Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing?

There's a "blog hop" going on in the horror writing community right now where authors tag each other to answer questions about upcoming projects. Some very popular authors have been tagged, and I was included by Tony Tremblay at Horror World.

I didn't think I'd have anything of substance to contribute, but it turns out I do! I may not be on the New York Times Best Seller List, but I like to think I'm carving a little space for myself in this genre.

What is the working title of your book or story?
I wasn’t sure I’d actually have anything to say about this, but I’m actually putting together a collection of my flash and short stories to be published next year. No title yet; I’m terrible at coming up with titles for my stuff!

Where did the idea come from for the book or story?
Actually, I didn’t come up with the idea – fellow writer Janet J. Holden did when we were on a flash fiction/poetry panel at the NECon convention this past July. I’ve won NECon E-book’s monthly flash fiction contest many times since my first submission in August 2010. Janet suggested I approach Matt Bechtel at NECon E-books about putting my stories in one place. I was nervous, but did so, and Matt was all for the idea!

What genre does your book fall under?
Horror mostly, but I’m sure there are a few stories that aren’t really horror in the common sense.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I haven’t really pictured anybody famous portraying any of my characters – they’re all just “regular” people.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book or story?
Little bits of horror from a suburban mom’s point of view.

Will your book or story be self-published or represented by an agency?
NECon E-books will be publishing my collection.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Some of the stories date back to the late 1990s/early 2000s. The flash is relatively recent; I wrote my first flash fiction story for NECon E-book’s first contest in August 2010.

What other books or stories would you compare this story to within your genre?
I don’t compare myself or my writing to anybody else’s – I just hope people enjoy the stories.

Who or What inspired you to write this book or story?
Like I said, Janet encouraged me to put the collection together. But the stories themselves have been inspired by many facets of my life – wife, mother, daughter, friend. Also, flash fiction got me back into writing - I had stopped writing to take care of my daughters when they were little. Once they were older and able to fend for themselves, I realized I wanted to write again. I don't remember how, but I happened upon NECon's first flash fiction contest, and was inspired right away. That story was one of several that won the contest. I got that acceptance rush again, and decided to keep on.

What else about your book or story might pique the reader’s interest?
People who know me know I’m pretty quiet and shy. But a different part of me comes out when I write. You’d be surprised as some of the stuff my brain has conjured.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Anxiety and Me

If you're a friend of mine on Facebook, you know I suffer from anxiety. It's a pain to deal with; it affects my life almost every day in some form. But it can be hard to explain to those who don't suffer from it, or think "just deal!".

Today while I was on Reddit, I found a post that explains it perfectly, and so I'm going to post it here. Maybe it will help people understand or at least empathize.

There are some things I want you to know about me and my condition.
I am not necessarily shy, that's not what having a panic disorder is. I am an outgoing person who often feels trapped inside a wall of fear. I get really angry sometimes because what I feel like is the real me is trapped behind my anxiety. I probably want to be affectionate and laid back and fun at any given time but you make me nervous. It's not your fault, it's just people- it's nothing you do or did. I can only become desensitized to people by spending a lot of time with them and even then sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes, with some people, it works right away.
I know that what I'm afraid of isn't real. I know that the threat is an illusion and that I'm not really going to get hurt, but my body is telling me otherwise. I try to talk myself out of it but "fight or flight" is one of the most basic and powerful instincts of the body, and it doesn't always listen.
I am working really hard to combat my anxiety disorder. Some days I start to give up because I've been fighting for so long and it doesn't seem to change, or I make progress and then I backslide. It's inevitable that I get depressed and may not seem to be working to help myself. Having an anxiety disorder is really hard and I promise I'm doing what I can. Much of the fight that goes on with my condition happens inside the head, so while it might not seem like I am trying to help myself, I am.
I am constantly exhausted. If your body went through intense terror each day (or sometimes, just from time-to-time) and then crashed, you'd be exhausted too. I have to make myself move when I am crashing and sometimes I just have to sleep. My body doesn't present that as an option; it's just an order- "You. Sleep. Now". Sometimes I don't get things done because I am tired. Please don't get mad at me if I don't always do everything I am supposed to do- it can be a real struggle to do little things that most people don't think twice about, like walking into a store, running errands, sometimes even leaving my house.
Some of my behavior might seem pretty odd at times. I might make someone go with me to places I ought to be able to go to alone because I need a "safe" person there. I might come off as clingy and dependent on others, but my reasoning is not what you might assume- "safe" people are our anchors to sanity. Real or not, we assume we can count on them to help us if we become terrified, and that can make the difference between fleeing a place or being able to stick it out. We develop triggers in specific places and that place, as innocuous as it might seem to you, scares me to death. I don't want to feel that way; it's embarrassing, but I do. How would you feel if you were terrified out of your mind in a place or around a person you know is harmless in your heart?
I try many things to combat my anxiety. If you've heard about a technique, I've probably heard about it. I've tried meditation, yoga, acupuncture, keeping active, positive self-talk, cognitive behavioral therapy, regular therapy, and medication, among things. I've probably tried lots of different medication. Anxiety disorder (and depression, since the two are linked- you'd be depressed if you had an anxiety disorder) often get treated with strong medication, and strong medication has side-effects. When I am trying new medications I might be "off" and irrational. Please forgive me, it's not me, it's the meds. Also, some meds make me extra tired or dizzy or any number of other things that aren't my normal or desired state. Most medication used to treat anxiety is something the body becomes immune to over time, so the dosage must be increased. So, occasionally I may relapse when I am not expecting it. I don't necessarily know the cause.
Please don't make fun of me when I am experiencing a panic attack- it's horrible enough without you ridiculing me. You wouldn't be laughing if you were the one whose body was revolting in fear. I'm not making anything up, I'm not trying to use panic attacks as an excuse not to do things, and I surely don't want to be a burden on you or effect your life negatively. Knowing I sometimes am and sometimes do adds to the misery of the condition. What I really need is for you to let me hold your hand or your arm tightly at times, and to humor me and just tell me it isn't real and I don't have to be scared, even if it's the millionth time you've said it. Tell me you'll protect me and I might just believe you, because I want to so badly. I want to be tough and independent and in control, but something (psychological and chemical) inside of me won't let me be free.
Panic disorders are almost always genetic and are chemically related, though they're often triggered by a traumatic event. Before realizing what is happening to us, most panic disorder sufferers go through a terrible period of thinking that we're dying when we're having a panic attack, or that something terrible is about to happen to us, etc. It's impossible to understand when it first happens, unless someone is there to warn you. There usually isn't.
Many of us live in terror of letting other people know we're freaking out, so while we might seem normal, in control, and calm, our insides are often a different story. It's ok to tell us we seem stabler or more confident- we'll appreciate you noticing. Just know that sometimes it might be an illusion, sometimes true one day but not the next. Acting like it's a result of something we didn't do is a double-blow, the first one being our own senses of failure for not being able to just "tough it out", "grin and bear it" etc.
Sometimes, just walking into a room by ourselves is the accomplishment of the day. Sometimes, we could lead a parade. Please, give us the credit for living with something so tough and managing to do anything. Please, just support us and help us, and listen to us. It's natural to get annoyed sometimes, but if you're annoyed, we're probably beating ourselves up because we're a self-critical lot. That's part of how we got this way, by being too self-aware.
We are trying to win the battle, but some days we just want to give up.

In addition to what's stated in that letter, I get overwhelmed when I'm in public for a long time, and will have to leave for a while to get myself together. If you can't find me at a horror convention, then I'm probably in my hotel room with a Diet Coke and the internet or a book, recharging.

If I'm having a panic attack, you won't know it. I can hide it pretty well.

I'm not snobby, stuck-up, or haughty - I'm extremely shy, and have great difficulty talking to people I don't know well. Hell, on really bad days, I can have trouble talking to friends I do know well. So if we've talked before, and then the next time you see me I don't really say much, it's not personal - it's just that it's not a good day for me.

So there you go. This PSA brought to you by me.  :-)

The Reddit post:

Anxiety Letter

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

It's been forever since I posted, but I wanted to post a Halloween story that I hope you'll like.  And I do hope to get back to my blog soon.

The Whistling Man
Sheri White

The Whistling Man walked quickly through the little country town, on his way to nowhere. His breath materialized in front of his face in the brisk October air. The tune that passed between his lips was an old cowboy song. He remembered it from when he walked among cattle rustlers on hot summer nights, back when coyotes howled at the moon and rugged men cooked over fire.

The Whistling Man came upon a small house. Inside he could see a couple watching TV as they snuggled together on a loveseat. The Whistler heard them chuckle through an open window. He stood in front of the house, hands on his hips. He resumed his whistling, but this time he emitted a low, suggestive fox whistle. Suddenly, the man in the house began yelling at the woman.

“You’re cheating on me, aren’t you? Who is he? Tell me right now, you whoring bitch!”

The woman’s mouth dropped open. “Billy, my God! Where is this coming from? I would never cheat on you, you know that!”

“Shut your filthy lying mouth!” The Whistling Man watched, smiling as the angry man stormed over to a closet and pulled out a shotgun.

The woman screamed. “Billy, please! NO! Stop this, you’re acting cra-“ Her brains hit the back of the couch before she could finish her sentence.

The Whistling Man chuckled softly to himself and moved on. His boots crunched dry, dead leaves into the gravel road. The pungent odor of firewood burning in the distance filled his nostrils. Ripe pumpkins in a nearby field glowed under the full moon.

An elderly man walked his aging dog, both of them wobbling on shaky legs. The old man didn’t notice the Whistler; nobody ever did. The Whistling Man put his index fingers to his mouth and whistled sharply at the grizzled mutt. Immediately the dog growled and lunged at his master’s leg.

“Trevor, stop that!” The old man screamed hoarsely as the dog’s teeth sank into his flesh. He tried to push the dog away, but his feet got tangled up in the leash and he fell onto the grass. The dog, adrenaline providing him with renewed strength, pinned his master to the ground and ripped out his throat. The old man’s legs twitched for a few seconds as blood pumped from his neck. The dog continued to rip and chew his master’s flesh.

The screaming of horrified neighbors as they emerged from their homes was music to the Whistling Man’s ears.

He walked on through the sleepy little town, the misery of his victims nourishing his empty black soul. Jack-o-lanterns sat on porches, paper towel ghosts hung from trees. The Whistling Man snickered at the innocence. Most of these people didn’t know the true meaning of horror.

 Suddenly, his attention was drawn to a young woman sitting on a porch swing while a tiny baby nursed at her breast as the mother softly hummed and caressed and the baby’s cheek.

Unseen, unheard, the man whistled a gentle lullaby. A few moments later, the mother took the baby off her breast, a puzzled look on her face. Her wailing shriek pierced the night when she realized her baby was no longer breathing.

She clutched the infant to her dripping breasts and ran inside her house. The Whistling Man knew the grieving mother would phone for help; he also knew it would do no good.

Satisfied with the evening’s accomplishments, the Whistling Man resumed the old cowboy tune, leaving the small town, now in shambles, behind him.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's been way too long!

I will start Blogging again soon.  In the meantime, enjoy this picture of my Sandydog.