Be Boring

When I was first starting to really take myself seriously as a writer (as in writing every day and trying to actively get published), I remember thinking that I was way too boring to write anything exciting. I mean, I don’t do drugs, or get black out drunk every night. I don’t go wild and travel through dangerous areas in the dead of night. Hell, I think the most dangerous thing I do on a regular basis is walk into my bookshelf nearly every morning when I’m getting ready for work because despite nearly a year of it being in the same place, it’s always a surprise!

I grew up with stories about the wild antics of writings, with the motto ‘write drunk, edit sober’ being thrown around by everyone I knew. I always thought I was too much of a bore to fit in, but what I’ve found over the last few years has been the opposite. Schedules actually help me keep at my writing more than any sort of wild life ever could.

Knowing that I’m home by 4 every day and sticking to the schedule lets me prepare to write. It’s become a habit now. I don’t have to sit and wait to be inspired to write, it’s simply 4:00 and time to write. Most of the writers I know who are successful do this. They write and take care of themselves. There are always exceptions to the rule, but by and large, the writers who are making it in the creative world work on schedules, not whims.

Now clearly not every day works out in an ideal way, but having a steady life where I am not totally clueless about what’s coming next helps keep me grounded. When I’m not stressing about what’s going to happen tomorrow (or where I’m going to get my next fix) keeps me focused on the story at hand. I’ve fond that the only real way to get any writing accomplished is really simple: sit on your butt (or stand at your standing desk) and write. There’s nothing else that puts the words into the world. Not talking about writing, not daydreaming, not reading. At the end of the day the only way to write is…. to write.

And a boring, stable life helps that happen.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to keep a boring life in all aspects. Try new things, travel to new places, eat weird food that you can’t pronounce, and do things that scare you, but never feel like having a stable life is a disadvantage when it comes to being creative.

Friday Review: Mabon and Pomegranate

Mabon and Pomegranate by Kimberly Richardson

Mabon and Pomegranate by Kimberly Richardson

Mabon and Pomegranate by Kimberly Richardson is a collection of two stories, both involving women who discover worlds outside of everything they’ve ever known.

Mabon tells the story of Monica who makes the decision to leave a life that’s dragging her down and moves to the town of Mabon where she immediately finds the home of her dreams. The city, the people and the life in Mbon is what Monica has been searching for her whole life. She meets glamorous strangers and falls in love, but rumblings of an Other World war threaten to destroy her new life. She must work together with the mysterious Auberon to save her love, or maybe find a new love. Mabon ends with her decision still hanging in the balance and I’m looking forward to the sequel to see what happens next!

Pomegranate is the story of Alexandra. She has a wonderful husband, an incredible life, and her dream of running her own bookstore. But a black clad stranger enters her world and makes her start to question the life she’s built. When the unthinkable happens, Alexandra must decide whether to dive into the world of pomegranates or to stay with what she’s always known.

These stories are both tales of woman being swept away into a dark, beautiful world filled with passion and danger they’ve never before known.

You can buy Mabon and Pomegranate here.

Let’s Stretch!

One of the downfalls of the writing life (and a lot of office jobs) is the amount of time spent sitting on a computer typing. Back and hip pain is common, and carpel tunnel is a concern for many writers.

I’ve compiled a few of my favorite stretching videos so you can keep flexible.  So, in the words of Jeremy Renner…

Hands, and wrists:

Shoulders:

Hips:

Lower Back:

Those are just a few of my favorite stretching videos. Do you have any videos that help with stretching?

Write Like You Because There is No One Right Way to Write

Confession time!

I am a morning person. I love morning. I love getting up early and getting things done before other people are out of bed. I love breakfast more than any other meal in the world (exept maybe brunch) and I want to eat the second I open my eyes.

 

Most of my friends are night people (RESPECT!) but I would much rather go to bed early and deal with the world in the morning. Things get weird after midnight. What’s embarassing about this is how long it took me to actually admit. I like the idea of being a night person, and the countless articles floating around about how night owls are more creative makes my writer self chafe.

I tried for many years to make night owl work for me. I’d stay up late with my friends, write at night, and generally shun the day, but it never led to me being very good at being well…me. I became a miserable zombie just blindly poking at a keyboard and hoping for the best.

Everyone has their own quirks and their own habits for writing. You develop a system that works. Some people write in coffee shops or else not at all while other people can’t write anywhere but their office. Neither one of them is wrong, just different. Over the years, I’ve realized that fighting against your process is dumb and helps nothing. I know I write better in the morning but I constantly try to write at night because that’s what so many other people do. I might be a strong, independent woman but that allure of ‘writing the right way’ keeps drawing me back even though I know there is no one right way.

Write when you can when it’s best for you, and forget what other people are doing. Maybe some people would rather sleep until noon and write until 3am, if it works for them awesome! Maybe some people write in marathon 10,000 word binge all nighters. But don’t ever feel like someone else’s process has to be yours.

What works for you might even change over the years and that’s okay. Life happens, circumstances change and you keep rolling with it. Writing can be a chaotic, emotionally draining pursuit, don’t make it harder by trying to be someone you’re not. There is no one magical right way to write, it’s whatever way works for you.

International Women’s Day!

Read the Global World

Yesterday was International Women’s Day so to celebrate I wanted to post some of my favorite women writers, and to hear what writers you love!

  1. Banana Yoshimoto
  2. Alia Mamdouh
  3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. Rosa Montero
  5. Ludmila Petrushevskaya
  6. Octavia Butler
  7. Helen Oyeyemi
  8. Anita Desai
  9. Kim In-Suk
  10. Leslie Marmon Silko

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are thousands upon thousands of incredible writers all over the world. These are just a few of the authors I’ve read and enjoyed.

Who’s you favorite author?

Fandom First: The Business of Conventions

When thinking about comic/fantasy/sci fi conventions, most people immediatly think of costumes, and a gathering of people playing games or talking about the latest books and movies. Few people immediatly think of economic power and the impact a large convention can have on a city. But conventions have a huge economic impact on the cities they’re hosted in, and on the vendors and dealers travelling around the world with booths.

In an essay for Apex Magazine, I looked at the economic forces behind conventions and the money behind the funny business of fandom.

You can read the essay here.

Liebster Tag! 11 Questions and Random Fact about Yours Truly

The amazing Meghan nominated me for the Liebster award so now you get to learn all kinds of new things about me. exciting, yes?

1. What was the WORST story you’ve ever written?

Oh god, so many…. Um… any first draft? There was a story I once wrote about a girl who grew a garden and then TWIST AT THE END. She’s blind. It was awful. I was also 7.

2. If you could cast anyone to be your favorite main character, who would you choose?

My instinct is Tom Hiddleston, but he’s already Loki so that doesn’t work out…….I really want to see Gina Torres as Wonder Woman!!

3. If you could no longer write in your favorite genre, which genre would you switch to?

Romance easy. In fact I do write in it too so that doesn’t really count… I write in a lot of genres already so this is a challenge. I suppose if I could no longer write genre fiction I’d switch to poetry again.

4. Do you ever act out scenes to make sure you get them just right?

All the time. I regularly flail around my room trying to make sense of what my characters are doing.

5. Have you ever been caught talking out loud to a character?

Absolutely. I mutter under my breath and tend to work in the living room so my roomies have often asked, “What are you doing?”

6. Which character was the toughest for you to write and why?

I struggled with the creation of The Bone Queen character because it was the first time I really got to go on and write a full villain origin story. I wanted her to own her choice, not be brought into it because someone hurt her. I wanted her to have agency over her own life, and her decisions.

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7. What are your top five songs for you current book?

Well I actually have a playlist you can listen to for that.

8. What would you do if you could hang out with any of your characters?

I would totally hang out with Aramis, the Pulptress, and Jackson! They’re entertaining. I bet Aramis could really help with my french langauge skulls too.

9. Which non-standard word do you use most often?

Oh god, I’m so bad at this. I like using sounds as verbs so people ‘THUNK’ downwards.

10. What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to research for a book?

So many options… I guess probably looking at how exactly Black Plague victim bodies were dealt with and studying that time period.

11. Based on your search history, would you potentially be arrested?

Oh yes.

Alright so now we come to 11 facts about me.

  1. Two cats have recently adopted me and turned my world upside down.
  2. I am a vegeterian and have been for almost as long as I have been eating.
  3. I LOVE video games and wrote my thesis about them.
  4. I’ve been going to conventions regularly for over 10 years.
  5. Welcome to NightVale is probably one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.
  6. I use star stickers to mark my calendar with what I’ve done that day.
  7. I hate driving. I really want to live car free but my area isn’t friendly to that lifestyle.
  8. I’ve only recently gotten into comic books and I’m in love with them.
  9. Cooking, baking and cleaning are how I procrastinate.
  10. I’m a morning person and would much rather get up early than sleep in.
  11. Dark chocolate is my true weakness.

I don’t actually know a lot of people who blog so… here are the few I know.

Sean Taylor

M.B. Weston

Selah Janel

And anyone reading this who has a blog and wants to do this. YES YOU RIGHT THERE LOOKING AT THIS ON A SCREEN.

And my 11 questions for you:

  1. Plotter or Pantser? Why?
  2. Do you write every day or in one great marathon?
  3. What’s the best writing advice you were given?
  4. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve been given?
  5. Do you have a writing ritual? What’s involved?
  6. Favorite author?
  7. Who is your favorite character from your own work?
  8. What’s your next project?
  9. Favorite inspirational quote.
  10. Where do you do most of your writing? Why?
  11. What’s your favorite recipe? (Seriously, I need some new ones)

Fandom First: I ship it!

When people talk about fandom, one of the first things that pop into their heads is about fanfiction, and fanart. While some of these works are more general adventure stories a large amount of fan work is based on a ship or a romantic pairing of characters. (Ship is shortened from relationship).

Shipping first reached documented ‘mainstream’ with Kirk and Spock in the 1960s though the term shipping was first used by fans of the X-files wanting Mulder and Scully to finally get together. The advent and rise of the internet spread shipping as now fans were able to better find others to talk about their pairings, and a better space to share their works with wider audiences.

Many ships come up with their own name, usually a portmanteau of the two characters name, such as Drarry (Draco and Harry from Harry Potter), Korrasami (Korra and Asami from Legend of Korra), and Sherlolly (Sherlock and Molly from the BBC’s Sherlock). This also happens with celebrity couples in Hollywood gossip magazines like Bennifer (Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck) and Kimye (Kim Kardashian and Kanye West) are just a few examples.

However, some ship names aren’t quite so obvious like frostiron (Loki and Tony Stark from the Marvel Cinematic Universe) where it’s the combination of Iron Man and Loki being a frost giant; JavaJunkie (Luke and Lorelai from Gilmore Girls) which is based on their mutual coffee obsessions and coffee shop meet ups. These names come from idiosyncrasies within the shows that fans know. This naming can make many ship names appear to be nonsensical to non-fans. These names help fans organize, tag, and find new work. Many of these tags become their own community of fans who share fanworks, thoughts, and personal information.

Many pairings use multiple names and there can be discord within the community of shippers about which name is the correct name. To avoid confusion, some also label fanwork “Character A X Character B” to let others know exactly who the pairing is without relaying on a ship name.

The terms, OTP, BrOTP, OT3, and OT4 (and probably onwards to infinity) come up frequently in ships. OTP is a ‘One True Pairing’ while a BrOTP is a portmanteau of ‘Bromance’ (a friendship between two people) and OTP to mean a best friendship while OT3 and OT4 are for three or four characters involved with one another.

So why do people ship?

The reasons range widely from person to person. For some, it’s a safe way to explore relationships and sexuality, for others it’s wish fulfillment, for others it’s a way to bring lgbtqia representation to their media. For some it’s a social activity and a way to complete creative works and have a built in audience.

Regardless of the whys behind shipping, it’s clear that relationships are here to stay as an important and vibrant part of the fandom community.

Fandom First: What is Fandom?

One of my 2015 Resolutions is to spend more time on the things I’m passionate about, so I’m starting the year off with a post about one of the topics that fascinates me the most: fandom. I’m going to post about fandom on the first Monday of every month in this series I’m calling, Fandom First.

Because Fandom is such a multi-modal space, I don’t want to just use this as a blog to write about fandom, but to show and explore in fun ways. So, enjoy this prezi about Fandom and what it is.

If the above embedded presentation doesn’t work, you can go straight to the presentation here.

Horror isn’t about the blood

Let’s play a word association game. I say something and you tell me the first thing that pops into your head.

Horror.

This is what pops into Google’s mind first.

Most people first think of a monster, or of a violent, gruesome, possibly totally unrealistic death. But that isn’t what makes horror, horror.

The moment that the character is stabbed is not the moment horror is born. Horror walks the line of supsense keeping the entire world of the story contain within a tightly coiled spring. The moment the monster appears, attacks, maims, etc. that’s the moment the spring comes undone and then (if it’s not the climax) the spring begins to coil back down, ready to spring again.

The scare doesn’t come from violence. The scare comes from a delicate rhythm of tension, and release, of the unknown threat, or unseen danger finally being realized. In horror, sometimes the most powerful jolts are based on the things you don’t see, or don’t expect. It’s jarring.

But that jolt alone does not a horror story make. The best analogy I heard is that one spark does not start a fire unless there’s something surrounding it to catch flame. A single moment won’t set the way for a horror story unless you’ve done the work and set the rest of the scene. For example:

Bill and Ted were having coffee. It was Tuesday and a good day.

Stan walked over to Bill and stabbed him, ripping his belly button open and pulling out his insides.

Shocking? Maybe. Horror? Eh…..

The scene doesn’t set up anything. So rather than tension being released, you instead get a blank stare of ‘…wait, what?’ it lends itself more to confusion than to fear. There is no build-up, no tension, no fear, just blood. This is like a lighter going off in a vaccum. There’s nothing to set fire so nothing can spread.

For horror, the devil is in the details. You can’t have a scary story without tension. Think of the oldest horror cliche in the world. The woman alone in a dark house with a killer. Why is it scary? Because you know something is going to happen. You see it everywhere. Something runs down the hall? Here he comes… oh, just her dog. Phew. Wait? Her dog’s bleeding! And so it continues onwards until the tension finally snaps into action.

So, here’s a challenge for you. Write your own revised version of Ted, Bill and Stan’s Tuesday morning and share it with me!

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