Monday, October 30, 2017

Quotes about Writing

One of my favorite writing quotes comes from E.L. Doctorow: "Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." It sounds to me as if he was a pantser, writing from scene to scene. Of course, you still need to have a set of landmarks that you're looking for, whether you're going somewhere or writing a story that requires a plot structure. Still, to write this way requires a certain confidence that you'll end up where you want to.

Here are some other writing quotes that resonate with me. You can find all of these, and many more, listed on Goodreads.

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."--Maya Angelou

"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."--Toni Morrison

"Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it."--Lloyd Alexander

"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader."--Robert Frost

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." -- Ray Bradbury

I was tempted to list more, but I'll stop here. Which of these quotes appeal to you? Are there others you like? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ghosts of Projects Yet (or If) to Come

Pat's comment on Monday about keeping an idea list made me think about all the projects I'd like to work on "someday." There's a lot. I've already mentioned how I want to write another series set in the same world as the Season Avatars series. I'd also like to write more stories in the Catalyst Chronicles series. Indeed, it seems like many short stories beget novels, which beget series, which soon become multigenerational family sagas.

I could probably spend the rest of my writing career just expanding on the worlds I've already created. However, there are still plenty of other ideas and genres I'd like to explore. They include superhero stories, alternate history, and solarpunk, to name a few. I don't want to say too much about these ideas now in case they change later.

So, what's stopping me from working on all of these ideas? One of the biggest obstacles is lack of time. I have a lot of daily responsibilities to manage, and what little writing time I have tends to go toward works in process instead of new ideas. The other major problem is that many of these ideas are just that: ideas. They might give me a backdrop, but I still need to develop characters and a plot to turn these ideas into stories. To do that, I need time for research and rumination, and that can be hard to find.

Ultimately, I don't know how many of these ideas will ever make it out of my head and onto the page. They'll have to be managed around with the rest of my other projects. I may never get to any or all of them, but they'll inspire me to keep writing as long as I'm physically and mentally capable of it.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Ghost Projects

Recently, my blogger friend Terri Bruce posted on Facebook on how 2017 has been a year for her to complete what she called “ghost projects,” crafts and other things she started a long time ago but was unable to finish until now. It's been a very freeing experience for her to get them done. It got me thinking about the various ghost projects I have in my life.

Many writers have what they refer to as “trunk” stories, stories that never quite came together or were sent out and never found a home. There aren’t any projects from my beginning days as a writer that I want to pull out, but I would like to return to the world of Lyon’s Legacy and Twinned Universes. I’ve started a story currently titled “The Unnumbered World,” about a minor character (Julia) from Twinned Universes and her experiences after the book ends. I’m having trouble defining the conflicts involved, plus she’s half Dine (Navajo), so I’ll have to revisit my research on her culture before I finish her story. I’ve also started a sequel to Twinned Universes, but it’s not a time travel story and would take the series in a completely different direction.

In addition to the Catalyst Chronicles stories, I have a couple of stand-alone short stories that need to be finished. One of them actually did get completed, but after receiving a developmental edit on it, I abandoned it. Maybe it’s time to dig it out and see if I want to revise it or stick with my original plan for that story.

There are several craft projects I need to finish. The highest priority projects are sewing my Jedi robes and finishing a train I started to crochet for Alex when he was a toddler. I also want to make him a Star Wars blanket, and I know that’s going to be a big time commitment. One reason I like crocheting Star Wars amigurumi characters is because they only take a few days to complete. (I also make these for other people, so sometimes there's a deadline to get them done before I see the recipient.) Of course, when you want to do several of them, the time goes up.

I'll mention that I have various projects that need to be done around the house, but I don't want to list them all.

In order to manage my projects, I write out lists of them and assign them priorities. I think to make progress on some of the bigger projects (like the Jedi costume), I need to break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Of course, finding time for these projects is also a challenge. I can get an hour or so of crocheting done while my son is doing his homework, but for sewing, I want to set aside a larger chunk of time, and that's harder to do.

How many ghost projects do you have floating around? Do you plan to work on them at some point, or have you given up on them? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Short Stories and a Writing Career

While I prefer both reading and writing novels over short stories, there are times when I pick up an anthology--or even try my hand at writing a short story. It's not a story length that comes naturally to me, but writing short stories is a good way to sharpen one's craft. (Though I confess to having several unfinished ones on my flash drive.) I see other authors talking about their short story sales to anthologies. This might be a good way to get your name out there so readers check out your other work. On the other hand, anthologies (at least the ones I've seen submission calls for) generally don't offer professional rates, and they can take time away from novels--which tend to be the mainstay for indie authors. If you don't hear about anthologies in a timely manner, you might miss the submission window. While I might add a couple of short stories to my goal list for 2018, I have so many other projects to complete that I don't want to spend a lot of time on short stories.

How do you feel about short stories, as a writer and/or reader? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Strong Women in Fiction Giveaway Hop

My blogger buddy Terri Bruce is co-hosting a giveaway hop next month. It's called Strong Women in Fiction, and it's intended to show all the many ways in which women can be strong. It's open to bloggers and authors of all genders, but the prize or prizes for the giveaway should relate to the theme. For more information about how it'll work, check out this post. You can sign up until October 29 and have to have your post up November 1st. (Looks like I'll be double-posting that day for IWSG.) Contact Terri if you have further questions.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Indie Author Day

This Saturday is Indie Author Day. I'll be part of an event at the Schaumburg Township District Library along with twenty-three other authors. It's from 11:00-1:00. I'll have books for sale, free chocolate and bookmarks, and possibly a giveaway of some sort for people who sign up for my mailing list. If you're in the area, I hope you stop in. Since I'm sure most of you aren't near the Chicago suburbs, consider supporting me or another indie author with an online purchase. Happy reading!

Monday, October 09, 2017

Season Avatars Series--Releases and a Sale!

There's so much exciting publishing news for the fantasy Season Avatars series today that I feel I ought to do something special to celebrate. I had considered taking today off work (I still have weeks left of vacation), but since I was out Thursday afternoon and Friday with a cold, I need to catch up. As long as I get to do something with my family, that's celebration enough for me.

Anyway, time for all of the announcements:

Summon the Seasons officially went live this morning to conclude the series.

Kay might be the youngest, smallest, and least confident Season Avatar, but her weather magic makes her the most powerful of her group. Now that she also can contact the souls of dead Avatars, her quartet has a chance to end Chaos Season permanently. All Kay and her sister Avatars need are three more bones.

To obtain them, Kay’s quartet must travel across Challen, evading the King’s Watch and Selathens who want to protect their demigoddess, Salth, creator of Chaos Season. Kay’s deepest beliefs about her God and her longtime rival, Dorian, will be challenged during the trip. If she loses her faith and newfound courage, she will fail, and the rest of the Season Avatars with her.

I don't have an extensive blog tour planned, but I have a guest post up on Catherine Lundoff's blog about making a Victorian-like setting more feminist. An additional posts is pending for Alex J. Cavanaugh, but I missed the date for Pat Dilloway's post. Sorry again, Pat! That was completely my fault.

Young Seasons: A Season Avatars Short Story Collection is out of Kindle Select and headed for wide distribution. It's already live on Apple and Kobo and should be headed to Barnes and Noble very soon.

The country of Challen depends on its Season Avatars to tame a recurring storm that mixes up the seasons. A quartet of magic-users, each with a different type of magic, reincarnate with skills and memories from previous lives but face new challenges whenever they’re reborn. Now, a child faces a healing task that would daunt someone much older. A fourteen-year-old is pursued by enemies in her sleep. An animal lover must protect her kitten from her disapproving family. An impatient farm girl tries to get the attention of her true love, only to have the wrong person respond. Before Gwen, Kay, Ysabel, and Jenna can come together as Season Avatars, first they must survive independently as Young Seasons.

A short story collection set between Seasons' Beginnings and Scattered Seasons. Includes an excerpt from Scattered Seasons.

Speaking of Scattered Seasons, it's on sale through next Monday for $0.99. (It's on sale at other sellers besides Amazon, though it may take a couple of days for the price change to become effective.)

Lady Gwendolyn lo Havil is an Ava Spring, born to heal others and lead the Season Avatars of her generation. Season Avatars with divine magic must work in groups of four to save the country of Challen from Chaos Season, times when all of the seasons appear at once. When the current Ava Spring dies in a riding accident, Gwen must find the other three Season Avatars she will link with. But two of them are missing, and with Gwen's own magic crippled by a cursed pottery shard, she will have to use all of her skills to find the Avatars scattered across the country of Challen. During her journey, she meets a stranger who claims to know the shard's origin. Is he truly an ally of the Season Avatars, or is he trying to stop them from uniting?

 Part of the reason I chose today to release Summon the Seasons is that it's John Lennon's birthday. I consider John my "patron muse," and the Beatles inspired the "Fem Four" of the Season Avatars series. So there's only one way to go out, and that's with a Twist and Shout!


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

IWSG: Keeping It Personal

This month's Insecure Writer's Support Group post is hosted by Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan. If you're not familiar with the IWSG, check them out on their website and Facebook.

This month, we've been posed the following question: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

It's hard to answer this question because there are different levels of personal information. To some extent, all of my characters, from the heroines to the villains, come out of my personal experience. Some of them, such as Joanna in Lyon's Legacy and Gwen in the Season Avatars series, draw more on my background or personal preferences. I've used other characters to vent emotions. Something deeply personal? Not telling.

How much of your characters are you? Feel feel to share in the comments. 

P.S. Young Seasons: A Season Avatars Short Story Collection will be free on Amazon from now through Friday as it ends its time in Kindle Unlimited. This weekend I plan to put it in wide distribution, but if you'd like a Kindle copy, go ahead and download it now.

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