The Season of Self-Help (Books)

Two things should be said from the start.

Firstly, I can’t say I’ve arrived at any sort of an Answer to any of my questions about life, universe, and everything. But I feel that I’ve done my research, which means I can stop devouring the self-help books crowding my shelves and my Kindle – and I can start the Work. As in everyday practice of meditation, and being present, and being grateful (pretty much EVERY book I’ve read tells you to do so.)But first, let’s look at the second thing.

The second caveat is that ‘season’ is quite a loose term here. It’s been quite more than a season. I’d say it all started in March with my usual restlessness (I’m tempted to capitalise this word. It’s such a prevailing emotion in my life, the old mate Restlessness of mine; and it has so many facets that it’s almost a character I could put in a book). And then I saw the Marie Kondo series on Netflix… and I thought that perhaps it’s not Restlessness. Maybe, I was just Cluttered.

It took me 21 days. I donated 29 oversized garbage bags of clothes, 14 boxes of what Maries calls ‘komono’ (my collection of mugs; books; knickknacks; sofa cushions; pens, pencils, and whatnot); de-cluttered every single shelf in my house, and reorganised my art.

Behold my sock drawer and my tea/dish shelf!

And then I drew my first acrylic painting. A doughnut of all things. ‘Hm,’ I thought. ‘Interesting.’

‘Maybe there is something to this whole ‘”free space in your life and mind” thing,” I thought, “and maybe inspiration will flow, and your muse/daemon Elizabeth Gilbert style will sing to you and play a lyre and you will write your masterpiece.’ I think I should remark here that I still practice with Headspace (almost) every day as I’ve mentioned in my previous post. So, there’s a bit of space in the good old noggin of mine. Acrylics were a surprise, though.

The high lasted for about a month, and then my Restlessness was back. And that’s when the first batch of self-help books travelled from McNally and Robinson Booksellers to my bedroom.

And then some more came.

And let’s not forget the Kindle ones on my phone. I do spend a lot of time riding a bus.

So, now that the books have been read, notes have been taken, charts and graphs drawn, and the schedule 7 Habit of Highly Effective People style is made every Sunday…

By the way, I can’t recommend the 7 Habits book enough. It answered about 76.5% of my questions about the topics less encompassing than the aforementioned life, universe, and everything – at least the ones I could form to ask. It has little to do with effectiveness as it’s understood at work in terms of productivity and salary – and has everything to do with being a decent human being.

For me, the main point of the book (and all of them are worthy of exploration, in my humble opinion) is prioritization. I am definitely a person who has trouble choosing my battles. That’s why in the last five years I have started and abandoned a couple dozens stories, have tried my hand in pretty much every art medium, and have at some point considering learning punch needling, photography, and maybe professional gel manicure. But even The Renaissance Soul book (see above in the Kindle list) who defends the scattered and the ever-distracted like me insists on choosing several projects to concentrate on. Not all of them. Because we’re human and there are only 24 hours in a day. And I do work full time in a room with 8 babies under 18 months. And I have a kid. And I have to cook for three people with radically different diets (one is vegetarian, one is lactose and gluten intolerant, and one is a picky eater North American style, i.e. a pizza and hot dog lover).

The 7 Habits book tells you to schedule your week, not your day; and it tells you to base your schedule on the roles you play in your life. For me that would be:

  • a mom (Recently, Gregory and I started to do one art project a week. I, as usual, took it too seriously. I bought books and did my research on Pinterest because, you know, you have to ‘develop your child’ and so on… and then I chilled the F off. Last week we baked chocolate lava cakes in a mug in our microwave, splattered sticky batter everywhere, ate literally ad nauseam (it might have something to do with the amount of whipped cream on top of those mugs), and I have to tell it was much more rewarding than making a rocket out of recycled boxes, Karen.)
  • a person with a job (I think I will write about my struggles of being paid 12 CAD an hour in my next blog post. I am planning to blog regularly these days. It helps me stay sane. It reminds me of the ‘morning pages’ from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The Bible for the artists (which is literally everybody, if you believe Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which is almost like the Bible to me), The Artist’s Way suggests you de-clutter your mind every morning by writing at least three pages by hand. I think, slightly editing and organizing my thoughts and sharing them on my blog might be also beneficial for my artist’s mind – and might be marginally interesting to read to some people. After all, people do go to circus to watch clowns and monkeys, which is what my mind’s inner workings remind me of.)
  • a writer (All hail Liz Gilbert and Pam Grout and Julia Cameron and half a dozen other writers, including Stephen King whose On Writing I borrowed from the library, and who let me know it’s OK to stand up and say: I am a writer. They say to say it loud and proud (I might have squeaked it out, but baby steps, my friends, baby steps…) and remember, the only thing that makes one a writer is the fact that you write. So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m writing. I sit down, say a short prayer to my daemon, and then I work my a** off. )*

*Alright, this needs a caveat of its own. I only started sitting down and working my a** off last week. I updated my ongoing fanfiction story and I posted a new chapter of my cosy mystery on Wattpad. And I cleaned up my blog and my FB pages. And I went back to editing Blind Carnival. And recorded a Youtube video. So yes, the a** has been definitely worked off, but that’s just week one. Let’s see how long I’ll last.

And yet. Something has shifted. I feel it in the air. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air… Oops, that’s LotR. Nevermind.

I think what has changed is the End. As in the 7 Habits‘ Habit 2: ‘Begin with the End in Mind.’ What do I want from my writing in the end? I want to enjoy the process. I want to write and feel light, and mad, and tired, and inspired, and sometimes stuck and frustrated, and rewarded, and recognised, and… me. I want to be Katya Kolmakov, a writer. I don’t expect much income from my writing, but I want to sell my books so people can read them. I want to talk to people about my writing, so I’ll be recording videos and answering to comments under them and I’ll be writing webserials on Wattpad and answering to comments there – so keep them coming!

Also, I want to blog/YouTube. I want to talk about what it’s like out here in the savannah of the writing life, and maybe someone will want to hear about it.

Martha Beck in her Finding Your Way in a Wild New World (a super new-agey book, but I think I might have read it at the right moment, so I managed to tolerate the preachy tone and actually got through it, and found it oddly inspiring) proposes that hackneyed mental exercise of imagining what you’d do if you had no limitations. And so does Latte Factor. And pretty much every person who writes a book to teach you how to live your life. And one of them (don’t ask me which one, there have been too many) asks what you’d do if you had 36 million dollars (oddly specific much?) I think I’d just write all day. And paint and draw, just for fun and because when I have a brush or an ink pen in my hand I experience flow.

The other day I found a weird marking on my skin under my right breast. I promise, I’ll have it looked at next week. But my first thought was that if it’s something serious, I’ll quit my job and I’ll be writing between my hospital visits.

This does tell you something about my priorities.

OK, that’s it for now, folks. I’ll go cook for the week. Talk to you very soon.

Oh, and here’s my first YouTube video. It’s hardly good but I have no regrets.

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 15. Wren, John, Ice

He hoists you up, his palms under your buttocks, and your bag loudly smacks onto the floor. Yum, someone’s prepared! And you don’t mean this quickly building pressure in his denim. It’s the glasses, the white button-up, the dark denim, and bare feet. It’s like he carefully assembled the ‘let’s conk out Wren’s self-control’ kit – and now he’ll pay for it!

You grab handfuls of his waves, and pull, making him drop his head back and meet your eyes. Recently, he’s been cutting his hair shorter; it’s below his jaw, curling behind his ears; and it’s all kinds of soft and lush.

“I’ve missed you.” You’re so randy, and high-strung, and almost mental from desire, that you’re shaking, and you have trouble unclenching your jaws. “I really missed you…”

His eyes are dark, and no more sane than yours. The kiss that follows is so fucking hungry, and the two of you are going so hard, that teeth scrape, and then you bite into his bottom lip. His hands squeeze your arse, probably leaving bruises. You bite into his jaw now, and then drag your teeth along the beard, and then catch the helix of his left ear.

He smacks your back into the wall; and you gasp, gulping air with an open mouth. Supporting you on his right arm, he batters the left one to the door, trying to close it; and then he turns and ends up back kicking it. You’re jerking your coat and jumper; he’s still assaulting the lock. He’s properly uncoordinated. It might have to do with how thoroughly you’re devouring his mouth. He sways, he’s always somewhat dazed if snogging is going full scale, which is properly adorable, if you think of it. Normally, you find this – almost innocent – look on his face, when his eyes are clouded, and he looks almost trolleyed, his gaze unfocused, so different from his confident machismo and vast experience – well, it’s endearing. But right now, you don’t need him loved up. You need him to shag you into the wall, until you don’t remember your bloody name.

“John…” You lick his neck, and he exhales noisily. “I haven’t had sex for twenty nine days, and I haven’t had a single orgasm without you.” You push one hand down his back, under the shirt, between the shoulder blades. The skin’s as if burning your palm. “I need you to do your fucking best here.”

You look in his face, and there’s a feral grin on his lips. He looks almost mad. And there’s some low noise in his chest. The fact that he doesn’t notice he’s growling means his ‘sanity valve’ has gone off. You’ve only seen this look – teeth bared, eyes narrowed – couple times. The results have been bloody spectacular.

He takes a giant step ahead, and plops your arse on this lovely chest of drawers you have in your parlour. And before you can praise the idea; he roughly picks you up, under your arms and flips you. You fall ahead, your stomach on it, and he jerks you towards him, his hands grabbing your hips painfully. Your lower half slides off, now hanging in the air. One hand lied on your back, pressing you down, and he quickly opens the buttons on your jeans. The trousers are jerked down, and you whine. You can hear his belt clank, and it feels like it’s taking him bloody forever!

“C’mon!” you grit through your teeth, and then he suddenly brushes his fingers between your legs. A loud holler that bursts out of you doesn’t even sound like something a human would make.

He presses his hips into you, and you can feel the scorching length, on the sensitive skin of your inner thighs.

He leans ahead, and his lips are near your ear. “I have missed you too…” His voice is all rasp; and a shudder runs through you. “God, I have…” The hand on your back moves, under your tee now; and it’s hot and possessive. “Tell me if it’s too much…”

“Oh, I doubt it,” you choke out, and he pushes in, making you cry out.

He start moving, roughly, forcefully, and you can’t keep quiet. It has indeed been a while, and after all, you’re no acrobat. A normal woman can’t possibly take some convoluted comfortable position, wrap her legs around him, or something. All you can do is to press your hand into the wall in front of you, and control the movement this way.

He’s not holding back, for sure; and it’s like your body had forgotten the length, the width, the stretching. You’re quickly losing any understanding of what’s going on, some mental shivers of pleasure running through you. Like an almost orgasm that has started and just doesn’t end…

The chest is actually banging into the wall, and you shortly wonder if people in the lift can hear it. The loud wailing that you can’t keep back will surely clarify to them what’s happening here.

Your pelvis is hanging in the air, his fingers are digging into your thighs, and the edge of the top surface is cutting into your stomach – but you don’t give a fuck!

Just before he comes, he’s thrusting so hard, that your arm twists, and your head loudly bangs into the wall. It makes you laugh, and then you forget about it, because nothing is more delicious that those last seconds when his brain has conked out, and he’s all lust, all animal. You can actually feel his cum hit your inside walls; he barks a very, very dirty swearing, and then he falls ahead, his elbow thuds into the chest, and he presses his forehead to your nape.

He emits a few pants, and then rubs his nose to your neck.

“Next time… Your turn… All for you… And slower…” he mumbles, and you snort. Someone’s ambitious.

And then you hiss, because you’re being sawed in half like a magician’s assistant.

“Tummy…” you whine, and he mumbles apologetically and straightens up with a groan. He gently puts you down, his cock sliding out of you; and you both groan and moan, swaying, and sort of not sure where you are.

And then he looks and you, and you both burst into laughter. He’s disheveled, trousers and pants around his ankles. Your tee and bra have been properly dislocated, and your jeans are only around one of your ankles. You’re both grinning and look like morons.

“Hi,” he says, which makes you laugh only louder. You step forward and wrap your arms around his middle, pressing your cheek to his chest.

It’s ace to be home.

***

There’s the second time, and it is indeed all for you – but for him as well. After a shower, the two of you spend two hours in bed, and it’s not just shag, although the shag is ace. There’s a sense of reassuring each other a bit, there. Kisses, touches, looks – purposeful, meaningful, savoured… You orgasm twice, in a proper missionary, with his loving, smiling eyes in front of you.

The next day starts about the same. Half-asleep shag, breakfast, shag, shower, a long walk. The weather is nasty; it’s cold again, and drizzling. You two stop and kiss on corners, buy couple trinkets for your place, go to a couple of bookshops – and to you personally the day is sunny, and spring is in the air. Is Wrennie a loved-up idiot? Yes, she is. Does Wrennie regret? Hell no! You haven’t felt this sodding happy for months.

You’re chewing your lunch in a small sarnie shop near your place, when he makes that gleeful throaty hum of his. If he were a cartoon character, there would be a light bulb above his head.

“Yes?” you drew out and snigger.

“Indoors ice skating,” he announces and wiggles his eyebrows.

“Definitely not.”

“Why?” He stretches his hand and snatches a slice of cucumber off your plate. “It’s May, we can’t wait till Winter.”

“I can’t skate. And to be honest I have trouble standing right now.” You give him a pointed look.

“I’ll teach you.”

“Oh c’mon, you skate as well?” You dramatically flail your hands. “Is there something you can’t do? Your omnipotence is getting annoying.”

He guffaws.

“It’s alright, love. I’m really not that good.”

***

He bloody is, lying bastard! The two of you strap the terrifying gizmos onto your feet, and the muppet turns into a hybrid of Ovechkin and Plushenko in front of your eyes.

You’re clutching the railing in the corner, like a cat whom someone is trying to drag off a sofa and into a carrier; and he makes fluid – sexy as hell – swirls in front of you.

“Give me one hand, love.”

“No!” you yelp. “I’m staying here forever. How can one move on these?!” He rolls – skates? glides? – to you and stops. Sodding hell, it’s like he was born in them!

“C’mon, one hand. Or better two. I can support you. Do you trust me?” Ugh, damn his emotional blackmail!

“Not when I have cleavers tied to my feet!” you bite back, but put your hands into his.

He starts moving backwards – you’re no physicist, but how is this even possible? – and pulls you after him. You emit a choked squeak.

“You just need to learn to be stable,” he preaches, and you give him a glare. The ice looks very cold, and very hard! And you know more about fractured bones than any person on this rink! “Just bend your knees a bit, and trust your body. It’s really not that…”

He doesn’t get to finish, since some sprog in a jolly bobbled hat smack under his knees, cuts him down, and Dr Sexy is falling!

He lets go of your hands – you’ll appreciate this later – at the moment you gasp, and he lands on his back. That was a bad fall. You know injuries, and you know falls. This one wasn’t good.

“John!” You can’t do anything! You’re frozen in an awkward position, legs like the letter x, hands splayed in the air.

“Are you alright?” he asks the kid, who already sat up and is rubbing her knee.

“Yeah. I’m good.”

And of course the damn muppet then jumps up and disappears, her skates making jolly scratchy noises.

He guffaws and sit up. And then his face twists in a painful grimace. He laughs again and shakes his head.

“Maybe they shouldn’t let pensioners on the ice.”

“Are you OK?” you ask, making – very small – fretting waves with your hands. You can’t afford any more movement.

“I think, I twisted my ankle.” He looks down at his leg, still smiling.

He takes off his skate right there on the ice, and starts carefully examining his leg.

“Well?”

“Yeah, a sprain. You’re driving, I reckon.” He gets up, and smiles to you reassuringly. Oh poop.

***

By the time you two are back home, you’re properly fed up with his age and decrepitude jokes. He ends up getting a brace on his ankle, and you help him into bed.  

“If you suggest to put you out of your misery one more time, or leave you on the ice to die, I might actually do it!” you hiss at him and point your index finger at his long nose. He’s smiling, very jolly and apparently proud of himself.

“We have Killian’s engagement party to go to in three days. Could I at least tell people it was during sex? That we were building a human pyramid…” he starts, and you grab a pillow and smack him to the face. There’re muffled guffaws coming from behind it.

“I’m going to make a cuppa and when I’m back, I want to hear some sense,” you announce haughtily, but a long arm wraps around your waist and you’re jerked into the rumpled sheets.

Decrepit my arse.

Author’s Note:

Please, don’t forget to support two of my current endeavours: Hammer Up! on Amazon Kindle Scout (there’s still time to nominate it and get a chance to receive a free copy in a couple weeks); and Due North on Inkitt (sign in and grab a free copy of the full story. There’re less and less left every minute! And please, leave a review. Just a few words are enough!)

Thank you,

Katya

The Winds of Change for K. Kolmakov

So, here we are. Yours truly, widely known in immensely narrow circles as kkolmakov, and you, my beloved readers.

I have to say, I have rewritten this post about a dozen times by now… And yet I find it difficult to put what I need to say into the right words.

I feel as if I reached some sort of a tipping point in my writing (and drawing as well, but it’s a bit of a different matter). I started three years ago, with a small drabble on fanfiction.net. So much has happened since then! I know at least one of you has been with me on this journey from day one; and just for that I’ll be forever grateful for that day on the plane when I typed my first 300 words. (My dearest J., I’m of course talking about you!)

I learnt; I grew; I found friends, and lost friends. I saw the world more clearly, and I love it more, and am scared of it more. I know myself better now (and I can’t say it made my life easier.)

But enough rambling.

A few days ago I arrived to the realisation that it’s time for change. Very few of you know my personal circumstances, but in simple terms, I have been fortunate enough to be able to take some time off work since May 2016 and dedicate myself to writing and drawing. This luxury will end in May 2017, and by then I need to either find a job; or become a published author, actually paid royalties, and/or an artist with constant income.

In no way I find I’ve wasted these past months. I wrote fanfiction as much as I wanted; I wrote the YA fantasy novel (which I’m currently looking into publishing); I put “Hammer Up!” to Amazon Kindle Scout. I wrote on JukePop (a bit more about it later); and Wattpad. I’ve almost finished Dr T Series here, on the blog (a project that has spanned over all my writing years). I drew; I sold my art on the Central Canada Comic-Con; and Etsy; I opened a Society6 shop. I experimented with pastels, ink, and polymer clay.

But it’s time to accept that:

1. The Hobbit fandom has shrunk. I hardly get any reviews for my recent stories. Except for you, my few loyal readers, who are generous and forgiving enough to give a chance to all my random endeavours! And even wander from platform to platform with me! (Words can’t express how much I appreciate and love you – each and every one of you!)

I doubt I will ever write for any other fandom as much and as wholeheartedly as i did for this one. I’m a monogamous creature. I will never have any other King.

2. Fanfiction, Wattpad, JukePop, DeviantArt, and Instagram don’t pay bills, as rewarding and fulfilling as they are emotionally and mentally.

3. I don’t want a boring office/kitchen job. I know I’ll be restless and miserable if I am not allowed to spend 8 hours a day with my keyboard and/or brushes.

Which altogether adds up to the dire need to restructure my creative life.

So, here are my plans for the nearest months. A lot of the following requires your advice/suggestions/votes. Please, let me know in the comments!

{A} Regarding fanfiction:

I’m planing to slowly cut down the number of stories I write. Most of those that still get some readership (such as “Letters to Your Heart,” “Old Wounds;” and all those smaller ones such as “Here Be Dragons”) will be completed, but much depends on the readers. I’m expecting to leave “Four Corners of Middle Earth” as my last Hobbit/LotR fanfic going post-May.

If there’s some specific story that you’re dying to see finished, or kept ‘alive,’ let me know.

{B} I’m planning to finish Dr T Series. At the moment, I anticipate about 5 chapters left in the last part, tying loose ends, and sending Wrennie and Dr. Sexy into their well-deserved happily ever after, with the triplets and Unna, sparkles and unicorns, etc., etc.

I still want to continue writing a modern romance/erotica webserial with weekly updates; and I think “Jack in the Box” on Wattpad will be the one.

I have couple of other ideas that I’ve been considering, such as that “May to December” one I’ve mentioned before with the professor-student scenario, with a reversed age difference, where Wren is 42 and divorced, and John is her student. Couple other ideas are also rattling in my barmy noggin. The question is: where would you prefer reading it (if you’re still interested in reading my musings, of course) – here on the blog? On Wattpad?

{C} The previous question brings me to the matter of JukePop and Inkitt. I’m leaving “Blind Carnival” sitting on JukePop for now. Several of you were immensely kind to say that you’d buy another of my books (you can’t imagine how flattered I feel when I read such wonderfully kind comments!), but for now “Blind Carnival” will have to wait.

Meanwhile, “Better Than One” (the one with the Canadian farmer lacking any ability to communicate verbally – remember this one?) is currently being moved to Inkitt (click on the word for the link). I’m still trying to figure it out, but so far I know that they’re running a romance book contest there. As soon as I know more, I’ll let you know. I think if the book gets posted, there’s a limited number of free copies, and after that people are supposed to pay. I’ll keep you posted so that you can grab yours.

{D} I’m currently in correspondence with Winnipeg Police forces gathering info for that whodunnit for Etsy with my illustrations. As soon as I have my research done, I’ll start on the chapters. Again, I’ll keep you posted.

{E} I’m planning to continue drawing. My creepy ink drawings will go to Society6; they seem to fit well on tees, mugs, and phone cases. My colourful watercolours and clay figurines will be available on Etsy.

{F} I’m currently working on a picture book titled “Miraculous Mira” – of course, with a few familiar faces among its characters (you can find out more about it on my Instagram.) Hopefully, I’ll manage to publish it.

So, these are my plans.

I sincerely think that writing doesn’t happen just to the writer. It’s our shared experience, and I am grateful for each one of you, for your being in my life, and those interaction we had. And so, I truly want to continue being your writer. If you still want Wren/Olivia/Etta/Gemma and John/Darius/Thorin in your life, and Mira as well, and just a bit of kkolmakov, let me know. We’ll move together to Wattpad; or Etsy; I’d love to see you among my followers on Facebook, or Instagram. And then one day, when I’m in your town/county/province/country signing my bestseller (pfft, as if!) you’ll stop by and say, ‘Hey, I used to be so-and-so, your follower on fanfiction;’ and that’s when you’ll see kkolmakov frantically shaking your hand and tearing up.

Cheers, my lovelies.

kk

Hammer Up! is Up

Come to Amazon Kindle Scout and vote for my story Hammer Up!

VOTE HERE!!!

Summary: To win the right to choose her husband, Aphrodite has to endure ten days in the company of Hephaestus, the fallen god of smithery. Except, everything about Heph freaks her out: he wears dirty clothes; he limps; his sacred animal is an ass. Meanwhile, he thinks she’s a slag, and nothing but the means to an end.

Do you want to learn the Greek myths the hot way? Surprisingly accurate mythology, Cockney speaking gods, and frisky erotica are mixed in this story full of humour and romance.

After 30 days, if the book gets published, you get a FREE copy!

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 13. Wrennie Hears an Answer

Author’s Note:

Chapter 13 after Friday 13. Are you worried, my lovelies? 😉

He takes off his glasses, and gives you a long calm look.

“No, I am not.”

You nod, sit down in your favourite armchair, and fold your hands on the lap.

He watches you in silence for a few seconds; and then he puts the book and the glasses on the side table and sits up in a swift forceful movement.

“You do believe me, Wren, right?” he asks in a low voice.

You nod again.

“I do.”

“But..?”

You sigh.

“But now that we’re talking about it… And I hadn’t thought of it before… But it sounds like you’d expected this conversation.” You lift your eyes to his face. It’s pointless really. Not even a Jedi can read his emotions when Dr. John Crispin Thorington is intent on hiding them.

“I didn’t expect it. I was aware of its possibility.” His pointed level tone makes it bloody worse – about ten hundred times worse. “Wren, I didn’t know if you’d even noticed…”

“Noticed that your TA has a crush on you? It’s quite obvious.” Now you also sound emotionless, but your tone is more dull than his levelled cautious one.

“You seemed oblivious.”

“I hid it well,” you answer quickly, and then something painfully spasms in your right temple.

“Wren, I’m sure you know that nothing happened…”

Does he notice that he uses this mind-control voodoo on people? ‘I’m sure that you know…’ and ‘you do believe me…’ Fucking relationship Darren Brown.

You take a slow breath in, and close your eyes. The headache is rapidly spilling all over your head.

“John, I… I noticed Eva. I just didn’t know what you were feeling…”

“Flattered,” he interrupts you. Judging by the speed of the answer, he’s losing his composure. Funny, he’s just said he’d been preparing for this conversation. What’s throwing him off? “Wren, I was egotistic, and self-centered, and enjoyed attentions from a young woman. It was unfair towards both of you…”

You lift your hand stopping his clearly rehearsed speech. You somehow find it hard to speak. It might be the migraine. Or maybe, you’re just so fucking tired.

“I had a conversation with Eva, two weeks ago,” he says. “I tried to… discourage her from her behaviour.” His voice is growing emotional. “I might have been too subtle, but if you think I need to discuss it again with her, to make it clear to her…”

“It’s none of my business, John,” you interrupt this time. “You two are adults, and how you handle it, it’s up to you. Both of you… But you hurt me.” You stop and rub your temples. It takes two purposeful exhales to start talking again. “No, I’m wrong. Not you… It. It hurt me. The months of doubting, and worrying, and…”

“If I had known it bothered you – and for so long, Wren! – I would have put an end to her ridiculous flirting right away.” He’s raising his voice, and leans ahead, and makes a forceful gesture with his hand.

“You didn’t have to. You weren’t obliged to… It was just difficult. With my studies, and work, and never spending time together… And constantly feeling guilty about it…”

“Wren, we talked about it. You shouldn’t feel guilty. You’re building your career, and we’re both in it. It’s important for both of us.” More Darren Brown shite. Really, John?

“We haven’t talked about it.” You sound disinterested. You aren’t. You’re just knackered. “I remember you mentioning it once…”

“It is ‘we talked about it’ from a male’s perspective,” he jokes, but his eyes aren’t laughing. “Wren, you have nothing to worry about. Neither about our marriage, nor about Eva.”

You nod again.

“Wren, you’re pale, you look as if you’re in pain. And I recognise the apathy and the silence.” You look at him in confusion. “You had the same face when you came to break up with me.” Ah, so that’s what got his knickers in a twist. “I’ve learnt to accept that there’s always a storm brewing in your mind – but can we talk, please?”

“John, I’m not… questioning our relationship.” You search for words. “I’m happy we are… good, and that you feel good about… us.”

“I do,” he confirms readily.

“Good. And I was probably just… tired, and paranoid, and you did take her home that one time…” He opens his mouth, but you don’t let him interrupt. “John, really, everything is fine.”

“It doesn’t look fine,” he answers slowly. “It might be my turn to be paranoid, but, Wrennie, what’s going on?”

“I want to… take a break. My exams are done in two weeks, and after that… I’d like some time off. Maybe, even before it.”

He’s silent, and you wonder how to explain it to him. There’re so many ways he can take it wrong. The fact that he’s not roaring and blazing his eyes at you is a good sign.

“A break? You want a break… from our marriage?” Here we go. That’s the first of many wrong ideas he can get.

“No, John, it’s… not that.” You rub your face with your hands. “I just need… silence. Around me, and… inside. I know it seems all wrong to you, since the whole aggro started because we hardly saw each other but… I need to be away. To be alone… And then I’ll be back, and everything will be back to normal.”

He’s thinking it over.

“I just can’t think about it anymore,” you continue. “I can’t talk about it anymore.”

“I wasn’t aware my alleged inappropriate relationship with my TA was a public knowledge,” he grits through his teeth.

“There were rumours,” you tell him. He surely isn’t that naive. “There’re always rumours, and you knobbing a long-legged student of yours is the best one the university staff can hope for.” Wow, that was a fucking epitome of bitchiness. It was so bitchy that he cringed. “Sorry, that was uncalled for.”

He shakes his head. “You aren’t supposed to be apologising here…” he starts, but you just don’t want to go there.

“John, please. We were talking… about me staying away for a bit. I… I’m asking you to trust me.”

“Trust?” he repeats. “That’s an odd angle you have there, Wren.”

“John, I love you,” you say in an even tone. “I value our marriage. But I’m tired. I have nothing… nothing left inside. I can’t… be in a relationship right now. I need to get through my exams, and that’s all I have energy for. And then I want to sleep, and…” Your voice breaks. “And nothing, really. I can’t even think of anything else to do.” Your throat spasms, you’re close to tears. But crying right now would be as much as an emotional blackmail, and that’s not what you want in your marriage.

You want – and need – two adults to talk, to discuss, and to understand each other.

“I’m properly confused right now, Wren…” he draws out. “But I’m trying, yeah?”

He covers his mouth with his hand – that’s his typical frustrated gesture. You let him think it over. Or maybe you just have no energy to talk, or even just move.

“Alright, what do you want to do?” Here we go. He sorted the info into neat boxes in his noggin, and now he’s strategizing, and he’s ready for action. That’s what made him successful. the cunning, the ruthlessness, the calculative mind. You just hope he’s currently playing for the same team as you.

“I’d like to stay in a hotel for the next two weeks.” A second ago you didn’t have an answer to this question, but it’s suddenly all clear to you. “And after that I’d like to have a week, or two in some B’n’B.”

“Alright. Do we talk on the phone then? Emails? Will you let me know how long you’re staying away?” he’s pressing, but you give him a look, and he back off. Literally. He leans back on the sofa, and it’s easier to breathe right away.

“I’ll email you after the exams, and… no, probably no telephone rings.” He nods, more to his own thoughts than to what you said.

“When are you leaving?” That’s another question you didn’t know you had an immediate certain answer to.

“Now. I’ll pack a bag, and will ring up Savoy, or something.” Another nod follows.

You decide you need to leave while it’s all seemingly peaceful and quiet, and you get up.

“One question, Wren.” He looked up at you, his eyes of astonishing bright colour. “Are you sure you aren’t just punishing me?”

You give him a long look – and then you shake your head.

“I have nothing to punish you for, John. You didn’t do anything wrong. If I were you, I’d talk to Eva, and apologise to her, because you led her on, and let her… hope. But me… I have nothing to blame you for.”

You head to the bedroom, to get a suitcase and some clothes from the walk-in wardrobe, and then you stop and look at him.

“And thank you. For understanding,” you say softly.

“I don’t understand, Wren. But I’ll do anything possible not to arse up our marriage. You say you need time away, you get it.” He swallows, his throat bobs. “But don’t think that I’m happy about it.”

“It would be alarming if you did,” you attempt to joke, but it falls flat.

You leave the room. It takes surprisingly long to figure out what you might need. You wander the wardrobe, pick up clothes, put them back. John stays somewhere in the other end of the flat. You have a total brain glitch in the bathroom, staring at your bottles and jars. Eventually you decide that a few pairs of clean knickers and socks, denim, and tees, are all you need. It’s not like you can’t come back here at any moment to take more stuff.

“I rang up couple hotels, and there are options,” John’s voice comes from the bedroom, and you stick you head out. He’s standing in the door frame, quite obviously giving you space. “Do you want to hear them, or do you want to call them yourself? I don’t want you to feel like I’m intruding.” He sounds unemotional, keeping himself in check, but you detect no sarcasm in his tone.

“I perfectly trust your expertise in hotels.” And this joke pathetically flops down just as the previous one.

“I say you need to rent a furnished flat for four weeks,” he answers, and stretches a hand with a list of phone numbers to you. “I have an agent who can set you up immediately, it might be a bit more dear, but we can afford it.” He gives you a joyless smile.

You walk up to him and take the paper.

You can smell his aftershave, and you can feel the warmth coming from his body. And then you realise that you want to hug him. And kiss him. And make love to him. But if you touch him, even just brush your hand to his sleeved arm – you won’t leave. You’ll change your mind. And you need to leave. Otherwise you’ll break. The pain and the emptiness you feel right now will stay inside, forever, and rot, and slowly kill you. As overdramatic as it sounds.

You nod gratefully and go back to the wardrobe. You can hear him leave and turn on music in the living room. It’s On the Level by Cohen.

Scantily Clad Human on My Cover and Amazon Kindle Scout

So, here’s what’s happening with Hammer Up! previously known as “Stop, Hammer Time!” on my FanFiction page.

In return to my submission of the text and this cover:

I received this email:

which left me quite confused. What is it that they are unhappy with, I asked myself. Is it the clipart drawing of an ancient statue, or my jolly pink floral pattern? (“Well, perhaps, it’s that suggestive, fanny shaped flower to the left,” my partner offered sardonically. Yes, I know. Now you can’t un-see it 😀 )

I have to say at this stage I was more confused than frustrated. There was still hope that there has been a misunderstanding. But then I thought about it, got annoyed by the alleged Amazon Kindle Scout’s prudeness (it is an example of classic art, you uneducated bigots! I internally screamed in anguish); and I wrote this:

hoping that my sarcasm was appropriately veiled.

I mean, seriously?! What’s next? Putting speedos of Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietà? 

And here is the response I received:

Scantily clad humans?! Suggestive of sex or violence?! Are we looking at the same picture?!

Here’s where my temper rose. If they are saying that my scantily clad Aphrodite, demurely covering her lady parts, and her only exposed boob being a line and a dot, could offend and/or traumatise someone on their site – and I assume they mean a minor – then I don’t know where this world is going to! I have a kid in grade one, and I would say the harlequin novel covers with limp damsels in ripped bodices, and men clearly physically overpowering them, are more harmful for my child’s perception of gender relations!

So, currently I’m working on designing a new cover. The following options are considered:

  • an appropriately sized Florina pepper (native to Greece and delicious) with two oranges on the sides. I might go for a small pepper, and two olives, and then just zoom into the picture for the right proportions;
  • an ancient Greek column, visually piercing a curly cloud;
  • suggestively positioned smithery tools.

I’m open to your ideas as well, my darlings!

kkolmakov out!

P.S. Do you think they wouldn’t fuss if it were a MALE god in that picture? Are they just afraid of female partial nudity, or Heph’s nipples would freak them out as well?

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all of you! Happy new 2017! Let’s hope this one takes away less from us, especially less of those creative people who bring joy to our world! And may it give us what we’re hoping for!

Happy holidays from my original characters as well! 😀

Starting tomorrow, January 1st, 2017, I’ll be returning to my normal update schedule; news regarding writing and drawing will be announced; “Hammer Up!” will soon go up on Amazon; and Patreon will get… videos! I’m all fired up, and ready for a productive inspired year!

All the best wishes to all of you, my darlings! Thank you for being with me all through this complicated, challenging, sometimes tragic, sometimes still hopeful 2016 – and see you soon!

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 11. Wrennie and a Pub

The two of you spend Christmas in the Alps. Both of you can only spare three days for the hols, but it goes truly brilliantly. There’s a fireplace in the chateau; you eat, shag, and chat. He reads you books; you tell him of your childhood. It’s as sincere and as real as it gets.

You even go skiing. Once. He endeavours to teach you; you’re pathetic. The two of you laugh, and topple over into the snow. His bright blue eyes – like a husky dog, as if outlined with black – are shining. You lean in and kiss him.

The nights are as amazing as they ever are, and feel new and exciting. After the skiing, you complain that everything hurts. You get a massage – and three orgasms.

You wake up in the morning, and you just can’t get enough of him. He’s guffawing, insincerely battering your hands away, whining that he’s an old man with a weak heart. The two of you shag against the wall, and then again and again – and then there’s a breakfast, and you go back to bed. Soon, it’s hard to separate cuddling and reading – and it is Khayyam after all – from sex. You’re straddling him, and your hips are moving in the rhythm with the ten century old poetry. And then afterwards, he’s nodding off, his cheek pressed to your buttock, his head heavily pressing your pelvis into the sheets, and you close your eyes, feeling the acute and definite happiness.

***

When you’re back home, there’s so much to do that you even stay at Lan and Killian’s couple nights. They live closer to the lab.

And then one evening you’re chewing Thai takeaway, and John makes that funny throaty noise of his. It means he remembered something he needs to tell you. You snort. This ever growing feeling of knowing him well, and loving it – is ace.

“What?” he asks, and you give him a wide grin.

“Go ahead. What is it?” you say and encourage him with a wave of chopsticks.

“You know me too well, and it’s discouraging,” he answers with a smirk, and you snort again. “Graham has a favour to ask, and I said I’d inquire.”

“Oh?”

“His Canadian gyno is lonely,” John announces, and you know he’s paused to let you appreciate the statement.

“He should put it on a t-shirt.” You giggle. “Does he want me to take her for a walk?”

He nods, and you roll your eyes.

“I’m the worst possible option here,” you remind John. “I’m introverted, constantly busy, and alcohol intolerant. I assume I’m not expected to take her to an art gallery? After those time I’ve seen her, she doesn’t strike me as an artsy type.”

“He meant a pub,” John answers with a chuckle. “And you should take Martin.”

Ah, Thea. That makes sense. Thea can organise a satisfying night out for the Pope.

“OK, I’ll ask her.”

“Thank you.” The two of you chew for a while, and then he yawns. “Can we go to bed early today? We’re having this cocktail party tomorrow, another book signing of another professor whose dull work no one will read…”

You pretend to be very busy grinding a baby corn with your teeth, while in reality you’re trying to unclench your suddenly spasmed jaw. Another party that you’re hearing about in passing; and for some reason feel like you’re being politely excluded out of? Is Wrennie mental? Aye, she is. Should she be? Hm… Eventually, you jerkily nod, and he leaves for the kitchen to get some water. You’re staring at his plate.

***

It takes you three weeks to find an evening when Thea and yourself can finally introduce Candice, the Canadian gyno, to the joys of a pub bender.

She shows up, all perky and bouncy, in a jolly pink jumper. Her blonde curls look almost unnaturally golden, shiny, and even. They remind you of cup-a-noodle, or buttercream in Mary Berry’s Victoria sandwich.

There’s a small moment of awkwardness, and then she offers to buy the first round.

You’re still on yours second virgin Pina Colada – and you do know how pathetic this drink sounds – when the ladies switch from lager to ‘something with a kick,’ as Candice puts it. Somehow a kick in Candice’s understanding gets best delivered by rum. Thea doesn’t mind at all.

Candice gets arsed up astonishingly quickly. And chatty, she gets very chatty.

“God, girls, you’re awesome!” she hollers, and her arms lie on your and Thea’s shoulders. “So awesome… I’m so glad we went out together. It really sucks here, without my girlfriends…” She gives you a shaky smile. “I had friends I went to med school with, and we would always get drinks on Friday, and I miss it, you know? So good to be here with you.”

Thea gives you a sardonic look from under a hiked up eyebrow. She had as much as Candice, but Thea Martin is a hard chicka. For her, it’s just an appetizer.

“So, what is it that you do, Thea?” Candice asks, and starts waving her right hand in the air, trying to catch the attention of the waiter. Her left hand is still tightly gripping your shoulder.

“I’m dabbling,” Thea give her usual answer.

“A what?” Candice blinks her large blue eyes.

“She’s good at a lot of things,” you explain. “She tries different things. She sings too. Like a siren.” You salute Thea with your glass, and she winks to you.

“Oh wow! We should go to karaoke next time then.” Candice takes a deep breath in, her lovely round tits rise in the tight jumper. “I’m rather OK myself. Have the right apparatus, you know?” She laughs and pats her cleavage. You believe her. She’s short, curvy, and all and all delicious. Graham is a lucky duck.

“I’m in computer science right now,” Thea explains lazily. “But I won’t last. It’s dull.”

“Wow, looks and the brains, all in one package!” Candice throws an admiring look over Thea. “You’re so cool! You both are!” she rushes to reassure you, and you laugh at her eagerness. “No, no, no, I’m serious!” Her words are a bit slurred. She’s as bladdered as a poached pear. “You, Wren! You’re a genius! Graham told me, and my Graham knows what he’s saying, you know?” Her round pretty face gets all loved-up, and Thea shakes her head and topples another shot of rum into her throat.

“Thank you, Candice, that’s very nice of both of you,” you answer, your voice shaking of laughter. You’re properly in the dark how to respond to this exuberant friendliness.

“I mean, with your studies, and your work… And you’re a fucking pixie, Wren!” She gestures an inch away from your nose, and you shy away. “I mean, the eyes and the cheekbones. You’re like an elf, or something.” Did you just hear a hiccup? “And your head is… Just wow. You deserve the best, Wren. All the best! And you too, Thea. Do you have a guy? Does he treat you well?” the Canadian asks in a strict tone, and Thea barks a throaty laugh.

“Chicka, you should ask whether I treat him well. I’m the bad one here.” She gives Candice a salacious wink.

“Good, very good! Let’s drink for it!” Candice finally catches a waiter – by a sleeve no less; and orders three shots, apparently having already forgotten you don’t need one.

“Men need to be kept under control, you know? Not all of them are as nice as my Graham.” She shakes her finger somewhere in the space between you and Thea. “And we deserve all the best, right? Especially you, Wren, you need to take it under control, you know?” She focuses her peepers on you. “I mean, it’s your man, after all, you can’t let that slut just steal him. You need to fight for him!”

You know how they say ‘like a bucket of cold water?’ That’s exactly how it feels. Scorching wave all over your skin, first like a burn, and then cold; then pain, in all joints, and full petrification. You have trouble breathing, and the glass starts shaking in your hand frozen mid air.

“I mean…” Candice continues, so clearly full of good intentions. And we all know where that sodding good intention pavement leads. “I’d just go and pull her hair out. Kick her skinny ass! Tell her to keep her hands off him. I get it, you guys might things differently here.” She lifts her hands in a defensive gesture. “Maybe you can talk to him too – but I say, what can a guy decide, right? They think with their dick, and this one is clearly a goner. I mean they left that book signing party together, and Graham agrees that she’s got her claws in him…”

Thea’s drink falls on the table, and rushes across the table, and pours onto Candice’s lap. The Canadian swears loudly and jumps off her chair.

“Oh shite, sorry, darling.” Thea starts pushing napkins into Candice’s hands.

“It’s OK,” Candice laughs. “I guess, you’re a bit tipsy too, heh?” She gives Thea a wide grin, and Thea nods.

“To be honest, I think I’ve had enough.” Thea’s as smooth as ever. “How about we call it a night, Candice?”

“Only if you promise me we’ll do it again soon.” She wraps her arm around Thea’s waist, she wouldn’t reach Thea’s shoulder. “Yeah?”

“Definitely.” Thea gives her a brilliant smile. “I’ll get you a cab, love. You’ll be here, Wren?” She throws you a quick look, and you’re still in the same pose as before, your eyes on the slowly expanding puddle of lager on the table. You give a short nod, and the two of them disappear.

“Be right back.” Thea’s whisper is the last thing you hear.

You don’t notice how time passes, and suddenly Thea plops back on her chair in front of you.

“What the fuck is going on, Leary?”

Cake, or Death? (Help Me to Choose What to Write!)

Hello!

In the immortal words of Eddie Izzard – cake, or death? (Seriously, his routine “Dress to Kill” is one of my most favourite things in the world!) Please, help me choose which story to write first!

I’ve decided to try a new format: I’m planning to write a webserial, and sell it in my Etsy shop $1 per chapter. Each chapter will be an instant download PDF file, meaning you pay, and it gets emailed to you right away. Each file will include a chapter and at least three illustrations. Depending on how this format is received, a new chapter will be posted bi-weekly, or monthly.

Here is the sample of a PDF file you’d be able to purchase:

Pierce and Schrupp. Chapter 1 (Sample)

And now the question! Which of the two stories would you like to see written? Please, let me know here in comments (an anonymous answer with a number would suffice 😀 but I’m always happy to hear more from you!); or on my writer’s Facebook page.

Option 1:

katya-kolmakov

Red Velvet and Florentines

(romance/humour/erotica)

Edith ‘Eddie’ Lark is a genius dessert chef from Canada, working in a fancy restaurant in New York. Suddenly, her life falls apart: The man she was going to marry leaves for Australia, and her working visa has expired. The owner of the restaurant proposes her a harlequin novel solution – to get married for her to stay in the country. Eddie isn’t sure it’s a good idea: the man is a bag of cats, a workaholic, and knows nothing about her – and seems to want to know even less – including the fact that she has a five year old daughter.

 

Option 2:

(whodunit/romance/humour)

Gwen Pierce and Otilia Schrupp are a successful team of a mystery writer and an illustrator. When the two of them witness a grotesque murder at an art show, they are torn between sticking their noses into the investigation led by a dashing inspector, Einar Sigurgeirson, and minding their own business. Meanwhile, a series of break-ins into Gwen’s home brings her closer to her neighbour, while the investigation is pulling her towards one of the suspects.

So, what do you think, my darlings? 🙂

P.S. All the drawings used for the covers and illustrations will be available for looking at and purchasing on my DeviantArt page.

The Question of Publishing a Book

I have come to the realisation that publishing a book is like getting a tattoo.

First you don’t know what to expect, but it looks like an ace idea.

You plan and plan, and then you make a decisive leap, and go for it!

And that is when expenses start. And panic. There is a lot of panic involved. Am I doing it right? Why is everyone going to this place for it? Should I have gone with a different approach? Have I bodged it up completely?

Then comes the pain. It’s new, different… You have never felt a pain like this. It’s charring and you ask yourself what sort of a barmpot you are to have decided to do it.

There are bouts of ‘it’s not as bad as I thought’ feeling, though. And then something new pops up, and you are in agony.

There are questions to answer, and you have no idea if you are cocking it up. Also, somewhere in the middle of the process you are hit at the back of your head with a very ‘funny’ thought: it’s forever.

For all you short mortal life; and maybe, with enough ‘media coverage’ (Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.), even for a wee bit longer than that. That is the bloody scariest feeling you will ever have in life.

And then it’s done.

Just like that.

1 2 3 4

The last photo is taken after a short pause. It involved bawling. A lot. I opened the box and burst into tears. I can’t tell now if they were happy ones, or not. I felt very emotional after my first tattoo as well. It might be just a shock thing for my poor INFJ personality.

5

 

And when it’s over, you want another one.