Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dealing With Depression

Greetings Pups,

I know I got kind of personal in my last post, and I normally don't like to do that twice in a row. I mean, I like to entertain you all, and I don't think that this would fit into that category. However, I thought it might be important to talk about something I've dealt with recently, as well as throughout the majority of my life. And that something would be depression. Now, I am only talking about MY issues, so don't think that I presume to know what you're going through or that I think I have all your answers. I don't. I'm just sharing my story.

Of course, I know that there are multitudes of people talking about this online, and if you searched it on YouTube, well, I don't think there's a number high enough to cover all the videos you'd find on the subject. Now whether or not everyone is being sincere, I don't know, and I won't try to guess. I'd like to think that no one would just use something like this for whatever reason, so assuming that everyone IS being sincere, they all have their own stories that are unique to themselves. And I am no different.

Like I said, I've dealt with bouts of depression my whole life. I've brought that up quite a few times in this very blog. It's been an up and down journey for many years, which is how it effects a lot of people. We have good times and then we drop, and hopefully, we get back up. Honestly, for quite a while now, I've been on a bit of a low swing, over all. And when I say quite a while, I mean, a few years. You see, things that have affected me at different times have decided to congregate and attack me all at once, which makes all of this that much harder. So, when you combine my financial situation, my job situation, my health issues and the fact that my house is crumbling down around me? Yeah, it kind of makes things difficult. Not to say that every minute of every day has me curled up in a ball of sadness. Even within this time, I still have days that aren't too bad, not to mention that I am excellent at hiding what's going on with me from everyone I know. This is not really a good thing. Therefore, this may come as a surprise to a lot of people, what I've been dealing with.

And I think that's one of the hardest things some people have to go through with depression. It's the very solitary feeling that takes us over. Even if we have someone to talk to, we often think they won't really care or that they could never understand or in some cases, we don't want to burden them with our problems. It could be why many artists say they've been depressed, and that the art is what got them through it, giving them an outlet for everything when they thought they had nothing. I can speak to that one personally, obviously, as a writer. I will say that is the one thing that hasn't suffered in the past few years. Far from it. I do little else but write, and that's how it has always been for me. That's my release. That's the blessing that I was given by God to work through these times where my world feels like it's falling apart. And that is a time that I've felt stuck in for a while.

Now, I know that some people might throw my "religion" back in my face, asking why, if I believe that God can fix everything, I don't just pray and make it all okay. Well, as I mentioned in my last blog post, I don't think that's how God works. At least, not all the time. I do pray every day. I do still have my faith. That's part of how I get through each day, as hard as it is sometimes, along with my writing. I'm in this hole right now for a reason, whatever that may be. And I have a way to keep my head above water, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, until I get pulled out of it by what will most likely be a very big miracle. All things considered, it will have to be. And I know that not everyone looks to God for help, but this is my way. A way that I believe works. So, even though life is scary and uncertain right now, I'm hanging on. I am, in fact, dealing.

And that's what we all have to remember, those of us who are going though this. As difficult as a bout with depression is, we have to know that as long as we are dealing with it that means we are still here to deal with it. It's not over and there is hope that we'll see light again, more steadily and constantly so.

Please keep in mind what I mentioned at the start, that this was just my own story and experience. I'm not speaking for anyone but myself, and as I said, everyone goes through this on a different path. But I do think that the hope I talked about is what connects us and leads us to an answer and a place of peace.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rich Mullins & What His Legacy Means to Me

Greetings Pups,

On September 19, 1997, the world lost one if its most gifted artists, and I lost one of my greatest inspirations, with the passing of singer-songwriter Rich Mullins. If you're unfamiliar with him, he was a Christian artist during the 80's and 90's, penning some very well-known and beloved songs for both himself and others, including Amy Grant. He was revered as one of the best songwriters in the genre, if not the best, and some of us would put his brilliance as a musician up against any of the musical geniuses there are outside of Christian music. To put it simply, Rich Mullins was something special.

Okay, I have to talk about myself for a moment for all this to really make an impact. It's leading somewhere, trust me.

When I was growing up, I always felt very different from everyone around me. I know a lot of people say that, but that's because a lot of people do feel that way. I was an unofficial outcast everywhere I went, and I never thought I was in the place or around the people that I was meant to be. Still feel that way sometimes. I had a lot of emotional issues, stemming from the treatment I got from certain people in my life, but like a good little girl, I always kept my mouth shut. I never talked about my wounds. I felt ashamed of them, and I felt like I would be judged as a Christian for bringing all my damage into the light, instead of just praying it away. Don't get me wrong. I do believe in the power of prayer and trusting God to get you through your storms, but I also believe that sometimes He hands you the supplies and tells you to build the shelter yourself. Faith plus works, as we all know. But I was too afraid to even think that I was capable of doing that.

All that led me to some very dark days in my early teenage years. Very dark. I was constantly begging God to come to my rescue, and all the while, I had been writing about my troubles. But I remember thinking that I couldn't do that. What if someone found out that I was dwelling on that darkness? So, I shamed myself for it and kept on begging God to help. As it turns out, He was helping all along. This is what He gave me to work through all of that. My gifts of writing were my supplies, and doing the actual writing was how I was meant to build my shelter from the storm. And for a time, I had clearly forgotten the lessons I'd learned from someone that God had put into my life long before. That person was Rich Mullins.

See, Rich was far from perfect and he never backed down from letting the world know that. Whether it was through his songs or interviews, he always let us know about his scars. He never tried to be something he wasn't, even when what he was happened to be a man who was a bit rough around the edges. That was one of the reasons why I was so drawn to him as an artist and as a person. I was in that same state, even as a kid, but I tried to hide the pain by acting like everything was fine, like I was fine, and it wasn't until I started putting my scrapes and cuts and bruises into the open that they could begin to heal. That was something else he taught me. That, no matter what, there was always a way to heal.

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn't mention something else that Rich Mullins introduced me to. That would be Brennan Manning and his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, which I actually didn't get a chance to read until after Rich passed on. It had a big effect on me, as did the album that Rich made that was greatly inspired by it. The album is called A Liturgy, a Legacy & a Ragamuffin Band, and it is my favorite of all time.

It's also his masterpiece, as far as I'm concerned. If I ever meet anybody who is wary of Christian music for any reason, this is what I recommend to them. That way, they can see what brilliance can spawn from the genre, both musically and lyrically. It is something of a concept album, which means it had great potential to be pretentious, but rest assured, it is far, FAR from that. It's epic and intimate at the same time, and there is a rawness to it that, as usual, let's you see straight into the heart and soul of the artist. What he thought, what he felt, and most importantly, what he believed. It changed my life and continues to do so every time I listen to it.

I suppose that's all I want to say. I wasn't even planning on writing this. It was very last minute, as you can tell. But I thought I should do something to honor Rich Mullins and remember him today. I know it's a cliche to say that he's in a better place now, but I know for certain that he is. That's why, while this day does give a sting to my heart, I always need to remember that this was the day he went home. And I take comfort in the fact that I'll get to see him someday and say thank you to him. And also to God for sending such a blessing into my life.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Top Ten Billy Joel Songs

Greetings Pups,

So, Harry Connick Jr's show began its second season and his first guest was Billy Joel. Of course, that happened. We all know those piano men all stick together. Anywho, they did a little singing, naturally, and listening to it, I thought, "Oh, yeah. I really like Billy Joel's music and I ever made a Top Ten list of my favorite songs of his!" Or something like that. Therefore, I decided to do it today.

Now, considering when I was born and grew up, Billy Joel was really part of the zeitgeist for me, and I think he's just one of those artists that everyone enjoys, where even if you don't like him, you do. Just because. Well, maybe it's because he's always felt so regular guy-ish, and when you seem him, you feel like your neighbor or uncle or wacky, music teacher got famous. He feels like someone you know, and that counts for something. But he's also extraordinarily, musically gifted. So, I think we should start talking about said music. Here is my Top Ten list of Billy Joel songs. Enjoy

Honorable Mention goes to "We Didn't Start the Fire". I know he doesn't like it that much, but I do. And there are few greater feelings in the world than the moment you realize, "WOW! I've memorized all the words to this song!" Or is that just me, as my life is pretty sad? Moving on.

#10. "My Life" - This was the theme song to one of the greatest shows of all time, Bosom Buddies. I don't think I need any other reason than that to put it on the list. Although, as a person who is constantly telling others to "leave me alone", I can relate to this. Big time.

#9. "She's Always a Woman" - Or "The Backhanded Compliment Song". Oh, what? That is exactly what's happening here and you know it. Alright, I'm just kidding. Actually, I heard that he wrote this about his ex-wife, who helped him get his financial act together. She was pretty tough and apparently, some people were like, "A tough woman? I think not!" And this song was Billy's answer to those fools. Good times.

#8. "Don't Ask Me Why" - When I used to work at my heinous job in retail, I had to listen to many awful songs overhead. But occasionally, I'd hear a good one. This is one of them. And this is one that always made me feel better for some reason. The music just cheered me up in the moments I needed it the most. Much thanks.

#7. "Uptown Girl" - I mean, how could I not? This is just one of the funnest songs ever. Now, I think some people believe that this song was written exclusively for Christie Brinkley, as they were eventually married and she was in the video. But apparently, he started writing this about Elle Macpherson, who he was dating at the time, and then it morphed into being about Christie as well. Holy crap, I love this man's life. Anyway, I also heard it was inspired, musically, by the work of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and that will always get you points.

#6. "Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)" - Unless my memory is playing tricks on me, I believe I once saw this special where Billy was at a university or something, talking to the students, giving them advice and answering questions. And I do remember that someone asked him to sing this song, but he couldn't even finish, he got so emotional. Because it's about his baby girl, Alexa Ray. I tell ya, I almost cried myself. Again, if I am remembering correctly.

#5. "Honesty" - He's not kidding when he says "Honesty is such a lonely word". No one wants to hear the truth, especially these days, and when you tell them the truth, they just flee. That's cool, though. I like my alone time.

#4. "New York State of Mind" - I tell you, nothing makes you appreciate the East Coast more than spending any amount of time on the West Coast. And that is what inspired this song. Actually, it seems to have inspired the whole album that this song was on, Billy's return to New York after being in L.A. for a while. There's nothing like coming home, and whilst we have a ton of songs about NYC, I think the best ones are written by genuine New Yorkers, IMO.

#3. "The River of Dreams" - Imagine if Billy Joel was the organist at your church. No need to imagine, because here it is. Yeah, no lie, this song sounds like church to me. A really good, jazzy one. And there's no way I can mention this song without bringing up the performance of it he gave at the Grammys, back when people still cared about the Grammys and they weren't utterly pointless. It's iconic. I'm sure you'll be able to find it someone.

#2. "The Longest Time" - I used to think that this song was just voices. The a cappella, ya know. But it actually has some bass and snare drum with brushes. I had no idea. Although, it has probably been covered many times without those things. MANY times! Again, this is just such a feel good song, and I dare you to not smile whenever it comes on. Unless you're really, super sad. Then, I'll let it slide

#1. "The Downeaster Alexa" - I don't know how many people would call this their favorite song of Billy's. I assume not a lot, but I like to go against the flow. I love this song. It feels like Billy Joel's very unique and specific version of epic. I mean, he got Itzhak Perlman do the violin solo. Come on! And the structure is so different from a basic "Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge" kind of a song, it really does bring something special to the table. Also, it's something of a story song, and I love me a good story song. Especially when it's inspired by true stories about true struggles. Excellent work, my friend.

And there are my favorite songs by the Billy Joel. I like Billy. I really do. We might not agree on everything, but his music certainly makes me happy. And all things considered where my life is concerned right now, that is exactly what I need. So, sir, if by some miracle you ever read this, I say thank you.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Two Books At Once?!?!

Greetings Pups,

I took a peek at my Goodreads page the other day and saw that I am a mere fifteen books away from winning my own personal 2017 Reading Challenge. Good times. I was ambitious and made my goal - wait for it - one hundred books! Yeah, you heard me. Truth be told, I may have done that already in the past, but I never kept track of it until now. Because GoodReads is a thing and now I have a place to keep track of it. And, as you can see, I am doing quite well. I can read fairly quickly, especially if it's a good book, and it's a great way to kill the down time within the hours I spend writing my own books. Plus, I was told that audio-books count, and you can get those done in a flash as well, depending on the book and if you remember to increase the speed. However, in all my years of reading, there is one thing that I don't think I've ever done. Guess! And don't look at the title of this post. That's cheating.

Yes, it's true. As far as I can remember, I have never read two books at the same time. Even when I was in school, I would set aside my own reading to concentrate on assignments. But again, I read quickly, so, as soon as I finished The Scarlet Letter or whatever, I could zip through something of my own choosing. The thing is, I get very much into whatever story I happened to be working on. I never liked having to jump between fictional worlds. I thought it would be too confusing, especially if they were similar. So, I always had a rule of "One book at a time".

But I decided something recently. I may have made it known that, as a writer, I tend to work on more than one project at a time. Sadly, that makes the time of my finishing anything arrive much later than it should, but still. Anyway, I thought that if I could write more than one book at a time, then there's no reason I can't read more than one book at time. So, the other day, I did something drastic - I labeled TWO books on GoodReads . . . as "Currently Reading". Wow, I made that sound a lot more dramatic than it actually was.

Now, to be fair, this may not end well for me. I may just give up on both books. You never know. But after giving it some thought, I'm starting to wonder if this method might make me get through certain books even faster. I mean, if I can choose a book depending on my mood, instead of declining to read at all because I'm not in the mood for the one particular book that I happen to be reading, I should finish more and finish more a lot faster. It's an experiment, but it's certainly one I am willing to try.

Look, the bottom line is that I'm reading. And whether you or I choose to read one book at a time or a hundred at a time, it's all good as long as we are doing it at all. Although, you might want to pass on that "hundred at a time" thing I just mentioned. It might be a bit much.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, September 7, 2017

In the Woods by Tana French - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

I've noticed something about writers, especially these days. There are a lot of good ones. There are a lot of bad ones. I think the most prevalent are the merely competent ones. But, few and far between, there are writers who are distinct and unique, who use a voice that is completely their own. These are the writers that require you to read only a page or two, if that, to know who they are. Yes, they are rare, and a few years ago, I think I found one. Her name is Tana French and today, I am going to discuss her first book, In the Woods.

In the Woods is a 2007 mystery novel and is the first in the Dublin Murder Squad series, which I will speak more about later. It's about a detective named Rob Ryan, who is investigating the murder of a 12-year-old girl whose body was found on a dig site, along with his partner Cassie Maddox. The details of the case are taking Rob back to the memory of a horrific event that happened to him when he, himself, was 12-years-old, especially considering how many similarities there are between them. It is a part of his past that he keeps secret from everyone, with the exception of his partner, who he trusts due to their close relationship. That closeness, however, leads people to think they are intimately involved. Because we all know that men and woman can't ever be just close friends. That's just silly talk.

Anyway, as the investigation moves forward, as many leads are fruitlessly looked into, Rob tries to pull from his own memories of what happened to him, on the off chance that it could be helpful, not only to this present mystery, but also to the one that haunts his past. So, in a way, we're getting two mysteries for the price of one. Of course, with the lengths to which he goes to use his childhood trauma to try and fix his current adult dilemma, it only ends up messing with him emotionally and leading to some issues in his friendship with Cassie. Still, they must continue on with their job to find out exactly what occurred. And doing so leads them, and us, the reader, on a intense and gripping ride.

Now, I refuse to spoil the ending of this book, because I'm not mean and I think you should read it yourself. I will say, however, that I found it to be quite satisfying. I did not predict it at all, and the set up for it was done very well. Was it the exact ending that I wanted? Not completely, but it was true to life and how life goes sometimes. Frankly, that's all I can ask of a writer, to respect me enough to let the story be what it is, from beginning to end. And you know what? Sometimes I think the best way to insult your reader is to give them exactly the ending that they want. Or, should I say, the ending that they THINK they want. None of that here, which may upset some people, but not me.

So, about the Dublin Murder Squad. First of all, I don't think it's an actual thing, IRL, but whatever. They're homicide detectives. That's all you need to know. Now as far as the series goes, the structure of it is quite interesting. All the books are connected, but not extremely so. Obviously, they always follow the squad and you will have recurring characters, but there is a new case to solve and a new lead character for each book. Well, actually, to say "new" is a bit misleading. Usually, the lead in one book will be a secondary character from a previous book. It's a great way to be able to get the story from a fresh perspective, but said perspective comes from someone you've already been introduced to. There's just enough of a thread to connect the books, but not so much that you feel like you're stuck in a never-ending narrative. Okay, I used the word "books" WAY too much in that paragraph.

In conclusion, I definitely recommend In the Woods. Tana French is such a superb writer. Her world building is amazing, and she truly creates an atmosphere that completely pulls you into the story. And the way she writes characters is what I love most about her writing. They're complex, they have depth and you feel like you know them, because she puts you right in their head and proves that there is absolutely an art to making a first person narrative. As I said, writers like Tana French are rare, so we should make sure to show them, and their books, the appreciation they deserve.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, September 1, 2017

I Made Videos...and Also Some Other Stuff!

Greetings Pups,

Didn't I just do some kind of life update thing not too long ago? Well, I guess it's better than having nothing to report. Change is good, most of the time, and I'd say it's pretty good now. So, I thought I'd tell you all about something I started, just today as a matter of fact, as well as some other things that I'll be doing soon, hopefully.

First of all, as you can tell by the title of this post, I made some videos. Calm down. I didn't do some epic Lady Gaga thing or whatever. In fact, I've done quite the opposite. I've done about the simplest thing one can do in the video making realm. Now, I am not the best at marketing my books. It's just not my strength. So, I thought I would try to get my work out there in a new way, and that way is making some poetry videos. Again, calm down. These things are not fancy. I just used Windows Movie Maker and some stock music. It's all I have. Well, it worked for Grade A Under A. Anyway, I hope my writing will speak for itself, and people can overlook my rudimentary visual skills.

My plan is to start with putting these poetry videos up on VidMe . . . and also YouTube. Even though, I'm not exactly pleased with them at the moment. But whatever. I have a channel there. May as well use it. If those pan out, maybe I'll expand and do some vlogs or funny story videos. I may even start taking some of my old reviews and lists from right here and turning them into a more visual medium. Of course, to do all that, I may have to draw a cartoon avatar of myself for those, as no one should be forced to look at my face IRL. That's right. I am THAT gorgeous. And if I ever start my podcasts, I'll try to put those in video form as well. Because why not?

Another thing I'm planning to do is sell some merch by way of starting a campaign on TeeSpring. If you don't know what that is, it is a site where you can design things like mugs or totes or t-shirts, obviously, and then you set a goal for sales for a certain amount of time. If you meet the goal, your stuff gets sold. If not, better luck next time. Now, you can design on site with their fonts and art, but those can only be used when you sell through them. And that's fine with me for now, just so I can see if I could actually sell anything at all. I can call those limited edition or something. Makes them sound fancy. I am, however, looking to find a graphic designer who will work with me (very affordably) to make a logo and work on my own personal branding. I'd do it myself, but for the life of me, I can't get a straight answer online about whether or not fonts are copyrighted. It's rough, I'll tell you. Either way, I'll see if I can sell a few things and then maybe I'll be able to hire someone eventually. If I get money. Did I mention there's a donate button on this page? Just sayin'.

So, that's about it. Just wanted to share this new stuff with you all. I left all the links to my channels and social media below, so that you can stay updated with everything I'm doing. Hopefully, I'll be able to reach more people with these new ventures, and even more hopefully, I'll be able to do some good.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer