Mermaid Thoughts

 Like I needed anything else to do, but like any author or artist, the creative ball never stops rolling. No matter what project I am working on, I am inspired to do three more right behind it or on the side. I have for some time been playing with the idea of a simple-form comic that I can hand draw, fix up in Photoshop, and sell as a printed copy alongside my book at conventions and possibly online.

Meet Nighmin. A siren I originally created online as an RP character (Shut up, everyone has hobbies). She’s tough and she’s selfish, but that does not mean she’s incapable of love.

In the world I have created for her, she lives off the coast of a large island with her shoal of merrow. They all have their own groups within the shoal, but they are overseen by a Mer-Queen and all must obey her– or so she thinks.

Mermaids are beautiful and the most human-looking of the bunch, Mersharks are fierce and calculative, and sirens like Nighmin are blood thirsty and feral. Sirens, unlike mermaids, will attack and eat humans. Sexy, right? Kind of a water-based Dracula scenerio I’ve created here.

I have had several incarnation of Nighmin through the years, but will have to nail down a single look for her while drawing this comic. I’ve pretty much got her tail fins down, it’s just her face and hair that keep changing.

My Mer-Queen’s tail and look I couldn’t be more happy with, though I may fiddle with her hair some more. Her face is covered with an expressionless mask. What do you think? Look out bishes? I think my Queen of Tides could give that sea-witch, Ursula, a run for her money. Dragon-tail eats fat-octopus any day.

As mentioned in previous entries, I’m shite at digital art, but I think a combination of this simple-form line art and Photoshop clean-up will see it through to quality.

The cover art will be the most challenging as will landscapes or detailed scenery, but I’m confident I can manage it. The story will be a single comic, but perhaps part of a series within a single world. I am still very much in the planning stages, though I know what awaits my poor Nighmin in her story yet-to-be.

Watercolour and Pen

This is Nighmin and a demon-lover in one of her earlier stages. When I originally started role-playing her she ended up finding an underground channel to a shadow-market where she fell in love with a demon named Daun. While it was fun to RP, I felt I could develop Nighmin further. Demons will be mentioned in the comic, but I will most likely not feature them.

Much later I developed a more solid look for her. Minus the late 80′s-early 90′s rock-hair I accidentally gave her in this drawing, this is Nighmin. Gills along her sides, green-otherworldy skin, and a large, dangerous tail with spines and venomous barbed-tips. She is beautiful and alien and she is a survivor.

Swamped with life-issues, the second book and audiobook, for now she’ll have to remain an artistic expression until I can bring her story to life through word and image.

I hope you enjoyed her.

-WaterRaven-

 

Audioslave

10487329_10102019122229870_532870353096957521_nOk, so I’m not really an audioslave, but damn do I like the sound of it. Thanks to the generosity of my friend, Brent Ross, I am turning the pages of Detective Docherty and the Demon’s Tears into an audiobook (which spellcheck refuses to believe is a real thing). So far chapter one and the prologue are down. BOOM. Done. Actually there’s some editing to be done, but whatever.

I had toyed with the idea of an audiobook for some time, but never had the means to. I thought a lot about how difficult it is to break into the publishing world as a self-published author and often wondered if an audiobook would help give me that competitive edge. Not being able to afford it and really knowing nothing about it, I decided to come back to it later. One day Brent Ross approached me and asked if we could make Detective Docherty and the Demon’s Tears into an audiobook. I maintain that it’s because he’s too lazy to read it, lol, but man was I happy he asked! It’s slow going, as it’s a learning process for both of us, but we are having so much fun with it.

Brent works for a late night local TV host, JR Diggs. Who, oddly enough, has multiple skits involving an old neighbor of mine, Hurricane Andy. Brent also does photography and is now hoping to get involved in the audiobook world for up and coming authors– which makes me his first guinea pig :D

The hardest part is the amount of time. While I’d love to just hammer out chapter after chapter and then spread my audiobook online like butter over toast, we unfortunately have to be tedious and take our time. What we’ve found is my voice gets tired and I lose punctuation. Thanks to years of public speaking for conservation areas and non-profit organizations, I know when what I’m saying is starting to sound like shit become a massive run-on sentence.

“Congratulations! You have gremlins, part of the hob branch of fairies, consisting of brownies, gnomes, dwarves, and other small human-like fairy. Gremlins are typically smaller and often out of sight, but chances are you know they are around because your appliances and mechanical belongings are falling apart. Stay clear of electrical outlets until you have established a better relationship.”

Becomes:

“CongratulationsYouhavegremlinspartofthehobbranchoffairiesconsistingofbrowniesgnomes…”

IMG_3854[1]I begin to breath heavily into the mic, swear at some point and then Brent’s stuck staring at the screen like this.

We’ve had the most success with me reviewing the chapters at home and practising before-hand. That being said… I’m running over to his place later today to record completely unprepared, but I’ve also been busy with work, drawing another label for the brewery, and working on Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror, so don’t give me that look.

Apart from the recording I have a lot of research to do on what websites I’ll be able to sell the audbiobook on and whether or not it’s worth putting the book onto CD. Might be worth having one or two audiobooks for sale at a convention sometime. Who knows.

In the meantime, here’s the uncut audio of the prologue and chapter one of Detective Docherty and the Demon’s Tears read by Sarah WaterRaven and produced by Brent Ross. As it is uncut, places where I have lost punctuation or messed up will seem to start over again as I have paused and then re-read any areas I thought we should re-do. The final cut will exclude these errors, though we keep toying with the idea of a “bloopers” section. I apologize ahead of time for any swearing.

I burst into the title and production information too fast because I am a little too excited, so I think we’ll most likely go over that once more, but I’m honestly a hard person to calm down ;)

 

-WaterRaven-

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane

 

 

Sometime ago I was sitting in my car and heard the above song over the radio. It’s played frequently here in Southern Ontario on 102.1 the Edge, so I had some time to become familiar with it. After becoming a fan, I decided to look up the lyrics online.  I’m fairly eclectic in my music taste, but what I desire most is a good sound accompanied by thoughtful and compelling lyrics. The lyrics of this song hit me pretty hard.

Even when I was younger I was no stranger to sad thoughts

As most of you know, I have been on a journey. I’ve come a long way from depression, losing my job and home, boyfriend, and at one point, even my family. I divulge this personal information next in the hopes that sharing it may help others someday: I was a cutter, struggling with a sense of control, and the desire for the courage to make a cut that would end what I considered to be a miserable life. I cut my arm and even burned myself on the stove once to try and stop the feelings choking me from the inside. There are times I am ashamed of this behaviour and other times I am just so proud of myself for overcoming it. I recall the darkest days of my life with this dream-like state that feels out of place and out of time, and yet I know it was real. Days would go by without sleeping and like those days, I was drawn out. There was a terrible burn in my eyes from the endless number of tears and this painful longing in my chest that I could neither identify nor smother.

The day we lost our home.

I had half a book written, sitting and unfinished like my dreams, and lost my passion for life. Writing a book, environmental education, money, whatever, none of it mattered. I was unloved and I did not love– save for my brother and my dogs. When one of my dogs, Raven, passed away, I lost one of my anchors to reality and diminished further. Lucky I still had Faolan and my brother, Lance. Lance drove all the way from Toronto one night, stayed up with me and left in the morning to work a full day when my ex boyfriend decided to move out in the midst of my depression. Unable to cope with myself and what had happened, I had called my brother to say goodbye– and he just would not let that happen. His kindness resonated. It took time, but eventually it took root and started to grow within me.

I will love you forever.

 

Looking at my dog, Faolan, one day I decided I wanted to live. I thought about what would happen to him if I died and I couldn’t stand the thought of it. Weird, I know, choosing to live for a dog, but then I don’t expect anyone to understand it. It was not just him of course. I thought of some of the people I’d leave behind, though I honestly figured they’d eventually get over it and be fine without me. That’s what happens when you don’t value yourself, but a dog’s love is timeless and I knew I would be taking two lives, not just one.

 

 

When I decided to live, I realized I made the harder of the two choices. I needed to get up off the couch, get a job, and take care of myself and my dog. First thing was first, I had to get off the medication I had been put on by my family physician. Apart from tranquillizers and sleeping meds, I was put on antidepressant medication. I am not sure if any of my readers can relate to this, but I was prescribed a medication called Efexxor. While it may have kept me from killing myself and put a stopper in some of my anxiety attacks, it also dulled me. I wasn’t super depressed, but I wasn’t happy either. There are entire websites, forums, and even youtube videos on how terrible that medication is, so I don’t need to go into too much detail, but I knew I needed to get off of it.

Efexxor comes with a host of side effects and withdrawal symptoms. If I was off by an hour I would start to get a headache, then a series of neurological zaps would start, until my entire body ached and my vision began to blur. I was more bed ridden on that medication than I ever was during my depression. It destroyed my libido– I couldn’t stand to be touched, and it made me sweat like a rice-worker working the dry season.

 

 Image source: http://wendy-nielsen.com/tag/effexor-xr/

 

When some time had passed after the break-up, I attempted to socialize and date, but I honestly felt so isolated from human beings and their generally accepted reality, that I pulled away until I weaned myself off the meds. It took me a year. From the forums I read, many people have tried to come off the medication and failed, afraid they’d be stuck with it for life  (I know I was), but I want those people to know it’s possible to be free of it. It’s sucks and it’s painful, but it is worth it. I spoke with my Dr. at first and she agreed to bring me down, but she would not take me off completely, so I worked with what I had and did it anyway. We dropped every three months, then a month, until I finally started to open the capsules and empty out the beads.  When the last capsule ran out, I never went back to fill the prescription. I wont lie, there was a month where I was literally a vegetable. I couldn’t feed myself, sleep or stay awake, but slowly it got better. One day I woke up and I knew I was free.

When I had originally expressed to my physician that I would like to come off the medication, she was against it. It was based on her experience and coming from a place of concern, not some evil conspiracy. She told me I had a 50% chance of a relapse and yeah, that terrified me, but there was no way I wasn’t going to try. I refused to believe that in order to live I had to be half of myself. Sure, nothing upset me anymore. I didn’t get hurt when someone yelled at me nor did I care if I was being taken advantage of, because everything just rolled right off my chest, but I didn’t get excited and I never laughed. My mind was vacant of happiness, vacant of the pure joy only a med-free human being that fully accepts themselves can feel. I was literally Christian Bale in the movie Equilibrium, minus being female and not trying to survive in a post-WWIII society.

The first time I smiled, truly smiled, in a year, I was watching Faolan with his head out the window. Tongue flapping and his big coyote grin… His pleasure in that simplest of moments gave me the greatest joy.

 

I tried to capture that moment, but he turned to look at me

 

I was off the medication and living with a girl who’d taken me in after I was turned away by my ex-boyfriend and family. Her kindness sustained me through those months. I am very lucky to have her as a friend. After a few months of rest (thanks to her charity) it was time to get up and get a job to help support myself, my dog, and my writing. It was good to care about things again.

I looked for work and couldn’t find anything in my field. I toyed with idea of going back to school, but the idea of another year without writing was too painful to think of. In time, I found a job at a gas station. An author and environmentalist working at a gas station, I highly doubt I need to elaborate on the irony of the situation. Despite that though, I am taking care of Faolan and I am writing again. The rough draft of my second book is almost finished and I have an audiobook on the way.

So, here I am, off my medication, no relapse, and the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m poor and I’m not some big-shot, best selling author, but I’m writing and I’m trying. I have a place to live, food to eat, and I have friends and I am very, very lucky to have found love again and be loved in return. Like Moulin Rouge, “The greatest thing is to love and be loved in return.” There was a period there where I figured this was it, I was on my own and I was going to have to learn to accept that, so I made do and attempted to be happy anyway. Luckily my temporary lapse into romantic pessimism was wrong and someone beyond even my imagining came along. He expands my heart in a way I never thought possible. He fills in the pieces I didn’t know were missing. I can honestly say that I would do it all over again just to be with him. I could very well write an entire series of posts about him, so I shall stop here, but Goddess am I lucky.

This, all of this, comes to me in the four minutes of that song, because everyday I look to find the beauty, laughter, and joy in the small things in everyday life. I do it to stop my mind from slipping back into the rabbit hole leading to the dark wonderland of my mind and it is a dark place. It’s full of fear, sadness, and anger, and an empty endlessness without equivalent or measure. I was trapped in it for almost two years and I never want to be there again. So when she says, “Nights like this, I become afraid of the darkness of my heart, hurricane.” I think I know exactly what she means. Though for me, while my mind would see the worst, my heart never stopped hoping for the best, and I am very thankful for that.

I must have listened to that song several times a day for a week to come to this conclusion. That’s why I think we need artists, musicians, and writers, because they help us reach a level of ourselves we may not have realized was there. Whoever wrote that seemed to have gone through a similar experience. I had to process it for two years and then I heard her song and was inspired to write about it.

 

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~WaterRaven~