The Bite Somebody Else Pilgrimage

I spent last week with my crazy family down in Longboat Key, Florida—the real life setting for my Bite Somebody series. This pilgrimage has been going on in the Dobie-Schwind clan since I was a little kid, although I’ve only partaken in the trip (usually alone with my Aunt Susie) for the past five years.

It is a week filled with decadent drinking and eating, silly stories about sex, tumbles in the waves, and shameless flirting with strange beach boys. For Susie and me, it’s a time to laugh and grow closer. It is a time to unwind and leave worries behind for a bit.

(You can read about my first year on Longboat with Susie HERE. It’s funny to think I had no idea that trip would change my career and my life.)

Something about being in Longboat inspired Bite Somebody years ago. I don’t remember the exact moment of conception, but I assume I was laying on the beach, making up stories in my head (like I always do), and awkward vampires in Florida just sort of happened—along with a cute, black-haired surfer boy named Ian. And Imogene, of course. Imogene, who I closely resemble during the annual visit to Longboat Key.

This year, I spent time on the beach reading over my review copy of Bite Somebody Else, the second and final book in the series. It is Imogene’s love story, although Ian and Celia are obviously still big parts of her story. She couldn’t survive without them, after all.

When not reading, I walked the beach. I wandered past the Little Gull Cottages, the real life basis for the Sleeping Gull Apartments in my books. Each night, I put on a tiny dress and high heels and wandered familiar locales from the Bite Somebody series, like St. Armand’s Circle, the Daiquiri Deck, Café L’Europe, and (perhaps most famously) the Drift Inn.

When I visit these places, I often tell the owners “I wrote a book about Longboat.” At Café L’Europe, the handsome maître d’ offered to buy me a drink. At Drift Inn, I asked about Angry Santa (David) and was saddened to hear he was in the hospital with pneumonia. I miraculously sold three copies of Bite Somebody to people who went on their phones and ordered a copy on the spot.

And yet there was something a bit melancholy hidden along the edges of my alcohol-fueled, sun-spattered euphoria.

For my aunt and my mom, Longboat Key always makes them cry a little because it reminds them of my grandparents, now gone. Susie even once saw something like a ghost on the beach at sunset—my Grandpa Schwind in his big hat, waving at her. When we scattered my grandma’s ashes, a green flash lit the beach as the sun went down and a bagpipe player played “Amazing Grace.”

Susie and me at The Drift Inn.

Although Longboat doesn’t remind me as much of my grandparents, it does remind me of Celia, Ian, Imogene, and now, Nicholas. It reminds me of their adventures and their love. It reminds me of writing two ridiculous, wonderful books about Longboat Key—books that encompass the perpetual joy and hilarity of my trips down south. However, this year, I was also reminded that … the series is over.

As of June 20, 2017, Imogene’s story will be released. Bite Somebody Else will leap into the world, fangs bared, and there won’t be another. This makes me take pause. Makes me want to do it all over, really, start from the beginning, write these characters and fall in love with them again. Go back to the Longboat Key of my vampire pals!

I call my yearly trip to Florida the Bite Somebody Pilgrimage, and I think I always will. Whereas my mom and aunt harbor memories of their parents, I will always walk the beach with memories of my fictional friends and a dream come true: the publication of my first novel, my first series.

In Bite Somebody, Imogene explains love to Celia through the lyrics of a song:

“It was about this guy who was looking for love and then he met this girl—this one girl. And the chorus was something about ‘I never knew it could be this easy.’” She shrugged. “I think that’s what happens when people are supposed to be together.”

It has been so easy (and fun) being the marionette behind the Bite Somebody series. As I move toward promotion and June launch parties for Bite Somebody Else, I realize how lucky I am to have found Celia and Imogene, to have found my editor Trysh and publisher Sarena at World Weaver Press, and how easy it is to lose myself in Longboat Key.

Even though this series might be coming to a close, nothing else is. I’ll keep writing and having fun. Next April, I’ll be in Longboat again, and I’ll drink rum punches with the same panache. I’ll remember my first book and all my colorful characters, because the imagination lives on and great memories stay with us forever.

Pre-order your copy of Bite Somebody Else HERE.

Burnout: When you just need to freaking STOP

In her book, Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson writes about something called The Spoon Theory. She says that each day, we’re given a certain number of spoons. Each spoon represents something you have to do, whether that’s shower or work or eat. Every time you accomplish something, you give away a spoon.

Well, I have run out of spoons, no matter what my dishwasher says.

I began to notice the spoon shortage last week as I prepared for my trip to Tucson where I would be the Mental Health Awareness Week featured speaker at University of Arizona. I didn’t have that much to do really, and yet, everything felt HUGE.

For instance, when I realized my swanky dress I’d bought for the event still had the “you stole this” thingy attached, I lost my mind. Actually going to the store to have the evil magnet removed felt like climbing a mountain. In heels. With an elephant on my back. An extra fat elephant. An extra fat elephant eating chicken wings. You get the idea.

I still had a few spoons left, true, but they were relegated to:
Drink beer
Sleep
Watch the BBC
Cuddle Jake

Every other task? No spoons for you!

The spoon shortage included my writing. I quit working on my new novel because I realized my brain was too fried to plot or develop or care. Every bit of creativity I have right now is going toward prepping and promoting Bite Somebody Else. Even sending We Still Live to new agents is on hold. Okay, yeah, I wrote some Sherlock fan fiction yesterday, so assign a spoon to Smut. (I always apparently have a spoon for Smut. I think one is actually labeled “Smut.”)

At first, I battled with my lack of spoons, but if my mental health speech in Tucson last week taught me anything, it taught me that it’s okay to crash, especially if you’ve been working hard. Too hard, in fact.

In the weeks leading up to Tucson, I would wake in the middle of the night sweating and in the midst of a panic attack. My neck and jaw pain was so bad I started making weird stretchy faces in public to try to lessen the pain. (Picture Jim Carrey in … anything.) My brain was fuzzy to the point of forgetting things, all sorts of things.

The word we’re looking for? Burnout, baby.

Author burnout is bad. You awkwardly apply alliteration in all assignments. Your paragraphs closely resemble a Jackson Pollock painting. You accidentally use the phrase “heaving bosom” and don’t even blink. Which is when you just need to STOP. Not forever, but for a little while.

I think this applies to life, too, not just work. (Nobody wants to start literally looking like a Jackson Pollock painting.) Sometimes, you need to step back. Make a vague excuse about “spoons,” and no one will want to ask any questions. Have a martini. Stand on your head. Stare at pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch laughing. Whatever it takes to slow down the ever-churning engine that is your mind and just stop for a little while.

Perhaps collect additional spoons.

Saturday, I leave for the famed Bite Somebody Pilgrimage to Longboat Key, Florida, and I’m not working a lick. My spoons will be labeled:
Get a tan
Drink rum punch
Laugh your ass off
Swim in the moonlight
Read some smut (See, there’s always a spoon for Smut.)

When I get home, I won’t be quite so burnt out anymore. Maybe I’ll even do a little tinkering on We Still Live or the as-yet-untitled Witch Project. Or maybe I’ll coast on a Bite Somebody Else wave for a while. Who knows? It’s hard to plan my spoons that far in advance.

For now, I’m on a break. I deserve a break. Do you?

(Extremely fitting photo of me by Paul Andrew Portraits.)

Bite Somebody Else Cover Reveal

The much anticipated book two in the Bite Somebody series is Imogene’s story, so of course, Imogene had to be on the cover. It’s been generally acknowledged that Imogene looks a lot like me, so when the cover artist asked for a description of my lovable (albeit twisted) female lead, I sent her this, from a photo shoot I did with photographer Chris Loomis:

Add some animation magic and the artistic acumen of Amanda C. Davis, and you get the Bite Somebody Else cover, revealed … in a moment. First, here’s a little bit about the book.

Imogene helped her newbie vampire friend Celia hook up with an adorable human, but now Celia has dropped an atomic bomb of surprise: she has a possibly blood-sucking baby on the way. Imogene is not pleased, especially when a mysterious, ancient, and annoyingly gorgeous vampire historian shows up to monitor Celia’s unprecedented pregnancy.
 
Lord Nicholas Christopher Cuthbert III is everything Imogene hates: posh, mannerly, and totally uninterested in her. Plus, she thinks he’s hiding something. So what if he smells like a fresh garden and looks like a rich boarding school kid just begging to be debauched? Imogene has self-control. Or something.
 
As Celia’s pregnancy progresses at a freakishly fast pace, Imogene and Nicholas play an ever-escalating game of will they or won’t they, until his sexy maker shows up on Admiral Key, forcing Nicholas to reveal his true intentions toward Celia’s soon-to-arrive infant.

Have I teased you enough? Okay, fine!!!!!!! Drum roll …

THERE SHE IS!! IMOGENE!!!! She’s perfect!!!!

For a little something extra, there’s a brand new Bite Somebody Else excerpt on the World Weaver Press website. Read more about Imogene and Nicholas HERE.  And while you’re there, you  might as well pre-order your paperback copy of Bite Somebody Else today!!

The book doesn’t hit shelves until June 20th, but I’m already thrilled to unleash Imogene on the world again (as well as Celia and Ian, of course). I’m also thrilled for you to meet Nicholas. Happy Hump Day! And don’t forget, #Imogene4Life.

KINKED contributors: What makes a great sex scene?

Ben glanced at his college friends, and finally, finally, took her hand and pulled her around the corner of a women’s clothing store.

Mr. Manners was pleasantly un-mannerly in private. He pushed her back against the wall and dove for her lips. She was ready, open-mouthed and hungry. She pulled hard on his hair and wrapped one leg around to the back of his, which gave her better leverage to stick her tongue in his mouth. His hands cupped the bottom of her ass, and she moaned when pelvis found pelvis. They separated momentarily, both panting.

“I live two blocks from here,” Angie said.

He leaned down and sucked at her painted shoulder, which made her head fall back and hit the building.

“Jesus, your mouth.” She pulled his lips back up to hers. “I love your mouth. Come home with me, Ben.”

He moved back enough to still be touching her but to be able to look at her, too, and again, those blue eyes found her tats as he licked his bottom lip.

“What?” she said.

“Can I confess something?”

Angie shrugged.

“I have a little fetish for tattoos.”

She chuckled, dark and deep. “Mr. Manners likes a bit of ink?”

“Ben, let’s go!” someone shouted from the street, and he looked in the direction of his friends.

“Uh-uh,” she said, latching onto the back of his head. “No. You’re coming home with me.”

“Can’t. Don’t even know you. Could be a serial killer.”

She rolled her eyes.

“You wouldn’t believe how many court cases start like this. Two people, drunk, making bad decisions.”

“This is a good decision.”

She really enjoyed the view of his furrowed brow, teeth chewing at his bottom lip. Then, his eyes popped open. “Be my date to the wedding.”

“You want to bring an inked-up sex shop girl to a Yale lacrosse wedding?”

“Yeah. Definitely.” He nodded, grinning.

***

There it is: a taste of my new short story, “Painted Red,” featured in Pen and Kink Publishing’s KINKED anthology. Every tattoo tells a story, as evidenced by the characters and relationships explored in KINKED. Many of those ink-based stories are sexy, so I asked a few of my fellow contributors: What makes a great sex scene? Here’s what they said …

“As a reader, it’s definitely the ability to put my imaginary self in the scene. If I’m analyzing what worked after the fact, it’s usually pacing, word-choice, and generalizations that leave room for my imagination to slot me into the scene. Especially if it’s one comprised of elements I’ve never personally experienced (for example, M/M). I like a certain level of specificity and frank language, but too much specific detail can bounce me out of a sex scene faster than anything. If I’m thinking about mechanics, you’ve lost me. Therefore, as a writer, I look for that sweet spot of details and generalizations and I depend on my beta readers to tell me where I’ve gone off the rails.”  Renee Dominick, author of “Through Glass A Stranger”

“For me, a good sex scene is organic. When it doesn’t follow a natural progression for the characters, when it was obviously the entire point of the story, that seems to be when it is more ‘smut’ than ‘quality sex’ for me. The scenes that resonate with me, that linger in my mind and tease the edges of my memory long after I close the book, are the ones that feel inevitable by the time you get to them. The heat between two characters has built and smoldered over the course of the story and when it finally bursts into flame for those characters, you have been smoldering along with them.” – Danielle Davis, author of “The Courier”

“I need to know how they wound up in bed together, which is a fancy way of saying I need character development. Show me the magnetism, the sexual frustration, perhaps the conflict between two characters that leads to great sex. I’m here for the ride, so give me one (pun intended, of course). Without understanding why characters want to hook up with each other, it’s like walking in on people getting down; it’s abrupt and devoid of context or invitation. Isn’t it so much sexier when you’re invited in instead and you know the players?” Tiffany Michelle Brown, author of ”Begin Again”

“What makes a great sex scene? In a word: details. If you’re going to write an actual sex scene rather than fading to black (which is perfectly legitimate and far preferable to a bad sex scene), don’t leave things to the imagination. … Paint a clear picture. Put me in the head and body of one of the characters. Make me feel what they’re feeling. If your sex scene can’t do that, re-write or ditch the effort in favor of a fade-to-black. There will be far less eye-rolling and pent up frustration.”  – Nicole Blackwood, author of “Sae-ri”

***

Want to see what these lovely ladies have come up with for their sexy stories? Pick up your copy of KINKED today. Every tattoo tells a story … and those stories should be read.

BUY KINKED AND READ “PAINTED RED:”

Angie and Ben … quite literally, in fact 😉

Zombie Walk

The worst thing about being dead, in Don’s opinion, was the critters. His coffin was damn comfortable—better have been, what with all the cash he left behind after that car accident on the I-10. It was nice and cushy, top of the line soft velvet interior with solid bronze to keep him warm. Despite all this, there were the critters, the little beetles and centipedes and God knew what else that crawled up his nose when he slept. He spent most mornings huffing them out like snot rockets.

The best thing about being dead was the Zombie Walk, and according to his gold Rolex—still working, thank you—it was that time of year again.

October was the month for zombie walks, but Don had one in particular he frequented, along with a few of his dead pals. They met in the same place every year, going on three now, down at Tempe Town Lake. It was amazing what mortuary guys could do, pumping corpses full of chemicals to keep ‘em in good shape. They’d even used string to tie Don’s right arm back on after the accident, but the string was long gone. He carried his limp appendage around nowadays like a briefcase, force of habit.

Carl was already waiting when he arrived.

“Carrrrrl!” Don gargled.

“Donnnnn,” Carl moaned.

“How the hell—” He spat out a cockroach. “How are you?”

“My baaaack.”

“That wife of yours really shoulda gone the extra mile with the coffin cushion,” Don said. “I’m telling ya, I don’t feel a day over six months dead.”

“Gaaahhh …” Sometimes Carl didn’t make much sense.

“Where’s the rest of the gang?” Don did a slow visual sweep of the black, nighttime water, nearby white lights of the bridge quivering in the reflection like fried eggs.

“Dunno.” Carl itched his head, and his ear fell off.

“Here, I’ll get that.” Don picked up the fallen lobe with his one working arm and handed it to his bloody bud.

Carl ate it.

Carl had been dead for twenty years—heart attack. He wore a tattered gray suit that was green and black with mold. He still had a couple white hairs on his head, but he was mostly just a skeleton with skin on top. He had a tendency to lose things, not because he was absent-minded but because shit just fell off. That’s what happened to three of his fingers the year before. At least that’s what Carl claimed. Don had a sneaking suspicion he’d slammed his fingers in his casket on his way back to bed.

“We can’t wait much longer,” Don said. He pointed his amputated arm in the direction of Mill Avenue. “Don’t want to be late.”

“Here,” said a rough female voice.

“Carissa!”

She limped up to them, the only gal who still thought the Tempe Zombie Walk was sort of funny. She’d been dead a long time, and Don thought she must have been kind of crazy, being buried in her wedding dress and all. He noticed something on her face.

“Is that blood on your—”

“Ate a cat,” she said loudly. She shook her head. “Timmy!”

No, the cat wasn’t named Timmy. Timmy was their fourth, but based on the squeaky quiver of Carissa’s head, he wasn’t coming. When she moved, she reminded Don of Oz’s Tin Man. He made a joke one year about bringing an oilcan, but Carissa wasn’t good with jokes.

“Oh, shucks.” With some finesse, Don folded his detached arm over his chest. “What’s the matter with Timmy?”

“Ate him.”

“You ate Timmy?”

Carl said, “Fruuuu.”

Carissa nodded and pointed to Mill Avenue.

Don sighed. “Well, he was dead already. Let’s go, team!” He lifted his detached arm like a baton, and off they walked … or rather, stumbled, up the loose rock path of Tempe Town Lake and toward the lively, glittering streets of the city.

As expected, people were decked out. Those kids really looked dead. Everywhere Don looked, college students were covered in fake blood. Their healthy, glowing skin was painted in mottled shades of gray, green, and purple. It did his dead heart good to see the youth of his country standing up united for a cause.

Carl started up his usual routine. He walked around on the tips of his toes, arms extended in front of him. He growled and clicked his teeth together. Carissa chewed on one of her own fingers until it broke off. She swallowed it.

Don was no slouch either. He loved swinging his arm around, shaking it in kid’s faces. They loved it! They laughed, applauded, until Don took a bow. He needed Carl’s help to stand up straight when one of his vertebrae cracked. Maybe he was showing his dead age more than he thought, but hell, rotting flesh just ain’t that malleable.

He stepped in when a tall guy in a torn football uniform started talking up Carissa and she tried to bite his arm.

“No,” Don said.

Carissa lolled back and forth on her heels, glassy eyes forever open.

“No,” he said again, but the football guy didn’t seem offended. He even tucked Carissa’s would-be snack around her shoulders.

“You guys look amazing,” the kid said. “Love the zombie bride thing. Let me buy you,” he pointed at Don, “a beer.”

“Well, son, that is mighty kind of you, but—” He choked when he felt a tickle in the back of his throat. He hacked until he got the beetle up and spat on the sidewalk. “Jesus, them critters.” He wiped his mouth, using his disembodied hand like a handkerchief.

Carl wandered up from behind and hit him soundly on the back until one of Don’s eyes popped out.

“Shit, Carl,” he said. He knelt down to search the pavement, and by the time he’d popped the thing back in, Carissa was covered in the football kid’s blood. Don shouted and dragged her off his throat. “Damn it! You guys don’t know how to have fun anymore.”

Carissa kept fighting to get back to the kid’s mangled body, but Don held her until her head popped off in his hand, which didn’t deter her body from its continued motion—although, without a mouth, munching was a futile endeavor. He shook her head in his hand and pointed at her with the other, which wasn’t so much a point as a limp wave of his dead-arm wrist.

“We’re going home,” he said. “Carl!”

“Nung?”

“Yes, home.” He dragged Carissa’s body up by the back of her once-white wedding gown and shoved her head against her neck. She lifted her bloody hands to hold it in place and frowned at him. “This is not my fault,” he told her. “If you can’t behave like a civilized dead person, we won’t be having any fun. Now, let’s go, both of you.”

Carl and Carissa followed Don back to the lake’s edge like pecking chickens, occasionally breaking from the path to grab at chipmunks and birds, although the birds usually got away.

At the edge of the lake, Don pointed at his so-called friends. “You’re not invited next year.”

Carl gesticulated as if to say, “What did I do?” Another of his fingers fell off and landed in the nearby black water with a quiet plop.

“Nope.” Don shook his head. “I won’t have this sort of behavior. We can’t go around eating people, just perpetuating a stereotype. No, sirs, I won’t stand for it. Y’all just stay underground next October, you hear me? I’ll make some new friends, damn it.”

Carl at least had the presence of mind to look forlorn—maybe. It was hard to tell with his papery skin, but his shoulders did sag some. Carissa, though, lifted her bloody head from her neck and shook it in Don’s face before moaning and wandering off under the bridge.

Don sighed. “I’m sorry, Carl.”

“Donnnnnn.”

“All right, you can come back next year, but no eating people.”

Carl nodded.

Don tapped his amputated arm against his thigh. “You know what? We should hit some fraternity parties. Would you like that, Carl?”

Carl said, clearly, “Yes.” See, he had his moments.

“Let’s do it!” Don trundled ahead, knowing Carl followed due to the stomp-drag sound that was his familiar walking cadence. Together, they explored the night, wowing party people and making pretty girls squeal. Don knew he was a bit old for the late night college scene, but he figured, why not? He would sleep when he was deader.

(Winner of The Traveler Fiction Contest, 2nd Place.)

I’m the featured speaker at Arizona’s Mental Health Awareness Week

For the past month, I’ve been weaning off my anxiety meds—little blue pills that have been my crutch for six years. Meanwhile, University of Arizona called and asked me to fly to Tucson to be their featured speaker at Mental Health Awareness Week. One of the reasons I started taking anxiety pills was due to my fear of being in public. The irony is not lost on me.

So why on Earth did I agree to speak in front of God knows how many complete strangers in the Arizona desert? Honestly, I was pleased as punch with the theme. My contact at the university informed me that they want my speech to be funny, happy, and cheerful. Instead of bemoaning my depression and PTSD, they want me to talk about not just surviving mental illness but thriving despite it.

treeApparently, I’m the poster child for this thriving thing, which is surprising to me as I currently battle drug withdrawal, insomnia, and depression. I don’t feel like I’m thriving right now. I feel like I’m drowning. Despite my head being underwater this week, however, I sort of see what Arizona means.

Despite my social anxiety, I attend book conferences and speak on panels. (People actually consider me charming and funny at these things. I find this shocking.)

Despite my depression, I continue to write and work. I go to the gym and beat up weight machines. I cook dinner for my husband even when my appetite is gone, and I laugh at ridiculous things even when my heart hurts.

Despite my PTSD triggers (never walk up behind me when I’m sitting at my desk), I create. One of my friends recently called me the most prolific writer she’s ever seen—probably because I write to combat my mental illness.

I now have a speech to write. I need to talk about what it feels like to have a mental illness. I need to discuss treatments and techniques to manage. I need to put a positive spin on all the bad stuff, and even though it’s hard to be positive when you’re not sleeping, it’s possible. Anything’s possible.

On March 30, I will stand at the high tide of University of Arizona’s Mental Health Awareness Week, completely terrified to be the center of attention. I will share my story, though, which is something I’ve never been scared of. I’ve always been open about my illnesses, because demystifying a taboo steals its power. I will be funny, I hope. I will be honest. I’ll also be free of anxiety pills for the first time in several years.

Part of thriving is acknowledging our problems. We can’t hide behind mental illness. We can admit to it and move on. As I told a friend recently, “Slay the day.” Even if you’re terribly sad. Even if you’re scared to leave the house (or fly to Tucson, for that matter). Even if you’re just too tired. Don’t just survive … but thrive.

(Photo of me by Bill Thornhill Photography.)

The Wrong Christians

love

I’ve heard the phrase “hanging out with the wrong crowd.” Usually, this is in regards to teenagers hanging out with kids who drink, smoke, and cuss. Usually, this refers to people who are a bad influence. It wasn’t until recently that I realized there’s such a thing as “hanging out with the wrong Christians.”

As a practicing Christian, I realize I’m not the poster child of morality. I drink, smoke, and cuss, for instance. I also write gay and straight erotica. I have a terrible temper, and I do not “Let the little children come to me,” like Jesus said. (No. Really. Keep the children away from me.)

As an educated Christian, I realize we don’t all hold to the same doctrine. We differ in our beliefs due to Biblical interpretation and denominational guidelines. I understand this, but I did think we all had one thing in common: LOVE.

I don’t know about your god, but mine is loving. For example, Psalm 36:7 says, “How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of Your wings.”

I attended a Bible study recently (not at my own church, praise the Lord) that made me feel anything but loved. Instead, I felt sick.

Some gems from said Bible study included:
Homosexuals can’t be Christians.
Women shouldn’t be pastors.
Although unrelated, Halloween and meditation are both quite evil.

As a gay rights supporter, woman, and Halloween enthusiast, you can understand my distress. I sat through said Bible study silently because I understood these teachers were not “my Christians.” These were people with differing opinions than my own, and we will never agree.

Their teaching almost made me decide to quit my current ministry efforts because I didn’t want to work with these “wrong Christians” (not that they’re wrong in their beliefs, because who am I to judge? Their beliefs are just wrong for me. Very, very wrong).

However, when I got home yesterday after Bible study, I explained my concerns to Jake. Brilliant man that he is, he pointed out that I have to continue my ministry so that I can preach my God—a God of love, acceptance, and forgiveness.

My husband really is a smart guy. Saturday night, he had a dream that the apocalypse came and God chose a select group of humans to basically restart civilization. The conversation Sunday morning went something like this …

Sara: Well, I’m pretty sure God would never choose someone as messed up as me to restart civilization.

Jake: Actually, He would pick people exactly like you. Look at how messed up all the heroes were in the Bible.

Sara: Oh. Right. Huh.

God doesn’t only care about perfect people. He doesn’t only care about people who follow all His rules or people who point fingers at sinners. He doesn’t only care about the non-drinkers, non-smokers, non-cussers. He cares about everyone, and He cares forever.

Christian author Jim Burns said, “God loves you not for what you do but for who you are. You never need to earn God’s love. He loves you because you are His special creation. Because of God’s unconditional love, you are free to blossom into all He wants you to be. His love has no strings attached.”

Now, that’s a Bible study I can get behind! As we enter a new week—a new dreaded Monday—I think it’s time we remembered to love. Love each other. Love God. Love life, even when it’s ugly and messed up. Even when we’re ugly and messed up.

My mom quoted the Book of Matthew to me this morning: “Live as the light that you are.” My light might be tinted purple and flicker sometimes, but yeah, I plan to live brightly, surrounded by people who “get me” and love me, despite all my mistakes, imperfections, and f-bombs.

Bite Somebody Else release date PLUS join the BSE Army

bse

This year is the year of Bite Somebody Else, due to be released (drum roll) June 20th. That’s right, folks, we have an official release date.

JUNE 20. JUNE 20. JUNE 20. Mark your calendars!!!!!

If you’d like to read all about the sequel to Bite Somebody, click HERE.

As I prepare for exciting things like the cover reveal and completion of the Bite Somebody screenplay, I ask you to enlist in the Bite Somebody Else Army.

Members of my BSE Army receive news about Celia, Ian, and Imogene as soon as it’s released via email. In exchange, I ask that you share my exciting news on your social media. Whether that be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr, I need help spreading the news about Bite Somebody Else.

If you’d like to join the BSE Army, feel free to:
Email me at sara@saradobie.com.
OR
Leave your email address in the comments below.

As most people know, it’s super important for authors to have promotional help with new releases. With Bite Somebody Else coming June 20th, I need your help. Yes, you! So please consider joining the BSE Army and keep up to date on all things vamp. #Imogene4Life

How to be friends with someone with an anxiety disorder

1. Do invite me to parties filled with strangers because I need a reason to shower.
When you do, give me a week’s notice so I can practice smiling without wincing. I will also make up a dozen intelligent phrases to sprinkle into the conversation. For instance, “Funyuns are actually pig intestine.” And, for the love of God, don’t leave me alone.

anxiety10

2. Do invite me to parties filled with people I actually know because friends are good.
In this situation, understand I really have to be on point because I will see these people again, and sometimes, that’s nice because they know I’m weird from previous encounters. Other times, it’s worse because I just get weirder every time they see me.

weird
3. Do send me random gifs of Benedict Cumberbatch.
This man’s ridiculous giggle is quite soothing.

ben

4. Do make sure all the pictures in your house are straight.
If your pictures are crooked when I come over, I’ll walk around fixing them for a half hour before realizing you’re still in the room.

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5. Do learn to recognize my “Get Me The Hell Out Of Here” face.
When things start going south (usually about two hours into any social situation), I start looking like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. When this happens, kindly usher me to the nearest exit.

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6. Do not hand me a small child without asking first.
If you honestly think throwing a baby at me is a good idea, may the consequences be on your head. It’s not that I’m scared of children. It’s just that I think I’ll drop them and I’m scared of children.

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7. Do forget when I say awkward things.
Sometimes, I might text you after we’ve hung out to say, “OMG, I can’t believe I said THAT. Please forgive me.” You probably won’t remember I said THAT, but I’ll have been obsessing over THAT for the past three hours.

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8. Do expect me to cancel plans without a viable excuse.
Some days, I can’t leave the house. Admitting this to you is way better than me breaking a finger on purpose just so I can say, “Hey, broke my finger. Rain check?”

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9. Do not talk to me at the gym.
The gym is a very safe place where I am in the zone. If you break that zone, I might notice I’m in public, surrounded by sweaty strangers. Don’t let me notice.

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10. Do laugh when I immediately assume everyone hates me.
Basically, every day, I think someone hates me. Realistically, I don’t think people hate me, but my anxiety does, so laugh. I might just laugh with you.

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Sherlock and Our Final Problem

SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT. If you have not watched all of BBC Sherlock’s season 4, stop reading immediately. SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT.

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As of last night, we’ve come to the end of an era. Although some reviewers have been saying things like “this certainly can’t be the last season” of Sherlock, I disagree. Last night’s episode, “The Final Problem,” was indeed the final episode—and the show’s creators, Gatiss and Moffat, had been preparing us all season long.

Well. I say “all season,” but it’s not like we had ten episodes. No, as Sherlock fans, we always only get three, but, in the case of this final season, the three episodes were really just one long episode that culminated in fully developed characters and plot lines decisively closed.

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty. If you watched all of season four, you know what happened (good and bad). After last night’s episode, my husband expected me to be sobbing. I wasn’t. In fact, I was grinning like a goose, possibly relieved that everyone important lived, possibly because the final montage was just so damn cheerful. It took hours for me to wind down from my Sherlock high.

This morning, I reassess as I take a look back at season four in its entirety.

The first episode, “The Six Thatchers,” was brilliantly acted, had a kick ass Cumberbatch fight scene, and killed off one of the show’s lead characters. The second episode, “The Lying Detective,” was arguably the best of the entire series (despite poor Sherlock looking like a beat up drug addict for its duration). “The Lying Detective” is the episode that will win this show awards. Awards should, in fact, be thrown at Cumberbatch and Freeman’s feet for that episode and no one could tell me otherwise.

sherl4Then, “The Final Problem” premiered. I loved the casting of Sian Brooke (I adored her as Ophelia in Cumberbatch’s Hamlet and really enjoy seeing them work together). The revelation of a secret psychotic sister was brilliant. Despite the amazing, again, emotional performances from not only Cumberbatch and Freeman but also Gatiss and Brooke, the episode took suspension of disbelief to a whole new level with its escape room tactics and melodrama.

The further revelations into Sherlock’s childhood were heart-wrenching (as was that tragic “I love you” moment between Sherlock and Molly). Yet, in the end, everything was all right. Sherlock even managed to save his crazy sister via the medium of music. They could finally “play” together.

“The Final Problem” wasn’t my favorite episode. I haven’t read many reviews yet today, and I don’t plan to. I don’t need to. I also haven’t perused Tumblr, because I know the Johnlock hordes are going to be up in arms over the fact that John and Sherlock never kissed and the series is over. Resolutely, the series is over, although for the Johnlock shippers, it could be argued that John and Sherlock are some sort of couple—platonic—as they are back living together and raising a child while Sherlock apparently balances the women who try to love him: Molly and Irene Adler. More importantly, they’re back to being the crime fighters of Arthur Conan Doyle canon.

What mattered most to me in season four was the character of Sherlock and not only because I’m singularly obsessed with Cumberbatch. The show is called Sherlock, after all. The show is about the man, his friends background noise to the great detective’s struggles.

As a writer, I was impressed with what Gatiss and Moffat achieved with Sherlock’s character development. We all remember the coarse man of season one, blind to social graces. In season four, we find a man who has learned to love his friends, protect his friends. He was so soft, even giving a comforting hug to John Watson after the loss of his wife. He saved John. He saved his sister. He even saved his imperious elder brother.

The moment that resounded most was in “The Lying Detective,” after Sherlock’s pained pronouncement of “I don’t want to die” in the hospital bed. It happened while sitting in the quiet warmth of 221B, chatting with John. Sherlock suggested he might come and see John’s daughter, and that moment—that single look—showed how vulnerable our coarse, biting detective had become.

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I realize the famed stories of Sherlock Holmes are thrilling mysteries, and from my time spent reading Conan Doyle, he wasn’t huge on character development, which is where Gatiss and Moffat surpass him. This show wasn’t about a calculating, brilliant man solving mysteries; it was about a calculating, brilliant man becoming weak, human, and ultimately, loved despite his flaws—by his fellow characters and by us, the fans.

People are going to complain today that they didn’t get everything they wanted from Sherlock’s final season. I get that. (For instance, I would have liked the reappearance of Irene Adler in the flesh, as opposed to just on Sherlock’s phone, since she is arguably the love of his life.) Despite complaints, we will all remember this show fondly for not only introducing many of us to Benedict Cumberbatch but for introducing us to a new Sherlock Holmes: a man riddled with demons and yet fighting to keep them at bay for the sake of the people who love him.

As Sherlock perceptively said, “Taking your own life. Interesting expression. Taking it from whom? Once it’s over it’s not you who will miss it. Your own death is something that happens to everybody else. Your life is not your own, keep your hands off it.” Thanks for sharing your “life” with us, Sherlock. It was one hell of a ride, and we will indeed miss you an awful lot, you beautiful bastard.

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