I’m not big on resolutions, mainly because I’m married to a psychologist and know how much physical, mental, and emotional work goes into making any difficult change. If exercising, dieting, or becoming a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist were easy, I’d already be doing it, right? But this year, I have one small change that’s been a long time coming. And it should actually be pretty easy.

It’s simple: BE WEIRDER.

I mean, I already am weird. My Christmas list included roller derby skates, pink arrows for my compound bow, fancy Vosges truffles, coffee geek brewing supplies, and a new carry-on suitcase because my old one was crippled by globetrotting. If you’ve read any of the books in my Blud series, you’ve had an open window into my imagination and can probably guess why I have several animal skulls, a mask collection, and two twenty gallon tubs full of corsets and bustles in my office. I like weird things.

And yet, when I get dressed in the morning to drop my kids off at school and work at Starbucks, I look deceptively normal. Skinny jeans and boots, tank and cardigan, scarf. In my slightly country suburb, even wearing a Wonder Woman shirt with sparkly blue eyeshadow gives me weird looks, and I’ve always looked in the mirror in the morning and thought, “Good. Not too weird.”

But “Not Too Weird” is no rallying cry.

It’s not who I am. I like to dye the tips of my hair weird colors. I sometimes wear mismatched earrings, and I always wear mismatched socks. I’m a self-defined geek who loves comics, superheroes, vampires, Adventure Time, Star Wars, romance novels, and Harry Potter. I was bullied a lot as a kid for being smart and different, and I learned to act normal and conform as an act of self-preservation. And now, at 36, I’m starting to see that there’s no point in pretending in public to be anything other than exactly what I am.

When I first wrote Wicked as They Come, the first Blud book, it was a fantasy adventure with black-out scenes when things got steamy. The sex was added in later, and the book sold as a paranormal romance. I didn’t intend to be a romance writer, and at first, I freaked out. Georgia is conservative in more ways than one, and suddenly I’d written a book I couldn’t tell my traditional Baptist grandmother about. I can’t even tell her the book’s title. I get as far as Wicke– and then stop. Because Wicked + Come = things I can’t say to an 82-year old woman who once left the house because I was breastfeeding in a different room. These days, I’m more worried about what my seven-year old daughter thinks. If I can’t be exactly who I am, how can I encourage her to be exactly who she is?

So this year, I’m going to let my weirdness show. I’m going to wear my costume corsets in public, dye my hair brighter, stranger colors, and not worry so much about looking ‘professional’ at comic cons when I’m there as the writer of steampunk vampire smut. My books are dark and whimsical. I am dark and whimsical. And I want my kids to see me being me, not trying to conform to someone else’s idea of what a woman, a mom, or an author is supposed to be.

The main theme of my second book, Wicked as She Wants, is to be what you are, so I’m going to take my own advice. I hope you’ll give the books a try and join me in making 2014 the year that we’re all free to be exactly what we are.

 

If you want to read even more books by unique authors who aren’t afraid to be weird (but who can still write like the dickens), try:

* DARKER STILL by Leanna Renee Hieber, who lives her life in full Victorian garb and calls herself a Legit Vampire.

* TARNISHED by Karina Cooper, whose LARP costumes are amazing.

* PHOENIX RISING by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, a husband and wife pair who rock the steampunk garb.