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D is for Dedication

So I’m going to be real for a moment. I love almost everything about writing (editing is another matter, but let’s not go there right now). Even when I’m wondering why I gave my character a name that’s a pain to write or spellcheck is upset for the umpteenth time about I word that I created and have added to the dictionary multiple times. But sometimes, writing is hard.

This is where dedication comes in. There are days when I’m sick, when I’m exhausted, when the whole world just seems to throw every roadblock they can in my way. There are days when I am so frustrated with a character that I sit at my keyboard and literally cry. I have spent hours looking at a blank page and blinking cursor because I have written my book into a corner and there is literally no way to proceed. I live through my characters’ emotions as I write and there have been days when I’ve been emotionally depleted and my family still expected me to be a functioning human being. I have argued with my family about how much time my writing takes, I have argued with my characters, I have argued with my family about arguing with my characters. After all, I’ve created them, I should just be able to write whatever I want to happen.

Then there are the physical problems. I’ve had computers restart themselves, losing everything I just spent hours typing. I’ve had cats step on my keyboard to the same effect. There is also the ongoing battle between the cats and my writing for attention, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped cats off my lap only for them to levitate back less than two seconds later. I’ve also lost track of how many times I’ve told them to get their paws off my keyboard.

So with all of these obstacles, why do I write? I write because it fulfills a part of my soul. When I write, I can become anyone or anything. I can go anywhere and do anything. There are literally no limits for what I can do, see, feel, or think. Also, it’s a duty. These characters have entrusted their story to me and it is my job to make sure that it is not forgotten, lost to the grind and stress of daily life. And in a way, I write because it’s magic. Because not only can I become anyone or experience anything, so can people who read my words. They can share the experience, but with a totally unique filter to them. A thousand people can read the exact same thing, but it will be retold in a thousand new ways. That is why I write.

What is something that requires dedication in your life? How do you overcome the daily stresses that life throws at you?

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C is for Characters

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Now this is one of my all time favorite parts of writing. Creating the characters. Every writer has a different method of creating characters. Some look at pictures and build from there, others start with character traits and then work outwards to their characters appearance. For me, it’s different with every character I create.

When I first met Aletta Sheridan, she was pouting. This intrigued me. For me, I want my characters to be real enough that I could meet them on the street. So when I sat down to write, all I had was the title name “In Search of Justice” and a general plot. When I sat down to start writing, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, then centered myself and looked for the main character of my novel. Instantly, I saw an agent sitting at a desk pouting with a slowly dying houseplant on the corner of the desk, benched because she refuses to accept a partner. Names mean a lot to me, I like to tuck hidden meanings into them, so imagine my surprise when she stubbornly insisted that her name was Aletta. I was able to convince her to use the last name Sheridan, which means seeker, but she was Aletta and that was that.

Every time a character appears to me, they are already fully formed physically and each one is distinct. Aletta is about 5’7”, has light colored skin, extremely curly blue-black hair that reaches mid-back, and amber colored eyes. She is typically dressed in practical clothes because she never knows what she’ll find during her time on-duty, but has a love for brightly dyed clothing. She hates high heels, but has a pair of high heeled boots that she absolutely adores.

They also have unique personalities and I never know what will appear as I get to know them better. I knew right away that Aletta was training to be an opera singer, but I didn’t know why she had left (more of that in book two of the series, coming soon). I know that she’s open hearted, which she gets from her mother, but that she has a temper as well. However, she finds fulfillment in her job as an agent for HSI, something that she hadn’t anticipated. She also has a chocolate addiction but loathes white chocolate. She loves her independence but can be a team player as well. She is at times a walking contradiction.

Lirim on the other hand, was a little more planned out. The supernatural to Aletta’s human, his name means freedom, while his last name Bosk means a small copse of trees. It is meant to allude to his connection to nature. He is fae but refused to be something as overused as an Elf, instead he is a Wild One, also known as a Sprite. When he and Aletta first met, I saw him as quite and reserved, never knowing that he has quite the mischievous streak and warmth to him.

Physically, Lirim is 6’2” and slender, but that slenderness is deceptive because he is very strong. He had deep green eyes, shoulder length straight black hair, tanned skin, and slightly pointed ears.

He is quiet but surprisingly frank about his past and the scars that he bears. He was trained to be a guard for the Glade (more about that to come in book 3) and he fought in the Outlander War. The Outlander War was a brutal conflict and it left him with scars, emotional, mental, and physical. He is the one that recognizes Aletta’s gift for what it is and he has a protective streak a mile wide. He is a terrible fry snob and his humor can occur at the oddest moments, but he has a gentle side as well.

The more time I spend writing these characters, the more facets of their personality I discover, much like the more time you spend with people, the more you find out about them. So how do you create your characters? Or what draws you to a character when you read? Let me know your thoughts on the matter 😊

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B is for Bunnies… a.k.a. Plot Bunnies

So I don’t know if plotters deal with this, but for me as a pantser, I am well acquainted with plot bunnies. Everyone believes that bunnies are these cute, fluffy, little things that are the perfect companions for animated princesses. But don’t let the cuteness fool you. Plot bunnies are very dangerous creatures and one must be on a constant look out for them. So here are three ways plot bunnies can sneak in and how to deal with them.

 

  1. The subtle sneak

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So this is the first and hardest type of plot bunny to detect. These ones usually appear when the writing flow is going well. You’re in a groove and the words are just flowing onto the page, ideas flying at you so fast that you can barely keep up. This is where the subtle sneak plot bunny hops in 😉 They subtly throw you off track by subverting you to an idea that still belongs in the book but is not relevant. For example, my character Lirim is a terrible fry snob. So with a subtle nudge from the plot bunny, I spend half an hour writing about his fry ranking system before realizing that it has zero plot relevance. (Thankfully, this has not happened but this is the subtle terrible power that these particular plot bunnies wield).

 

So how can you counteract this evil scheme? When the writing is going well, every twenty minutes or so, take a quick break and assess what you are writing. I know that this can be hard when you are in the middle of a writing flow, but it can save you having to edit out irrelevant material that you spent literally hours writing. It may slow you for a minute, but it’s the only way to save time in the end.

 

  1. The ‘Let’s go find out what made that noise’.

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This is also known as the pointless plot bunny. For me, these bunnies especially like to show up when I’m tired or over-caffeinated. These are the ones where you go back when you’re well rested and wonder what in the world you were drinking to think that that was a good idea. These usually occur when the story is stalled and you’re looking for a way to get the story moving again. When you are desperately looking for a way out of the corner that you’ve written yourself into, this is when they whisper their insidious ideas. For the record, ideas like having the main character’s long dead Aunt Maeve appear to them in a dream or having them have an illogical amazing breakthrough while they are microwaving peeps is usually a sign of their presence. (Disclaimer: No peeps were hurt in the writing of this blog post).

So how can we avoid these soulless plot wreckers? One way is to simply avoid writing until you get some rest. They find it harder to prey on well rested minds. Also, consider having a sit down with your characters. When my novel is stalled, it is usually because I am trying to force one of my characters to do something out of character. Usually with a bit of backtracking and dialogue with my characters and I am able to write without any problems.

 

  1. The semi-helpful plot bunny

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These plot bunnies are like the brownies of the writing world. Although often kind and helpful, they can often have their mischievous streak. They help writers by letting them see things differently from what they have planned out. The quietest of the three, you have to listen for their whispers of “What if?” For example, what if Aletta was the one who was a food snob instead of Lirim? What if Lirim hated eating anything green, despite drawing his strength from nature? These can be helpful in fully exploring your story and sometimes bring critical breakthroughs.

So how are these creatures dangerous? Like in the movie “Gremlin” where the Mogwai turned into Gremlins by being fed after a certain time, these plot bunnies must be carefully monitored. Just as brownies can turn into boggarts, so can these plot bunnies become pointless plot bunnies if allowed free rein. (See number two above for how to deal with these.)

So, listen to them, but always keep your plot firmly in your mind. Most writers have a point A and a point B and a general idea of how to get there. These plot suggestions from the bunnies should help fill out some details, but should ultimately not alter the final destination that is point B.

Hopefully these tips help you deal with your plot bunnies. If you are overwhelmed, don’t give up. Remember, plot bunnies are easily bored and the odds are good that they will get distracted and leave you alone eventually.

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So how do you deal with plot bunnies when you are writing? (Even if its writing a blog post or an informative piece 😊)

 

http://knowledgenuts.com/2014/03/08/the-different-types-of-mythological-brownies/

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Frantic

This is a concept that I am well acquainted with as a writer. I do not know if every writer is like this, or if it is only me. After all, I am a pantser not a plotter. If you do not know what that means, a pantser is someone who sits down and starts writing without a well planned out course of where the story is going or exactly what they characters are going to do or say. Think of it as like where Bilbo Baggins set out after the Dwarves in such a hurry that he didn’t even take the time to pack properly. He still had an incredible journey, but it was probably quite different from what it would have been if he and the Dwarves had sat down and planned out a solid course of action.

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A plotter on the other hand, has a very well laid out road map if you will. They sit down and plan out the book in its entirety. They know where the novel begins, where it ends, a loose idea of how their characters will get there, exactly who their characters are, and a rough idea how every chapter will go. While this is a marvelous approach and I honestly wish I could write like this, my characters are much to rebellious to ever agree to anything like this. They like to change course mid-book, mid-chapter, and mid-scene. I’ve learned to just go with the flow.

So yes, my writer’s life is filled with frantic joy. I frantically type trying to get all of my thoughts out while the characters are agreeing and the plot is going to smoothly that it makes me want to weep with joy, but I can’t, because I have to get it all typed. I frantically argue with my characters about staying in line with my idea of what the story is only to get stubborn refusal (although they are usually right and the story ends up being better for it). I also stubbornly try to keep my storyline on track, although usually by the second chapter it is totally derailed.

Also, this past weekend, I frantically typed trying to write 25k words in only four days. But then, I finish the novel and the franticness ends. I can take a deep breath, cry a little bit like a shell shocked survivor that can’t believe that they somehow, impossibly, survived the crisis. I dance around the room a bit (drawing curious and concerned glances from my cats) and treat myself with one of my favorite snacks. And after about five minutes, the next story is whispering at me, starting the process all over again.

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So what causes frantic joy in your life?

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NovelRama or 25k in 4 days

So on Friday afternoon, also known as day one of NovelRama, I found out about the event and decided to go ahead and jump in. After all, I’m a writer, so how hard could it really be? Of course, I’ve had writer’s block on my novel for three weeks, but no big deal, right?

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Day one: Because I joined late, I only reached 1,500 words. But that’s ok, because I had three more days to make it up. I’d be more prepared for the next day.

Day two: The morning was spent hanging with family, but I spent the afternoon and evening writing. There were hilarious llama memes and hourly sprints (where you type as much as you can as fast as you can and everyone posts their word count at the end of the hour). It was a good day and I managed to get about 8k words written. Woohoo, bye bye writer’s block!

Day three: This was a harder day for me as I had to get up earlier than normal for me for the second day in a row. I am one of those types of people that needs her eight hours of beauty sleep. So I hang with my family in the morning and then head for my computer in the afternoon. However, writing can be extremely mentally and emotionally tiring, so I called it a day after roughly 5k words. But hey, it’s better than nothing, right?

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Day four: I have 10.5k words left to do to reach my goal of 25k. I can do this! Right? At least I think I can. After warning my family not to disturb me or risk psycho writer wrath (We’re a strange kind of people, especially when abruptly pulled from our train of thought). However, alas and alack, it was not to be. Due to multiple interruptions due to animals and family members in true need as well as technical problems, my day did not go to plan. Add in a man hunt in our area for a man considered armed and dangerous and all of my finger joints aching from all the typing I was doing, it just wasn’t meant to be. The event ended at midnight MDT, but I called the end of NovelRama at 10 p.m. with a word count of a little over 23k total (8.5k for the day) and I was truly ecstatic. Did I hit 25k? Not quite. But I made such incredible progress on my novel over four days as well as getting to connect with several fabulous people. I truly do not regret a thing.

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Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is having another NovelRama in August. I seriously recommend if you are a writer that you check it out. It’s free and no matter if you do 2 words or 25k words, the experience is extraordinary.
So what is the craziest challenge that you’ve ever done spur of the moment?

 

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Harbingers of Spring

Every year, I always eagerly await the arrival of the swallows. They usually arrive in April and settle under the bridges first. It’s always a joy to be driving and see the first flock of swallows setting up shop, making sure everything is ship shape for the coming summer. They swoop and dive, darting in and out, an intricate dance. The most amazing part? I’ve never seen a collision, their flight perfectly choreographed to down to the last bird.

A few weeks later, the barn swallow arrive, letting us know that winter is truly over. Barns are suddenly filled with chaos and activity, unsuspecting cats often get dive bombed at this point, the swallows furious scolding filling the air. Although a few cats try to swipe back and take out their attackers, success is almost non-existent. In fact, most felines slink of in ignominious defeat, off to sulk for a few hours and repair their tattered dignity.

Every year, we wait for the swallows.

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Saturday

Ah Saturday, the day of the week were you are off work, can kick back and relax. These are the lazy days of the week, especially now that spring is making its appearance and we can do more fun outdoorsy things. However, I find myself fully booked this weekend.

First off, today I get to go with my niece and nephews (all of them 6 and under) to an Easter egg drop. I have never been to one of them before, so I have no idea what to expect. But I know that whatever happens, it’s going to be fun!

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Next, I decided spur of the moment (I only found out about it mid-day on Friday) to participate in the NovelRama. This is a fun challenge to write 25,000 words in four days. As I only wrote 1500 words yesterday, that means that I need to write 8,000 minimum today to stay on track. My fingers are going to be flying, but it’s exhilarating and so much fun to do challenges like this with other people. So cheer me on to reach my goal of 25k words in 4 (3 and a half) days.

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Lastly, I want to check in on my exclusive content/followers challenge. I am so excited to announce that I have 11 followers, but that still leaves me 14 followers short of my goal. I am leaving this challenge open until 7 pm MDT in the hopes of achieving this goal so I can share the bonus material. I know that we can do this guys! I’ll post again tonight on whether or not we hit the goal. Happy Saturday everyone!

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Foreign

They say that you are the sum of your experiences. I both agree and disagree with that. You are indeed affected by your life, but humans also have the unique ability to dream and imagine. Although many people have never been to space personally, they still love to dream about other planets and space travel. So I believe that you are the sum of your experiences plus a certain amount of je ne sais quoi. That is what it means to be human.

Tangent aside, I have been fortunate enough to have been able to travel. Last May, I was able to travel with my company to Nepal for a week.

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It was literally half a world away from home for me and so far outside of my comfort zone. Thankfully I was in a group of amazing people. But for a homebody like me? This was a big step outside of my ‘normal’.

First off, I can say that I’ve been to the future. How many people can actually say that, lol? In Nepal, it is the year 2074 as they run off of a different calendar than we do here in America and/or most of the world. Also, they were in the midst of elections, their first ever. After a massacre of the royal family in 2001 by one of the royal princes, the country has been largely governed by corrupt officials. So this was a historic occasion for them. First, all of the candidates are only allowed to campaign for one week. Even then, the campaigning was organized and peaceful. After the chaos of the 2016 presidential race, it was quite refreshing. As a group of Nepali were marching quietly down the street in support of their candidate, I happened to meet the eyes of an older woman, maybe in her sixties, it was hard for me to judge their ages. She had dressed carefully in what I am sure was her best outfit, her shoulders were back and her head up. But it was her eyes and her smile that caught my attention. She had a small smile on her face, not a grin by any means, but there was so much joy in that smile. And her eyes were filled with pride and hope. This is the first ever election in her lifetime I am sure and she was able to make her voice heard. It was life changing. A neat thing about Nepal is that both men and women are able to vote, although the illiteracy rate is so high. Illiteracy is in the high 80’s in Nepal, so what they would do was have their parties symbols and then the picture of their candidate next to it, so people would still be able to vote.

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Their culture and history were also so very foreign to me. In Nepal, you can feel the centuries of time and civilization every where you go. America is so new, especially the west were I live. My state is not even 150 years old yet. That’s so very young, especially when you can feel the ancientness of other cultures.

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But you can also find things that remind you of other cultures and places as well. This reminds me of an English cottage for some reason. Although I know that English culture had absolutely zero influence on this building, it shows that the human spirit indeed longs for several similar things. All human beings crave ordinary daily beauty, like flowers or a pleasing shade of paint.

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My last thought on foreign? Don’t hold yourself apart, but take part in the culture. Even if you absolutely dislike the experience, you still did it and no one can take it away from you. I went solo during the tourist part of our journey (during the first half of the week, we do service projects) and found someone to do henna for me. My artist said that she wasn’t very good and had only been doing this as a hobby for 3-4 years. She hand drew/freestyled this in about 20 mins. I was so pleased and blown away and it was a fun reminder of my trip after I got home. So it was a long trip, over forty hours on the return trip counting layovers, but would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

via Daily Prompt: Foreign

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Talisman

So today’s daily prompt is Talisman. This prompt both intrigued me and confounded me a bit. I know what talismans are, but how do they apply to me, to my writing? Although I know that other writers have their routines and their talismans that help them get into the proper mood for writing, I never had. I tend to be a pantser writer, one that waits for inspiration to strike rather that methodically planning out exactly what I am going to write and then write it. So no, no lucky pen, no certain coffee shop for my writing.

So then I turned my thoughts to how I used talismans in my writing. Here is a picture of a talisman:

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Although this is much too ornate for any of my characters to possess, there is no limit to what can be a character’s talisman. A lock of hair, a family heirloom, a treasured missive from someone close to them. For my characters, a talisman is something that they draw strength from, something that allows them to keep going when they have given everything that they had.

This is something that comes up in my second novel in The Seeker Files: In Search of Healing. This book deals more with Aletta’s past and her coming to terms with her powers as a Sheridan. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you anything more, but I will tell you that a talisman plays a very important part in this journey of hers.

So if you write, do you use talismans in either your writing routine or in your stories? And even if you are not a writer, what do you consider a talisman and do you have one that you use? Let me know, I’m excited to find out what other people think of Talismans.

Follower update: As of this point, I have five followers (so happy!) but this is quite short for my Friday deadline of 25 followers for an exclusive content from In Search of Justice. So I am moving the deadline back to Saturday evening as I really want to share these fun extras with you guys. Happy Thursday everyone!

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Exclusive Content Challenge

Hi Everyone,

I have a challenge for you.

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This is a new blog and I don’t have very many followers yet. (Shout out to those who have already followed, you guys are awesome!)

So here’s the challenge. If I get 25 followers by Friday night, I will post exclusive content from my book “In Search of Justice” that’s available no where else. It’s entirely up to you, dear readers. Happy Wednesday!

 

Also, if you haven’t read my book, it’s free on Amazon if you have a kindle unlimited account. Check it out today!