Wednesday, June 17, 2015

25 Albums I Listen to All the Way Through Without Skipping

It's been a long time since I've done a post on music so this was my idea: Which albums do I listen to and never skip a song? Maybe they don't make the 'top albums of the decade' list (though many of them do, in my opinion), maybe they are from little-known or up-and-coming indie bands who only have one record to date, maybe they have been around for ages and it's so obvious that everyone is like, 'Well, duh, I don't skip on that album either; who would?', but regardless I wanted to put together a list that is my own personal picks. In the past I have talked about music that I listen to while writing, but there aren't many of those albums on this list because a lot of the following is stuff I like to sing along to, which I've stated before I can't listen to when writing because I just end up singing and not getting work done. So a lot of this music may be stuff I've never talked about on my blog, meaning there's a whole world of my musical loves that you guys know nothing about. Being the obsessive music-phile I am, this thought made me sad. So, music-lovers, let's talk shop.

These are in order of the year they were released. Trying to put them in order according to preference was giving me a headache.

1. Blonde on Blonde - Bob Dylan (1966)


I got heavy into Dylan during my first year at University, back in '06. Blonde on Blonde was in constant rotation during my '07 Spring semester and I have fond memories of cramming in reading assignments right before my Short Story class, with this album piping through my 'phones. It went well for the first month or two...until I inevitably learned the songs too well and started singing instead of studying. But it was fun while it lasted.

2. Revolver - The Beatles (1966)


This is the one. Not Rubber Soul, not Abbey Road, not even the White Album. For me, it's Revolver. Don't get me wrong, I love all the albums I just listed but Revolver is the one I never skip a song on. It's just so lovely and sprinkled with some of their early instrumental and recording experimentation. I have a weird, dissonant memory connection to this album because the first time I listened to it, I was a teenager and got SO LOST on a 2.5 hour drive home from the airport that it took me more than twice that to get home. Keep in mind this was before iPhones and GPS systems. I had no maps in the car so I had to alternate between calling my dad and trying to explain to him where I was, and stopping at gas stations to ask for directions. It was a nightmare. But at least I had good music for the drive. I know this story has nothing to do with the music but it's one of those weird things that won't leave your head, you know? So every time I listen to Revolver, I remember that awful drive home. Despite the bad memory, I still love listening to this album, which I think is a testament to how good it is.

3. Physical Graffiti - Led Zeppelin (1975)


Some of you may be asking, "Not their first album, or Led Zeppelin IV?" Nope, this one is where it's at for me. This is another album that brings back memories of driving for me. It's excellent driving music and my husband Travis and I once listened to it while driving back home to Texas from Kansas City. We listened to it twice during that long drive. It's that good. We also listened to Bowie's Diamond Dogs, among many other things, but this was the best for driving and the only thing we listened to that day that makes this list because, seriously, what song would you skip?

4. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd (1975)


Me and Pink Floyd go way back. They are probably the first band from my parents' era that I really got into. Before Zeppelin or even the Beatles. They came at just the right time, when I was sixteen and ready for something a little more experimental. I credit them with pulling me away from bubblegum pop and ushering in my period of musical discovery. For some that's The Who or The Doors, but for me it was Pink Floyd. I almost put Dark Side on this list, instead of this one, but if I'm being really honest, I have been known to skip "Time" because the ticking clocks and alarm sounds can be off-putting for me sometimes and I can't be bothered to just fast-forward a bit so I'll skip it. Wish You Were Here though is golden. It only has 5 tracks but altogether it's a standard 45 minutes. "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" (all 9 parts) is one of my all-time favorite songs ever. Side note: I discovered recently that several of my favorite Pink Floyd songs were penned by Syd Barrett. "See Emily Play"; "Arnold Layne"; "Bike"; "The Gnome"; "The Scarecrow". Further proof that I am attracted to the eclectic and eccentric. Syd's story is sad to me but hey, maybe he really enjoyed his life out of the spotlight. Of course, as with John Hughes, we may never really know.

5. Doolittle - The Pixies (1989)


I wore this album out in my early twenties. Genius. So many good ones--I mean they're all great, otherwise this album wouldn't be on this list, but some of my very favorite Pixies songs are on it. "Wave of Mutilation"; "Monkey Gone to Heaven"; "Hey"; and then it finishes strong on the ultra cool "Gouge Away". So good.

6. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) - Wu-Tang Clan (1993)


I have enjoyed listening to rap and hip-hop since my early teens but this album is when I started to really respect it as a true art form. It shows off the creative genius and mad skill of RZA in ways that even his solo 'Bobby Digital' stuff doesn't do. Side Note: During the year I studied abroad at Leeds University, I listened to "Bring da Ruckus" whenever I had to do any walking at night on my own. It made me feel tough and totally helped me project my 'bad ass attitude' so I wouldn't get messed with. You may laugh at the thought of this; I certainly do.

7. Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind (1997)


This one came to me through my older sister (much like Green Day, No Doubt and Tonic--ah, the nineties). After hearing it all the way through (and instantly falling in love) I pretty much commandeered it from her collection and proceeded to play the shit out of it for the next four years. More than anything I loved the lyrics--they are so poetic and flow so easily. This album had a hand in inspiring some of my own early songs, just in the way I wrote and kind of how I viewed the world. In fact, this may be the first album I ever 'studied' closely and read the lyrics and really thought about the stories the songs were trying to tell and how the lyrics told those stories.

8. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)


As with many things, I came to this party rather late. I had never heard of Neutral Milk Hotel until my very favorite band, Eisley, credited them as an influence. Even then I didn't seek them out until Eisley did an acoustic cover of the title track and I loved it so much I went in search of the original. Turns out lots of musicians cover this and other Neutral Milk songs, many from this very record. Like Beach House and Sufjan Stevens, Neutral Milk Hotel seems to be one of those bands that other bands/musicians love. It always interests me to check out a musician's/band's influences because those influences had to have done something cool to garner respect and admiration from fellow artists. Anyway, this album is wonderful and experimental and challenges your expectations as a listener. It can be a bit of a downer if you're paying attention to the lyrics but then sometimes a downer song is just what you want to hear.

9. Aquemini - Outkast (1998)


Before I found Wu-Tang Clan, I listened to a lot of Eminem, Tu Pac, and Outkast. Outkast survived continual rotation after Wu-Tang (Eminem and Tu Pac less so), which says a lot about the duo and their artistry. Lyrics slick and tongues quick, this album showcases the wit and whimsy of Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Also, they are southern boys, which I relate to, being a southern gal. They sounded like guys I went to high school with.

10. Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea - PJ Harvey (2000)


This album has a distinct 90's feel to it that I just love. I can't put my finger on it, whether it's the instrumentation or the lyrics or more just the way she sings but it has a 90's quality--in a good way. A really, really good way. Plus there are no less than 3 tracks from this album featuring Thom Yorke. Enough said.

11. Vespertine - Bjork (2001)


This album is so beautiful. It has a very romantic feel with heavy string work and experimental sampling of non-instrumental sounds that are made musical in these songs. There is also a sort of palatial vastness to it that makes it very easy to listen and sing along to. She's a goddess.

12. Turn on the Bright Lights - Interpol (2002)


This is another one that got a lot of play during my '07 Spring semester. It was often Dylan on Tuesdays and Interpol on Thursdays. I love all their stuff but this is the one that I always played all the way through without skipping. So many good ones--"Untitled"; "NYC"; "Stella was a Diver". Some people don't like Interpol because they say all their songs sound the same. I say, hey, if you made one really cool song, no reason not to keep building on that original idea. If it's not broke...

13. Hail to the Thief - Radiohead (2003)


I know a lot of Radiohead fans who would look at me like I'm crazy for this being my choice. Let's remember that this is a list of albums where I never skip a song, not necessarily my overall favorite. Although in this case it is. But still, it's hard. Their whole body of work is...there are no words. I mean, The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A??! How are you supposed to choose??! Well for this list, I had to be really honest. It's the same situation as with Pink Floyd and Dark Side of the Moon. As good as they are, I usually end up skipping one ("Planet Telex"; "Fitter, Happier"; "Kid A") but not on Hail to the Thief. This album was on all the time for the entire year of 2004. Well, this one and the next one on this list...

14. Hopes and Fears - Keane (2004)


If you like to sing, this album is so fun to sing along with. Beautiful melodies, easy but still poetic lyrics and chill music behind it all. Also I love Tom Chaplin's soft English accent. I remember my brother-in-law brought this album to my parents' house over a holiday not long after it came out and I clicked play on the CD player (yes, that's right, an actual CD player) out of curiosity and then I could not stop listening. I just sat there till I'd heard the whole thing. So, so wonderful. I went out and got it the next day. Yes, that's right, I went out and got it, as in drove to Best Buy. Old school.

15. Soviet Kitsch - Regina Spektor (2004)


Sadly, I didn't hear Reg or even know who she was till fall of 2007. I didn't listen to a lot of radio, guys. I had a giant CD collection and eventually got an iPod and when I wanted music, I stuck strictly to my own stuff because I condemned the radio as the home of crap pop music, which is generally what it is. But I'm willing to bet that occasionally they threw in a little "Fidelity" or "On the Radio" during the time before I'd heard of her, in which case I just missed out. But hey, it's not like I missed the party entirely, I just, as usual, came late. And immediately proceeded to catch up double-time--I couldn't get enough. Regina's music was what I'd been waiting to hear for so long. She was the answer to my unconscious prayers. I relate to her quirky thought patterns and ironic humor and her childlike experimentation with sounds and words. She is a genius. She is a goddess. And this album showcases all of that very well. It starts off unassuming with "Ode to Divorce" then you get hit with "Poor Little Rich Boy" and "Carbon Monoxide" and it just takes off. With off-beat stories and witty lyrics that coincide so well with her voice and sound, Soviet Kitsch is arguably her best album to date.

16. Wincing the Night Away - The Shins (2007)


This. God, this album. I have maintained for the last eight years that this is, in my opinion, the best album ever. Ever. By anyone of any genre. It's incredible. Like Regina Spektor, James Mercer is a god. I often refer to him as the modern-day lyrical Shakespeare. He is an amazing, genius writer. I have made a study of the lyrics of this whole album. They are all beautiful and deeply layered and have a lovely poetic flow. There is literally not a single weak song on this whole album; they are all equally strong and perfect. Even since Port of Morrow came out in 2012, I still find myself listening more to Wincing the Night Away. I have to hear it all the way through every few months or I swear I will go through withdrawals. It will always be my favorite album ever. I'd like to point out that there may be individual songs from other artists (Regina, for example) that I like better than an individual song on this album but as a whole piece of work, all 11 tracks together, this album makes up the best complete piece of music of all time, in my opinion. Although, admittedly, several of the songs on this album do, in fact, make my list of favorite songs. I'd say at least a couple make the top 10.

17. For Emma, Forever Ago - Bon Iver (2007)


Beautiful. The lush harmonies and quiet lyrics combined with Justin Vernon's soft R&B vocal vibe just moves me every time. It's a really lovely record and often brings me to tears when I listen. It's very evident too that he was recovering from a break-up and illness at the time he recorded it--I think it really comes across that he's in pain. I love music with honest emotion, like The Antlers' album Hospice and pretty much the entire catalog of Cloud Cult.

18. Combinations - Eisley (2007)


This is my favorite band. Regina is my favorite solo musician, James Mercer is my favorite lyrical writer, but Eisley is my favorite band. Much like I felt about Regina, the first time I heard Eisley was like coming home--it was exactly what I'd been waiting for and I didn't even know it. We actually grew up in the same town so I met them before I ever heard their music. Sherri DuPree wrote the website address on my hand and I went home and checked it out before it faded from my skin. There were only 4 songs on the site to listen to. I listened to them over and over again. I would come home from school and it was sort of a routine to sit down at the family computer, pull up the site, and listen to those 4 songs every afternoon. I was overjoyed when their first album, Room Noises, came out in 2005. I have seen them live more times than I can count, especially in those first few years, and I followed them online. Needless to say, I was on pins and needles waiting for the second album but there were rumors it would be very different from the first one, less whimsical fantasy, more grown-up, and that worried me because the whimsy and the fantasy were exactly what I loved about them. But the rumors were incorrect. Combinations was definitely a more grown-up record but it was really just a graduation of the first and, in my opinion, still contained all the fantastical beauty of Room Noises. Lovely descriptive language, reminiscent of classic fantasy and sci-fi novels, unique song-stories, and intricate harmonies. It's just really something special. I love all their albums but this is the one that never gets a skip.

19. The Courage of Others - Midlake (2010)


I like to think of Midlake as the male-vocals counterpart to Eisley. Also, they are from Denton, Texas and went to UNT, where I myself studied, so that makes them extra cool. I actually heard about them through Eisley too. As much as I love Bamnan and Slivercork and The Trials of Van Occcupanther, The Courage of Others is on a whole other level. It may employ less whimsy than on previous albums but it has all the same descriptive storytelling and staggering harmonies. They have a very cool 70's vibe, using things like flute and recorder, hammered dulcimer and harpsichord, to create a vibrant, throwback sound that is still very chill and easy to listen to. And on top of all that are these gorgeous melodies and harmonies coupled with deep, pseudo-spiritual lyrics that bring the whole album together as a substantial entity, sitting up and taking part in the life around you while you listen. The genius behind the sound and lyrics (and main vocals) of Midlake left the band after this record. From here on out, Tim Smith will be solo and known only as Harp. No record from him yet but I will definitely be checking up regularly. When Harp puts something out, I hold out hope that it will be something else that makes this list.

20. Ring - Glasser (2010)


There is a great harmony to this album, just in terms of the different sounds of each song and how well they work together as a whole. "Apply" is one of the most listened-to songs in my iTunes library. I have played it over and over again when working on certain scenes in different Lone March books. It's hard not to sing along and will probably be retired for writing purposes, now that I've finished Lone March. I will have to find something else that evokes the same feeling for future writing, if I need to write a similar scene to those from Lone March. This may prove impossible because if there is one thing Glasser is, it is different from everything else. It's got heavy undertones and great beats with light, breezy lyrics on top. You can tell Cameron Mesirow had fun creating this record and I love when that comes through in the music.

21. The King is Dead - The Decemberists (2011)


This album is comprised of 10 little pieces of rock gold. It's got a very American folk vibe--more so than their previous work--and it's very plain to hear that it's sort of an homage to R.E.M. (I mean they even got Peter Buck to play on a few songs, for cryin' out loud.) That made this album doubly special for me and Travis because R.E.M. is his favorite band and we consider our "song" to be "Be Mine" from New Adventures in Hi-Fi. This album just kicks it all the way through, like some kind of American Southern-Pastoral Folk Art Fever Dream. Also, it's another one that got a lot of play while I was working on Moon-Wake because I mean, "January Hymn" and "Dear Avery"? It's like they were written specifically to accompany what was happening in my book!

22. Threads - Now, Now (2012)


This one is sneaky. No one talks about it being a concept album but I think it kind of is. There is a theme running throughout it that you may miss if you're not paying attention to the lyrics. The majority of the songs refer to threads, ties, knots, and patterns. Even the ones that don't use those terms are still thematically in tune with the rest of the album. If you like Eisley you will like Now, Now. They have a very indie pop sound musically with super pop-punk vibes coming through the vocals. Also, like the DuPrees (in Eisley) the 3 people that comprise Now, Now are just sweet, delightful little pixies (and yes, that includes Bradley Hale because guys can be pixies too).

23. A Minor Bird - Sucre (2012)


This is Stacy King (nee DuPree) of Eisley. She embarked on a new musical journey with her husband and a mutual friend of theirs and together the 3 make up Sucre. Holy Cow. God bless the existence of this band. Let's put aside her amazing voice and her serious songwriting strengths and just talk about the music itself. It's got everything--deep, romantic string arrangements underlying bright, fresh percussion and airy melodies. It's opulent and ethereal and commands the aural senses. It is evident that she has been highly influenced by Bjork; it has a very Bjork-like energy, musically speaking, but with what I believe to be even more beautiful vocals.

24. Sway - Merriment (2014)


This is Christie and Collin DuPree, the two youngest siblings of the DuPree family, and their cousin, Remington. I've been listening to Christie's stuff for years but this is the first official record since she formed an official band with her brother and cousin and they got signed to the same indie label on which Eisley now resides. Much like their siblings, these guys are incredibly talented and have a knack for creating angelic melodies with exquisite harmonies, with a hint of fantastical, descriptive stories woven into the lyrics, much like so many Eisley songs. Christie's voice is lovely and her writing is delicate and honest and I can't wait to see where they go next. I have tried to skip around when listening to this album, in favor of playing one that was in my head first, but I always end up going back to the ones I skipped before I'm done listening, thus I've never listened to this record without hearing the whole thing.

25. PHOX - PHOX (2014)


I fell in love with the song "Laura" and then I couldn't rest till I'd heard the whole album. It's so different from what's out there and yet very reminiscent of so many things in so many ways. Monica Martin's voice is so perfect and fresh and beautiful. The songs are catchy with witty lyrics and a super fun sound. Even the slow songs are fun to sing along to and have great hooks. Since it came out a year ago, I have worn it out. I can't wait to see what they do next.

So there you have it! What do you guys think of the albums on my list? What albums make your lists? Leave a comment and let me know. Let's talk music!

xxErin

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Spring Fever in the Summer

In the two weeks since my last post, I have completed both the second and third drafts of Book 7 and deemed it done. I honestly thought it would take me months to slog through my storm of notes but I guess this book has just been marinating for so long at this point that I just know what it's supposed to be and not be so the revisions were pretty manageable. This is great news because I was certainly worried about having time to revise with a newborn in the house--I thought it would end up being put off for a couple months and then I'd have to reacquaint myself with the whole text again when I started working on subsequent drafts. But no worries now--smooth sailin'. I have made my mock-up with notes for our awesome graphics guy so all that's left is the cover. I even have a summary blurb prepared but I'm going to let it sit and soak in on me a little longer before I share it with you guys--as with the book itself, I just want everything to be perfect for all of you; you deserve it after the long wait to get here. I'm like, "If it's not perfect, then their waiting has been for nothing." The thing to remember though is that we are dangerously close now. Dangerously close.

So now I'm down to the last few weeks of this whole gestation thing and the nesting mode is in full swing. I spent the whole morning yesterday trying to work on my new *ahem* project...but I was so distracted with my to-do list for the nursery that I finally had to put it away, close the computer and just go do baby stuff. We have been very fortunate to receive lots of hand-me-down clothes and a few new things as well. So one of the big projects yesterday was laundry. It sounds easier than it is because they are all different sizes and since I'm such a freak about keeping things organized I had to separate each size into its own bag. So washing was kind of a mess because I had to mix the sizes up again and reorganize after they were clean and folded. Long day but I finished it all. My writer's brain is whispering to me, "Does anyone care about this? Edit it out--edit it out!" But this is a blog, not a book--if someone doesn't care to read every paragraph, they can skip around!

So the nursery is coming together and we're still putting the apartment back together after the big weekend of shooting we just had. My husband and some of our friends are doing a web series for Youtube, called WebDM. It's all about Dungeons & Dragons role playing stuff, mostly from the perspective of the person who DM's the game, meaning the person who runs the campaign. They are pretty short episodes (4-8 min) and it's just two guys talking about the game, very laid back. If you know anything about D&D, you would probably enjoy the show; if you know nothing about the game but want to learn more about it you would probably also enjoy the show. I've only played the game once myself but had a lot of fun and I can see why it's such a popular pastime. If you are a fantasy nerd, like we are over here, you should check it out. Anyway, so they just shot a bunch of stuff for the show in our little apartment and had to move everything around to create a set. I'm working on putting things back together, reorganizing our bookshelves etc., but the set looked great and I can't wait to see how the new episodes turn out!

So, in light of the fact that I'm down to less than five weeks before baby, and in an effort to decrease the increasing pain and swelling from being on my feet too long in a day, I am going to attempt to spend some downtime blogging more. It doesn't take the mental toll that working on a new book does so it's easier to accomplish despite distractions and it allows me to have a little rest time in the day. I'm not an internetor--I rarely get on Facebook and I hate pouring hours of my time into watching/reading crap on the internet. I have certain blogs and certain web series I check regularly but other than those I just can't abide the world wide web. So working on my blog is a good in-between because it let's me be productive and keeps me away from stressful work stuff (both writing-related and nesting-related) when I'm trying to relax. Seriously, I did so much yesterday that last night and this morning I have been so sore! Anybody out there that has been pregnant, I know you understand what I'm talking about when I say the round ligament pain can get excruciating--especially if you overdo it!! Anyway, all that to say I'm going to try and post some stuff, totally unrelated to anything, just thoughts and music/book talk, stuff like that. So stay tuned!

xxErin

Sunday, May 24, 2015

News!!!

There is some news on the Lone March Front! Check out the new post on the LM website:

Where's Moon-Call?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, Everyone!

xxErin

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Sneak Peek!

Hey, guys!  There is a new sneak peek for Book 7 up on the Lone March site.  So check it out!


Let me know what you think in a comment on here or the Lone March site!

Have a great Monday:)

xxErin

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Just a Quick Update!

I'm now on Instagram.  I only have a few pics up so far and they are all photos from the collages I posted in my last post but many of them have captions, which the collages obviously do not.  Plus you can see them more up close than you can on Blogger.

Click here to go to my Instagram Profile.

So check it out and follow me!  You know, if you want to...

xxErin

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Big Ol' Fat Story

Perhaps some of you may have been wondering where I've been. We got home and I immediately posted and promised to do another soon and then I didn't follow through. In fact, so much has happened since that post that I forgot I did that post till I got on my blog to do this one and saw it. Nevertheless I made some collages of our pictures and I'm going to put them up, even though the last post contains a few errant photos.

Wedding Collage:


Also this one of the whole wedding party. It would have been too small to really see if I'd put it in the collage and it's worth seeing up close because we had a lot of fun taking our 'teen drama for the WB' photo:


Honeymoon Collage:



(I was extremely ill with a stomach bug the day before we left for our honeymoon and the day of, which is why I look like that at the airport, in the top left pic.)

Harry Potter Studio Tour Collage:


So, now that we've gotten that out of the way (posting pix has been hanging over my head since the trip) we can get down to business. I'm going to tell you guys a big, fat story - not a story as in a lie but a real, true story. I'm going to tell you this story by way of revealing parts of myself I've never, evereverever revealed on my blogs or social media before.

**Fair warning: this is a long tale and may bore you if you're not interested in my personal life; consider that before continuing because I really don't want to field complaints in the comments.

Since first publishing Moon-Linked I have lived by a simple motto: Fake it till you make it. It's good advice and makes sense for anyone in artistic trades. What it meant for me was to act in every way as if I were a "real" traditionally published author - a professional in every sense of the word, even though I was publishing myself and not seeing any money for a while and otherwise busy living a normal life. It meant that I was not to share the secret of how I survived financially because I was trying to give the impression of being a professional writer, who supported herself through her writing alone. That's silly. And probably everyone saw through it. The closest I came to disclosing the truth was when I wrote on my humor blog about my wallet being stolen from work and in one other post when I mentioned something about being at work all day. Otherwise, it never came up. I kept it separate from the blog and social media.

The funny thing was for that first year, when I published Moon-Linked, I really had no other job besides writing my books. I had just finished the last semester of college where I would actually, physically live on site, and I moved back home to live with my fiance, intending to complete the last few credits of my degree online while he supported us from his production company, where he made commercials, documentaries, industrial videos and so on. For one year we lived comfortably in a small house, where he shot and edited videos around town while I worked on my books and my music.

After a year we moved to Austin, Texas, where we both ultimately wanted to settle. Well we certainly couldn't live the way we had before, with Travis supporting me one-hundred percent. It proved very difficult to transplant his entire business to a brand new market and he and his partner ended up looking for other work here. I, meanwhile, was looking for anything to get me on my feet in a new city and ended up managing a two-location Salon/Boutique to pay my bills. I met a lot of great people and had a lot of free mani/pedi's and waxings over the year I was there. But the hours were long (11+/day) and I found myself too burnt out to work on my own projects. This was one of the reasons it took me so long to write Book Six. So I started looking for something new, something different. And found it pretty quickly. In child care. I became a nanny and found a family that was a perfect fit for me. The days were much shorter but the money stayed the same - the ideal situation - and within mere weeks of starting my new job, the rest of Book Six poured out of me and I finished the first and subsequent drafts in no time.

The best part was I got to watch this wonderful little boy grow up from a 2-month old to almost 2 years. I see him as just another one of my nephews, along with his older brother, who is almost seven. I love children and Travis loves children and we've both wanted to have a family for a long time so I viewed nanny work as gaining valuable life experience for myself. How funny life is...

So we spent a year planning a wedding and then spent 2 1/2 weeks abroad on our honeymoon, then came home and intended to do what I said in my last post, which was hunker down and get back to business as usual. That did not in any way happen.

Let's go back to the honeymoon. We literally spent all our money on our trip. We were prudent with souvenirs, only buying a few cheap Christmas ornaments for ourselves to remember our adventures (oh, and Trav bought a Ravenclaw scarf and Hogwarts gloves for me from the HP Studio Tour) but Europe is expensive, just to eat and take the guided tours and buy tickets to get into places. So we were eager to get back to work when we got home. But I found out pretty quickly that I was sort of screwed. The family I worked for told me they didn't need me the first week we got back. I think they viewed it as a gift to me, giving me more time to recover from our trip and spend some more time with my new husband. Little did they know how strapped we were after our honeymoon. So I was staring down our rent being due in a week's time and having no money to bring in, meaning Travis would have to cover all of it plus the bills till I got back on track, meaning things would be tight for quite a while. It wasn't ideal but I was trying to see the best in the situation, which was that I would get to spend a week working on the book without interruptions.

Then, only four days after our return to the states, I found out I was pregnant. It was surreal and exciting and about a million other things. But it came in the face of being broke. So it definitely hampered our ability to be as freely excited about it as we wished to be. But after that first week, I got back to work and things were approaching the old normal, financially, and it was wonderful to be back with the little guy. I told them right away about the pregnancy because I had already scheduled a prenatal appointment and didn't want to lie to them about why I needed off early one day. So then about a week after working again, the family I worked for informed me that the husband/father was quitting his job to get back to the field he wanted to be in and thus things would be tight for them and thus they wouldn't be able to afford child care anymore. It was sad and scary and I felt every feeling in the book about it. And again our finances would suffer and again our excitement over the wee one growing inside was colored by a very stressful situation.

So I started looking for a new job. I wasn't prepared to be looking for a new job in November, while also pregnant but that's what I was saddled with. The other problem was that because I was pregnant my choices were limited. I needed to stick with child care because I didn't want to get myself into a situation where I was forced to be on my feet all day while pregnant or dealing with unnecessary stress on the job, especially as I progressed through my pregnancy and got bigger. So I applied for new nanny positions. The problem with that was that I would have to lie about being pregnant. If I told potential employers I was pregnant, they wouldn't want to hire me. No one wants a pregnant nanny or someone who would want to bring their own child to take care of someone else's child. Parents want a young, single female with no baggage to take care of their kids. I get it; I'd probably feel the same way. So if I told anyone I was pregnant, they would know that in a few months' time I would, at the very least, need time off to have a baby, or I would want to quit and they'd have to start looking for a new nanny all over again. Who would hire me under those circumstances? Unless they only wanted someone for a few months, which would still pose a problem for me because I would still need work for after the baby came.

So, forced to live a double life as it were, I secured a new position with a nice family and immediately began to worry about when and how to tell them. They hired me about two weeks before I would actually start work for them. Those two weeks were brutal as I went over and over the whole thing in my head. I wrote a speech; I lost sleep over the thought of the potential outcomes to telling them my secret; I invented conversations and defended myself and made many clear points to the imaginary couple. Most of my family and friends advised me not to tell them until the second trimester, which is the normal time that most people announce a pregnancy. But this was a different situation and I felt like waiting that long would be really shitty on my part, because essentially this nice family was hiring me under false pretenses. So I resolved to tell them upon my first day of work and hope for the best. I showed up and got it out within the first two minutes. To my relief and disbelief they were very sweet about it and congratulated me and didn't seem to be much affected by it at all. So I threw myself into the new job, with the new schedule and the new routine and the new little person I would be getting to know, all in the face of some major first trimester fatigue - seriously, I have been a zombie. But I hid it well and did my job well and things seemed okay. I didn't know what we were going to do when the baby came but at least for the time being I had money coming in to pay my bills. We scraped by during the holidays and managed to get presents for everyone, toys for all the nephews and our sweet baby niece, and even those two surrogate nephews I nannied for over the past year and a half.

On Christmas day, Travis got a really bad cold and then gave it to me the next day. It was much worse for me because I couldn't take the meds he took to fight it off. Being pregnant limits the ability to heal as one normally would. On top of this it was Christmas weekend, so we couldn't go to the doctor and talk to them about what I could take. So I had to endure it.  Like so many things - like this situation overall - it got worse before it got better. I was so ill I had to call the lady I nanny for and tell her I couldn't be around her baby so I would have to miss work. The next day was no better, unfortunately, and, indeed, I am only just now getting better. (I'm currently operating at about eighty percent.)

Then, on the evening of that second day out sick, while I sat upright, trying to let my head drain, feeling the effects of a 60+ hour migraine (that's nearly three days) plus muscle aches I'd never experienced before because I'd always taken meds that warded them off whenever I've been this sick in the past, and still putting up with a horrible, burning cough, I got a call from my new employer, who very kindly informed me that she and her husband had discussed the situation over the holidays and it really wasn't ideal for them to have a nanny who would be pregnant and then need time off for having a baby in just a few months. They wanted someone more long term, without the problems that pregnancy can bring, like heavy lifting (of the baby and the carrier and so on) and the fatigue and needing time off. I understood completely but it did take me by surprise. So I was back to square one.

I'd just like to point out an irony here. In all my jobs over the years, since I first started working when I was fifteen, I have never been fired or let go from a job. I have always been well liked and respected for my work ethic, my intelligence, my punctuality, and my positive attitude. I have been honored for it - rewarded with raises without asking for them. And yet, now, in my last few weeks before turning thirty, while also being openly pregnant, I have been let go from two jobs. It's funny in a not-so-funny kind of way.

In the typical fashion of any honest pregnant woman, I run the gamut of emotions about this situation and have done since losing the first job. On the one hand, I was sad to leave the family I'd gotten used to and grown to love over the nearly two years I'd been with them, but I was relieved also because I was worried about how I would handle it once the baby came and I was concerned about not making enough money. With the new job, I was looking forward to a new schedule, wherein I would have more time to myself with two days off per week, but also troubled about making less money. And when I lost this new job, I was upset, of course, about what it meant financially, but also, again, relieved, that I wouldn't have to deal with the stress of being pregnant while trying to do a job that is done best while not pregnant (as are most jobs, truthfully). So I am in a weird limbo area where I feel both sad and happy, angry and elated, worried and relieved, and it all just mixes together, leaving me completely wayward, taciturn, and irresolute.

So my husband and I have decided I'm going to try my hand at editing some video for him. I have experience with this as I spent two years editing video at a news station when I was younger and before I went to college. I will have to learn a new program but I think I can handle it. The upside is if we can make this work then I can essentially be a stay-at-home mom and spend my time editing video and working on my books while the baby is sleeping or otherwise occupied. The downside is that money will not be guaranteed or stable by any means because I will more or less be freelancing. But the other upside is that Travis has the experience and the reputation and the resume to apply for all the work and he should have just about any job in the bag once people see his resume and his demo reel, so he can get a lot of work for me, as I will be a sort of junior editor, working under him, meaning he will give me marching orders for a project and I will follow those instructions.

It's an exciting and scary prospect. And one I will need to start right away, given that I now have no other source of income, beyond the paltry sum I earn from selling my self-published books. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I don't write books for the money. I do it because I love it. But meanwhile I still have bills to pay. So this is life for us currently. It's been crazy and up and down and all around. And it has heavily limited my time to work on the book. Keep in mind, my writing time has been limited for a year since we started planning our wedding. The only difference is that now, instead of that whole 'getting back to business as usual' thing, I've just continued to be limited in my time. It's sad but true. I'm getting closer and I don't mind telling you I'm up to the last few chapters. But it will still be a while before I get Book Seven out there. I hope you will all understand now, after reading my long-winded tale, why it's not already out and why it will take a while longer. But rest assured that when I have the time I am working on it and I want to get it out there as much as I hope you want to read it.

And that's the truth and the whole truth. No more hiding parts of myself. It's all on the table. I will keep you updated about the book when I can and hopefully it will stay on track for a Spring release. But don't take that as fact. As I've learned in the last few weeks, nothing is guaranteed. I will do my best to keep this on track because I would like to get the book out before I have my baby, which is due mid July.

I hope you all had wonderful holidays, less stressful than mine and I wish you all a happy New Year!

xxErin

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Finally, there is a Print Edition for Book 6, Moon-Wake! Also, I got married...

Our wedding ceremony at "Wycherley House". (Photo courtesy Jon Kelly.)


On our honeymoon, just before leaving our Florentine hotel to dine in the Tuscan hillsides.

The view from our hotel room in Edinburgh, last two days of our trip.

So, we've had a BUSY few weeks!  The wedding went perfectly--seriously, so perfectly that we were both kind of questioning it...Is it possible that it really went as well as we think?...But it's true--it went swimmingly!

Then we had our GIANT honeymoon.  We started in London, then traveled to the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, then back to England for a day (during which we spent over 7 hours at the Harry Potter studio tour, in Leavesden!) and onto Scotland for the big finale!  It was amazing and magical and a million other things!!

But we are glad to be home and get back to business as usual, especially given that we haven't truly had "business as usual" for the last year, due to planning for the big day.  So now we can really settle in and hunker down and get some stuff done.  (And neveryoumind about just what stuff we're getting done...But, yes, it does include working on Book 7.)

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that Book 6, Moon-Wake, is now available in limited Print copy.  It will soon be available on Amazon but for now you can only get it through the publisher, Createspace.  The link to purchase is here.

The price is set at $14.99.  It's more than I'd like it to be but unfortunately, the sheer size of Book 6 made it mandatory to charge such.  Seriously, the publishers wouldn't allow me to charge less because it costs quite a bit to print a 650 page novel.  Anyway, it's a handsome edition, if I do say so myself, so if you already have the other 5 print copies in the series, it's worth it to add this one to your collection.

If you do buy a print copy, there is a post that may interest you on my other blog, regarding formatting.  Check it out here.

That's all for now but I promise to do a sneak-peek post soon so stay tuned!

xxErin