Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Research rocks!

I'm tearing through the last third of my current writing project and I just wrapped up a short story, both of which required a great deal of research. Since I adore research, this was no hardship--what's better than reading up on exotic locales and interesting sports?

My next big project will also require some research; I mostly need to capture the flavor of life in Viking times, without digging too deeply into any historical details. This gives me the opportunity to re-read Beowulf and watch The Thirteenth Warrior as many times as I'd like!

Ooooh, Antonio Banderas ... life as a writer is so hard!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An achievement

You're probably thinking, "Ooh, an award!" or "She signed with an agent!" But no, this is one of those minor milestones in life: surviving a trip to the post office. Honestly, I think every time you get in and out of a government facility, you have immediately earned yourself a cocktail.

I know it's silly to celebrate something as easy as making a trip to the post office, but it's special to me. You see, at least 95% of the submissions I make are done electronically. I just click a few buttons and zip, off my story or book goes. But when you have to actually print out your work and find an envelope and figure out the postage, it makes you sit back and reflect upon what you're doing. I mean, there was a time two years ago where I would catch myself chanting as I walked, "I wish I was a writer, I wish I was a writer." It was kind of a mantra for me.

And then sometime last summer it just hit me: I am a writer. I am living my dream. I create things and I share them with amazing people. Sometimes people even like my stuff enough to tell me about it or contact me on Facebook and let me know. If that's not what I dreamed about when I was eight years old and had just decided that I was going to be a writer when I grew up, then I don't know what is.

Oh, and I just saw the rough draft of Dark Depths' cover. Galen Dara and Carrie Cuinn are absolutely amazing. I can't wait to hold this book in my hands.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


This weekend, at the inaugural meeting of my new writing group, a friend pointed out that the main character in my story was hard to connect with. She was just too cold, too unemotional. I jotted down a note to fix that.

Jotting down a note doesn't seem like a major milestone, but for me, it was. You see, characters in my first drafts are always unemotional. I just don't write characters that emote. At least, not in a first draft. This has tormented me for about three years. In fact, I thought there was something wrong with me. Was I a cold, heartless monster with no feelings in my heart? Was I completely clueless when it came to human relationships? Was I doomed to never write anything good in my entire life?

(If you're not reading that last statement as a prolonged wail, you have clearly never spent time around me while I was unhappy.)

But something happened a few months ago. Either I grew up (fat chance), or I learned a thing or two about the way I write. I am motivated to write stories by wondering what happens next. And when I sit down to write a story, I already feel very strongly attached to my characters; I usually can't put down a first paragraph unless I've already gotten a good sense of the character's voice. So as I write, I'm usually focused on the puzzle of what happens next and am overwhelmed by the emotional experience of the characters, which are so close to me that they feel like my very own experiences. I'm so into the moment that I sometimes forget to fill in the blanks for my readers.

The good news is that all of that is fixable in the revision process. I'm not broken; I'm just forgetting to share everything I know about my world and my characters. This is something entirely obvious to anyone but me. I've made myself extremely miserable worrying about this stuff.

Yeah. I'm that level of dumb.

But I do have a fun new story coming out in the Lovecraft eZine this week, and I have an AWESOME new Lovecraft eZine tee shirt!

Plus this weekend is the HP Lovecraft Film Festival! I can't wait to see my fellow Lovecraftian creators!

Thursday, May 03, 2012


I just came back from the eye doctor's, which is always a fun experience. It's weird to actually pay attention to what my eyes are doing and to try to challenge them, and it definitely makes me appreciate the normal, comfortable sight I enjoy every day (with the help of my glasses!). Life is a lot more rewarding when it's easy to  focus.

The same can be said about writing. When life gets busy, it's hard to give your writing projects the focus that they need. Sometimes, life doesn't even have to be the distractor--depending on your working style, problems within the project can also make you lose your focus. I've definitely had times when I just couldn't pay attention to my project, couldn't make myself push forward. I used to chew myself out for being lazy. But recently, I realized that the way I write, my brain doesn't allow me to move forward if there are big gaps or problems with the material behind me. I haven't added more than about 100 words to the current scene of my novel in over two weeks: I've been stuck because the two chapters before didn't work and I'd added some new characters that were shallow and boring. I went back and added a bunch of new material, learning a lot about the characters. The book is still growing, and I'm happy.

You see, right now, my life is being particularly distracting. But because I'm still engaging with my work, I'm still getting words down on the page. Last year, when I was working through wedding planning, I failed to identify the real problems within my work, and wound up disengaged from the project. I let myself get sidetracked with life issues, and I also got mad at myself for not working harder on the book. All that accomplished was making me feel really badly about myself.

Don't give up on your writing when you find yourself stalling or struggling. And don't blame your busy life, either. A busy life makes it difficult to concentrate on your writing, but your problems probably stem from your relationship to your characters and the story line. Clearly, the secret is focus!