Wednesday, October 26, 2011

sick reading

I took a sick day today. And, yes, I actually was sick. I slept for over ten hours and then have sat on the couch the rest of the day, playing games on my phone and reading. I just finished Woke up in a Strange Place, by Eric Arvin. It was a gay fantasy novel. Think gay Pilgrim’s Progress or Gulliver’s Travels. All about what happens after death.
It was beautiful. Beautiful and sad. Beautiful and sad and lovingly full of hope.
One of my favorite parts was about Hell. Of course it was… In this version of the afterlife, there is no Heaven or Hell. It is all our own creating, mostly. However, in this section, there were scores and scores of people who were in Hell, in the fiery pit, burning eternally. The main character, Joe, asks how this could be since there is no Hell. For these people, the believed it so much they couldn’t let go of their belief in Hell. If they chose, they could have walked away anytime. This was the response Joe received:
“Well, human beings have always done one thing very well, and that is create their own hells and bask in their own misery. They complain about what they create for themselves; they relish the pain. What they don’t do so well most of the time is find a way out of it.
Arvin, Eric (2011). Woke Up in a Strange Place (Kindle Locations 2004-2006). Dreamspinner Press. Kindle Edition.
Those lines hit me as such truth. We all do that, and I am the King. Whether convincing ourselves we will never be happy again. Whether we believe we are damned due to being gay. Whether, whatever…. So many of us live, and/or have lived within our own Hells for most of our lives.
Another quote I loved was decribing what the gay main character experienced in regard to acceptance of family and other gay men. I’ve often tried to understand this concept myself, but was never able to put it into words. I think this nailed it for me:
It wasn’t the same kind of acceptance he had felt with Grandpa Joe. This was tribal, not kindred.
Arvin, Eric (2011). Woke Up in a Strange Place (Kindle Location 3459). Dreamspinner Press. Kindle Edition.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Yesterday was the big day. I wasn’t overly nervous until Smokey and I were sitting in church. Then the heart started racing and the wanting to hide in a corner began.
Then, before I knew it, we were in Boulder and then it was over. It took about five or six hours for my heart rate to slow back down and for the headache to dissipate.
The book talk/signing went well. People said they couldn’t tell I was nervous. People say a lot of things. I got the crowd to laugh several times, which is good. Maybe strange too since my books aren’t funny. Overall, though, it was really cool. I kinda feel like what brides say on their wedding day. They look back and just see a big blur, the details clear here and there, but mostly lost in an unreality. I think part of me just went on autopilot.
While I wish it had been a book talk/signing that I’d been sought out for—instead of the other way around, I was aware that I was in one of those moments. One I’ve dreamed about for so long. One that so many people never get to experience. I’m so grateful for that!
I had about ten dear friends show up, which was wonderful, and for which I am so extremely grateful. To the point that one of the other authors commented about my turnout compared to the rest of them. My friends are amazing, it’s true. However, considering I contacted several hundred people multiple times. . . Well, it obvious who my friends are—and what wonderful, beautiful friends they are! For those of you who contacted me because of sickness, cars, life, etc., thank you so much for your continued support and love. You humble me and honor me so greatly, and are a huge reason while I am able to continue fighting.
One of the coolest parts, to me, was a teacher who had brought his high school student. They came up after to talk. (Hi, Grey! Gonna have to steal your name for a character sometime—I love it!) The student was so nervous that he was trembling. To him, I was an actual author. He wants to write fantasy and was asking my advice and experience. I wished I had more to offer him, but was touched that he cared about anything I would have to say. (If you ever come across this writing, thank you for being there, taking a part, and honoring me with your questions. Fight for what you dream of, for what you want. I will do the same. I hope we have a book signing together one day!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The lights were off. Only the antique lamps cast soft glows around the room. The puppies were beside the couch. Dunkyn resting and licking the floor (such gross sounds); Dolan going from each of us, constantly trying to receive more pets and get a lick in here and there. We each sat at opposite end of the couch, legs intertwined over pillows in the middle, one free hand rubbing each other’s feet. Him going through his songbook, committing to memory as he sang quietly the music for the upcoming Gay Men’s Chorus Christmas concert. Me, reading Lost Voices until I began to doze off. Recognizing the moment for what it was. One of the perfect instances in life where you truly have all you’ve ever needed and all you’ve really ever longed for. Life in its perfection.

Monday, October 17, 2011

dice the slice

I went to rather scary places today after the unflattering book review. Despite all my self-talk, despite knowing that it was just another person’s opinion, despite all my educated/rational/enlightened bullshit, I let it whittle away and ruin my day. Making it very hard to teach, making me very edgy with the kids (which, I was award of and may have overcompensated by being more patient/indulgent than I actually should have), and even left me questioning my reality with Smokey. All those old feelings of worthlessness, craziness, delusions, and doomsday rhetoric came flying back and left me defeated. And, this with all kinds of support rolling in just from a blog and a facebook post. I had myself mostly back together when I met Smokey at home, but it wasn’t until he took me in his arms and spoke calm wisdom that I began to really breathe again. I was going to blog a ton about this, about all the inner turmoil today, but I don’t want to. No more power to that negativity. And, as another writer also reminded me, I’m writing the books I want to write, the way I want to write them. That will end when I get an agent/publisher (at least to a certain degree). I should enjoy that while I have it!

--Oh, and a correction: the reviewer didn’t say it made her skin crawl; she said I set her teeth on edge. Poor girl needs to get braces!


Just got my first scathing review of Submerging Inferno. Scathing. The lady hated it. HATED it. Hated my writing style, my writing ability, hated the characters, hate the setting, said it was juvenile and rather pathetic. My book ‘made her skin crawl’ because she hated it so much. And—she’s a big gay fantasy reader.
I knew I’d get reviews like that. And, if it’s been a fluke that people have liked it so far, then I’ll get tons more reviews like that. It was a little bit like an out of body experience. She tore every bit of it apart. And, in so doing, every bit of me. Every bit of the past several years I’ve toiled over it, worked so hard over it, and every bit of myself I’ve poured into it. Felt like every word was slashing into me.
That said, I knew that’s part of the gig. Best writer in the world, or the worst. Both get scathing reviews, both get positive reviews. I knew it when I decided to go for this, there will be many times when I get torn apart. I was hoping those would be later, but whatever.
So, ouch. Major. Time to lick the wounds and stride ahead.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I’m ready for a nap! What a week it has been. Parent-teacher conferences, redoing PBS programs at school, preparing for the book signing, submitting to publishers, getting rejected by publishers, tutoring. However, the end is in sight. I get to sleep in till nine or nine-thirty next Sunday. Sure, that’s a week away, but I’m glad for it. Although, I’ll probably be nervous enough that I won’t really be able to sleep in. That’s the day of the book-talk/signing.
We went up to drop more books off in Boulder yesterday. My book, Submerging Inferno, was on three different shelves: Local author, new fiction, and featured! What a crazy feeling that was. I’ve always dreamed of seeing my books in a bookstore. Even though it was me that pulled the strings and got them there, not a publisher, it was still a thrill. I can’t wait until it’s not just locally. Maybe walk into any major bookstore in the country one day and see Brandon Witt’s books. Lord, I hope.
We saw the line up for next Sunday as well. It looks like I’m going third. First is a poetry book, then a Christian book, then my gay urban fantasy and gay contemporary fiction novels, then another Christian book. Talk about art imitating life imitating art. Goodness! They seem like they are progressive Christian books, so maybe it won’t bee TOO weird. We’ll have to see. Either way, I’m so excited about it, and so ready to get it over with. I’ve tired to find video of other author talks at the Boulder book store and can’t really find any, so I’m not really sure how one goes, what they talk about, or what to expect. Just gonna wing it. I really pray this will be a step forward to publication.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sweat, Hopes, and Praise

Smokey ran the Rock and Roll marathon. Twenty-six point two miles! Insane. I went from place to place to see him and cheer him on (and provide energy chews and kisses) at random locations. Let’s just say I made it through several hours (nearly six) of my Blackdagger Brotherhood, book four. I love seeing all the risks and accomplishments he is making. So very proud of him, and so very happy that I get to be a part of it. I could go on and on about where things are with the two of us right now, but I’ll spare you the details. I’ll just say that it blows me away what a difference mutual and equal investment in a relationship makes. He knows that he can’t simply love me—that he has to intentionally care and choose to nourish our relationship. Thank you for providing a man who has integrity and strength! He helps me flourish, and I pray I do the same for him.
I received another rejection letter this weekend. This one from one of my ‘safety net’ agencies. Those hurt the worst. It’s not fun when your dream publisher tells you no, but it’s quite a slap in the face when an agency you don’t really respect tells you that your work isn’t good enough. I’m sure the correct response is relief since you’re not with the agency you really want—however, I’m at the point where I don’t really care… On that note, I submitted to another agency last night (a process that took a couple hours to meet all their formatting regulations). It’s only for on-line books and doesn’t seem to have that high-reaching of audiences (although it would target my main audience for sure). I’m nervous about it, as it seems much different than what I’d hoped for, and I’m not sure how long I’d have to sign over the rights of my novel, but I also have my hopes up. I haven’t gotten to write anything fresh in two years; every time I sit down to write, I feel like I should be contacting agents or working on promotions. So, even if it is a minor jumping off point, at least it would give me the freedom to begin creating again. Let’s hope they like my work…
Filled with such a thankfulness of where my life is and where I hope it is headed. Thank you, Father!

Friday, October 07, 2011


I’m discovering a whole new world with the GoodReads website (the FaceBook for book lovers I told you about earlier). I will have to see if it remains as good and helpful over time, but at the moment, I’m rather enamored. There are a couple of drawings to win a free copy of Submerging on that website, so feel free to sign up and give it a shot. I’m also getting some unsolicited publishing advice, which is great! Even outside of my own writing, I’ve already been exposed to books I’d never heard of that sound awesome. If you’re looking for something fun to read, check it out!
I don’t think I mentioned it before, but I finally got an iPhone last week. My contract was up for renewal, so I went for it (plus it was the same price as most of the other phones, so why not). It’s change my life. Really. My brother has an iPhone as well. Last night, I got to have FaceTime (where you can see each other’s faces over your phone while you’re talking) with Gavin as he had dinner. It was soooooo much fun. He loved it! He was waving and talking to me as he ate, almost like being with me. That alone was worth the price of ten iPhones.
I remember being on the Wheel of Time ride at Disney World as a kid. Part of it showed what the future would be like, and the thing I loved the most was the big screens that showed people talking to their family back on Earth (because, of course, by that time, people would be living on different planets and such). And, look, here we are. What a wonderful world we live in. The gorgeousness of the earth that God gave us and the inventions of man that are so inspired.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

love over pumpkin spice

I have a training that starts at 8:30 today, so I have a ton more of my morning than normal. Now that Smokey (who has been sans cigarettes for nearly a month now!) is nursing again, I get up at 5:30 with him. At least until he starts working overnights for a while. As a result, I thought I’d take the time to spend an hour or so at a coffee shop. I have several things I need to get done attempting to self-promote the novel. Plus, I wanted to blog. Shockingly, I had to drive around and around to find a Starbucks open around where the training will be held. I’ve discovered I don’t like ‘working’ in a Starbucks. It’s only good as a drive-through. Then again, I am a bit of a coffee shop snob. However, I can see the brilliantly pink sky outside that huge glass wall, and that is pretty perfect. So easy to let the magic and wonder of our world pass us by.
Things are going wonderfully. Knock on wood. Of course every relationship goes through those phases where you are more and then less in love. We are in the more in love stage right now, and it is awesome. We went to a relationship class at church the other night, lead by an independent psychologist—not a member of the church. She, while a scattered presenter, spoke about how our culture has fostered depression, alimentation, and damaged relationships with our constant focus on individuality and seeing those who need love as weak. We are supposed to make sure we don’t loose ourselves to others. That we keep our own personal identity upmost and forefront. In so doing, we never really experience love. She told research study after research study showing the effects of being truly given in to love and the results of the living with the absence of that deep and all encompassing love. They were all experiments and psychologists that I’d heard of many times and had even studies in grad school, I’d simply forgotten.
Besides being there with Smokey and loving that, it was also a moment of clarity for me. I spend so much time beating myself up about how clingy I can be and how concerned about our love and our life together I tend to be. I forget that so many studies have shown that in most ways the need to be loved and to love is as vital as food in regards of having a life that is healthy.
Give yourself to love.
Open yourself up to the risk of loss.
Check and check.