Lessee, lessee, do we have everything? Case of Cherry Diet Coke? Check. Chocolate? Check. Socks to knit? Check. Supernatural D.V.D’s? Check, check, and check. Good. Good good good good. Now, I just need my blankie, a pillow, and my teddy bear, and we’re all up for a nice long stay in the crazy tree. Excellent. Let me pull my knees up to my chest and my blankie over my head, and…Aaaahhhhhh…
Awesome. I’m all ready for my book release now!
So, Talker’s Redemption came out on Wednesday, January 19th. Whenever I have a new release, people always ask me, “Aren’t you excited?”
Erm… sort of?
I mean, the pit of my stomach is a mess, and my chest is all cold and I’ve got this buzzing down my back from the bottom of my ass to the crown of my head and I find it hard to breathe. So, well, I’m either excited, or having a panic attack—it’s really sort of an either/or proposition. And this, my friends, is why we have the Crazy Tree.
Now, the Crazy Tree is not necessarily a new idea—but Mary Calmes and myself have dedicated ourselves to perfecting the art of Hiding Out in the Crazy Tree. We have a few phases of Crazy Tree occupation, and some tips for getting down, and I thought I’d share.
Oh God, oh God… I hear something. Masses, coming with torches and pitchforks because I’ve profaned the art of fiction, maybe? The thought police, coming to say that usually, they just overlook genre writers, but for ME, they’ll make an exception? A fan who really loved the first one but thought the sequel sucked! WHERE’S MY OTHER BLANKIE! There we go. My blankie fort, my teddy bear, let me just rock back and forth and sing some random song, (in honor of Talker’s Redemption, we’ll make it Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy”) and we’ll make it all go away.
Step One: Angst
Angst is usually self-generated, and it comes from conflicting sources. For Talker’s Redemption, I’ve got “sequel anxiety”—it’s a sequel, everyone loved the first one, I’m afraid it won’t live up. For The Locker Room (coming in April) I’ve got “new character anxiety”—nobody has heard of these guys, I’ve done some stuff the same and some stuff different, and I’m afraid it won’t live up. For Hammer & Air I had “too much sex anxiety”, for Bewitched by Bella’s Brother I had “I don’t usually do comedy anxiety”, for Guarding the Vampire’s Ghost I had “no one likes or cares bout the meta-story anxiety”—you name a release and there’s a reason I’ve been absolutely sure people would hate it.
You take that one reason, your blankie, your teddy bear, and there you go—you’ve got your knapsack of comfort food (Mary Calmes sends me pb&j with the crust cut off, because otherwise my only food group would be oreos and McDonalds chocolate chip cookies) and you’ve written you “I’m checking out for a while” letter to your family, and you’ve got one foot on the bottom rung up the tree-house ladder. It’s useless to try and stop it. My family has gotten to the point where the teenagers are like, “What’s up with mom?”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s comatose in front of the computer, checking endlessly for some sort of change at goodreads.com.”
“She’s got a new release out—she’s totally in the crazy tree.”
“Is she going to be all right? She keeps twitching! I think she has to go to the bathroom!”
“Well, you know. She’ll go eventually. I just hope she remembers to feed us. It’s been a whole hour!”
(They are teenagers. They feed like locusts.)
Wait… wait… someone’s calling my name! It could be Mary, trying to talk me down… it could be the rabid voice of my conscience saying I should be a fry cook instead. Let me just turn the volume up on Supernatural, and I’ll try to drown it out. Ohh… good. It’s the one where Dean’s all sexy and Sam’s all pouty. I like this one.
Step Two: Over-reaction
Of course, someone is going to leave you feedback. I usually deal with seeing my first review or my first rating in the following way.
“AAACCCKKKKK!!!! RUN AWAY!”
(“Where’s mom going now?” “I think she finally went to the bathroom.”)
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a five star or a one star—I run screaming into never-never land just so I don’t have to deal with it. And there I am, having just frog-hopped up half a giant birch or sentinel oak, crouching in my self-made fort of anxiety and hyper-imagination. Voila. Crazy Tree achieved. There I am, my whole kit out, swearing that I’m not cut out for this business and wondering if they’d still take me back at my college job of flipping burgers and asking “Would you like fries with that?”
Of course, the five-star review IS easier to come back and face, but even the one-star review must someday be read, and I could say that the Crazy Tree is an easy place to stay, but it’s not. Because, anxiety and over-reaction or no, the fact is, I actually labored over that piece of writing receiving feedback and… and… oh God. I really need to look. I mean… it’s my baby, right? And literary babies or real babies, we all know that even if they don’t squish out that attractively, but there is something of beauty in all of them. So we’ve got to see if the rest of the world sees it too. It’s a compulsion. It’s necessary. I mean, with the real babies, you realize that they’ll get prettier growing up. With the literary babies, you hope you’ll make the next one prettier when it comes out. You’re always striving to make a ‘perfect’ baby, right? Well, the feedback, even the one-star feedback, helps with that. So I need to look. Because I really am too old to go back to McDonalds, even as a manager.
Uh-oh… there’s a voice penetrating the Supernatural video playing at top volume.
“Amy, get your ass down here now!”
“Go away! Talker 2 came out this week!”
“Yeah, yeah, and you’ve had your time up there, but it’s over!”
“But nothing! The Servant came out this week too, did you forget that? Now get your ass out of the Crazy Tree right the fuck now, because there’s only room for one of us up there and IT’S MY TURN!”
*sniffle * “Okay, Mary. I guess you’re right. Fair’s fair. But, uhm, can I finish this episode first?
* sigh* “Look, just scoot over a little, will ya? I like this one too. But you gotta get out of here eventually—don’t you have a WIP?”
“Yeah. Living Promises is under construction. It’s shaping up nice…HEY! I thought you said we could finish the episode!”
“Living Promises? Get your ass out of the Crazy Tree, woman—you have work to do!”
“Yeah, I don’t see you working on your next Warder story!”
“I don’t care! My turn in the Crazy Tree. Move it! And change out of those pajamas—they’re getting rank!”
* grumbles* “Yeah, yeah, everyone’s a critic!”
Step Three: Getting Down
Getting down from the crazy tree really only involves three little words.
Work. In. Progress.
There’s always another romance, another plot, another herd of plot-bunnies, humping away in your head. They don’t end, even when you’re catatonic, spazzing out in the Crazy Tree. You give yourself a little time to stress, and then call it a day. You climb down, you sit yourself in front of your brain extension (mine’s a Mac) and you type like your life depends on it.
I mean, the Crazy Tree is always in the backyard, right? You can climb up any time.
“Mary! Mary? you hear me?”
“Go away! It’s the episode where Sam’s pouty and Dean’s sexy—I love this one!”
“People LOVE The Servant. It’s leaving Hammer & Air in the dust—come on down, my darling, it’s all good, I swear.”
“I promise. Besides—you only have so many pb&j’s in there, and you know how much I hate to cook.”
“Okay, but people better be nice to me when I get down.”
“They will be, darling. And if they’re not, don’t worry about it. We’ll kick ‘em in the shins. You don’t watch all those episodes of Supernatural without learning how to kick a little ass, right?”
*sniffle* “Right. Right. Okay. I’m coming down.”
“Awesome. So what’s that new Warder book called?”
And away we go. 😀
I forgot to add: please leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook of Talker’s Redemption. Also, be sure you check back on Sunday for The Crazy Tree, Part 2 by Mary Calmes.