I’m dipping my toe into the writing pool.
Just a little.Read More
I’m dipping my toe into the writing pool.
Just a little.Read More
I haven’t blogged for so long. In truth, I’ve barely written a thing in months. There are many reasons for this, but the main one I wish to share with you. This is a long story about my relationship with sleep. You may tire of it before you get to the end, and I won’t be offended if that is the case. I am writing this as much by way of catharsis as anything. If you do stick it out to the end, feel free to share with me your thoughts and perhaps your own experiences with sleep.
We all have our afflictions, some more than others, some bearable, some unbearable. It’s part of human nature to suffer with aches and pains and parts of our body that don’t work, or break. My greatest afflictions usually err on the mental side of health issues. Mostly these days I’m healthy, apart from one main issue. Chronic insomnia.
For as long as I’ve been alive, I have loved to sleep. Where some people can get by on six hours a night, I prefer to get nine or more whenever I can. Even in my misspent youth, when friends would relish in the newfound ability at the age of eighteen, to stay out in a club until the wee hours, I would go along with them, but by midnight I’d be sat in a dark corner yawning, waiting for the time to tick away until I could go home, and sleep.
I always thought I was an easy sleeper, and to some extent that was true, once out, I’d be out cold for the duration, very little would wake me. But the ritual of sleep was specific. Some people can lay their head anywhere and go off without a problem. For me, I went from a childish need for the soft glow of a nightlight all night long to a specific desire for absolute darkness, one night in my teens, and the ritual has grown ever more specific since. Pitch black is a must – I have black-out blinds at the windows to cope with the summer months. In addition to darkness, I need silence. The slightest sound – a dog barking – a car racing up the road outside – someone shouting in their garden, causes undue stress. It’s as if, once disturbed, I have to reset the entire process of attempted sleep, each time, after each sound. The loudest sounds of all were non-existent. The voices in my head, replaying events of the day, events of the past, conversations with people that had happened, that I planned to happen the following day, or that were utterly imaginary. I obsessively played them out, over and over until, eventually my exhausted mind would find quiet and let go.
Imagine then, what having a child did to this delicate ritual. I’ve gotta tell you folks, it fucked me up no end. Add to that an unhealthy dose of post-natal depression, plus PTSD from the near-death experience of childbirth, I can safely say that the first twelve months of motherhood was a mess. It took all of two weeks before I sat in the doctors office, sobbing, shaking, breaking down into shards of a human, leaving pieces of my mind on his grey carpeted floor that I was sure I wouldn’t be able to pick up again before I left. I hadn’t slept for more than two hours a night for all of those two weeks. Luckily, I had broken down in front of the very best products of any medical training and experience that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I wish I could remember his name so I can sing his praises. He told me simply, to stop breastfeeding at once, to take anti-depressants, and to take sleeping pills.
Zopiclone was perhaps the only thing that stopped me tumbling over the edge of insanity. A heavy sedative that took all of my specific sleep ritual needs and threw them out the window. Take one pill, twenty minutes before bed. Lay down. Sleep. I took one a night for twelve months. Then I tried to stop taking it… what I didn’t know was that I was completely dependent on the drug. I tried lowering the dose, taking one every other night, all sorts of tricks to wean off the stuff. None of it worked. The only way I got off it was cold turkey. It took around three weeks of utterly broken sleep (most nights where I didn’t sleep at all) before I could get back towards some sort of sleep routine.
The World Health Organization assessment of Zopiclone states that since the beginning of its therapeutic use, zopiclone has been found to cause rebound insomnia and anxiety. I can attest to that statement. Coming off the anti-depressants was just as hard, and against all advice on the matter, was only achieved, again, cold-turkey – I DO NOT recommend this approach, I very nearly killed myself as a result of the quick withdrawal of such a strong drug. I am alive only by the skin of my teeth on that point. My reasons for doing so are varied but not pertinent to this post.
My daughter is now almost seven years old. I have spent seven years with chronic insomnia. A lack of sleep affects you in so many ways. Go without good sleep for long enough and you’ll find every part of you suffering. Your head throbs and pulsates. Parts of your body weaken at odd times, you could be walking along then find your knee gives out and you stumble. You forget things easily. I struggle sometimes, even now, with the names of people I’ve known for years, people I work with every day, I look at their face and have no idea of their name. You can have open-eyed micro-sleeps – very dangerous for driving. The list goes on and on.
A few months ago, I’d had enough. It’d gotten to the point where I was having maybe three hours sleep a night. Anxiety was at a peak and so I went back to the doctor. A different doctor this time, since we moved house, but still a good result, I was prescribed with Amitriptyline. A low dose anti-depressant, it’s an older style drug in that it makes you drowsy (most of the modern anti-depressants try to out-engineer this “side effect”) but since drowsiness is the goal, it was worth a try. I was also told it has low-dependency – a definite bonus since the awful experience I had with Zopiclone. It worked. It still takes me a good hour, from the moment I lay in bed to the point where slumber catches up to me, but it does the trick. My mind quietens quicker.
I still struggle badly with sleep issues. I’ve accepted the insomnia as part of me now, I couldn’t cut it off any more than I could cut off my own head. I can manage it with help, and that’s perhaps the best I can ask for.
The worst side effect though? My writing. I’ve found different anti-psychotic medications have differing effects on my ability to write, some enhance it, some quash it entirely. Where I spent a good number of years on a handful of drugs, I wrote prolifically, and though Amitriptyline allows me to sleep, it suppresses my ability to write.
I hope it won’t always be the case. I’d like to find a balance. But working full-time and raising an energetic daughter, and caring for my wonderful husband (who was diagnosed with cancer last year)… requires me to be a functioning human being, and that means I need to sleep.
And so to you dear reader, if you’re still there, tell me of your own relationship with sleep. Are you an easy sleeper, or a fellow insomniac?
It’s been a long while since I waxed lyrical on my own website. I feel like a neglectful parent, leaving my spawn to fester in the abyss while I drink wine and pretend life doesn’t suck. Thankfully it’s just a website and not an actual child otherwise it would have been taken into care and I’d be in jail by now.
Anyhoo, there is a reason I’ve been neglectful. A similar thing has happened to my writing. I guess I’ve hit that dreaded period of “writers block”
*spits onto laptop*… eew
I’ve had it before, and as almost any writer will know it SUCKS. But for some reason this time has been worse. It’s not really that I can’t write, I can write I have just developed an unhealthy attitude towards my own work. I hate it.
I can blame any number of things, perhaps I’m burnt out from writing and publishing 6 novels and 4 short stories in an 18 month period. I guess that was a bit much. I was working for a long time on a reserve tank of “fuck you” juice. I work well when given an unhealthy dose of ‘bloody-minded reason to do something’ just to spite someone. God I sound like a hateful person, but there it is.
Perhaps it was the shock of putting the work out in the world and then having actual real people purchase, read, and offer their opinions on it. At last glance all six books are still holding out at the 4.5 star mark on amazon, which is pretty good going considering the quantity of ratings that have racked up. I should be pleased, but as an eternal pessimist I still habitually pour all my focus into those minority low ratings, the ones we authors aren’t allowed to mention or complain about for fear of appearing ungrateful… *grits teeth and refuses to comment further on that touchy issue*
It was almost inevitable that at some point it was all going to go horribly wrong. So here we are. I can’t write because I hate my work. It’s not that I don’t think it’s good, I mean, within the realms of my limited literary skill set, it’s good, but I hate it.
I have three books on the go at the moment. I hate them all.
I get this gut-wrenching feeling when I open a document. As if I’m opening the door to a relative I don’t like, there’s nothing wrong with the relative, I just have an irrational temperament towards them.
I can write, and I do on a regular (although reduced to my standard) basis, but only after I force myself over that initial hateful hurdle of frustration and anger. I’m looking forward to the day when I can genuinely fall back in love with the process of writing. At the very least, I am hopeful that those days will return. I long for the 10k days, the chapter complete days, the OMG my character did that? days, the tears when someone dies days. I want it all back. I miss it. I miss it enough to push through these hateful times in the hope that those days are nearby. Maybe I’ll turn a page and find them again. All things are temporary, and such vicious hate can only be sustained for so long.
Has anyone else out there experienced this? What have you done to overcome it? I’d love to hear from you, and as always, write on
Soliloquy on Clinical Despondency
The Bi-polar Swing
There is no reason
It can’t be fixed with conversation
It can’t be described with words
It is simply a disconnect
You are there, and I am here, and people are around and I just.don’t.care
Tasks are fine. I can DO
I just can’t FEEL.
Don’t ask me to try
There is no happy, or sad, or elated, or grumpy, or jovial, or laughter, or calm, or flirty
Those functions are out of order
There is no cause
No singular event that will make you say “aha! That’s why. Now I understand.”
For it is C-lin-i-cal
You will not understand
Unless you have been here yourself
Then perhaps you might
Or if you’ve witnessed a loved one, falling down a well
You reached out to catch them, but they slipped through your fingers
Perhaps they didn’t even try to be caught
It must be hard for you - the witness of the fall
I am sorry it is hard
I am sorry.
There is only one way out
I can see it over there, the path to "normality"
I’m not ready
Not yet. My feet won’t even move
Perhaps I won’t make it alone this time
This may require,
Small things. Prescription only
One a day
Simulated convention in round white blocks
Taste like shit if they linger on your tongue
They don’t fix
They just mask,
The worst bits
And suppress certain brain functions
Wait it out or lose a limb?
Quite the choice.
I wish I could hide it
So you don’t have to see
So no-one can see
It’s like standing naked in a crowd,
And everyone is wondering what the fuck is wrong with you?
And I shrug
Knowing I should care,
but I don’t
Out of service, remember?
So here I stand
And there you are, wondering
And offering me a raincoat
I appreciate the offer
But it won’t help
Besides, it doesn’t fit
I may wake up tomorrow
And everyone can breathe a sigh of relief
I wish I could tell you when
This will end
But I cannot
There is no reason
Word counts are both a bane and a boon for a writer. People living under a rock for the last sixteen days may not have a clue about Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). Simply put, it is an exercise undertaken by a collection of people who consider themselves to be writers to pen a fifty thousand word novel in a month or less. I am not currently participating in this interesting practise. I have tried a few times over the years and “won” once or twice. If I’m honest though, the fifty thousand word splurges (or thereabouts) that have come out of my attempts at Nano, have been generally unworthy of ever showing to the humanoid world and not worth putting the effort into fixing up. One thing that I did take from this exercise is the practise and discipline of tracking word counts.
Some people refuse to count the words they write, opting to just wing-it instead. I am not one of these people. Working in accountancy, I have an odd affinity for numbers. I like certain number patterns, or any number containing a 2 (which is my favourite number incidentally… yes, it’s perfectly normal for someone to have a ‘favourite’ number – don’t judge). I don’t much care for the number 7, although I can’t fathom why. What I can tell you is that I obsess over word count. I have a spreadsheet that tracks progress of each book (as I usually work on several at the same time), over an annual period. So far this year I have written 225,741 words. Bearing in mind that these are tracked words for my bigger novels and exclude things like blog posts, shorter stories and anything that I’m not planning on either submitting to publishers or releasing into the stratosphere of self-publishing, the actual number of keyed utterances is probably far larger (possibly double).
What is the point of this weird obsession I hear you ask?
It’s all about progress. I’m an antsy and anxious person. I need to know that I’m achieving something, otherwise I’ll sit around worrying about how little I’ve achieved. If I can look at a document and quantify exactly how much (or on occasion – how little) I’ve achieved, then I can use the satisfaction of a growing word count to bolster my determination, or contrariwise, use the dissatisfaction of a waning growth rate to kick myself in the backside – proverbially of course. I’m not a contortionist.
I can’t fully explain or articulate the joy of seeing the word count at the bottom of my document hit 1,000. It’s a very satisfying milestone. I actually race towards the number 2,222, which gives me an unseemly and possibly inappropriate endorphin boost. Other numbers give short little bursts of happiness as I see them float across my screen. 5,000 – 10,000 – 22,222. I’ll never forget the first time I managed 10,000 words in one day, I was buzzing on a high for a long while afterward. I could probably go back to my old spreadsheet and tell you the precise date on which that occurred, but I know not many people besides myself would be genuinely interested in such minutia, so I’ll rein it in a little.
The point is, that for me, I cannot function anywhere near as well without a detailed tracking of just how many words I can manage to write on a daily basis. I therefore feel deeply connected to any of my fellow writer friends who insist upon sharing their word count updates with the world. I know it must be tiresome to anyone who doesn’t write, or who doesn’t track their word counts, so I can only apologise if you’re rolling your eyes as you read this. But to the rest of you who find themselves consumed with numbers almost as much as the words themselves, I say BRAVO! Count every one of those suckers you manage to squeeze out of your mind and shout it out loud when you hit an awesome number in your total count and feel free to let me know if you're a fellow obsessive counter. There’s no shame in that.
Sometimes life gives you lemons. I hear you’re supposed to make lemonade when this happens. The trouble is, life doesn’t give you the sugar and equipment to accommodate the making of lemonade. It just lumps a pile of mouldy, manky looking lemons in your lap and says “here you go you bastard.”
Life keeps throwing lemons at me lately. I wonder if the universe mistakenly has it on record that I can juggle, and is expecting me to put on some kind of farcical show of juggling fifty lemons whilst riding a unicycle through a pit of dragon fire. If only I could. Even then, I’m not sure if I could manage to make lemonade at the end of it.
What does this have to do with writing? Writing to an author is like brown sugar to junkie. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. When I’m not talking out loud, I’m listening to the voices in my head (I’m not crazy I swear…). These things don’t go away when the world sticks a big fat lemon in your life and expects you to put everything to one side to deal with it. In fact, it only makes the desire to write even stronger. It’s escapism. It’s fantasy. It’s a safe place. It’s a judgement-free zone. I can build and destroy a universe in one page and no-one gets hurt. I can fix things in my imagination that I can’t fix in real life. It’s addictive. It’s as simple or as complex as I want it to be. It’s cathartic.
But above all, I can control it.
When the world around me is turning to shit, I can open a document, write my heart out and disappear from that fucking great big lemon that won’t go away. It might only be for a minute, or if I’m lucky a couple of hours, but that’s better than nothing. Some people watch TV. Some people watch sports. Some people socialise (crazy people). Writers write. When I’m away in my own little world nothing can hurt me unless that’s part of the plot, and even then it’s only on my terms.
In times of crisis we gravitate toward comfort and safety. Right now, I’m not writing anything for the purposes of publication. I’ve pushed aside the projects and pleaded where I can for extensions to writing deadlines. Right now, I’m writing for pure personal edification and gratification. I’m writing because that’s all I know. I’m writing because if I don’t write I’ll have to deal with the un-lemonadeable lemon - to focus on what can’t be fixed or cured by me sitting around worrying about it.
Maybe when these lemons stop piling up I’ll get back to the serious stuff, but right now the less pressure the better.
Got to a part in your book where you don’t know what happens next?
Know what happens next but don’t know how to write it?
Know how to write what happens but your characters won’t talk to you to back up your scene with dialogue?
Brain melting out your earholes?
Pulling hair off your head?
If you think you’ve tried every trick in the book to get over it, I’m telling you now there is one method you haven’t tried that will work 99% of the time. It’s really bloody easy too. I almost don’t want to tell you because it feels like my own little secret. Like my own red button for launching nukes which I sit stroking whilst laughing manically at the fact that nobody knows how much power I have. What? It’s a perfectly normal analogy…
Wanna know what to do if you get stuck with your story?
Put it to one side.
Go and read.
I don’t care what you read so long as it’s something you love. A book that draws you in. A book you don’t want to put down. If you can’t find a new book that makes you feel that way then go back to an old one that you’ve read before and start over. Forget about your manuscript.
Neglect your characters. Ignore your world and go visit someplace else instead.
Now here’s the tricky part.
When you get sucked into a book, when you’re at that point where you just have to read another page…
Put the book down.
Go and write.
Now I’m not saying it will lead you to finish the rest of your story in one sitting. But I promise that this is more likely than any other method to help you get out of the slump. You may only write 100 words, but that’s 100 more than you had before isn’t it?
Sometimes we get lost within our creations, and our imagination gets overwhelmed with the scale of the task. We all need to escape from time to time, so give it a try.
E.C. Jarvis is a British author working mainly in speculative and fantasy fiction genres.
Since 2015, she has independently published six books spanning two different genres and series. The Machine, The Pirate, The War, and The Destiny in The Blood and Destiny series - a steampunk adventure. Desire and Duty, and Lust and Lies in The Consort's Chronicles series - an erotic fantasy.
If you like action packed, fast-paced page turners, then try one of her books. There's never a dull moment in those pages.
She was born in Surrey, England in 1982. She now resides in Hampshire, England with her daughter and husband.
Hi, I’m E.C. Jarvis, author of The Blood and Destiny Series and I’m your host for this stop in the Hunt.
If you would like to find out more about the Hunt, please click here - http://vfcscavengerhunt.weebly.com/
Somewhere on this page is a hidden number. Collect all the numbers from all the authors’ posts, and then add them up. Once you’ve added all the numbers, and if I am your last author, please head to the official website and click on the ENTER HERE page to find the entry form. Only entries will the correct number will qualify to win.
The author I’m pleased to be hosting for Virtual FantasyCon’s Blog Hop Hunt today is author, Lesley Donaldson.
Lesley writes books and saves lives. A vampiric unicorn that farts rainbows inhabits her soul. Between twelve hour emergency nursing shifts and twenty four hour parenting shifts, she redefined herself as an author and published’ Growing A Rainbow: The Premature Journey of a Two Pound Hero in two thousand and fourteen, supporting the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation. Not satisfied with being a ‘one-off’, Lesley debuted, the following year, her first fiction - The Queen’s Viper. In this dark fantasy, the villainous anti-hero Viper battles humans, immortals, and an elusive inner darkness in a captivating story that spans both Elizabethan and modern timelines. The Queen’s Viper is a semi-finalist in the two thousand and sixteen Kindle Book Awards, and the book received multiple five star reviews.
This ‘born again’ writer holds degrees in Human Biology and Nursing Science from the University of Toronto. She proudly parents a child with enhanced needs, and is an often, companionable wife. She loves traveling with her family and is a bobby medievalist. She also co-authored, From Blog-to-Book (with Doris Chung), published by Publisher-PS, described as a ‘must-have’ book from Dan Morris of Blogging Connected Prime.
In two thousand and fifteen, Lesley was a panelist at Ad Astra, Toronto’s premier fan convention for Sci-Fi and Fantasy Literature. You can find her on panels at CanConSF in this September, as well as in the online conference Virtual FantasyCon in October. She has also been an Hour of Power speaker at Blissdom Canada in two thousand and fourteen, a contributor to Preemie Babies, one hundred and one, Urban Mommy online magazine, and other online blogs. She blogs about prematurity and special needs parenting on http://realwomendrivestick.com/and about her author’s journey on http://writerlesleydonaldson.com/
June third, two thousand and twelve: dawn.
The unforeseen sinkhole gave birth to four hundred years of hatred. London exchanged its concrete crust for an ancient soul, the prisoner trapped within the oblivion. The hole started as an innocuous golf ball sized pit. A hotel employee in kitchen whites smeared with grease tossed his cigarette butt towards it without notice. Within minutes of his departure, the indentation expanded into a bottomless crater the width of a man’s arm span.
Chunks of asphalt tumbled into the void as bony hands clambered to the surface. Stale earth choked the immortal’s first breath of freedom. Her hacking cough transformed into a bitter cackle. She shielded squinting eyes from the morning sunlight, weak behind heavy clouds, then gasped. Her skin, once captivating with its luminescent hues of purple, bleached to bone-white.
When she adjusted to the light, her new environment replaced the harsh memory of the faces she last saw before powerful magic incarcerated her. The cream-coloured building in front of her, with its rows of windows, wasn’t the same wooden Banqueting Hall of her entrapment. She scanned beyond the small lot and its strange metallic carriages to the houses bound together in rows.
Her instincts told her that this was Camberwell, where her journey to betrayal had started.
Her heart told her how to seek revenge.
The immortal stumbled upon her first step in this unfamiliar world. Her tattered Elizabethan clothes fell away in ragged strips. Sunlight cleaved deep valleys in her emaciated body. Behind her, a solid bottom appeared in the hole, as if protecting itself from her return to its depths.
Her supernatural senses rushed the future that had been denied her into her head. She dropped to her knees, stunned by the barrage of modern sounds: cars on the main road, thick electrical cables humming overhead, the roar of a giant bird with fixed wings in the sky. She didn’t know how long it took her to adapt to the din. One sound in particular caught her attention. At a third floor window, a boy of about seven years of age pressed his hands on the glass. His shallow breaths hammered against her ears.
“Mummy,” the boy didn’t turn away from the immortal as he spoke, “there’s a white lady in the parking lot.” Although the glass muffled what he said, the immortal understood him. She created a psychic connection to the openness of his youthful mind. Through his memory, the immortal perceived Mum sitting on a bed, and Dad in a small room behind a door. Mum stabbed a slender black box at something the boy’s mind called the TV.
“This is London,” his mother said. “It’s full of 71 white people. Come away.”
The fog of the boy’s breathing obscured his view of the immortal. He adjusted his head and squinted through the clearing made by his nose. The immortal wasn’t yet capable of making herself invisible. Through him, she saw herself glaring with hateful, black eyes.
“Uh-uh.” He shook his head, studying her harder. “She doesn’t have a car and there’s something wrong with her eyes.”
He looked at Mum for an answer, but she didn’t reply. Mum found the station that she wanted and settled on the foot of the bed. Flags of white, blue and red decorated her outfit. The immortal recognized the crosses symbolic of St. George and St. Andrew, the patron saints of England and Scotland, combined into one flag the boy knew as the Union Jack.
The boy wiped the window clean with his sleeve for a better view of the immortal. Seeing both his vision and hers in her mind demanded all of her concentration. Long wisps of fragile, grey hair clung to her skull. Unsure of herself, the immortal froze.
“She doesn’t have any clothes.”
“Not now, Willie.” Mum focused on the news announcer detailing the manufacture of the queen’s Jubilee barge. The report cut to a live shot of the royal boat moored on River Thames under less than enthusiastic skies.
“Oh, honey,” said Mum, tilting her head towards the bathroom door as she spoke to Dad, “come see the boat. It’s so beautiful!”
“Of course it’s beautiful,” he replied in a gruff voice, “it’s the ruddy queen’s. D’you expect her to be floating in a dinghy manning her own pole?”
“Hurry up, would you?” Mum tapped her red shoe on the stained carpet. The words Keep Calm and Carry On glittered across the toes. “I want to get a good spot. I wish you’d let us come yesterday. There’s been people camped out since before midnight.” Thousands of people would ignore the bleak day and line the river’s banks for a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth II on her Diamond anniversary during her Jubilee Flotilla.
“The sun’s just up. We’ll have plenty of time to catch the train. The whole city hasn’t jumped into the river. Let a man curl one off in peace.”
The boy faced into the room, oblivious to his parents’ discord and to the presence of the immortal in his mind. “Mum, you should see what she’s doing.”
His mother’s chest heaved with exasperation. “Is she breaking into a car?”
“Is she pointing a gun at you?”
“Then I don’t care. We’re here to participate in a monumental day for England, not spy on visually impaired people who live near a hotel.”
Her disregard interrupted his fixation on the too-tall, scary-looking woman in the parking lot. The boy turned from the window and said, “But Mum-”
“No ‘buts.’ Come away right now or I’ll ground you for the rest of the weekend.”
“Oh, man!” He pumped his arms in frustration. Mum had already returned to the pageant coverage. When the boy risked one last peek at the parking lot, he was nose to nose with the face of death.
Death was hollow-cheeked and hungry. Malachite green swirls permeated the blackness of her eyes. The immortal clung to the building on the other side of the glass. Stucco crumbled beneath her elongated nails. The boy yelped and backed away, falling over a hastily unpacked suitcase. His chaotic, fear-filled thoughts broke the immortal’s link to him. She no longer cared.
“William Harry Kingsley, really!” his mother scolded over her shoulder. “Stop fooling around!”
“But Mum, she’s there! There, at the window,” he said, pointing, “and she’s naked, and she has black and green eyes, and she’s not really a lady, and I think she’s very, very bad.”
Mum slapped her hand on the bed. “We’re on the third floor. There couldn’t possibly be a woman with a black eye outside the window!” A large flag slipped from her lap when she rose and stomped towards him.
“Not a black eye, Mum. Two eyes. Black and green. She didn’t even have any white part.” The boy stayed on the floor, knees tight to his chest, eyes wide. He averted the nightmare at the window.
The immortal burst into the room at his mother. Shards of glass slashed at their bodies. The boy dashed to the bathroom. He pounded on the door for his father. The immortal paid no heed to the boy and began feeding from his mother.
Desperation made the immortal devour Mum’s life-magic with such speed that, for a moment, it blinded her. When her vision cleared, Dad had emerged, struggling with his trousers. The immortal summoned enough strength to charge into him. He bashed his head into the wall mirror as she bowled him over. The boy ran into the hall, shrieking for help.
When the immortal knelt over the father’s semi-conscious torso, she saw two words on the TV screen in the fragmented mirror.
Multiple black and white images of Queen Elizabeth II in her Coronation robes loomed over the immortal. Stunned, the immortal stared at the screen. How was it possible that the queen she had left behind bore offspring, offspring so long-lived? The immortal felt like she had been slapped across the face.
Her vengeance found its target.
She heard the stirring of groggy, bewildered people in the hallway. In moments, their curiosity would bring them into the boy’s room and she would be discovered. The immortal escaped through the window and up the exterior of the building to the safety of the roof.
She noticed seven vertical, red beacons reaching high into the sky. Not seen by humans, they marked the prison in the River Thames created for the hateful creature who had captured her.
The immortal wrung her bony hands together with eager anticipation. “You named me Viper,” she said to a long-dead Queen Elizabeth, “so shall the descendants of your loins know my venom.” If Viper’s immortal enemy had been captured at those red beacons, then Viper could kill her and bring an end to the Tudor bloodline on the same day. “Dual success. A fortuitous start to my new life.”
The immortal traversed the rooftops, eastwards to the Thames and central London, the Union Flag of Britain wrapped around her rejuvenating body
Book sales (non-affiliate links)
Amazon – The Queen’s Viper:
USA - http://amzn.to/2agiUir
Canada - http://amzn.to/2axFlSM
Twitter - https://twitter.com/bornagainwriter
Pinterest - https://au.pinterest.com/lesleythewriter/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/purpleizmine/
Lesley Donaldson’s Newsletter Subscription – http://forms.aweber.com/form/91/822343491.htm
Did you find the number? If you did, then click Lesley Donaldson’s link – writerlesleydonaldson.com to continue Virtual FantasyCon’s Blog Hop Hunt.
I am not perfect. No-one is. You aren’t either. It shouldn’t come as a shock, therefore, when we put our creative endeavors out into the world and ask the population to give feedback on it, and some of it ain’t so rosy. “You didn’t do X,” or “Why did you do Y?” or even “It’s utterly shit, don’t make people waste their time looking at it.”
Feedback, reviews, critique, writers love and loathe it. I need it. I crave it. I hate it. Gimme gimme gimme reviews but oh god I can’t stand to read them… it’s like some form of self-torture. Are we writers masochists? It certainly seems that way sometimes.
I joined a local writing group recently. I told them about my books. These are a group of people, the majority of whom haven’t managed to complete an entire novel yet, let alone publish it. I’m somewhat of an anomaly to them. On my second visit to the group, one of the lovely ladies told me she had purchased my book and was reading it, and wondered if I would mind if she recommended it to her reading group. I nearly threw up in her lap, so visceral was my reaction to hearing that suggestion. Yes, oh my good yes, people reading my book? People wanting to talk to me about my book? Awesome… but, shit, they probably won’t like it. Statistically at least one or two of them will probably hate it. Even if they do like it, there will be bits of it they don’t like.
Cue “Why did you do X,Y,Z?” type sentences. Or “I thought Character A would have reacted differently in Chapter 19.” Or “What happened to Character B midway through the book was abhorrent and you are a bad person for even thinking it.”
I’m surprised I didn’t just throw up in her lap to be honest. That chain of thoughts went through my head in about a millisecond and my actual reaction was to just smile and mutter a lot of incoherent “um” and “uhh” type sounds. How eloquent.
I have to remind myself frequently that I am not perfect. My books are not perfect. As it is, another online reading group is currently reading The Machine, 60 or so perfect strangers looking, reading, JUDGING my words, my work. I started reading the book myself having not looked at it for at least six months and I cringe at the first few chapters. They are not well written. The writing improves markedly about a third of the way in, but I accept that some people might not make it to that point. What should I do? Pull the book for a rewrite? Do you think other far more famous and successful authors would do that? Would Stephen King consider rewriting Carrie all these years after? We change so much, so quickly as authors, as artists, as we grow and work. The improvement in my ability is evident within the chapters of my debut novel, never mind the others that have come afterwards. Is it fair to judge my ability as a writer now on something I wrote two years ago when I was far less experienced?
I don’t know. I’m still not perfect. I’m better than I was, but not as good as I will be. I think that’s why it’s so hard to take the negative feedback. The nit-picking comments. The snide remarks. “I’ve improved!” is a pretty poor response. I can’t really expect people to take that into account when reading the book I wrote two years ago.
But what I would ask people to remember is that I’m human. I wrote a book. It’s not perfect. It was never meant to be perfect. The only intent behind the endeavor was to write something that would be enjoyable to read. You can pick it apart, pull it to pieces and put it back together again as much as you want, but all I really want to know is “did you enjoy it?”
If the answer is no, then never mind. Thanks for taking the time to read it anyways. You can’t please them all.
If the answer is yes, then that’s good enough for me.
The critique I will take. I will listen and consider. I may absorb some of it into my future literary endeavors. Then again I might not. After all, nobody is perfect. Not even you.
I’ve made no secret of it. I hate first person stories. It might seem harsh, but I’m serious. I have a visceral reaction when I discover that a novel is written in first person. Something happens to me, akin to a heart attack, or that moment when you realise you’re about to puke up and there is nothing you can do to stop it. It is a very rare thing for me to read past the first page of a first person story, or the first sentence. In some cases I won’t make it past the first word.
I’m not saying that first person stories are wrong, or bad, just that I personally (generally) do not like them.
You may think it odd, therefore, that I am currently writing a story in first person.
That’s because it is odd.
I have had to take a step back to analyse why I hate first person narratives, and why I can manage to write in first person without spewing all over the floor every time I put a sentence down (writing is hard enough as it is without having to go through that sort of nonsense). Do I think my writing is better than anyone else’s? Not particularly, arrogance is not the issue here. There is a reason though and I believe I have finally figured it out.
It is very easy to write badly when writing in first person narrative. There is a lot of debate going on lately regarding show vs tell writing, and whilst I could argue that some “tell” writing is acceptable within a story, I feel compelled to put a limit upon its usage. Let’s say somewhere between 1-7% of a story should be written in a tell style. There are always moments where a short, simple “tell” sentence is better placed than a slightly longer “show” version, for dramatic effect, or for simplicity. You might feel that percentage should be higher, but I would argue this is down to preference, and in any case, the higher you go with a percentage of “tell” writing, the worse a story will be.
What does this have to do with my aversion to first person? Everything.
When writing first person it is inevitable that an author will fall into the tell style. And you know what? It’s dull. God is it mind-numbingly, ass-fartingly, brain-meltingly dull to read.
I woke up.
I started my car.
I felt hungry.
I DON’T CARE. If a story begins with the word “I”, then I will not read it. The exception to this rule is if you can follow the “I” with something, unique, amazing, and interesting.
I am an eight legged bear from the planet Zongrikon with a pet dwibble named Stanley and I am currently attempting to blow up the planet Earth.
Alright, I’m in. I’m hooked. Give me more. Don’t tell me “I woke up”. Every human being who has ever lived as at some point woken up. Big woop. If you are going to open with a tell sentence then it had better be a fucking amazing tell moment or I won’t bother reading the next sentence.
You might think I’m harsh, but you know what? I work two jobs, and I have a family. My reading time is limited to a half-hour slot before bedtime when I’m able to harness enough brain power to still concentrate, or the half-hour bit during my daughters swimming lesson on a Saturday where I can look away and concentrate on something else, safe in the knowledge that she won’t drown. I don’t have the time or patience to read dull shit from a writer who can’t be bothered to give me interesting stuff from page one, sentence one.
Stories are all about the author’s voice, and it is tough to be unique in the literary world. It’s even tougher to pull it off in first person. But it’s not impossible provided you put a little more thought into the work.
I have this reaction every time I write an “I” sentence in my book. It makes me wanna hurl, which is probably a good thing, because it’s forcing me to do better. If only more authors suffered from this odd affliction, there would be a lot more well-written first person stories in the world.
In any case, if you like to write first person, then go ahead. I won’t stop you. As a new member of the First Person Perspective Club, I shouldn’t be so judgemental I suppose.
But if you’re going to write, at least have the decency to write to the best of your ability and try not to litter your manuscript with throw away “I” sentences.
p.s. I realise the irony in the fact that this blog post is in first person, so no need to point it out… however, that’s kinda the point of blogs, so … yeah.
I’ve read a lot of fantasy stories, some of them are good, and some are are awful. The thing I’ve noticed about the good fantasy stories is the care an author takes when they build magic into the narrative.
It is far too easy when you have magic in a story to use it as a crutch - a get out of jail free card for when you’ve written your characters into an inescapable corner. This can be the definitive Deus Ex Machina answer to any problem. Character on the verge of death? Fix it with magic. World is about to implode and kill every living thing? Just say abracadabra and wave a wand. That is when fantasy stories start to go wrong.
The best approach is to consider magic as a form of physics. For a writer to lay out what things magic can do in their story, and perhaps more importantly, what it cannot do. Magic with rules is far more believable than unlimited magic.
To offer some examples, I’ll begin with the Harry Potter universe. It is filled with magic, it being the very essence of the story, however, JK Rowling was careful to build in rules. Spells that only last for a limited time. Potions with side effects. There are many spells that help the characters out of certain situations, but they are specific and have various other uses rather than one-time band aids.
To pull from a classic, consider Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Gandalf and his buddy wizards use magic, but their strength is limited, even Sauron's magic is restricted - I guess being stuck as an eye at the top of a tower will do that to a guy. In Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, magic is more often the cause of trouble than it is the solution.
The history of magic in folklore is fascinating for anyone who wishes to look into it. There is a wealth of ideas around, some more known than others.
When it comes to writing a story that contains magic it is important for the writer to focus on the system they wish to use. Who can use magic? Is it just a certain set of characters or is it open to everyone in your world? How is magic obtained? Is it naturally occurring, a sort of inherent magic gene, or must someone study and learn it, or even obtain it through some foreign object (finding a hidden chalice or magical orb or similar). The rules are paramount. You need to decide if magic can affect the physical (making objects fly or change shape) or mental (mindreading) and stick to your own rules.
When I chose to include a magical element in the steampunk series, I sat down and wrote out some basic structures. There are two kinds of magic in the world, one is caused by ingestion or injection of Anthonium, a rare element. The element is actually a poison and if taken in too large a dose it will kill someone, but just the right dose and a person gets some unique physical abilities, such as enhanced healing, becoming impervious to heat, or invisibility (only one ability per person). The other magical component comes from priests studying a specific branch of the religion of my world. They can obtain the skill to build illusion objects, such as an orb that can change the physical appearance of something. Very skilled priests can perform a sort of mind-link to another person. These elements, while important to the story, are very limited in their nature. I didn’t want to have magic devices all over the place giving the characters easy answers to the problems that come up.
Taking time to build the structure for magic in your world is how you make magic appear “real”, and more believable.
Whilst the kiddo was in her gymnastics class the other day, I and a bunch of other parents were sat in the reception area. Normally I take my laptop with me and knock out a few words, the other day, a chatty lady began chatting. She was nice, we got on well. Then she asked me what I do for a living. I was brave for a change and instead of just telling her I'm an accountant (which usually ends the conversation then and there because that's boring as fuck) I said, "I have two jobs, I'm an accountant and an author".
Of course, I should have known that would lead to more questions. "What sort of books do you write?"
Me internally: oh god I can't say erotica, I'm in a room full of people I don't know and there are little kids playing nearby and I don't know this woman, she might be a bible thumper who hates that kind of stuff and then we'll have to spend the next hour sitting opposite each other in awkward as fuck silence... then I can't say steampunk because I'm pretty sure she won't know what the fuck that is and then I'll have to try and explain it and I really can't be arsed to do that, I just want to fucking write.
"Oh. Have you published anything?"
Me internally: you gotta be fucking kidding me? I mean, I want to make a sale, but shit, I don't want to spend a whole hour of my life trying to sell one fucking book. Besides, I still can't explain what my books are about without people giving me totally confused looks... fuck, shit, fuck...
Me: "I have published 5 books with a sixth on the way... What do YOU do for a living?"
Having successfully deflected the conversation for the next five minutes where I listened politely as she told me about her photography business and showed me the pictures on her phone (which were actually very good) then her daughter came out of the class and moved the conversation away. I opened the laptop, wrote for an hour while they played chess (she had two kids so her son was still in a class)
At the end of the hour I closed my laptop down and was about to go collect my daughter when she hits me with...
"So can I buy your books online?"
Me internally: whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?
Me: "Sure, google E.C. Jarvis and you'll see all you need to see."
I disappeared as quickly as fucking possible after that.
Oh the plight of the introverted writer.
The deep dark abyss has spewed up a gem of a man for you guys to read today. This guest blog is from the multi-talented Travis Martin. Travis also makes awesome hand bound journals which you should check out.
I wrote Sweet Adaline about eight years ago, give or take. Before that, I never considered myself a writer. The title seemed outside my passions. Outside my construct as an artist. I was a dick adolescent with grandiose theatrical self indulgence. I muted all that with a military stint that tainted my artistic ambitions. That went for half a decade. But somewhere in there I started fixating on music, and one album from a band called the Afghan Whigs, Black Love, got under my skin and in a way reignited my passion for creation.
I hadn't been on stage since College and even though I aspired to be an actor with a recognizable name, I still wasn't pursuing it. But that album was digging deeper into me, beyond the words, beyond the melodies. It became this anomalous thing that I was sure had a story to be told, and I became sure I was the only one to tell it. Not the story that the musicians had in mind but, I guess you'd call it Fan Fiction, it was a story that needed to come from me.
So as I said, my writing career didn't come from some pre-teen epiphany. It just started to boil in me. So I struggled to pieces the images of dreams and day dreams and songs I was writing and new music affecting me, into a construction someone might want to read. Some two years after all that started, after various beginnings and outlines that never took hold, after a divorce and into a new career, and after my final return to the stage in a semi-pro staged production, a play I actually got paid for, I sat the fuck down with a revelation about one character and his impact on another.
The words that drizzled out were imagined from a traumatic idea, and it felt good. I realized right there that this was not a cozy story and kind of accepted that what ever this thing became, it was to be niche at least. And I didn't really care much at all about genres or marketing or even how to get it out there. I only knew that I had to get it out of me. It took more than a year, and dissolved an engagement with an incredible girl. Writing this thing was akin to heroin, and I had to get to the end. I was as infatuated with it as I'd ever been with a woman or a performance. New ideas took me to darker places, further from parochial marketability, and it was my gift only to myself. My Everest. My own Private Idaho, whatever the fuck that is.
I finally got to an end. I didn't count words, but I counted pages. Just over three hundred, double spaced. And pages I was proud of every one. I knew where I ended to go back and foreshadow to supplement my out come. I'd developed that delusion that this was Lit and it didn't matter what I'd done to my characters, my only real loved one's. This was the next great whatever.
And when all was said and done, and I was alone again, the editing started. And that's where the shit hit the fan. These were the micro-breakdowns. Entire pages of shit. An entirely implausible chapter here and there. I cut it up like a Freddy flick. I had, again, countless Final iterations.
Finally, I blurbed it and submitted to agents, and one after another, was turned down. All until I just boxed it up like another skeleton, Focused on my career and told myself I'd moved on. But it was an event, a child of sorts. Already I'd begun to find a more appealing story line. A few years later I moved to Portland, wrote a few plays that I did nothing with. Took the title of writer because, fuck them, that's what I'd become. I was obsessed with my stories.
Here I am again, eight years later, two valid novels in the chamber, scouring to find those old iterations of Sweet Adaline. Because that was a story I needed to tell. Those are are the stories that define us. Those are the stories we tell. The stories that make us writers are the things that need to be told. The rest is superfluous brain candy. And that's what I dig for when I force myself down to the keyboard to write.
Write what you need to. Not what's marketable. That will come.
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Today I'm lucky enough to have a great guest post by the formidable Jason Pere. So without further babbling from me, here we go...
Greetings, My name is Jason Pere. I am an author based out of Eastern Connecticut. First of all I would like to express my most profound gratitude to E.C. Jarvis, for allowing me to use some of her bandwidth. I hope that you all enjoy my guest post about the very special genre of Fanfiction.
I will briefly tell you a little bit about myself before diving into the subject of what it is like for me to navigate within the imagination of another creative mind. I have some self-published and collaborative work out there in the literary world. My most recent accomplishments are my debut Dark Fantasy title “Calling the Reaper: First Book of Purgatory” and my first Children’s book, titled “Sir Percival and the Nightmare”. I write a lot of different material spread across all sorts of genres but Fantasy is my favorite kind of story to tell.
I am also a huge dork. I love all sorts of games, from video games to board games to card games. There is one particular card game that I should mention. It is called “Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn”, produced by Plaid Hat Games and created by the incredibly talented Isaac Vega (http://www.plaidhatgames.com/games/ashes). I was introduced to Ashes and the world of Argaia, where the saga of the Phoenixborn takes place, in the August of 2015. I rapidly fell in love with the game and I came to find that there was clearly a highly complex and developed mythos to the world behind the cards but alas virtually none of it was in the public realm. Instead of waiting for Plaid Hat Games to be a little more forthcoming with the story of Ashes I decided to take matters into my own hands a put my creativity to work. There was just too much raw potential for some epic plots, cultures, history and characters to develop. I could not sit idle. I just felt like I had to contribute to the greater story. I called my Ashes fanfiction, flASH fiction.
That is really where my love affair with Fanfiction began. Since last September I have posted a weekly fiction piece to the Team Covenant Gaming Blog, detailing my own imaginative goings-on in the world of Ashes (http://teamcovenant.com/category/ashes-rise-of-the-phoenixborn). It has been a wonderful experience and because of my stories I have been able to meet some new people, make some interesting connections, hone my creativity, pick up the odd fan or two and even influence a dorky hobby of mine. I love writing the stuff even when it’s a struggle for each line of text and I do not plan stopping anytime soon.
So, Fanfiction, what is it? How is it different from plain old fiction? How do you write it? Well I will tell you my interpretation of what Fanfiction is. I think the genre gets a bad rap and when people hear the term Fanfiction, they immediacy conjurer up the image of some guy who is far too old to still be living at home, lurking in his parents basement, wearing a t-shirt for his favorite fandom and writing a new episode of their most beloved, yet long canceled science fiction space opera TV show. Yes, this type of diehard super fan exists but I will not fault them for being zealously passionate about something near and dear to their heart.
I think that we are all far more acquainted with Fanfiction than we realize. When I was growing up I knew it was pretty common for me to wonder what happened to the characters after the end of one of my favorite movies, or speculate, what if the protagonist had made some different choices. I think that is something that a lot of people wonder and fantasize about. Fanfiction is just a matter of writing those fantasies down. In its most simplistic state Fanfiction is about telling your own story within someone else’s world.
I think that there are two main kinds of Fanfiction. The first is reminiscent of historical fiction in a way. The author will have a clear point of departure. They will use certain elements of an established world and doctrine but make some radical changes from the principle lore. For example, an author of this sort of Fanfiction might dive into George Lucas’ Star Wars universe but postulate “What is Luke Skywalker had never met Obi-Wan?” They could go on to tell a different kind of space epic where Luke becomes the willing apprentice to Darth Vader and fights for the Empire. This sort of story borrows elements from another creator but it is unabashedly divergent fiction. The author of this sort of story will acknowledge that their concoction exists outside of accepted Star Wars lore. That being said, I sure wouldn’t mind exploring who Darkside Luke might have been.
The other sort of Fanfiction is a little trickier. This variety of storytelling is where the author writes material that could pass for cannon doctrine within the confines of a greater fictional work. This is what my flASH fiction series is all about. There are a lot of things to take into consideration with an approach to this sort of Fanfiction. The biggest thing to take into account with this kind of story is continuity with the principle source material. An author will need to make sure that their timeline and characters match up with what has already been established. The will also have to tackle the challenge of portraying characters in a way that allows them to stay in character. Someone writing Indiana Jones Fanfiction could not have everyone’s favorite archeologist come across a Boa Constrictor in his travels and keep his cool, for example.
It can be daunting to become the creative overlord of an established icon in a given franchise. A good way for someone else to play in another creator’s world without upsetting the landscape too much is to introduce some new characters of their own design. Using this technique helps a Fanfiction author interject some of their own personal flavor into the cannon doctrine while still holding true to established elements of the original material. Some new content is going to have to be introduced at some point in order to tell an engaging story. A Fanfiction Author will have to take some liberties and risks, it is just a matter of making them believable. For me good Fanfiction is a happy marriage of tradition and innovation.
I think that the best thing an aspiring Fanfiction writer should keep in mind is the fact that they are playing with someone else’s creative baby and that they should respect the fact that they are putting their hands in something they do not own and did not originate. I hope you enjoyed my little exposition on the topic of this underrated literary genre. I was a privilege for me to share my thoughts on the subject.
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Sounds fake doesn’t it? The fear of success. Who in their right mind would fear such a thing? Well therein lies the issue, it’s an irrational fear and by definition, if you have it, you aren’t in your “right mind”. It’s a new one I’ve discovered that I have. I’m close, so burningly, ball-achingly close to finishing the steampunk series. There is but a heartbeat, a few pages, some mere explosive splurges of imagination onto the page remaining before I can call this series complete. And yet these last few chapters have taken longer and longer to pen. It’s not that I don’t know what to write – I’ve had the ending plotted out for some time now. It isn’t that I don’t have the motivation to write. It is that I have a fear of finishing.
To a writer, their books are like children. We give birth, nurture them to maturity, provide them with everything they require to gain life and then at some point we let them go out into the world. Just like a parent does with their grown children, we can check in on them periodically, see how they are doing, maybe give them a boost (think marketing) to help them out once in a while, but really, they are beyond our reach. We have done all we can, and can only hope that they don’t fall over so far that they never get up again. Is this the reason I’m struggling to write these last few pages? Probably.
There are other factors to consider. What do I do once I’m finished? Well, I have my other series of course, and I intend to write many more things, but there is no doubt that this epic monstrosity of a world that I’ve created will leave a gaping hole in my life when I have no reason to go back and visit it any more.
I don’t want to let go.
I don’t want to finish the series. I’m afraid of losing it.
Just like a reader who falls in love with the characters in a book – so to have I fallen in love with these products of my imagination. I don’t want to say goodbye to Larissa and Holt. I think I might cry when I write the last few paragraphs containing Cid. I can’t let go, and some part of me is fighting back, drawing out the process. I’m like a mother standing at the school gate for hours after my kid has gone inside. It hurts to say goodbye.
So to any fellow writers who have found themselves in the same position, please let me know how you cope with such a loss when your books are done? Because right now, I need some reassurance that I’m not going to end up curled in a ball screaming “I CAN WRITE BOOK FIVE”…
I really need to finish this series, and quick!
Hello fellow authors, and newly discovered reader friends.
It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post on writing. What with the launch of The War, and a few other things going on in the background, I’ve let my bloggityness slip (what? That’s a word…)
Anyhoo, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I have slowly come round to making a conscious decision to treat writing as a career move. What I’ve realised, however, is that this is a business. If I am to have any chance of earning a living through writing, then I need to shift my approach. As much as my steampunk series has had success, and as much as my erotic fantasy series is gaining traction, they will never give me enough return to jack in the day job.
The reason? They live in the realm of fantasy.
There is a reason that a lot of publishers won’t even consider fantasy novels. I used to think it was snobbery, and while I do still think that is part of the problem, the far bigger issue is profit. As much as there is a market for fantasy books – and a growing market at that – it is not a particularly viable market. If the publishers can’t make a profit in a sector, then they won’t even attempt to enter it. Have you noticed in bookshops, that the crime section often takes up a large chunk of the store, the romance section takes up another prominent position and then you get to the fantasy section and it’s teeny in comparison?
Trust me. It pains me – as a proclaimed fantasy author – to say that fantasy is nothing more than a poor kid nipping at the heels of the fat and wealthy genres. I want to take every reader who refuses to read fantasy and lock them in a room, force them to read some of the best fantasy fiction books until they love it or starve to death. Fantasy stories are my first true love, and that will never change. I will always write fantasy. However, in order to position myself better in the literary world, I need to broaden my horizons and my first adjustment in that regard is to attempt to write to market.
Which market, I don’t yet know. I still need to complete the steampunk and the erotic series and do a lot of research on the subject. Then I will make a choice. I know my strengths as a writer, and I know my limitations, but I’m fairly confident that I can adapt my voice to fit almost any genre. Perhaps for every big market book I write, I’ll allow myself a vanity project – a step back into the fantastical to appease the muse.
Above all, the key to success is to have the flexibility to adapt and change, especially as an indie author.
There is no shame in writing to please the masses; after all, we want to please our readers don’t we?
Today’s the day!
In case you’ve been living in a hole for the past few weeks and have no idea what I’m talking about (or perhaps you just have a mind like a sieve… that’s ok, me too) then let me clarify, the third book in the Blood and Destiny steampunk adventure series, The War, is released today!
But this blog post isn’t really about that. This is about the awesome event we have going on and all the wonderful authors who are attending.
Check out the event here, free to enter and loads of great freebies up for grabs. Read on to find out more about these lovely authors.
Event opens 15th May 2016 at 2.00pm BST – 9.00am EST
2.00pm-----9.00am E.C. Jarvis
2.30pm-----9.30am Dana Provo
3.00pm----10.00am D.S. Wrights
3.30pm----10.30am Kate Bonham
4.00pm----11.00am Stephanie Ayres
4.30pm----11.30am Renee Marquis Grace
5.00pm----12.00pm Helen Bright
5.30pm----12.30pm Kat Hutson
6.00pm----1.00pm Tasha S. Heart
6.30pm----1.30pm Karina Katnas
7.00pm----2.00pm Tom Atwood
7.30pm----2.30pm Jazzmine Anderson
8.00pm----3.00pm LK Scott
8.30pm----3.30pm Elizabeth York
9.00pm----4.00pm JF Holland
9.30pm----4.30pm Virgina Carraway Stark
10.00pm---5.00pm E.C. Jarvis
Attending 2.30pm BST – 9.30am EST
Dana Louise Provo always loved books and reads everything from young adult fantasy to adult historical romances. When she's not reading or writing her next novel, she can be found riding her horses and getting ready for competition. Dana also loves an assortment of chocolate, coffee, and teas. She lives with her husband, Kyle, and two house plants in Richmond, Virginia.
· Bleeding Hearts, a new adult, romantic suspense is her first book and getting published by Clean Reads in the summer of 2016.
· Whisper, a young adult, science fiction is her second book getting published by Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing, Inc. sometime next year.
Other social media links
Attending 3.00pm BST – 10.00am EST
D.S. Wrights was born and raised mostly in Germany.
She speaks three languages fluently: English, German and Dutch.
Her name is a pen name and she describes writing as her passion and calling.
Two short stories were published during high school, one as a school project and one in a regional newsletter.
Later she worked at a publishing house where she earned insight into the work, process and production of publishing books.
In the last few years she has published several fan fictions to which the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
The Beast And Me is her first published novel.
Attending 3.30pm BST – 10.30am EST
Kate grew up in Western Sydney, Australia, hoping to one day have a pet dragon and castle to roam around in. Then the Khaleesi stole her life and she was forced to reinvent herself.
It was around the age of 15 when she really thought she could make it as a writer, and after course after course on different writing styles, she finally gulped down her fear and pursued independent publishing.
When she's not writing, she's spending time with her boyfriend and their zoo of pets that include snakes, spiders, lizards, an axolotl and a bird.
Attending 4.00pm BST – 11.00am EST
Stephanie Ayers is the Creative Executive Officer (CEO) of Our Write Side, author of fictions, and wears many hats with OWS Ink. She is also a full-time world-building ninja, seven-time published author enjoying country living in central Virginia, while crafting her own story and resisting to grow up at all costs. She mothers her children, loves her husband, attends church, and avoids all things zombies.
During the event she’ll be giving away a free signed print copy of Til Death Do Us Part, and also giving away a free subscription to the OWS literary journal, plus some extra goodies for one lucky winner!
Attending 4.30pm BST – 11.30am EST
R. M. Grace was born in Australia in 1986 and grew up in Coventry, England where she still lives with her partner, two children and dog.
R. M. Grace has been making up stories since childhood when a note book would accompany her everywhere. After suffering a brain tumour at an early age, she found solace in creating characters and whole new worlds inside her mind. Now, she has an even more intense passion for writing novels that will captivate readers. She writes everyday and has folders full of stories piling up on her desk, just waiting to be brought to life.
She is the author of psychological horror novel "Inside the Fire", the dark fantasy series, "Fall of Hope", the horror/romance novel "Paper Kisses" and sci fi/ horror "STWOAS" due out later in the year. Also, she is working on writing and illustrating two children's books with her own children.
You can check out her books here:
Inside the Fire: https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Fire-R-M-Grace-ebook/dp/B00KB3CYPK
Fall of Hope (Book One): https://www.amazon.com/Fall-Hope-Book-Heroes-Capes-ebook/dp/B01FIS2N80
Attending 5.00pm BST – 12.00am EST
Helen Bright is forty three, married, mum of two grown up daughters and has one grandson who she absolutely adores. She lives in a South Yorkshire village and has based her paranormal romance series around the Yorkshire area.
The Night Movers Vampires live and work with the humans they employ in modern day Yorkshire, and Helen creates scenes that show the 'normal' in paranormal.
Attending 5.30pm BST – 12.30pm EST
Kathrin L Hutson
Born and raised in Colorado, adopted by South Carolina, and at home in California. Kathrin Hutson has been writing fiction for fifteen years, editing for five, and plunging in and out of reality since she first became aware of the concept. Kathrin specializes in Fantasy and Sci-fi, with a splattering of short stories that weave in and out of literary fiction.
In addition to writing exquisitely dark fiction, Kathrin runs her own independent editing company, KLH CreateWorks, for Indie Authors of all genres. She also serves as Story Coordinator and Chief Editor for Collaborative Writing Challenge. Needless to say, she doesn't have time to do anything she doesn't enjoy.
Kathrin keeps a vast collection of single earrings (and wears them), has fulfilled her dream of naming one of her dogs Brucewillis, and can't remember the last time she didn't laugh at one of her own jokes.
Attending 6.00pm BST – 1.00pm EST
Tasha S. Heart
Tasha S. Heart has been writing as a hobby with the ambitions of having her work published and enjoyed by a public audience. After leaving the workforce to become a stay at home mother, her dream of becoming a published author of erotic fiction novels and short stories has been realized. As a new author, she writes to stimulate the imagination of the reader and to trigger their desires and fantasies.
Aside from dazzling her readers, Tasha is busy raising three young children; two girls and a boy with her loving husband. She enjoys spending time at the beach, swimming and the search for new material for her stories. Tasha has many talents other than, but not limited to arts and crafts, scrapbooking, nail tech and baking. She has a love of movies and doesn't mind a good scary movie or action flick to keep her on the edge of her seat when she's not watching animated movies with her children.
Attending 6.30pm BST – 1.30pm EST
Karina Kantas is the author of the popular OUTLAW series.
Thrillers involving outlaw motorcycle clubs.
She also writes short stories and when her imagination is working over time, she writes thought provoking dark flash fiction.
There are many layers to Karina's writing style and talent. As you will see in her flash fiction collections. And in UNDRESSED she opens up more to her fans. Giving them another glimpse of her warped mind.
When Karina isn't busy working on her next best seller, she's designing teasers, book trailers, recording audio or videoing small readings and then working on Twitter and FB posts.
Karina writes in the genres of fantasy, romance, sci-fi, horror, thrillers and comedy.
Her inspirations are the author S.E.Hinton and the rock band Iron Maiden.
You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, where she loves hanging out with her readers.
Attending 7.00pm BST – 2.00pm EST
Tom Atwood is an awesome writer from Colorado Springs. He’s the best kind of guy and I can’t wait for you all to meet him.
Attending 7.30pm BST – 2.30pm EST
This lovely lady lives in Memphis, Tennessee, but she’s a little mysterious… Want to find out more? Pop along to the event!
Attending 8.00pm BST – 3.00pm EST
L.K. Scott has always been curious of the macabre and the mysterious side of life. His dark pursuits have inspired him to write many horror and mystery novels. In addition to his published work he has earned a BA in filmmaking. Today he has written, directed, and produced over a dozen films. Born in Sunnyside, Washington, L.K. Scott now lives in Solvang, California with his partner Seth, where they enjoy surfing, traveling, and wine tasting. When he's not writing you can find him tending to his garden of endangered and exotic plants, or hunting down the best Mexican food around.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/L.K.-Scott/e/B009D5JPOU
L.K. Scott's Blog Dreadful Notions: https://dreadfulnotions.wordpress.com/
Attending 8.30pm BST – 3.30pm EST
Up and coming author Elizabeth York has been writing for about seven years. Located in the southeast, she spends her days drinking sweet tea on the porch with her laptop in hand. She has devoted her life to her family and her books. With the loss of her Father to cancer in 2010 she makes "Dear Daddy" dedication pages in each book and donates 10% royalties to cancer research.
Elizabeth was accepted into the Romance Writers of America organization in May of 2015.
Take the time to get to know the characters and you will love them as much as she does.
Attending 9.00pm BST – 4.00pm EST
I still live in the small town in Manchester, Uk, where I was born, raised and attended school. Now a wife and mother, I live with my husband and 6 children. We also have a small menagerie of animals including a bully pup (who's also my shadow).
I've always loved the underdog, the fighter. But let's face it, we all want to believe in a happily ever after. As a huge fan of books (book nerd is the endearing term, my children use). I have an immense romance collection (Jill Shalvis, Hannah Howell etc) which also includes paranormal romance (Lynsey Sands, Christine Feehan, JR Ward etc). If I'm not writing, I've got my head stuck in a good book.
You can't beat reading, watching the plot and characters come to life in your imagination. It's so much better than television. When I was younger, I tended to re-write books and fairy-tales where I wasn't completely happy with the ending. It confused the hell out of my children once they learned to read. None of the books matched the stories I'd read them growing up
Attending 9.30pm BST – 4.30pm EST
Virginia Carraway Stark
Virginia Carraway Stark has a diverse portfolio and has many publications. Getting an early start on writing, Virginia has had a gift for communication, oration and storytelling from an early age. Over the years she has developed this into a wide range of products from screenplays to novels to articles to blogging to travel journalism. She has been published by many presses from grassroots to Simon and Schuster for her contribution to 'Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Possible' as seen on ABC. She has been an honorable mention at Cannes Film Festival for her screenplay, “Blind Eye” and was nominated for an Aurora Award.
Attending 10.00pm BST – 5.00pm EST
Yes that’s right, yours truly is showing up at the end to close down the event and issue the final giveaway. I hope you can make it. We should have a lot of fun!
As a little treat, today I'm sharing an excerpt of my new book, The War, book 3 in the Blood and Destiny series, an epic steampunk action adventure story.
Pre-orders available here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EG1L4H6
And for an extra special treat, book one in the series, The Machine, is FREE
This offer won't last long so grab yourself a copy quick!
Larissa awoke with a snort. She wiped the trail of drool across her face with the back of her hand and sat up. Her head pounded with an unfamiliar ache. As she rubbed her temples with her fingertips, groaning at the sensation, she came back to full awareness and to the reality that she was not alone.
She looked up to find Kerrigan slumped in the Captain’s chair, his boots up on the desk. He stared at her with dark eyes, the flecks of grey through his short black mop of hair glistening in the gentle cabin candlelight.
“Morning,” he said with about as much charm and cheer as an undertaker addressing a corpse.
“Is it?” She wiped a second line of drool away as she looked around the cabin for any sign of morning. The small pair of round windows at one end appeared to be painted black.
“You know you snore?” Kerrigan said as he changed his legs around, crossing the left over the right and keeping his boots on the desk.
“I do not snore. What are you doing in here?”
“You snore and you drool. It’s not particularly attractive.”
“Well, I’m very sorry you’re not seeing me at my best, Mister Kerrigan.” She rubbed her head again, trying to push away the pain of too much sleep.
“I’m still a Colonel, Miss Markus. Does Holt appreciate your drooling?”
Her hands fell from her face and she gripped the edge of the bed. Holt. The ache in her head instantly sank straight to her heart. It hurt, like taking an arrow in the chest. The cabin disappeared into a haze and she focused on the last image of him, leaving her alone, yet again. She wished he were here right now, if for no other reason than to give Kerrigan another pummelling.
“I let you escape, didn’t I? Why are you being such an ass?” she said, trying desperately to push Holt from her thoughts.
“He’s dead, isn’t he?” Kerrigan finally took his boots off the desk and sat upright.
“What does it matter to you?” Larissa stood and grabbed the pitcher of water off the desk, taking a large gulp straight from it instead of pouring some into a cup.
“It’s nice to know I don’t have to keep looking over my shoulder anymore. That’s rude, you know. Other people might want to drink some.”
Without thinking, she swallowed half the mouthful and promptly spat the remaining water back into the jug, then slammed it back on the desk and fixed Kerrigan with a dark glare.
He opened his mouth to speak, then promptly snapped it shut again as the door opened. Larissa straightened her back and felt her bones give a satisfying crack as Elena entered the room followed by Cid and the ship’s Captain.
“Larissa, Colonel.” Elena nodded to them both. The Captain marched straight behind his desk and pointed his finger at Kerrigan, flicking it side to side. Kerrigan promptly stood and vacated the seat as directed.
Larissa opened her mouth to speak, intending to ask what was going on and why no one had spoken to her in two days, then changed her mind. The memory of a guard smacking her around the head for speaking out of turn flooded back just in time.
“We will arrive in the Capital Eudonin soon,” Elena said as she picked a glass from the tray and poured a measure of water into it. Larissa glanced over at Kerrigan, who appeared to chew on his lip, and she couldn’t help but do the same. “You will all be taken directly to the Empress for further discussion and consideration. I have come here this morning to teach the three of you some manners. My sister isn’t as amenable as I am, and if you set a foot wrong, you’ll find yourselves in our dungeons…at best.”
“At best?” Cid said with a look of horror on his face.
“Don’t worry, Mister Mendle. If you follow my instructions, you’ll do fine.”
Despite Elena’s crooning assurances, Cid’s expression did not settle. Elena took a delicate sip from her glass. Larissa pursed her lips as she tried to suppress the childish giggle that threatened to burst.
Have you noticed how much your mood affects your writing – or even your ability to write?
We had some bad news in our family yesterday, not devastating end-of-the-world type news, but it was bad enough to cause stress. When I sat down in the evening to write I just couldn’t. My mind froze up, my chest hurt and my fingers wouldn’t work. I’m a curious mix of pent up aggression and utter lethargy with nothing in-between. It will get better, things always do. It’s the natural ebb and flow of life. You get the highs and the lows with a whole bunch of grey areas in the middle. The writing works best during the grey areas I find.
There is the school of thought that one can use the harsh realities of life and take that into their manuscript. If you can manage to channel your anger and upset into the plot and characters, then it’s almost guaranteed to come out as a much grittier and realistic version of what would be written during a chilled moment. Similarly, when going through a period of good news and happy feelings, you can pump that word count up and pen some uplifting moments in the book.
I find there is a fine line between using real-life mood to enhance a story, and the real-life mood getting in the way of actually writing the story. Right now I’m unable to write. The emotion is too raw and the stress of the moment is too recent. The sensible part of my brain knows this will pass, all I need is a bit of patience and to stay mindful of anxiety levels, and hopefully in a few days I can get back to it.
To all my fellow writers who may go through something like this in the future, all I can advise is this-
Give yourself a break. You’re only human. If you can channel the stress into your work then do so, otherwise close the document down for a while and focus on yourself and your loved ones.
Even the foulest mood is temporary, and the biggest setback can be overcome.
All you need is time.