Category Archives: Personal Life

The Dog Mom

Kate

I don’t like children.

It’s one of those phrases that come to my lips the moment someone asks if my boyfriend and I will ever have kids, but it’s rarely uttered. The reactions are nearly always negative and range from a strange look between disbelief and disgust to a twenty minute rant on why children are the best thing since sliced bread and that I’m totally missing out if I don’t sacrifice my life for 18+ years to support a creature with half my DNA.

It’s always been this way.

I was never a child that lugged around a baby doll. My cousin had a little bald, plastic baby named Gracie that she kept swaddled against her and dressed daily. Instead of a stroller or papoose, my room was loaded with stuffed animals. While my cousin had Gracie, I had Whiskers, a progressively piebald stuffed cat who wore a bed skirt-like dress to hide his bald spots. I talked to my stuffed animals as if they were people. I fed them, hugged them, tucked them in at night.

History has repeated itself night after night.

Every night before I go to bed, I take my hair out of its clips and pins, but as I walk through the darkened house, I make note of where my babies are. Edgar is sleeping under my chair in the kitchen, Finny is laying against the backdoor, and Katie right where I left her on the sofa or curled up on my bed waiting for me. Before I go to sleep, I pet each of them and tell them that I love them. A little part of me fears not carrying out the ritual, not reminding them of my love before they close their eyes. As I peel back the covers, Katie with her stubby dachshund legs dives onto me full force before settling at my feet or near my head. Most nights I wake up with at least Edgar and Katie curled up around me, protecting my flank as if I was one of the pack.

Respecting the autonomy of others means no guilt.

My boyfriend and I have never wanted children. I never dreamed of having a family. Hell, I never thought I’d have a life partner until I met mine, but children have never been in the picture. Never did the image of school pictures, birthdays, or trips to Disney with brood in tow come to mind. I’m still at the age where I don’t know whether to reply yay or oh no when someone says they’re pregnant. My reaction is obvious, but I’m quickly realizing that most at least feign joy. It’s expected. It’s the norm. The norm rarely feels like it fits me anymore. In the future, I see myself writing books, going to a gallery opening or event that’s centered around my partner’s art, and doing some traveling. I want a small house with enough room for us and the dogs. Somewhere there will be a house where dogs lounge on the sofa, locking eyes with me from across the room as I read and pet one of their siblings. The floors will be littered with half-chewed dog bones and tumbleweeds of fur.

“To love another person is to see the face of god.”

My babies won’t live as long as yours. At most, they’ll live into their teens and because I’ve rescued them from the shelter, our time may be shorter than I anticipated. Yet their lives aren’t tragic. Their short time on earth puts my life into perspective and makes me grateful for the years I have with them. For all the wet kisses and the adoring gazes that make a shitty day better because somehow they know what I need. Dogs are strange. Part wolf, part toddler, they’re at once all-knowing and innocent. Animals give their love without caveat and present the only true form of unconditional love on earth, and it’s this I crave. I want to love and be loved without judgment. Someday I’d like to be person my dog loves so wholly and able to love as they do.

 

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Author Update

dead magic

I feel like I’ve been a very negligent author. While I have been writing (Dead Magic is at 15k words or so), I haven’t blogged much.

Part of that is because I’ve been feeling under the weather lately. I had the flu early in the month, and while I feel better, I still don’t feel 100%. It’s made me very tired, and some nights I come home completely wiped out when usually I would stay up and work on a new blog post or write more.

It’s frustrating to say the least. I usually make to-do lists for myself in my bullet journal, but recently, those lists have gotten smaller or have taken longer to get done. I’m hoping that over the next few weeks, I’ll finally shake off this illness once and for all and actually get back to blogging.

I’m really excited about Dead Magic, so I’ll be sharing updates and bits of the story with you soon. All of our old friends are back from The Winter Garden: Adam Fenice, Immanuel Winter, Emmeline Jardine. Dark forces are moving toward London. They want to tap into the cosmos and speak with higher beings, but to do so, they need a certain book. That book has fallen into Emmeline Jardine’s hands and she isn’t giving it up without a fight. All Immanuel wants is a normal life, but he finds that he is in possession of new powers he never asked for and that his life is threatened by an unseen enemy. Soon, Emmeline and Immanuel find themselves in a race against time and the dark magic that threatens to bring the country to its knees. The balance of life and death hinges on their actions. Can they follow the right path or will the temptation of power be too strong?

In a few days, I’ll publish a little sniplet of a new scene from Dead Magic (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #4). Stay tuned.

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Dead Computers and Deadlines

My laptop is dead.

We had been through a lot, like the time I spilled half a cup of coffee across the keyboard after only having him for about a month. My uncle had to rebuild him practically from scratch because apparently French vanilla coffee creamer cannot be completely scrubbed off computer part. Well, after that trauma, he survived through the rest of college and two years of grad school, so I really can’t complain about his performance.

The downside is he died before I could download all of my files. As I watched my computer slow down, then freak out, I could feel myself internally screaming, MY FILES! MY SUPER IMPORTANT AUTHOR FILES!

Then, I remembered that I’m paranoid and a bit OCD, so I constantly send myself files as a way of backing them up. The bad news is I didn’t organize them in any form, so I need to comb through my email and flashdrive. The good news is I found most of them and have backed them up… again. The other semi-bad news is they’re a little old, so I need to go back and update them with fixed typos and new links. Overall, the outcome isn’t too bad for suddenly losing my computer and everything in it.

In the meantime, I’m using my mom’s laptop until my new one arrives, and I WILL be meeting the deadline for The Earl and the Artificer, which is coming out January 30th. Take that, entropy!


 

If you’re interested in picking up a copy of The Earl and the Artificer, you can find it here for 99 cents for a limited time.

eata final cover

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New Year, New Books

Ahhh, another year as an indie author has passed. 2015 has been quite the year for me. I feel like I’ve accomplished so much, yet there’s so much more to do in 2016.

This year I released my second novel, The Winter Garden, along with a short story, “An Oxford Holiday”. While getting through another two semesters of graduate school, I finished writing The Earl and the Artificer and got to meet and hang-out with my best friend who came to visit from the UK. My boyfriend and I celebrated our tenth anniversary. Honestly, this year has been pretty fantastic for me.

I’m a little afraid of 2016. This year I will finish my MFA in Creative Writing and have to look for a real job, which feels incredibly daunting.

Anyway, I have a few solid goals for 2016:

  • Edit, format, and publish The Earl and the Artificer (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #3) by January 30th. You can pre-order it here.
  • Write more books! It’s a fairly obvious goal, but I’d like to write at least two books in 2016.
  • Write every day that I’m not editing. For a while this year, I was really good about writing at least a couple hundred words every day, and that really upped my productivity. I want to start doing that again once I plot out the basics for book 4.
  • Read the books I own. This may sound odd, but I bought a lot of books in 2015, and I haven’t read most of them. In 2016, I’d like to catch up with my reading and try to only buy sequels to what I’m currently reading and not buy twenty for every one I read.

I could go into a bunch of smaller goals I have, but I’m sure those will come up throughout the year. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in 2015, and I can’t wait to see what 2016 will bring.

Stay tuned for more stories, new characters, and future publications! I know 2016 is going to be a great year!


 

The Earl and the Artificer (IMD#3) is available for pre-order on Amazon for 99 cents.

eata final cover

 

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Apology Freebie

An Oxford Holiday cover

I know I have been totally neglecting this blog for the past few weeks, but it’s for a good reason. My best friend is here visiting from the UK, and I’m trying to spend as much time with her having fun before she goes back.

Anyway, to maybe make up for my absence, I have made “An Oxford Holiday,” which is a romantic Adam and Immanuel short story free today and tomorrow. You can find it by clicking here.

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The Nervous Nelly

So I realized I haven’t written a blog post in over a week. I’m not sure how I managed that, but… sorry. I’ve been feeling mildly overwhelmed this past week. Our house has been torn apart by construction workers, which means my dogs have not shut up every time they come to work. Honestly, it’s been fraying my nerves a little.

This has been manifesting itself as anxiety at school. I try to keep my anxiety under wraps, but it’s like a bag filled with water. If you squeeze it down in one spot, it just pops up somewhere else.

During my thesis seminar class, I have been having a very hard time reading my work aloud. Part of the class is that we bring in a chapter/section of our project, read it aloud, and then our classmates give their feedback. My classmates and professor are great, so they aren’t the issues there. It’s just built-up anxiety.

I have been battling stage-fright for as long as I can remember. In elementary school, I performed in the talent show and realized I was terrified by being on stage. In middle school and high school, I dreaded being called on to read aloud and being the center of attention was a nightmare. Unfortunately, this has stuck with me through college and graduate school. If I signed up for an MFA reading or to speak at a conference, I’m okay because I chose to speak and have prepared (probably over-prepared) for it. When randomly called upon, I feel my anxiety level jump about three notches.

Last Tuesday after dealing with strange people in our house, dogs barking all day, and trying to scarf down a late lunch at my job, my nerves were frayed by the time I got to my thesis class. I sat there with my classmates’ papers in front of me barely saying more than a few words. It seems as the anxiety level rises, so does my muteness. Everyone seemed ten times as chatty as they normally are and speaking seemed absolutely impossible, so I didn’t bother.

I sat for over an hour listening to everyone else read their work and get their feedback, my chest tightening as I watched the pool of potential readers dwindle until there was only me. In an instant, my spit dried up and no matter how much water I drank, it didn’t get any better.

“Your turn,” my professor said with a smile as she flipped to my chapter.

I drew in a tight breath, opened my mouth to speak, and faltered.

“Dear, you can have someone else read for you.”

“No, I’m fine. I’m just a nervous nelly, I’m fine.”

And so I droned on for five minutes, stumbling over words and apologizing for every screw-up. The one week I got out of reading my work aloud, I was so thankful, but this week, it was impossible. Yes, I could have said, “Please let someone else read my work,” but I can’t. It’s my story, and if I’m in the class, I will do whatever everyone else does even if it makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I try to not let my anxiety run my life when it gets bad. Sometimes I fail at it, which of course causes another anxiety spike.

Some of you may be wondering why I bothered telling this story of a young woman who gets heart palpitations when she has to do a task as simple as reading aloud. The thing is, I want people who don’t have anxiety to understand how it all builds up. Yes, the task at hand may be simple, but you don’t know what has happened earlier that day or even earlier that week. Instead of telling the person to suck it up or not to worry (totally useless platitude, by the way), try to be supportive. Give them a moment to collect themselves or try to accommodate things that help lessen their anxiety. For example, I do better when I do my reading earlier because it doesn’t allow the anxiety to build over the course of an hour or two.

I also wrote this to remind those who have anxiety that you aren’t alone. Most of us put on a brave face, and while we’re melting into a puddle of anxiety, we barely show our panic on the outside. Just know, it can be managed and it feels worse than it looks most of the time.

If anyone has any tips for managing anxiety that have worked for you, please pass them on! I’m always looking for new ways to deal with stage fright and all of my other anxieties.

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Burn Out and the Grad School Grind

Grad school has begun again. Well, technically it began last week, but today marks my second week of classes. As much as I love my MFA program and the people in it, I hate the stress that comes with going to school. It sets me on edge and raises my anxiety, which means more headaches, stomach problems, and overall fatigue.

Back to school time can be very trying for people with anxiety. New people, new schedules, homework, deadlines, readings. It’s a difficult balancing act without having to add psyching yourself up to deal with people. Usually, I end up listening to music that pumps me up on my way to the university. It helps immensely, especially if you have another playlist that calms you that you can listen to on the way home. That transition time can allow you to decompress and not lash out at relatives when you arrive home. I still do it once in a while when a class has been particularly stressful, but it’s a lot less frequent than when I just went through the motions.

During this time of year, it’s very easy to get lost in the muddle of assignments and readings, but you need to remember to take time out for you. Your body is a reservoir that needs refilling, and if you get too low from stress and work, you will have a meltdown that will take time to recover from. It’s like a car battery. If you run a car for a while, then turn it off, and come back a few hours or a day later, the battery automatically refills itself, but if you leave a car on for three days straight, the battery will die, and it will take multiple jolts from another car to restart it. That’s what happens after a meltdown or if you let it get to low and you burn out.

Take time for you. Finish your assignments, get your readings done, create a schedule, but take time to do the things you enjoy. Don’t get buried in your work, or you will be burnt out by midterms. I know the reaction, I was there as an undergrad, “Take time for me? Are you crazy? Do you see the pile of crap I have to do? When am I supposed to fit that in?”

You can, trust me. When you have a lot of classes and assignments, you would be amazed how much a whiteboard calendar can help in terms of organization. Make lists of what you have to get done for the day or week. As you do them, cross them off, but leave time for you at least a few days a week. Go for a cup of coffee with a friend or take a trip to the mall. Get out of your normal space and do something you love. If you don’t like going out, read something you want to read, watch a few episodes (few- not a whole night’s worth unless you finished your work) of a show you enjoy. Do something that will make you happy and decompress.

It’s much easier to refill a half-full bucket than an empty one. Know your limits, know what you need to accomplish, and know that you matter. You aren’t a machine, despite what others may think.

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Who Am I & Why Do I Do This?

I think as writers and bloggers, we assume that everyone knows who we are or that they somehow found their way to the About page or that original post we made when we started our blog that stated who we were and why we bothered making a blog. I’ve had this blog for over a year now, so I thought it would be prudent to reintroduce myself, especially since I think this year has been one of growth and change for me.

Who am I?

My name is Kara Jorgensen, and I am a [nearly] twenty-four year old writer from New Jersey. No, we do not have accents like those people on The Jersey Shore. Currently, I am working toward an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing and only have a year left before I complete my degree. Of the 16 major personality types, I am an INTJ-A, which means that I am the “architect” type. Shockingly, this says a lot about me. I demand perfection of myself and others and strive to meet my goals through whatever means necessary. For years, I have asked a lot of myself in terms of school and grades, and that has now shifted to my writing.

My ultimate goal is to one day be a full-time writer or nearly full-time writer as I would also like to become an English professor. Sometimes in my pursuit of my goals, I take myself too seriously and occasionally burn out for a time, usually after accomplishing that goal. What recharges my batteries are: my border collie mixes, Edgar and Finny, my boyfriend, trips to bookstores or museums, and of course, writing and reading.

Currently, I have two books out, The Earl of Brass and The Winter Garden, which are both part of a steampunk-ish series. I say steampunk-ish because my books fall more into historical fiction than fantasy or scifi. It’s probably an 80-20 split between historical and fantasy. If you like Victorian literature or period dramas, you may like my writing, but if you’re looking for space battles or goggles on saloon girls wielding Gatling guns, you’re not going to find it here. Right now, I am working on the third book in my steampunk series, The Earl and the Artificer, as well as a companion short story that will go between books two and three. In the coming year, I’m hoping to work on the fourth book in the series and possibly branch out to a more heavily fantasy series (the aesthetic is old leather-bound books, humanoid creatures of mythology like something out of Pan’s Labyrinth, and old houses).

Why do I do this?

I ask myself this a lot. From as far back as I can remember, I have always loved to write stories. I drew little picture books where cats and dogs went on adventures and when I wasn’t writing them down, my Barbies were embroiled in soap opera-like drama. Writing is like a compulsion for me. I have characters and stories chattering in my head, knocking at my brain for me to write out their scenes.

One of the things I noticed as I grew up was that there weren’t often characters I immediately connected with. As a middle class, white girl from the suburbs, it seems odd that there wasn’t a female character that struck a cord with me. The girls were almost always stereotypical girls (pink, fashion, boy problems) and apart from Hermione, I was dissatisfied with what I found. It made me wonder how people who are minorities or varying sexualities and genders felt when they couldn’t find themselves in characters, so I have decided to dedicate part of my writing career to exploring diverse characters, especially ones of diverse sexuality and gender.

This blog is dedicated to the mid-writing rambles of an up-and-coming author. One day it may be a progress report, the next day it may be me railing against the man or a blurb about sexuality or gender in the Victorian era. No matter the subject, it will be a behind the scenes look at my life as a writer and twenty-four year old.

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Ten Years

IMG_1362This is coming a little early, but I wanted to write an appreciation post for my best friend and one of my greatest supporters, my boyfriend. Javier and I have been together for ten years. Yes, ten years as of June 20th. We met through a mutual friend when we were thirteen. We both went to the same middle school, and after speaking on instant messenger day in and day out for probably six months, we started going out. Being an only child without a hoard of friends, he was probably the first person I ever really opened up to. IMG_1187 He’s the quiet sort. If he doesn’t know you, he tends to be reserved, but once he’s comfortable, he never shuts up. Of the two of us, he’s the social one, the one who enjoys a night out but is still content to sit and watch Adventure Time with me and the dogs. What I love about him is his unwavering support. No matter what event I’m doing or where I want to drag him, he’s there. If I need a second set of hands or someone to vent with, he’s there. If I need someone to bounce ideas off of, he’s ready to listen even if he has no idea what I’m talking about (which happens quite often). javier knight Both of us are creative people. Javier is an artist while I’m a writer. If you’ve ever been to his Facebook page, he’s a cosplayer, which means he creates costumes after video game or anime characters and wears them to conventions. Recently, he’s won a few convention contests, and I couldn’t be prouder of him. No one I know works as hard on their projects. We act as a second set of eyes for the other, figuring out if a piece is out of scale or if a character’s motives make sense. Even if he sometimes gets down about his work and believes he sucks, I know he is amazing and will go far in the future. It’s the little things that make me love him. The way he is willing me makes me a cup of coffee just the way I like it whenever we’re home together or how he let’s me hug him like a koala when he gets home from work. Other times he drives me crazy. He leaves messes around, forgets to take the dogs out, and likes to hug me after working on his projects and thus coats me in black dremel dust, but he’s my favorite distraction. I know he’d do anything and go anywhere for me, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Here’s to ten more.

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The Steampunk World’s Fair

On Friday, I attended the Steampunk World’s Fair for the first time and gave my first reading outside of the university.  The SPWF was a blast. It was like stepping into an alternate reality. There were fantastic costumes everywhere, leather, brocade, rainbows, tulle. Women in corsets, men in waistcoats and gauntlets. The gamete ran from highly realistic to fantastical, and I don’t think there was a bad one in the bunch. Along with the fair-goers, there were also bands, panels (I attended a fantastic one about Edgar Allan Poe, which makes me really want to go to the Poe Museum), and shops.  My boyfriend and I stopped at the haberdashery, and I finally got a pith helmet.  What I find funny is that I always wanted a white pith helmet, and it turns out that the white ones are from the Anglo-Zulu War, which is mentioned in The Earl of Brass.

pithI ended up not getting too decked out this year. I went as a hybrid between modern and Victorian instead of all steampunk because, as the Awkward Authoress, I was afraid being in a full, rather uncomfortable costume would set my anxiety off. It’s amazing how clothing choice can aggravate anxiety. Instead I wore my corset, black pants, and a biker jacket. Probably a bit more cyberpunk than steampunk, but I was comfortable in my own skin and actually enjoyed myself.

My reading itself went a little less smoothly. I ended up being scheduled at midnight as one of the last events of the night, and by then, most of the fair-goers had cleared out apart from the night-owls and revelers. It made me wonder if I screwed up AM/PM on my sign-up papers. Either way, I wasn’t expecting a crowd since I’m a brand new author with a small following. I knew three people were coming for sure, but I was quite pleased to see a few more come.  The weirdest part was that my anxiety really wasn’t too bad. I made myself a little outline of what I wanted to cover before I gave my reading, and while I didn’t have a podium, my audience was very attentive and forgiving of the late hour. Then, it got weird.

What I can only describe as a New Orleans style band marched past my door followed by a parade of revelers from the courtyard. I could feel myself beginning to sputter. The band was so loud that I had to stop and wait for them to pass and ended up losing my place. Of course my stress level jumped, and I was embarrassed that I had to stop my entire program for a few minutes. Then, I said to myself, “Would it be better to pretend the band wasn’t there and shout over them?” No, it wouldn’t have worked anyway. As my aunt said when I told her, this would only happen to me. If something weird is going to happen, it’s probably to me, and a brass band marching through during my reading was not something I anticipated. Oh well.

The best part of the night was that a reader vacationing from Canada came to the fair and attended my reading. I knew she was coming since we message back and forth on Facebook, and she brought me a bag of goodies from Canada. All of the nights woes and anxieties melted away. It didn’t matter that the band played over me because someone actually: A) cared enough to come B) wanted to hear me read C) brought me a present when she obviously did not have to. I’m eternally grateful to her because she was able to squelch all of my fears and regrets and ended my night on a high note. Thank you so much, Lois!

spwf goodiesEither way, if you ever want to do a reading or present somewhere, take a chance. Even if the night went a bit awry, it was worth it to get the experience under my belt.


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