Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nessie Strange on Reaper Madness and Being Thankful

I am so happy to have Nessie Strange on my blog today. In light of the season of thankfulness, one of the great pleasures I've had on this journey of being a writer in the internet age, has been all of the interesting and lovely people I've met along the way, often by chance, such as Nessie.

Nessie is a Massachusetts native and mother of two who has dabbled in everything from abstract painting to freelance sports reporting. She also loves a good story, whether it’s reading or writing one. Living Dead Girl and Reaper Madness, the first two novels in her urban fantasy Living Dead World series, were published by Etopia Press in 2014.

On the Web:

Becoming an author has been a remarkable journey so far for Nessie, as you can see:

Reflecting on Life & Being Thankful 

With Thanksgiving about to arrive, I think it’s as good a time as any to reflect on life and the things to be thankful for. Like many other people, I’ve had my share of hardships. An amicable divorce turned nasty left me feeling pretty battered a few years ago. I’ve struggled financially since then, teetering between just having enough to pay my bills and rent to wondering what bill I can postpone so I can put food on the table. It was never for lack of effort. I worked full time and had a decent wage, but mountains of debt from school loans, lawyer fees and the fallout from learning how to manage my own money have always kept me treading water. Some of it was my fault, some of it was unfortunate luck and bad timing, but either way it’s a sucky, stressful situation to be in. 

I got frustrated with a lot of things, including my own writing, and just couldn’t seem to produce anything good for the life of me. Then I was laid off in late Spring of this year, and I thought man--is this ever going to get better? During my time in the ranks of the unemployed I (of course) hunted for jobs, but I also took advantage of my much more flexible schedule to really focus on some writing. I hadn’t finished (or even written) anything substantial in a long time, and my first book, Living Dead Girl had already been out for six months. I wanted to finish the sequel, but needed to learn better discipline, find better motivation and get back into the groove. So I enlisted some of my writer friends to harass me into keeping up with deadlines.

I would produce at least one chapter every week or face dire consequences (not sure what those were, but the threat worked) and at the end of that week I’d send them to one of my writer friends. Something really clicked. I completed Reaper Madness in just over a month, and in the process, built back some of the confidence I’d lost in my own writing. Since then, I’ve been writing much more regularly and currently have many projects going. It took almost six months to find a job that would pay enough to support my small family. I’m still struggling financially as I begin to recover from paying the bare minimum (and in a couple cases not at all) that came from stretching my tiny unemployment check as far as I could. 

I won’t lie...it still sucks financially right now. But you know what? I can do this. I can make it through all of this, because I have before. I have two wonderful, smart, loving children who are both healthy. I’m healthy. We still have a roof over our heads. And even though sometimes it takes some strategic and creative juggling, I know I can pay what absolutely needs to get paid and keep them fed. I will find a way--I always do. And as I go along, I like to think I’m finding ways to do it better. 

I’ve got a great family. Friends. All kinds of wonderful people in my life, both in person and online. And then there’s writing. I’m not yet at a point where I’m making a substantial income from it, but I feel like I’m only at the beginning of that journey. I’ve found people who believe in my work. People who have helped shape it up for public consumption. Writer friends who have helped me navigate social media, and marketing, and provided considerable moral support. I think for every shitty thing that’s happened, there are many more good things. I look at my life, and despite the rough patches, I’m still happy. It’s not that bad. I’m still fighting for more. 

I look at some of the truly horrific and tragic things that happen in this world and I know my life could be much, much worse. I’ve had people ask how I could still go on after some of the things that have happened, but my answer is simple: I have to. For my kids, for myself. For that bright horizon in the distance. I still have so much to live for, and long ago I made the decision not to waste precious mental energy worrying about things I can’t control. I think, if I put everything in perspective, I have much more to be thankful for than not.

I think we all have much to be thankful for, Nessie, but what a great post!!! A truly remarkable spirit.

Check out Nessie's books with their super-awesome titles:

Reaper Madness (Living Dead World #2)
by Nessie Strange

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Etopia Press
Date of Publication: November 21, 2014


Jen MacLellan can’t get the hang of being a reaper. She’s been separated from her lover, Jack. She's also stuck with that annoying telepathic link to her ill-tempered mentor, Sam. But when reapers start disappearing back on earth, Jen and Sam are recruited to help. Can they figure out what’s causing it before it’s too late?
Jack Norris has no memory prior to waking up on the half-demon Nulcifer’s couch six months earlier. As he begins to investigate his origins, he discovers a string of past lives, tied together by a beautiful, mysterious brunette. Does she really exist, and if she does, can he find her?
Fate reunites them after Sam falls victim to the attacks on earth. As they work to save Sam, can they rekindle what was lost? Or have things become too complicated…

Sam wasn’t kidding when he said I had no idea what I was getting into. And now, as I stared Death in the face—literally—from an uncomfortable black leather executive chair, it occurred to me for the first time that I was in way over my head. Between the pinstriped suit and dark, slicked-back hair, he resembled a character from The Godfather more than a deity who ruled over the dead and dying. Death was one scary motherfucker. And he was smiling.

“Care for a drink, Jennifer?”

I shook my head, but he rose anyway, retrieved two glasses from the cabinet behind him, and filled both with amber-colored liquid. “Relax, I’m not going to bite.”

That wasn’t what I was worried about.

“Now, how long have you been with us? About six earth months?”

I cleared my throat. “Ah yes. About that long.”

“I find it intriguing,” he said. “You have been telepathically linked to one of my reapers this entire time, yet you really demonstrate no capability when it comes to this job. One would think that would give you an edge, hmm?”


“You’d think,” I laughed. OK, I sucked at it. It was only recently I’d been allowed to travel back to earth to help retrieve souls. Sam did most of the work, while I trailed behind, like one of those ankle-biting little purse dogs. What I wanted to know was why he’d insisted I do the job in the first place. I’d never asked to be a reaper. It wasn’t like I wanted this.

“The occupation listed from your most recent incarnation on earth was a mortician, was it not? So you should be accustomed to working with the deceased and the sensitivities that go along with it.”

“These two jobs are absolutely nothing alike.” Shit. I’d reacted again, lost my cool because of something he said. Now that my brain had caught up with my mouth, the fire snuffed out and with it went my nerve. I needed to learn to bite my tongue. Considering the habit crossed over with me from my last life, maybe that was wishful thinking. “Well, I mean, because when I was a mortician, those people didn’t talk back to me.”

Death studied me. “No, I don’t imagine they did.” He scrunched his lips up, his brow furrowed—the only hint of emotion I’d seen from him—but it quickly faded. “What exactly is it that’s holding you back or hanging you up? I’m just trying to understand here.”

“Well, I guess some of it is that I feel bad for them. I want to make things easier, but Sam’s all about scaring them and intimidating and manipulating them. It doesn’t seem right. I mean, we’re their first point of contact with the afterlife; why does it have to be frightening?” I was doing it again. OK, I needed to breathe. “I just... I see the fear in their faces, and it tears at me. It doesn’t feel right. It’s not me.”

“Fear makes them more pliable. Which in turn, makes your job easier when it’s time to collect.”

“But I don’t...”

He held up a hand. “I don’t like excuses, Jennifer. You may not agree with all of the methods you have been taught, but you still need to learn them and be able to utilize all of them. Years down the line, when you actually have some experience, perhaps then you can develop your own strategies. For now, as a rookie in the division without a single reaping under your belt, you are obligated to follow the instruction of your mentor. Do you understand?”

Living Dead Girl (Novel/Living Dead World #1) January 2014

Add it on Goodreads

Love’s Not Viral (short story/Love Least Expected anthology) February 2015

Pre-order now:

Confessions of a Punk Rocker (Novel/connected to Living Dead World series) TBA 2015

Thank you, Nessie, for being on my blog today and thank you, dear reader, for stopping by :)
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating this week.


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