Writer’s Block? Try Writer’s Berlin Wall.

Writer’s Block? Try Writer’s Berlin Wall.

(Note: I am frustrated and venting.)

I don’t like the term ‘writer’s block.’ It’s an icky term. It gives us this mental image of a blob of half dry concrete perched on that handy-dandy box of ideas that roosts inside the creative center of our brains. While this might feel accurate, it is in no way helpful. It makes it seem like this very easy process of removal. Just pick up a sledgehammer, or a local martial artist, and give it a good whack.

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(I feel like this could be a useful skill during the apocalypse)

I know, I know. There are a lot of websites out there that tell you that writer’s block is a lie. That it’s something your brain just made up and it doesn’t actually exist. All you have to do is keep writing and you’ll be fine. Or my favorite “If writer’s block is staring you in the face, write about it.”

Yeah…no.

Let’s put some things in perspective first.

Three weeks ago my book came out. (Go check it out)  So far it’s done better than I expected for a first time publication. It hit #3 on the mystery and thriller genre, and #5 on the shapeshifter/paranormal tag. Overall, on Amazon at least, it rests at #7435. I was pleasantly surprised, even though I found a typo or two when I went back and re-read it.

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(I hate commas.)

Yeah, that’s pretty accurate to how I feel since the work went through myself, a very talented editor, and several friends. I was fairly sure that it was free of errors. But hey, I can’t fix it now.

Then a very dear friend told me that I’ve been really hard to get a hold of lately. “You’ve been so focused on writing, I feel bad trying to get your attention.”

And then the spouse says, “Well, I can’t really ask you to do anything. You are always working.”

There was a hurricane. Flooding in the downstairs. And money demands from the IRS. My kitchen was a mess and my spouse kept trying to clean everything…which sounds great until I felt so guilty about not cleaning that I couldn’t concentrate on anything. This eventually turned into me getting into a snip fest with pretty much anything that walk into my line of sight.

Isn’t creativity grand?

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(I assume each of these actors tried writing a screenplay before filming these scenes)

So let’s look at the list we have here.

  • Feelings of creative inadequacy
  • Guilt for alienating friends and family
  • Anxiety over household chores
  • Hurricane over which I had no control but felt like I should
  • Money issues
  • Household tension

 

Wow, those all sound like anxiety inducing events. Maybe there is some kind of correlation between anxiety and disassociating from your creativity, which may or may not feel like the literary equivalent of hair in the drain. So the nay-sayers who don’t think that writer’s block is real can sniff decade old draino and stop telling me that what I, and thousands of others feel, isn’t real.

Black’s Book Review: Fortune’s Pawn

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Publishing Information: November 5th 2013 by Orbit
Page Count:  320
Genre: Military Science-Fiction, Romance, Action
Note: The first novel in the Paradox series

A few weeks ago I was sitting on my couch reading what is probably my thirtieth urban fantasy story this year. Somewhere around page fifty where the snarky female protagonist tells the uber sexy male romantic interest that she absolutely isn’t interested in him I just set the book aside. It just wasn’t doing it for me, which is sad because I absolutely love romance novels.

I flopped over and had an existential crisis about whether or not I had already read everything there was to read and if the written word was a slowing dying art form. Perhaps I ought to drown myself in a bottle…of bbq sauce.

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(it was a really bad thirty seconds)

Then I took a good long look at that bottle and got really honest with myself. I just wanted something different. I didn’t want another naturally slender twenty-something female with perfect everything and very little personality becoming the obsessive focus of a rich and semi-violent man of the paranormal persuasion. I wanted something with a little more…unf.

So I went looking. I found a few lists of books that sounded interesting, and after falling down the rabbit hole of science fiction I finally stumbled across Rachel Bach. An author that I had seen floating around on some best-of lists and hadn’t quite gotten around to reading because he novels were classified as military science fiction.

Not that there is anything wrong with MSF. Honor Harrington is a fully realized setting with interesting characters and a well thought out story. A Hymn Before Battle takes a really good look at the classic alien invasion story. And the Old Man’s War series remains one of my favorites. I have had to replace the first book to do over-reading.

However, they weren’t what I was looking for. On the one hand I am still doing my Women in Sci-Fi kick. On the other I still wanted to read a good romance. When I put those two genre’s together, it was Fortune’s Pawn that kept getting recommended to me. So I decided to pick it up. I was in NO way disappointed.

The main character is Devi Morris, a woman I am sure is going to get killed for her own ambition, but I am going to love her right up until the end. She is passionate, flawed, strong-willed, self aware, and just glorious. She doesn’t take shit from anyone.

She comes with a high tech battle armor suit that gets her a mercenaries place on a ship with a reputation for paying well and getting people killed. It does not disappoint. The ship has a mystery and Devi charges into it with all the grace and skill of the proverbial bull.

The romance in this story, however, is what really gets me. It is rich, full, and complicated. It doesn’t revolve around some overly aggressive guy who doesn’t understand the word no.

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(herc looks like he’s about to swoon)

The complications for Devi and her beau are more about the fact that he’s not being completely honest and she damn well knows it. Also, trying not to die, that’s a pretty big one.

All in all I give this story a 8.5/10. The only thing that drags this story down for me is a little leaning on tropes, but it certainly wont dissuade me from picking up the next few books.

 

 

 

You Want the Truth?

…you can’t handle the…okay, that’s cliche. My editor would be scowling at me right about now for even thinking this was funny. But I’m going to do it anyway because I’m a rebel. So there.

….anywho…

If you hear the distant sound of shrill screaming do not be alarmed. That’s just me flipping out.

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( Actual gif of me )

My incredibly amazing publisher, Juame Validrosa, has done an incredible job finding an artist and an editor to take my words and give them the best treatment possible. Then he went and put it all over the interwebs for the world to see and (hopefully) fall in love with.

 

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“The Foehammer Act has created an America where vampires, werewolves, elves, orcs, and other haunting creatures are now citizens of the United States, with all of the rights, protections, and privileges afforded the human. It’s a new world order, and it’s anything but orderly!

When FBI Agent Richard Donovan comes back from a near death experience, he doesn’t expect to get tossed into the deep end of things, but that is exactly what happens. After years of being a successful agent, he gets the promotion he never wanted as the lead investigator for a team of paranormal detectives who have to investigate all crimes done by and against America’s supernatural citizens.
Brand new to the paranormal FBI investigation game, Donovan has to travel to werewolf country, USA, to figure out why Lillian Lawson, a werewolf, killed her human family. It seems to be fairly cut and dry. Werewolves kill people all the time, right? It’s not that hard to picture one going lunar on her own family.
But when he gets to Bishop, New Hampshire, Donovan realizes the facts don’t add up, and Lillian, no matter how wolfish she can get, doesn’t come across as a killer. When Deputy Sharon Morris tells him that the ghost of Lillian’s husband doesn’t believe it either, he realizes that there is more to this werewolf mystery than meets the eye. “

That’s me…right there. In all my literary glory. I am elated that this is happening. I am excited, overwhelmed, and overjoyed that this is a thing and I did it. I want to think every single person who patently listened as I talked about this book or writing in general. You are truly incredible.

 

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( this one is me too. )

Ever since I did this people have been asking me some really interesting questions and making some even more interesting assumptions. “You must be so happy!”, “Are you excited!?”, “Can I get a free signed copy?” and a lot of other things.

So let’s clear some things up.

Am I happy/excited that my book is finished? Well…sure…ish? I honestly don’t know. I loved writing it, and I love the characters, but I never feel like the story is done. I have been writing this setting out for about six years. The book itself has been a project that has gone through three very different incarnations just to become what it is. I love that it exists but honestly? The first thing I felt was exhaustion.

Seriously. I typed ‘The End’ somewhere around 7:30 one mid October evening and then I went immediately to bed. Did not pass go, did not collect $200. I think I woke up at 11 the next morning and drank a gallon of water, ate some ramen, and then took a nap. It wasn’t what I would call an exciting day. I was just tired.

I enjoyed chatting with the other people who were involved with my books creation (Lynn, my editor, Juame, my publisher, and Sarah the artist) but I can’t say that I really felt anything that I would call ‘excitement’ until I got the links for all the places where the story had been published.

Even then, I think it would be more apt to say I was…gruntled (it’s a word, I swear it is. I’m bringing it back). I was content, pleased with myself, and ultimately satisfied. Which is a little weird when you realize that you are talking about writing a magical murder mystery. But I’m not going to judge myself here.

All I really wanted to do was get started on book two. Is that weird? I hope not. I just think I really like writing.

Anyway. Here are some links to all the places where you can purchase my book!

Amazon
Kobo
Smashwords

Dreams Coming True

Dreams Coming True

I did not always want to be a writer. I have, for as long as I can remember, been a very avid reader. Growing up my family didn’t have a lot of money. We didn’t have cable, or internet (yes, there was a time in which the web was something that the average person didn’t have), but we did have a library within walking distance of two of the apartments I lived in. Books were my primary form of escapism and entertainment.

Who am I kidding? Even with a heavily utilized Netflix account, they still are.

That being said, I never really thought about being a writer. Up until I went to high school I was pretty sure I was going to be a super hero. In my teen years I thought I was going to be a Broadway actress. As I was neither bitten by a radioactive butterfly, nor did my Thespian pin get me any insteps for the theater world, I turned back to my first love…books.

I’d like to say that writing was my first thought. It wasn’t. My first thought was editing, but comas and I were never really friends. Then I thought of being a librarian, but a library science degree eluded me…because I discovered studying criminology….and then anthropology…and then…okay, you get the idea. I loved to study.

I took creative writing on a whim. I thought that it would be fun, and a way for me to deal with my on again off again relationship with depression. It worked. I also discovered a passionate outlet for that imagination that wanted to be a super hero, a theater star, a glob trotting anthropologist, or a law enforcement officer. I discovered that I loved to write.

I know, me and a hundred thousand other amazing people want to be writers, and plenty of them wanted to be writers for far longer than I have. But it’s been my dream for almost eleven years now, and I am living it.

I am happy to announce that Foehammer: A Paranormal Crimes Division Novel by Lorena Black will be coming out later this year.

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How to Write a Sex Scene

How to Write a Sex Scene

I am a ghost writer. This means where someone has a scene (or a story) that they don’t want to write, they ask me to do it for them. In college this would have been called an ethics violation to the Cod of Conduct, or fraud. In the wide world of professional literature, it’s called freelancing.

Neat.

In the months that I’ve been doing this I can tell you 95% of my work is romance, and more often than not, I’m writing the naughty scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. More often than not I am getting $80 or more to write 3k words about a couple of characters doing the horizontal tango. But it has me thinking, why the hang ups?

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Yes, I know that America is the strangest mix of prude and sexually obsessed. I know that we are weird about it, but many of my clients come from India, Thailand, Canada, and Australia. So, it has little to nothing to do with the location.

The fact is, I have  no clue why an author can write the most heart-wrenching death scenes, pick apart the psychology of watching a thunderstorm, and get gloriously visceral with battles…but can’t write about bumping uglies.

Ugh, I hate that term, but I’m using it anyway.

So, below I have a step by step process, and some tips, for writing a sex scene.

 

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  1. Make sure the scene is necessary
    • I think one of the main hangups that any author can have is trying to force a scene. I know that a lot of us believe that we HAVE to show the sex between two (or more) characters, but that’s not always true. Sit back and really think about whether or not you NEED to show the scene. Don’t just write it because everyone else is, that’s going to make the scene feel forced.
    • How do you know it’s needful? Just ask yourself the following:
      • Does it add something to the story?
      • Does it reveal something important about the characters that cannot be shown in another, more natural, way?
      • Is it appropriate to the intended audience?
      • Does it further the plot or turning point?
  2. Plan
    • Even if you are a pantser, you still take the time to think over a scene before writing it. If you have evaluated (and possibly reevaluated) that a steamy scene needs to happen, sit down and think about the characters involved. How would they approach sex? Everyone does it a little differently, and in a way that is most comfortable to them.For instance, If you have a heterosexual scene between a submissive male and an aggressive female, don’t suddenly switch their personalities because the clothes come off. Yes, some people who are submissive out in the world are more aggressive in the bedroom, but you better be prepared to back up the switch and still make it sound natural to the character.
    • Things to think about:
      • This is where those five question words really come into play (who, what, where, when, and why…the how is pretty much the entire scene.)
      • Who are the characters involved, and how to they feel about one another?
      • Is this encounter sensual, languid, comforting, aggressive, or something else? The ‘flavor’ of the scene is very important for picking word choice. There is a huge difference between taking ones clothes off, ripping ones clothes off, slithering ones clothes off…you get the idea.
      • What is so important about this scene? Let’s take out SubMale and AggFemale from earlier. Let’s say they’ve been friends for a long time and he has been having a lot of self confidence issues since his last gf left him. The importance of this scene is his confidence boosting. Keep that in mind throughout the scene.
      • Where is this taking place? Yeah, this is important. Where should matter. Don’t just have them couple (or trio, or quartet) in the bedroom because that’s where the sex happens. Bedrooms are great when you want the scene to have safety and confidence. But if these two characters have been angling to get into the skirt/pants/spacesuit for some time they are probably going to hop ion whatever semi-private, mostly horizontal surface they come across.
      • Why. Okay, this one is the biggest one. WHY is this scene happening? Is this the moment when two characters turn to each other for comfort? Have they been holding back from going to bed with one another? Should they be here? Why are they having sex? This thought needs to be an ongoing theme for the entire scene. It should impact your words and the characters action.
  3. Organize
    • Sex, in real life, is messy. I’m not saying that makes it bad, sometimes messy is awesome. What I am saying is that people don’t plan out an encounter before it happens. But you are an author, and your characters are in your head. You need to think about your characters sexuality before you write the scene. Re-using my submissive male/aggressive female couple why is the male a submissive person? Is it just his last break up? Because in American society guys are encouraged to be aggressive sexually and socially, so what in his background makes him more prone to a more docile approach? Perhaps he grew up in a highly feminist house, or perhaps because he was bullied or picked on as a youth.

      In counter, our aggressive woman, what formed her sexuality? What does she like about being in command? What about the situation appeals to her, and how emotionally attached is she, if at all? Think of all of this and more, for a while. Let the thoughts simmer, maybe jot some notes down, and then:

  4. Write it all in one, uninterrupted, sitting.
    • A sexual encounter is one thing that flows into another. I’m not being metaphorical here. Sex is a singular act made of many motions, like a dance. In order to get that flow, you need to write it all in one go. Throw yourself into that scene as much as possible. Don’t get too distracted as it unfolds, just let it all happen.

      I would say that this is the most important rule for writing a steamy scene.

  5. Leave it alone for (AT LEAST) a week.
    • You are going to be very tempted to go back and read what you’ve done. Don’t. Right now it is still too fresh. You either think it’s perfect, or you think it’s crap, and like any rough draft the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. You need to leave it alone.

      Once upon a time, while I was working in the grand world of fast food I was writing a love scene between two of my characters in between taking drive thru orders. I got home and immediately wrote up the scene, certain that it was the best thing I had ever written. I, being the tech genius that I was, lost the file a while later.

      I was crushed. I was certain that this scene was the most evocative and emotional thing I had ever written. It haunted me because I had lost it. About two years later I brought it up to a buddy of mine and she gave me the weirdest look. “You mean the one between (character A) and (character B)?”

      “Yeah! Do you remember it?”

      “Yeah,  you sent it to me. I think I still have it.”

      She sent it to me that night and I re-read it and nearly gave up writing altogether because after two years of being enamored of the memory, I realized that the scene was….okay. It wasn’t terrible. There were some good lines, and the characters were good…but the scene was a solid B at best.

      What I am getting to is that you need to take time away from all your writing before you edit, but I think emotional scenes (which you sex scene ought to be) need this the most.

  6. Edit
    • This is a step that doesn’t need a lot of explanation, but is still important. Make sure that the scene matches the characters, their actions, their word choice. I’ve found that sex scenes are the hardest places (for me) to distance myself from what I like, from what my character likes. So make sure that you didn’t just write out your own dark fantasy, but rather stayed true to your characters.

 

Thank you for reading! I hope that at least some of this has been helpful. If you have any particular problems, thoughts, or ideas leave a comment and I’ll do my absilute best to respond! Happy writing!

I Have Arrived…Kinda

I Have Arrived…Kinda

Me and MLK have two things in common…dreams. Alright, so his dreams are way cooler and far more inspirational than mine, and that reference is overdone. Still, I think that the crux of the matter is that I have dreams…and that’s neat.

Mine revolve around writing. I know that I am not the only one with this dream, and I also know that many of my followers share this one with me. It is also one I know a lot of us are struggling with, myself included.

I have taken a lot of steps to achieve this little dream of mine. I have taken classes, joined groups (both online and real life), I have taken part in NaNo, started a blog, gotten into twitter…so on and so forth.

But hands down the biggest step forward I took was to get involved in ghostwriting. This took me over that line from amateur to professional. Sure, my name isn’t on the cover of the works that I have taken part in, but it HAS helped me nail down this ‘writing every day, even if it’s not what I wanna do right this moment’ thing. In this capacity I have written, thus far:

  • 40 short stories, between 2,500 and 10,000 words.
  • 6 scripts for short films. about ten pages each.
  • 17 single scenes, words counts varied, but around 4k each
  • 3 novellas between 20k-35k

All in the span of three months. Which, if you are counting, is a lot of words. So many words. I am proud of these achievements. They are awesome. It’s been amazing.

However, I have just received (and accepted) my very first offer to pen a full length novel. I will be receiving $750 for a 75k thriller/romance novel and I am so excited about that. I cannot even express. Sure, my name wont be on the cover….

…but that’s the next step.

 

Seriously though, horror

Seriously though, horror

I write naughty things. I find something glorious about describing the feel of satin hands sliding across sweaty skin. Or whispered promises and candlelit dinners. It’s fantastic. I’m not ashamed of it. At least I’m not till my conservative 80 year old grandfather looks me in the eye and asks me what my books are about.

That conversation went about as well as you can expect.

That being said, I have a deep and abiding passion for horror. I have a ridiculous collection of horror films (new, old, and remade), I have a slew of shelves devoted to the literary version of the genre, and I even wrote a screenplay based off of the mysterious case of Elisa Lam.

I think part of it is because I live in (almost) rural Virginia. We are very proud of our claim to be the ‘most haunted state in the US’. There is even a very lucrative series of books out there that collect all the local stories. So here I am, surrounded by the idea of ghosts, witches, and mysterious murders, what is a writer to do?

It’s a tad bit hard to cross the genre of romance and horror without it falling more into one than the other. Perhaps I ought to take another pen-name and devote that time and energy to the bump in the night stories.

Or not. Who knows?