Winning! All the winning!

Hi! I’m hoping to get back to a schedule that’s NOT ‘every six weeks,’ but realistically, it might continue this way through the rest of the year. I’ve finished Oracle Bay 2 and it’s off to the editor this week. I have a good start on the novella that is ostensibly Oracle Bay 3.5. I am still hoping to bust out Oracle Bay 3 in time for the winter holidays, and Eleanor Morgan #5 will be out the end of February.

BUT BUT BUT – updating you all on my publishing schedule is only kinda why I’m here.

Mostly, I’m here to announce that Eleanor has new covers! And they are so beautiful. My previous covers were also great, and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for them, but Eleanor v2.0 is a whole lotta wow.












Are these magnificent or what? Daqri Combs (of Covers by Combs) did these for me and I am so excited about them. I love that she kept the original color scheme and added hella more dragons.  (pssstttt…there is a super sale going on in the store for my remaining paperbacks with the original covers! grab them while they last!)

In addition to new covers, The Cardinal Gate is getting a rewrite/edit for the first third and that will be live by the end of the week, too!

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, The Waning Moon got an Honorable Mention in the 2018 Readers’ Favorites awards in the Urban Fantasy category!

I am so pleased with this award. This is the second book that I published, and to get an Honorable Mention is a huge deal for me. It is so gratifying! I feel fancy.

Last, but not least – Not in the Cards is going to be released in a just a few weeks! Grab your presale copy for $0.99 now! Price is back up to $3.99 once it comes out on October 25.

I’ll be back on and off for the next month, talking about my books and release dates and deadlines and my release party on 10/25 (if you’re in Portland and want to come, let me know), as well as my upcoming whirlwind trip to Vancouver BC and a weekend getaway to Oracle Bay.

In addition, starting about 10 days before Not in the Cards comes out, there will be a gift basket giveaway, so stay tuned!

New Year’s Resolutions – The Year of the Phoenix (Cissell I)

What’s that? It’s not the new year?

Well it is for me. So there, motherfuckers! Don’t be a hater!

That was probably a little harsh, but I’m ready for a blank slate (no slate can be perfectly blank, I realize that) and I have some goals for the next 12 months.

Henceforth, 8/15 will be known as the beginning of the Cissell Year, a new reckoning of time that will, no doubt, become a reliable astrological something or other.

So, in The Year of the Phoenix (Cissell I), I am going to work on the following 12 things – 1 thing for every month in the year. The theme, based on the fact that it’s The Year of the Phoenix (Cissell I) is rebirth and growth.

I am going to need some help to achieve all the goals, but I am feeling so freaking positive right now, it’s ridiculous.

  1. Feel comfortable in new job by my birthday (2/24 in case you need time to plan your celebratory activities)
  2. Publish five books & 1 novella by the end of the Year (8/14/19)
  3. Find three new clients for the editing business I share with the Beer Guy
  4. Get married
  5. Have the most awesome honeymoon ever
  6. Find a physical activity I super enjoy and do it regularly for fun (preferably trail running)
  7. Develop a regular at-home yoga practice
  8. Stay meds compliant. I’ve never managed to be compliant for more than 6-8 months. I’m currently, as of New Year’s Day, five months in on my current medication. There will be the added challenge of switching providers and insurance.
  9. Find two really good pairs of jeans.
  10. Learn to appreciate massages.
  11. Become more comfortable with self promotion (preorder Oracle Bay #1! Buy sale copies of Eleanor Morgan paperbacks!)
  12. Develop an elaborate framework for the Cissell calendar and Cissell astrology.


Do you have any


*tap tap* Oh hey! You’re still here! Spoiler: So am I.

It’s been a couple minutes, right? I left you on a fairly grim note, and I’d love to tell you that my two month absence since then is because I’ve been frolicking on a cloud made of rainbows and gin cocktails and unicorns and nachos.

That, however, would be a lie.

June and July were so fucking hard, y’all. I don’t know what I did to deserve the child I got, but it must be so karmically confusing to everyone who knows about it. She’s simultaneously the best and hardest thing that’s ever happened to me.

BUT BUT BUT! It’s August now, and things are good! Looking up! So much excite! You’ll have to excuse me for pouring out all my happies and announcements all in one post.

First, the personal news.

  1. I am engaged. Like for realsies. The beer guy is going to marry me, even after everything. He knows my crazy and not only isn’t running away screaming, but actually put a ring on the insanity. It’s really hard to convince myself that he just feels sorry for me when there are wedding plans afoot.

    I should be both the hand model and the hand photographer, right?

  2. I got a new job! I’ve been at my current one only about 16 months. It was there when I needed it, and I’ve honestly loved working with the departments I was assigned to. My issues were elsewhere. After spending the last 15+ years in jobs that treated me like a professional adult, it was hard to go back to an environment where that wasn’t the case. Once they denied my ADA accommodation because it’s more important for me to have a physical presence in the office (where I see almost no one and talk to even fewer people) than for me to be productive, happy, and healthy, I knew there was no way to win. The number of times I was either misled or flat out lied to just compounded the issues. I’d been hoping to stay at least four more years for a number of reasons, but my mental health and happiness (and that of the people I’m close to) weren’t worth it. Once I’ve started for real, I’ll share more of my new job information – and do another little celebration as I leave academia – forever!
  3. Professional Excite time!
    My next book, the first in the Oracle Bay series not only has a cover, but it has a presale sale! From now until release day (10/25/18), Not in the Cards is on sale for 99¢ at just about every online outlet you can think of. Paperbacks will be available a little closer to the release date. (And, if you’re in Portland, you can come to my release day party! There will be books, and tarot cards, and definitely some bubbles.)
  4. Professional Excite #2!
    The Eleanor Morgan series is getting a new look. While I get my ducks in a row to replace the series (and go with a re-edited version of The Cardinal Gate), you can pick up my remaining inventory of old covers for the low, low price of $10/ea (autographed) + shipping ($8 for Cardinal Gate), or grab all four for $30 + shipping. Just head on over to my store! (There is a separate entry to grab all four at once – you won’t get the discount if you pick them up separately.)

    In the meantime, check out the newly imagined The Cardinal Gate (the rest of the covers will be revealed in my next newsletter, which will also have a Raj chapter in it…you may wanna subscribe over there on the right…)

That should cover all the big stuff that’s been going on over the last couple months – at least the stuff that’s any of your business! 😀

We have a family trip to the coast this weekend (the Bean, the beer guy, his parents, and me), then school/new job starts, my spontaneous trip to Canada in October (I just decided yesterday to go spend the night in Vancouver one weekend), and then a busy fall/winter/spring schedule.

I’m a little behind on my writing schedule, but I’m still hoping to get everything out more or less as planned.

  • Not in the Cards – 10/25
  • First Hand Knowledge (I’m about 60% done with this and will finish this month) – end of November
  • Belle of the Ball – December (ideally 12/15)
  • Wing & a Prayer – January 8 (set in stone!)
  • The Lost Child (Eleanor #5) – end of February

After that, my schedule is an unknown. It will depend a bit on the demands of my day job, how busy my editing schedule is next year, and book sales. I am fairly committed to releasing Eleanor #6 in 2019 and likely the next Oracle Bay. That’ll be 3 novels & 1 novella next year and that might have to be my max.

Four Things Friday

  1. Thank you so much to everyone who’s reached out after yesterday’s post. I may not be okay, but I’m currently in a spot where I think I might be soon. I appreciate the love and support.
  2. I saw my psychiatrist today and we’re gonna make some medication adjustments that will hopefully have me in a better place soon.
  3. This will not impact my publication schedule, nor is it impacting the speed and quality of my freelance work. My freelancing is what I put at the top of the pile to do…my writing output has suffered for it, but my clients come first. (Plus, I have an amazing business partner who’s been picking up any slack.)
  4. If anyone wants to support me financially for the next 4-6 years, I’m open to negotiations. You want me to write you in as the hero of my next book? I will 100% sell out for that. You want me to write your enemy in as someone who has no real role in the story but to die a horrible death? I can do that, too. Seriously. I have no trouble selling out. You guys have seen how much Eleanor eats and drinks. If Taco Bell and a local independent brewery want to sponsor the next three books, I will take those sponsorship dollars.

Crazy Train

I have been largely absent the last few months. I come back in fits and starts with goals and promises, but then I disappear. That is due to a few factors.

  1. I am busy AF. I work a day job, am a freelance editor, and am a writer with three books coming out this fall and another four next year.
  2. I have a kid, and while I love that (not so) tiny Alvie Bean, this year has not been easy. Not easy at all. I know I’m vague blogging, but Bean requests that I not include real updates on the blog anymore. Internet privacy for six-year olds is a real thing.
  3. I have had some significant mental health struggles. I want to say “I’ve been struggling the last couple months,” but in reality, I’ve been struggling the last six years, with periods of intermission. This is the real reason I’m here today. (Sorry – no fun gifs or writing facts today.)

In 2012, my father was diagnosed with cancer in January and died in March when I was 38 weeks pregnant. He never met his grandkid and Bean never got to geek out about trains with my father. After I went back to work, I slid into a deep, dark postpartum depression. It was bad. Fortunately, I was able to capitalize on that experience by writing and publishing an essay about it, for which I got paid actual cash money that was worth more than the envelope and stamp it took to mail it to me.

The next few years were nothing but ups and downs. Every time I went down, I didn’t get nearly as far up as I thought I should.

2016 – the year of me – was…interesting. I separated from my now ex-husband, moved out, got divorced, lost my job. I also got my own super cute house, started writing again, became very attached to an amazing man, and went to Iceland. In the midst of all of that, I was starting to come apart at the seams.

It took almost a full year for the total breakdown. There were periods when things were better than others. But overall, things were, to put it succinctly, bad.

I started eating less and less. (Funny thing about not being skinny – no one believes you when you tell them you’ve mostly just stopped eating solid food.) I got really good at hiding my lack of food intake, and the fact that my body hoarded every calorie it got causing me to gain weight helped with my game.

Even after I’d moved in with the aforementioned amazing man and got a new job, I still found myself skipping more meals than I was eating. (Turns out that behavior is terrible for your digestive system, overall health, energy levels, skin, hair, and brain function.)

I was still performing, though. I published three books in 2017 and started my fledgling freelance business. I started a new job, sent the Bean to kindergarten, and took a trip to Mexico. Everything looked fine. (Narrator voice: It was not fine.)

It didn’t take much – a couple minor stressors and one major one – and I lost hold of the thread I was barely hanging on to. The last six months have been hard. Hard for me. Hard for the beer guy. Hard for anyone who has to deal with me.

And now to the main crux of my post.

I have bipolar II. I don’t talk about it much, and for the longest time dismissed every professional who tried to tell me that’s what I had. But there’s really no way around it at this point. Most of my cycling in the past was mild depression to mild hypomania – easy to wait out.

This was…not. I was a hot mess. It took a while to find a mental health professional that was covered by insurance, was taking new patients, and had appointments this decade. It actually took a referral from the doctor I saw about my torn rotator cuff to get me into the system that I’m in now.

This round has had soul-searing depression compounded with over-the-top anxiety. There are some work environment issues which really exacerbate everything, too. (Open offices are the devil…omg please stop talking I can’t concentrate ever please for the love of all things holy.)

Being this depressed means having to actively search for a reason to keep going. It means not trusting that the people who say they care are sincere – after all, they’re just sticking around because they feel sorry for you. It means knowing that any light at the end of the tunnel is probably a train, and if it isn’t, it’s still not a way out, just a reflection of an outside that you’ll never find. It means constantly figuring out if there are any loose ends you don’t want to leave behind. It means weighing the benefits of staying against the benefits of not. Will it be better for the kid to have a mom or better for the kid to not have to deal with a crazy mom?

I don’t have a real five-year plan. I can’t look forward into the future and see anything. I can say I do, but it’s all academic. I can’t envision being present for my kid’s high school graduation. I’m good for one year at a time, tops. I’m bad at long-term planning because what’s the point?

I used to believe that this was something I would grow out of. That mental illness scurried on out like a bug with too many legs and venomous fangs when you turned 35. 40. Maybe 45.

When there are high-profile suicides, they go into one of two categories for me. “Oh, he was 22. Poor guy. The disease got him.” or “Fuck. They’re older than me. They aren’t struggling financially. This isn’t something you can level up out of. This is what I have left forever. There is no other way to exist. It is nothing but darkness.”

I have a meds doctor, and a therapist, and an amazing partner (who is probably not just having the weirdest extended pity-relationship ever), and a couple amazing friends. I take medication every day, and I have people who check on me. I have so much to live for: first and foremost, I don’t want to be brought back by the people who are still mad about the way I ended the last Eleanor Morgan book. I have the best kid in the whole world who’s gonna need a mama like whoa. I am blessed with the most patient, kind, and frankly, delightful partner.  I have twelve book covers that haven’t gone out into the world yet, and that’s just a waste if they’re not used.

This isn’t a cry for help. I would never do that. This is a glimpse into the head of someone who’s struggling.

I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter in the last week having arguments about mental health. I can’t believe it’s 2018 and there are still people in the world who want to convince me that mental illness is all in my head (heh) and that maybe if I just got off my ass and had some sunshine and kombucha and TRIED REAL HARD to be happy, that I could be. According to these people, I am literally just not trying hard enough. And what I want them to know – what I want you to know – is that I am trying as hard as I can.

Everyone else out there who has mental illness is trying, too. But remember, it’s hard. It’s so hard. And sometimes people need a break. And when they do, it is sad and it is tragic, but it is not selfish. Until you live every day struggling to achieve the most basic of accomplishments, until you have to use every ounce of energy to shine a light in the smothering darkness, until you spend every day in a pain that’s every bit as real as the pain someone with an illness of the body rather than an illness of the mind feels, you don’t get to judge when someone’s reached their end.

In conclusion:

  1. Medication is good
  2. Medical care is good
  3. If I can be denied insurance due to preexisting conditions, I will be uninsurable due to my bipolar, even though medical care and medication are vital at this point to my continued well-being, so that’s fun
  4. There’s a lot to be said for exercise and healthy eating, but they should not replace medical care or medication
  5. It’s no one’s business but the person in question and their care team how it’s treated, and people who judge someone else’s treatment are douchebags.

If you have any questions or want to talk you can comment here, on my FB page, email me (amyrcissell at gmail) or FB message me. If you are my mother, you may text me, but I might ignore said text. I’m okay, or near enough to count, anyway.

Depression is a lying asscandle, but I know how hard it is to remember that. If you need a reminder, hit me up. I can be your stranger in the internet supporter. Because you 100% deserve that.