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Author: Kaymyth

Stuff of Nightmares

When I was in high school, my bedroom was the only one on the second floor of the house. I shared the space with a storage room and eaves closets full of spiders.

Some of those spiders were brown recluses. I got really paranoid about being bitten; I’d check my bed every night. Once I picked up a shoe to squash a spider, and a tiny recluse came skittering out over my hand. It was enough to give a girl a bit of an arachnophobic complex.

But I never got bitten, and in fact the idea of a spider in my bed biting me was the source of a lifetime of nightmare fuel.

Fast forward (twentymumble) years, and today I live in suburbia, in a nice house, with a bedroom far from the eaves or attic space. I share that bed with a spouse and two dogs. It’s quite full. No room for spiders.

That didn’t stop one from (near as I can tell) crawling into the bed a week ago, where I rolled over on it in my sleep and got bitten. The spider apparently escaped, as I never found its corpse. I simply woke up with some itchy red welts on my back.

For several days, I thought the culprit was a mosquito. Ha.

Around Friday, a freckle appeared in one of the bites that quickly grew into a black spot – necrosis. One of the others developed a blister that popped itself, looked to be clean for a while, but yesterday started to turn as well.

Surprise! I’d been bitten by a brown recluse. And not just once, but at least three times, which almost never happens. I finally got to the doctor, confirmed the diagnosis, and have some meds prescribed that should help mitigate the damage, but there’s no getting around the fact that these are going to scar.

And an added wrinkle – the bites are all on top of or around an old keloid chicken pox scar that I’ve had since I was eight. I’m going to have divot scars on top of mountain-shaped scars – volcano scars! Which is pretty cool, actually. I’ll name them Mount Skin Helens and Recluvius.

But here we are, back at finally experiencing the thing that gave me the heebie-jeebies throughout my entire adult life, and all the emotional reaction I can seem to summon is, “Well, I guess that happened.”

Sometimes the Worst Possible Thing turns out to be anticlimactic, but hey, at least it’ll leave some cool scars.

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Submitting

I’ve sent in two submissions in as many months; one for a novel, the other (just moments ago) for a short story. Given that I’ve been absurdly lucky with my story submissions thus far, chances are the odds are finally going to settle out and one of these will be my first rejection.

Before anyone goes into a super-supportive tizzy, rejections are this milestone of authordom that literally every writer experiences. The fact that I haven’t had one yet is weird. (Or maybe just indicative of me being super cautious about what I write and submit to.) It’s bound to happen sooner or later. I am prepared!

Another piece of this is that I’m learning how much I dislike writing cover letters. I’ll yammer all damn day about characters storylines and magic systems, but the instant I start having to talk about myself the gears in my creative brain suddenly decide they’re too coated in rust to go on. Could they have some oil? Maybe a nap? Maybe their very own Scottish engineer to yell at me when I ask them to do something so preposterous?

The answers: no, no, and haha no. I wrote the cover letters. I did my little About Me sections and I’m at least semi-pleased with how they came out, just please ignore all the flailing it took for me to get there.

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“Hidden Villains” Anthology

On sale now, paperback available immediately, ebook version to be released tomorrow! This anthology features a story by the wonderful David Farlane, whose august company I’m not quite sure I deserve, but will gladly accept.

My story, “The Ghost of House Grey,” tells the story of a ghost hunt gone a bit wrong. Also features are all of the members of the Fireside Critique Group, which is the writing group that has had a profound effect in the fostering of my development as a writer.

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2023 JordanCon Anthology

So, I think there’s some evidence here that they might like me:

I’m still a little discombobulated at actually making the cover mentions on this thing, but it’s pretty damn cool.

If you’re a regular JordanCon attendee and want a copy of this thing, the pre-orders are up here: https://www.jordancon.org/product/jordancon-2022-anthology-neither-beginnings-nor-endings/

If you are not a JordanCon person, I have good news! These anthologies will be available on Amazon in both ebook and print-on-demand formats. The convention happens in April; I’ll be sure and post up a link when it’s available.

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Fanfiction

There’s a lot of variance out there in the author world when it comes to opinions on fanfiction. Some love it, some hate it, some are merely okay with it. I tend towards the “love it, but don’t ever ask me to read any you wrote on my own stuff because down that road lies Trouble.”

Why do I love it? Well, I got started as a writer on fanfiction.

Actually, that might not be entirely true. Technically, I got my start in “writing” in online text-based RPG games known collectively as MUSHes. I was always that idiot who overflowed the Character Background attribute’s character maximum…four or five times. And, of course, I put serious effort into writing the actual RP poses.

I credit MUSHing with getting most of my traditional Million Words of Crap out of my system. The extra special beauty of this is that all of those words? Gone, like smoke, when those MUSH games slowly died off. Nobody will ever see them again, and the few who have will probably never connect me with my younger self. Which is good, because my younger self was a hot mess and I’d just as soon have a little distance from that.

…back to fanfiction.

My first full-length novel was Mistborn Era 2 fanfiction, starring my own original characters. There are a number of reasons I went this route. First and foremost, I assumed that my first novel would be absolute crap, and that playing in fanfiction where I could still get useful feedback would be a good plan. Using original characters in an established universe meant that I could focus on plot and character development without getting caught up in the dreaded Worldbuilders’ Disease. Finally, and this is key, reading The Alloy of Law literally transformed my brain. Brandon Sanderson somehow hid some kind of secret Konami Code in the text that worked specifically on me and turned me into a Writer. He doomed me.

Well, funny story, I got a writing group, and then I decided to get their feedback on that fanfiction novel. A few chapters in, and one of them said, “Um, is there any way you could make this not fanfic? Because it’s really good.”

It took several months and Jody Lynn Nye’s writing workshop at DragonCon to convince me this was true.

I am now finally close to finishing the de-fanfiction draft of this thing. Changing up the world and the magic system had some interesting effects. Some scenes managed to remain virtually unchanged, while others got flipped entirely on their heads. Certain plot elements got retooled. Some of the action scenes, in particular, have been bent, folded, and mutilated into only the barest resemblance of their original forms. All in all, the book is unequivocally better than it was before, which is fantastic.

It’s also longer, which is…less so. The first place I intended to submit to has a pretty hard upper limit of wordcount thanks to binding limitations. I’m sure an editor can trim me down, but from 140k to 110k is a pretty tall order. I’m gonna have to think on it while this runs through another beta, but it appears I’ve simply read too much epic fantasy and it’s affected the way plots grow in my brain.

All this to say, no, I’m not posting the fanfiction version of this anywhere. Sorry. But can I offer you a lovely consolation prize?

I’m a My Little Pony fan. Yes, it’s true; I was a little girl in the 80s. And then they rebooted the show with Friendship is Magic and my reaction was, “Holy crap! They brought back my childhood and they infused it with quality!” So naturally I watched the series. All nine seasons. Yes. Every episode. Do not judge me.

So, there’s an episode in season 5 called “Tanks for the Memories” where Twilight Sparkle (the primary protagonist of the series) rattles off a quote that sounds suspiciously like she might have recently read “A Game of Thrones”. Part of the fandom kind of lost its shit over it. I found it hilarious. But I got to wondering, what if she had read the books? How could that have happened? And the answer came to me:

Obviously, Discord (a sort of chaos god amalgam creature who started off as a villain in the series and eventually reformed and redeemed) went on vacation and brought back souvenir gifts for the ponies.

And so I wrote “Clear and Present Discord” which you can find and read here if you are so foolishly inclined: https://archiveofourown.org/works/36792862/chapters/91788040

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ADHD

I have very recently been diagnosed with adult ADHD.

This was not even remotely a surprise; I’ve known I have a lot of the hallmarks for a while. I can look back at my childhood and see the symptoms of inattentive-type popping up all over the place. But at the time, nobody had any idea. I certainly never had a clue; my younger brother had the hyperactive-type ADHD, and so I thought that’s what it looked like for everyone. It wasn’t until decades later I learned more, thanks to having a number of people in my friendgroup who also have it, and talked about it freely.

It was a revelation, albeit one I didn’t know what to do with for a while. I’ve also since learned that a lot of creative-types tend to fall somewhere in the ADHD realm of neurodivergence, which made me realize that having this thing really wasn’t an excuse for not getting shit done. I just needed to figure out how.

Most ADHDers will tell you that there’s one really good way to motivate us: give us a looming deadline. This essentially gives us a huge stress response that overloads the screwed-up dopamine processors in our brains and puts us into DANGER WILL ROBINSON hyperfocus mode. It’s very effective. It’s also an absolutely wretched way to live.

I am finally seeing a therapist and really gathering together the information I need to figure out how to work around the oddities in my brain wiring. I’ve finally worked out how to trick my brain into productiveness without kicking myself into stress overdrive.

See, the thing that works for me is Other People’s Expectations. I joined into some writing sprints run by a friend of mine for a while, and I found that having her tell me it’s time to write made my brain believe it. Magic! But they weren’t at the best time for my schedule, and she eventually had to stop doing them. I floundered for a while, using my writing group’s meetings as mini-deadlines, but 2k words a week is not gonna cut it, kids. The unexpected death of another good friend in early August left me reeling. I took a few weeks to breathe and grieve.

But dammit, I had deadlines looming.

I finally hit upon the solution: why couldn’t I run writing sprints myself? I’m a moderator on a particularly popular author’s official fansite, and we’ve got a lot of writers kicking around in that fandom. One of the other mods had the same idea, so we’ve partnered for running 3 hours of sprints every weekday. I now have an unknown number of people who expect me to be there, at this time, in this place, and expect me to write. And if they’re not there at the beginning, they could join at any time.

In other words I have harvested the power of peer pressure in order to fuel my writing. And it’s working.

We started last week. Several members joined in with enthusiasm. I had the most productive week of writing…probably ever. I edited, formatted, and submitted a 6400-word short story — and that was just last Monday. The rest of the week, I dug through 9500 words of my novel rewrite. Today kicked off with another excellent day, which gives me a good data point that suggests this thing is going to work in the longer term.

Hot damn, y’all, I can do this thing.

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Ahoy There!

Welcome to my webpage! As you can see, things are still a little bare bones – my current website skills are at the level of a small cartoon child sitting on a school bus cheerfully proclaiming, “I’m using WordPress!”

I’m figuring it out, though. Kudos to my amazing and patient husband, James, who did all the back end tech.

My first published work will be officially released as of Friday, July 16, which is…quite soon. JordanCon is back! And so is its anthology! The theme this year is “Become Legend” and I’ve got a story tucked inside called “Urban Planning.”

What happens when a city harbors secrets? What nightmares slumber beneath? Why the heck are there so many weirdly-shaped intersections slapped onto what should be a perfectly nice grid, and why exactly do some civil engineers despise roundabouts? Wesley Dunning knows the answers to these question, but he sure wishes he didn’t.

Intrigued?

Excellent.

Character profiles coming soon!

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