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    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
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    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

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Equinoxes and Godesses and Autumn Creativity

This weekend everyone’s talking about it being the first day of fall. And their lovely weather.Free Danish Autumn Stock Images - 870214

Sigh.

Here in Arizona, we’re still hitting over 100 degrees during the day, but I’m (im)patiently waiting for cooler temps. Send em on over 🙂 I love sitting outside and writing in the cool air. And reading on the back porch, the kids hanging out around the trees, is a blast 😀

For some reason, this time of year–fall, cooling temps and Halloween just around the corner–makes me feel more creative. I love planning new worlds, and for some reason, I get more ideas during September through October than any other time a year. 

Of course, once November hits with the holidays, I get no ideas LOL so maybe it all balances 😀

Since I’m in the middle of such world building and researching mythology and recently came across this again, I thought I’d share this tidbit (From a post in 2012)

***

In the pagan religion, the autumn equinox (the time of year when day and night are equal), is September 21st, and is the celebration of Mabon, or the first day of fall.

Mabon is named after a Welsh god who was stolen from his mom when he was barely three nights old.

If you enjoy Greek or Roman mythology, there are similarities between Mabon and Persephone, both being taken captive to the underworld during the autumn equinox, only to be rescued and allowed to come back during the spring equinox every year.

But the main theme of the celebration was that of thanksgiving.

In older ages, this was the time of the fall harvest, and the gods were thanked for the bounty of food to see the village through the oncoming cold winter.

***

 

I love fall, we don’t get the pretty leave turning or even much of a transition here (we go straight from way-too-hot, a few days of just-cool-enough, then straight to get-out-the-jackets weather) but it does mean cooler temps finally:)

So my Q4U: What’s your favorite time of year and why? And for writers, when is your most creative season?

~ Amber

Write for Your Genre

I’ve heard different thoughts on how important or unimportant it is to keep in mind your genre while writing, but for me, I’ve discovered that it is essential. Young adult fantasy is a genre I’ve written quite a bit in, but recently, I started a high fantasy novel for adults. If I played by the same rules I usually do, this novel would not work at all. High fantasy allows for a lot of description and exposition, whereas young adults readers typically lose interest if you don’t get right into the action.

Both genres are really enjoyable to write in, for completely different reasons, but dabbling in high fantasy has been incredibly fun for me. Usually I have to focus so much on making things fast-paced in my YA novels, I don’t get to go into all the details I want to include. My high fantasy novel is fulfilling my craving to be detailed, while also allowing me to explore my new goal: to use powerful details, rather than lots of details.

I know for some people, they write their novel, and then decide on their genre and audience. It is amazing to me that other writers are able to do this, but as I’ve discovered, I need a little more structure than that. What about you?

New Urban Fantasy Bestseller… Not!

I have two fabulous friends who write incredible urban fantasy stories (Jami and Amber).  Recently, I started playing around with an urban fantasy novel idea, even though it’s a little out of my typical comfort zone.  One day I actually found a short period of time to write, so I sat down and typed the first chapter of my new novel.  After that, I got busy for several days, before I had another opportunity to read what I wrote.  But when I did, I cringed.  It was cheesy, predictable, and just awful!  I kind of thought if I created a kick-butt main character, a hot romance, and an interesting plot, all of it would just come together.  I was so wrong.

Some stories just don’t work.  They’re doomed to fail before a single word is written, because the story itself is just bad.  I don’t think that’s what happened here.  I’m not sure if it was the lack of sleep or my lack of experience in this genre, but the experience got me thinking.  If some of my absolute favorite authors attempted writing in a different genre, would they be any good?  Would their ability translate to anything they wrote?  Would they just need to work harder for a good end result?

I’m still not entirely sure why this novel attempt was so laughably bad, but I do plan to revisit the idea, at some point.  I feel like the only way I’ll really know what happened is by putting a little more work into it.  So, even though you’ll likely not see my name on any urban fantasy bestseller list anytime soon, I haven’t entirely abandoned this genre.

Disappointed with Love

Recently I discover a new TV series with a kick-ass female lead, a sexy love interest, and supernatural elements.  From the moment I started watching it, I was in heaven!  There is something almost magical about a book or show where the main character is compelling, draws you to them, and really makes you want to root for them.  This character did all these things, but what was more, watching the two main characters relationship develop was incredible.  They were sexy to a dangerous point, but they also had to put aside their issues to allow themselves to fall in love with each other.  I felt drawn into their relationship, and experienced so much excitement at the idea that the character I’d fallen in love with, had fallen in love too.  But just as everything seemed to come together for my very deserving character, the man she loves is ripped away from her in a way that stinks of permanence.

A shockingly familiar feeling hit me, reminding me of the first TV series I’d gone crazy over in my high school days.  It had also drawn me in with its passion, fantastical elements, and strong lovers, and it too had crushed me.  So, even though my husband begged me not to, I went online to investigate whether this new series would let me down too.  My husband said I’d ruin the show for myself, but I knew I’d regret putting more time into this show if the couple never got back together.  And unfortunately, it sounds like the producers of the show decided to go in a different direction.  Thus, killing any hope that these characters might have a happy ending.

I was disappointed to say the least.  How could these writers make me love this couple so much and then dash all my hopes for a happy ending?  But once I got over my disappointment, I also remembered my solution for this issue in high school: fan fiction.  It may sound silly, but it was such an important moment in my life when I realized that through my own writing I had the power to write life the way I wanted it.  It changed me from being just another person who enjoys a good story, to a person capable and willing to write my own story.

So even though I may no longer have a steamy new show to watch, I have something better, a reminder of why I love writing so much.  And what’s more, a reminder that in my own stories, the girl can always get her guy.

 

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE

Greetings and salutations loyal readers of the blog,

I had planned on talking about word choice again. (the room falls silent, in anticipation. NO, BOREDOM.) So instead I’m going to share with you what I read throughout the week. These are published authors who still take the time too share what they’ve learned, and aren’t afraid to tell you they mostly learned these things the hard way.

I’ll start with Scott Kenemore. Author of such modern classics as Zen Of The Zombie and Zombie Ohio, just name a couple. Scott talks about Zombieism in all it’s forms. He shares about the brain eating business of writing and publishing books. His posts are brief, informative and fun.  You can check him out at http://scottkenemore.wordpress.com

Next the beautiful and talented Liv Rancourt. Her recent novel Forever And Ever Amen, romance with a twist.  Yesterdays post was called Alternate Endings. She wrote an interesting piece about what if I had done one thing differently, college, marriage, or job and what that might look like.It’s a great way to test your creative chops. You can read it yourself at http://livrancourt.com

Last I offer you, the way too in my head and watching what I do to the point she is a little frightening, Kristen Lamb. All week she has been causing me to look over my shoulder, trying to catch her spying on my life. I finally stopped when I mentioned her blog to a writer friend of mine and we started saying things in unison, IE “How does she know I’m struggling with sitting down and writing instead of–fill in your own mundane life tasks.

So Kristen knows how we writers think and is bold enough to say it out loud in her blog. (I’m just going to say this unfiltered, “She’s got balls”) Today her blog is titled Change–Resistance is Futile.  While she is promoting her new book Rise Of The Machines-Human Authors In A Digital World. She does it by telling us what prompted to her to write a non-fiction book. Next that she is self publishing this one and why. She admits having fears around treading new ground in the self-pub arena. She talks about mistakes she going to make and the new ones she’ll make after she learns from this first foray into self-pub. She’s a gutsy honest lady, who will tell you you’re lazy, and defend your right to be lazy for a day. Then, she will tell you to get back on that keyboard and write until your fingers bleed, because that is exactly what she would do.

If you write because you must, like most of us. You owe to yourself to check out her blog at http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com

I hope I didn’t gush too much.

I find it hard to write about writing. I can talk about the mechanics, and make jokes about my poor grammar, but at the end of the day, writing is a singular experience that is hard to share. The three writers I mentioned above have a way of making it personal. As always I’ll leave you with a quote.

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”  ~Sylvia Plath

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf

Reality in Fiction

Realty isn’t so simple.  A lot of time is spent on making decisions, neither of which is clearly the “right” one.  Most of the time when someone opens one door, they close another, and there is a certain amount of regret when that door is closed.  Sometimes fiction makes choices far too easy.  There is always a right choice, and once it is made, the characters can live happily ever after.  This lack of reality can sometimes frustrate me.  But at the same time, if I wanted to read something realistic, I would simply read non-fiction.  The question of how much reality to incorporate in fiction is still very important though.  Fiction can’t be completely unrealistic; it needs elements of reality for us to connect with it.  I just feel fiction allows us to touch upon reality without having it banged over our heads.

I write mostly fantasy.  One of things I like best about fantasy is that characters are often placed against nearly impossible odds, but are given tools to fight those odds.  A skinny, little boy can hold incredible power, enough to combat even the most frightening enemy.  Whereas sometimes in our world, no matter how big or small someone is, impossible odds are often crushing.  This means, I guess, that I love happy endings.  I wish they happened more in real life, but I certainly happily anticipate them in the books I read.  I would feel really disappointed to read a book without a happy ending, but I also don’t want the happy ending to come too easily.

So how do you find the right balance between a fantasy world with a happy ending and reality?  In truth, I’m still not entirely sure.  I guess I just feel that if I read the book and believe the characters struggles, the book has enough reality for me.  What about for you?  How do you know when you’ve found the right balance?

World Building

World building is probably one of the biggest challenges I face.  In my mind, the world is as clear and real as my own, but as I write, world building somehow gets forgotten.  Instead, I focus on my characters and plot, filling in the world, even when it doesn’t come across in my pages.  It isn’t that world building is all that difficult, it is that my mind fills in the world, and I often forget that my readers aren’t inside my mind.

So how am I going to fix this problem?  Well, first, I’ve decided that I need to spend more time reading my book in large chunks, versus chapter by chapter, and noticing whether the little details in my head actually reach the page.  Second, I am going to write a list of the things that make my world really unique and make sure that those things have actually been written and described.  In this way, hopefully, I will really improve my world building skills.

Well, wish me luck!  I feel like every week I try to improve on a different aspect of my writing, which logically means one day my writing will be flawless… right?

Starting Over & Refreshing the Well

Free Well In Monastery Stock Images - 2986804So I’ve decided I needed to take a break from writing my Heart of a Vampire Series for now, let the creative juices get back to flowing.

What does a writer do when their current series just isn’t working for them at the moment?

I decided to go back and relook at some of the novels/stories/beginnings/and so forth that I have worked on in the past.

My Angels (the book of my heart) just wasn’t calling to me either. So I continued to search.

And finally found my Ah-Ha.

The hardest part about doing this is that as writers, we grow over time. Looking at a book I wrote two years ago had me shaking my head, snorting in disbelief, laughing at myself, and suddenly resiting the urge to drown my sorrows in a *good* book, LOL.

Guess it’s a good thing I still love the story. But it does mean I’ll be starting over. Taking the basic idea, reworking and rewriting.

Hopefully I’ll have it done by the time Eerie comes out of hiding, he’s been threatening to steal my whips if I don’t get back to blogging and writing 🙂

Outside Your Comfort Zone

I have a comfort zone when it comes to my writing.  It is a reflection of what I enjoy most to read.  I create worlds in which I myself want to get lost in.  I create characters who are flawed but wonderful.  They speak to me as if real people, and a small part of me feels guilty when I place one challenge after another in front of them.  But my worlds are very different from the one I live in.  They are worlds of fantasy where dragons and heroines fight to preserve what is right with the world.  Good and bad are more defined than in the real world, not always entirely clear at first, but by the end, both my characters and I know with absolutely certainty.

There usually isn’t much room for the “real world” in my writing.  The real world is more complicated, and less magical.  It’s still beautiful, still mysterious, and still full of miracles, but the closest thing to a dragon is the angry lady ahead of me at the checkout counter.  So, I usually stay away from this kind of reality, allowing my imagination to create a new reality.

Lately, however, I’ve been finding my fantasy worlds being constantly assaulted by the outside world.  They don’t seem to be able to escape the real world, both in a good way, and a bad.  This has led me to strange dreams that later become strange short stories.  They are far outside of my comfort zone.  Reality sprinkled with fantasy, rather than fantasy sprinkled with reality.  I’ve read them over and over, wondering if they say what I want them to say, questioning whether they should ever see the light of day.  Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to find the answers in my words, so I’ve decided to show them to the light of a dim room, filled with my writing buddies, and see whether they should be read by others, or buried away in a file somewhere.

In the Eye of the Beholder

One of the first books I ever read about dragons was Jermey Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville, when I was in early elementary school.  This book still sits on my shelf in a place of honor, for it represents the beginning of my love for dragons.  Since then, I have added many, many more books about dragons to my library, because I am still amazed by these powerful creatures that, for some crazy reason, want to bond and communicate with humans (or at least do so in many books).

Right now, I am reading another book about dragons.  It is inspiring, as it is both creative and beautifully written.  The settings are well-described, and the characters are multi-layered and realistic.  But, I think it is the dragons that have pulled me into this story more than anything else.  There are pieces of this book that are written from their point-of-view, and the depth of both their pride and their agony as they struggle through their new lives is heart wrenching to read.

There are things about this book that make me pause.  It seems to break many of the “rules” about writing that I’ve come to accept very comfortably.  It repeats very, very frequently.  It also describes nearly every scene in great detail, regardless of whether the setting is important or not, or will ever be revisited.  Do these issues take away from the story?  Perhaps a little.  But I am still devouring this incredible story, and in the process, trying to learn and appreciate the things that make this story so remarkable.

One of the things that I I’ve learned the most about from this books is how powerful perception can be.  This book is written from multiple points of view.  One of my favorite characters describes herself multiple times throughout the book as unattractive and boring.  Another of the characters who interacts with her regularly describes her as almost grotesque and a nuisance.  Then, her path crosses with yet another character, and through his point of view, she is a lively and beautiful creature.  It startled me to realize how, rather than these characters contradicting each other, they are just creating a more realistic character.  Because isn’t beauty always in the eye of the beholder?  Aren’t people more complicated than simply “boring” or “interesting,” depending upon who is judging them?

So, I guess there wasn’t just one thing I learned from reading this novel.  Instead, it is another experience that will hopefully enrich my writing.

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