journey.

Neverending Story interior

I can’t remember exactly how long it took me to read you that first time. All I remember was asking my mother for peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches to eat in my room (just like Bastian in the movie version) while I lay on my bed and turned your pages. I also remember being pearl-clutchingly shocked when Gmork said “damn.” Naughty creature of darkness!

Holy hell! You were like what I imagine LSD would feel like (notice I said imagine. I’ve never tried LSD). You were so wise and crazy and playful and tragic. When I got to the point where the Childlike Empress climbs up to the Old Man of Wandering Mountain to demand he read her The Neverending Story, which would unravel all the story told thus far and necessitate him writing it again, I actually threw the book across the book. Not out of anger, but because I was so wigged out.

To me, you are the epitome of fantasy. Nothing can top you or outdo you for sheer brilliance. And I often go back to your pages to relive those startling moments when Atreyu approaches the Southern Oracle, or confronts Gmork, or when Bastian is ensnared by the traitorous Xayide.

But, even more than your adventure, dynamic characters, and lovely prose you taught me that it’s possible to go on after life kicks you in the teeth. And that dreams aren’t something you should leave behind in childhood. I still use my imagination all the time – I’d be lost without it. I firmly believe the world would be a better place if we fostered the expression of imagination throughout people’s lifetimes.

For one Christmas after I first read you, my parents gave me this small, blue duffel bag with yellow handles filled with books (still one of the all-time best presents I’ve EVER received). And your paperback edition was among them. True, the paperback had all black ink instead of the enchanting red and green, but you were filled with just as much magic and discovery as ever. I now own both your hardback and paperback editions and treasure them both.

Anxiously awaiting that other story for another time,

RL

A Brief Announcement…

Ahem, I’ve been putting off making this announcement, but I guess the time has come to do so. As of August 11th, I will no longer be a Lakewater Press author. I would like to stress that this is an amiable parting and I highly recommend Lakewater to any authors who want to go the small press route. I also recommend Kate Foster (head of LWP) as a free-lance editor as she is consummately professional, very talented, and Uber-supportive.

What this means for me, however, is that my Witchbreed series will be on hiatus for an undetermined period of time. And the 1st two books will be out-of-print and unavailable as well.

As of now, the books are still available.

I would, eventually, like to release the books myself and, perhaps, add to the series. However, I have no definite plans for that. Or any definite plans to publish anything more in the future.

My social media presence will also shrink: I will likely delete my Twitter and Patreon accounts as well as this Author Page and my engagement on my personal Facebook page will be severely limited. These measures are as much for my personal well-being as much as they are an attempt to streamline my marketing process. I will retain my personal website, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads accounts as they are.

I want to thank those of you who have shown your support for me and my writing. You are gems and I treasure you.

Book Giveaway!

Hey all! I am giving away the last (and I do mean THE LAST) print copies of both In the Blood and Beneath the Skin. If you’re interested in getting a copy of either, I have 1 copy of In the Blood and 1 copy of Beneath the Skin. Send me a message through the “Contact R. L.” tab  with the title of whichever book you want along with your mailing address. First come, first served. Unfortunately, I can only mail to addresses in the US.

Character Interview: Ottilde Dominax

Photo by Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy

This interview is a long time in coming. Please welcome my very special guest, Ottilde [O – Tild] Dominax!

RLM: Thank you so much for joining me today, Ottilde.

OtD: It’s a pleasure to be here, thank you for having me.

RLM: So, as you know, I’ve already interviewed your sister, Oriabel. And I’d like to ask you pretty much the same questions I asked her.

OtD: By all means.

RLM: If you could travel anywhere where would it be?

OtD: I’ve already done a lot of traveling in my life. During my education and training to become a knight, we were often taken on long trips to expose us to different terrains, climates, languages etc. Honestly, I just want to be home.

 

RLM: If you could keep only 5 possessions what would they be?

OtD: A clean pair of underthings; my heartstone; the drawings my father did before he died – especially the one of my mother when she was pregnant with Oriabel and me; my sword; and a waterproof coat – a hate being wet.

 

RLM: Who do most admire in life?

OtD: My sister, Oriabel. She hasn’t been tainted by cynicism and bitterness as I have. While sometimes I might be exasperated – even fearful – of her trusting nature, I also envy that innocence. That willingness to believe and expect the best of people.

 

RLM: What is a skill you’d like to learn and why?

OtD: I’ve always wished I could garden. Black thumb, though. I love growing things and envied Oriabel and my father their ability to coax life from the ground.

 

RLM: What was your most embarrassing moment?

OtD: On the eve of my knighting, I fell asleep during the vigil in the royal sanctuary. I’d been having an awful nightmare when the duty priest woke me. I was so startled that I punched him in the mouth. Needless to say, I was not a favorite among the priests from then on.

[both laugh]

RLM: Now, I have to ask: What is really between you and Wilder Coomb?

OtD: Absolutely nothing.

RLM: Really?

OtD: Indeed. That man is the bane of my existence and I would gut him if I had half a chance. He’s the most loathsome, self-righteous, thick-headed, beast of a man. And I pity anyone unfortunate enough to spend even a moment in his company.

Why, what did he say to you?

RLM: Ummm…

 

 

My Formative Years (aka: the origin of the Mayhem)

Anyone who knows me at all – like, if you meet me for the first time, you will probably find this out within five minutes – knows that I adore horses and unicorns. Always have. In fact, horses were the center of my beginning as a storyteller.

Before I even knew that “writer” was a possible profession, I loved making up my own stories and acting them out. I rarely shared these stories, though. Instead, I used my collection of various horse and pony figures to give my stories life.

My family, most notably my mother, made sure that I had plenty of horse and pony toys to play with. Every Christmas and birthday I would receive at least one horse/pony. I also had a small collection of She-Ra action figures who would handle any human element in my stories.

Here are some of the figures I had as a kid (I think I had more, but I can’t remember them all):

This was my King of Horses, one of my first Breyer Horses. I named him Skydancer and he was the leader of my little herd.

This was Skydancer’s wife. In her previous life she was known as the Fashion Star Filly, Chloe. I do not remember what I named her (definitely was not Chloe), but she was a totally awesome Queen of Horses.

This was another Fashion Star Filly, originally named Janel, but, I’m pretty sure I renamed her Cecily, or something like that. She was the Queen’s sister and “married” to the stallion below.

Apparently, this Breyer Horse is pretty rare and now quite expensive. In any case, I named him Morgan. At some point early on in my ownership of him, one of his ears got broken. It was sort of his signature look after that. 

I have no idea what I named this fella, but I remember the color of his hide always reminded me of mozzarella in spaghetti sauce (I was weird, what can I say?)

Whatever the horse above was named, he was married to this gorgeous girl, Roxanne. Breyer named her Lady Roxanna, but I liked Roxanne better. This is the one horse figure I still own. She actually sits on my altar. I used to move her around during stories by her tail, holding it like the arm of a teapot.

Like every little girl in the 80s, I had my share of My Little Ponies (plus I adored the show and feature films). I know I had a ton of them, but I honestly don’t remember which all they were. Here are a few I DO recall (they were also incorporated into the herd):

 This one is apparently called Fancy Flower. I believe I had a couple of these slimmer, long-legged G1 My Little Ponies, but I can’t remember which ones I had.

I’m not sure if this is the exact one I had, but I recall having one with super curly hair. And this one looks faintly familiar.


I’m pretty sure I only had one of the Sea Ponies – the blue one with the ducky ring.

 

These were the baby My Little Ponies I owned. I think they were supposed to be the babies of Skydancer and his queen. Have no idea what I named them but I always thought they were super cute (don’t bother asking why these weren’t the babies of my actual My Little Ponies, I told you, I was super weird).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a couple of Breyer Horses that were added to my collection when I was older and not as in to playing with them:


 

 

 

 

 

And lastly, I had three action figures from the She-Ra franchise. I also had a costume set that included a shield, sword, mask, and arm bands. Yeah, I was soooo cool.

She-Ra herself, of course.

Frosta


And Peekablue, plus I had her horse Crystal Moonbeam (renamed and incorporated into the herd, naturally)


So, now you know I had super-awesome taste in toys and that I liked to tell stories way before I even realized people did that for a living.

A Little Something About Me…

It’s been awhile since I posted anything, and I’ve gained some new readers since then, so, I thought I would share 20 facts about me.

  1. I have a Masters in Library and Information Science
  2. My oldest son and I have the same birthmark in the exact same place
  3. I lived in Japan from about 3 to 5-years-old (Army brat)
  4. During high school I participated in the color guard
  5. I lived in Indonesia for 3 months during college
  6. I’ve never had a broken bone
  7. I passed my driving test the first time
  8. In addition to writing, I’m also a licensed massage therapist (I passed my licensing exam the first time too!)
  9. I am still in my first relationship (married for almost 9 years)
  10. My dream job (besides being a successful writer) is to run and own a healing center that offers massage, Reiki, yoga classes, and nutritional counseling
  11. My nicknames in high school were Robina and Tito, the Turtle-Spank
  12. I hate eating salads I make at home, but love salads at restaurants
  13. I refuse to buy clothing that has to be dry-cleaned
  14. I usually plan out stories while I’m driving
  15. I’m horribly allergic to poison ivy (had to be rushed to the hospital when I was a kid and get a steroid shot)
  16. My favorite month is October
  17. Favorite colors are black and pink
  18. I have one older sibling (sister)
  19. I adore sparrows, horses, and dogs
  20. I get nightmares if I just read a plot summary of a horror movie

A Few Thoughts on the Ridiculous in SFF

So, it turns out that the desire for “realism” in fantasy fiction stops when it comes to including well-rounded female characters in the story (shocking, I know). I was on a thread last night where commenters were saying that the reason JRR Tolkien did not have many female characters in his books was that he wanted to write more “realistically.”
Let me state first, that I enjoy Tolkien’s work. I adored The Hobbit and LOTR. Furthermore, I really enjoyed Peter Jackson’s LOTR adaptations, but thought his Hobbit was dreadful (mainly because he shoehorned a nonexistent female character and love story into the narrative). I don’t feel a lack in those stories because they are short on female characters.
I get upset when readers and commentators on Tolkien’s book try to say that inclusion of female characters (or POC and LGBTQ characters) is deviating from reality. And this ridiculous opinion does not stop with just Tolkien. This is an on-going debate in SFF fandom that got particularly ugly a few years ago during the 2015 and 2016 Hugo Awards.
Okay, let me get this straight: dragons, orcs, elves, giant eagles, and wizards are MORE realistic than having well-rounded female representation? Uhhh…
Okay, okay. Let’s forget about that fact that we’re talking about HIGH FANTASY here where the rules of “realism” are pretty fluid from the get go. Let’s even forget that “realism,” to their minds, means excluding HALF THE HUMAN RACE. The commenters shrieking about Tolkien’s “realism” said that Tolkien, writing in the 30s and 40s was reflecting his own reality in which women did not participate in war. Patently false. Sure, not many women were soldiers then (not going to say none, because I’m pretty sure there were women who went out on the front lines dressed as men, just like in the Civil War) BUT women were integral to the war effort. They worked as nurses, in government, in factories, took over farm work (you know, so people could EAT), and performed vital services in just about every single capacity possible – even as spies. So, do not come at me with this “women weren’t soldiers so it’s not realistic to portray them that way” because if the only characters you expect in your SFF are soldiers, I say it’s YOUR perception of fiction that is not realistic.
Furthermore, these commenters were saying, “Well, he drew on Norse mythology and that’s all about kings and warriors”. Okay, okay, okay. Stop right there. Both of the largest influences on Tolkien, Beowulf (Old English, by the way) and the Völsunga saga, had female characters in them in pivotal roles. For instance, in Beowulf, Grendal’s mother – the main villain, and female – was not only a strategist but a warrior. How many kings and warriors did she fight and vanquish in her life? Hmmm….
My point here is that the entire argument that SFF literature is some sacrosanct body that is LESSER for the inclusion of well-rounded female characters (as well as other marginalized groups) needs to stop, as do the beliefs fueling it. People who hold these beliefs and spout these opinions are yearning for something that just never was – a world of SFF literature without politics, social issues, or challenging ideas.