Category Archives: About Writing

Writing Wednesday – Modern Fantasy World Building Prompts

1This week’s “Writing Wednesday” was inspired by my recent rewatch of “The 10th Kingdom”. It got me thinking of a few fun modern fantasy ideas, and since I’m in a sharing mood, I decided to pass them along to you!

If you see one you like and would like to use, please feel free to. If you come up with some, add them in the comments below, and I’ll put them on the list.

  • City witches who use their mirrored phones, or just blank phone screens, as a scurrying mirrors.
  • Witches under 21 carving new paths of magic, and laughing when their elders are confused at how they made new spells with technology. Alternatively, witches over 50 watching the new generations and shaking their heads, but also are secretly proud of their new students ingenuity.
  • Vampires or orcs who post make up tutorials on YouTube to make themselves look more human.
  • Witches who sell glamore spells at Ulta.
  • Apartments that include “Brownie Clauses”, where tenants have to agree to leave offerings out because they’re the ones who fix anything needing repairs.
  • Necromancers who own law firms that specialize in wills needing to be clarified by the recently deceased.
  • Magic users who can’t have a garden going to Whole Foods for fresh herbs and chatting with others to find what spell works best.
  • Mermaids who live in city lakes and curse anyone who pollutes it. City gets known for having the cleanest park in town because everyone’s too scared to throw trash in it.
  • Benevolent Jinns helping children soldiers and kidnapped women escape their captors.
  • Werewolves who have to play in dog parks because it’s the only place in the city where dogs are allowed off leash.
  • Changelings finding out they’re fairies and staying with their human family and use their new magic to help make their lives easier.
  • Dryad funerals held by city fae when a plot of land is turned into a parking lot.
  • Leprechauns who change with the times and instead of collecting gold, collect bit coins, own credit card companies, and who know how to manipulate the stock market.
  • Fire Salamanders that live in furnaces of major metal manufacturing companies, helping keep core temperatures stable.
  • Yakshas that hold support groups for people struggling with bipolar disorders.
  • Pixies that break or change road signs to get people lost.
  • Ogres who own their own bodyguard business. They protect anyone who’s willing to pay them, so long as they get to eat anyone who attacks their employer.
  • Huldrefolk trolls that make underground houses, only problem is if you’re an annoying client your house will have problems throughout your stay there.
  • Goblins that sit in underground bars, smoking and drinking all while making bets with humans and swindling them out of their money.
  • Gargoyles that have learned the hymns of their churches and sing them at night to the homeless who come seeking shelter.

 

I could go on, but this is getting to be a long list. Let me know if you’d like to see something like this again in the future. I’m sure I could come up with more.

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Time to Get Offline

I’ve always hated social media, a fact I talk about often, both on and offline. Talking to strangers on twitter is fun, but it’s kind of impersonal to me, and if I can’t have that personal touch, I’d rather not be touching at all.

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And like the 90’s girl I am, this whole post might sound very “Clueless”. Bare with me.

 

I’m so bad that I even sit around and day dream about living a life like Thomas Harris. What would it be like to be an author who doesn’t bother doing anything with social media, and just lives with his brain monsters (and family of course)? As an unpublished writer it’s very appealing, but I’m not Tom Harris, and none of my characters are nearly as up to par with Hannibal Lector. Instead, I have to focus on building a writer’s platform.

But like all necessary evils in a person’s life, or persevered evils, sometimes it’s good to take a step back from them. I learned this lesson the hard way. I moved to a small Texas town where internet takes forever to get set up.

It’s amazing what a couple weeks without internet did to me. I’m not going to say I’ve had any life changing, soul altering moments, but it’s definitely been great. No pressure to get tweets out every day, or to post up something on instagram, or heaven forbid find something interesting enough to add to facebook. I knew I had an app still making posts on my behalf, but I wasn’t having to try and impress anyone by coming up with new, clever posts.

Instead of building a platform, I took a step back and picked up some books. Not just the quick easy reads I normally read when I needed a mental break from writing, no I dove into everything. I finished Clive Barker’s “The Scarlet Gospels”, Mercedes Lackey’s “Firebird, and even a graphic novel I secretly love. From there, I moved to “Plot Verses Character”, by Jerff Gerke, and tackled a few other non fiction pieces from my husband’s library. It was like finding my writing voice that I had years ago. The more I read, the more I began to feel like myself.

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It wasn’t just books, however. I drew pictures, practiced my digital art, took my dogs for walks, and explored the new city I just moved into. I came to realize that life without internet was great. As much as I know I still need to build a platform, I know that it’s more important not to get so lost in your online life that your offline one suffers.

So here’s my goal for 2018. Get on the internet when I need to, but only jump on social media once a day. If I miss some hashtag games, or lose a few followers, so be it. Being more worried about my follower count than my word count is counter productive for me at this moment in my writing life. While sure, other writers are building a strong social media game, they’re at that point in their walk that they can do that. I still have a long way to go, and can’t compare my journey to their’s.

While I’m at it, I’ll be changing my blog schedule, focusing more on quality vs. quantity of posts. I’m also going to try and build a more conversational tone, since I know I can sound a little dry sometimes. I’ll also try to interact with other bloggers more, to build better relationships with you lovely people who are consistently liking and reading my posts.

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If you’ve ever been in my shoes, and have some tips for finding a better balance, please let me know. I’m definitely open for a critique!

Writer on the Road – Day 4

We’re back in civilization tonight and had Whataburger for dinner for the first time in almost 6 months. For those of you who know what that is, you know how fantastic I found my meal after being away from it for so long.

We left Utah today and made it into New Mexico. With only two days of driving left, I spent a lot of time today thinking about writing and what I want for my life. 

When I first started writing, I had no intention of ever being published. I liked to write because it helped me escape from reality but it wasn’t what I wanted to be when I grew up. I shared with my friends, and while they enjoyed it, I never thought I’d one day try to sell my work. 

I kept up the work, even when I didn’t think I’d make it a career, until about three years ago I realized it’s what I want to do with my life. That being said, I’ve never been published. I’m not writing to pay the bills yet, I’m writing still out of passion, so I don’t have to worry yet about the career side of the writing world. 

As I realized this, I had to ask myself, do I really want a career as a writer? Do I want the work as well as the play? Why not just be a hobbiest, why do I want to be recognized as an author?

Being a hobbiest and being a professional are two totally different animals. There’s nothing wrong with either of these, but it’s important to be honest with yourself. 
Everyone has to answer that question to themselves. For me, I decided on day four of my drive that I wanted to be a writer, not because of the romance, but because I like the work. I like the hours bent over a manuscript. I love the feeling of starting a new idea. And as much as I complain, I even enjoy the editing. 

Work isn’t some four letter word to me as so many creative types make it out to be. It’s something I find myself embracing. Writing is as much of a career choice as it is a way to share my love of stories with others, and that’s why I’m perusing a job as a writer.

It was a nice realization and it’s fueling my fire as I keep on writing this November. I love the work that gets put into books, and I can’t wait to jump into the career side.

I don’t know why you write, but please let me be clear. Everyone’s reason is a valid one. If you want a career as a professional writer, you go after it with all the fire you’ve got. Everyone has their drive, tell me yours below and let’s share the love of the job! 

Writer on the Road – Day 3

There’s something about dying desert towns that makes me anxious. I drove through the small town of Green River, Utah tonight. As the sun went down at my back, the moon bleached out the buildings as I looked for my hotel.

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If you ever travel to Green River, you’ll notice one side of the street is lined with gaudy, half working neon lights, the other is long dead and empty. If you go on a full moon, the cold light will make the husks of closed motels and empty gas stations look haunted. \

When I finally made it over the river and looked back at the city behind me, I can’t tell if my imagination is running away with me, or if there really are figures moving on the plateau outlined in the setting sun.

It was unsettling to say the least.

But I learned some very important writing lessons today. One, every place you drive through can be inspiring enough to write a little overly flowery blog post, and two learn how to manage your time.

If you caught last night’s blog post, you’ll know I was having trouble at my last hotel with the wifi, and this night started out exactly the same. I downloaded my files to my phone, and managed to start last night’s words, even if I didn’t meet what I was originally hoping for. The funny thing is, I had net at one point, but thought “I can always finish this later, I want to screw around online right now”. I made plans for a later time, but that later time turned out to be problematic.

So here’s tonight lesson. If you want to write a book, start to notice when you’re wasting time, because you might not get it even if you plan for it. Even if you’re a night writer, if you get an hour in the morning, write in the morning. Worse case scenario, you get a little bit of work done, and you still have that night to write. Best case scenario, you lose that time, and you’re already done.

It should be an easy lesson to learn, but I’m still trying to figure out how to do this sort of thing. Maybe this trip will make it skip this time.

Writer on the Road – Day 2

This is a short one today, but definitely a good lesson.

Don’t rely on wifi while traveling. If a hotel says it has free internet, don’t think “Oh perfect! I can sign in to my online storage, download all my files and get some work done.”

There’s a chance they won’t have working internet and you’ll have to get all that important writing done on your phone.
In other news, 600 words into my NaNoWriMo novel and my protagonist is now a guy, my love interest turned into a strongwilled female lawyer, and my book went from a comedy to more of a fun romance.

Oh November. You’re full of surprises. My original idea will be recycled later, so don’t worry, those of you interested in my “Gilmore Girls meets Good Omens” idea. That one will come along in the same universe but different setting.

Okay all, time for bed. Sorry my post doesn’t have any pretty pictures to go along with today’s mini lesson. Have one of my dogs in the Uhaul instead.

Hope you all had a great writing day! Adios till tomorrow.

2017 NaNoWriMo Influence Map

My NaNoWriMo novel this year is a paranormal comedy, and with it only a week away, I gathered up my inspiration to make myself an Influence Map.

As promised, here’s what’s keeping me motivated on this project!

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1. This one is a bit obscure if you don’t know The Twilight Zone, but in season 3 episode 16, I saw Death personified for the first time in pop culture. I was 10 when I first saw this episode, and it’s stuck with me all these years. While Death won’t be a huge character in my novel, I definitely love the idea of Death appearing to people in different forms, and hope to translate this as well as The Twilight Zone did.

2. I found this picture on pinterest and for whatever reason, it just cracked me up. From this picture, I started collecting others that reminded me of haunted cafes, or ghost related things. I took it and ran, and haven’t stopped since.

3. Now, I won’t be too influenced by Gravity Falls, but I do like the general feel of the show. A town with supernatural happenings that just kind of shrugs and goes with it is definitely the vibes I want to give off.

4. I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of Ghost Whisperer, but an old writing friend of mine pointed out some of my plot points reminded her of that show, so I went back and rewatched a few clips, and yeah, there are definitely a couple similarities. Not many, but enough to admit when there are common themes.

5. Buffy is one of my favorite shows of all time. I love the girl killing monsters trope, and while my main character isn’t as outgoing as Buffy, she’ll definitely be in a “Hell Mouth” situation. She’ll also be a reluctant hero type, so that’s a bit of inspiration for me as well.

6. & 7. Practical Magic and Dime Store Magic are inspiring as far as the witchcraft goes, but also because of how they portray female friendship/sisterhood. Much like Death, witches won’t have a huge part in my novel, but they’ll have enough of an impact on the plot to take some inspo for them.

8. Gilmore Girls has a bigger square because I’ll definitely be pulling some of the class division in small town life, as well as a woman trying to make her own away from her family. As I’ve been saying, this is really a paranormal book about friendships, especially positive female ones, and I really hope to be able to portray that.

9. I’ve been listening to the podcast, New World Witchery for close to 3 years now. While it’s mostly about North American magic, they have side stories revolving around folklore that I’ve always found inspiring. Their collections of ghost stories, American witchcraft, and general folklore will heavily be influencing my world building.

10. There’s a house in the small town of Steilacoom, WA that sits on a hill facing the bay. With two stories and a shade of dark mint green, when I first drove by it, I had my husband pull over so I could get a closer look. Now an office building, it’s the perfect size and layout of where I imagine MC lives and works, with a cafe in the bottom, and bedrooms on top. It’s my main setting inspiration, and I can’t wait to explain why this house turned cafe is now the pit stop for lost souls in my universe.

11. Good Omens was the first Terry Pratchett, and 3rd Neil Gaiman book I’ve ever read. I loved the snappy dialogue and hilarious idea that an angel and demon are trying to stop the apocalypse from happening. The writing style of both authors has heavily influenced my comedic work, and to say I didn’t get my character dynamics from them would be a lie.

12. As stated above Steilacoom, WA is a town a drive through or visit semi frequently. The first town in Washington, I love how cute and quiet it is, but since I’m a small town girl, I know that there’s probably some problems there that are just under the surface. Maybe there aren’t literal ghosts people are trying to hide, but I bet everyone has a few skeletons they try to keep buried. While I called my city “Stella Cove, WA”, there will definitely be some similarities between the two cities.

 

Hope you enjoyed seeing where my ideas are heading! If you’d like to make one of these influence maps, check out the link here for the download. Also, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo comment below with how you’re getting ready. What’s your story about? Have a link to share? Throw it my way!

Also, I’m looking for writing buddies, so shoot me a line on the NaNoWriMo site to team up.

Finding Time to Write

As I hammer through some suggested edits, I’ve been talking more with others about writing and the most common thing I hear is “I could write a book, if only I had the time!”

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Truth be told, I didn’t and still don’t have enough time. When I finished my manuscript for Flightless, I was in the middle of a military move, driving an hour and a half every for work every day, and trying to cram in as much family time before I left Texas. It’s a year later, and I’m trying to get through ANOTHER military move (this time mostly by myself because of my husband’s work schedule), finish my last month at my job, and still sight see around the Pacific Northwest. I was supposed to be here for another two years, and instead, I have a month left.

All that being said, I still believe in making time to write. So where do I make time, and how can you?

Lunch breaks –
I get a thirty minute lunch break, and 20 of those minutes are spent working on my book. It might not be my longest writing time, but it’s 20 minutes I can spend getting work done.

Wake up early –
I don’t do this one often, just because I’m a night owl, but sometimes if I’m feeling up to it, working on editing is the first thing I do.

While cooking dinner –
Most of my dinners are made one of two ways. Out of a box or time consuming with lots of prep. Either way I have to wait while it’s in the oven, so instead of doing chores, I write. Sure my house doesn’t stay ridiculously clean, but it gets the job done.

When someone else is driving – 
My husband usually is the one who drives when we’re traveling around together, so I take that time it takes to get from point A to point B to hammer out a few hundred words. Even if it’s just a trip to the store, and I’m jotting down ideas and changes on my phone, it still helps.

At night –
This is my favorite time to write. Everyone’s asleep, no one’s asking anything from me, and I can get a lot hammered out.

How do you make time?

Start to notice when you’re wasting it. Did you binge watch an entire season of whatever newest thing came out recently? Do you really think some of those episodes couldn’t have waited while you worked on one chapter?

If you’re really not sure how to make time, start writing an hour by hour list of things you did in a day and find out where there’s some wiggle room. This is what helps me every once in a while when I start to fall off the tracks. Not only does it show where your writing time is, but it also shows how much you spend on things that might not be as important as that book you want to write.

One last thing. Don’t write in a room with a TV, and shut off the internet.

For those of you who know how to work a tv/internet connection without getting distracted, bravo! For the rest of us? TURN IT OFF. Find ten minutes at a minimum and try to write as much as you can with everything shut down. Music is fine, but try to play it without needing the internet.

 

How Artists Can Promote Your Book

Jessica Ingold recently put out a tweet asking for “new and different ways to promote her books”. It got me thinking about a way authors occasionally overlook that would help not only themselves but other artists as well.

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I don’t make it a secret that I love to draw. In fact, I have an Instagram and a Deviant Art dedicated to building my writer’s platform through art. One thing I’ve found, however, is that the best way to promote myself isn’t to plaster up ads on Facebook or spam my twitter followers with automatic messages. It’s to get other artists involved in my work.

Here are two ways to create healthy relationships with artists to help promote your work.

1. Have a contest.

One of the first ways I got my writing on the radar was to hold a contest. I put up 7 scenes, between 3 and 5 pages each, from different short stories, one offs, and the novel I was working on and asked artists to draw what they interpreted from the passages. What I wound up getting was not only people reading my work, but also artists posting up artwork of the pieces that linked back to my page.

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This was done by Kennie (bootyfeathers) who enjoyed the drawings I posted along with short stories so much, they started doing fan art. We’ve stayed in contact over the years, and they’re someone I hold near and dear to my heart as an artist.

2. Hire Artists

If you have the money, this is the fastest way to get artwork. Many artists will put up some information about what they’re drawing, or what the story’s about for their fans to get some extra information about what they’re looking at, so feel free to ask for them to link back to your website, amazon, or any social media.

You can also hire artists to design characters for you to use in stories or novels. When people see a character design, they usually begin to wonder “What’s the story with this person?” That being said, some don’t like their artwork being used for momentary gain, other’s don’t care, so be sure to ask your artist when hiring if you’re going to use the character in a book /short story you plan on submitting for money.

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I met Madisen (Inkyness) through art as well. She’s done some great work for me, both as gifts, but also as commissions.

 

Here’s a big “don’t list” when it comes to working with artists.

  • Don’t offer them publicity as payment. Publicity doesn’t pay bills or put food in your stomach.
  • Don’t ask for artwork for free. It’s insulting. You wouldn’t write a whole book for someone for free just cause they wanted it would you?
  • Don’t offer payment when you “hit it big”. That could take years, and artists don’t want to wait around for that to happen.
  • Don’t hire artists you know nothing about, check reviews for artist. I paid fifty bucks one time for a character design and the person vanished. I’m still a little stung over this.
  • Don’t use their artwork for unintended purposes. Many artists have copyrights, so be sure you’re following them if you post the artwork elsewhere, or want to use it in promotional items.

Hope that opens some doors for you as far as hiring artists and looking for promotion!

Top 10 Things Unpublished Writers Hear

The road to being a published author is a bumpy one. Holding down a day job, raising kids, constant criticism, and your own internal struggle can be daunting. You know one day you’ll get there, but in the mean time, here are things you’ll probably wind up hearing.

  1. “Why don’t you just self publish?” or alternately “Why don’t you just find an agent?”

Not every publishing style is perfect for every writer. What works for someone else might not work for you.

2. “Can you write me something for free? It’ll be good publicity.”

I’ve heard this a few times from people who want something like fan fiction or smut stories between them and a character/celebrity. It’s not really great publicity, when I’m not a romance writer.

3. “You’re a writer? But what do you REALLY do to earn money?”

I’ve heard this one more than once. I have a day job, but one day I’d like to be able to say that IS what I do to earn money.

4. “You’re a writer? So is my uncle! His agent just sold his 5th book to a publishing house!”

I’m always happy to hear someone being successful, but yeah, sometimes I do get a little envious.

5. “You’re just not trying hard enough!”

For many writers, this can be true, but when you just start submitting, you’re at the beginning of your journey. Keep submitting. You’re doing great.

6. “You could be the next Stephen King!”

Do you know how lofty that goal is? Hell, I just want to get a book out there, I can focus on becoming ridiculously popular and established later.

7. “When does your book come out?”

Good question. As soon as I get that agent and manage to sell my manuscript I’ll let you know.

8. “What does your spouse/family think?”

I’m not sure why this one comes up. It always makes me scratch my head and wonder why it matters? Even if I didn’t have support I’d still be trying to be a writer. Should their opinion really matter that much?

9. “Why not write a book about something that’s popular right now?”

Because trends are constantly changing and you shouldn’t cater to what’s popular. By the time you’re finished with your book, it’ll be out of style.

 

10. “You just finished your first book, what are you going to work on next?”

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First, I’m going to take a second to breathe, send out query letters, build a writer’s platform and sign up for some conferences….then maybe write something about human cloning, but you know, that’s a little ways away. The point is, there’s a lot that comes next.

The Dark Mother in Books and Movies

Just as a warning, this post contains dark imagery and unsettling pictures. Viewer discretion is advised. 

 

I love tropes. I know other people have mixed feelings about this, but I find them fascinating. While diving too far into tropes can become cliche, every writer uses them. Just one look at tvtropes.org, and it’s almost impossible not to.

So to celebrate tropes, I’m picking a few of my favorite to highlight in my Writing Wednesday posts. I’ll do one a month until I get tired of it, maybe more if people have suggestions for tropes they enjoy.

Today’s trope is….

The Dark Mother

With every trope or archetype, there is a dark side, and if there’s one archetype I love the most it’s that of the Dark Mother. She’s a force to be reckoned with and can be any caretaker or mother figure with dark intentions.

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Patron Saint of Last Nights Tears 5×5 oval oil by Jasmine Worth

 

Examples in Literature –

The Other Mother – Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Evil Stepmother/Queen – Every fairy tale ever
Cathy Ames/Kate Trask – East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Norma Bates – Psycho by Robert Bloch
Margaret White – Carrie by Stephen King

Examples in Movies –

Alien Den Mother – Aliens
Stephanie Smith – 8 Mile
Mary Jones – Precious
Queen Bavmorda – Willow

Why do I love this trope so much?

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Mother Catrina by liransz on Deviant Art

Mothers are supposed to be loving and caring. They’re our caretakers, who we learn love from, and when we have nothing, we’re supposed to be able to count on them to be there for us. As someone who’s a fan of flipping tropes on their head, the idea of a Dark Mother, one who gives life, but also takes it, has always been fascinating. She’s strong, but in a wicked way, and is morally compromised at every turn.

I hope to do her justice in some of my future novels, both as an antagonist, and as the powerful female figure she is.

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Aura by Lourdes Saraiva Art https://www.facebook.com/l.saraiva.illustrator

 

Which mother do you prefer in your movies and novels? The Light or Dark? Who’s your favorite example of a Dark Mother?