All posts by suzannemsabol

Suzanne M. Sabol began writing at a young age, completing her first full-length novel at the age of 17. Her love of everything paranormal and romance began shortly thereafter. She is an avid reader and writer, focusing mostly in the urban fantasy genre. She loves reading anything from contemporary single title romance to detective noir and the classics. Suzanne published her first novel Cursed in 2009. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University with majors in Criminology, International Studies, Russian, and Political Science. Suzanne was born and raised in Ohio. She currently resides in Columbus Ohio with her husband, Ross. When she’s not working, writing, or reading, she’s spending time traveling. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Central Ohio Fiction Writers.

Burnout and Mental Health

This week, I started seeing a therapist.

I feel like this was probably a long time coming. I feel burnt-the-fuck-out on several fronts.

First, the toxicity of my job and the environment has worn me down. We have a lot of people in management positions/leadership positions that haven’t had a lot of training on how to manage people. Anyone who has undertaken that role knows that it can suck . . . hard but is critically important to the proper functioning of any workplace. So, when its not done right, it can cause an implosion of shit. Which is what’s happening now.

Second, I feel like I’m struggling to juggle all the balls at home too. I’m responsible for keeping everyone on track, for making sure all the things get done, that scarlett is doing her homework, that the trash gets taken out, that the cats get fed, that scarlett has her lunch made everyday, and the list goes on.

Third, I haven’t been writing. I haven’t even opened the document in months. I just don’t have it in me right now to put words on a page. I’m not sure when it stopped being fun. Maybe it was when COVID hit and I couldn’t interact with my writing group on a regular basis anymore. Maybe it was with the whole RWA racism debacle and I lost the larger group to interact with and meet readers. I don’t know.

I’m physically exhausted, mentally exhausted, and I’m starting to drop the balls I’ve so carefully been juggling high in the air and making mistakes.

Mental health is so important and I noticed that I wasn’t functioning at the level that I’m used to and taking on things that are toxic that suddenly become my problem when they are not.

So, this week was my first appointment with my new therapist. I’m usually so good at compartmentalizing and just getting shit done, that about five minutes into the session, I was sobbing as I told her why I was even there because I couldn’t compartmentalize anymore. We talked about my goals, which to be fair, I’m not sure that what we talked about is right but its some place to start.

The reality is, I can’t get back to the level of juggling that I previously had been functioning at, and I’m not sure I want to either. I can’t fix everyone. People have to be responsible for themselves and their duties. I can’t do everything for them and I don’t want to anymore.

So, here’s the thing. I don’t know if this will help but it can’t hurt either.

Book Hangovers

I’m currently suffering from a book hangover.

If you don’t know what that is, you’ve probably experienced it but didn’t have the words to describe it. This is when you’ve read a book that is so amazing to you that you can’t seem to leave it behind. Days later, your brain is still digging into your favorite bits and the characters are rooting around in your head to stake a permanent place.

I just went back in to Alexis Hall‘s London Calling series that consists of Boyfriend Material and Husband Material. I’ve read them before but they’re so wonderfully delightful, fun, and gut wrenching that sometimes I just get a niggling desire to go back in to revisit Luc and Oliver’s world. Everytime it leaves me in this state of book handover.

There’s just so much that I love about these books.

  1. How wonderfully broken Luc and Oliver are in their own ways.
  2. Their growth and understanding of each other
  3. How the friend groups give each other shit like real friends do.
  4. Luc’s office and coworkers and the asides that happen on the regular in this book
  5. The amount of times Luc says fuck . . . clearly a kindred spirit of mine. I feel seen.
  6. The exasperation Oliver experiences at Luc’s shenanigans . . . again, I feel seen

I kinda want to start all over again and read/listen to them again but I have a TBR (to be read) pile that is currently out of control due to Christmas gifts and my inability to stop buying books. So, there’s that.

There are a few books that leave me like this. When I say books, I mean series because I’m not sure when the last time I read a stand alone book was.

Book Hangover Authors that I recommend:

  1. Ilona Andrews – of course.
  2. Kresley Cole
  3. Alexis Hall
    • London Calling Series

What are your book hangover authors?

Movies, Superheros, and Constructing a Narrative

So, I had a lot of time off over the holidays. Did I get any writing done?

Um, no. That’s going to be a big negative.

What I did do was read some books, do family/holiday stuff, and practice my new trombone. That’s right, I got a trombone for christmas from my very loving and soon to be very sorry husband. I also watched a few movies. Let’s talk about one of those movies in particular.

Prepare yourself, for this epic rant because I didn’t know how angry I was until I started talking about it to Ross that night after I watched Black Adam.

There’s alot going around about how this bombed and how everyone is getting recast to reboot DCEU . . . again.

This movie wasn’t horrible. It was just the same shit DC does with all there live action movies. Its the same problems that all the other movies had – with the exception of Wonder Woman (2017) and Man of Steel (2013). I would like to pay particular homage to Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Trilogy – a complete character/story arc which is now the exception, rather than te rule. In Black Adam, DCEU treated its audience like they were stupid and that they would consume anything they threw at the masses.

This is incorrect and, quite frankly, insulting.

You have to tell an actual fucking story. You can’t just throw some characters into the movie without backstory, build-up, goals, motivations, or -most importantly- conflicts and think that its going to work. Because it won’t.

You know why Marvel movies/content work so well? Because people sat down and figured out what story they wanted to tell and DID THE FUCKING WORK. They laid the groundwork for new characters, and items, concepts in each subsequent film or show. They built a narrative that drew people in. Even if not every movie or tv show is a hit, they build upon each other. Marvel, under Kevin Feige, built actual storyboards to continue a story through multiple films instead of this disjointed nonsense that the DCEU keeps presenting.

DCEU seems to refuse to do this. They just throw a bunch of shit at you without the cohesion of an actual narrative and bank on the decades of comic book devotion to carry the rest. The reason that there is such devotion to these comics is because of THE STORIES THEY TOLD! If the comics pulled this shit, DC would have collapsed decades ago.

James Gunn can recast anything and everything several times over. Here’s a little secret, though. The problem isn’t the actors. The problem is the story telling. You’re not delivering a product that people want to buy regardless of the packaging. Packaging (aka actors) only get you so far.

Black Adam was the same shit DCEU has been throwing at us for years now.

Here’s another thing that pissed me off.

Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate was a chef’s kiss of casting and DCEU WASTED HIM! Literally wasted him. Wasted the character. Wasted the actor. I can’t even express to you how appaled I was by the end of that movie.

They didn’t even explain Hawkman. They didn’t explain why this dude had giant wings attached to his back and could fly. They didn’t explain why he lived in a palatial english type estate in Lousiana. They did nothing, not in this movie or any other movies to lay the ground work for this. And let’s be honest. The only interesting shit about Hawkman is Hawkgirl and she was no where in site.

They put together a group of people for this world saving mission with no introductions to ANY of them. And somehow, Amanda Waller is involved. . .

Black Adam was just one more shitshow in a long line of lazy shitshows that came from the DCEU. I keep watching these movies in the hopes that they’ll finally get it right. The animated movies are so good! DCEU just can’t seem to translate that animation narrative to the live action movies and that’s sad. They have so much material to work with and they seem to be ignoring it.

And in a Covid world, you have to put out a really good product that has me itching to see it to get me in a theatre. Sorry DCEU, but your movies just don’t rate.

Meetings to Plan other Meetings

Why is this a thing?

I work with someone who wants to sit down and talk about what meetings to have and who to have them with . . . no! Sit down and have a thought about what you want to talk about and set up the actual meeting.

There are a few reasons that this happens, at least, that I can determine.

  1. People either can’t or don’t want to be responsible for making an executive decision about who should be in a meeting. Grow a pair and make a decision. That’s what ends up happeining when you meet with me to talk about a future meeting. I end up making the decision and then I’m pissed about it.
  2. They seriously don’t know who should be in the meeting which is just as freightening.
  3. You don’t have enough to do. If this is the case, I’ll off-load some of my shit onto you. Then you’ll have plenty and these meetings to plan other meetings will stop.
  4. Meetings make you feel important. If that’s the case, nothing I say will help you. That’s some shit you have to deal with on your own.
  5. You need meetings to justify your existence. Again, I can’t help you.
  6. You just love meetings. Nope. I can’t imagine that this person actually exists but I’ll put it in here because if I didn’t, someone would pipe up and make the comment-even though no one EVER comments on my blogs. I’m lonely folks, give us a comment.

What’s the lesson here?

Be mindful of other people’s time. I don’t want to sit in a meeting with the hopes of a meaningful discussion arising organically. THAT. NEVER. HAPPENS. People don’t want to engage with anyone, let along meaningless meetings that don’t accomplish anything.

Make that one of your New Year’s resolutions.

Life Lessons

Here’s the thing. Its not that hard to just NOT be an asshole.

Just don’t be a dick.

It’s really that simple.

It takes just as much energy, less even, to be nice to someone instead of treating them like shit.

Here’s the thing. I’m a firm believer in treating people in a way that I would want to be treated myself. I get that this is a long standing “thing” but it is true. I don’t have to go out of my way to be nice, I’m just not openly antagonistic. Just acknowledging people and thier presence is sometimes enough. It works and I get better results.

I left my last job because I didn’t feel valued. I didn’t feel like my contributions meant anything to anyone. And now my staff if following me because if I was the only person in the department that made them feel valued and supported, that’s just sad.

I also don’t understand why people are pissed when their employees get better jobs/promotions/raises. People grow. They want to develop and as a manager, that’s what you’re supposed to be fostering. I don’t understand, then, why people feel betrayed. Be happy for them that their lives will be better and you helped them get there.

I’ve also seen a lot of shitty behaviour recently in stores and in food service establishments. Don’t do this. Let me repeat. This is not okay.

I’ve worked both types of jobs in my lifetime and I hated both. Not necessarily because of the actual work but because of the people you encountered while working. Retail at christmas literally gave me a stress twitch at the coner of my right eye. Its now a trigger response that when the corner of my eye starts to twitch, I know I have to take a moment to pause and get my head straight.

Why people think that treating retail and service workers like pieces of shit or that they are somehow beneath them, is beyond me. Trust me, I used to work in a fast food restaurant. You don’t want to know what some petty teenagers will do to your food if you’re an asshole to them. Do you really want to take that chance? I sure as hell don’t. Because they will, and I repeat, WILL tamper with your food. Spit in it. Step on it. Make it wrong. Trust me. There are a lot of things they could do that you wouldn’t necessarily even notice.

So, here’s the lesson kids. Just don’t be a dick.

This is my public service announcement.

Pets

We have two cats.

Percy (on the bottom) and Oliver (on the top)

We love them. I mean, come on, look at these faces!

Percy is the friendliest, most curious cat you’ll meet. He will let Scarlett do whatever she pleases. Including but not limited to putting him in a shopping cart to drive around the house.

Oliver is filled with anxiety and no one has ever seen him but us (and of course the vet). People don’t even realize we have a second cat if they come over. The woman who watches the cats while we are on vacation leaves me little tidbits in her report everyday about “Oliver sightings” which are usually that he stuck his head out from the hallway and then ran back into the bedroom.

This week was our yearly trauma. We went to the vet this morning which is always a debacle.

Percy, because he’s a reasonable cat, just got into the carrier with no effort or fuss.

Oliver, on the other hand, was a strategic undertaking that still left me bleeding and wounded. Both of us are now traumatized from the experience. The vet heard a heart murmur which I’m pretty sure was stress enduced. Hell, I might have had a heart murmur at the time. There were also the sad cries in the car. Oliver was more frantic and desperate. Percy was a long, low lament of the inconvenience we were putting him through. It’s a five minute drive, by the way.

That being said, for fuck’s sake, I just spent $612 on a vet appointment, including vaccinations, tests, and heartworm medication.

I think the bit that really annoys me is NOT the fact that it cost me so much money, but that I have almost $500 sitting in an flexible spending account for work that I can’t use for this. I’m probably not going to use it by the end of the year either. Why can’t I use this for ALL medical related bills – pets included? WHY????

Of course, I also buy the fancy Blue Buffalo food which runs about $40 a bag now, so they are not cheap to keep around. There you have it. Pet ownership is a double edged sword. There is infintie cuteness and then some pretty hefty bills. But they are totally worth it.

NANOWRIMO 2022

Welcome to National Novel Writing Month!

Its that time of year again where I begin this process with hope that this year I’ll finish and joy at the idea of writing. Then I spend 30 days punishing myself and feeling guilty when I fail miserably.

It isn’t that I don’t like this time of year. I do. I remember all the things I love about writing when I set my goals and update the projects that I didn’t finish in that month but ulimately finished. I start this thing every year with the intention of meeting that 50,000 word threshold. That doesn’t mean i’ve written a complete book (because mine range anywhere from 75K to 110K) but it does means I’m halfway there. I’m always good for the first week or so and then life/work/family/etc just gets in the way.

this is not an excuse, just reality. I realize that I could get up and spend time writing or stay up late to meet my goals. These are all things I could do. I’m going to be honest with you though, I have a hard enough time getting to sleep and staying asleep that I’m not going to jeopardize any sleep I might get by shortening the time I have to get there.

Also, i’ve realized that I work best with natural light and I am severely lacking that in my office. I would like to add windows all along this side of my house but Ross says no, because of money. boooooo

Listen, I’m going to give this a go again this year and not beat up too much on myself if I don’t make it. If it gets me back into the habit of writing on a regular basis, I’ll be happy. I think that is a laudible goal.