Michaelmas — and books!

You guys. You guys! Look at this!

IMG_2819Print books! We are in print. We are back in print. We are good to go.

(Oh, and that guy in the middle? Probaby would encourage you to buy the books. I’d do it. He’s holding lightning in his hand, after all.)

Seven Archangels: Annihilation is now back in print in book format and as a Kindle book for the first time.

All the angels have known since their creation that they’re eternal, but now Satan has figured out how to destroy an eternal soul. He starts with Gabriel.

If you’ve got Kindle Unlimited, you can download it for free, and it’s also available through the Kindle Lending Library. If you can get it for free — go for it. Seriously, that’s why they have that program. If you’re a print-only kind of reader (which is cool) there’s finally a print version again, and I’ve managed to price it cheaper than it was the first time (plus there are some Amazon sellers who seem to have it discounted. All the information hasn’t trickled yet through the system, so it doesn’t have its cover yet.)

The Kindle edition is here. The print version is here. For those who want both, if you buy the print edition first, Amazon will let you buy the Kindle edition at less than half price through their Matchbook program.

Also…in print for the first time, we have The Wrong Enemy.

No one knows why Tabris a guardian angel, killed the child he vowed to protect

I’m so excited about this. I love holding this one in my hand and just paging through it. Tabris. Rachmiel. Sebastian. Elizabeth. It’s like my heart in front of me.

I set both books to go live today because it’s the Feast of the Archangels, Saint Michael, Saint Raphael, and Saint Gabriel. I’m sure the real guys aren’t like their counterparts in my stories, but I did my best to capture the fire and the amazingness of angels. Please enjoy the stories.

Posted in angels, Seven Archangels: Annihilation, The Wrong Enemy, writing | 2 Comments

Making up ground

I went “running” for the first time since early May. It’s not my fault I stopped running, and I offer no apologies to myself or to the Fitness Judges, who should understand that parental duties and a child in need had to take priority over sneakers and an iPod.

Remember, though, that last September I was able to run my first 5K. I think this time I made it about .4K before I had to take my first walking break. My only consolation is that this time my muscles hurt before I ran out of breath (and yes, I’m using the inhaler. But I was still gasping.)

Basically, you can work for eighteen months at running, and then in three months you can be forced back to square zero. Well, I can. That’s my takeaway.

I know John Bingham writes that running requires not only courage to start, but also courage to start over. And to be honest, I’m not really starting at square zero because this time, I’m starting out with a good pair of sneakers (so I won’t injure myself right out of the gate) and the running wardrobe/equpiment I can reasonably expect to need.

Also, I know I can do it. Eventually.

That’s not much help now, though, when most of my “runs” are “walks,” and I miss the ground I lost.

Posted in pensive | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

He had a bad day

A guest priest says daily Mass on Mondays, and the Monday before last he shared sad news that three nuns he knew from a nearby city had died in Burundi. Yesterday, he was back, and he mentioned it again during the homily, but only as a brief reference to the assumptions people make.

Because of the way one of the nuns died, the media had linked the deaths to terrorism. Instead, said the priest, the perpetrator had been a solitary individual with known mental health issues. And he added, “who was having a bad day.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I never considered beheading a nun to be an offshoot of having a bad day. To me, a bad day is realizing I forgot to take the books back to the library and saying, “Screw it. I’ll just pay the overdue fines.”

What struck me was the sheer charity of how this priest was referring to a grisly homicide. Instead of saying, “This man wasn’t a terrorist, but he was a monster,” the priest was looking at the killer of three elderly women he knew and instead seeing someone carrying an incalculable burden.

And I thought, whatever is the worst thing I’ve ever done or will ever do in my life, it would be nice if people would view it that way. Not brushing it aside, not excusing it and not preventing legal justice from coming into play, but leaving out the personal judgment and letting God handle it. “Yes, she did ____. It was a bad day for her.”

It’s easy to let someone’s worst moment color our perception of everything else. It’s hard not to remember something nasty about someone, especially if only see him/her occasionally. It’s especially hard when I hear it through a third party, so I see someone and know, “This person hurt my friend.” But that one comment, “a bad day,” took me aback. We all do bad things. This priest realized we’re so much more.

Posted in pensive, religion | 2 Comments

One scary thing every day

About six months ago, I said I’d never want to own my own business. Three months ago, while researching what it took to self-publish my books, I realized I’d need to do exactly that. All the experts on self-publishing encourage you to treat it as a business right from day 1, so in early July, I dropped off one of my kids at the dentist and walked across the street to Town Hall. Fifteen minutes later, I became a small business owner.

This is scary. I’m not going to lie — going ahead and becoming Philangelus Press required a commitment from me, a commitment to risk failing in a very big way. A public way.

So I researched. I got my tax ID and a bank account. I lined up freelancers and wrote a business plan and bought my ISBNs. I have a list of things to do that’s as long as my arm. And at some point, I froze because it was just too difficult. Too many things. “I can’t,” I said to my Patient Husband about buying the ISBNs. “I know I need to do this, and I’ve set aside the money to do it. But I get onto their website and I know pushing the button is the point of no return.”

He said to me, “Try doing one scary thing every day.”

So I’m trying. One scary thing every day. Scary things like buying ISBNs, like setting up an Amazon seller account, like interviewing narrators for audiobooks. And after I’ve done it, it doesn’t seem scary anymore, so I move on to the next scary thing.

A week after my Patient Husband returned with K1 and K2 from vacation, the mailman delivered a large, flat package. I joked, “More Magic cards?” and my Patient Husband said, “Look and see.” It was a canvas of this image (for which I’m sure I’d get a takedown notice, by the way, so just go over and look and save me a legal headache.)

It’s called “Leap of Faith,” and the artist explains that one day he looked into a tree about 20 feet overhead and saw a duck looking out of a hole. He pulled out his camera and waited…waited…and after about five hours, the duck launched, and for the first time, he could see she’d had chicks behind her. He started snapping pictures, and out tumbled all these baby ducks, for the first time spreading their wings and learning to fly on the way down.

He said, “I thought you’d like that story.”

I did. But more than that, I looked at the baby ducks and saw myself: born to fly but never having done so. Flying must be scary the first time, especially flying from so high up, and those stubby wings that look so underpowered for the size of the bird. But they leaped, and they flew, and they made it to water.

So every day, I work on my one scary thing. I’m willing to fail in a big, public way. But maybe on the way down, Philangelus Press will learn to fly.

Posted in writing | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Um…yeah…

Dear God:

I am a flake. I understand that, and I’m sorry, and I’m trying to fix it. Sometimes it’s hard to answer all the emails I have to. Sometimes I just freeze up and can’t deal with people, and I have to force myself. You see how sporadic I am with the blog. But I’m starting my own business now, and I’m trying to force myself to get it all done on a regular basis.

I would like to ask you a favor, God. Please don’t ever let me be AWOL so long that one of my business contacts searches online for my obituary. Because that’s a whole different level of flakiness. Thank you.

I love you,
Philangelus

Posted in sarcasm | 2 Comments

All of me

Last night I was praying about someone very brave. I’m not going to identify her because she wouldn’t want to be identified, but in a situation where someone else needed help, she risked getting hurt in order to help that other person. I was telling God how I admire this person and the way she just trusted and did God’s will for her in that situation.

Only how did she know God’s will for her? She’d been hurt in the past in a similar situation, and it would have been understandable if she’d hung back and not reached out to help.

I was falling asleep, and I found myself thinking: God’s will for her in that situation was for her to be fully herself; her full self was someone who empathized and gave help to those who needed it. If she’d clung to her fear of getting hurt, she wouldn’t have been fully herself because the fear would have been crimping off part of her.

I think it was CS Lewis who said that all evil people are evil in the same fashion, but good people become good in a tremendous diversity of ways. It felt to me then that part of God’s will for all of us is that we fully inhabit our selves. The selves God created to be good in this multiplicity of ways, but which came into this broken world themselves damaged and broken.

Then life harms us, and we cut ourselves away from the parts of us that get hurt. They don’t hurt as much, but we lose access to some of ourselves.

Years ago, during the consecration at Mass, it went right through me when the priest quoted Jesus: “Take this, all of you, and eat it.” Right then, it wasn’t “Take this, all of you people,” but rather, “Take this, Jane — all of you — and eat it.” All of me, fully present. Fully focused, fully open, fully vulnerable.

That’s what spiritual healing is: it’s uncrimping and unclamping, letting grace and light flood through the parts we’ve sealed off. Take this, all of you. Don’t hold back parts of yourself. Be vulnerable, risk getting hurt if that’s what it takes, but be yourselves. This one person did, and she showed me what it means to answer God’s call.

Posted in religion | 4 Comments

Jane’s Hairy-Hairy Situation, part two

To recap yesterday: three doctors failed to make Jane’s hair grow again, but a hair stylist’s offhand remark got it growing once more. And Jane decided to thank her…somehow. 

The last time I wrote a positive customer-service letter, I was stupid. I mean, more stupid than usual. I left enough identifiers in the letter that they knew exactly who I was, and ever since then, when I go to that place of business, it’s awkward. Because they know. They don’t even want to look me in the eye. So this time, instead of giving mere thanks and a lifetime of awkwardness (especially since it looks like I’ll need to get regular haircuts again in the future) I’d give them something tangible.

Flowers. The stylists’ job was beauty, and flowers are beautiful. I’d bring them flowers.

I waited for a Friday because on a Friday they’d have customers, and they’d have customers on Saturday too. They could brag. They could show off. I’d leave a tag on the flowers so other customers would know a customer had been pleased with them. Right? Right. Go.

On the way between the flower place and the hair place, I nearly chickened out, trembling at the red light (Angelborough has three stoplights and three hair salons, just so you know) and kept telling myself “What would a brave person do? A brave person would deliver them.”

Not so much. I kept thinking maybe I should have given the florist ten bucks to do the delivery. But no. A brave person would walk in, say thank you, and leave the flowers. I would be brave.

The first thing that went wrong? No one was in the hair salon. No customers, that is. I opened the door and both stylists looked up at me.

Be brave.

Looked? No, they glared. They glared with a challenge at this woman wearing a baseball cap and holding a floral arrangment.

This wasn’t supposed to happen — they were supposed to be cutting and styling and weaving and dyeing and creating beauty, and I was supposed to bravely march in, bravely leave the thing on the desk, and sneak out without talking to anyone. Bravely.

Instead these two women glared at me, clearly not of their tribe, a customer in the middle of doing something weird. They were tall, slender, blonde, made-up, and stylish. I am…well, none of those things. But I am brave. So I forced myself to leave the entryway and approach. “I wanted to bring these to say thank you.”

They kept glaring at me. I said, “One of you helped me get my hair growing again — ” (a third stylist appeared from the back, and I turned to her) ” — I think it was you, and I just wanted to say thanks.”

I put it on the desk. One of them stopped glaring and said, “Oh. Um…they’re beautiful.”

I’m not beautiful. But my hair is growing again, and I thought they ought to have some beauty too, right? But brave or not, I couldn’t say it. So instead I smiled, then bravely turned my tail and fled.

They have no idea who I am, this weirdo who showed up with flowers and a frizzy halo of new hair stuffed under a baseball cap. And that’s the way I want it. They probably laughed their heads off after I left, but that’s okay. They know I appreciate them, and as for me, I went home to continue growing hair.

Posted in geekery | 10 Comments