December 13, 2021

End of the Year Book Lover Giveaway!

This year has been so rough, as you know. I'd like to end it on a high note, and I bet you can guess what that means: a special giveaway of goodies for book lovers!

As you'll see, one of the methods of entry is to subscribe to my newsletter. I know letting someone into your inbox is a big ask! Mostly I'll be sharing exciting book news, but I also offer some sneak peeks behind the scenes, like in today's newsletter. Missed it? Just this once, I'm sharing a link here on my blog so you can see exactly what these emails will be like. Check it out here!

Now on to the giveaway—enter below for a chance to win:

Enter Here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy December!

November 9, 2021

Fragments That Fit Cover Reveal!

Getting this cover made was the kind of hectic, crazy time that makes you wonder if the universe is trying to tell you something. I hired two different designers. Though I did my due diligence both times, looking at portfolios and feedback from authors, both experiences were disastrous, in truly ridiculous ways. As if the people doing the designs had no actual understanding of basic graphic design principles—and I say that as someone who's terrible with visual design!

Still, after the second designer was a bust, I decided to try to create this cover myself. After all, I had already found both the primary image and font I wanted. Because this is not in my skillset, I spent many hours working on it before I got to a draft that I felt looked all right. 

And then—the very next day, as I was about to keep working on it—I drowned my computer (accidentally of course). Backups are critical, and I was relieved when I thought the online tool I had been using would save the design to my account on their site. Turned out, they don't. They rely on the local computer cache, meaning that entire design—all that work—was in jeopardy. You can understand that week was intensely stressful.

Unfortunately, after waiting for the computer to dry out, it still didn't turn on. Thankfully, though, I was eventually able to get a full bootable copy of my hard drive, which is genuinely great. I'm also fortunate that I was able to borrow a computer on which to boot that copy and pull the draft cover file (among some others).

I still don't have my own computer, but I have been able to use someone's older one to keep doing some work, like redesigning this page on my website, and adding a Heat Level Guide I hope will be helpful. Ultimately, this has turned into a stressful and very  expensive—but not entirely catastrophic—accident.

Still, despite all the setbacks, and with a lot of helpful feedback from a good friend, I was able to finish the cover for my next novel. I can't wait to hear what you think! 

About Fragments That Fit

    When Shoshana Glass lands an interview for a senior position at a top venture capital firm, she can't believe her good luck. Until she’s dismissed before even saying hello. It might be that she’s underqualified. Or maybe turning down Luc Davin’s drunken advances the night before did the trick.

    When she calls him out, Davin wastes no time cutting her down to size. Not finished humiliating her, he then offers her a different job—as his personal assistant. Being able to afford luxuries like food and heat trumps any remaining shreds of Shoshi’s pride so she accepts, on one condition: Davin can’t fire her for at least six months. Too bad he has no compunctions about making her want to quit.

    Still if Davin thinks he can chew her up and spit her out, he's got another thing coming. Shoshi’s determined to make the most of this opportunity and walk away on her terms: with a résumé boost, a stronger network, and a cushion of savings tucked away.

    But as she painstakingly gathers the fragments of her new life, Shoshi realizes the pieces may not fit together after all.

    Fragments That Fit is a sensual romantic women's fiction novel, meaning it blends the elements of both women's fiction and romance into one captivating story.

Coming January 28th! Preorder Now: 

Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play
More Stores

I started writing this book for NaNoWriMo 2015, so you can imagine how happy—and anxious—I am to finally have it be reaching readers! I'm definitely looking forward to hearing what you think of this story. Meanwhile, let me know your thoughts on the cover in the comments! 💕

In other news, Fallen recently received an incredibly positive review from Readers' Favorite! I admit, I blushed 😊 Can you blame me, with comments like: 
"Fallen by Aria Glazki is a romance[*] taken to the height of fine literature by Ms. Glazki's exquisite prose and deep insight."

" inspiring and tear-jerking masterpiece."

"In all, a sublime literary romance that is not to be missed. Fabulous writing!"

*While the reviewer calls this story a romance, what he really means is that it centers on a romantic relationship. Fallen is a love story, and it does not qualify as a romance.

If you haven't read it yet, maybe now's the time to grab your copy. 😉

October 11, 2021

The Raw Truth About Why I Disappeared

The last year and a half have been incredibly difficult in so many ways for so many of us. Many lost family and friends, including me. That on its own should have been enough for people to be kinder to one another, to allow space to process and grieve, to do whatever it took to get ourselves through it as intact as possible.

Instead, we simply found workarounds to help people stay "productive." Because as a society we value an adult's (and often a child's) productivity above all else. Many authors (and readers) rejoiced that being stuck at home during the pandemic meant being able to write more books! And faster! 

You all know that wasn't the case for me or, let's face it, for many others. Yes, I did write the Dragon Story in February–August 2020. It won't be published for some time yet. I also eventually realized that I really needed a break from social media, which I used predominately for the business of being an author. Newsletters went out the window, and eventually my Patreon went on pause.

Because on top of everything related to the pandemic, on top of the chronic illness I've been living with for over a decade, I got even more sick.
    Below, I discuss fatphobia, eating, and weight loss in a way that may be difficult for some to read. If you would prefer not to, skip down.

In January of this year, I started experiencing some discomfort and symptoms when I ate. My body so frequently does weird things that I thought, at first, all I needed to do was eat more carefully—bland foods, chicken broth, etc. In just a few weeks I went from struggling to eat to not being able to, and struggling to take in fluids as well. So I called my GI. By the time of my appointment—an entire 5 days later—I could barely drink anything. 

Imagine knowing that every tiny sip of water you take would cause you pain. And even if you did manage to suffer through the symptoms triggered by trying to eat, it wouldn't matter because it wouldn't stay inside long enough to count.

Then imagine doctors ignoring you because, according to some chart that doesn't differentiate among individuals' needs and just slaps on a label, you're considered obese. To the medical community, that word is pretty much synonymous with: "you did this to yourself." Fatphobia is so ingrained in medicine that it has led to doctors ignoring life-threatening issues in favor of body shaming their patients (e.g., doctors telling folks to "just lose weight" (or be glad they had) when what they actually have is undiagnosed stomach cancer). Fatphobia kills, and it nearly killed me.

That first GI I saw literally told me it "didn't matter" that I couldn't eat or drink. He did, however, schedule a test I knew I needed, so I stuck it out before changing doctors, knowing how time-consuming starting over with another practitioner, and getting the requisite insurance approvals, would be. In the two weeks between that first appointment and going to the hospital for that test, I rapidly dropped weight. When I brought it up with him, he said it wouldn't worry him until I weighed 90lbs. Spoiler alert: if I ever reach 90lbs, I'll be dead.

He added that if I was "worried"—as if that was so unreasonable when one is dehydrated and unable to eat—I should just go to the ER, even though I was in the hospital with an IV, and he could have at least given me fluids right then.

Just for extra fun, in the time between that first GI visit and the procedure, I was also diagnosed with Tietze's, a condition that causes significant pain where the ribs meet the sternum, and which can last for months or more. But hey, what's some extra pain when you can't eat or drink and already have a pain disorder? 

Because I knew the chances of being dismissed in the ER were equally high as with the other doctors I had seen, I didn't go to one until I went over 24hrs without being able to drink anything (as opposed to "merely" being in a lot of pain when I did). Many of you would be astounded at how difficult it is to get fluids, much less IV nutrition, in a situation that seems so straightforward to us laymen. To give the ER doctor credit, he ran many tests and did give me fluids (the change in me as a result of the latter was literally visible, but sadly shortlived). He still couldn't find what was causing my problems and, since I wasn't in danger of dying right that second, sent me home, though he did prescribe a medication in an attempt to help.

Ultimately, I was the one to figure out what was causing my symptoms, not any of my doctors. The last GI I saw diagnosed me with functional dyspepsia and IBS—conditions* that can get pretty debilitating each on their own—then basically told me to just deal with it. Turned out, though, the symptoms I was experiencing are known, though rare, side effects to a medication I was on—that every doctor I saw knew I was taking. So all that advocating for myself, all that effort trying to get them to hear me, was basically torturing myself for nothing. Then I also had to deal with withdrawal from those meds and the months-long search for a doctor who would listen and prescribe a replacement.
    *I say "conditions," but really these seem to be diagnostic catchalls for: "You have these symptoms and we have no idea why."

As of the time I'm writing this, I've lost 27% of my starting weight. I hate the fact I have to keep track, thinking about that number daily when it's dropping, nearly daily when it plateaus for a while. (See? Recovery.) I hate it even more that all the messaging I've gotten—and sometimes even continue to get—has enough of a hold on me that I have to reason my way out of that little instinct of happiness when I see it drop. Because it dropping is unequivocally bad.

In case it needs saying, losing weight at any cost is most definitely not the path to health. That's called an eating disorder for good reason, and malnutrition has plenty of serious consequences. But it also feels important to point out that starving doesn't change your body the way we expect when we think of "weight loss." Your body doesn't care about societally preferred aesthetics when it's trying to survive.  So yes, I've lost over a quarter of my body weight—and about 18% was in the space of just 2 months—but for those who can't understand just how unhealthy this kind of weight loss is, let me put it in terms we're all much more familiar with: I've only lost 2 pant sizes. I am now frail, not skinny.
    For those wondering, I'm comparing the exact same pants from the exact same brand, purchased at the same time (the second one by someone else in my home). It's about as clean an experiment as one can have given how fashion brands make up sizing, and change theirs at will.

And yet, I still constantly heard from people, whether in person (outside, at a distance—stay safe!) or on video calls about how "great" I look. Yes, even people who knew what was going on, that I was literally starving, decided the right response was to compliment me on being that ill, because to them my wellbeing is less important than looking (more like) the way society says I'm "supposed" to. I guess it shouldn't have shocked me considering I've had people calling me fat, telling me the most important thing I could ever do—"for my own health," of course—is lose weight since I was a child. It still brought up emotions I will be sorting through for a long time.

Suffice it to say, this has been a physically, emotionally, and mentally grueling 9 months. Surviving it has been about much more than simply figuring out how to get nutrition into my body, which is still a work in progress. I spent months being unable to read, much less write. At the worst of it, I couldn't even follow a plot in a tv show or movie. Yes, that was as miserable as it sounds.

While I am doing better—as evidenced in part by this long post—there are still severe limitations on what I can eat. All of this has also been less than great for my CFS, making recovery a long, complicated, and unpredictable process with plenty of setbacks along the way. I still have days when I can't handle things like reading or having a conversation, though those stretches now tend to span days rather than weeks or more. Progress, however slow.

I hope this helps you understand why I've "disappeared." There were long stretches where I felt as if I literally had: I wasn't a person; I was barely a body, just misery and pain, trying to find the energy to advocate for myself in a system that insisted on ignoring me while implying I was lying or "exaggerating."

    And yes, I believe this is at least in part an issue of gender—1, 2, 3.

I am trying to resume "being an author." I guess, since I've had books published all this time, technically I never stopped. Though in a world where we have to be constantly producing more content (or at the very least spending money on ads) to "count," it certainly felt that way. 

Thankfully, I have started sporadically being able to work on my drafted stories. Soon, there will indeed be book news heading your way. 💕

For those who have read this far and may be so inclined, here is how you can help: 

  • Buy my books. Read them, review them, gift them to friends, even talk about them on social media if you're so inclined. 
    • Not only will this help by showing people do care about and enjoy my stories—that it's worth the effort to resume creating and publishing—but this will also remind storefront algorithms that I exist. This matters.
  • Suggest your local library buy my books! They are available to libraries in both digital and print formats, but libraries do rely on patron requests to decide what to purchase.
  • Consider supporting me on Patreon for behind-the-scenes access and sneak peeks. Patrons have even seen the cover for the Dragon Story!
    • Yes, this is currently paused and I post only sporadically. However, it is a priority to figure out how to resume bringing value to my supporters there, and there's plenty of available content.
    • Please note: you will be charged immediately one time, the moment you become a Patron. Following that, I will warn all Patrons before I resume monthly billing.
  • If a monthly commitment isn't for you:

  • Don't forget to tell me how you're doing in the comments! 💕
    • Yes, I really do want to know, and yes this counts as supporting me—it's a reminder that you're there, you're listening, and you care enough to give me the time and effort it takes to read, and respond. 

January 15, 2021

"Fire bad. Tree Pretty."

I don't get it.

In times of turmoil, many respond by simply keeping on. That I understand. Do what you have to do, make it through the day. Hope that things get better, easier, simpler. That someday you'll have space for something more than surviving this moment.

I read months ago observations by psychologists that humans are incapable of processing trauma in the midst of living it. There are coping mechanisms, like denial, but we can't truly engage with the way trauma has impacted us until we have space free from the trauma to do so. Until we can do more than keep on keeping on.

People respond in different ways, of course. Many writers had an immensely productive 2020. Some continue to escape the political circus—and its terrifying implications—by focusing on their stories. And maybe if the extent of their personal trauma is dealing with the isolation of lockdown, I can understand that. After all, I've been living in a "shelter in place" way for years, for reasons unrelated to COVID, and with limits that go beyond local laws (or even the threat of infection). That hamper me even inside my own home. Maybe I would have started to process that, but COVID happened.

And then the traumas kept piling up. People I'd known for years died. And I made my way out of that grief enough to return to looking forward. The protracted disaster that was the US election became just another thing to live with. Staying abreast of developments required energy, sure, but there was a little something left, enough to revise my 2015 NaNo project, however slowly; to reveal the cover of the Dragon Story; to start to plan what I wanted to accomplish writing-wise in 2021.

Then people were diagnosed with terminal cancer, or were injured in a way that required hospitalization. Friends lost relatives to COVID.

The Capitol was attacked by white supremacist terrorists whom half the US still considers "patriots."

And even so I tried to push forward. To be more than a body that drags itself through the rituals of daily life (hygiene, sustenance). To try to find the energy to post here, or write that newsletter I really need to write, or work on the planned revisions to a published book I wanted to re-release. 

But my body has decided that food is too complicated a concept for it to handle.

And today, a family member was hospitalized with COVID.

I'm an expert at "keeping on." I do what I have to do. Hygiene. Water. Food, if I can, or now when I get hungry enough that I'm willing to suffer the consequences of a bowl of broth. Checking in on the people in my life who've been having a hard time.

But writing? Even revising?

Trisha and Ev (Forging Forever #3) have been walking through my mind more frequently. I should be writing their story. The Dragon Story needs to be revised. That other book, the plan was for a February re-release.

But I can't keep on keeping on with my writing. I can't even find the right tone to hit with a patreon post or for a newsletter. I can't be "an author" when I can barely manage to be a person.

I'm sorry. I don't know how other people do it. I feel so incredibly weak, but it's all I can do to keep the endless disasters from overwhelming my mind. So I stare at whatever show or movie is playing on my screen, or I drag my eyes over the pages of stories I'll never remember reading, or I play some inane game online literally because it takes no effort yet still occupies that little bit of my mind left that isn't enough to process everything but would otherwise still try. And break. 

I'm sorry. 

2 weeks into 2021, and I've already failed to keep up with everything, too busy keeping on


I hope you've found ways to be better, to take care of yourselves, to be kind if you're keeping on, or to celebrate if you're achieving more than that.

p.s. Bonus points to anyone who recognizes the title quotation without looking it up. 

This post originally went up on my Patreon here.