i press restart.

Today’s soundtrack

-/-

Like many writers, my stories either thrive or suffer at the hands of my own anxiety.

When my indie publishing deal went down the drain, I went through a period of mourning. It was hard to realize that it wasn’t really my fault, that it wasn’t my material or me personally. It was unfortunate timing and bad ownership.

But it’s time to cover the wounds and trudge on. As F. Scott so eloquently wrote, “So we beat on, boats against the current[…]”. We are all just gluttons for punishment, after all.

What’s next in this vast publishing ocean? I find another route on the map.

  • I’m putting writing and re-working A Deathly Compromise (and its sequel) on hold for a bit and instead, making it available en masse for consumption. I’ve joined Wattpad and you can read and get updated on ADC for free here. The prologue and first chapter are already up and updates will come weekly.
  • I’m currently writing a new novel, entitled Shift – a detective noir YA/NA rooted in a magic realm, with murder, shapeshifters, and sassy sidekicks. Think The Magicians meets Cool World (bonus points if you’ve actually seen Cool World). Once I get a substantial amount done, I will start querying (I said gluttons for punishment, right?). In addition, I’m collaborating with a friend on a joint project that will bring a fresh perspective on the standard magical epic.
  • I’ll be exploring different resources and focus on making more connections on social media. That means – more blog posts, more writing bits for you to enjoy, more rantings of a writer’s life, for better or for worse.
    • Feel free to follow me –
      • Twitter: @theladyreva
      • Facebook: /officialcoralrivera
      • Instagram: /theladyreva
      • Wattpad: theladyreva
  • I’m going to get my reading back on. I firmly believe that the best inspiration comes from the worlds we get to experience, if only in our imaginations. So give me all of your recommendations and I will add them to my ever-growing list.
  • Helping others in the community is just as rewarding and serves as an incredible learning experience for your own writing. Lately, I’ve been serving as a beta reader and all-around encourager for a group of writers that just want their voices to be heard and to share their hard work. Revealing bits of stories, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, is a HUGE act of courage in the writing world. Many don’t realize that we as writers, thrive on feedback and use them as fuel for a lot of our creative decisions. If you would like to join this community too, I’d urge any and all imaginative voices to sign up at: http://www.polishandpitch.com. You won’t regret it.

Feel free to follow along on the journey – just bring a life vest.

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The Long Road: A [De]Composition


I was whole.
I basked in the sun.
I relished in the way the sprigs of new wheat and tall grass touched my shoulders, my face, my skin.
There are still fragments of it on me, even now.

I waited.
In the end, we all take shortcuts. The long road seems so tiresome.
My feet touched the pavement.
I saw the mist coming off the lake in the early morning, a familiar ghost, a promise.
One foot in front of the other, they told me. Their voices are echoes rattling in my bones and muscles, a cacophony of calcium and cartilage.

I just wanted the taste of life between my hands.
I wanted to see the morning.
Fill me in, rising sun. Fill me whole again.

The impact reminded me of birth.
A light, a warmth, a strange place to wander into.
The comfort always came later.
I waited for it. Waited with shaking breath and twitching limbs and watering eyes.
The moon began to leave my line of sight. I no longer felt the pull of galaxies and universes between my heartbeats.
Fill me in stars, fill me in where the treads have emptied me.

I always thought too much.
Weighted decisions seem so distant and pointless now.
My brain is forced to stop now, to look around instead.
Time is limited, yet long, full of visitors.
I watched each one. Felt each one. Looked at their uncaring grimaces, and sometimes, words leaving their lips.

They do not know me.
They do not know the stories I hold in my spirit.
They only see me for what I am now, beneath them.
I have lived and birthed and eaten and stole and given and killed.
I have loved.

They want the long road.
Some will take shortcuts like me.
Some will be luckier.

The lake is far now, but I am not bitter.
I have broken apart, but I am starting a new story.
I have lost and grieved and wanted and cried and felt joy.

I am blood and bone and matter and hair on your wheels.
What’s left of me feeds others.
Fill me in, life, fill me into something new.

I am whole.
I bask in the sun.
I relish in the way I grow.
I was once fragmented and jagged but now I am full.
I am a piece of everything, everything a piece of me.

Child from the Garden, take two.

You know when you find something from years ago that you don’t remember writing whatsoever? I vaguely remember this – like most things I write, it came from a dream but I have long since forgotten the specifics. I’m sure the details that I wrote from my nightstand in the middle of the night are in some notebook in a box in my closet somewhere, but I may just opt to give this a bit of a different life. Or perhaps it’ll play on in my dreams where it probably belongs.
————————————-
The barn looked cherry red amongst the pristine white of the newly fallen snow. She hadn’t really noticed the brilliance of it before that crisp morning. The cold wasn’t bitter, but an incoming storm promised a change in the soft kiss that hit her cheeks. She followed his clean footprints to the edge of the clearing, up and down the small hills that eventually led down to the road. His navy blue coat almost blended in with the tree branches behind him. He turned his head slightly upon hearing her feet crunch in along the snow drifts. As she approached, she noticed his muscles tense, the worry in his eyes becoming more and more apparent. She stopped a couple of paces away from him, observing every little movement.
She stared at his hair, the longer strands whipping across his forehead in the cold wind. He didn’t want to look at her, but she silently begged for that contact one last time. She cautiously walked to him, lifting her hand up to his cheek. He flinched, her warm touch raising his skin. He didn’t say a word. She let out a small laugh under her breath and broke the silence. “Do you remember when you first came into my room all those years ago? The little boy from the garden.” He didn’t say anything, but closed his eyes at the fondness of the memory. It stung each synapse that once fired so brightly upon seeing her.
The snow began to fall in heavy flakes now, blankets forming on their shoulders and hair. He was so still, as if frozen in time. She wished with her entire heart that it were true.
“Please…” she finally whispered, fighting back a choking cry.
“You know that I can’t,” he finally answered gruffly. “It was stupid of me to come here, to see you. I need to go–the door will be closing soon.” He turned to leave but she grabbed his gloved hand. He was warm. He had always been so warm. He pulled away but didn’t leave.
“That’s you in there, don’t you realize that?”
“That is not me. I’m right here, flesh and bone and soul. I’m…” he paused to swallow the regret. “I’m just-” He shook the snow from his hair, clouds of breath escaping his lips. Despite the strong scent of the pine, all she could take in was the scent of his world, a combination of cedar leaves and lightning.
Tears began forming in the corners of her eyes. They would soon form miniature icicles on her eyelashes. “I don’t know what you want me to say. What do you want from me?”
He squared his shoulders forward, masking the wound she just inflicted. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his coat, holding the lapels closer to his chest. He stole a glance of her; her brown hair caught in the wisps of the north wind, her brown eyes glowing and prominent like a wolf tearing his soul apart. “I wanted you, that’s all. That was everything.”
He turned away from her and darted into the clearing. She wanted to follow, but knew that she couldn’t. Her time in that world had run out.

she used to be mine – a love letter to an imperfect self.

Soundtrack.


If I could turn the clock back to 15 years ago, I would tell you to put them down.

I know in the melancholia of the evening, they feel like grains of sand and shells from the beaches some 45 minutes away. You haven’t been in awhile. You miss the salt water. You can feel it in your nose even now, the taste of it in the corner of your lips carrying the oil from your cheeks.

You grasp them tightly, feeling your fingertips curl into the flesh of your palm.
The shaking is minimal now, despite the ongoing turbulence of the yelling in the background.

You think this will shut the noise off.
These are not silencers, girl.

This is glass with rounded corners.
They will cut you by masquerading as warmth and kept promises.
It takes you for a fool.
The phone will ring. Pick it up. It will be a friend that needs you.
I know – When will someone be there for me? you ask.

This is a question that will never go away, especially when you’re my age.
You bite your tongue.
A little bit of blood is okay. It means you’re still here.
Throw that sand back in the ocean, girl.
Watch the waves pull it away.

However inconsequential it may seem, you matter in this moment.
You matter always.
Even when your words go unread, and your voice unheard, and your presence unnoticed – the world has a way of acknowledging your whispers.

The monster will return, this much I know.
You learn to bargain, to protest, to shape it back into something small and pushing it back onto the mainland.
It is as rough as the ocean.
But you will also learn to swim, pushing your feet away from the sand and off the ground.

Almost as if you are flying, when actually, you are living.

i could tell you the wildest of tales.

 |Soundtrack |

While I drive to work, I think of ways I can lie to my daughter.

It’s hard not to look back at her in the rear view mirror in the mornings during my arduous commute, watching her eyes drift off to places I wish I could go instead of driving through barren plains and highways. When she’s awake, from the opposite side of the car, we watch the dawn together – rays permeating up from low tree tops and misty hills. The sky is half midnight, half cotton candy. A gentle wave borders the cloud bank, rippled as if stopped by glass. Lightning etches the bottoms of the nimbostratus, whispering its arrival.

“Dragons,” I whisper, practicing my answers for the inevitable questions I hope she asks in the years to come. “In lands that mirror ours but don’t quite break through, there are dragons that fly freely. They hunt, they love, they play, they fight. When two young dragons play, their fire comes out in quick, thin bursts so bright, it lights up the sky in our world. When you hear loud thunder, the playing has turned sour.”

She stirs in the back, eyes dozing, her lips puckering as if to make the words she has yet to learn. She is beginning to slip into dreams.

“They come out for battles in the summer, flapping their giant wings and creating gusts so large they topple trees. They play and fight so much, there is not much life left. And when they leave, they take the warmth of the summer with them.”

At this point, I’m feeding my own ideas and talking to the air conditioning and squeaky brake pads. She’s asleep now, another 45 minutes still ahead on the drive. The best ideas come when my hands are holding steering wheels or baby appendages, never when I have a pen in hand. I make a mental note but will often forget – a hint, perhaps, that some of these stories are reserved for just us and the road and the sunrise. I continue to talk about the lesser known winter dragons, mermaids in pink lagoons, the fairy dust of stars and where the fairies go on cloudy nights (pester the dragons while they are trying to sleep, of course).

She’ll eventually know the right answers. When she is able to sit and speak on her own, speak to her friends more than her mother, speak with a voice I’ve heard echo in the back of my own mind, I hope she still remembers the summer dragons and their lightning storms. I hope she carries a bit of magic behind her eyes. Selfishly, I hope she becomes a liar of her own – a creator of worlds and fictions that would rival the greats.

I continue to drive. The cloud cover has passed now, sprinkles drying up on my windshield as the sun meets the periwinkle of the sky. I drop her off and think of a story for the afternoon. On the road, there is no word count to be met, no reviews, no red marks on paper. There is just asphalt and dreams and lightning in the distance.

 

 

put on your war paint.

My mother taught me about red lipstick.

Not in a tutorial type way, but strictly observational.

No matter what our house or family was going through, the mornings were always the same – my mother, sitting at the kitchen table with her coffee and toast and an open, blue glitter Caboodles make-up case in front of her. Specks of foundation and powder caked the corners of her mirror, framing her face in a thin halo of ivory-beige dust.

Some days she looked tired than others, thoughts weighing heavy on her mind, decisions on her shoulders. I would watch, either through my periphery when reading a book or from the brim of my own morning mug. There was calculation behind the art form, care put into every crease. When the blue case closed, she’d walk back into her room and come out moments later wearing a powerful suit – she was the boss and she knew it but she never flaunted. It exuded from her, an aura of subtle confidence sharpened by years of struggle.

The last thing she did was apply her lipstick. It was her way of kissing the morning and wishing it well. There were shades of blue-reds, brick reds, crimsons, and coral reds, some bright as a rose, others subdued even on her alabaster skin. In comparison, I never thought my olive pallor would work, even if I had tried. I couldn’t get away with something that fierce. My Cherry LipSmacker was the closest I came to daring. I tucked my books away into my bag and hung my head low, eyes quickly darting to the sidewalk, wondering if I could ever be that strong. It wasn’t until a couple a few years ago that I braved my first shade.

My mother suffered and overcame many things in life, all while working a demanding job with three kids, one of which had a learning disability. For the majority of our childhoods, she did this alone. We suffered too, but always had her to lean on. It wasn’t until I recently became a parent myself that I truly understand the weight of that. But everyday, without fail, she put on that red lipstick and strived to be the best that she could, not only for us, but for herself. In a way, we were her shoulders too. And in the close of the first Act of our lives, she sees our success as hers. She left everything behind – her home, her family, her friends – to start a life here, and while it wasn’t necessarily the life she expected, it was the one that she herself built.

There are many things that stand to her character – no small, pocket size object could every truly symbolize all that she is worth, but to me, that tube of crimson or coral or brick red always reminds me of strength, power, respect, kindness, laughter, confidence and overwhelming love. And so, I break out my small drawer of reds and long for the day that my daughter will watch me while I tell her stories – of what life and dreams can be like and the strength she holds to pursue them.

 

IMG_20170805_123522.jpg

“If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack.” – Coco Chanel

 

 

 

one foot in front of the other – news on the publishing front

Like everything else, this post – as rambling as this one is – has its own soundtrack. 

“We’ll have the days we break,
And we’ll have the scars to prove it,
We’ll have the bonds that we save,
But we’ll have the heart not to lose it.”

-/-

I’ve been twiddling my fingers for weeks now, trying to come to terms with all that has happened, to tell you all without shame or embarrassment, bracing myself for the judgments and silent “I told you so’s.” A large part of me knows I will never get to that point, not until I have closure which may or may not come. I have been going back and forth about how to approach this and move on but if I don’t do it now, I don’t think I ever will.

Long story short: The publishing company that I had signed with is no more. Due to creative differences, the owner decided to dissolve the entire company, leaving myself and many other talented writers in the lurch. A Deathly Compromise is now, once again, without a home.

I’m profoundly heartbroken about this. It’s been ages since I’ve written anything. I go through cycles of depression, anticipation, hopelessness, confidence in the future, hiding under a blanket. Rinse and repeat. So what needs to happen when you’re stuck in a loop? You need a direction to get out. I haven’t quite found my path yet but these are the answers I do have.

Will the current edition of ADC still be available to purchase?
-Yes. It is still available via E-book and I’m working out a solution to still have hard copies.

Will ADC be re-released if/when it finds a new home?
-Hopefully, yes. At this moment in time, it’s hard for me to stomach a third release of the same book. I don’t want to come across as a one-trick pony. I have a lot of ideas in the works that I want to put out in the world but at the same time, I believe that ADC should get the release and attention it rightfully deserves.

Is this the end of ADC forever? Don’t leave us hanging, you jerk.
-No way. Dee (and ADC) is as much a part of me as my heart or lungs. It’s my first baby and one that I never intend on giving up. I’m slowly, but surely, working on the sequel and hope to have it out in the near future. I’ve already started the playlist and once that happens, there’s no stopping it. 🙂

What’s next?
-Well, I’m taking a break to gather my wits and figure out how to move forward. I’m working on a collab project with a bomb ass talented friend of mine and I have an idea or two that I’m fleshing out for a next book, as well as ADC2. For right now, I’m just getting organized and enjoying time with my newborn daughter while trying not to drown in spit up.

What can I do to help?
– Spread the word! Get people to buy ADC – lend it out, listen to the soundtrack, make fanart, share my other stories/writings, help me schmooze agents and publishing houses, buy me a pizza, give or send a hug, take me to Europe! Well, maybe not the last one but you get it. Every little bit helps and is so incredibly appreciated.

Some people to thank that have helped make the last few weeks bearable:

Jaime Lynn Dill – you are a BEAST, truly one of the most hardworking women I know and have done so much to not only help me become a better author, but a better friend.

The Resistance – you know who you are. I love every single one of you. While we’re scattered about every which way, we have managed to find a little corner of the web and have made it a home, a family, a place where we are all safe and appreciated. [insert appropriate gif here]

The Spoobie Squad – Your endless confidence in me makes me cry. I love you three so much it hurts. Come April, *Liam Neeson voice* I will find you and I will hug you.

Lately, I have questioned my decisions and my talent as a writer. I have contemplated quitting a thousand times but I can’t. Even if it’s just for me, I can’t. There are too many worlds swimming around, unexplored. There are too many people wishing to be made real. I will soon rise up and get cracking on the keys again so please bear with me. This experience has left a bitter taste in my mouth but it’s been a learning experience and one that I will keep with me. It will make an eventual win that much sweeter. I will keep moving forward.

This is me, marching on.

xoxo
C