Life as Amber knows it

"An adventure in the making…"

Monthly Archives: June 2012

I am free

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

I don’t care if you like Frank Herbert or hate his work: The above quote just proves the man was an absolutely genius (not to mention the fact that his work made it possible for the Sci Fi channel to have Edward Atterton almost naked on their version of “Children of Dune”).

I have lived my life in fear.  Fear has wrapped around me, covered me, been the air I have breathed, the food I have eaten, the water I have drank.  It has haunted my dreams.  It has tinted everything about me and has been the soul of my life.

No more.

A few nights ago, I was stuck on a short story I was writing.  Frustrated, I finally said, “Fuck it,” and went for a long drive, hoping that the music blaring on the stereo would disrupt my thought processes enough to reset them and I would be able to see what was holding me back on finishing the story.

Instead, I saw what was holding me back in my life from being truly happy.

I drove so far that I came to the connection on the highway to Route 66, and I was so surprised to be that far out that I texted a friend to tell him.  Seeing that sign reminded me that I have always wanted to start at one point of that historical highway and drive the entire thing from start to finish.  It was then that my bad bullshit started rising up in my mind as to why I could not take this trip that I have dreamed of doing for years.  All the reasons why it’s a bad idea, why I should not venture so far from home, how much work it would take to actually take the damn trip.

And a memory of a conversation with a dear friend the previous weekend took over in my mind, his words almost a blast of knowledge, sense, truth and reality: “It’s bullshit.  I do not care what has led up to it, but it is bullshit and you need to stop it NOW!”

My fear is bullshit.  I can see the pattern leading to the fear, and what experiences and heartaches have caused that fear.  While it is understandable, it is only acceptable for so long.

I have held back in fear and lost out on friends, lovers, life experiences.  The most devastating result of this is that I have not truly lived.  And I am finished with just existing, just breathing and just going through the motions.  This time in my life, this crossroads I am standing at leads either to a life filled with passion and joy and laughter or a life half-lived, supported by blandness and half breaths.

There will be set backs, and the fear will start creeping up on me again.  But I will be damned if I’m going to let it cloak me and blind me once more.

It is time for me to truly start living as I was meant to live: Balls to the wall, full throttle, and laughing my ass off the whole way.

And I will.

Peace, love, and belly laughs,

~Amber

It's time to start living

 

 

 

 

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Soundtrack for a Work-In-Progress

A week ago, I had the honor of being interviewed by Melissa Craig and Charity Parkerson on their podcast.  When I was asked if I had any writer’s “quirks”, I had to laugh, because, boy do I ever.  The first is, I can’t seem to write poetry on a computer:  I have to write it in a notebook, and then transfer it to a word doc.  Which can be a bad thing at times, because I’ve actually lost some very amazing work this way.  The second is that I have different play lists on my music player that changes from project to project: When I was compiling “4 a.m.”, I had the same three songs on repeat; when I wrote “James”, it was the same three songs set on repeat.

If literature and writing, and anything in between those two things are my great creative loves, music is a very near second:  I played piano (quite well according to all the ribbons and awards I’ve won) for years, and had considered making music a career in some capacity for a brief time until an illness caused me to stop playing the piano.  I’ve taken up various instruments over the years as well as having spent years in the church choir, belting out whatever hymn was on the schedule.  Music grabs a hold of me, makes my heart race, brings me to tears, and inspires the hell out of me.  When Jeff Stalnaker, a friend, writer, and musician we interviewed on the TweepNation podcast took one of my poems and set it to music and then performed it on the podcast?  Jeff now holds the title of the first guest to make me cry and ask for a few moments to get myself together, I was that moved by what he had done.

So now that I’m working on a new poetry and fiction short story collection, I have a new playlist set on repeat while I write.  One of my two works in progress, “In the Gloaming”, is probably one of the heaviest pieces of work that I have ever written.  One piece in particular, I sent to my amazing editor with a note that said, “I cannot believe I wrote something that dark!”  And by heavy, I don’t just mean depressing and heart wrenching:  There will be a few poems in the book that I’ve written after being inspired by the love a few very dear friends have brought to my life.  At this crossroads point in my life, having the realization that these few amazing people love me so completely and unconditionally is astounding, and I am doing my best to not close off from it, which is my natural tendency when faced with strong emotions.

So here it is: The soundtrack for In the Gloaming… I won’t explain the reasoning behind each song, except to say that its relevant to what I’m writing and moves me in one way or another.

 

“Drive by”, Train

“Her eyes”, Pat Monahan

“Brighter than sunshine”, Aqualung

“Show me what I’m looking for”, Carolina Liar

“Half”, Tom G Mac

“Wasted days”, Highwater Rising

“A bad dream”, Keane

“Sunday morning”, Maroon 5

“Here we go”, Matt Kearney

“I saw”, “Run” and “Come on get higher”, Matt Nathanson

“Ever the same”, Rob Thomas

“Stop”, Matchbox Twenty

“Your winter”, Sister Hazel

“Missing person”, Michael W. Smith

“Healing” and “She is his only need”, Wynonna

“All in”, “Sick Cycle Carousel”, “Spin”, and “Halfway gone”, Lifehouse

 

 

Much love to you,

 

Amber

 

 

The Indie Authors That Light Up My Kindle Fire

You probably know the back story to this if you’ve read me for any length of time: February 2011, I received a Kindle as a gift, and within two months, I discovered my first Indie Author: John Locke.  I wrote Locke after reading two or three of his books to tell him how much I enjoyed them, and was pleasantly surprised when he actually returned the email, not with some form letter that’s automatically sent when you email the person in question, but with an actual real email.  I had a Twitter account at the time, but hadn’t really done anything other than follow a few random friends, movie stars who’s work I truly enjoy, and a few musicians.  I began following Locke not too long after I emailed him, and thus, my life would change forever.

It was either Russell Blake or Barry Crowther that followed me not too long after.  After seeing that they (and by they, I mean either Russell or Barry) were authors, I checked out their book on amazon.com.  It looked interesting, so I bought it, and about half an hour later, I was glued to my kindle.  I then checked out which ever one I hadn’t checked out before on amazon.com, and oh wow, interesting book description, I think I’ll try their book as well!  And again, glued to my kindle.  After reviewing both their books, I formed friendships with both writers.

And so on and so forth.  I’d be followed by, or I’d follow, an Indie Author, read their work, LOVE the incredible work that they had out on e-book or on their blogs and websites, write a review, let the author in question know how much I enjoyed their work, and the next thing you know?  We’ve exchanged emails, I’ve asked them to look at my work and give me their opinion, and the best part of it, is I made some very excellent friendships.

The people on the list below are all friends, yes.  But before they were friends?  They were Authors I looked up to and admired due to their amazing, honest, and truly talented work.  Now that I myself have jumped into the Indie Author arena, its a blessing to have them pushing me as well as pulling for me, and in a few cases, helping me with my work, whether as a beta reader, an editor (or two), or a whip cracker (or three… ouch!).

John Locke: The initial author that gave me a glimpse at how excellent Indie Authors truly are, Locke’s work has broken records repeatedly.  I myself find his writing excellent, and BONUS: its comical and down right dirty sometimes.  A girl enjoys a damn good read, and if you’re a girl like me?  Sometimes you need a bit of comical filth to get your mind off diapers, laundry, and your own writing that’s still sitting there, staring at you on the screen saying, “write me already!”  You can check out his books here and you can read his blog here

Russell Blake: Come on, you knew his name was going to be on this list.  Russell Blake not only is hysterically funny with his tweets, his blog is excellent, not only dealing with writing, but with real issues that make you think, and it does not matter if he’s writing a parody, a heart-wrenching and heart-breaking memoir, or one of his 14 novels, he is one hell of an excellent writer.  That’s right: 14 novels, which were put out in the space of 12 months.  Can your favorite Indie Author do that?  You can check out Blake’s books here and view his website here.

Melissa Craig: I knew of Melissa when I first interviewed her in March of 2012 on the TweepNation podcast, but I didn’t know her.  After the podcast, I adored her.  And after reading her book, Plentiful Package, I learned that even though I’m totally strait?  Melissa knows how to get anyone going, guy or girl.  I’ve had the good fortune to be a guest on her podcast twice, and each time, I laughed so hard my stomach muscles were sore.  Her next book is due out within the next few weeks (Melissa, please correct me if I’m wrong on that one!), and I am dying to read it.  Check out Melissa’s blog here and her amazon.com author’s page here

Claude Bouchard: Claude is the champion at final lines that make me say, “Whoa… holy shit!  Sooooo did not see that one coming!”  And with over 250,000 followers on twitter, the fact that Claude takes the time to read my work occasionally and give kind feedback, as well as taking the time to banter back and forth with me?  It would give any reader a huge ego boost.  Out of his seven books, I’ve enjoyed all seven, and am anxiously awaiting his next novel.  Claude is also very grateful for his fans, which is obvious in his “The CeeBee Crew” club (I myself have been a very proud member since August 8, 2011), a page on his website solely dedicated to his readers that are the most supportive.  He is also the reason why I can take five minutes and breathe occasionally, due to his excellent rendition of U2’s Desire, a you tube video that is very much loved by my 3.5 and 2 year old daughter and son.  Check out his excellent work here and his excellent website here.

Justin Bog: One of the great loves, and great friends, of my life, I absolutely fell in love with Justin’s incredible writing last fall. Despite my incredible capacity for very filthy language, Justin is one of my greatest supporters, and I in return love his work and have no problem shouting from the roof tops how excellent he is.  His first compilation, Sandcastle and Other Stories came out earlier this year, and I was one of the lucky few to get an early copy to read and review.  If Sandcastle is any indication of what’s to come?  You’re going to want to watch and read Justin from now on.  Get his book here and read his blog here.

Jason McIntyre: Another writer very guilty of keeping me up way too late at  night with his excellent talent for description and pulling the reader into the world he creates using only his words, Jason McIntyre is another favorite of mine.  I have yet to be disappointed with anything he has published, and I enjoy his work so thoroughly, I’ve read it more than once.  My two favorite McIntyre novels?  Thalo Blue and The Gathering Storm. McIntyre is so talented, you can actually feel and smell the grass he writes about in his novels. You can get his books here and you can check out his website here.

Dionne Lister: My better half on both Facebook and our podcast TweepNation with Amber and Dionne, Dionne and I became friends after bantering back and forth on another author’s thread on Twitter last November.  The first person to ever give me a review, she is also one of my dearest friends, and one of my favorite people, even though she’s rude enough to live a 22 hour plane trip away.  She has scared me silly with her short fiction work, and I was thrilled when her first novel, Shadows of the Realm finally went live in April of this year.  You can get her book here and you can get scared silly yourself here.

Scott Morgan: Another great friend and another huge supporter of me and my work, I read Scott’s Short Stack while waiting on doctors after a health issue kept my dad in the hospital over Christmas 2011.  If you don’t read short stories, you’re missing out.  With nothing but five-star reviews in the Amazon Kindle Store, Morgan is an Author worth his weight in gold.  An editor, proof-reader, writer, and teacher, Scott is a man of many talents, as well as using his vast knowledge of the writing and publishing field to teach people via his website’s videos, his webinars and his workshops.  I recently was lucky enough to attend a workshop he gave in the DFW area, and I can tell you, if you have a chance to see him speak?  Go, you’ll definitely learn something.  If you don’t get a chance to see him speak, head on over to his website, you’ll learn something.  You can get Scott’s books here and you can see his website (along with webinar sign up and videos) here.

Barry Crowther: The man responsible for introducing me to David Peace and 1974 (as well as the subsequent novels), Barry is also the man who gave me the kick in the ass that helped me realize my dream of becoming a published author. After asking him to read some of my work, Barry told me to get the rest of it together, email it to him, and he’d help me format the book that would later on become “The Color of Dawn”. He may say it was all me? But he’s wrong; without his help, those poems would still be sitting in my computer, not being read.  You can check out Barry’s own excellent work here as well as his website here.

and last but not least, my gorgeous twitter wife:

Charity Parkerson:  Charity, Charity, ohhhhh Charity!  A kick-ass author, Charity has won so many awards, it would take a blog post of it’s own to get them all listed.  Suffice it to say, she is so incredible in her work that she keeps me up at night, and when I recommend her erotica novels and short stories to friends, I always tell them to make sure they pick up a pack of cigarettes as well, because they’re going to need a smoke post-read.  As well as being an exceptional author, my Twitter Wife and a dear friend, Charity is also the head of her own publishing company, Punk & Sissy Publications.  You can pick up Charity’s smokin’ novels and short stories here and you can check out her website here.

Wait, why are you still here reading me? I just listed 10 Indie Authors that kick-ass and are exceptional… Click Click Click!!! You’re missing out!

lots of love,

Amber

A million and one roses for a one in a million friend…

I’ll be honest: I love having my ego stroked. And as an Indie Author, I get support and virtual high-fives from my Indie Author friends when I send them something I write, asking for their opinion. But as an Indie Author, while I love and appreciate the praise from those friends I hold nearest and dearest in my heart, what really gets my ego going and pumped up and inflated is when a reader tells me how much they enjoy my work.

Yeah, Stauroylla Papadopou, I’m talking to you!

I met Staury last fall, and since I published my first book back in January, she has gone above and beyond in her support of me and my writing and my attempt to make a go of it as an Indie Author. She immediately purchases, reads and reviews my work; not only that? Guess who gives me the most support and promotion via twitter? Why, that would be the wonderful Staury. Staury is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful, and the only thing that trumps her amazing physical beauty is her incredible heart and soul of platinum. She also HATES it when I, or any other of the many Indie Authors she supports, says “Thank you” for everything she does, day in and day out to support us in our work. As an Indie, yeah, some of your success depends on your ability to write, to tell a story, to paint an image in the minds of the reader. But what really makes or breaks an Indie Author is their readers. Without our readers? We’d be nothing.

Staury, Staury, Staury. You hate that we say thank you, but what else can we do? We are all so grateful to you for your friendship and your support.

Being a natural born onery brat, I’m going to just have to thank the lovely Staury in the best way I know how: A Poem.

For Staury:

A million in one roses for a one in a million friend

Your friendship, your passion
Your beauty, your words
So many things to adore about you my dear
If only you’d allow me to say “thank you” in words
But since you will not
A poem I will write
For a beautiful bright star
Who blesses us all
Who makes words flow so freely
The gift of your friendship
Your unconditional support
There are no words to show you my gratitude
So I’ll hope that you’re gifted
With roses so deeply red:
A million and one roses
For a one in a million friend

Staury, my beautiful friend, my biggest supporter: I don’t give a shit that you don’t want me to say it: THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO! You are the reader we all dream of having, and you my darling dear, are an amazing blessing!

Lots of love to you, Staury!

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

An Interview with the Illustrious Dionne Lister

This post, I am interviewing my very dear friend, and pod-cast partner-in-crime, Dionne Lister about her first novel, her favorite things, and other various piece of miscellaneous items you might not have thought to ask yourself…

Isn’t she beautiful?

Who would your guest list include for your fantasy dinner, dead or alive?  Amber Jerome~Norrgard (hey! that’s me!), Craig Stone, Justin Bog, Stauroylla Papadopou, Ciara Ballintyne, and all my wonderful writer friends, and my aunty and grandmother who have died.

What year would you visit in a time machine and why?  1992 because I was 21 and having lots of fun with minimum responsibilities. I used to surf everyday and life was good (please forgive the cliché but I’m reminiscing).

Who would you love to have a few beers with and just bullshit?  I don’t drink beer and I bullshit all the time. Eenie, meenie, minie, moe—you Miss Amber.

What is your go to movie or tv show?  Grays Anatomy and Downton Abbey – yes I know that’s two but I couldn’t choose.

When did you start writing?  When I was seven or eight.

What book exceeded your expectations?  A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz.

Toilet paper/ paper towels: what’s the correct way to put them on the dispenser?  We had to get rid of the dispenser when the kids were toddlers because they would just pull and pull and pull until all the paper was everywhere. They then played with the roly bit in the middle of the dispenser and now we don’t have one. But if I did have one, I would make it so the bit to pull is sitting on the top of the roll.

If you’re going on a long road trip, what drinks and snacks are you going to pack?  Water in a BPA free bottle (sorry I’ve been working at Earth First too long), fruit and lollies.

Name 3 books on your to-be-read list.  Game of Thrones, Turning by Melinda Chapman and Danger Undercover by Charity Parkerson.

Best thing about where you live?  The possums—Not! It has to be the ocean.

What book could you read over and over?  Anything by David Eddings

Who is your favorite band or musician?  Keane

What book do you think is a necessary read?  Shadows of the Realm. It’s very intelligently written and gives insight into everything you’ve ever wanted to know.

How many books do you think will be in the Circle of Talia series? 3 or 4.

Have you started book two in the series?  Where do you think it will lead?  I have started book 2 and it will lead on from book 1 ;). I think there’s some more surprises headed their way and since I’m a panster even I don’t know what they are.

Have you ever wanted to throttle any of the characters in the Circle of Talia Series?  I hate Leon and Perculus. Leon is a real asshole and Perculus is just gross, especially when he’s eating.

 Have any of the characters in the Circle of Talia Series, or in any of your short stories, shown up in a dream?   No.

Wow thanks for the interview Miss Amber, I’ve enjoyed answering your questions. Let’s hope someone’s interested enough to read the interview now!

Don’t worry Dionne, I’m sure everyone will read it!

Dionne Lister is a writer and mother living in Sydney, Austrailia.  She is also co-creator and co-host of “TweepNation with Amber and Dionne”, a weekly podcast loosely related to Twitter and Indie Authors, and is on a mission to eradicate the world from fruit-munching and thieving possums.

You can check out Dionne Lister’s  wonderful and entertaining blog here, and you can buy her awesome fantasy novel here.

My personal pick for Best Fantasy Read of 2012….

~Amber

The Man~Cub Turns Two… Wait, how did that happen?

With big blue eyes, the red hair he received from me, and dimples that flash beatifically when he smiles, my son is going to be quite a heart breaker when he grows up.

He’s also the single most amazing miracle of my life.

He’s turning two in a few days, and I am just amazed that this little guy, this sweet baby boy, this amazing person is someone I’m 50% responsible for bringing into the world.  I could wax poetic about the passage of time, how quickly it goes by, but I’ve done that.  Multiple times.  Instead, I think I’ll just tell the story of how I went from thinking I was finished having kids, and was gifted with such a blessing in my life.

It might have been comical, if I had not been so horribly sick to my stomach.  The irony of the situation alone is so incredible, I look back and am amazed it actually happened, and I myself lived through the experience.

I was one of the 1% who became pregnant while using the pill.

After being diagnosed as “infertile”.

I’m well aware that there is a possibility that you can get pregnant when you have sex, even using precautions, and being careful.  But having been diagnosed with both Endometriosis and Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome in my 20’s led me to believe that taking a daily dose of birth control was pretty much a guarantee I could get freaky with my husband of five years with little to fear other than our two daughters coming in our bedroom and catching us in the act.

In complete honesty:  I wanted a third baby.  I’ve always known that I wanted children, by either biology or adoption.  If you would have asked me, years ago, back before I was knee-deep in diapers and wipes, sippies and pacis, I would have said that three would have been my magic number for having children.  But when I met, fell in love with, and married my husband, we agreed to two children.  That was his magic number, and for me, I’ve always believed that planning to have a baby should have both partners on board 110%.  There’s also the fact of my own fubar’d DNA: Motherhood was hard won for me: Failed rounds of Clomid, cycle charting, temperature taking, scheduled sex, and finally, surgery to conceive both my daughters.  The emotional toll trying to get pregnant took on me was so exhausting, that the idea of trying for a third baby was out of the question.  We had two beautiful and healthy children.  Why tempt fate when we had been so very blessed already?

Why, indeed?

The true comical irony of the situation?  Two weeks before I was informed by an emergency room doctor that I was pregnant and not suffering from the stomach flu, my husband and I had gone out with another couple.  During dinner, we began talking about infertility and everything that goes with it, and I can recall saying quite candidly, “I always thought that when I became pregnant, I wouldn’t have realized it.  That I’d start feeling sick to my stomach, go to the doctor and be told that I wasn’t sick, but was in fact pregnant.”

I’m guessing when those words left my mouth, that God, in his infinite wisdom and skewed sense of humor nudged Saint Peter in the ribs and said, “Hey, watch this!”

I spent the nine months of my pregnancy terrified that I’d lose the baby.  It had been far too easy to get pregnant the third time, and having suffered a miscarriage in 2007, the fear of loss was very real and immediate for me.

The day of my son’s birth arrived, and I was shocked when my epidural wore off right as I had to push.  Everything but the physical pain on the experience  lost focus, becoming blurry, and almost non-existent.  I never thought I would be able to withstand the pain of child birth.  But at that one single moment in my life, pain ripping through my body, I turned inward and found a core of strength I had no idea I possessed.  In that one moment, I was beautiful, strong, capable and invincible as I had never before been in my life.  Amber: 1; Pain: 0.

I can remember being worried that my second child, Autumn, would be jealous of her new brother.  I actually, in a fog of pregnancy induced exhaustion and panic once asked, “What if she tries to eat the baby?!”  But laying eyes on her new brother, Autumn quickly fell in love with the little guy, and the two have been driving me bat-shit crazy and making me laugh my ass off ever since.  

Benjamin is quite simply the most amazing wish I was afraid to make.  I never dreamed I’d be so blessed in my life.  Almost two years have passed since he came into the world, spraying the doctor and nurses with urine in his anger at being removed from his warm, quiet, and snug home.

There are no doubts that he is officially my last baby:  In November of 2010, I chose to have my uterus removed in a partial hysterectomy.  My uterus gave me years of pain, but it also gave me these three miracles that I never thought I’d get to see.

I had no idea it was possible to have your heart being held by three people, and to not mind it one bit.  My son, as well as my daughters, are the greatest examples of unconditional love, beauty, and strength that I have ever had in my life.

So, as I’ve done for my daughters on their big days, I’ll do for my son.  Benjamin’s favorite things are: watching the Bubble Guppies (much to my sanity’s chagrin), brown rice with raw red onions, climbing the stairs by himself, throwing coffee all over the living room carpet, a full sippie cup of apple juice, balloons, any body of water he can make a mess in, popsicles, Momma blasting Red Hot Chili Peppers while in the car, and his sister Autumn calling him “Beggie”.  His least favorite things are: The word “no”, the theme music to Wow Wow Wubbzy, not being allowed to use the bookcases to practice mountain climbing, having his diaper changed, and Momma not letting him put everything he picks up into his mouth. 

He is such a blessing, such an amazing gift I never asked for.  He is the greatest unexpected surprise I could have been given, and I am grateful daily for the chance to be a mother three times over.  He is the piece of my heart and soul I had no idea I needed to be complete.  His babyhood is blowing away so quickly, leaving only photographs and stained onesies, but I will not forget how the best gifts are the ones you have no idea you needed so desperately.

Happy Birthday Man~Cub!  It has been such an amazing gift to have watched you these past two years.  I cannot wait to see who you end up becoming my sweet boy!  

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