Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I'm Still Alive!

Over seven months since my last blog post...dang.

Just like many things, if you stop blogging even just for a little bit, it's pretty easy to just let it fall by the wayside. I really had no intention of taking another hiatus since February, but life has been a roller coaster ride.

The good news is, I've gotten my health back. No that I'm no longer bedridden, I've been working on building back all the muscle that wasted away. I was so weak, I could barely walk. By summer, I was going on walks again and working out. Now, I'm back to doing all the things I could do before I got sick last year.

The bad news...what the hell has happened to social media while I've been gone? Holy crap.

Honestly, all the vitriol and hatred is a big reason why I've stayed away. The political climate we live in is unbearable. I've been spending more and more time unplugged and disconnected to the interwebs.

Creatively, my well has now been dry for over 18 months. Yup. Not one new word has been written. Life had gotten in the way, and I'm looking to recapture my creativity. I'm going back into counseling to hopefully brush away any remnants of depression that hung on my shoulders like a wet coat. Serious illness has a way of making you feel helpless and depressed. I think once I feel lighter, my need to write will come back.

I did attend two comic cons this year. One is April and another in June. But that took all the energy I could muster, so I decided to do a small library event later in November, and that's all I'm going to do for the rest of 2016. Even though it took a lot out of me, being in front of readers and fans was so worth it. It's my biggest high. Seriously.

I hope you are all doing well, and I look forward to catching up with each and every one of you very very soon.

Take care, and much love...

Jay

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hello? Is This Thing Still On?

Whoa. So my last post was on November 4th....of 2015.

I didn't mean to be gone that long, but life got in the way. Just when I thought my health issues were behind me, they came back with a vengeance. In fact, I had to go on medical leave/short term disability from November through late December.

And yet again, just when I thought things were getting better, I got sick again the very last week of 2015. I spent New Year's bedridden.

I recovered, but just last week, I got sick again and went to the hospital. The ER ran a billion tests - everything from the flu to pneumonia. They even thought I might have a blood infection. All came back negative, and they gave me meds for some infection I didn't know I had. I took all the pills they gave me, and it helped the pain and inflammation in my joints go away.

So I have a new doctor who just ordered a slew of more tests yesterday to get to the bottom of this. Is it Lupus? Rheumatoid arthritis? Just regular arthritis? Ebola? Who knows. Hopefully soon, I'll find out. I need to get my health back.

Dang, a lot has happened since I last posted here.

Paris attacks
San Bernardino attacks
Star Wars Episode VII
David Bowie's death
Glen Frey's death
Alan Rickman's death

Hopefully, I will get back to posting here weekly. With all this health stuff going on, blogging is a nice distraction. As far as my writing goes, it's been a dry well for almost a year now. My goal is to break free from that creative funk in February.

I hope you're all doing well out there in blogging-land, and that you've had a great start to 2016.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG for November 2015

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It's a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

It's that time of the month when we can all express our fears and insecurities, and this month, I've got a doozie. I'm secure about pretty much everything right now.

The last several months have been difficult. Hurting my ankle and knee, and having to curtail any kind of exercise for two weeks took a much bigger toll on me than I expected. Depression is a strange thing, and it seems to take hold of me at my weakest. Sweating and doing strenuous exercise has always been my line of defense against the "Big D."

I'm battling this mindset that nothing really is going right in my life right now. That might seem like hyperbole, but man, it's true. So for this month, I'm battling insecurity on a whole new level. I know there's some positive stuff around me, but I'm having to put a lot of effort into finding it and focusing on it.

It's not easy.

So if you're the praying type, I wouldn't mind a few prayers thrown my way. Positive vibes welcome all around.

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Halloween!

I'm a big Halloween fan, and I'm hoping to get my health back in time for the festivities. I've been icing my knee and ankle for the last for days, and I'm getting stir crazy! I'm ready to throw these crutches out the window.

Since it's Halloween, and I'm not feeling that great, I thought I'd share one of the scariest posts I've ever done. I first wrote about the REAL Exorcist story back in 2008, with an updated repost in 2012, and it continues to bring visitors to my blog almost every day. I've updated it with some very recent developments. For us here in St. Louis, the story is well known. The supernatural events actually took place here in town.

So give it a read, if you dare.

William Peter Blatty's 1971 novel The Exorcist and the Warner Brother's film from 1973 have etched the term "exorcism" forever within our everyday vocabulary. For most of us, images of a demented Linda Blair spitting pea soup, her head spinning around, and all kinds of spooky scary stuff.

The novel was based on eye witness testimony and a 26 page diary (once thought to be 16 pages). Eye witness testimony includes first hand accounts from Jesuit priests, various professors, family members, friends, hospital workers, and even construction workers.

What exactly happened? What is Blatty's novel based on? Here are the facts in timeline form that have been confirmed by various investigators, and many details have been clarified and corrected:

>The family involved remains anonymous to this day [2015], so we'll call them the Doe Family and the boy that was allegedly possessed we'll refer to him as Rob Doe. The Doe Family was from Cottage City Maryland, not Mt. Rainer, Maryland as previously believed.

>January 1949, strange things began to happen to 13 year-old Rob. He was being scratched and attacked by something unseen. His parents witnessed his blankets flying about on their own, the bed shaking violently.

>Februrary 26, 1949...The Does were Lutheran, so they turned to Rev. Schulze. Rob spent the night in Shulze's room. There, Schulze witnessed paranormal phenomena, such as a rug moving by itself across the room. After taking Rob to the Mental Hygiene Clinic of the University of Maryland, Rev. Schulze recommended the Doe Family consult Father Hughes of St. James Catholic Church in Mount Rainer.

>End of February, 1949...blessed candles would fly across the room, tables moved, and an attempted baptism went wrong. Rob would curse and act violently. They moved him to Georgetown hospital where Father Hughes began an unsuccessful rite of exorcism...it's unclear if it was authorized by the Church.

>Early March...Rob is released from the hospital, and Mrs. Doe decides to go back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. She thought maybe the "hauntings" would stop. As soon as they arrive, family members witness various supernatural occurances surrounding Rob.

>March 9, 1949...One of Mrs. Doe's cousins requests the help of her priest professor at St. Louis University, Father Raymond J. Bishop. He sees the scratches on Rob's body, floating objects, and the mattress vibrating on its own.

>March 11, 1949...Father Bishop calls in Father William Bowdern of of St. Francis Xavier Church (at the corner of Grand and Lindell here in St. Louis, pictured left; Fr. Bowdern is pictured right). These two priests and a Jesuit scholar, Walter Halloran, witness the scratches on Rob's abdomen, the bed shaking, Rob speaking to them in Latin and possibly Aramaic, and the 13 year-old boy's violent and strange behavior.

>March 16, 1949...Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter gives Father Bowdern permission to begin the formal rite of exorcism. That night, accompanied by Father Bishop and Walter Halloran, Father Bowdern begin reciting the ritual prayers of exorcism.

>March through April, 1949...Rob's "seizures" become more violent and often is held down by as many as ten people during the exorcism or prayer sessions. He would tear the sheets and even broke Halloran's nose. During this time, Rob is taken back and forth between his relative's house and Alexian Brother's Hospital. Numerous priests, students, and hospital workers witnessed many of the supernatural occurrences in his hospital room .

It was a stressful and scary time. Father Bowdern was known to have lost 40 pounds during the ordeal.

>April 18, 1949...The Final Exorcism...Fr. Bowdern places various religious medals around Rob, and instructs him to hold a crucifix. Rob starts to become possessed, and screams that the medals were becoming hot...soon, he is in full demonic possession and starts hissing and flicking his tongue like a snake.

>The rite continues when suddenly, in a different masculine voice Rob says, "Satan! Satan! I am St. Michael! I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits to leave this body, in the name of Dominus, immediately! Now! Now! Now!" Rob has one last spasm before falling quiet and witnesses reported hearing a "gunshot sound" throughout the hospital at that moment.

>Rob told the priests of a vision that he had of St. Michael holding a flaming sword, and that the demon was gone.

>Twelve days later he left Missouri and returned to Maryland.

>The story made headlines, and several family members told the story to news reporters. Rob grew up, had a normal life, had three children, and resided somewhere in Maryland. Rob, if still alive, would be 70 years old today. Other than that, we know nothing of Rob [2012].

>Walter Halloran (pictured left) became a priest and often talked about his experience with others. He passed away in 2005

>Fr. Bowdern passed away in 1983. He never publicly talked about his experience. With his report to the Church, he received 41 signatures from those who testified to witnessing paranormal phenomena with this case.

>Following the exorcism, the hospital staff at Alexia avoided the room. The smells and cold air still emanated from under the doorway. No one ever used the room again. The entire wing of the hospital eventually was sealed off, and was demolished.

Before demolition, the crew found a copy of the exorcist's diary, which was given to hospital administrators. The diary was William Blatty's basis his book.

2015 Update: A local radio show who investigated the home where several of the exorcisms took place will be back this year, and this time, they're bringing Discovery Channel's Destination America with them. They will be broadcasting a LIVE investigation.

Monday, October 19, 2015

To NaNo, Or Not To NaNo...

...that is the question.

November is NaNoWriMo month. And for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, I'll just say that NaNoWriMo is a worldwide event for writers to challenge each other to write 50,000 words in the month of November, which comes out to just under 1,700 words a day.

For years, I thought about participating, but I never took the plunge. I finally did in 2012. Amazingly, I surpassed my goal and "won." In 2013, I somehow managed to also win, despite studying for a VERY difficult professional certification exam at the end of the month.

Last year, I got to around 22,000 words and burned out. I struggled, I fought, and I lost. My fellow NaNo'ers in my region remained supportive, and I gave myself a pat on the back for trying.

Honestly, I still haven't recovered from that burn out. Not sure what happened. But I wrote very little after that November of 2014, and my slump continued into 2015. I took some time off of work during the holidays, so I did get back to writing in January. My creative spurt continued into February. But then I had nothing left in the tank.

I really have no explanation for this. I do think a big part of this has been how difficult my personal life struggles have been this year. Battling depression took its toll. I tried to continue my marketing/promoting plans, and that took every ounce of my energy.

Now it's time for NaNoWriMo 2015...my regional facilitators started a new Facebook page for us, I'm getting emails daily from NaNoWriMo.org, and I went onto my online dashboard to look at my past accomplishments. A big part of me wants to give it a try again. Maybe by challenging myself, I can get out of my writing slump.

However, I've decided to sit it out this year. I don't feel like I have enough gas in the tank to win, and I don't think my ego can take another failure. I've decided to focus on another project with my writing partner, take my time, and help stir the creative pot in my head instead this year.

For all of my buddies doing NaNo this year, I wish you nothing but the best. I wish I could be a part of it in 2015, but I know this is for the best.