Update: a few words

I’ve been really reluctant about making this update which covers why I have been MIA on all fronts. It’s pretty demoralizing to talk about and frankly I don’t want to do it, but given that I’ve more or less done a disappearing act I figure it’s a good idea to put it out there.

About 3 years ago I was getting ready to move house. I’ve been living in a multi-unit building and after a few years in a 2 bedroom I decided to downgrade to a 1 bedroom, so I packed up my stuff and moved into a vacant unit downstairs. What came next was a year of sleepless nights, as I had apparently moved from the family-friendly part of the building to the student ghetto. Loud parties, shrieking college girls, doors slamming at all hours. It drove me nuts and I was exhausted, but I ended up putting on earphones and channeling all that into a couple of projects – actually, that’s how Shadows May Fall (Wattpad) came to be, along with a side project which turned out to be a way to make some decent cash.

I had planned to move out of the apartment in the city and relocate to a small house about 30 mins away. The drive would have been annoying, especially in winter, but I figured it was a decent trade-off to get a less-expensive place where I could work in peace.

That didn’t happen. Long story short, I ended up moving in with my grandmother, and it was a terrible mistake.

She raised me (more on that later.) She’s in her mid 80s and has been on her own since my grandfather died in the 90s. She did pretty well once she was widowed – learned to drive at 60, for example – but the past few years there have been a few declines. Aside from going out less, which is to be expected, she’s been letting the house and herself fall apart. There are issues with food hoarding. She has trouble understanding letters sent to her, so she constantly needs someone to read them and explain. Dishes weren’t being washed but rinsed off, and so on with a multitude of other little things you’d probably see on some weird TLC show. The house I grew up in was slowly becoming a shithole and the woman who raised me turning into a shabby old woman content to let everything fall apart.

Coming with the bundle is my mother, who lives with my grandmother and has Munchausen Syndrome. I won’t get too much into what that is, but to quote Web MD:

dishonesty is common with this illness.

Luckily for me, the most of my raising had been done by my grandmother. I knew what I was getting myself into, but I had this ridiculous idea that I could help to make things better and put up with the stuff I couldn’t.

Needless to say, I did not.

Three years and nothing has been done. I now have a fat bank account and my grandmother has talked her way out of every single repair, and since it’s not my house and she’s still of sound-mind I can’t do anything about it. Small victories usually aren’t worth it – I wanted a dryer installed in a house that had never had one and it became a year-long battle of wills. I got the damn dryer, but it was exhausting.

The sensible adult in me says to use that money I saved to put a down-payment on a home of my own and leave it to my grandmother to come to the conclusion she should look at living somewhere that doesn’t require constant care, but I can’t. If I do, she would be left all alone and she wouldn’t come to that conclusion. She’d pride herself on being the spry old woman who still shovels her driveway until the last slip puts her in a wheelchair.

To make matters worse, my mother has decided pretending to be sick isn’t nearly as fun as it once was — rather than pull up her boots and helping out, she hooked up with an old boyfriend and just left. And by left I mean she’s letting him cook and clean for her at his place (or rather, his landlady’s place — he was kicked out of his trailer and would be homeless and is renting a single room in someone’s house – you can’t make this shit up) while she maintains her address at my grandmother’s, thus getting her out of having to pay any rent like an adult for a change.

I’m not sure why September was the catalyst, but something shifted during my last cottage vacation. Where I should have been on the beach enjoying the last few days of summer or rooting out spots that are hidden to most tourists, I sat in the cottage and watched TV and worried what I was coming home to or what was going to fall apart next. I haven’t written a single thing since. I had to confess to a very good friend I spoke to daily that I hadn’t been in touch in months because I simply had nothing good to say and I didn’t feel like unloading.

I’m stuck and I’m feeling stuck, and as a result I have little desire to do much of anything I love. For a while I was writing for the No Sleep Podcast, still writing lots of things, reading and baking, flirting and dating and all those things I used to enjoy. I even signed up for post-graduate studies. All those things are either on hold or an uphill battle. I tend to keep away from social media because, aside from the inundation of bad politics, I mostly follow writers and book folk and the last thing I want to do is read about other people living a life I once had. And, of course, work sucks. I always tolerated my day job because it was merely a source of income, but now that I’m not going home to get to doing what I love I’m far less tolerant

So here we are. Depression that had only poked me a little over the years has come back with a mighty vengeance. Now I’m not suicidal, so don’t worry about me on that end, but I do have less fight in me than I once had. I always had the mindset that better things were just around the bend and I was usually right, even if they didn’t turn out to be what I expected, but right now I’m just feeling like I’m never going to move anywhere. I used to joke to an ex-boyfriend that the house I grew up in and that I would go and visit was like Grey Gardens with less flamboyance. I guess now that makes me Little Edie, just waiting for something to change so I can get on with it already.

To the point: I won’t be writing for a while. I don’t really have anywhere I can do it and feel focused, and it frustrates me to think about it. I still have ideas and I will still jot down the occasional flash of inspiration, but I’m nowhere near ready to go back to the old routine. As it is I need to put focus on at least surviving the first leg of my post-grad work and actually getting an appetite so I don’t make myself sick.

I won’t name names, but I do want to give thanks to those who have reached out to me via email or tweet (or a hilariously-timed video dropped into my DMs – you know exactly who you are.) I promise I’ll get back to my old self one day, but I can’t guarantee it’ll be soon.

“Half Moon Island” – S.G.O. Files

It took me a week but I’ve finally taken a half an hour to listen to this hilarious but unsettling take on my story, Half Moon Island, by Digital and Dice.

If you liked this, make sure you leave a like and subscribe for more, and maybe drop a comment to let them know what you thought of this.

Here’s the original story, along with a link to the No Sleep Podcast episode where it was originally featured. 

Not Exactly a Spring Fling

I don’t usually have moments when I feel like I’ve gotten anything done. I’m constantly running a to-do list and whenever I tick one thing off I usually end up adding three more. I used to think this was how I got things done, but I’ve since realized it drives me absolutely around the bend. I mentioned in my winter post that I’ve taken up video games to get myself out of that, but the compulsion still comes in spurts and so I have to sit myself down every so often and acknowledge what I’ve actually gotten done.

First, the big news – I’m going back to school. Eep. I graduated from university in 2004 and at the time I toyed with the idea of doing some graduate work, but all of the programs I was interested in were in other provinces and I wasn’t prepared to move. After a lengthy bout of pulling my hair out at my office job I decided to have a look around and see if any of the programs I wanted were now available as a distance program- and one was! So I did the applications and was accepted. Hurrah! Starting in July after I get back from a vacation. It’s going to be tough, but if I can write as many books as I did between 2012-2016 I can handle going back to research. The 400 hour practicum is going to be the one that kills me.

outoftheblueThe first part of my project to get my A.M. Hartnett books in print and ebook is done. The rights to The Company of Fools and Out Of The Blue have reverted back to me and both have been re-released with new covers. I also put together a print anthology of my short stories, Dirty Words, in print-only (the stories are free to read on Tablo for readers 18+.) BIG BIG THANKS to Scarlett Parrish for helping me with this and offering her feedback. You can find links to all of them at www.amhartnett.com.

And since I was at it, I put together a print version of my New Adult novella, All To Myself. I wrote this over about a week ages ago and it really was a prototype of Shadows May Fall, only written with 18+ readers in mind – the poor girl/rich boy characters are basically modern-day versions of Dorothy and Robbie.

pretty_boySpeaking of which, I wrapped up How Dark The World, the story of what happened to Robbie after the explosion, and started posting the sequel, Pretty Boy. Unlike Shadows May Fall, Pretty Boy will be posted as it’s written – partly to game myself into writing regularly since I’ll have people poking me for the next bit. There may be some minor delays as I jump ahead to write a scene I can’t get out of my head, but my plan is to do a chapter every week or two until it’s done. I do plan on writing a couple more sequels after this, but I’ve had another couple of books on the back-burner I’d like to spend a little time on. All of these are available to read on Wattpad.

I’ve had another story featured on No Sleep called We Forgot About Muriel. Kyle Akers narrates (he also narrated Half-Moon Island) and he did a fantastic job, as did everyone else, especially David Cummings — when I noted in the script to lose it, he lost it. You can read We Forgot About Muriel here and follow the link to where you can listen on the podcast.

img_2358.jpgOh, and I turned 40 this month. I bought myself a book-nerdy birthday gift I can’t fulfill until June, at which point I will be exploding all over social media. I’m living the dream, fellow dorks – I’m spending a relaxing evening at Ingleside, aka The Senator’s House, aka where Anne and Gilbert Blythe raised their family and where Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley, and Rilla of Ingleside was set, and I’m staying in the room the author used to stay in when she visited her grandfather (the senator.)

Happy 2018!

dsold01Hello. Please meet the reason I haven’t blogged in a while. His name is Wilson. He’s one heck of a scientist, he hates sports and spiders, and he can beat up a giant tree monster in under 3 minutes with a spear he crafted from junk he picked up in the woods. When  I went through my burnout a couple of years ago I decided I needed something that wasn’t book-related to occupy my time, something completely immersive, and so I bought a PlayStation. It works a little too well. I wake up in the morning and as I’m making my coffee, I worry Wilson and his magnificent hair will get violently murdered by a giant bird if I don’t make him another football helmet. Still, it’s giving me the balance I refused to give myself once upon a time.

And yet somehow I’m still producing things. I commented to a fellow writer recently that I’m so used to banging out books on a monthly basis that it’s hard to undo the manic conditioning that says I’m not doing anything, but I’ve actually done a bit in the last little while.

coldestThe Coldest December was released late last year from Quarter Castle Publishing. This fiction anthology was put together by Diane Tibert to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, which happened on December 6. Those who have read my story, Shadows May Fall, on Wattpad are already familiar with this event. The anthology includes my story “Big Ramblin Mike,” about a father trying to care for his children after the explosion and doing the right thing in the face of chaos. I’m really proud of this story and really happy it made it into this anthology. You can pick it up in all formats at Smashwords, and the paperback is available to order from Amazon.

howdarktheworldSpeaking of explosion literature, I’m still writing How Dark The World, which is a Shadows May Fall story from Robbie’s perspective. It was supposed to be a straight-up story spanning two years of Robbie’s perspective and much, much shorter – I even had someone lined up to read my supposed 4000 word story as an audio file, but for some reason I got another idea in my head and now it involves some flashback chapters told from the perspective of Daniel and Lillian. I don’t know why it turned out that way. I just felt like they had voices as well at some point and the need to show they weren’t always the hard cases you see in Shadows My Fall. There are about three chapters left to go before this wraps up as a novella.

companyoffoolsWhat’s old is new: my first novella, erotic romance The Company of Fools has been released back into the wild with the eventual closure of Loose Id. You can read it for free at Tablo. It’s been re-released as A.M. Hartnett to match up with my other adult works. My other book with Loose Id will be released sometime this year. If you like smutty writing, you can visit I Write Smutty Things to check out a ton of books and anthologies with my name between the pages.  I’ve got a couple of projects on the go for A.M. Hartnett (no new writing just yet) and eventually this one will be paired with Loose Ends for a print edition.

WhatTheyDeservedFinally, I’ve had another story featured on The No Sleep Podcast. What They Deserved appears on episode 8 of the current season. Absolutely brilliant voice-acting by Mary Murphy here as Christine, an old woman recounting her colourful (as in blood-red and brain matter-grey) past to the listener. Produced by Phil Michalski, this audio adaptation also features Dan Zappulla as Andrew, Jesse Cornett as Richie, Atticus Jackson as Clifford, Erika Sanderson as Mary, and David Cummings as Officer Haynes. Major round of applause to all involved, including Brandon Boone, whose soundtrack always becomes its own character.

Now, back to Wilson and his magnificent hair.




New Story: Half Moon Island

nosleepI never planned to write a horror story, but here we are. On my travels this summer I started listening to The No Sleep Podcast during the drive instead of my usual playlists and became a fan. Long story short, Half Moon Island is one of the stories featured on the tenth season premiere of the show.

I’m very happy with how this turned out. The cast did an amazing job, especially Erika Sanderson: she had no lines but, oh man, that was worse than I imagined it in my head when I was writing it. You can check it out by visiting their website, or listen on iTunes (or your favourite podcast app.)

Better Late Than Never

It’s fall. I’m so happy. It was a long summer and I spent most of it driving around, listening to podcasts and waiting for the opportunity to close the windows. September and October was that crazy limbo between getting nothing done and getting something done.

And I got something done! Two somethings, actually. The first I’ll talk about a little later. The other is this:


Yep, that’s the cover to the companion novella to my historical YA Shadows May Fall (which reached 10K reads in October.) My short story about Robbie turned into a novella. Initially it was supposed to solely focus on the last few chapters of SMF, but since I started motoring through it the story has equally focused on Robbie’s past before meeting Dorothy. It’s an interesting twist which has allowed me to explore relationships that were only scribbles in a notebook stashed away.

This has been a good exercise leading up to finishing the sequel to SMF. It’s let me reconnect with characters I’ve stepped away from and silenced over the past few months as I mess with other things. I won’t be putting the story up all at once like I did with SMF but instead I’ll be putting up two chapters at a time beginning on Monday, and that should take me through November and possibly December. I’m not even going to attempt to be ambitious enough to try Nanowrimo – I have a few other things I want to wrap up this month so I’m more about the words on the page than trying to write a novel from start to finish.

So that’s autumn so far. I love this time of year. I love the sweaters and the hot drinks and the creativity boost.