Archive for the ‘writing in general’ Category

Shiny Ball Syndrome

The Millionaire Matchmaker made up this term to describe what happens when someone should be focusing on one thing but get easily distracted by something shinier and new. Well, I should be finalizing my launch list. I should be working through those edits of the sequel. Heck, I should be sleeping at 2 AM after feeding my daughter, but instead I’m thinking about a new book!

Boy when it hits, it comes out of nowhere. Suddenly one little thought snowballs into a full-fleshed outline and it’s 6 am. Is this inspiration? Procrastination? Sleep deprivation?

Well, whatever it was I couldn’t stop it. I actually had to get out of bed and open my laptop to jot all the details down.

When I woke up I wondered if upon opening up my notes if I they would read like some crazy dream that made sense when you were dreaming it but once you explained it to someone you realized it was nonsense. Thankfully, I still liked my idea in the morning so it wasn’t a total loss. I even began drooling at the thought of writing again.


Not polishing, not editing, not rewriting, but writing!

I stopped myself as soon as I opened up a shiny new word document and typed in my title. (I even thought of a title!)

Can you take a break with two books in the series finished and third 2/3’s done and write a whole new novel? Would my readers be angry to have the series delayed? Might I lose momentum or characters if I took this break? Or might I get refreshed by starting something new? Tell my your thoughts or experience with this.

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      Well, all my fantasy-prone blog followers and friends, I’m sure you all must love Halloween as much as I do. The night you can pretend to be whoever you want and roam the streets under the guise of darkness, the crisp leaves crunching under your costumed-feet, collecting CANDY from strangers! The night where fear is confronted and spooky is embraced. The night where the veil between us and the afterlife thins and the dead can mingle with the living.

Oh I LOVE Halloween.

This year we actually have a white Halloween.

Yes, snow in the fall everyone.

They say it hasn’t snowed this early in these parts since the Civil War. I actually love the snow (as long as I keep my power that is), but it’s pretty strange to be trick or treating in half-a-foot of snow. Our area has actually sent out a public message strongly discouraging going out due to power outages. In lieu of house-to-house, they are offering candy at the town hall from 2-4. Well, that sounds terribly depressing. I’m going to look up which neighborhoods still have power and drive my son around to all the Halloween friendly houses. I’m sure my son will be telling his grandchildren about this one day. One of those — “When I was a boy we had to trudge through four feet of snow to get our candy!”

I’m even more bummed this Halloween since I usually host a huge Halloween party where I do things like this:

                 Welcome to the haunted house…muh-ah-ah-ah!

                           (Harry Potter music blasting)

         (Um…the ectoplasm thing in the lower left corner appeared after I took the picture 😮 )

                              Every haunted house needs a cemetery

                       Some of those guys pop-up!

                           The grim reaper on his phantom steed

Oh seeing all these pics makes me miss having my party this year, but since I have an infant to take care of into the wee hours of the night, I decided to forgo it. Boy am I glad I didn’t try though, the snow would have wrecked everything. I would have been rushing around trying to save all of my decorations and animatronics. I hope it still feels like Halloween a little bit tonight. It feels like Halloween Grinch has stolen it from us.

So in honor of trick or treating, I’ve posted a little more of my book below:

                                                                                                           Chapter 2
Years later, my palm-wood-sandaled feet trot along the stone path through tall desert trees that provide much-needed relief from the dry heat of the land. I come to the end of my purification walk from my family dwelling outside the sacred city of Memphis. My thirty days of service is about to begin, and I’m eager to reclaim the position of my late father and his father before that. I already feel strength from my fast. I walk steadfast under the towering statues of Ra lining the walkway to the temple entrance. I’m beginning to feel alive again, every muscle tingling.
Above the door bears the sacred inscription: “The House of Life—The Learned Ones of Library Magic.” Every time I pass under that engraving, pride consumes me. I’m the high priest of such a temple. The six guards at the entrance step aside and bow to me, allowing me access. I point for my lagging slave, Nun, to go to my sleeping chamber and prepare it for the evening. The interior of the temple drops twenty degrees, and my sweat cools instantly, causing a slight chill. Torches illuminate a path down the corridor as the smell of incense engulfs me.
Another guard opens the massive cypress door and bows on one knee while holding the heavy door open. Inside the high- ceilinged room stands an imposing statue of Serapis, God of Dreams, to which our temple is dedicated. All around the statue, offerings of fruit, nuts, beer, wine and fresh-killed lamb are piled up. Expensive oils and incense are burned in wide pots at the perimeter of the vast room, casting light on the papyrus plants, lotus, and palm trees painted to the top of the walls. I look to the flying birds and stars painted to the greatest height across the vaulted ceiling. A harpist plays soft music while beautiful virgins dance slowly. I walk to the altar and bow as a priestess wafts a cloud of incense and natron around me.
I head through the pyres to my right which lead me to the cleansing pool. I stand at the pool’s steps, waiting with my arms out, as a stolist priest unties my cotton loincloth. Naked, I kneel down as another stolist lathers my head with scented lotion and shaves my hair to my scalp. I stand again as he shaves all of my body, hand-plucks my eyebrows and each eyelash.
As a viper feels after shedding its skin, I breathe deep and glide into the cool, pure water, then sink beneath. Breaching the surface and rubbing the water from my eyes, I catch my reflection in the golden mirrors lining the edge of the pool. Water runs down my brown skin, causing a glistening effect in the glowing dimness of the room. With all my hair gone, my features look chiseled, emphasizing my prominent nose and thick lips.
As I exit, the priests anoint my body in balanos oil and tie a clean white linen loincloth around my waist. I bow my head as one places the moonstone eye of Serapis around my neck and a gold arm cuff around my biceps. I turn to another who paints my eyes, brows, and lips black with kohl out of a lotus-shaped glass container. To finalize the cleansing, I rinse my mouth with salty natron water and spit into an alabaster flask. The priests bow to me as I walk back into the central room of the temple, again bow to Serapis, and continue to the dream-incubation chamber. I am to prepare the evening’s special ceremony to find Nebu’s—God Wife of Serapis—adopted Royal Daughter.
I walk into the large central chamber, where two lower priests are tending the giant fire pits on either side of my podium that holds my sacred books. I take my place at the altar, enclosed by the thick, stone columns, to review the last priest’s journal entries. The tended fires blaze, illuminating the carvings of the dream gods carved on all four walls. Gods who are waiting for pharaohs, priests, scribes, wealthy merchants, and commoners to come to scry for cures, magical spells, hex removal, fertility, and prophesy. I hold their most vital hopes and dreams in my hands.
The two priests finish with the fires, refill incense oils, and then bow as they back out of the chamber; I wave them away.
Hearing sandals clicking down the corridor outside, I can tell it is Nebu’s quick light feet as she comes to greet me. She is beautiful, as all of the wives of gods are expected to be. She wears her gold-and-lapis lazuli collar, gold headdress, and gold-painted long skirt wrapped around her hips. I bow before her, appreciating every inch of wasted splendor, since no earthly man can ever have her.
“Sokaris,” she says with her hands out for me to grasp in greeting, “I hope your leave was restful?”
“I grew fat and bored as always, and I’m eager to dedicate myself again.” I hold her hands and bow with her.
She begins to walk, silently commanding me to follow her down the corridor.
“It is time for me to pass down my position, but I do not want to choose poorly. I need to adopt an apprentice who will not merely fulfill my wifely duties but also please Serapis.”
As we are approaching the main chamber, Edjo—Nebu’s favored apprentice—comes limping down the corridor in tears. As Edjo is normally a graceful and tranquil beauty, this is an abnormal event. Her tears cause her kohl to make black rivers down her fine-featured face, and her amber eyes look beseechingly to Nebu.
“Most High, I awoke this morning with a large and painful lesion above my knee.” She points to a festering wound seeping clear fluid down her right leg. “It is a curse, I tell you! I dreamed of a jealous enemy last week!”
Nebu turns to me, and I nod in validation.
“I also have a rash that has spread all over my face and down the back of my neck.”
We lean closer with a torch and see her skin is indeed raised and red.
Nebu shakes her head with disappointment. “I am sorry, Edjo, but these are all signs the gods do not find you fit for this position.”
Edjo crumples to Nebu’s feet.
“Once you are healed and purified, you are welcome to be one of my esteemed dancers,” Nebu says as she pats her heaving back.
Edjo begins kissing her feet. “Please, Nebu, please see this for the treachery it is! I have been groomed for Serapis, raised to be his wife! I am Edjo, the daughter of Amun! This is my birthright! My family will be shamed!”
Nebu shakes her off her feet and starts moving down the hall to the other dancers.
Edjo shrieks from behind us, “I cannot bear this shame! I am going to drown myself in the Nile, and the one that has cursed me will be damned!”
Neither Nebu nor I give her a second look. Nebu whispers under her breath, “Clearly not ordained.” The rhythmic drums and cymbals are heard from the corridor,and the chamber is filled with movement. Twenty royal dancers twist and turn to the beats, striving to stand out and impress Nebu. They can all turn the head of any man, but they dull like the dust stars next to the brightest and shining star. I stop hearing the music when I see her.
She watches her hands and the intricate movements they’re making as her hips click with the beat. I don’t know which part of her to watch first. She is the waves rolling from the center of the sea with no end and no beginning, an unrelenting ripple of her whole body. She starts with a large movement of her middle and lets it flow to an undulation out the tips of her hands and then back down to her toes. Her body reflects all of the flickers of the fire, making her cast a marbled glow. Her motions hypnotize me, and when I find the music has stopped—I want more.
I shake my head to break the spell and look to see if Nebu notices the trance she put me under, but she too is watching the girl. She claps her hands. “Satisfactory.” Then, motioning to the harpist to begin playing, she commands, “Sing for Serapis.”
When it’s my dancing girl’s turn to sing, she doesn’t have perfect pitch, as did other girls, but she sings quietly and so sweetly. Her eyes! Her eyes are large, honey pools you can fall into and never climb out! She is the most intriguing and captivating woman I’ve ever seen. Something is different about her—something powerful—something mystifying. She moves, and my eyes follow; she speaks, and my ears tune out all other sound. I feel far away from her and want to be closer. I wish no one else were in the room.
Nebu interrupts my pain. “I see you agree with my choice.”
I pretend to be only slightly interested. “There are many talented girls for you to pick from, but one does seem to have a magic air to her.”
“Ah, you have noticed. Yes, that is a good way to put it.” She smiles while gazing upon her. “I wonder, though, if she seems devout and disciplined enough?”
“That is hard to see in the arts. We will need to probe deeper and let our ancient knowledge guide us.”
My heart races at the thought that I’ll get to spend some time alone with her.
“Yes, we will have to trust the ancients—and you, Sokaris.”
I leave to take my place in the dream-incubation chamber before Nebu sends her. I have to regain composure and steady myself for the important task ahead. I look up at my reflection in the brass incense burner, and I see her float in behind me. I turn, avoiding her eyes, and stare at my papyrus.
“Name?” I ask. “Bastet, daughter of Ketuh.” Her voice is melodious. “Age?” “Fifteen and a half years.” She’s older than most royal daughters, but it is not unheard of for someone her age to be considered. Her blue glass ear studs catch my eye.
“Let me see your palm.”
She outstretches a fragile, long-fingered hand and slowly turns it within my palm as she looks directly in my eyes. I feel a charge at her touch but continue my task. She has many great talents on her hand but carries three of the most ominous signs: a weak and broken lifeline that foretells a short life; she lacks the gift of willpower whorl on her thumb; and most intriguing to me, her mount of Venus is well padded, showing immense passion. Normally I wouldn’t even let a candidate stay after this miserable reading, but I can’t stand the thought of her leaving.
“Please follow me to your chamber for the night.”
I lead her to the smaller chambers where dream incubation takes place. I motion her to enter the room first, pushing aside the urge to pull her to the bed with me.
She sits down on the side of the linen-draped bed and asks, “Who is looking upon me as I sleep?”
I freeze at her unabashed forwardness but thaw when she points to the carving on the headboard.
“That is the midget god, Bes: the Dream Protector.” I motion her to come to the table beside me. When she nears, I can smell the remnants of scented wax in her braided wig releasing its sweet perfume. “Tonight you must pray to the god Serapis to send you a fortuitous dream, one that can tell us of your destiny with him. Please write his name on the papyrus.”
She obeys with some skill, and I roll it up and place it in a lamp beside her bed.
I pray, “Will it be granted that Bastet, daughter of Ketuh, be Royal Daughter to Serapis? Reveal it to me; answer this little written prayer.”
I light the papyrus to burn while she sleeps. She bows, and I leave her chamber to attempt to retire in the chamber next to hers. It must have been hours before my body relaxed enough to sleep, knowing she is so close.
I’m getting back into bed and am fixing the scroll with my god’s name when I feel something move by my leg under the sheet. I throw back the sheet to expose a writhing mass of snakes crawling and hissing on top of me. I scream as they all bite into me at once, igniting me in flames.
I wake, thrashing and breathing hard.
The same dream again and again!
I write on my papyrus: GET SEHKET!

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I had such a hard time fitting my square-peg-of-a-book into the round-holed genres that agents represented. My book definitely has a fantasy component with an after-life ‘what if’, yet it certainly isn’t the sword-wielding, princess-saving, threatened-kingdom high fantasy most are used to.

My book also has a strong historical component as well. I’ve researched these time periods and tried my best to submerge the reader into an accurate and tangible setting, yet it is not your basic historical. I thought I found a better genre in historical fantasy, the best of both worlds I presumed. Until I read some and realized my book was still not fitting completely in these genres. When I showed others my historical fantasy cover they complained that it wasn’t representing the usual ancient magical covers of the genre.

Nothing seemed to fit.

I knew my cover is exactly what I needed. My focus is the heaven in which my character is in limbo, reviewing her past lives in a lucid remembrance. It is the thread throughout the series and it’s central to everything.

So, it wasn’t until I came across another reincarnation novel in a book search on Amazon that I realized what my genre was.

Reincarnation Fantasy!

Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn by Neil Gavin is listed under reincarnation fantasy, a sub-genre of fantasy (I’ll have to add this to my to-read list, it sounds great). So I’ve been labeling it wrong this whole time! I thought I might have even created a whole new genre, but here it is! My series is definitely a reincarnation fantasy.

There may not be any agents that represent this genre in particular and it might be a very small grouping (490 titles on Amazon), but you have more chance of becoming a big fish in a small pond. Right? I still have to choose historical fantasy in the limited drop-down lists found on some sites, but for all other situations this is my genre.

Who knows? Maybe it will become more popular in the future.

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First, I’d just like to say, that I’m walking on a badly neglected treadmill in my basement as I’m writing this. I have quite ingeniously, (and dangerously…do not try this at home), created a little shelf from an old sign for my laptop to perch on. If I walk slow enough, (which is never a problem), I can actually multitask by getting a little exercise while I type this blog. As long as I avoid a horrible accident I’m going to make this my new thing.

So on to what’s complicated…

My novel.

Actually my whole series.

Saying your novel or series is complicated is probably as attractive as describing yourself as complicated on a dating site. Complication is something people usually tend to avoid. There are whole magazines out there with themes of simplifying your life. Most people crave simple. But I’m different and I hope there are others out there like me that crave complicated. I seek out complex plots, intricate details, perplexing characters, and elaborate imagery. I ate up Lord of the Rings (oh I wish there was more Tolkien!). I enjoyed every genealogy tangent, creature description, and pencil-sketched map. Some complain Tolkien’s too complicated and need to watch the film in order to understand the world he created. I loved my Shakespearian courses delving into the double entendres and pulling apart every word.

But I’m the fifth child in a family of six. I thrive in entropy — anything simple and organized repels me. I want to read books and watch movies & tv shows that surprise me and make me think. Most of time, I can see where plots are headed and wished for more suspense and twists. I don’t want everything spelled out for me with plots and characters tied up in little square packages.

I didn’t want to create a linear, basic reincarnation novel, where two soul mates fall in love with each other in a few lives. Novels in which a few peripheral characters play a background role with little change throughout lives. I wanted to portray a reincarnation something closer to life. More characters and more lives. I wanted to create a realistic universe where people grow/fail/stagnate. Where relationships evolve in surprising ways, causing the reader to look deeper into who we are. How you and those in your life may have come to be where you are now.

My novel requires thought. My reader must enjoy tracking characters throughout many changes over time. Relationships evolve in surprising ways and I’ve done everything with the grand scheme of the series in mind. Everything happens for a reason and my reader must think deeply about all that is occurring and why. Each character has their own journey. Yeah, there will be a chart for those readers who might not want to plot their own but it’s there for reason…the more you think about my book the more you will see.

What about you? Do you enjoy a complicated novel every now and again?

Wow and look at that…an hour flew by! Now off to eat some well-deserved smores (I’ll never lose the baby weight this way).

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See if you can guess which movie I’m going to gush about by these quotes:

  • As you wish.
  • Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
  • You are sure nobody’s follow’ us?
     As I told you, it would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable. No one in Guilder knows what we’ve done, and no one in Florin could have gotten here so fast. – Out of curiosity, why do you ask?
    No reason. It’s only… I just happened to look behind us and something is there.
    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


  •  Hear this now: I will always come for you.
    But how can you be sure? 

            This is true love – you think this happens every day?

  • You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.
  • I told you I would always come for you. Why didn’t you wait for me?
    Well… you were dead.
    Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.
    I will never doubt again.
    There will never be a need.
  • Why won’t my arms move?
    You’ve been mostly-dead all day.
  • You truly love each other and so you might have been truly happy. Not one couple in a century has that chance, no matter what the story books say. And so I think no man in a century will suffer as greatly as you will.
  • We are men of action, lies do not become us.
  • Offer me money.
    Power, too, promise me that.
    [He slashes his other cheek]
    All that I have and more. Please…
    Offer me anything I ask for.
     Anything you want…
    [Rugen knocks Inigo’s sword aside and lunges. But Inigo traps his arm and aims his sword at Rugen’s stomach]
    I want my father back, you son of a bitch! 
  • Can you move at all?
    Move? You’re alive. If you want I can fly.

You guessed it~

Okay I still haven’t read this book even though it is on the top of my list but I’ve watched it countless times (especially when I had such a thing for Wesley in high school). It was on today and since all I do is hold and feed Annabelle all day I’m always happy when such a classic is replayed. As I was watching this time, (instead of figuring out what I love so much about Cary Elwes) I studied this masterpiece to find out why so many people love this story. This is what I came up with:

*It’s told in a fairytale format and aren’t we all suckers for a fairytale?

*It’s a fantasy but set in a very realistic and recognizable world. The author plays with some fantasy elements such as the R.O.U.S, the screeching eels, and the magic to bring Wesley back from death, but the rest of the story feels like could have occurred in some far away kingdom long ago.

*It appeals to both men and women, young and old. The mix of romance with adventure keeps everyone entertained.

*It has fantastic comedic elements. The Princess Bride as some of the best comedic one-liners of all time. If you even start to quote them anyone can finish them. Both the heroes and villains are hysterical. It is extremely difficult to walk to serious line of a romance adventure with such humor woven throughout.

*The characters, good and bad, are so well-developed and fleshed out. The characters are so unique and immediately engage you. These are all characters you will never see again or ever forget.

*The romance is not heavy-handed. It is a simple romance but so true and sweet. The whole movie begins with this romance and it’s established within the first few minutes. It’s unusual in that the romance itself is established immediately when most books take the whole novel to build the relationship. The love between Wesley and Buttercup is never questioned and it never has to be in doubt to be compelling. It is simply true love conquers all and that is wonderful.

Maybe if I keep watching this it will seep in somewhere in my subconscious and come out in my writing. I wish there were more stories/movies like Princess Bride and if anyone knows of any with all these components I would love to know about them!

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Okay now back to our regularly scheduled programing. Still up most of the night, but I will forgo daytime naps and laundry to make sure to post again. Not sure about the quality of these posts due to the lack of sleep, but I will give it my best.

Before I was sleep deprived (which seems like months ago) I was in the process of revising and having my crit partner chip away at the sequel. Without giving too much away, the second book has a POV from a young boy in one reincarnation. I tried to keep that in mind as I wrote it but my terrific crit partner found a few instances where the thought or dialog seemed too mature for the child’s age. This got me thinking about how limited a character’s voice is by age. The writer is constrained by vocab, awareness, and innocence when using a younger character. In order to keep the reader engaged the writer must be extremely aware of what a certain age is conscious of. This requires a major walk down memory lane, trying to place yourself inside your younger self in order to see the imagined world through younger eyes.

For example, my crit partner (have I told you how amazing she is?) highlighted this (twelve-year-old POV):

“He put out his hands to help her down to the entrance and I can’t believe the change that’s come over him. How he seems to lose his childish ways overnight.

So I’ve changed it to this more age appropriate thought:

“He put out his hands to help her down to the entrance and I can’t believe the change that’s come over him—growing up overnight.

Another example (Andres is ten):

“Andres pulls away from his grasp. ‘I’m proud of my little belly, it’s been concave for months!'”

Changed to this:

“Andres pulls away from his grasp. ‘I’m proud of my little belly, it’s been sunken for months!'”

Yes, you are limited in some ways when choosing the POV of a young character, but there are also some benefits. I decided to use a younger character in this life for three important reasons:

#1) The reader will have immediate sympathy for a young character in trouble

#2) Since this life is centered around a historic event filled with complex battle details I can explain things more to the reader if there is a young person POV. The reader can learn along with the child.

#3) I’m no nautical battle expert so I can play a passive role where the child observes adults carrying out tasks without having a deep and skilled understanding.

It is critical though when you have a young character observing a complex historic event that you must have older characters that explain things to the younger character.

The other benefit the writer has when using a young POV is that even though you must be careful to maintain a child’s view of the world, sometimes children can see or phrase things in ways that adults can’t. Children can possess a sagacious wisdom that only comes from the innocence and the magic of childhood,  unobscured from cynicism and corruption. The writer can take advantage of this and utilize simple understandings touched with poetic observations only a child can convey.

So when deciding the age of your POV character keep these points in mind in order to make the best choice for your story.

I also want to let everyone know about my awesome crit partner’s blog contest going on until Friday. She’s celebrating her 150th follower–go Bethany! She’s giving away a couple of awesome prizes and her blog is fantastic if you aren’t already following her.

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Psychologists Sheryl C. Wilson and Theodore X. Barber are credited with identifying Fantasy Prone Personality by testing for fourteen traits.

Here are the criteria:

(1) being an excellent hypnotic subject, (2) having imaginary playmates as a child, (3) fantasizing frequently as a child, (4) adopting a fantasy identity, (5) experiencing imagined sensations as real, (6) having vivid sensory perceptions, (7) reliving past experiences, (8) claiming psychic powers, (9) having out-of-body or floating experiences, (10) receiving poems, messages, etc., from spirits, higher intelligences, and the like, (11) being involved in “healing,” (12) encountering apparitions, (13) experiencing hypnagogic hallucinations (waking dreams), and (14) seeing classical hypnagogic imagery (such as spirits or monsters from outer space).

Wilson and Barber considered having six or more traits worthy of the designation of fantasy prone. Let’s see how I rate:

(1) being an excellent hypnotic subject= Not sure, I’ve never been hypnotized but I have trouble meditating so I doubt that I would make a good subject

(2) having imaginary playmates as a child= No (thank god, those really creep me out)

(3) fantasizing frequently as a child= Yes, I was an extremely imaginative child

(4) adopting a fantasy identity= No, not sure what this means but I’m guessing you imagine yourself as some sort of character or alter ego.

(5) experiencing imagined sensations as real=  I don’t think I’ve done this yet but would you be able to discern this if you had imagined sensations as real? On the occasions I’ve seen unusual things I’ve had another witness to back it up, so I’m going to say no.

(6) having vivid sensory perceptions= Yes, again this is hard to understand, but I do feel like I have a high sensory awareness (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, intuition)

(7) reliving past experiences- Yes, again not sure if I’m understanding this right but I have very vivid recall. I can even remember little details as young as three or four years old. I also tend to live in the past more than most people.

(8) claiming psychic powers= Yes, I do think I have slight psychic sensitivities.

(9) having out-of-body or floating experiences= No, I’ve never had this experience

(10) receiving poems, messages, etc., from spirits, higher intelligences, and the like= Yes, this has happened to me before.

(11) being involved in “healing,”= No, I’ve never been involved with a healing before

(12) encountering apparitions= Yes, but I think growing up in pre-revolutionary houses contributed to this

(13) experiencing hypnagogic hallucinations (waking dreams)= No, I’ve never experienced this half-dream state.

(14) seeing classical hypnagogic imagery (such as spirits or monsters from outer space)= Now, this I had to take apart and define in order to understand what they meant by this. Classical =well-known.  Hypnagogic = of, relating to, or occurring in the state of intermediate consciousness preceding sleep. So I understood this to mean a stereotyped hallucination preceding deep sleep and I’ve never experienced this.

I do have six of these traits so I’m apparently fantasy-prone. Does this explain my draw to creating worlds and stories in my novels? Does a writer benefit from being fantasy prone in order to create the world building and immersion needed for the reader? I wonder if the higher the degree of fantasy-proness the better the creativity?

Well, this study seems to correlate the two (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3746620?dopt=Abstract). “Fantasizers were found to outscore subjects in both comparison groups on all of the measures of fantasy, imagination, and creativity…”

Now I feel compelled to see if I’d make a good hypnosis subject.

So all my fantasy or sci-fi blog followers, how do you rate? Are you fantasy prone as well?

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The Free Dictionary by Farlex defines plausible as :
1. Seemingly or apparently valid, likely, or acceptable; credible: a plausible excuse.
2. Giving a deceptive impression of truth or reliability.

Plausibility is critical in order to keep your reader engaged in a novel. The moment someone pauses and says “this couldn’t happen” the spell is broken and they’ll shut the book. Some think plausibility is only important with conspiracy theories, thrillers, suspense, crime, and sci-fi novels but really every genre, no matter how simple, needs to have plausible elements to allow someone to fully submerge into the text.

But plausibility can be a very strange thing when writing fiction. I remember a session at a writer’s workshop where many in the group brought up that the order of events seemed implausible in another’s piece. The author protested that she based it on an actual event that happened to her. The teacher stepped in to explain that as fiction writers we must write for the greatest acceptance of our reader and to ultimately write the best story possible. Sometimes real life doesn’t seem believable and if someone tells you something doesn’t seem possible it will affect their investment in your story.

This seemed so ironic to me that you would have to change a story that actually happened to something different for those to believe it. But then I reread the definition of plausibility and that it’s not necessarily what is true but more what others will deem as credible or likely.

So how do test your draft for plausibility?

Critique partners and beta readers!

Yes, listen to these incredibly helpful (and valuable) self-less people who will let you know where you lost them or when something a character does doesn’t fly. Listen! If they say something doesn’t seem realistic (even if it happened) you must change it so that they can accept it better. Beta read widely and early in your drafts since you may have to change major elements.

Plausibility crops up its ugly head many times for me since I love to include little-known and odd details of past cultures. I don’t like the normal facts and well-known history, but my eyes widen and my pulse races at the bizarre and seedy secrets buried deep inside dusty research books. Well, this makes an interesting story but I hear so many times–“did this really happen?”

I can’t site these amazing details since I’m not writing non-fiction. I know that some historical fiction authors may throw one or two footnotes here and there to back up a true event but I would have one on every other page. Plus I’ve found that many detest these notations in fiction. So what did I decide to do?

Remove these details…

Heck no! My creativity thrives on these crazy real-life events. I didn’t want to write about the ancient Egypt that everyone knows from 9th grade history text-book or the Spartan society depicted in the movie 300. I wanted to surprise people! I want to take the reader deeper into a past that will even expand a historian’s knowledge.

So I decided to listen to my betas and tried to make the details as credible as possible. But I thought it would be best if I created a whole page on my website that will discuss these incredible facts and suggest further reading for those who are interested. I will post this background information upon my novel’s launch.

What about you? Do you ever struggle with plausibility in your novels or have heard those horrible words from a beta reader?

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Nothing scares me more than lawsuits involving authors. I haven’t been able to read the best-selling novel The Help yet (on my to-read list) but the lawsuit that was dismissed recently has caught my attention. Ablene Cooper filed a lawsuit against the author, Kathryn Stockett, claiming the character Aibileen was based on her without her permission. The case was dismissed due to the one-year statute of limitations expiring since the author gave Cooper a copy of the book along with a letter stating that the even though the maid’s name was similar it was not based on her.

This brought up a lot of concerns for me. I hate thinking that if I ever made it big with a novel that someone from my past or present would try to lay claim that I defamed them or portrayed them without permission. I definitely use inspiration from people in my life in order to make my characters seem real, but they are not closely based on these people and I’m careful to use little touches of these traits on top of a completely imaginary characters.

At first I felt like Cooper was probably stretching a claim for money until I read that she sited that the character not only shares a very similar name, job, gold tooth, but also lost a son. Something personal like losing a son as well as having those shared traits is a little inconsiderate in my opinion. Even if the author wasn’t intending to use her for character basis she should have been more aware of the similarities and chose another name. Again I haven’t read the book, so she might have shown this person in a fantastic light but when something so personal is involved like the death of a child I think she could have been more careful.

This lawsuit only reminds me that as writers, we must be careful with character inspiration and mindful that someone close to us might feel exposed. Some may think (especially when self-publishing) that your novel most likely won’t hit the bestseller lists but you really never know. Once something’s written and released you don’t have much control over it and it could get attention. If you based a fictional character too close to a real life person it could come back to bite you.

Writers of historical fiction/fantasy must be just as careful when they are writing about real people from the past. Since it’s fiction/fantasy we have some leeway with the facts and no one can file a lawsuit if they are dead, but you still must remember that these were real people and their descendants and legacy can still be effected by what you write. Be gentle.

So just in case you hit it big and someone wants a piece of your pie, you should follow these rules when writing fiction:

~Never use real names or similar names to characters you might use for inspiration.

~Be considerate when using a character for inspiration. Don’t write about obvious identifying traits or detailed personal experiences someone’s trusted you with.

~Don’t ever tell anyone you based a character on someone you know.

~I try to combine different inspirations for my characters, sometimes merging real traits of many different people. Don’t allow one character to be too similar to a known person.

~Always think of the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Think about what you’d want someone to write about you to the public and remember this, even when your tempted with a truly terrific real-life character.

~If you can’t resist closely basing a character on a real person, get their permission in writing first or be sure to send a copy of your book to them at least a year before your movie’s released 🙂

Happy Labor Day everyone and I’m just happy I’m not in actual labor today! I hope it’s a beautiful day of beach/pool/picnics/bbqs or whatever you choose to close up the summer.

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Yes I’m still getting them!

I couldn’t believe it when I checked my email yesterday and saw the kind form reply apologizing for being a bit late (eight months!). Could that really have been only eight months ago! I feel like so much has happened since then.

How did I come so far in only eight months?

I learned how to query, how to process promising agent’s rejections, decided to self-publish, began a blog and website, and took on self-publishing. I can’t help but be proud of so much growth.

I reminisced about those hopeful replies and requests that I checked for every hour and had to laugh out loud when I saw it. It felt so wonderful not to care at all about it.

But what if this had been an interested agent’s reply at this point, what would I have done?

Right away I knew that this was the right direction for me to go in with this series and I would have politely turned down the agent at this point.

That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t query a new novel in the future but this series is made for self-publishing. I agree with so many other self-publishers out there that you must evaluate each project’s needs and marketability on a case by case basis. But I am so excited by this process and love this adventure. I love the support from all the self-publisher’s blogs, forums, and my blog readers and I can’t wait to see my first proof, get my first positive review, hold that finished book in my hand, sell my first 100 copies, and get an email from an appreciative reader (I will frame that you know).

Yeah, I realize there are all the negatives to cope with also: the first negative review, slow sales, emails from disgruntled readers demanding refunds, but I’m going to focus on the reason why I’m expending all this energy to begin with–I have to get this story out and I just hope there are some that will enjoy all my hard work.

It really has been so much fun so far!

What about you? How has your writing/ querying/ publishing journey progressed so far and how do you feel about it?



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