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.

japanese-girl-breaks-bricks-with-forehead

(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.

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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.

giphy

( 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

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.

 

Dear Followers

The past few months have not been easy.

I do not have the heart, nor the words, to go into details but I can say that a lot has happened. The shortest explanation is: Housefire, Water Heater Death, Cancer, and an emotional breakdown.

It has not been an easy few months for me nor the people I am closest to. However, I am back. I cannot promise to post everyday, in fact I can’t make any promises where my posting habits will be concerned. Just know that I am alive and as well as I can hope to be. Thank you all for sticking around through my absence.

 

Siblinghood of the World Blogger Award

 

First, let me apologize for my absence on this little bitty blog of mine. I’ve been focusing so much of my time on my work and my cookbook (Kitchen Witchery: a Food Magic Guide to the Dark Half of the Year; coming up in 27 days) that I haven’t had a lot of time to give all you amazing followers due attention. Please look for me to rectify this in the future.

Secondly, one of my all time favorite people, Shanon Noel Brady, nominated me for the Siblinghood of the World Blogger Award and since she is incredibly awesome I am going to answer her questions, then create more questions to pass on to some of you. Fun!

Also, she recently got a story published, go check it out!

Now, on to the questions!

  • What was the first story you ever wrote?
    • When I was in the fourth grade my teacher wanted us to understand how books were made. This was an eye opening experience because while I was an avid reader I never really thought about the person behind the pen. I realized that I could be one when I was done being a Magical Space Princess.

      The teacher gave us each a bound book to write and illustrate as we wanted to. Please note…I am a terrible artist. I did, however, manage to scrawl out some wobbly stick figures depicting a rainbow earth worm in search of a magical flower. His name was Henry.

  • What book have you read the most times?
    • The Alienist by Caleb Carr. A novel based in turn of the century New York about the first forensic team that profile and catch a serial killer. It is so wonderfully written, historically beautiful, and it just gets me every time. I love it. It’s strange to me that this is my favorite book. I tend to read things that have a fantastic or magical element but this story is realistic and I still adore it.
  • What are your favorite kinds of characters to write?
    • I love magical people living ordinary lives. The Orc who works the late shift at the gas station while he struggles to finish his first novel. The half elven college student studying magical chemistry. Mermaids with active tiwtter accounts and goblins in law enforcement. I love the idea of the fantastic and the ordinary coming together and studying the world they create.
  • How about your favorite kinds of scenes? (Action, steamy, tragic death, etc…)
    • Like my characters the normal that becomes paranormal. I have a scene where a woman dressed in punk clothes is working in a garden with a cat sunning beside her. She takes her clippings in and puts a pot on the stove as if to cook. But it becomes obvious as the scene progresses that she is casting a spell, the pot is her cauldron, the cat her familiar. All these almost normal things slowly become fantastic.
  • Describe what your writing space looks like?
    • In a word? Messy.
      There are multiple books I use for research piled haphazardly on every surface so long as it is mostly flat. I have several printed out manuscripts in various stages of editing. The topmost shelf is cluttered with figurines and statues of comic book characters and historical figures. Empty cans of Dr. Pepper and half drunk glasses of water roost in between bits of sewing projects that I work on when I get stuck on a scene or idea. There is usually a snack and a feline within arms reach.
  • What do you struggle with the most as a writer?
    • Finishing a project without getting sidetracked. I have about…80 projects spanning a multitude of notebooks and digital documents. During my work I often get ideas for other things and fear loosing it so I will jot down my thoughts…which sometimes leads to me wanting to work on another thing…so on and so forth. The hardest part for me is really focusing on something with enough tenacity to finish.
  • Any recommendations for good music to write to?
    • Okay, I cannot write to music. I know that SO many talented and amazing authors swear by it. But when music is on I wanna get up, clean, move around, dance, sing and play my air guitar. I tend to have a television show on when I write, something I’ve already seen that isn’t loud or distracting. Cooking shows, Star Trek: TNG, The X-Files, and similar to name a few.
  • What is the most age-worn, tattered and battered book on your shelf?
    • A thrift store copy of The Other Boelyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory. I dunno what happened to this poor book before I got a hold of it but there are stained pages, the cover is half gone, dog eared pages, and more.
  • What’s your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
    • The Fog by Stephen King. The story was a great look at what happens to a group of normal people in a very abnormal circumstance. How mob mentality responds to stress and the challenges of survival when your day job is an artist.

      I choose this one not because both the film and the story are amazing in their own rights but because it’s one of the few times where the author flat out admitted that the changes in the film improved upon the story. The movie gave us one of the best endings of all time and if you haven’t seen it…go watch it.

      A very close second would be Interview with the Vampire…but I say that in part because I find Rice’s stories hard to plod through.

  • Do you have a notes system for on-the-go ideas? If so, share with us the most random note you’ve jotted down, even if it only makes sense to you.
    • I do! My most random note that I can remember is: Real Trolls dislike comment sections.

 

So on to my ten questions:

  1. Where do you get your inspiration?
  2. What literary cliche do you secretly love?
  3. What deceased author would you love to speak with?
  4. What book/series does everyone love but you loathe?
  5. Was there a particular book that inspired you to write? If so, what was it?
  6. During what time of day is easiest for you to get creative and why?
  7. Have you ever written something that made you feel uncomfortable?
  8. Do you like to research for your work?
  9. What do you want out of your creative life?
  10. What do you think marks a great book?

 

So, now that this is done it comes to tagging…and I’m going to take the cheap way out and say absolutely anyone who reads this can consider themselves tagged because I am interested in seeing all of the answers. Cheating? Maybe a little…but I’m a tad greedy.

 

My Spoiler Free, Overly Nostalgic, Review of Star Wars

 

I know, I know…I’m a book blog. What the heck am I doing reviewing a movie that basically everyone is going to see? Am I jumping on a the nerdy bandwagon? Am I making a grab for followers or interest? Or am I just writing a piece about something that made me have some feels?

I’ll give you a hint…it’s the last one.

So here’s the thing. I have a very mixed relationship with Star Wars. There are things about it that I love: lightsabres, robots, and intergalactic space politics. But there are also things that I loathe: a heavy focus on what is “light” and what is “dark”, poorly done cultures (wookies can’t pronounce their own names), and a serious lack of speaking female roles.

But, all that being said, Star Wars has a very special place in my heart.

I was seven when I got the chicken pox. It would be a day or two before the spots showed up but I still felt like my head had been hit by a hammer and the only thing I could nibble was cheese. I was spending Sunday, as usual, with my grandparents. My Grandmother assumed I was sick and tucked me unto the couch with a pile of blankets and put on one of the five VHS tapes that she owned, it wasn’t holding my attention.

By the time the quirky nun was getting the VonTrap children to sing about does and rays I was hurling up my cheddar lunch. It was not a good day. My Grandpa took pity on me and lifted me from the couch into his lap and put a rag on my forehead and a cup of water in my hands. He smelled of cigars and cedar, which was a great improvement from the scent of cheddar vomit.

“Here,” he said switching the video tapes. “Let’s watch this instead.”

He put in A New Hope and I was caught up from the first scrolling words….which he had to stop a time or two so I could catch up. I was enamored with Han Solo and desperate to have a robot friend before the first hour was done. I was lost in a world of wonder.

We watched the first two movies that day, and the final one the following Sunday while I smelled of calamine lotion and oatmeal. By the end I was cheering and dancing and happy as a clam that teddy bears had saved the universe.

Hey, I was seven, don’t judge me.

I can’t say that I was a fan then. I was a kid and would go on to explore a billion things before I was swept up in the Jedi/Sith craze. I saw the prequals when they came out. I played about a dozen video games with the star wars theme. I own two versions of the pen and paper role playing game. There is an entire shelf on my entertainment center for all the Star Wars moving pictures that I own (including both The Clone Wars, and Clone Wars). My closet has not one, not two, but THREE different outfits for the setting that I’ve put together for conventions.

To be honest, in doing all that, I never felt that same wonder that I had as a child, tucked in my grandfathers lap, watching the story unfold.

But there I was, standing in the rain and cold, wearing my x-wing pilot inspired dress, sharing with all the other early view fanatics that couldn’t wait until Friday to see the film. I was, once again, not feeling great but I wasn’t going to have anything spoiled for me by going a few days later. I crowded into the cinema with a popcorn and a massive stack of lemonade and waited to feel whisked away once more.

And to be honest there were moments when I felt it.

Sure you’ve got to sit through about thirty minutes of previews that you could watch on you tube, and there was a woman sitting in front of me that kept checking her phone. But despite that I did experience that ‘lost in the story’ sensation intermittently throughout the film.

And yeah, it’s only intermittently.

What the film does well:

-The beginning
-It incorporates the original characters with ease. They feel like their own people continuing on their own stories.
-The new characters don’t feel like a rehash of the old characters, though there are some similarities.
-BB8…oh my god.
-Combat/Action sequences
-Introducing worlds
-Tugging at your heartstrings
-The cinematic score

What the film does not do well:
-Pacing
-Character growth/change happens in several sudden moments that felt…weird.
-The ending

The stories foundation was pretty great. I loved the idea of it. Once i read through the opening scroll I was like ‘fuck yeah, that is a great story idea’.  But the film seemed to be focusing too hard on drawing some parallels with the original trilogy that it sort of forgot to be its own thing.

Also the ‘big reveals’ that happened during the course of the film weren’t handled very well. I wasn’t hit in the gut with them, but rather poked in the chest. I feel that this was predominately a pacing problem. The story unfolds awkwardly, with the history given in tossed around banter rather than flashbacks or poignantly expressed  dialogue.

I think this heavy handed style was do, in no small part, to JJ Abrams style of direction. I have seen it in other films and I’m hoping that Rian Johnson (director of Looper and The Brothers Bloom) can even out the pacing issues and help bring star wars to it’s new era.

Overall I give the film a 7/10. It was worth seeing. I did not feel that my time was wasted, but rather felt my inner editor going ‘okay, that’s cool, but what if you moved that here’.

A Death in the Family

Tomorrow is my grandmother’s funeral. I wont be there. It’s not that I don’t want to be, even though I kind of don’t; and it’s not because I can’t, though that is most certainly true. I have, however, been asked to help write the eulogy because I am “the one who can write” in my family. In doing this I discovered a few surprising things.

I loved my Grandma Donna, but sometimes it was very hard to like her. She grew up in a very different time, but that is no excuse for some of the things she did. She was the kind of woman who made you finish everything on your plate, even if you didn’t put it together yourself, because you ought to be thankful for what you had. While I understand the concept the practice never made me any more thankful for my food; but it made me a lot more thankful  for the family dog.

She did not often say “I love you” or tell me when I did a good job. She was quick to point out when I had made mistakes. She was ruthlessly disgusted by anyone she thought was ‘fat’ and she didn’t care for whining of any variety. Homosexuality was a sin and girls ought to put time into their appearance; but not too much.

She once told my seven year old sister who was still recovering from several stomach surgeries that she was getting fat.

Do not mistake me, not everything about my Grandmother was harsh. She taught me how to make a dollar stretch, how to sew my own clothes, how to alter hemlines. She wanted me to be a self sufficient woman. My first cooking lesson was at her elbow and from her I learned the magic that turned a seed into a plant to dinner.

It was because of my grandmother that I know all the words to The Wizard of Oz and the Sound of Music. She introduced me to thrift stores, and romance novels. She had a large impact on the person that I am today.

But I learned, in writing this little snippet, that if she hadn’t been my grandmother I probably wouldn’t have loved her much.