I didn’t lose my mind.

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A little over a week ago, I attended my first book signing at the Writers on the River event in Peoria, Il.  I thought I’d share ten things about it.

1. Sensory Overload to the max. As an autistic, I severely underestimated my ability to handle the noise and chaos of 300+ readers in one room.

2. Writers on the River has brilliant organisers and some of the kindest volunteers. Highly recommend, though if you’re autistic, consider how well you deal with crowds.

3. I survived.

4. The best burger I’ve ever had from a dive called Burger Barge.

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5. I learned I need to do better at respecting my limitations.

6. Everyone likes free candy. (And Reese’s Peanut Butter cups go first.)

7. Best cupcake ever.  Chocolate espresso cupcake. So good. OMG. So good.

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8. Swag makes everyone happy.

9. I can push myself too far in an attempt to fit into the allistic vision of an author.

10. The Grasmere Trilogy paperback has by far my most popular cover.

*If you’re interested in learning more about how attending a book signing affected me as an autistic, I’ve vlogged about it over on my patreon.*

 

An Open Letter To Myself

….well, a letter to twenty-year-old me.

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Dear Self,

First, you’re going to be okay. Divorce is scary, but it’s not the end of the world.

Second, you’re autistic. I know you think you have some terminal illness because you get so tired after being around people. It’s okay. You’re autistic. And you’re going to be so relieved when you find out.

Third, you will fall in love again.

Fourth, the divorce was about him…not you. He’s been divorced three more times since you.

Fifth, you’re brilliant. And you can write. You just have to believe enough in yourself to try.

Now, stop crying into the ice cream.

He’s not worth it.

You’re going to be fine.

Love,

Me

 

Own Your Shit. Dump The Rest.

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The gif has nothing to do with this post aside from the fact that I’m writing it on a Thursday morning when not even coffee is enough to get my brain in gear.

So, buckle up.

The other day I was playing a video game. It’s a multiplayer game. Now, I turn off the open chat because I’ve no interest in listening to the misogynistic nonsense that is prevalent in the gaming world.

While standing around waiting for an in-game event to start, another gamer began harassing my character.

This is how it started.

My character is literally just standing still playing a lute. (It’s a game emote you can do to kill time.) My character is female. Another gamer comes over and begins trying to engage me.

He swings his weapon at my character.

I keep playing my lute.

He gets tired of being annoyed, so he runs over toward a group of enemies nearby and uses one of his powers to drag the enemy over to my character which forces me to engage with the creature to avoid being killed.

I kill the enemy then go back to playing the lute.

This happened four times.

And I’m starting to get pissed off. Why does this always happen? I just want to play my lute and wait for the in-game event. Being pissed off causes me to also be stressed out, which is terrible for my blood pressure issues.

And that’s when it hits me.

You know, this jackass is just doing this to get a reaction.

So, I leave.

Own your shit. I can only control myself. No matter how annoyed another person makes me, I can’t force them to change. So? Controlling my shit means leaving an area to find somewhere else to play. It’s a massive game, I easily found another event without the annoying asshole.

And that’s the dump the rest part.

That dickhead? Not my responsibility. I shook off my annoyance and continued to enjoy the game.

Why should I let a perfect stranger ruin my enjoyment?

I owned my shit. And dumped the rest.

Can you relate?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Poisonous Influence of Perfection.

Me to my brain:
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Perfection is a toxic poison that strangles out my creativity.

And really, it’s less about perfection in the end product of my writing–and more about attempting to be expectations I’ve set up for myself of what I think others can do–or think I should do.

It’s a theme that has followed me throughout my adult life working first in restaurants, then as a teacher, and later in insurance.

A theme I didn’t truly understand before learning I’m autistic.

I’ve always needed to demonstrate my abilities at work. Striving to be the best. Not to overshadow others, but more to appear capable. I’ve had a fear of seeming unable to manage: work or life.

And as a result, I work myself to the point of exhaustion.

It’s a trend that followed me into writing.

Setting schedules and deadlines I can’t possibly manage.

Overachieving.

It’s not a bad thing, necessarily.

It is when you’re ignoring your health.

Autistics, at least from my personal experience as one, tend to battle inner ableism. This little voice that tells me I’ve not only got to be at the same level as non-autistic authors but better. It’s poison.

It really is.

The same inner voice that tells me I don’t need help or accommodation when I do.

It eats away at your accomplishments and makes missed goals or deadlines seem like monumentally massive failures.

This year, I managed to almost double my word count.

Brilliant, right? Except not, I didn’t take the breaks between projects that I usually do. I’ve ended up not enjoying writing as usual.

And the last two novels I’ve worked on have been a painful slog until the bitter end.

Next year, one of my biggest focuses will be to enjoy myself with writing.

Deadlines are important and so are word counts, but I can’t write myself into a serious health issue again.

 

 

10 Ways to Avoid Book Launch Exhaustion

Maybe it’s just me, but book launches are highly stressful and exhausting. Since I couldn’t figure out what to blog about this week, I thought I’d come up with a list of ways to help avoid exhaustion and also how to stay sane during the release of my latest romance novel, The Wanderer.

So, here are ten ways to avoid stress and/or relax when you are stressed out:

  1. Tea. Lots of tea. All the tea. Particularly if it’s Republic of Tea’s Lemon Chiffon Green Tea. So Good.
  2. Bath, a long soak can do wonders.
  3. Indulge in a good book, this week I was reading some free flash fiction.
  4. Naps. Don’t judge. Naps are brilliant. 
  5. Write. Sometimes, the best way to relaxing during a book launch is to continue working on your next project.
  6. Video games. My current favourite? Mass Effect Andromeda, hands down, the best game that I’ve played in ages.
  7. Indulge in binge watching on the telly. What am I watching lately? Hunted, Lock Up, The Great British Bake Off.
  8. Avoiding Goodreads, nothing more stressful than reading reviews lol.
  9. Get time away from the computer.
  10. Music. Nothing releases stress like singing loudly and badly. lol

What about you? What do you do to alleviate stress? If you’re an author, do you find book launches to be stressful?