A lovely friend immortalized me in a poem. Since she is one of my favorite poets, I am very flattered by such attention. Love you, Lynz Johnson.
If you haven't read my rave review of the Anonymous Source by A.C. Fuller yet, you should. This suspense/thriller/mystery/awesome story of a burgeoning relationship is well written, perfectly plotted and, well, mysterious. But I'm here to review the launch party at Lowercase Brewing today, not the book. So, bare with me as I tell you a little story about how my night at Lowercase Brewing in Seattle, Wa went.
The ferry was late for some reason. I shared a slick bench seat with a couple Romanian men I didn't know, but who motioned to the seat and their cell phone chargers in askance. Sure, I shrugged. They plugged in a chatted away, a nice cadence to take a nap to, which I did, having just finished an eventful baby shower and feeling a cake coma was required before the next party--a not-your-average book launch for colleague and author, A.C. Fuller. Five minutes before last announcement one of my bench mates gently elbowed me, "Your phone is beeping. You have a message, maybe." I smiled, thanking him, and pulled my phone out of my pocket.
No, my phone was beeping it's last, feeble dying beeps before succumbing to darkness. "Damnit! It's dying, and I don't know the address of the brewery I have to go to." One of the men unplugged his phone from a charger and offered me the cord. "We have to go to the car soon, but maybe use it to find your address." I plugged in, smiling my thanks, and turned it on, rolling my eyes at the ridiculous Motorola graphic that takes my phone ages to load. Okay, maybe only a minute, but these nice men have to get to their car, Motorola, can we skip the fancy wake-up earth picture, and just turn on, porfavor?!
I was able to send a quick, "Love you. Phone dying" message to my husband before the nice men had to take their chargers and head for the car. I was also able to get the address for the brewery. So, repeating it out loud like a weirdo with a wire loose, I wandered into Seattle the same day as two sports games (don't ask me which, I don't know sports) and Seafair.
Getting a taxi was fairly easy. I slipped into one right off the ferry, reciting the directions out loud to someone who cared, this time. He programmed the directions to the brewery into GPS and we took off, swerving and honking our way past crowds of blue, green and white pedestrians. I soon realized, however, that the dense traffic from three simultaneous events was going to cost me. I made a face at the meter and opened my wallet to count the cash I had, hoping I'd not have to use my debit card for a taxi. Eighteen dollars is not going to cut it. I thought as I counted my meager cash supply. I never have much cash. Oh, well. Most taxis take cards these days. I dug in my wallet for my debit card and cursed. "What's wrong?" my driver asked, eyeing me, probably offended by my pirate's tongue.
"Uh, I have exactly eighteen dollars on me. I forgot my debit card...somewhere." I looked at him apologetically. "Just take me as far as eighteen dollars takes me, and I'll walk to rest of the way."
The man shook his head. "I'm not dropping you off in the middle of South City. You have friends at this place, no? You ask them for money."
I sighed. "I really would rather not. I know exactly one person at the party, and it's his day, so asking for money is going to make me look like a jerk. I'll walk. I'm not afraid" The guy shook his head, but said nothing.
The meter got to eighteen and he gestured out the window at graffitied buildings, down-and-out-souls and boarded windows. "This is eighteen dollars. I'm not comfortable with it." He shook his head and didn't slow down. I could tell he was trying to be gallant, trying to not have my existence on his consciousness all night, probably knew I could get the money and wanted to be ahead for his trouble, and I was still a ways from my destination. "Okay, I guess we will make it work." He nodded once in agreement. I muttered to myself, Even though I can take care of myself. But it wasn't a day for proving my hulk-like strength, panther-like speed and grace and female prowess. I had to get to the party, so that I could help A.C. with the book reading , and I was looking forward to it.
Once at the party, I sheepishly hugged A.C. and met his book manager who was frantically and successfully pulling the party off. Everything looked amazing. There was a raffle table, delicious smelling and chic Anonymous Source beer displayed everywhere, and a huge poster of A.C.'s phenomenal cover. People were drinking and happy, and I thought, This was a great idea for a venue. People need to be drinking when I release my book. I felt like a tool when I gestured to the cab and explained my predicament to his wonderful manager, but my counselor says my pride gets in the way of a lot of things, so I let it go, and accepted, very gratefully, her wonderful help. Come to think of it, being willing to walk through South City in order not to ask for help probably is prideful, so I must have a fantastic counselor.
Thank you, Jennifer! You saved me from a very long, somewhat dangerous walk. You are a super lady and I am going to get you your ten dollars if I have to drive up to beautiful B-ham and buy you dinner. Actually, that sounds lovely. I might do that. I miss that beautiful city.
I paid my driver, who looked very smug to be right and I shooed him away. The rest of the night was a blur of awesomeness. I was not sure that a night starting off so very...eventfully...would be much of a success, but it really was. Apart from wondering how I was going to get home without feeling like a tool again, I had a really good time. I met the coolest and most wonderful couple in the whole world. Justin and Chris, you made my night with your generous spirits and wonderful insights, and I am very happy to have met you. I met tons of Booktrope people who I'd "talked to" online, but who really just need to be seen in person. I had no idea Booktrope was such a good-looking company. Seriously, our profile pictures don't even begin to cover how good-looking we are. If you like books from great looking people, Booktrope is a good way to start. I'm not sure how many people buy based on that criteria, but I thought I'd mention it.
And I successfully helped narrate the reading for A.C. without too much mumbling or humiliation. I had a nice chat with the other reader, a fantastic woman (who was a stunning younger version of the actual Camilla) studying for her M.A. in Theater, who pulled off Camilla without a hitch. And A.C., despite his nerves, was the perfect Alex Vane. He did write him, after all. I was able to talk with the marketing agent for Solid Ground, the wonderful and worthy cause that A.C. donated the raffle money to, and he was nice enough not to openly think me too nerdy for my elbowy, white dancing to Amanda Allen's wonderful Anonymous Source rap (below). Honestly, the love and devotion and pure talent of that woman floored me. It's safe to say, she took the show. It was also lovely to see that Dugoni and Hobbs, two successful authors in A.C.'s genre, stopped by to show their support. The writing community is a close one and a very fun one.
Thankfully, I was saved from further groveling and begging when Maddy, NWIC wonder woman, showed up to the party with her boyfriend, who was offered copious Anonymous Source 'party favors' upon exiting the launch (enough to test the strength of Maddy's sad Urban Outfitters cloth bag, which, regrettably, did not pass the test) and offered me not just a ride to the ferry but a ride home. Maddy, if I ever make it big as an author, I'm hiring you as my personal assistant. NWIC will just have to deal with that.
All in all, A.C., that was the most fun I've ever had at a book launch, even with the rocky start. I wish you all the luck in the future and thank-you for your help in introducing me to Booktrope and in letting me be a part of the process. If you haven't yet picked up The Anonymous Source, readers, I suggest you get on it. He's already working on book two.
Every person has different emotional capabilities. As a woman with a mood disorder, I understand this better than many people, since my body sends me stupid chemical triggers that sometimes make me feel like a two year old in need of a nap. But for the most part, I think that most people are capable of learning to empathize. I actually find that I am very capable and interested in knowing about other people's plights, that I feel badly when others do, that I cry if someone comes crying to me. My mother was the same way, and she taught me that it was important to hear people out, to try to understand their feelings. But, when I grew up, I realized that not everyone does this.
What I find, actually, especially in online settings (facebook and twitter are good examples) is that people lack empathy. Silly little pictorial memes with minions, Tweety or a dwarf from Snow White say the most judgmental, weird things."This racial group only wants handouts." I didn't know you were so racist, Snoopy. "Parents of small children just need to GTFO of the way." I didn't know that minions hated small children. "Love America or get out!" I didn't know Tweety was so very patriotic.
Okay, enough sarcasm. You get the drift: judgmental memes, posts and rants online are big. It makes me feel weary. I don't mind reading about important social/political topics, I actually love to do that. But I hate the mean flashcard posts about "this or that person needing to get over him/herself, etc. etc." I have a hard time feeling a normal amount of happiness and patience on my own, and social networking makes it harder, for this reason.
But, I like to be online to socialize about things that bring me joy (namely, books, writing, cultural activities, family and topics of societal importance), so it's a tough call. I'm not perfect. Sometimes people make me angry when they assume this or that through weird cartoon memes or just un-empathetic generalizations. My counselor likes to give me tips that I can use when I feel that my moods are not in the normal range. They often work, when my mind is able to function normally. Even if it's not, I can use them when my elevated moods become balanced (through running, walking, leaving the situation and shutting myself away).
I was looking at a lot of the techniques she uses to help me with my kids and with people who trigger me, and I noticed something. They are centered around empathy-something "normal" me is very good at, but something that "weird chemical imbalance" me is terrible with (again, think tired two-year-old). So, if you are a person who usually thinks that EVERYONE IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST, a person who is frequently posting angry memes, or someone who simply does not understand others, I know how that feels (especially when I'm on an unstable spectrum).
I know that empathy is hard. It's hard to care about people not immediately connected to you, or to care about a person who is not kind to you. Honestly, I think biology tells us to self-preserve and protect rather than empathize, and it's hard to work against your body (again, I know this). However, if you're someone who wants to be a little less fed up with the people around you, here are 5 helpful tips on how to empathize, brought to you by counselling. These are tips I've been given that seem to make life a lot easier when my chemicals are screaming at me to punch things.
1. When a person is not acting his/her best. When they are doing/saying/writing something that bugs me and is, well, wrong!stupid!irritating! (negative judgement words) there is one thing I must do, first, before I can do anything else. BREATHE. Breathing is important. Oxygen helps the brain and body function. A body will overreact if a person stops breathing normally. That person will become more anxious, more irritable. So, breathing slow, measured breaths is a good thing.
2. I try to think about factors outside the situation. What might have happened in this person's day, life, year to effect the attitude or action that they are having? How would I want someone to react to me, if I were having a terrible, shit day? How do I feel when my day is just the worst? How do I react? Could this person be going through something similar? What will reacting negatively bring me?
3. If I must react to a situation, I should react calmly. I should use a concentrated effort to keep my voice soft and pleasant. I need to speak without judgement. "Are you having a hard day?" "Can I do something to help?" These are ways I can engage someone without pointing out their behavior, which will result in more negativity.
4. If a person is belligerent, ignores me or is rude: I don't have to do those things back. Probably, something went wrong in their life/day/year. Does that mean they should be mean to everyone else? No. Does that mean I have to school them on life in front of everyone and make it worse? No. I can do nothing. I can let it go, if it's not all that important. It's been proven that ranting, yelling and venting cause your body to become more agitated, stressed and, well, elevated. So walking away may not be "pushing it down;" it might be just letting it go and allowing my body to calm.
5. What if someone is violent? What about extreme cases? If you feel threatened and you must protect yourself, some of these things might still work. Most people can be reasoned with. If a person cannot be reasoned with, remove yourself from the situation and if there is danger, call the authorities. This is extreme cases only. You don't have to call the cops on someone who is telling his/her toddler, "You're making my life a living hell today!" Is that a great response? No. Is it something that has been true but unvoiced in your life? Maybe. So maybe not the best time to call the cops. If someone is beating his toddler with a Fruit Loops box, repeatedly, well, that's probably a good time to let the professionals help.
Lastly, I try to remember my own shortcomings. I probably mess up three times or more a day (okay, more like 20). "Judge not lest ye be judged" does not have to be a religious saying. It simply means that if I'm not comfortable with someone strolling up to me and being judgmental, it's a good idea to not fall into those patterns myself. I've been on the giving and receiving end of negative judgments daily, and it brings me down. Judging others is not comfortable and being judged is miserable. Passive judgement (judgmental memes, angry "not calling anyone out but saying something sort of obviously mean about someone" posts) count.
I never feel badly when I try to experience someone else's day through their lens. Honestly, it doesn't matter if someone who is annoying, ignorant or rude at any given moment is that way because of outside factors or because they are just always that way. If I react negatively, I feel negative. And I don't need help feeling negative. I just want to be happy, and I'd really like other people to be happy, too. Peace and virtual hugs.
If you listen to audiobooks (or want to try one), this is a great fantasy audiobook to start with! The Tower's Alchemist (The Gray Tower Trilogy, #1) is a fantasy mashup where magic meets espionage. This Amazon best selling series has already been downloaded by thousands of readers, and now it's available for your listening pleasure.
Wizard Vs. Nazi Warlock Vampires.
It's a very different World War II.
The Nazis have unleashed occult forces throughout Europe and the Allies are forced to recruit and employ wizards to counter their attacks.
Among them is the battle weary spy, Isabella George, a Gray Tower dropout trained in Alchemy. Longing for retirement and a life of peace, she accepts one final job - extract a deadly warlock from Nazi occupied France and prevent him from unleashing an alchemical weapon that will devour the continent.
But France is crawling with the cruenti: vampiric warlocks who feed off other wizards. When things don't go according to plan, one cruenti sets his deadly eyes on her.
Betrayal is everywhere. Even some of her closest allies cannot be fully trusted. Worse still, she finds, she can't even trust herself. She becomes a woman torn between her charismatic spy lover who offers her what she desires most, one of her closest confidants whose soft seductive eyes hold deadly secrets about her past, and the Gray Tower itself.
Plans within plans. Plots versus counter plots. Heists gone wrong, sword-wielding Catholic priests, and the greatest manipulation of history that has ever been seen - these are just a taste of what Isabella George is in for in her final mission.
Check out a sample, narrated by voice actress Anne Johnstonbrown.
3. The Tower's Alchemist Audiobook links:
Audible - http://adbl.co/1HEISp3
iTunes - http://apple.co/1LyluMx
Amazon - http://amzn.to/1gK6lfz
Thanks again, and let me know what I can do for you in return :)
I'll be featured on Blogtalk radio August 13th, 2015 at 5 p.m. Take a look at the link to find a number for call-ins.
Six Masters of Time bring to you six stories that will make you change the way you think about time. Bestselling, award nominated/winning and simply awesome writers bring you tales about love, loss, destiny and...ultimately, time. Click on the above photo for the link, and enjoy traveling through time with us, The Masters of Time.
Hi bloggers, authors, readers and internet people. The B.R.A.G Medallion honor book Monochrome has a happy home with the Gravity imprint of Booktrope. The release is set for August 1st, and this author lady is very happy with the progress that's been made to my debut novel. Will you add your social support to my labors? Click here, if you are interested in sharing a message about Monochrome on the release date: August 1st 2015:
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.