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Existential Crises, Games Wizards Play, and When You Await Yourself Inside a Book

5 Feb

games wizards play

Books do not face many temporal restrictions. The words within them may change with spelling conventions, or the print might shift across font type fads, and the phrasing may even slouch around or slick up a bit with the passing decades, but what the books really say, what their stories are, what worlds they contain within those pages and convey across years and years of minds – those are things that time doesn’t really touch. They’re always hanging around, somewhere. Tucked between a dust jacket. Hidden under the covers of someone’s slumbering subconscious. Murmured in the soft sktch of your footfalls. The stories never really go away. They’re there, behind a wardrobe door, or a carefully tapped pattern on a pub’s back brick wall, or an amulet whispering around the neck. All those worlds, in all those books – they wait.

Games Wizards Play, the tenth book in Diane Duane’s Young Wizard series, released a few days ago. It’s been waiting a long time.

Six years. Six long years. A Wizard of Mars, the predecessor to Games Wizards Play, came out in 2010. Wizards at War, the book before that, came out in 2005, which is nearly equally long in time lapsed, but who I was in 2005 and who I was in 2010 were highly congruent. 2005-me and 2010-me almost form the lower and upper bounds of a set of my existence, since they were both broken in remarkably similar ways, and believed pretty much the same things – about themselves, about life, about love and religion and the universe at large.

But 2010-me was not so static a figure as 2005-me. 2010-me read A Wizard of Mars sitting on the couch of her first apartment, shared with four other classmates the summer after freshman year. I moved into the apartment later than those other four, having spent a little over a third of the summer in treatment for anorexia. It was my first stint in that long progression of treatments that eventually carved out my recovery, and I’d been left red and raw and ready for the changing, though I didn’t know that yet. Change would be a long time coming.

But I remember sitting on that couch, holding the book in my hands, fresh out of treatment, wondering who I was going to be now, thrilling at all the possibilities but thinking (erringly) that I knew pretty well which one I was going to wind up with. I opened up to the first page of A Wizard of Mars, looking for (and finding) reaffirmation in that world that had built me as a middle and high schooler, that I trusted to carry me forward through the rest of college, unaware of just how much of a mental precipice I was really standing on.

2016-me is no longer standing on that mental precipice. She’s standing on a different one. On what I’m pretty sure is also an entirely different planet. The shape of the world around me and the horizon before me, it’s all so different from what 2010-me thought she was looking at. And the way my shadow stretches away, telling of my form in the light – it, too, has changed. Which is a good thing, mostly. But which is also terrifying.

I am better – but I am less good. I know more, but I believe less. My understanding has grown, but my hope has so diminished.

Within me is so much of the same fire that kept the midnight oil of 2005 and 2010 aflame, but while it still burns, I can sometimes see it flicker.

Like 2010-me, 2016-me has some decisions to make about who she wants to be. 2010-me decided that she wanted to be a wildlife vet, and 2016-me has finally gotten into vet school. In the US, and the UK. Whether I choose to stay or choose to go, there are pro’s and con’s. Risks and benefits. Uncertain futures rolling out before me like the fever dream of a hallucinating D20.

And I have to pick a starting point for it all.

Life, like YW-style wizardry, is all about choices. And I am terrified I am going to pick wrong.

So. My life has become a choose-your-own-adventure story, except I can’t flip through all the pathways to find out how they all turn out. I just get one. One character archetype. One plot arc. One final destination, out there in the future.

All of it starting with a choice made because of who I think I am, right now.

…And reading Games Wizards Play will directly confront that.

2016-me has a pretty different world view from 2010-me, and I am afraid of what that will mean for how the YW world will be able to fill that space within me where it used to resonate so well. So unquestioningly. I am afraid that because of whom I have become, where once there were echoes and vibrations will instead be dead, mute space. I am so scared that because of how I have changed as a person, I might not relate as well to what I’m going to find once I go back into the YW world in Games Wizards Play, that I have been afraid to so much as open the front cover.

Or I might just relate to it differently, but that kind of scares me, too. To be clear, I trust the books. I trust Diane Duane and her writing, the Young Wizards universe with its depth and complexity, the characters of Nita and Kit and Tom and Carl with their ability to face ethical conundrum and moral grey area. The more I’ve sat down and really thought about those nine preceding books, thought about what the adults in the books said and did as well as the kids, the more I’ve realized that the world of YW is much bigger than I’d realized at fourteen, or nineteen. I trust that the story can hold up against my doubts and uncertainties and questions. I trust that the story can handle who I am, now.

I am less sure that I can.

I have grown up. Not entirely, but more than I ever wished to. And that is a good thing, but it also a very painful thing.

And so, as I said, I have found myself shaking, whenever I try to open that front cover and turn to page one.

Because once I do, my past self and my future forms and the existence I am, truly, right now, will be left to stare at each other from within the lines on a page, and I don’t know what’s going to happen once one of them blinks.

Guess there’s only one way to find out, though.

I was warned, I suppose. All those years, all those pages ago, Nita Callahan did say that life, at least, would never be boring

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Free Stories!

29 Aug

Update: I’m now on Gumroad!

gumroad profile

I have a lot of stories lying about my computer, sitting more or less patiently in their folders on my desktop waiting for me to try to publish them or submit them to a literary contest or, ya know, forget about them for years on end. And while some of them I’ve gone and flung out into the world already, mostly, they’re just sitting there.

So I’m giving them to you! To have and enjoy! For free!

Well, mostly free. Flash fiction, shorter poems, and short stories up through 3 pages in length are available for no charge. You can pay for them, because hey, supporting art is great and we artists appreciate it! But you don’t have to pay for it. Unless it contains, ahem, “mature” content. In which case I’ve put up a pay wall before you can access it. It’s not a very big pay wall, but I feel I’ve done my due diligence protecting vulnerable eyes or whatever from what some parents might consider bad, scary words by requiring buyers to wield a credit card in order to get to it. Short stories four pages or longer, novellas, and whatever novels I put up there will have a nominal fee, because hey, writing is hard work, and at that order of magnitude of investment, a few bucks for months of work on my end is pretty fair.

I’ll still be posting here, on Quill Aquiver, but I’m mostly using it as a space to talk about writing. And society. Whatever. This blog is for my thoughts. Gumroad is for my stories. Tumblr, that deep, deep rabbit hole, is for my insanity. Zero filter, folks. Fair warning.

Anyhoo. Go forth! Read! Glut your literary fill! Follow me on Gumroad to get updates on when new material’s uploaded. Yes, more courses coming.

Miceala’s Mother’s Day Selections

9 May

WARNING: Contains shameless plugs for my publications.

Lovely readers, Mother’s Day is in just three days!!! Or at least it is in the States… not sure about when/if y’all across the pond have this particular bought of Hallmark sales spikes. But seeing how a fair number of you are in the U.S. (though shout out to whomever’s reading me in Norway, seriously, you rock) and you’ve presumably got some maternal figure or other in your life and, if you’re, ahem, like me, have yet to figure out what exactly you’re going to give said maternal figure since you’re a little short on string to make her a twenty-third macaroni pasta necklace, well, do not fear! I have some suggestions!

Spoiler alert: I’ve published some ebooks.

Give your magnificent matriarch an ebook! Each of the three below even cost less than $10! No shipping delay, no bad-for-the-environment wrapping paper, major brownie points for sophistication – and you can support a female author in the process! Check out the ebooks below and follow the links to Amazon to give the Kindle edition as a gift to your special female person. Just press the button in the lovely green box on the right side of the screen that says, very handily, “Give as a Gift.”

kindle give-as-gift

 

1. XXX: The Poetry by Miceala Shocklee

Does your mama have a flair for the salacious? Does she chuckle at doggerel and swoon at all things tall, dark, and literary? Buy her a Kindle copy of XXX: The Poetry

cover-image

 

2. Drop Dead Gorgeous by Miceala Shocklee

Is your mother one for stories of resilience and personal growth? Does she bury herself in memoirs and mental health recovery stories? Gift her a copy of Drop Dead Gorgeous.

DDG cover

 

3. Tales of Life by Miceala Shocklee

Is your matriarch a tale seeker? Does she love snippets of literature and life? Give her the collection of narrative poetry and artsy short stories found in the ebook Tales of Life.

Tales of Life

XXX: My New V-Day Book Release!

14 Feb

HOLY SHITWHIZZLES this turned into a ridiculously long post. Tl;Dr – new book of poetry released today! XXX: The Poetry. ALL profits from sales between today and Monday Feb 17th are being donated to Planned Parenthood. Check out the book here: https://www.createspace.com/4668600.

Happy Valentines Day, lovely readers! Or, as some refer to it, happy bitterness day. Whatever you call it, go eat some chocolate and smash some stuff. Lips, genitals, old computer monitors and sledge hammers (Caltech is an interesting place on February 14th, people) – you pick.

And guess what, oh lovely readers? I’ve got a new book out! Released today, Valentines Day, is my newest anthology of poem, XXX: The Poetry.

I'm kind of in love with this cover.

Alrighty, “anthology” is maybe a little too heavy an epithet. (Side note: has anyone else noticed that it’s just a tad awkward how similar “epithet” and “epitaph” sound?) At 28 pages, XXX is more of a booklet than a tome. But hey, isn’t that what valentines are supposed to be like, anyway? “Here, pour forth your bottomless, undying love on this candy heart in no more than 10 characters.” Short and sweet, right?

Speaking of sweet – this new book release isn’t just some consumer hook BECAUSE IT’S VALENTINES DAY AND THEREFORE WE MUST BUY EVERYTHING THAT HOVERS AROUND THE RED WAVELENGTH OF THE COLOR SPECTRUM AND IS VAGUELY HEART-SHAPED AND WE’RE ALL GOOD COMMERCIAL CAPITALISTS, DAMMIT.

Ahem. As I was saying. This Valentines release, I’ve got a – well, it’s not quite a sale, because it’s not decreasing how much y’all are spending on the book (sorry), but it *is* decreasinging how much I’m making off of it – so, it’s a promotion, I guess, is a better word, going on from today through Monday.

You see, on all units sold from RIGHT NOW through Monday, I’m not making ANYTHING off the royalties, because I’ve decided to give my own “short and sweet” Valentine to Planned Parenthood this year. So, ALL PROFITS* I make from XXX sales through Monday, February 17th will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

Now, some of you might be nodding in approval and some of you might be screaming your heads off right now. Whatever. My two-second rationale: Planned Parenthood, not all about abortion. In fact, mostly not about abortion. Planned Parenthood is mostly about keeping people healthy and safe with pre-reproductive medical services. STD screening and treatment and prevention, birth control and safe sex protection, mammograms and informational consultations- there’s quite an extensive list, really. And oh yeah, they also help women who do want to be pregnant and have a baby and whatnot do that in the healthiest way possible. And they do all this while trying to keep costs down as much as possible. A lot of the time they even manage to make services free.

So. Planned Parenthood. I personally like them. You are free not to. Whatevs. My point is, if you do like them, and you like poetry, then OH MAN you can put those two things together AND BUY MY BOOK WOOOOOOHOOOO! And the hard copy costs less than $7 if you buy it through the createspace store. I think that’s a pretty good deal. 😉

Because the book release is so new and fresh and shiny, XXX is currently only available through the createspace store. Give it a week or so, and it should start popping up in places like Amazon.com and B&N’s online store. I should also be getting up the (hopefully) multi-platform-accessible ebook version up later today.

Anyhoo, you all are probably wondering about this book thing itself! After all, XXX is a bit of a, uh, provocative title. Now, to calm some of y’all’s (y’alls’?) nerves, no, it’s not a book of porn poetry. I hear the porn industry is doing just fine without me, so I don’t feel any particular need to contribute to it, thank you very much. However, many of the poems in the book are heavily sensual. They’re love poems, after all. Some are lust poems. There are hints – sometimes more than hints – about nudity. There is an entire poem about boobs. So yeah, I would say the words “mature content” probably applies.

Though I’m not sure a comedy piece about boobs actually counts as mature

Anyhoo. There are four sections of poetry: sensual, morose, doggerel, and senryu. The sensual poems are the more traditional love/lust poems in content; the morose poems lean in around the sadder side of longing; “doggerel” is basically another word for “I felt like a fourteen year old boy with a bent for bad puns when writing these poems”; and “senryu” is a Japanese form of poetry that’s kinda like a haiku except that it’s about humans instead of nature. Most of the poems are completely new ones I’ve written in the past five days (lemme tell you ’bout rush projects…), but a couple might have appeared on this blog and on the secret past Miceala blog that nobody here needs to know about.

Also, a note – yes, I am a cis-gendered, generally heterosexual woman. However, I wrote the poems in XXX with the aim of being gender and orientation inclusive. Because poetry is a highly personal thing, my own tendencies probably still bleed in somewhat, but all in all, I think I did a fairly good job of producing a book of love/sex-related-ish poetry that someone with any set of genitalia or brand of horny-ness could pick up and enjoy.

I dunno. Maybe you should just buy it and find out. :p

So. This is now an obscenely long post, so I should probably stop blabbering now and give you all the link to actually go buy the damned thing.

XXX: The Poetry currently available for purchase here:  https://www.createspace.com/4668600

“Heavily sensual.

Hotly morose.

Frisky doggerel.

Flitratious senryu.

Written to tantalize the mind and rouse the fantasy whatever its partner’s orientation or genitalia, herein lies poetry undressed and posing, draped agains the wall of erotica.

A word of advice to the reader: you might want to brace yourself, to.

This is poetry that leaves its partner tingling.

These words encourage voyeurism. They enjoy an audience. They live to be handled by a lover – so go ahead, get your hands on this book. Hold it in your favorite position. These poems will mutter and sigh with pleasure as you move in and out of their pages, tucking your fingers between the spaces and brushing the edges this way and that. These are poems that will beg you to take them home and have them in bed. Morning, night – whenever you want. Let these poems show you what they can do between their covers.

They think you might enjoy getting to know them.

After all, it’s XXX in here.”

* “ALL PROFITS you say? How do I really know you’re going to donate all the profits?” Well, lovely readers, I believe in this thing called honesty. Also financial transparency. Once I have the report of sales through Monday from createspace, I’ll take a screen shot. Then, I will write a check to Planned Parenthood (totally gonna try to get one of those ginormous checks for this) and take a picture of that too. I can even give you all a picture of me handing someone at Planned Parenthood the check (if I do manage to get an excitingly and absurdly large check) or dropping the check in the mail or something. So, breathe easy, lovely readers. I’m not lying to you. Lying makes me feel all queasy inside. Also I don’t like scams. Or spam. For the record.

DDG Kindle Edition

18 Jan

Hey Kindle people! Drop Dead Gorgeous is now available as an e-book. Happy reading!

Check out the Kindle version of Drop Dead Gorgeous here!

Drop Dead Gorgeous

15 Jan

DDG cover

It’s official! Drop Dead Gorgeous, Miceala’s memoir, is now published and available for purchase through LuLu.com. “DDG,” as Miceala fondly thinks of it, will be available in print and as an e-book through Amazon and LA-area bookstores soon!

Here’s the book jacket description:

“This is not a pretty book. It is a book that contains all the mess and grunge of a real life. My life – with an eating disorder.

This is a look from the inside. Written while I am still recovering, this book is an attempt to give all those who have never had to live within the war zone of an eating disorder a real look at the battleground.

So welcome, then. Welcome to the inside of my own head. Welcome to my land of thin thoughts and fat fears. Welcome to my attempt to become drop dead gorgeous.

Let’s hope we make it out alive.”

Buy it now on LuLu.com!

Tales of Life

1 Jan

tales of life cover

So, I’m a starving artist. Figuratively. My treatment team would get on me if I were actually starving.

But anyhoo, I’m a starving artist who loves animals and intends to be a vet someday. But the thing about becoming a vet – I must first go to vet school, which means I must first pay for vet school.

Well darn. That’s an inconvenient wrinkle.

Though vet school is over a year away, I’m starting to save up now. And I’m hoping that some of you wouldn’t mind helping – in exchange for a poem or few. I’ve published my second e-book, Tales of Life, and the royalties from its sales are going into my vet school fund.

Tales of Life is a collection of poems that are, simply, about life. They are tales of Mondays and scraped knees, of TV dinners and apartment buildings. They are tales of beauty in the commonplace, of second glances given to the quotidienne.

I hope you find as much wonder in the everyday as I do.

Enjoy.

Buy Miceala’s Tales of Life here.