Monday, October 23, 2017

Save Yourself: A #HoldOnToTheLight Post

My life recently has been plagued by instances of mental illness—both my own and exposures to others.

Since my original post for #HoldOnToTheLight, “Life afterFighting, Fighting for Life”, the revelation of how utterly alone I’m not has been at points enlightening, stressful, a few times horrific, and often downright quirky. I don’t think everyone around me is mentally ill, but it’s given me pause to coping behaviors people use to get on, get through, and get past whatever is in front of them.

I’m happy to report that I find more people meeting negativity with positive habits that make far better arguments for working against your demons instead of for them, but there are also a lot of people that are angry—they are angry because of the economy, the president, or this issue, or that issue, or my issues, but every time we complain we all share one thing in common:

We’re all suffering and we don’t want to be, and the vast majority of us don’t want others to suffer either. Some are clearly suffering worse, but on the whole, many of the human beings around the world are not having a great time being a part of it.

During the summer I moved to Colorado after living almost ten years in Charlotte, North Carolina, and like the Queen City, the homeless situation here is AMAZINGLY BAD. Most people living on the streets are former veterans, the elderly, opioid addicts and alcoholics, and those who have fallen through the system.

The vast majority of them are mentally ill.

They harm themselves, scream in the street at 2:00 AM, and cluster together on sidewalks where they suffer openly and alone, trapped in private hells while shuffling through some of the most beautiful neighborhoods I’ve ever lived in. They aren’t bothering you, they don’t have cellphones, and they aren’t burnt-out hippies or college kids begging for change—these people are lost.

Thankfully Denver provides a wonderful network of homeless shelters and public services that make sure these people have places to sleep in the winter, food in their stomachs, and the local community comes together every weekend for fresh blankets and clothes, mobile showers, haircuts, and job drives. For all the bad things that happen in the world, there are real heroes out there doing their best to help—because they show up.

Seeing the struggle of mental illness every day when I go outside has been a fascinating mirror to examine my own coping mechanisms (or lack thereof) in a time when I’m dealing with my own challenges—but I keep in mind that people keeping showing up.

Some background: I was diagnosed with clinical depression as a teenager and that depression was compounded by a series of concussions and bad habits that led to a PTSD-diagnosis, which I’ve thankfully done pretty well getting past by getting better, but it took years of therapy for me to finally figure out the right habits needed for me to get past these things—and thankfully, those skills worked.

Meditation, exercise, a better diet, and having people and professionals to talk to allowed me a solid foundation to better deal with my conditions in a multitude of different ways, which sometimes feels like demolishing a house to rebuild the foundation, but sometimes that is needed. 

Yet the most important thing was that people showed up to save me first. From friends to family to my psychologist, even strangers offered help and advice in times of need.

And yet, even having experienced that, I had no clue I was going to have to deal with anxiety when it finally got around to be named for what it was. In some ways I’ve always been anxious, but it’s always been about process. One of the coping mechanisms I developed for depression—putting my nose to the grindstone and getting the work done so I can be satisfied that I at least put in effort—developed a downside: I would place all the little things that would cause me to be depressed or anxious to the side until they crowded in, and when they crowded in, I didn’t just trip over them as much as I let them drive me into closets and sit in empty hotel restaurants crying while my friends crowed in the bar a hundred feet from me.

So now I have to work more, which is exhausting but worthwhile. Along with my work and my work at Falstaff Books, being a husband, trying to be healthier and happier, there were already challenges along with these blessings. My boss wants me to learn that it is okay to ask for help, something that I struggle with. I deal with bouts of insomnia, but I now make time to sleep when I can instead of “soldiering on,” striving every day to handle both anxiety and depression. Some of it is doing the stuff I was doing before: meditation, healthier eating habits, exercise, and staying active in my own life by being mindful—but now I also have to teach myself to take a step back from anxiety like I step back from the depression and figure out how to work around both, and sometimes those internal processes conflict. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either.

But people are still showing up.

From my wife to my best friend/boss, or my coworkers at Falstaff Books, and even some digital therapy sessions, people have come out of the woodwork to help me learn how to better care for myself. Because of them this is a challenge I can beat.

Now I know I speak of mental illness as a challenge, and I realize that in that challenge I have a sense of privilege. I tackled and beat my depression before, so I know I can beat my anxiety. This is a challenge I relish, but I know so, so many who do not feel or see it that way. Some people after they read this are still going to feel alone, or worthless, or one of the many little lies our illnesses allow us to create for ourselves.

Those people will still be by themselves. Therein lies the root of the problem.

I’ve put in a lot of work to save myself from myself because people first showed up to save me, and for all the back patting I can’t forget that I was once that kid with a chain around his neck who thought no one cared about him. I beat that, but like I said the last time we were here, I know too many stories of those that didn’t get to win their struggle.

The need to save ourselves is paramount, and not so we can pat ourselves on the back, or “grow past” our problems—for many mental illness is a life and death battle to the end, and while the cost of defeat is exacting in its sorrow, the glory of victory is beyond anything a person can win outside of themselves. I need to get better so one day I can say “I beat anxiety and depression and saved myself. And so can you.”

I need to save myself so I can show up for others.

Every victory, yours and mine, saves actual lives.

If you are suffering, say something. There will be people there to love you, take you in, armor you up, and go fight with you until one day you too can say “I beat my mental illness. So can you.”

Donate to local shelters for the poor and underprivileged, help out with food drives, and volunteer. One of the things that I have discovered on my journey is that offering help first is often the key to getting things done. Sometimes s few hours at the library volunteering or simply asking someone “how are you?” makes all the difference in the world.

Speaking for myself, the worst part of about anxiety and depression for me is yjsy loneliness—and having someone simply come to be with me or acknowledge my existence breaks all that.

So go save yourself and show up for someone else. It will mean the world.

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to http://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight

Follow me @JayRequard!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

THE REVOLUTION IS HERE

I am proud to present in its completed form THE SAGA OF THE PANTHER.


SHOP HERE

This has been long in the making, but I couldn't have made this possible without Falstaff Books, John Hartness, and my editor Melissa McArthur Gilbert, who made this three years worth of work more than I could have imagined and then some. Of course I need to thank my wife who has and remains my biggest fan and supporter. Huge thanks also needs to be given to James R. Tuck, who once again turned out an amazing cover.

But beyond those I have to thank, there are those that should be remembered. I wish I could tell you that the terrible inspiration behind Manwe's story doesn't exist anymore, but we still live in a world where Philando Castile is shot in front of his little girl because...well, none of us will ever know why we let the jackboots win, but they won't win forever. I wrote this book because I wanted certain things I'm not so sure about anymore, but I remain certain the world still needs justice, and compassion, and ultimately goodness for all, no matter who they are.

Remember Philando Castile. Remember everyone that was unjustly killed, or fired from their job because they did not fit the status quo created by those in power. Remember your family, friends, loved ones, and yourself--remember that you're worth your own rights to freedom and the chance to love and be left alone.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Shimmering Scale

So two big bits of news!

First, I just moved to Denver, Colorado! My wife and I are relocating for the summer and fall for work reasons on both ends, with my distinct goal to write FIVE novellas and the first draft of a Martian-Fantasy novel. More on that when it happens, as well as announcements for THE SAGA OF THE PANTHER!

Second, I'm proud to announce that Bards and Sages Quarterly has published my Sword & Sorcery short story, The Shimmering Scale, in the recent edition of their magazine! Click on the cover's caption to check out the e-copy!

Click here!

The Shimmering Scale was initially written in the spring of 2015 when I was working on a series of four short stories centered on one of my main heroes, Jishnu the Srijati, who appears in Paper Demons, Stout, Reefer Snakes, Mask of the Kravyads, Narrows, with The Shimmering Scale being the most recent story in the chronological order I have presented. At its heart it is a rather bleak story about the struggles of PTSD in the face of having to continue to do bad things and the psychological pressures that bury us when that happens. Written much in the vein of Glen Cook's The Black Company, it is also one of the few pieces of my work that is formulated in the first person Point of View.

The plot of the story first came to me during a study of Monsanto's corporate policy of not allowing farmers in India to store excess seeds from their cotton crop for the following year's planting, which had caused many of these good folk to end up in worse poverty than they already endured--a poverty that drove many farmers to commit suicide out of shame because they could not provide for their families. I found the idea that a contract would be held in higher regard than human life so appalling that an immediate story popped into my head: Just like in The Black Company, Jishnu and the mercenary company he belongs to often find themselves having to work for villainous patrons who pay them to do things even mercenaries would despise doing. Once that premise was established the narrative almost wrote itself.

I hope everyone checks it out and there will be more updates from Colorado soon!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

WAR PIGS has been nominated for the Manly Wade Wellman Award! (+news and soundtrack!)

I am pleased to announce that WAR PIGS has been nominated for the Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction! The winner will be announced July 15th at ConGregate 2017, but in celebration I have decided to let everyone who signs up for my newsletter download the eBook for free!

Click here to DOWNLOAD for FREE!

On top of this great news, two more bits: the audio book for WAR PIGS is on its way! A talented voice artist has been working for months turning the novella into a listening format, and it should be here soon!

And before we go, I wanted to leave you all with something more to tide you over until next time. I received a lot of great responses to posting the playlist for The Saga of The Panther during the release of THIEF OF NATIONS, so I went back, did about six days of work listening to all the stuff I was listening to 

THROUGH CLOUDS OF RUIN - A "War Pigs" Soundtrack

Title Track - War Pigs by Black Sabbath

Part One - Nothing Else Matters by Metallica

Chapter 1: Ruthless by DevilDriver
Chapter 2: The Game by Motorhead
Chapter 3: Out of the Shadows/ Through The Shadows by Insomnium
Chapter 4: Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

Part Two - The Dividing Line by Dark Tranquillity

Chapter 1: All That Glitters / Nymphetamine Fix by Cradle of Filth
Chapter 2: The Dead Cheer / The Revenant King by Visigoth
Chapter 3: Light Ebbs / Serpentine by Disturbed
Chapter 4: Flames Alight / The Flames of The End by At The Gates
Chapter 5: And Only Iron Remained / Man of Iron by Bathory

Part Three - Upon Darkened Paths/ A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh by Celtic Frost

Chapter 1: Resurrection BLVD by DevilDriver
Chapter 2: For The Stabwounds In Our Backs by Amon Amarth
Chapter 3: The Last of the Real by Stone Sour
Chapter 4: Dead Cell by Papa Roach
Chapter 5: Shur's Blessing / Tears by Ensiferum
Chapter 6: Apologies / Do Me a Favor by Stone Sour

Part Four - Never Again by Disturbed

Chapter 1: Twenty-one Twelve / Winds of One Thousand Winters by Mael Mordha
Chapter 2: The Essence of Ashes by Eluveitie
Chapter 3: Siege / The Siege by Eluveitie
Chapter 4: Love Beneath The Moon / Diamonds at your feet by Muddy Waters
Chapter 5: A New Word / The New World by In Flames

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Mossed Edges aka "Fangorn" by Jay Requard

A lot of stuff is happening with the blog, which is the reason it hasn't been updated. More on that when there is something to speak of. However, I'm back to writing weird fantasy poetry!

Enjoy?

The Moss Edges aka "Fangorn"
By Jay Requard

Fangorn Forest by Isidora

Northern symphonies sink within high-mind joys,
racing the green strip to stars set at sun’s tide,
endless, and endless, and endless…

I slither like the skywalkers, a shivering serpent,
smoky songs low in my throat while shadows shift,
forever the shadows shift on…

Time.

Time halts at the edge of a white bank,
the Ent’s hands grinding herbs between his bark.
He looks up from the lump he makes,
wondering how much time he wastes by the stream.

Far off the wanderer presses through the forest,
a bowl burning in his lips,
knowing that stars lie ahead on the other side.



Check out my books.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"The Soundtrack to Stealing Nations" Playlist

Invariably all things end, and when they end, it is important to pay homage to the things that inspired the work. As much as I am a devout lover of Heavy Metal, I must acknowledge that I have a deep and abiding love of Hip Hop.

I like it darker, preferably with a quicker beat and more aggressive political themes, though I also just like hearing a good story. The songs below were chosen because they inspired the writing of The Saga of The Panther. I hope you enjoy these artists as much I was inspired by them.


THIEF OF SHADOWS

The Gem of Acitus - "Point of No Return" by Immortal Technique
The Light in the Dark - "Jigga What/Faint" by Linkin Park feat. Jay Z
By The Tears - "Party Up (Up In Here) by DMX

THIEF OF SECRETS

When Shadows Walked on Legends - "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" by the Wu-Tang Clan
Loss - "Civil War" by Immortal Technique ft. Killer Mike, Brother Ali & Chuck D
The Free and The Damned - "Forgot About Dre" by Dr. Dre ft. Eminem, Hittman

THIEF OF NATIONS

"Design In Malice" by Jedi Mind Tricks ft. Young Zee and Pacewon
"Frontlines" by Diabolic ft. Immortal Technique
"Run The Jewels" by Run The Jewels



PICK UP THIEF OF NATIONS HERE!


OUT 3/21/2017!


Monday, March 13, 2017

THIEF OF NATIONS arrives 3/21/2017!

I've been waiting a long, long time for this moment...

I'm pleased to announce that the third and final installment of The Saga of The Panther, THIEF OF NATIONS, arrives on March 21st, 2017!

And without much ado, here's the cover!


Huge thanks for James R. Tuck for producing a third amazing cover!

New from Jay Requard and Falstaff Books in 2017, Thief of Nations is the thrilling conclusion to the blistering adventure that started in Thief of Shadows

Manwe The Panther returns in a battle for the very souls of the savannah! Following the devastating conclusion of Thief of Secrets, the greatest thief on the plains is alone. Robbed of the revolution he started by the conniving witch-doctor, Voduni Calla, the mad mystics designs have been revealed in their full horror. The dead have risen, stalking the the night at the villain's bidding.

At Manwe's back stands Cleon, the powerful Gypian sorcerer, and Folami the Songbird, a thief that stands the Panther's equal, ready to fight for a world the Manwe strove so hard to destroy. Wedged between the oncoming might of the Gypian Empire and Calla's undead, they will seek weird powers beneath the earth to save the innocent above it.

Trapped between death and destiny, Manwe will fight for liberty right on the edge of oblivion!