Sunday, August 07, 2016

Fact or Fiction

A few years ago, we finally broke down and got satellite television. Before that we had a whole two channels - three on clear nights. We joked about doing a commercial for satellite television with the wife standing inside the living room, window open, shouting out to her husband who has his hands wrapped around the antennae pipe "A little to the right! -- No, No, back a notch to the Left - THERE, you got it!" Yeah, we did that a few times.

But the satellite did something I didn't expect. It highlighted the extreme differences in our likes and dislikes. He wants to watch the true to life news shows or the funny home videos or prank shows over and over. Me, I can watch the funnies and pranks on occasion but I would rather watch something with an element of fantasy or maybe something on history I can use to jump start my imagination. My husband swears he hates the sci-fi "junk" I watch for entertainment but without a doubt, he never falls asleep during the movies I choose and always falls asleep fifteen minutes into the more real-life based movies he says he prefers. Then it hit me. He falls asleep when he knows what's going to happen. The true to life things don't offer as many possibilities as the way-out-there things offered in sci-fi/fantasy.

And another thing hit me the other night when I handed over the remote to hide behind the paper of my sketchpad as I have often lately, but I couldn't escape from the volume no matter how I tried. It was then I determined I very much dislike hearing or seeing the dramas of "real-life" for entertainment. So I asked if he really must watch what he was watching. And the question was made as to how I could live so removed from real life.

I’m removed? Okay, he might have a point, but still, I laughed, shook my head and kept drawing the eye of my character who lives in the approximate year of 4352 among the ancient gods – humanity’s creators. I know it's not real. I also know pieces of it are based on a very real ancient society and that society's mythology.

I know suffering exists around the globe today. I feel the stab of helplessness so acutely when I watch the news I truly can’t stand it. I'm not ignoring it by not watching it. I do the only thing I know how to do and still stay sane. I take what I see or hear happening, what emotions that stirs, and put that emotion into my fiction books to maybe spin a new angle on topics and enable readers to look at it in new ways and truly think about things as more than just tragedies that leave people feeling crushed or powerless. I want to create a feeling of hope not so easily grasped, along with an escape from the constant hardships life will deal out to too many on a daily basis.

If this means I’m removed from real-life, then...I'm okay with that.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Reason to Interact

I've known for a long while now that I fit very strongly in the category of introvert. One big thing I have learned by studying what that means is that introverts need a reason to interact. I don't do small talk well at all. I find it awkward, painful, even. But give me a topic and purpose to bring it up, and I'll talk about it with you for hours.

I do think that is part of the reason I have trouble blogging. I come up with ideas regularly, but by the time I sit down to start writing it, I doubt anyone would find it interesting. I lose the purpose.

When I write, my purpose becomes that of sharing my character's story. When I paint or draw, the purpose is to show something from my mind and hopefully create an emotion others will enjoy in some way.

I've decided to do better with staying in touch with this blog and trust that what I share will help or entertain someone, even if I think it might not be interesting. So here it goes...

Don't Let Anyone Tell You "You Can't"

In my elementary years, I didn’t do so swell in school. I certainly didn’t think myself smart. Math was some alien language I hated and I quite literally felt there must be something wrong with me, I couldn’t make sense of it. English, reading-spelling class wasn’t much better. My spelling was terrible. It wasn’t until years later that I realized my spelling was affected by my accent. I didn’t have an accent, except, I do. 

In high school, I wanted to take drafting. I loved art, and thought it would be awesome to learn to use it for blueprints and such. I finally found something I was a little excited to learn. Then I was taken to the guidance counselor’s office and told I couldn’t do it in such a way for it to seem he was doing me a great favor, steering me away from failure. I know he thought he was doing the right thing. I was a girl, I didn’t do well in math, I needed to aspire to be someone’s secretary. 

Let me say, I think the world of secretaries, the things they manage, and how they keep chaos in order for those they work for. We need our secretaries. 

I’m not capable of doing that on a daily basis. I need variety and freedom to be.  

I graduated high school, taking all business courses and even made the honor roll once, maybe twice. I always squeezed by on years I didn’t do so well and just did enough. 

I didn’t plan to make writing and art my career. I didn’t even know I could have a career. If someone would’ve told me all those years ago that I would have 14 published novels, after working hard to learn the writing craft, I would’ve thought it was cool and a little crazy (considering my spelling handicap. Good editors are amazing). If they would’ve told me people would love my art, that would’ve made me very happy and I would’ve studied to improve my art a lot earlier than I did. If they added that I would have had a hand in starting and then working for and then running a publishing company that broke boundaries and paved new roads in the publishing industry, all from my very small town while raising a family, I would’ve thought they were crazy. 

The point of this blog post is: don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what you dream and desire to do. Sometimes we have limitations, but if you want something badly enough, you can find a way to make it work. Or pave new roads to reach the goal.

We are all capable of amazing things. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.  

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

One of the Guys

My first book was a psychological thriller I wrote shortly after I graduated high school. To this date, Whispers of Insanity is my shortest novel and the only novel that has only a male main lead. I didn't purposely choose to do it that way, I just knew the story belonged to Codey Mathews, no one else. I really confused agents with that one because apparently I wrote him very convincingly for being a *gasp* woman. I also did something they didn't like. I gave the antagonist his own viewpoint scenes. To please interested publishers, I tried to ditch those scenes.  Didn't work. The story lost heart and I lost interest in it until I took the plunge and threw it out there. Funny, readers loved my antagonist as much as Codey in some aspects.

Then I wrote my second book, a horror suspense. I was Mom at that point and the book grew from a nightmare I had. If you read the prologue of the book, that's built on details from the nightmare. What can I say, I dreamed very vividly back then. It turned out to be just a tad longer than Whispers of Insanity and had my first no-nonsense, don't mess with her, female. She was a mom fighting to save her children from old black magic. She had to be so.

And then the Manipulated Trilogy sprouted in my mind.  Funny, it started from two characters I had developed for another psychological thriller I thought I wanted to write. I developed the characters more and BAM - Ravyn didn't want to be merely human or from Earth. She also wasn't some alien life form. She also got impossible if I tried to direct her story. So I let her lead it all along with Kyle, Kyle, the college man who kept Ravyn grounded - who actually starts out the story and shares the stage with Ravyn and a few others through the trilogy. Again I apparently pulled off writing a male convincingly because readers loved it too. And Ravyn, well, she didn't much care what anyone thought, including me. She did a fine job driving the entire trilogy, though, and I have to give her credit for the surprise ending everyone adored.  She ran with the guys, that's for sure.

And then came Desire. A hundred years into our future, her people and world star in Rise of the Arcadians. She's stubborn, but a tad uncertain too. Still, she accomplishes everything she sets out to do and she does so with the support of the male lead, but with her own stubbornness, smarts, and determination.

Among the Ancients was more of a challenge for me because Kynly is more timid and uncertain than any of the other females I wrote. She grows into her own though and takes on the responsibilities she doesn't want but ended up with anyway.

The Disillusionment Series was a whole other beast. Seven books, a fantasy family saga that included a war with the gods of old and spans hundreds of years. Tryn Brye Annis was a warrior from the start but frail until being reborn. Then she's a force to fear if anyone threatens her or her family. I have to admit her life story surprised me a bit, as did her daughter Kira. But it was Tarenek, her son and his descendants who were the funnest to write. Tarenek, yes, another male main character.

The thing is, I never saw the male or female. The characters came to me naturally, the females maybe a little softer, but in no way push-overs. I read other books where the females must be taken care of by their men and, honestly, I can't relate to those women. I don't think badly of them, I just can't relate.

For me, my female characters take care of themselves and those around them, sometimes entire worlds. They usually need support, but can also stand alone. Those are the female characters I also like to read and watch in movies. And they are the females I will continue to craft into my stories because I know not how to do it any other way.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Time to breathe life into new faces

I've spent a good deal of the last few weeks quietly pondering how to jumpstart the WIP that's been sitting patiently in my electronic device, waiting for me to jump on board again. Somewhere along the line with all that went on the last couple of years, I lost the connection I needed for it to take life. But it's beginning to spark again. The more I remind myself who the characters are, the better the plotting in my head is going.

For some crazy reason, though, I decided when I started this new book to skip a step I've done with my books from the beginning--drawing the main characters and having their portraits on the wall till I finished the novel. Part of that had to do with time restraints. Part of it had to do with the removal of character faces that had been on the wall for several years while I wrote the seven books of the Disillusionment Series. Maybe it seemed wrong to replace them so soon, I don't remember now. I did sketch out the world, however. And now I'm going to sketch the people.

Time is still a little tight with family, job, household, yard work (it is still summer) but by fall, I'll have things ready to go again. And I hope I'll have time to finish some more dragon paintings among other planned pieces of artwork too.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

No words are enough

There's been a long stretch of silence for this blog again. But I'm still here. A little older, a little different.  I simply don't know what it is I have to say that is interesting enough to chatter on about. Many things that drift through my mind each day would work well, but they are gone before I can toss up the mental net to grab them.  Some return, others don't.

It's been a rough few years for me and my muse. My dad, a young man in my eyes (early 60s) fell very ill. He escaped his failing body in January and is free, though I and my family will forever miss him, his well thought out advice, his laughter and silliness. There's a missing part now, an emptiness that won't be filled. But we also welcomed another to our family just a little over a month later. The first boy in our family for two generations on my side. He's growing so fast and smiles all the time and I wonder if he'll be just as silly and fun as his great grandfather.

Sometimes I think I just have too much all bottled up in my head trying to get out at once either in my writing or my art. I'm having trouble making sense of it all. Too much to take care of in the real world right now, I suppose.

It's crazy how tenuous the muse can be. For years while I was raising my girls, my oldest throwing challenges at me at every turn, I wrote. I wrote my first two books in the early 1990s using nothing more than an electric typewriter on the kitchen table next to the baby food and highchair, and later a word processor. The first computer came to this house in 2000. It was amazing to work on compared to what I had been doing. Then it crashed one day taking a rewrite of my second book with it. That's when I became a crazy saver and backer-upper. I had it backed up on a floppy disk, but everything had somehow gotten corrupted. I had an old version of that book in hard copy and typed that in, but I never did build it up better like I had in the file I lost.

I wrote Rise of the Arcadians, Among the Ancients, and the first of my seven book Disillusionment Series on a laptop that crashed more often than not, but by then, CDs and then travel drives existed, so I backed up all the time. And then I invested in a MacBook and got lazy again because it was so stable. I finished the series on it.

Now, I'm toying with going back to a smaller screen, a small and easily portable tablet with a small keyboard, but maybe I need to make friends with my dinosaur (it's 6 years old now) Macbook again. It saw me through some of my most complicated story creations.  Or maybe I need to find my muse again, maybe a wiser more subtle muse than before, I don't know for sure. But I'll have to find some solution soon before I can't even stand to be in the same room with myself.  A mind full of too many ideas stuck in a rut tends to make a cranky creator lol.

Monday, September 23, 2013

How Our Small Family Dog Became a Dire Wolf

Yes, a seventeen pound Cocker Spaniel Poodle mix can become a Dire Wolf. Sounds completely crazy, right? But the transformation was painless and I'm sure our Bambi was totally unaware of it.

It started sometime between 2010 and 2011. Her little black nose grew larger, fur shorter and more wiry. But she stayed just as lovable as ever.

The biggest changes were the ears and her height and weight. Her ears were no longer the floppy fluffy tufts around her adorable face and instead of tripping over her, it was possible that she would run me down.  Dire wolves are very tall and powerful after all, and I'm very short.  Oh, and she turned more gray than brown. She needed to blend into nature and her new world.

She had to get so big and rugged. Why? A little dog, despite being able to keep up to us with all our hiking, camping, and what not, couldn't survive very well in the future world during war time with the gods. I needed her to be able to cover miles and miles very quickly, keep a full grown man from freezing to death in a dark, ancient forest, and search out survivors in war torn cities during the battles with the gods.

I also gave her a new name, Shiva, and while our little Bambi is best buds with my middle and youngest daughters, Shiva became the most loyal and forgiving friend Kira, a demigod, could have.

If you'd like to read about Shiva, she first shows up in Revenge of the Gods: Disillusionment Book Two and also stars side by side with Kira in Starlight and Judgment: Disillusionment Book Three.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

You Can't Force Words to Cooperate

I watched a live interview yesterday with an author I've liked for a while now. His writing is smooth and entertaining (in my opinion) and I enjoy the world he built for his stories.  Mr. Brooks said something during his interview that made me "A-Ha!"  Basically it was that a good story can't be forced. It needs to be allowed to grow.

As a writer, one must put their fingers to the keyboard regularly, no doubt about that, but I think too many writers get frustrated when session after session of fingers on the keyboard doesn't carry their story ahead at lightning speed. I've seen good authors get frustrated and figure they mustn't be good enough since their efforts weren't working like they thought they should. I find that sad.

I've had the experience of having a story take off at lightning speed and become a full novel written in just a couple of months. It was amazing. I absolutely loved the characters and events.

I've also had the experience of writing a story that felt more like pulling out each of my teeth with a pair of pliers.

I finished all the stories, or morphed it into a new story. But the important part was that I finished them, no matter how long it took.

How did I make it through with pulling my teeth (figuratively speaking, of course)?  I wrote each day that I could, but I didn't always write in the difficult book. Sometimes I had to let it stew while I focused on doing research or writing something completely different.

Most writing advice is adamant that a writer write and write and write the story until they reach the end, and they should be able to write pages of good stuff every day. Some even hint to the fact that if you don't do that, you can't be a "real" author.

Don't get me wrong, the writing profession is anything but easy. It is painstaking work to wrangle words into a perfect order to create your world and your characters. My point with writing this blog is that sometimes it doesn't happen like all the writing advice articles and books and even creative writing professors say. Sometimes a writer just has to let a certain work grow at its own pace and let it bloom all on its own.  That is the magic of writing, watching something take shape on the paper as it pours through your fingertips. The key is not to get frustrated or disheartened when creating that magic becomes a marathon up a mountain.

Remember that each writer is different. Despite the multitudes of articles and writing lessons out there stating what schedule or technique is best, only you will know what schedule or technique works for you. Once you find it, that's the perfect one for you, even if it goes against all the rules.