Jan 16, 2015

So much to do, so little time...


Sent in the first half of Xodus to my editor last night, then—in a fit of insomnia—I plotted not only the second half of the book, but also two sequels. I'm on a roll!

I'll soon—like today—be diving into finishing the first book so I don't lose steam. I'm wicked excited as this second half has been most elusive to me. In fact, I had originally been thinking of taking a few months off to work on other projects first, mainly because I had no clue where the story was going. I knew how it ended, but I didn't have the big middle. I've notes upon notes of events that should take place plus myriad random scenes sketched out but until last night I didn't have a set timeline of events in chronological order and now I do, even though I was up until 6 am writing feverishly in my bed only to crash and awake later at noon with a touch of a sore throat. It's like sending in the first half let the floodgates open. I'm so excited and proud of this story. I've always wanted to write a sci-fi novel and now here I am doing it, living the dream. The next steps will be to find an agent and publisher, but for now I write, because sometimes it's not about the destination but the journey itself.


As a result of my scrambling to complete the first half of Xodus by a deadline, I haven't blogged much lately. I had wanted to post a blog in tribute to my cat Zoe who passed away in November. I wrote it but never posted it because every time I tried to insert pics I broke down in tears. However, I posted it shortly prior to this one—if you're interested in having your heart broken: Time Doesn't Heal All Wounds (Missing Zoe).


Just before the holidays, my Saurimonde co-writer arrived from France and we decided to do a photoshoot while she was in town. I had shown her some photographs taken by Nick Holmes—gorgeous black and whites of stunningly beautiful women—and she asked me to get in touch. A date was set and I immediately felt my stomach do somersaults.

I get very nervous in front of cameras, audiences, you name it. I mostly prefer to spend my time alone writing, reading, playing games, or watching movies. However, we each needed newer author photos for our various profiles on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. and Scarlett wanted to celebrate the solstice with more intimate photos. I was rather intrigued by his boudoir photography. Could I do it? Did I have the gall?

Day of the shoot arrived. I barely slept a wink the night before I was so riddled with anxiety. Yet it was all for naught. I hadn't seen Nick in quite some time and when I did, I immediately felt at ease. He has a very calming presence about him. I told him I was nervous because I didn't really know what to do in front of the camera. He told me not to worry. That he'd do all the work. And did he!

He took us to a few of his favorite locations in South Pasadena as we warmed up in front of the camera, then we went back to his place for the more intimate photos. I had been on the fence about those, but by the time we arrived at his place, I was feeling more confident and prepared.

I went into his bathroom and tried on my lingerie, still feeling slightly unsure of myself, my face, and my body, but as soon as I stepped in front of his camera and he took over directing me to pose this way or place my hand there, I forgot all my fears and let go. As a result, Nick took one of, if not the best, photo that has ever been taken of me.

And here are a couple of the author shots...

My new Goodreads author photo: https://www.goodreads.com/melissa2u

My new Amazon Author Page photo: amazon.com/author/melissasthilaire

My new About page photo: http://www.melissa2u.com/p/about.html

I am so immensely grateful to his talent and skill as a photographer.

Golden Globes:

After the photoshoot the holidays came and went in a blur and then I was staring down my deadline with the editor for 23,000 words of Xodus. Now was the time to buckle down and focus. I had all these blogs I wanted to post, but I had to put everything on hold. I had to get those words ready. I was really starting to feel the pressure when I got a text from a friend asking if he could interrupt my work for a quick phone call. I told him, "Of course," and hoped everything was alright but, to my surprise, he was calling to invite me to the Golden Globes after parties. Exactly the kind of interruption I needed!!

My friend Jason and I at the Fox party before I got plastered on free drinks.

The Fox party in full swing. A few drinks in and we were on the stage dancing like crazy to Just Can't Get Enough.

The HBO party winding down.

The NBC/Universal party wherein I'd had so many drinks by then I could only manage this odd shot of the flower arrangements and bored blonde with a few stragglers dancing to Beyonce in the background.
We saw a slew of celebrities, of course, but the highlight of the night was seeing Bill Murray. I didn't talk to him or anything because hello shy, but it was cool just to eye his greatness in passing.

And now that the fun is over, I must get back to work. I'm off to continue conjuring up an entire universe filled with aliens, spaceships, planets, space stations, and more. Hope you all had merry holidays, a happy new year, and will have an excellent 2015!

Time Doesn't Heal All Wounds (Missing Zoe)

(Note: I wanted to post this sooner but every time I tried to go through photos of her to add I broke down and couldn't do it.)

Fourteen years ago, which seems like a lifetime ago, I was getting ready to go on an interview when I heard a high pitched meow coming from beyond my porch. I stepped outside and peered over the side only to discover a tiny gray fluff ball who looked up at me and meowed a bold hello. I scooped the kitten up into my hands and she immediately cuddled against me purring loudly. I was in love.

For the next fourteen years Zoe was a force to be reckoned with. She was loud, stubborn, and demanding. She'd tell me when I needed to fill the food dishes and the water bowls. She'd meow to tell me to change the litter or brush her long fur that tangled and knotted easily. Sometimes she'd meow just to meow. And sometimes she'd drive me crazy with her constant loud voice because I was trying to concentrate.

But now I'd do just about anything in the world to hear her voice one more time.

I miss her so much.

I try to put on a brave face, I try to live day to day, but inside I'm broken. Every other thought is of her. My smile is fake and my eyes always only a blink away from tears.

Just a few months ago I lost Satchel... and now Zoe. I've had, and have still, a lot of cats but there was a group of them that I called the originals: Comet, Lucy, Satchel, and Zoe. The first four. I lost Comet and Lucy in 2008 only months apart. Six years later the cycle repeated itself and I lost Satchel and Zoe only months apart. How cruel is that? I had only just begun to feel slightly normal again after losing Satchel to a long battle with kidney failure and now this? And yet the vet gave Zoe a good prognosis. Her illnesses were treatable (hepatic lipidosis, pancreatitis, and hyperthyroidism). Yes she was an older cat but she had a chance for survival. I had hope. But now all I have is heartache.

With each one I lose, another piece of my heart breaks off. How much is left?

Yet on the other hand, is it not worth it?

She gave me fourteen years of unconditional love and companionship. She was my special girl. My beautiful Zoe. She just appeared one day, took a shine to me, and stayed. I've had a fuller life having had her in it. Every moment was worth it. I just miss her so much.

She had a giant personality. She commanded attention. She would sit in the middle of the living room and staredown visitors while most of the other cats would hide in the bedroom. She even stared down the dreaded vacuum cleaner while the others raced away in terror. She would greet me at the door every time I was away and if I went on vacation she'd get so angry at me when I first returned, holding it against me for ever having left at all, but after a few days she'd jump up on the couch, find her way onto my lap and cuddle with me, her loud engine purring all the while. I would say to her, "Zoe, can you say mama?" And she would reply, "Marow-ma."

On her last day I had a feeling it was the end. She was acting strange. She walked differently. She fell over in the kitchen. She wasn't herself. I placed her on her favorite cushion, laid on the floor next to her, peered up into her big, yellow eyes and told her I would always love her no matter what. I told her I'd never put her to sleep because I couldn't. If she had to go, it had to be on her terms. I couldn't let go. That night I carried her into the bedroom and put her in her favorite chair next to the bed. She stayed with me for awhile but in the middle of the night I heard her jump out, well, it sounded more like she stumbled out. I looked down and she was resting on her side on the floor by the bed. I reached down to pet her and see if she was okay. She seemed fine so I fell back to sleep. In the morning she wasn't there. I walked out into the living room to look for her. She looked like she was sleeping peacefully by the couch. I went about my morning chores and, when it was time to give her her medicine and food, I went to rouse her from slumber, but she never woke up. She was gone. My baby girl left me. At least she's not in pain anymore, but mine has only just begun.

The pain of loss never goes away, you just get used to it.

Goodbye, Zoe. I love you. I miss you. You were such a good girl.