Friday, May 31, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I scared of storms. I mean terrified. Petrified. Mortified. Stupified scared. Living in Kentucky, and being raised in a trailer (a contraption that they say you’re better off going and lying in a ditch outside in the storm rather than staying inside if there’s a tornado) left me with a phobia of them.

Today the system that has been ravaging the west is moving through where I live. How afraid am I? My parents have a house. My Aunt Debbie and Uncle Frank have a home with a basement. If there is severe weather they let me stay with them. Aunt Jan is there too.

I’ve been trying to conquer my fear of storms. But it’s just so damn hard. When I was twelve family and I were down at Nolin LakeI got caught out in a severe thunderstorm. We don’t have beautiful seaside or oceans here so it’s lakes and rivers. You know, I’ve been to Florida but I’ve never seen the ocean in person. Only ever on movies or television or in photographs. But I digress.

My cousin Corey and I had gone fishing. To get where we were going Corey and I walked down an incredibly steep hill. Honestly it looked more like a drop off. I was wearing flip flop sandals and was carrying a fishing pole. There were rumblings of thunder but as any kid is want to do I charged ahead wanting to fish. 

But as we stood on the embankment the clouds rolled in, the wind kicked up and the thunder came more frequently. I was DONE at that point. Corey wouldn’t leave so I left without him. As I walked up the embankment the hook caught in my shorts (great) and I was forced to break the fishing line with my bare hands. Which if you know anything about finishing line it’s that no 12 year old girl should be able to break it without something sharp. I was lucky that the hook didn’t open up into my leg and all I got from it was a scratch.

As I walked down the road which was nothing more than rocks and dirt the rain started to come down in buckets. I looked to the sky and black raced over the white ones. My stomach was in knots and my shoes were getting slippery and hard to keep on so I took them off and started to scream for help. Keeping calm really wasn’t my strong suit at the time. Eventually I stopped yelling and looked for a landmark. Which as you can tell by the picture is no easy feat. What I remembered was a large vehicle with a busted out window. 

When I saw it I still wasn’t sure I was in the right place, but I was determined to at least get up the steep 
drop off and get around civilization. So up I went.

Fishing pole and sandals in hand I grabbed onto tree trunks and slowly pulled my way to the top. I stepped on thorn bushes, twigs, and God only knows what else. I was incredibly fortunate nothing poisonous bit me and that I avoided poison ivy altogether.

When I finally got to the top I was flushed, hot, red faced, and out of breath. And like a gift I was right behind the trailer we were staying in on the property.

Ever since then I’ve been terrified of storms. I have a shitload of storm stories. One from when I was five years old and a babysitter was watching my sister Brandy and me. We had a basement back then. One where I was at a pizza joint with a friend and we heard a funnel cloud go over ahead. And another still where there were some dumb asses standing outside while I heard a hitch wailing moan. Truly, the only thing scarier than hearing tornado siren to me, is hearing the tornado itself.

Missy often says it’s not the tornado that’s going to kill you, but the heart attack you’ll have when you see it that will. I’m pretty sure she’s right. I wish I had a house with a basement. That’s a dream you know. Nothing fancy, just a place that will withstand an F5 tornado. I’m not asking for too much am I?

Anyway, I feel better now that the storm has passed and that I wrote this. I know you’re not really there, but thank you for listening anyway. ;)


Amy McCorkle

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

Never, never, never quit.—Winston Churchill

If you are living on the downside of advantage, and are relying purely on courage, it can be done.—Russell Crowe, Oscar Speech for GLADIATOR

Haters are motivators.—Kyle Busch

Today I graduate. October 1999 I suffered my first emotional breakdown which led to my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. In October of 2000 as the doctors sought to stabilize me with a drug cocktail, the process, coupled with being fired from Children’s World because I suspected a young girl was being abused, threw me into a manic episode which led to a second breakdown.

Now, almost fifteen years later, stable and in recovery, I am proud to say I am simply under medical monitoring. I will continue seeing Dr. Rebek for check-ups and evaluations, but my team of brilliant physicians and therapists say I am ready to leave the nest and should a crisis arise I am more than welcome to return to the therapy fold.

Honestly, with the bullshit I live through every day I wonder if leaving the protective fold of therapy is such a good idea. But it’s been fifteen years. I still have nightmares to some degree but they are no longer as intense or as many as they have been in the past.

Oh don’t get me wrong I still dream in Technicolor and there are still nights when I’m watching Cowyboys and Aliens and wishing there was a hero out there for me. But if therapy and treatment has taught me anything it’s that recovery and balance are possible.

Recovering from an emotional breakdown is truly the hardest work I’ve ever put into anything (except maybe that marathon I ran in January of 1999). Putting myself back together has been no easy feat and there are those around me who deserve a great deal of credit.

Let me start with the person at the top of the list, Missy Goodman. What started out as a writing partnership has turned into probably the best friendship I’ve ever had. When I fell apart she was the kind of friend most people only dream about. If I could choose family it  would be her at the front of the line.

We’ve withstood a lot. From each other and those around us. Now, whenever I need someone to have my back I know I can depend on her more so than anyone else. The term walking through the fire applies directly through her as I’ve not always been a cake walk. In all honesty I’m still not, but with friends like Missy I know that when I come through something I won’t have to survive my surroundings, but that I can get down to the business of living.

Then there’s the group itself. I’ll keep them anonymous in name, but they have been a great source of support as well. Often I am, believe it or not, cheerful, bubbly, and positive. It’s just there are those around me who drain on that. These people, like Missy have seen me at my best and at my worst. I leave nothing but best wishes and knowing that should need arise the grous is there for me to return to.

Given the dramatics of the last few days I am happy for a day of celebration like today. And here’s what I like about the quotes.

As an endurance runner in the past I knew if I just kept putting one foot in front of the other I would make it to the finish line. I never quit and that I had the courage at all to start was huge. Finishing was just the cherry on top of a really cool sundae. So I never quit.

I cried the first time I heard Russell’s speech. And again every time I see it again on youtube. Because you see sometimes I feel like courage is the only thing I have.

As for the haters being motivators? All successful people have people I suppose who don’t like them and resent them for having a taste of success. I can’t worry about those people. They’re too busy wallowing in their own resentment and unhappiness for me to worry about. I wish they saw life the way I did, with infinite possibilities. But some are trapped in a very dark way of thinking. So when people hate me, or complain about me I tell myself—work a little bit harder. Reach a little bit higher. Because in the grand scheme of things haters only hurt themselves and have nothing to do with me. Those that resent  me and the way I do things? That’s on them. Not on me.


Amy McCorkle

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,
Good day writing wise. Was almost done on WARRIOR when faced with an unpleasant truth. When you have success there will be all kinds of people around you.

There will be those who are proud of your accomplishments but not really see how hard you work to make it happen. Those people are my parents. I expect that from them. I’m in the small press. They have jobs with salaries, benefits, secure income. I’m lucky if I see $30 every three months in royalties. That’s with me promoting my tail off. Using what I can afford Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, websites, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon. Then there’s the out of the box ideas like a prelaunch event showcasing other people’s work while promoting mine.

I know as a small press author my reach is, to some degree limited to what I can afford to do to promote. And when those efforts are stymied by an outside force it can be very frustrating. It leaves you thinking, what am I supposed to do? Clearly I’m not an A-lister. A brand author. I mean, that’s the eventually the big picture goal. But I don’t even make the alphabet.

Other people are genuinely happy for you and just want to be successful for themselves. And as my best friend Missy would say, ‘me too, me too’. Others struggle with feelings of envy and jealousy. And are honest about it. Still others, others are just snarky and out for themselves. Tell me, how do you deal with this?
I don’t particularly care what people think about me. And in a lot ways I don’t concern with other people’s actions, I figure what they do reflects on them, not on me.

I had a publisher tell me once publishing was a business, writing is personal until you hand it over to the publisher. It’s still art but it becomes a product at the same time. All I know is that writing is a personal act for me. Editing is not. I have to divorce myself from my work if I don’t it’s hard to look at it objectively.

Thus with the promotional efforts stymied I find myself at a big crossroads. What to do to promote? I feel as if my hand has slapped hard and I’m being punished for being aggressive in getting my name out there when I see other authors doing the exactly the same thing in exactly the same place. Like there’s some kind of secret code that gets them in but leaves me out.

I have never been one to let anything keep me down for too long. If I can’t promote there I can’t promote there and that’s the end of it. All the wishing, and hand wringing, and tantrum throwing won’t change that fact.

I mean, when I measure everything against one another this one bump in the road isn’t going to kill me or my career. I was just told no. Which is fine. I certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone with my posts. And it isn’t like it’s the last time I’m going to be told no.

People have told me no in some fashion or another as I’ve grown into an adult. First they said, you’re book isn’t good enough. So I wrote and submitted until I couldn’t be denied access anymore. I found a publisher who would nurture me and my voice until was strong enough to be heard above din of all the other writers struggling to be heard. I have a piece of the pie. An admittedly small piece of the pie at the moment but I know hard work and strong story win out over those who would sit on the sidelines and do nothing.

MuseItUp Publishing is a wonderful place, as are my other publishers. But Muse is who took me from a struggling writer and honed me into one who now has the courage to put her out of the  box marketing ideas to work.

I have a voice. I won’t be shut up by those around me, whether well-intentioned or not. It’s not my way. I’ve worked too hard. I feel like the girl in my LAST WARRIOR series, Bella Morte. She is destined to become a trained assassin. She’s only fourteen and the life she has led is a precarious one. She has survived against the odds. I have 8 books to figure out her journey. Maybe when it debuts in September I can send you a signed copy to show you what you inspire me to do when others hold me back. (Today wasn’t nearly as bad as it felt. International Bestselling Author Alicia Bessette liked the blog, so I must be doing something right!)


Amy McCorkle

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

So I had a slip last night. You know, like an alcoholic, only with food. I wish I could say I was an angel in this department. But I ate horribly from Saturday to yesterday. Being alone isn’t my strong suit. As I’ve demonstrated.

Being isolated and alone and cooped up in a house three days with nothing to do is hard to deal with for anyone, but for someone like me it hits all of my food triggers. Boredom and loneliness is really big trigger and Saturday I was alone a lot. I didn’t eat my main meal in the middle of the day and I ate a full order of crab rangoon, fried dumplings, and a large order of happy family from the nearest Chinese food restaurant. Sunday I ate and entire Digorno pizza. Monday I gorged on Little Cesar pizza, had a venti iced café mocha and blondie brownie blast. Yesterday I hate an entire chicken parmesean meal from Encore with no sides then had a grande iced café mocha. Then when I couldn’t sleep I ate two packets of greek yogurt, 4 slices of processed swiss cheese, two wedges of Laughing Cow cheese spread, half a can of cheese um Pringles, and the rest of Cheetos snack mix.

A lot of food, I know. And ultimately I’m responsible for that mess. No one stuck a gun to my head and made me do it. But being alone, with forty dollars is risky behavior and slippery slope. But I’m determined to make it one day at a time. So it seems I need to recommit myself on a daily basis.

I understand there’s a huge difference between being alone and being lonely, and this past weekend I found myself at the crossroad where the two happened to meet. And up until about midnight I was okay. I found refuge in my work but it obviously wasn’t enough. I needed live human contact and my main source of support was either out of town or being pulled in different directions.

I depend on Missy a great deal by choice we have truly walked through the fire together. Me with her issues, which I won’t go into here because that’s her story to tell and she’s an incredibly private person and I wish to protect her wishes in that department. And her through mine.

My biggest issue in the past is my bipolar diagnosis, which, I think as an emotional eater, complicates my food addiction recovery. In October of 1999 we moved from Kentucky to San Antonio, TX. We would have preferred Austin. We attended the Austin Film Festival for the first time. (This fall will be our second time there.)

To say we were fish out of water would be an understatement. To say the least we wouldn’t have said shit if we had a mouth full of it. We were commuting from San Antonio to Austin daily. We had producer badges but wasted them. Didn’t know what the fuck networking was all about and were totally green on how to work a festival. I was 23. No one was there to show us the ropes. Everything Missy and I learned was through trial and error. The biggest examples of the disconnect between us and the main group was this, people were eating in the restaurants we were eating bologna sandwiches and pretzels we had brought from home while drinking two and half dollar soft drinks. Also one day we left the headlights on. When we came out at the end of the day the car was dead. When we asked for help people said, “Oh I jetted in.” And I thought do they know how they sound? They sound like the most disconnected assholes ever.  We asked to use the desk phone they pointed us to a pay phone. We don’t even have pay phones now lol.

That being said we met a screenwriter by the name of Jim Vaughn. He was older gentleman, he was drinking gin and smoking cigarettes in the bar. (Things I’m sure that you can only do one of now) and he was the most, genuine, real, kind and patient person there. He was 69 years old and I would love to run into him again. And if Missy and I were to win at Austin this year he would surely be included in our speech. There are just some people you learn from and use their knowledge to benefit your own career and trade on your own name and not on theirs. Of course I think that’s something you should do with everyone and if your connection bears fruit then all the better.

My food addiction is such I worry about Austin and I worry about getting around without gasping for air. So I recommit myself to my efforts and I try to forgive myself of my eating transgressions and I look forward to perhaps victories in my professional life. So one day at a time I look forward to my next event where I am the guest of honor. The Mystical Paranormal Fair in Lexington, KY and one of several Hydra Publication guests at Joseph Beth Booksellers on June 15th!


Amy McCorkle

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dear Daniel,

Dear Daniel,

I’m hoping I’ve recovered somewhat from yesterday. Confrontations like that take it out of me and my long form writing suffers because of it. I got maybe two pages done on WARRIOR done because of it.
I wish I could say my emotions don’t inhibit my work. But when I’m that angry or hurt they block me and when I’m ready to write again, I’m usually drained by the fight. Oh they let me use the car last night to go to the bookstore. I spent the whole time talking to a friend on Facebook and just unloading a lot of stuff.
I don’t mean to come off so negative sometimes. My family is just so screwed up. Don’t get me wrong, I love them and all, but when the chips are down I should know better than to approach them with anything beyond the simple light lifting they desire.

I think they have a fundamental misunderstanding of who I am and a lack of ability to understand the adult I’ve become is a result of a lot of choices I was forced to make as a child and ones I chose to make as an adult.

One of those things I’ve always said is that I don’t want kids. Even as a kid. But as a kid I was raising and protecting to some degree my two younger siblings. Ever since I can remember Brandy was in need of some kind of shield and at the time I was willing to take it up for her. In all honesty I think it was probably that sort of thinking that helped me survive the abuse at Jerry’s on the weekends when he, his brother, or one of his guests would prey on me.

But I’m tired of protecting others to my own detriment. Is that wrong? I mean I’m extremely loyal to my friends. Pam, Missy, Elise, Carla. I’m making new friends and professional contacts who treat me better than my own family does. The small press has kind of embraced me and I like it. It makes feel like I’m loved and appreciated. I wonder, am I so broken that professional friendships have to take the place of the blood bonds and those who say they love me more than anyone simply because of that fact.

How broken am I that I still want validation from my biological father who doesn’t know me, abused me, and will never quite know how much he’s damaged me? I wrote him a letter once telling him I hated things that he did to me and didn’t do for me. As a practicing alcoholic who smokes Jerry is also a Vietnam Vet. His mother was a cold woman. She once wrote my name on the picture of the fattest woman in a photograph and left it for me to find. His dad was married 17 times—that he can remember. He also thought it was okay to strike a woman down. The only thing I remember about him is that he was a drinker too and that he was sick most of the time I knew him with Cancer. And he had dog that bit. His teeth went through and through. Of course, in the dog’s defense he was chained to the trailer.

That’s Jerry’s side of the family. He also had two brothers, one who abused me, and a sister whom we often went camping with. I think Jerry is the black sheep. But it’s not like all of the McCorkles are worthless. He had an uncle named Houston and he had two sons Doug and Leemont. Who now goes by Lee.
The only reason I know about Lee is because last year I at my launch for the Gladiator Chronicles Lee sought me out. He had his son Miller with him. We talked about Star Trek and how he and his brother used to travel the scifi con circuit together. I had a giveaway tote full of books from MuseItUp authors and Miller won the giveaway. And Lee bought my book.

Today has been a nice day, but again my parents haven’t been here. I worry that one day even though I love them and they love me I will have to cut ties with them when they do stupid shit like they did yesterday. I certainly hope not. I love them very much. And want desperately to do right by them. They just make is so damn hard sometimes.


Amy McCorkle