Compulsion

I love this J.K. Rowling quote:

“Writing for me is a kind of compulsion, so I don’t think anyone could have
made me do it, or prevented me from doing it.”

I can definitely relate. Yesterday I uploaded Lover, Destroyer to Amazon. It’s awaiting approval. Almost as soon as I uploaded it, I started working on the sequel to Because Faery Godmonster.

I did this because I need some comedy this month. I have two sad anniversaries coming up, and I need to work on something simple and fun. I also did it because I simply can’t help it. As long as I’m not depressed, I have to write. Have to–it’s not a choice. It’s a need like sleeping or eating.

Story Euphoria

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No, I have not dropped off the face of the Earth. Whenever I get to the end of a project, I start getting hyperfocused and can’t stop until I’m done. So, the past week, I’ve hardly slept, probably lost weight, and have barely slept. Housework? Bwahaha. No, I’ve just been writing. But today, I finished the rough draft of my m/m romance, Lover, Destroyer.

It’s basically an old fashioned gothic romance with dudes and kink. I’m changing the cover, but I’ll reveal it soon. For now, I’m just basking in something I think of as story euphoria. If you’ve ever seen the musical My Fair Lady (I love old musicals), you probably remember the scene where Audrey Hepburn’s character can’t sleep after going to a dance and keeps spinning around the room singing. This feeling is sort of like that.

That world is still in my head, but it’s a blur of images now. The characters have gone silent and are standing, holding hands, listening to the applause ringing in my blood. I’m utterly, completely happy–euphoric. I’ll slowly return to all of the drudgery of everyday life (including hygiene), knowing that in a week or so I’ll start the painful process of editing and revising. For now, however, I’m spinning around the room, singing.

 

 

Loving a Novel and Abandoning It

People have asked me which of my novels is my favorite. The answer is whatever I’m working on at that moment. The novel of now is always my favorite.

Maybe this is because I’m an INFP. NFs look to the future. When I’m writing a novel, I’m living for the future–for that moment when it’s born and real and ready to be read by people who aren’t me.

I usually know the end of a story around the same time I find its beginning. I write toward the ending, adjusting it if necessary. I also usually have more than one going at a time. If one takes off, it gets my undivided attention until it’s finished.

Once it’s done, I usually hate it for a while. I move onto the next project in line, my new love. I used to feel guilty about this, but I think it’s my way of letting the work go, letting it be complete without me. Ultimately, my books are for readers; I merely produce them.

Unintended Messages

Sometimes writing is hard. For me, it’s often a fun, out of body experience that rivals almost everything else I know. But sometimes it kinda sucks.

I’m releasing a short story set in the same world as my epic fantasy series, The Astralasphere Spiral, on Amazon later today. I’m going to provide a link here for my website visitors to get a free copy. I do all of this with trepidation. I said earlier in the week that I would release the short story by the end of the week, so that’s exactly what I’m doing.

However, after a comment from a beta-reader, I’m concerned there might be a message here that I absolutely did not intend. Anyone who knows me would know that. Alas, nobody out there knows me. Nobody in the wide world knows my political and moral stances (unless you follow me on Twitter, in which case you know I hate Trump and love cats.) The problem with a story is that it has to stand on its own two feet and wander out into the greater world without me there to look over its shoulder and explain it.

Sometimes you can write something and fill it with your themes, but little worms find their way into the mix. I’m a control freak, so this is aggravating to no end. I hope the story doesn’t say things I don’t intend, but I can’t change certain aspects of it because I’ve set those plot points up in other, published stories.

If you’re interested in reading the short story anyway, you can get a free copy here.

The Mushrooming Prologue

While working on the latest installment in  The Astralasphere Spiral, I realized that the prologue had gotten a bit out of hand. I wonder if this happens to other writers. It happens frequently to me. This particular little mushroom is a glance back in time at the events surrounding Lycian’s birth and gives us a glimpse of Benth as a young boy. (Benth plays a key role in the next book, so I wanted to show how their lives intertwined even before Lycian was born.

Since the prologue really ran away with itself, I’m publishing it as a short story on Amazon. It should be available within the next few days.

mushroom book

Another Review from Jennie Reads!

I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to receive another four-star review from the blog, Jennie Reads. You can read the review in it’s entirety here.

This review is for Another World’s Song, Book 1 of the Astralasphere Spiral. I thought this tip was interesting:

This is the first book in the Astralasphere Spiral. I read them in reverse which is the order I would suggest – because the second book is an incredible story with plenty of action and intrigue where the first one does a wonderful job of setting up the characters and the plots that will arise in the second book.

I think this is probably true. I realized when I released Under the Shadow that it was the stronger book of the two. Hopefully, Book 3 will be even better! I learned a lot about world building in Another World’s Song–as well as how to finish a book. (You write ‘the end’ and walk away from it. I’m almost not kidding. It’s possible to spend years fussing over a work without being able to give it up.)

Get a free copy of Another World’s Song, Book 1 of the Astralasphere here.

AWS_little_book cover

Just for visiting this website, get a free copy of the second book, Under the Shadow, here.

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The Gift of Wounds

One of the themes of the epic fantasy, Another World’s Song, is summed up in the African proverb, “the blessing is next to the wound.” It’s something I believe strongly–wherever you have a deficit, you will find a gift nearby.

A few years ago i started taking classes in hopes of becoming a surgical tech, and, eventually a nurse. I made good grades and was filled with excitement. Just as I had finished my prerequisites and was admitted to the program, I was diagnosed with essential tremor. This promised a better outcome than Parkinson’s, the disease it mimics, but the tremor was enough to permanently douse the tiny flame of my future career. I spent about six months in a funk and was even suicidal. But I wrote the entire time. I have been writing my entire life, but now it nurtured me in a new way. It filled all of my empty spaces.

I had tried off on and on for years to publish my work through traditional publishers to no avail. I had flirted with self-publishing, posting a few short stories on Amazon. I took the plunge last year and published the erotic romance novel, The Inquisitor’s Gift. I started writing full time soon after. (Not because I was a great success, but because my husband allowed me to pursue my dream.) With my anxiety and temperament, I probably would have been a miserable surgical tech. I’m a happy writer.

I had actually written Another World’s Song prior to my diagnosis, but that theme now resonates with me even more deeply. No curse comes without a blessing.

Writer’s Block or Depression?

Sometimes I get writer’s block because I’m out of ideas for a story, stressed and having trouble relaxing or focusing, or just need to get a better feel for the backstory. These are all things that can be solved rather easily through writing exercises, or simple things like mediation, bathing, or going for a walk.

However, for me, sometimes I have writer’s block because I’m depressed. It’s almost a warning sign that something is wrong with me. In that case, taking a quick inventory of what is happening in my life can sometimes help me track what might be causing the depression. Clinical depression is serious. If you think you may be clinically depressed, please seek help. I’m bipolar, so I see a therapist on a regular basis. I also see a psychiatrist periodically and take medication for my illness.

For me, the red flags that I’m not just having writer’s block but am sinking into depression are:

  1. Either sleeping too much or waking up too early.
  2. Not paying attention to personal hygiene. (Like wearing the same clothes several days!)
  3. Overeating (especially sweet stuff.)
  4. Withdrawing (more than usual–I’m an introvert, so I’m always somewhat withdrawn.)
  5. Not wanting to do anything, not being interested in anything.

Number 5 is where writing comes in. I’m interested in and passionate about many things, but writing is where my heart is. If I’m not writing–and maybe not even wanting to try some writing exercises–I know that’s a big, flashing warning sign that I’m not okay.

One of the worst bits of advice I ever got regarding writer’s block was someone online suggesting to take a break from writing and not write until you feel like it. Maybe that works for some people, but for me it sent me into a downward spiral of not writing that lasted over a year. Not writing led to more not writing, and I became more and more depressed. Once depression gets a toehold, it’s easier for it to get worse.

So, instead, I recommend being mindful of how your body is functioning and how you’re feeling. Make sure that your writer’s block isn’t a cue that something else is going on.

Questions to Ask Your Character When You’re Having Writer’s Block

Sometimes trying to write can be daunting. Here are some questions I ask my POV character when I’m having trouble getting into a scene.

1. Who are you?
2. What are you doing?
3. What do you want?
4. Are you alone? If not, who are you with and how do you feel about them? Why?
5. What are you wearing? Is there anything significant about anything you’re wearing?
6. Where are you? What does it smell like? What does it feel like–emotionally and in a tactile sense?
7. What do you see?
8. What do you hear?
9. What day, month, year, season, time of day is it?
10. Is there anything significant about today?

These things will usually get me moving. Happy writing!

Different Types of POV

brown-eye  Lately, I’ve noticed some writers having problems writing POV. POV stands for point of view. It can seem challenging, but it’s actually easy. Once you get the hang of it, it can even help you sink deeper into your character’s skin.

There are three types of POV. First person, second person, and third person.

First person: I love cats.

Second person: You love cats.

Third person: He loves cats.

Easy, right? Most fiction is written in either first person or third person. First person is pretty easy, since we all use it every day. It is definitely useful for getting immediately into a character.

Third person is either omniscient or limited. Third person omniscient is sort of like god mode. This POV sees the characters in the scene like a camera. Sometimes you might dip inside a character’s head, but the POV isn’t confined to one character in a scene and is often above or outside of the characters. This POV was very popular in the 1970’s. In contrast, third person limited is limited to one character per scene. It feels similar to first person, but uses he or she. it allows a deep connection to the POV character by going inside his head. Most modern third person fiction is written in this POV.

Head-hopping is when POV shifts rapidly from one character to another in the same scene. This is bad. Don’t head hop. It confuses readers and breaks up scenes. Here’s an example:

 She sat in the café and wondered when Ben would show up. She sighed. Maybe he wouldn’t like the little red slip dress she wore. Maybe he would think she was desperate. Tim thought she looked great. He was so attracted to Rosemary. Every time she ordered a mocha, he always turned the ‘o’ into a cat face. He wondered if she ever noticed his shy way of flirting.

Even if we split the two character POV’s into separate paragraphs, it’s pretty choppy. It looks amateurish and basically screams that you don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t head hop.

Don’t confuse head-hopping with third person omniscient. Head-hopping is schizophrenic and confusing; third person omniscient can be cinematic, as it’s like viewing the action in a movie. In this example, notice how the POV shifts between the two characters in the scene. There’s a transition.

In the aromatic café, a woman in a skimpy red dress glanced, yet again, through the plate glass window. She traced the name, hastily penned in black, on the paper cup. Rosemary. She sighed. Red lipstick clung to the cup’s white plastic lid.

Shouts on the street outside made her spine stiffen. Rosemary stared out the window in horror. She recognized Ben’s wild blue hair instantly, but she didn’t know the four guys circled around him.

On the street outside the café, five men squared off. One was smaller than the others, lean and sinewy, with sapphire blue dreds. Facing him was the largest of the group. He wore a faded jean jacket with the arms cut off. “I said ‘git,’ fruit loop .”

Ben grinned. He was going to love taking this jerk apart.

Third person limited confines the reader within the body of one character at a time. We experience the world through that character’s eyes. Pretend you are wearing a costume and peeping through the eye-holes of a mask. It’s sort of like that. You can shift from character to character, but you need to have scene breaks or chapter breaks to do so. This keeps everything neat and tidy.

Rosemary sat near the window so she would be able to see Ben coming. She pulled down the hem of her red dress, wondering if it was too much. Sure, she and Ben had been in the same art class for three months, but she didn’t really know him. Did she look desperate?

She traced her name on the paper coffee cup. Tim always added cat ears, dash-eyes, a dot nose, and whiskers to the ‘o.’ She knew he liked her. She always attracted guys like Tim. Safe guys. She wanted something else. Something exciting. Something like—

Shouts outside sent a chill down her spine. She stared out the window and recognized that blue hair immediately. Ben!

Her breath caught in her throat. He was surrounded by four men. One of them was big and burly. He stood tensed and bull-like, menacing the smaller Ben. She clenched her fists as she watched the men. She wanted to do something—wanted to help. She fished the little can of mace from her purse. As she started up, steeling herself, she looked once more out the window. The grin on Ben’s face surprised her.

***

Ben’s heart raced, but his mind remained calm. He would take Jean Jacket out first, then he would kick the crap out of the Winchester-wannabes backing him up. This was going to be fun.

See how easy that is? I wrote Because Faerygodmonster in first person and will continue to use it in the Chainmail and Velvet series, but I love working in third person limited. Both of these points of view enable the writer (and the reader!) to go deep inside the emotional landscape of a character.

Whichever POV you decide is right for you story, remember to stay consistent and avoid head-hopping.

Happy writing!