Character Study

currently playing on my laptop: Lucky by Aurora

Last week when I was in Frothy Monkey (a local coffee shop), I began studying the faces around me. This is a writer thing. I am not original in this. But I figured I’d lay out my findings because sharing is caring, y’all.

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I will probably swap these people’s genders and use them in a future series. (I have things already plotted out and I’m excited)

Here is a screenshot of the notes I took on my MacBook air

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I generally do these when I’m procrastinating, but it’s a good stall. I don’t usually put these “people” in my books as they are, but many, many of their traits—both physical features and mannerisms—go into my characters. 

Do you do enjoy people watching too?

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Drafting Is My Favorite

currently playing on my laptop: Trance to Study by: All Nighter by Delta Notch

If you get a bunch of writers together, two questions will always come up.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? What is your most hated step?

If you’re a reader and not a writer, you may not be aware of the steps that lead to publication. I won’t cover them all, but here is a quick sum up.

  1. brainstorming
  2. outlining (not everyone does this, but most serious writers do)
  3. drafting (aka vomiting the story out in all its hot mess-ness)
  4. revision
  5. lesser editing
  6. final polish reading/editing/proofing

I love brainstorming. That’s when I get to play on Pinterest, looking for pictures of Iceland, the steppe, the Mediterranean Sea, hot guys firing arrows, lovely ladies wielding magical knives, and so on and so forth. I chat with my husband and friends and family about plot ideas and characters. Music is also a huge part of this step. I like to find songs for certain scene I know will be in the story or songs that serve as themes for characters or settings. It’s a very, very fun step.

Outlining. Ugh. I hate it. But I can’t write without it. I know it will change a TON before the book is a book and that’s what makes me hate it. A necessary evil for me.

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Drafting is my favorite!!!! This is when I get to have rum and write all the things and not worry if they make sense or have huge gaping plot holes. I just type and laugh and cry and fight and listen to all the wild songs I chose for the story and the words fllllooooowwwwww. It is Happyland (not to be confused with Mylesland lol) for this writer.

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The fourth step in my totally not official list there is revision and I like that too. It is very challenging in that I have to keep everything in my head. Motivations. Plot. Threads of this and that. This is the serious stuff right here. No more playing about. No more rum. 😦 BUT I do enjoy it. It’s like working a jigsaw puzzle. I can’t listen to music with words during this part. FOCUS and BRUTAL HONESTY with myself is key.

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The last two steps are okay. I like line editing my stuff before sending it off because I love grammar and sentence structure. (I am a writer, after all) I like polishing metaphors and imagery here too and making the prose sing as beautifully as I am able.

Do you have a favorite step in the process of your creations? Do share! 🙂

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Long Time, No See

currently playing on my laptop: True Feeling by Galantis

Hello people!!! I’ve missed blogging!

The last months have been a whirlwind of writing and being a mother and learning to love myself again.

I went through a weird, emotionally rough patch in the fall and winter. For some reason, I began thinking I wasn’t good enough. No matter what I did, it wasn’t enough. Every time something less than awesome happened to anyone in my life, I found a way to blame myself. Like down to the smallest of situations. For example, I stepped in front of someone at the grocery store (not even ON them—we were simply both grabbing for some Prego!) and I found myself apologizing far more than was necessary. When bad things happened to my kids because school can be tough, I twisted the facts to blame myself. And these weren’t things I could ever hope to control. Yes, I should apologize when rude. Yes, I should be there for my kids when yuck happens. But I don’t have to wear the burden of guilt for any of that. But I did! For months!! Bizarre.

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I’m not sure what led to this terrible mindset, but thankfully, I snapped out of it.

On New Year’s Day, I just couldn’t sleep. (like New Year’s Day night haha) I began thinking and thinking. I was actually almost lightheaded and half crazy. Then, something in my head said, “You forgot you are amazing. None of this is your fault.”

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Now, I know very well I have loads and loads of work to do with regard to relationships and more. I need to be more thoughtful, better with time management, and so on. I am always trying to be a better sister, child, mother, wife, and friend. That is a good thing.

BUT I what I needed (and still do today) is to keep my achievements and good points in the front of my mind. 

WHY would I think you care about this? 

Well, we are all humans. I’m betting some of you can relate to this post. Negative self talk can really put a monkey wrench into writing, creating, laughing, and living, and I want to do all I can to let you know YOU ARE ALSO AMAZING.

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Writing and Fighting: Come Along Wrist Grab

currently playing on my laptop: Electric Landlady by Kila

As most of you know, I teach mixed martial arts and self defense when I’m not writing fantasy. Sometimes I make videos to discuss writing and those videos oftentimes give instruction as to what your action scenes should/shouldn’t include. Today I’m sharing a video my sweet kids helped me create. It’s about a very common way jerks grab people and how to escape. I hope you enjoy it and please be patient as my son films with my terrible lighting and sad, old phone. hahaha

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Truth in Fantasy: How A Court of Mist and Fury Changed my Thinking

currently playing on my laptop: Desire by Meg Myers (warning: explicit)

I stumbled onto a blog post by one Mitta Thakrar and now I can’t stop smiling. She detailed how she used to really like (I’m totally paraphrasing) Edward Cullen (Twilight’s vampire guy) and his protectiveness, but Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Mist and Fury changed all that. I couldn’t agree more!!!

***spoilers abound below so beware***

 

The main character in A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, and A Court of Wings and Ruin by Maas is a young woman named Feyre, who in the first book falls for your typical fantasy alpha male—Tamlin. He isn’t bad or anything. Just a super protective fae character. I’ve liked those kind of boys in my fantasy. I’ll freely admit it. It can be okay. IF it doesn’t go too far. IF it doesn’t inhibit the female character/partner/friend. After all, Tamlin is kind of who she needs for a while because of what’s going on. But this guy’s protectiveness morphs in to a nasty brand of abuse masked by what he claims is love. When the Lord of the Night Court nabs Feyre (she called out for help and the frustration and depression shown is spot on IMHO), Feyre learns what type of behavior she should expect from a man. Rhysand, the Night Court High Lord, tells her everything she does is her choice. Always. It was such a beautiful, poignant moment in fantasy for me as a reader. As a woman. Really, Mitta explains it so beautifully in her blog post HERE.  I’m just going to point you to that because it is an amazing post.

Thank you, Mitta, for sharing your thoughts. Thank you, Sarah J Maas, for sharing such a raw story full of truth.

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Day in the Life of an Author: Summertime

*currently playing in my ears: Growing up Londinium by Daniel Pemberton * currently reading: a friend’s fantasy manuscript because my life is pretty great*

5bfeef2c8d2a7d0ed83d6d620fc2c2edSee_you_at_the_beach!

(Above right: what most see Above left: what writers see)

My family and I drove a billion miles to Florida to enjoy some beach time this past week. For an author, vacation is a beautiful, dangerous beast she must wrangle into submission.

Because the work can’t really just stop.

I had to release a book during vacation because of some health stuff I’m going to have to deal with later and also because of promotion opportunities. So instead of slothing in the sand 24/7, I escaped into the dark of my assigned beach house room and posted promotional thingies on Twitter, IG, and Facebook. I answered reader and blogger emails and messages.

BUT I LOVED IT.

That is the Vacation Beast. She will charm you and confuse you if you don’t keep to a plan. One day, she’ll give your kids the magical ability to play happily in the waves and bless your brain with the plot you’ve been praying for. The next day, she’ll put one side of your heart on the beach with your family and stretch the other half over to the page of character notes you made on the drive down.

I suppose I need to do a better job planning, but sometimes when opportunity knocks and it’s your first rodeo, you just have to take the ride and deal with the wonderful, heart-ripping aftereffects.

Do you work at all during your own vacations? How does that look in your life? Any tips you can share with us?

***You MUST go watch this fab chicken pool party video because it is the total and complete best. ***   https://i.giphy.com/VNbLO8UAajZDi.mp4

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Japan: Serene and Chaotic

currently playing on my laptop: Soldier by Fleurie   

what I’m currently reading: First Year (Black Mage series) by Rachel E. Carter and Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

In March I hopped on a plane to Japan. Quite a hike for this Nashville girl. Now I’ve traveled a good bit. Italy, France, Scotland, England, Germany, Austria. All over the US and parts of the Caribbean. But Asia was the first time I truly felt like a fish out of water. It was a breathtaking, amazing feeling.

Japanese culture fascinates me. The decor is sparse and lovely, and the culture values order above all, or at least it seems that way in most places. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and in Tokyo I saw evidence of the strong counter-culture, not just in pink pigtails on girls dressed up in Harajuku and Akihabara, but also in younger folks talking on the trains (most people stay completely quiet) and making jokes in solemn places. The bright distinction between serene and chaotic thrilled me.

When you tour a castle in Europe, you see tapestries, hulking thrones, curtained four-poster beds, and gilt chandeliers. Both Nijo Castle in Kyoto and Edo in Tokyo consist of lovely rooms filled only with tatami and painted screens. There is a true peace in the beautiful simplicity. The green scent of tatami helped me drift into imagining old rulers and their nobles discussing battle tactics, calligraphy, and poetry. It was great to see young and old sitting along a zen rock garden, talking philosophy. It was also great to watch two guys swing around a wooden column on a long-dead nobleman’s porch.

The astounding self control and order in lines going into castles, shrines, temples, and trains blew my mind. When there are 300 ish people waiting to get into a place in the US, the line would be anything but a line. It would be more like a jumble of people, jockeying for the best spot. In Japan when there is a huge group and the door to the historic site or busy train opens, all 300 waiting quickly assemble into a single-file line with no arguing, talking, or swearing at all. Bizarre! I loved it. I never felt threatened by anyone in Japan like I sometimes do in other cities like NYC and Rome. Now I love those cities too, but there are some less than polite citizens here and there and they take some getting used to. Japan is bursting with manners as well as beauty and a varied culture.

I realize this post is long and very unorganized—sorry! I’m simply vomiting out thoughts here. But I have to mention the gardens in Japan. I ADORE the gardens. At Nijo Castle, I watched five men with medieval style bamboo ladders carefully remove tiny clusters of pine needles from an ancient tree’s high limbs. The men were completely quiet and throughly thorough. Nothing they did was rushed. Everything was done to the best of their ability with zero slacking and ultimate focus on the job. And the gardens are proof of the Japanese talent of high quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. The mosses are perfectly even and untouched by weeds. The trees don’t even look real. There is no detritus. Everything is balanced visually and gives off an incredible sense of peace.

Okay I’m going to stop blabbering now. Have you been to Japan? What did you think?

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