Monday, March 30, 2015

Excerpt From An Upcoming Untitled Project

"Have you ever been in love?" She asked looking across the room at the irritatingly calm therapist.

"I believe I have, yes."

"I don't mean just saying I love you. I mean looking into the other person's eyes and see your own soul reflecting back at you. The kind of love that changes you and the way you see the world."

"Honestly I am not sure I have ever been in love like that no."

"I have." She said simply. There was no response. Like a well trained listener he sat there stoic, waiting for her to continue. Eventually she did. "I had a love like that but I screwed it up."

Dr. James scribbled something on his secret little notepad. Aaricka hated that leather-bound holder of judgement. People came here to pour their hearts and souls out only to have everything locked neatly away in that cowhide diary. He looked up at  her when she didn't continue right away. "Is that what you would like to discuss? Your previous love?"

"When you lose someone like that you know you are never going to get them back. You will never find a love like that for a second time. Sure it is possible to find contentment. You will smile, be productive, one could even call you happy at times but deep in your heart you know that the one person your heart belonged to has come and gone forever."

"It can be difficult to move forward but it is a necessary part of life."

"But what happens when you are granted a second chance? When the powers that be look down on you and grant your heart's one true wish of finding that love again. When you meet someone that makes your heart ache with just one touch, the world disappears when they touch you. What do you do when that person shatters the ice you have built around your soul with just one simple kiss and then you step back and objectively look at the situation and it kills you to see that the fates have played a cruel trick on you because whether it is you or them one of you is taken and you cannot have the person that finally makes you feel complete again?"

"I know you are concerned because you have been trying to make things work with your ex. You have your son to consider Aaricka and you must choose if you are going to pursue things with his father or try to make things work with the man you met."He smiled. She stared daggers back. She already knew that she had to make a choice but obviously considering where she was it wasn't a choice she could make easily or completely on her own. "Think of the poet Robert Frost who said Two roads diverged in the woods and I took the one less traveled by."

"No offense to Robert Frost but honestly that is the nest you can come up with? Besides which path is the one less traveled by? Is it the one that leads me back to a man I couldn't make it work with before but now we are trying again for the sake of a son I am not always sure he even wants? Do I stay with him because it is the known path and I can be prepared for what to expect? Should I stay because I have a family with him and my ex in-laws making it possible to rebuild something there? Or do I go the other way and take the man that makes this hollow shell I have become and makes me feel alive again? Should I jump into a relationship knowing it will tear my family apart and join with a man that may have to sacrifice his friends and family to make it work with me because they do not approve? And what of my son then? What if this new man isn't ready to be a father or my son hates him? Either way I have to watch the heart of someone I care about break in front of me and know I was the cause of the pain. So you tell me Dr. James which path should I follow into the woods?"

Now they were finally getting to the root of her frustration and touching upon what led her here in the first place. He smiled knowing that they would be making real strides soon. "I apologize Aaricka but it looks like our time is up."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Character Possession

How much of ourselves do we put into our characters? Perhaps a better question is how much should be put in and are we capable of limiting it when needed? Our characters obviously have pieces of us, the writers, inside them. We did create them after all. But do they not all have their own personalities? Don't they have views and opinions that differ from one another?

If that is the case then they can only be partially us. But once you have removed your own personality, at least in part, from the character how do you inject the rest? What do you do when a character has a point of view that is different from your own? Or worse what if they support something you desperately oppose in your own life? Do you kill them off making them the villain of the piece in order to preserve your perspective or do you allow these contrary views to win out because it is simply a piece of fiction?

How do you write a personality traits that do not fit your behavior? I have characters in one of my current stories that are all different in the way they behave, what they believe and even the situations that led them to where they all are now. I can relate to some of them but I find other members of the book baffling. I have had to research a few of their issues. I have talked to people battling their ailments but it is the internal parts they deal with I find the most fascinating.

My characters become truly real to me and I feel what they feel. It is in a small way like being possessed by them. I know their thoughts I can see the entire story play out like a movie in my head while my own soul is moved from character to character. I experience them, their life and loss I become them. I have found that when I am truly open I can almost feel what they feel even when it is not something I have experienced.

While I know it is not actually possible that I have memories of things I have never experienced nor can I feel things on behalf of another that I have never had, I do feel as though these characters live within me. I am them and they in turn help me see as they do. The question is am I putting myself into them or allowing them to alter me when the time comes?

The Sad Romance

I was thinking recently about the way performers use method acting when getting into character or trying to create an emotion in a scene. They reach back in their memories in order to locate a time when those feelings were fresh then focusing they bring them forth once again. As writers I believe we often do the same thing. We look back in our mental files remembering a time when something happened or we felt a certain way then use that to portray what our characters are experiencing.

The only thing I have noticed recently is that pulling up a previous emotion is useful unless you are currently experiencing the opposite feelings. For instance if you are trying to write a love scene for a romance novel but you are going through a break up or large fight with your significant other it can be next to impossible to remember what it felt like to be happy. 

Yet when we are happy in our relationships we are still able to think back in order to find some past pain and draw from that for a more serious topic in our books. Why is it that we can bring forth sorrow, pain and suffering with such greater ease than we can happiness and cheer? I know this does not apply to everyone but for me it is a major struggle. It is one of the reasons I write far more drama and serious novels then lighthearted romance books because I can more freely access the feelings of pain and loss than those of being content in my relationships.

I know part of that is because I have had some rather traumatic relationships, though I know a number of people that have as well, but I have also experienced something most people have not, friendly divorces. Yes I am divorced, twice in fact. Both times the relationships were not ideal. Obviously or they would not have ended but at the same time they both ended rather friendly for being the dissolution of marriages. I know we were happy at the beginning but for some reason it seems more difficult to remember those times.

I remember the loss when they were gone, even though ultimately it was better, it was still a loss. Now as I work on writing and revising one of my romance novels, Breathe, I find that I am still afflicted by loss and sorrow. I have a wonderful boyfriend but I can still remember when I lost others. I have a great life but I can still feel the effects of the sleepless nights. Why is it so difficult to move beyond the sorrow, the grief, in order to find the cheer in life? What do you all do to find the love for romance when your heart still sings for those that are gone?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cover Art Debate

As I work on editing and revising Breathe and Survivor I am looking ahead at the publishing paths I want to take for each of them. For Breathe I am intending to submit to traditional publishing houses and agents in hopes of landing a contract through one of them while I will be maintaining my indie status by self publishing Survivor.

One of the most difficult things I am finding for survivor however as I start the editing process is that I cannot picture the cover in my mind. I have always had the idea for my first novel in my head and while it changed as we prepared for publishing a year ago it stayed with the theme I had always planned. Now however I find myself completely at a loss for a story that is extremely personal to me.

Survivor is a short story about fighting back against domestic violence. It follows the physical, and even more so the emotional abuse suffered by a teenage girl dedicated to a man that sees her as nothing more than an accessory to his narcissism. It is the background story for one of the characters in my full length novel Sharing Strength that continues to see Jasmine fight with the effects of what she has gone through. Most important of all from my perspective s that it is all the story of what happened to me and was the initial cause of my Post Traumatic Stress diagnosis.

Names have been changed. Locations are fictional but the story is at least ninety percent true and that makes it both imperative as well as impossible for me to write. the first draft was completed back around thanksgiving and within a week I found myself in the hospital having a severe emotional breakdown. The anxiety does not go away but it can be dealt with and by sharing my past I hope to let others know they are not alone and that they can fight back as well.

This brings me to a question I have been wrestling with when it comes to the cover, is it self absorbed to be the person on the cover? I have been a cover model for books written by fellow authors before I became a published author myself. I have experience in front of the camera and it is my own story so would it be completely out of the question to be the model for this project? Or does that come across as untrusting of someone else to portray Jasmine and make me look selfish?

I do not possess the artistic eye of a photographer nor the imagination of an artist. I do not conceptualize visual art well. I have always been better with the written word. In this case I am completely torn. I can go out and look for inspiration and I can easily, though emotionally portray a girl that is essentially myself but I do not want to take away from the story just because I chose to use my own picture for the cover.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Comparing The Genders

I had a conversation earlier today with a good friend of mine about the difference between men and women and the way we react to situations. He had been having a discussion with another girl about chivalry and how if a man does not step up to do something then he may have failed to be chivalrous but if a woman calls him out on it then she has failed to be a lady in that situation. I gave my input that her failure would depend on context, I stated that I believed if the woman simply observed the lacking behavior without insulting the man then she could still be considered a lady.

He attempted to call her but the message he left was completely misconstrued and it caused an argument. This led to our conversation about the logical vs emotion responses of the genders. I could not agree more that women are more emotional while men are more logical. I will not say that I think one is better than the other. I can see times where emotion would be the more appropriate way to handle something while I can easily say that logic definitely has its place as well. For the most part it is simply a different way of addressing concerns, no better no worse.

As I was talking to him about this it got me wondering if these different ways of thinking effect the way each gender writes. I have a number of writer friends both male and female and while I enjoy reading their work I have noticed a common theme of the perspective matching the author. I myself write generally from the female perspective simply because it is easier for me. However for my current work in progress Sharing Strength there are a number of times I need to describe not only what the characters are doing but also what they are feeling and how they are dealing with the very difficult situations surrounding them.

There are six main characters and four of them are men. I need to describe them, show their trials, tribulations and triumphs and be as accurately as possible but after this discussion I had I wonder if I will be able to show them in a true male view as opposed to injecting my more emotional female perspective. Because the book is told in third person and jumps points of view from character to character this is a definite must.

I may need to at least make sure that I get both male and female beta readers to go over the manuscript once the project is finished. What other gender concerns have you noticed when comparing the sexes? When it comes to writing can one gender truly capture the other with honesty and objection?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

In Honor Of St. Patrick's Day

While I am a writer and that means the world to me, I am also a casino dealer in my daytime life. This is the job that pays the bills and I enjoy it immensely. Last year for a March anthology all about luck I put together a simple playful poem about luck and a tip of the cap tribute to my alter ego of dealer. I hope everyone enjoys it and has a great St. Patty's Day!

I Deal In Luck

He walked up to roulette
And laid the money down
The crowd looked on in interest
Watching without a sound

The dealer made the change
And slid the chips back
He took a big chance
And put it all on black

The ball spun quickly
Shortly after it began to drop
Everyone held their breath
Until it came to a stop

Seventeen caught it
It nearly jumped out but it stayed
The audience cheered
As his bet was paid

He gathered his chips
It was now quite a stack
Then made his way over
To play some blackjack

He went all in on one hand
As up came an ace
Those rooting him on applauded
When the next card had a face

Finally he made his way to my table
Prepared to wager it all
He smiled at the man rolling
He was having a ball

The dice rolled across the layout
Ricocheted  back and fell
The stickman called the number
And from his grin you could tell

He had come for the chance
Now the cashier called his name
He had the time of his life
Every game was his game

He winked as he tipped the dealers
Gave a high five while he colored up
I knew my job had a happy ending that night

Every day I deal in Luck

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pushing Forward

A few days ago I posted about my personal feelings regarding a much loved and truly missed icon Sir Terry Pratchett. I shared a few quotes and talked about how they had been a part of my inspiration but there was one quote that as I have been struggling with a few stories recently became more and more important to me.

"If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story." 

Because of the extremely personal nature of Survivor and Sharing Strength I have fought with writing them for months. Both contain the same character, Jasmine, and while Survivor is exclusively her story which happens to also be my story, they explain and examine Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and my experience with the diagnosis. 

It has been tragically difficult to face my own past and the path the characters all must take. I have to keep true to the incidents that led to their diagnosis of PTSD. I have wanted to give up on both stories numerous times but I feel I owe it to the characters as well as those that may read the books and be able to understand that they are truly not alone. 

I felt alone and a stranger in my own body for years and I have just recently, about five years ago in fact, begun to finally move forward and find a way to love myself again. Yes I still hear the internal voices daily that tell me I cannot do it but I know there are others that hear those voices and push on so I do the same. 

I read this quote and it struck me deeply that this is my story to tell and the characters my books chose me as their medium to tell the stories they have to share. I cannot let them down and I take comfort in seeing the motivating words of those I have looked up to my entire life. We all deal with set backs, traumas and insecurities but like Sir Terry Pratchett inspired me to push forward with my own projects I hope someday to show others that it is all worth it to hang on when things get hard. I hope my dedication and the motivation I have taken from others words will inspire those around me someday to help others keep trying as well.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saying Goodbye To A Legend

"In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods. They have not forgotten this."

I first read this quote a mere year ago and laughed so hard I was reduced to tears. It so eloquently described my four little monsters and as they lay there sun bathing I reflected on the simple honesty represented by the statement. Some people have an ability to state things with such elegant simplicity that I find myself constantly entertained as well as inspired.

Terry Pratchett was a hero to many in the literary world, myself included. I first became familiar with his work my junior year of high school. I was taking a Korean class at the local university and studied with one of the teachers who worked with me during a study hall and reading class he also taught. One day he was gone and the substitute insisted that I find a book from the cabinet and read like the rest of the students.

I looked through the stacks eventually coming across a dusty book in the back with a lime green and royal purple cover that simply said "The Truth". I had never heard of Terry Pratchett nor I was remotely familiar with the Discworld. It took me a few weeks to get really into the book but once I reached the end of the book I knew I had to find others by the same author. I began looking through book stores and finally found a section of his work. There were dozens.

He made me laugh with every book I read. I felt deeply for a number of characters and have gotten to know them through my continued visits to the Disc as I explored novel after novel. He had a way of drawing you into his unique perspective and taking you on a journey that could change the way you see things once you finished.

"It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done."

He never accepted that there were people out there that believed he wasn't going to be able to do whatever he wanted. This is something I am working to implement in my own life. I have fought against my fears and insecurities for years but taking this quote to heart I hope to find the ability to measure up to his inspiration and use the motivation of walking in the footsteps of one of my heroes. It is not that I want to walk his path, I have my own goals and directions but instead I want to take Sir Terry Pratchett along with me in my heart.

"It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life."

He lived a full life. I like much of the world am devastated by the loss of him and his unmatched mind. His mind however was leaving him as he suffered through Alzheimers. He passed away surrounded by those he loved, including his cat, and he is no longer having to fight. He will never be forgotten and his words will inspire for generations. He was my hero, a literary legend and he will be greatly missed.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fighting Through Fear

Sitting in my office I have been looking around as I work, albeit slowly, to reorganize the room and create a more functional space. I have files piled up. A few of them sit on the desk because I am actively working on them. These include Breathe, Welcome to Syn and Sharing Strength. At the same time I have my white board hanging on my wall above the desk with all four of my charity book editions outlined. I keep all of my files updated, create song lists and take notes from research, I add pictures and fill in the character bios. I am always looking something up or adding just one more detail here and there.

I also have the pile of next projects. Some are ideas for Nanowrimo books I will get to write year after year while others are plot bunnies that held me against my will until I outlined a book. I have a number of books waiting in the wings filled with characters that are chatty. They all speak up and try to be the one to grab my attention whenever I have a lull working on my current novels. There have been many days that I will sit down to work on Sharing Strength yet I find myself listening to the nattering of characters from books not yet started.

Sharing Strength itself along with the novella prequel Survivor I shy away from for personal issues. Being that both are about PTSD which for anyone that has read this blog previously is aware that I was diagnosed with ten years ago. Survivor is even more intense seeing as how it is based on my own experiences. This is I believe why I have been dragging my feet so much completing the projects, I am scared.

When I finished the first draft of Survivor I was sent to the hospital with my first extreme anxiety attack in years. The nightmares and flashbacks began to inhabit my life all over again. I cried for what seemed like no reason and I couldn't begin to work on anything book that was even close in subject matter. It consumed my life just as it had a decade ago. This is not the only fear I have been hiding from however.

I know that the reason I research several books at once and write a chapter here and an outline there is because I am also terrified of finishing something. All of my personal doubts come to the surface just considering it. What if the book isn't good enough? What if I can never get it published? What if I self publish and no one likes it? What if I am just not talented enough to be a writer? All of these thoughts flood through me every time I open up a document to work.

My friends and family reassure me but the voice in my head never stops. I push on because I have spent ten years learning how to but that doesn't make it easy. I know there are others out there that have the same reservations. And like me they see people constantly publishing and getting new likes and followers in social media. they recognize the flood of reviews other authors seem to gain so easily. The envy I feel at not having the reach and success I have dreamt of is mere fuel to the fire as I keep pushing but it is the nagging voice of mediocrity that I succumb to when I falter. I vow however to push until I have nothing left and face my fears with the support of my friends and family in order to keep pursuing my dreams and I hope that everyone out there facing their own demons will continue to fight as well

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lacking Motivation

My plans for the day have been changed due to the unexpected dying of the battery on my car. I had the itinerary prepared for the DMV, hitting the gym, running a few errands and straightening the house before retiring to the office for some dedicated writing time. With the change in plans I find that my mind has also wandered and is no longer focusing making completing the parts of the day I am still able to much more difficult.

I can still straighten the ouse though I seem to be exhausted even though I did sleep somewhat well. I am able to change my office around if I want but cannot find the motivation for the project. And of course I can easily sit and write but the characters are silent under protest to the change in my timeline. I badly need to finish revising Breathe and get survivor on the active project list. I need to create my list of agents for submission once Breathe is ready to go. I want to finally complete the first draft of Sharing Strength and I am truly looking forward to a few of my upcoming projects as well.

In order to move from one book to the next I am trying desperately to finish them as I go instead of a chapter here and a few new pages there but it seems all I can do right now is lay on the couch and nap or read. It is so frustrating because I am honestly excited about getting to the new books, especially this new erotic tale of revenge and romance. I am creating a playlist to go along with it and though I had planned to work on other books first this one is quickly moving to the front of the line.

I just need the motivation I am so clearly lacking to find me and stick around for awhile. Breathe needs to get done so that I can submit it to the agents because I believe it has a decent chance of finding acceptance and while I enjoy being an indie author being traditionally published has always been a dream of mine. Sharing Strength is another that I think can make it in the traditional world but for my erotica and my thriller I may stick with indie publishing. I am undecided where to go with Welcome to Syn but it is fun and I am looking forward to the continuing adventures of the Syntel sisters.

Today however is just about motivating myself to accomplishing something so I am posting a picture from when I first moved to Las Vegas and was writing in my messy office. I am hoping the the visual of myself busy creating will inspire the same actions for the day. What do you do to inspire yourself to accomplish your goals?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Learning About My New Project

I have been doing the domestic thing today. I ran a few errands, cleaned up the house and made my way to the gym for a difficult but effective workout. I came home and helped make dinner before going out for a fun date night with my boyfriend. Now as I am sitting here beginning today's blog post I can feel the writer fighting to come out.

All day I have been feeding the other sides of me. I am thrilled to be able to indulge my alternate personalities but now as the night falls and the creative juices being to flow I find that all I can focus on is the erotic new dark novel I was considering yesterday. Just as I settled down my brain came alive letting me in on a few details I was unaware of previously.

I have learned in the past couple of hours that the main character is a woman that fell in love with a man that broke her heart and in the process of revenge slept with a man that actually cared for her. When he discovered that she had merely used him he finds a way to curse her causing her to become a siren exiled to the ocean. She is in fact part water nymph and can only maintain her human side by seducing men and stealing their life essence.

She is bent on finding the man that cursed her. Her name eludes me as does her ultimate accomplishment in the story. I have not connected with the men in the story yet either but I can feel everything about her. She is in deep pain, first from the broken heart and then from the curse. She feels an erotic yearning that she fights hard to keep under control yet at the same time it is also has to keep her human side alive. The nymph should be a peaceful side but it threatens to overpower her human half and pull her away into the sea forever. While she was in love and believed she was loved back her heart was strong and she was able to stay human but when he discovered her true nature and left her she fell apart.

She now is fighting a losing battle against her water side and must find true love before she loses control and in turn loses herself. She may be a beautiful siren but she wants so much more. She wants to gain her revenge and make her human half the dominant part of her. In order for any of that to happen she must find someone that truly loves her before there is nothing left to love. I cannot wait to learn more about her.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New Idea, New Inspiration

I have been away from my blog for awhile but I have still been trying to be productive. I have been writing and revising when I can. I worked with my trainer at the gym to create a quick and highly effective exercise regiment. I am even redesigning my office to be more conducive to writing. I have several files currently sitting on my desk and when I get everything set up tomorrow I will be able to access what I am working on much easier.

Thinking about my files I am always surprised by how many projects I have. Not only the ones currently in the works of which I currently have nine, four charity books, four novels and a short story I am working to expand, but also the ones waiting in the wings to be written next. Along with creating files on my computer I always keep a file folder full of notes, song lists, pictures and a checklist of information for each book I am working on or planning to in the near future. It helps to have the ability to grab an outline and the checklist in case I am able to capture some information I can use at a later time.

Today as I was driving to to work I had to grab a notepad to jot down ideas for yet another book idea. I was listening to the radio and hit the scan button. A station I rarely play came on and a song was playing that had a hardcore beat and very strong lyrics. While I enjoy loving romantic songs with sensual melodies I found the raw sexuality of the song enticing. It made my mind wander to other songs that have had that effect on me and I realized that there are several song when i listen to them either the lyrics or the music, sometimes both, have a carnal magnetism that I can feel running through my veins.

This sensation is what triggered the need for the notepad. I was struck by the idea to create a playlist of these songs and let the desire flow. I plan to use the inspiration and the sexual energy to try my hand at my first erotica. I have done clean romance novels before but I have been dabbling with darker genres such as suspense, drama, thriller and now I would like to work on using the animal level of sexual desire to create an intriguing tale. I have never been so explicit in my writing opting instead for romance and clean scenes but I am still working to push myself to try new things and see where my voice ends up taking me.

It got me wondering, do others continue to push themselves argots stay in a happy home of comfortable genres? Is music as much of an inspiration for others to create as it is for me? And most of all when trying new genres or ideas how much do you emerge yourself in what you are writing about and how much is either research or imagination?