Monday, July 27, 2020

Weekly Update: Ups and Downs

I wanted to come in here today and tell you that everything is alright, but it's not and I don't want to lie to you or to myself. Things aren't okay. I go outside of the house and it's easy to pretend that they are. I guess having years of experience has paid off. I talk with people and nobody knows that as soon as I'm alone again, it will all come crashing down.

I've cried so much this week. Most of the time I didn't even know why. I find it harder and harder to hold back when I see something that bothers me. Facebook is really hard because I need to not lose it there. I can't call people fucking morons when those are the words in my head. I've posted a couple of posts that were rawer than usual and it's been okay, but there's a difference between people wanting you to be honest with how you're feeling and you putting it right there in their faces. If I can't reign it in, I'm on a crash course to having no career. Sometimes I just have to close my laptop and watch tv...but nothing I need to invest in because I can't pay attention for that long. My show of choice lately has been Law and Order: SVU. It's an hour with a lot of brain breaks (commercials) in there.

Last night was hard. Yesterday was hard for no discernible reason other than my brain hates me...and it's always a little bit worse at night when you're more alone and it's harder to hide from your demons. I came across (by accident) a podcast done by Nick Gibson, the man who had harassed me, who had lied to me. I told myself to leave it alone, but I couldn't. I watched all 42 minutes of it. I screamed at my phone at the lies that he told, at the compliments that the host gave him. When he said that he had intentionally not send out my replacement book and shrugged it off, I stared in shock. I kept telling myself to turn it off, even when I started to cry, but I couldn't. It broke me, but not because of him.

In the grand scheme of my life, he's a nobody. In the comics community, he's less than nobody, no matter what he claims. People aren't flocking to him to buy his books or to tell him how great he is. I've seen his social media. He's invisible. His only true fan is himself and I doubt that he's even that. I doubt he loves himself. So often we treat others the way we have been treated or even how we treat ourselves. Often, it's the way we want to be treated, but I think it's far more one of the first two for him. It's sad really that he's never been shown the proper way to treat people and when he was, he lashed out and abused that.

I've written here before about my rape. I've mentioned my parents and their behavior. When I'm depressed, demons appear that I thought were long gone. This whole thing with Nick was like the key to Pandora's box. It opened it up and suddenly I've been dealing with things that ought to be done and over with. I feel incredibly fragile, as if I could break at any moment. I long for someone to just hold me and tell me that it will be okay, but there's nobody here to do that. I'm on my own. Some have tried to reach out to me and I so appreciate that. In those moments, I feel stronger. I feel as if this won't swallow me whole. They're the reason that I'm not in bed, but instead am on the couch writing this post.

I may be in tears, but I'm still here...

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Going Away...

I think I'm going to go away for a while. To say I'm struggling is an understatement. I've been pretending that everything is okay, but it's not. I've been taking care of others and ignoring what's happening to me. I go on podcasts and I smile and I laugh, hoping nobody notices that I haven't brushed my hair in over a month or that I'm wearing the same shirt that I had on three nights ago.  I correct other people's books but I haven't written anything in months. I'm lonely but don't want to talk to anyone for fear they'll realize what a loser i really am.

I don't remember my last shower. I don't know if the tan on my arm is from the sun or a build up of grime. As I write this, I can feel people being horrified and walking away in disgust.

As I lay in bed writing this, I'm forced to acknowledge that if my bathroom weren't downstairs, I wouldn't get out of bed. Once down there, I stay there because it's easier than going back up the stairs. I go grab dinner because I'm afraid that at some point, I'll be unable to make myself leave.

I see signs of it everywhere... from the scattered Lego to the unwashed laundry...I'm falling apart and I don't know how to save myself. I take what I have and I give it to others. I'm literally putting a piece of me into everything I work on.  I wonder when I'll run out.  I look at my Facebook posts and sometimes wonder if people can tell...

Every thing feels like a big thing and every thing leads my brain down a path of other bad things. I lay in bed at night and relive my mother's abuse, my father's neglect, every broken heart, every time I've felt invisible or not appreciated.

I don't know where I'll go.  Maybe just offline. Nobody wants me with them. I'd be horrible company anyway so I can't blame them.  I don't know if anyone will notice that I'm gone or not answering messages...

I don't know a lot, other than the water calls to me...

Take care of you, my few loyal readers...

Monday, July 20, 2020

Weekly Update: I think I'm sick

I don't know what's caused it, but suddenly the numbers for this site have massively dropped. Maybe I'm just not very Whatever it is, I'm thankful for those of you who have stuck around.

This past week has had its ups and its downs. On Tuesday, I released my first book into the world. It seems to have gone pretty well for being a nobody writer and not doing as much hype as I should have. It's weird and exciting to see people posting pictures of the book as they're receiving it. I'm saving all of those pictures so I can use them in the future, even if it's just to show myself that I did it.

Tuesday was also my 5th anniversary with "the man". We didn't do anything for it which was a bit disappointing. I had hoped he'd send a card or a gift or something. Five years feels like kind of a big deal to me, especially with how our relationship is. I still need to get his gift out in the mail. It's sitting here on my couch, just waiting for me to address the box and take it to the post office. I really need to get on that.

Another small down for the week...someone jokingly commented that I need to be the center of attention and it had me in tears. My mother used to say that to me, usually before she slapped me. It's been said that I work a lot in the background and that I do a lot without people ever noticing. Lately though, I've wanted credit for my work and it's stung when I see people liking other people's things, etc but when I do the same thing, it's essentially ignored. I think it's not wanting to be the center of attention, but more wanting to be acknowledged, to feel as if I have value. Anyway, I let one joking comment ruin my entire day as I sat around questioning if I really was/am a horrible person.

I think I've come to realize that I'm in a depressive episode even though I don't feel the down emotions. My house has become a disaster again. Even my youngest pointed out that maybe if I got it cleaned up, I wouldn't feel so bad. I make plans for doing things, but then I can't seem to make myself do them. I actually paid my youngest to help me knock out a couple of bigger projects. He's right. It does help to know that they're done. There's still so much more to get done though and I don't seem to have the willpower to get to it. I get up, I work, I eat, I watch tv, and I sleep. That's essentially my life.

On top of all of that, I'm sick. I don't think it's Covid or anything scary. I have a headache, I'm exhausted, phlegmy cough, watery feeling lungs...sounds like July in Michigan for me. It's made it harder than ever though to get anything accomplished. My plan for today is this post and working. I have to work. I feel as if I'm behind so maybe even though I should just go to bed, I need to keep pushing. Luckily, it's a really good book from a series that I love so it doesn't feel as if I'm slogging through it.

Wow, this post is a total bummer, isn't it? Let's hope that things start perking up and I find my mojo again.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Weekly Update: Ugh...

So when we last left off, I had posted about my experience with Nick Gibson. Life has been interesting since then. I've had people question why I kept talking to him when he couldn't further my career (implying that if he could further my career, I should have put up with it) and I even saw one person calling it a revenge post and possible cyber-bullying. All I can do is shake my head. I wrote the post as a warning to others and since then, I sleep with my doors locked. Yes, I'm afraid of retaliation. After all, he called the police on a friend of mine who vocally criticized him and his actions.

But, I want to move past that. It's just one piece of my life and I don't want to live within it. I said my piece and I'll "happily" talk about it if asked, but my life is continuing onward and I need to move with it. Tomorrow, my book is officially released and I'm full of nerves and excitement. I love this book and I really hope that others do too. I really want for it to do well.

On top of that, the Kickstarter is still running. We need about $1200 to fund and there's 11 days left. I know that it's possible, but it gets nerve wracking. With all of this, I'm amazed that I sleep at night. I do though...even if it takes me a while to fall asleep. I think the cats know because over the past week or so, one of more of them will come to bed with me and curl up where I can reach them to pet them. They can be royal pains, but I love them.

Let's see...what else...I'm busy with work which is good. I'm behind on a client's book which isn't good but I'm hopeful that I can catch up and have it back to him tomorrow. Yep, the middle of the book launch...Ahh well, you have to do what you have to do sometimes.

I guess that's it. I had a million thoughts before I sat down and then they scattered. I think there's just so much going on this week that I'm having trouble keeping up with myself. I'll get through this though and come out the other side. I may be sweating and clutching desperately at a pen but I'll make it through.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Off-Topic: Problems in the Industry

I'm not sure if I'm ever going to make this viewable to the public, but I need to write this myself.

About a year ago, I met a creator. I don't know how he found me, but he sent me a friend request on Facebook. Since I accept most creator requests, I accepted his. He seemed nice at first. Friendly, wanting to learn about the industry.

He asked if I'd edit/proof a story for one of his upcoming comics. At that point, I was building up my business and was happy to do it for him. I misunderstood what he was asking and only ended up charging him $10 for the piece. I did attempt to tell him that wasn't my normal rate, but he pointed out where I said it, so I did the piece for that amount.

As soon as he sent it to me, the barrage of when will it be done started. I gave him a date and the head's up that I would be going out of town, but was taking my laptop with me so there wouldn't be any delay in making the deadline that I had set. Then, while I was gone, I went quiet for a couple of days. I was driving and then spending time with my partner. I logged into Facebook one day, actually to send him the file, to find messages from him demanding that I give him a refund and that this just wasn't going to work out. I pointed out to him that my terms clearly state that half of my fee is nonrefundable if the client cancels. These were terms that he had agreed to. I also told him that I wasn't going to argue with him over $5 and he had the choice, accept the file or be out the funds. I wasn't playing games. He accepted the file, apologized for his behavior, and I thought that was that. I should have known better.

After that, he contacted me almost daily. He talked about other projects that he wanted me to work on. He sent me daily memes, selfies, and other pictures. It was a lot, but I figured he was just someone who was lacking a social life and needed some attention. I'm online a lot so it's not a big deal. Then, he bought a silver tea set at a garage sale and offered to sell it to me for the $4 that he had paid for it. I was interested and suggest that we meet up halfway since he only lives two hours from me. I think that's when the sexual harassment started. At least, that's the first incident that I remember. He told me that for it to be worth him driving an hour, we'd need to get a hotel room and stay the night together. I was shocked. He acted like it was some sort of done deal.

At some point, I gave him my phone number. I can't remember why and now I question my sanity. The phone calls started and would last an hour to two hours. The conversations, if you want to call them that, were very one sided. They were all about him, his life, his comics...with suggestions that we table together at a convention. He suggested how we could split the costs and share a bed at a hotel. I put him off at first by reminding him that I didn't have anything to table with. Then, he asked about a show that's about an hour from my house. I usually just drive in for that one versus getting a hotel. I told him that. He made it very clear that he thought he could stay at my house, share my bed and my body, and then we could drive in together. I told him that there are 2 bedrooms in this house, mine and my children's, so there'd be nowhere for him to sleep.

There were other conversations where he'd made comments like this...Well, when we get together, I'm going to show you just how good I am...and things like that. Eventually, he got the hint that I wasn't interested but the damage was done. I was completely skeeved out. (Is that a word still?)

During all of this, he asked me repeatedly to take a look at another series that he was writing. I told him repeatedly that people usually pay me for my work. In the end, I agreed to look over issue 1. I was running a deal for indie creators that I'd look over one issue for free (early covid). He sent me five issues. He also told me that he'd give me $100 out of his stimulus check if I'd look them over. I told him that I'd do an initial go over, but that was it. I usually charge more than that per issue. He agreed but then the harassment started again. When was I going to do them? How soon? This was a daily occurrence. I finally gave him a date and told him not to ask me again. He apologized and agreed. The next day he asked me again. Once I sent them back, I thought it would stop. It didn't. He looked over my notes, made some changes, and sent me the files again.  I asked him why. He said because he wanted me to be the editor all the way through. I reminded him that he'd have to pay me. He said he didn't have the money, but we could work something out. He could cover a con table for the both of us, he could give me ad space in his book, or he could work it out in the bedroom (I'm prettying up what he said). I refused to work any further on his books.

I should mention that this creator has wild mood swings. I more than once suggested that he see a doctor or a therapist. He told me that he'd never lasted more than six months with any therapist, that they'd kicked him to the curb after that long and that they all told him the same thing. Again, red flag, but being me, I wanted to be nice and kind so I just did what I could to try to help him. Except, that never worked. Whenever he'd come to me, upset with someone, or threatening to kill himself, he'd get "attacky" the second I said anything. He'd come after me. He was aggressive and mean. He'd never apologize, just come back later (sometimes an hour, sometimes a day) and act as if nothing had happened. I called him out on it. I told him I wasn't going to be his personal whipping post. The last time it happened, I told him if it happened again, I wouldn't talk to him for at least 30 days. It didn't matter.

Then, my depression happened and I didn't speak to anyone for a week. He continued to send me messages that I never even opened. It wasn't just him. It was everyone. I was numb, I couldn't function. It was bad. When I finally started to pull out of it, I opened his messages. They were all memes and pictures of his nature walks. I replied that the one had made me chuckle. He replied that he had unfriended me, had no intention of talking about it, and eventually said something along the lines of how I'd been kind to him, so he was being kind to me. It made no sense then. It makes no sense now. He also told me that we weren't compatible to work with, even though I was a good editor. He assured me that I would get credit on the books that I had worked on.

I walked away. I honestly didn't care. I was happy to have that stress out of my life. Then, yesterday happened. I went to the mail box and pulled out a crumpled envelope that held a mangled comic. It was the copy that I had bought on his Kickstarter. I put pictures on my Facebook page (friends only of which he isn't one because he removed himself) asking creators to please take better care in their packaging. I sent the pictures to a friend of mine in the industry who has dealt with this creator. That night, I ended up on his show. My intent was again to ask creators to take better care. There were others on the panel that have had to deal with the creator, and they pretty much lambasted him. I could only speak to what I know and I can guarantee that I was never cruel or mean in anything that I said. Somehow though, this creator was in the audience even though he had unfriended and/or blocked all of us on the panel. He sent me a private message on Facebook:

"A normal person would have messaged the sender if the package was damaged. Guess your not a normal person are you? If you want a replacement all you have to do is ask. Sigh you truly do love the spotlight don't you?

I do look forward to hearing about these private messages being made public. I truly do appreciate all these free advertising you have given me."

I waited a couple of hours in the hopes that I would calm down, but the more I read it, the more annoyed that I got. This man had spent a year harassing me and then tried to make himself the victim in all of this. It was really par for the course with him, but I'd had enough and sent him back a message:

"Am I normal person? Fuck no. I'm a god damn amazing person. I work hard and it's paying off. I treat people with respect. I don't make little jabs or comments. I'm glad you're looking forward to things being made public because I have absolutely no reason to coddle you. It's time you grow the fuck up and take responsibility and act like a professional instead of burning bridges with every professional who tries to help you.

As for the book, send me a new copy. While you're at it, send me the comp copy that you owe me per our agreement. If you need to see the agreement again, it's on my website:

Now, I have nothing more to say to you because I told you before that I wasn't going to put up with your abuse. I know 5 year olds with more respect and manners than you have."

I was done. I'd had enough. I stood up for myself. He couldn't leave it alone though and came back:

"You talk of respect and then slander my name. It's you who need to grow up.

I'm done playing your childish games. I'm done giving in to your wanton demands for attention. Go on the warpath. Please. do. It will be fruitless for you and extreamly fruitful for you.

You wanna know what I will do? Absoultly nothing. I got comics to make.

Also, best of luck in your career. I hope it is long and fruitful."

I thought that was the end of it. I'd made it clear that I had nothing more to say on the topic and I didn't respond to his messages. Then, he did what he does. He waited 90 minutes until he thought I'd be asleep (I'd had to ask him numerous times not to message me at 2, 3, or 4 in the morning). Then, he sent me this:

"I'll send your single replacement book in the next few days. Per my statement.

Next time message a creator before choosing the nuclear option. It's like child having a tantrum when they do not get their way.

Also I agreed to any terms. Nothing was signed and you never mentioned it till now so good luck.

I never agreed to any of your terms. The above message was a typo."

He agreed to my terms. He agreed to them when I did his 10 page story. There isn't a single client that I have that I have not sent to that page and asked them to read it over. It actually states on the page that by hiring me, you agree to these terms. Is this a legal contract? Debatable. Do I care that he's not going to follow through? Honestly? No. I don't need his book in my house. I don't need to prove to anyone that I'm good at what I do. I have a client list full of happy people who recommend me to other people.

So is there a moral to this story? Sure...if someone is shooting up red flags and acting like a crazy person, don't back away. Move away as quickly as possible. I'm not going to lie. There is a tiny part of me that's nervous that he knows where I live.  After all, I had to give Kickstarter my shipping address and he sent the package here. I wonder now if watching me deal with this guy is why my son insisted on installing a door knob on my front door that actually locks. I know that both of my boys would ask me to ignore his calls because in their words, "he's annoying and nuts". I like to think that I'm one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, but even nice has its limits. This industry has too many problems with people thinking they can do whatever they want and there being no consequences. I've watched other women speak out. Maybe it's time that I do too. This creator is small. He's got one book out there, but that doesn't matter. He's going to be at shows. He's going to approach other women. I don't want them to have to deal with that.

Now, have I left things out? Probably, though not intentionally. Do I have screenshots of all of this? I could except my time is really better spent working on projects for clients who matter. I should mention that this man blocked me after his last petty volley. I have no intention of attempting to reach out to him. He's beyond help and I'm beyond done. Do you hear me, Nick Gibson? I'm done.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Weekly Update: Monday again?

For whatever reason, I lost track of what day it was and could have sworn that today was Sunday. Turns out that I was wrong...ahh well...I guess that's what happens when your daily routine is so...routine.

I don't really have any grand updates for today. Work is going well. I have 4 books on my desk right now. I'll finish one of them tomorrow. I'm really glad that people are coming to me with their work. I love what I do, even when it's hard for my brain to do it. It's also allowed for me to have a bit more financial freedom. I've been able to keep gas in my car and even splurge by going out for breakfast once in a while. This past weekend it allowed me to buy 9 books from a series that I love and have wanted to own since I was a child. When the owner offered to sell them to me at below what she could get, I wanted to hug her.

Next week, my book comes out and I have to admit that I'm nervous. What if nobody buys it? I so hope that people buy it. I put so much of myself into it. It means so much to me as a writer and as a mom. I've already said I'll have the next book out by December, but it's going to drag me down if this one doesn't sell. I'm not expecting best seller, but I have a dream of selling 100 copies. The ebook is available on pre-order now. I need to remember to order the author copies that I want to give to my illustrator and a few other people. I wish I could give one to Rob, but he's still not talking to me. It still hurts, a year later, that I lost my best friend. I think of him constantly. All I can do though is keep moving forward the best that I can.

Speaking of moving forward, the kickstarter is edging closer to funded. It still has a long ways to go and I'm nervous that it won't fund. Nick takes it so personally when they don't. I need to come up with some creative ways to spread the word and hopefully get some more eyes on it. I'm not really good at that sort of thing, but I do need to try. Tristan and the gang are like my own characters. I've been with them so long and their story deserves to be told. I already pledged so I hope others do too.

All of this promoting, combined with the weather, and who knows what else still has me totally exhausted. I sleep for at least 12 hours and then often take a 3 hour nap. It's frustrating and I wish I knew why I was bone tired all the dang time. I have no energy for anything. There's lots to do but I'm just not doing it. I'm forcing myself to do a podcast here in a bit to try to promote some more. Did I mention that I'm not good at promoting? I do it because Nick doesn't do podcasts and neither does Veronica so far as I can tell. I somehow became the mouthpiece for the group. Plus, nobody else is promoting my book so someone has to do it.

I guess that's it for this week. I did notice that the number of folks reading here has dropped and that makes me the tiniest bit sad but I'm so thankful to those of you who come back week after week to check in with me and see what's up. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time and take care of yourselves.

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