My Favorite Thing I’ve Written #MFRWAuthor

Happy Friday and Welcome to my first post in the 52 Week Challenge! This week’s topic asks what is my favorite thing I’ve written… and why?

This is a tough one for me and looking back, it’s almost impossible to pick one story over the other because when it comes down to it, the short answer to this question is that the story I am writing *right now* is my favorite.

And no, I don’t mean that my current WIP is the best. Actually, I mean that when I sit down and throw myself into a new project, that project is all-consuming and I consider it the best and most exciting thing I’ve ever written. That enthusiasm is what keeps me writing even when the newfound love sours and the current project loses its luster.

Just like in a relationship, sometimes you have to keep looking for ways to recreate the magic. Doting on stories past won’t do it. I think if I spent too much time telling myself a story I’d already finished was my favorite then I might not be as motivated to keep going on the new one.

But of course, I do have stories that carry a special place in my heart. The Between World is the first book I published and I’ll never forget the feeling of holding the paperback in my hands and knowing it was my own creation. Priceless! Even though it isn’t the best thing I’ve written, it was my first and so it will always share space on the “favorites” list.

Then there is the short story I wrote for a competition in 2016 called Port of Entry. Not only did that story surprise me as I wrote it but it surprised me again when it was chosen out of many to propel me into the second round of the competition. I needed that boost of confidence.

And of course, there is the story I have attempted to write on and off for about twenty years. It’s taken various shapes and forms but because I’ve never been truly satisfied with the effort, it still only lives in my imagination. One of these days it will find its way out into the world, I’m sure of it. When that happens, who knows, it may be my favorite!

Or perhaps my favorite will be one I’ve not even conceived yet. I’m hoping I have many years of writing left ahead of me and I’m excited about all the possibilities I can explore with each new project I delve into.

So for the time being, I shall return to my current favorite project – the work-in-progress going on at the keyboard right now as we speak about a girl destined to save the world from an alien invasion. Stay tuned. 😉

Want to learn what other authors are saying about their favorites? Check out the MFRW 52 Challenge Blog for the linky list of participating authors.

C is for Characters and Connections

masks

When I was young, I developed an infatuation with the theatre and I decided I wanted to be a scriptwriter and actress when I grew up.

As a matter of fact, you might remember an earlier post about my first venture into writing which happened in fourth grade when myself and a couple of girls from my class decided to create our own play one day on the playground. I’m not sure what prompted us to do this. If memory serves, it was Melissa’s idea so maybe her parents had taken her to see a play recently and this inspired her to create her own? Maybe it was something we had talked about in class? I don’t know. It seemed like fun so I went along with the idea. I was always big into make-believe.

Our fourth grade teacher was impressed enough with our efforts that he allotted class time for us to perform our play in front of everyone. I don’t remember what our play was about and I don’t remember how big of a part I had in it but I do remember quite clearly falling in love the day I stood in front of the class even if I wasn’t sure exactly why I felt this way.

That moment sparked something inside me and ignited an obsession to write. I wrote pages and pages – all plays. In my mind, I fantasized about performing in front of my peers again although the other girls in my little group went back to jumping rope or playing tag on the playground, their careers on stage short-lived. There wouldn’t be any more plays performed in fourth grade.

It didn’t deter me. I kept writing. I kept imagining.

When the opportunity presented itself later in high school to study theatre with a small group locally, my parents agreed to let me go for it. I was always a quiet person so I’m not sure that many people believed I had much hope on the stage but I was determined enough to give it a try. As it turned out, I surprised us all, myself included.

I joined the group with big expectations … and a lot of fear. After all, the other kids in my group were far more outgoing, a little bit older, and certainly more experienced when it came to being on stage. Aside from my brief stardom in fourth grade, my stage credits went to torturing parents as my friends, cousins, brother, or anyone else I could coerce into engaging my obsession and I performed whatever I had come up with for the day.

I learned a lot about the theatre, not just acting but what goes on behind the scenes as well. And of course, the experience would not be complete without actually performing something. Our director chose a series of monologues written by students around our age called Sometimes I Wake Up in the Middle of the Night and assigned us each a character with our own history and experience which we as actors helped to create and develop. My character, Lisa, was the youngest of the bunch and the most naive.

Unlike most plays that tell a story and the characters interact with each other, our series of monologues meant that each actor had her own space on the stage and when it was our turn to speak, we took over the audience.

I suppose I could have been terrified and sure, on opening day, a part of me was. Family and friends would be attending. We’d made posters and shared them across the community. The newspaper wrote an article about us. When the curtain opened, there would be people occupying those seats, a lot more people than my fourth grade class. Those people had paid money to watch us perform so they’d have bigger expectations than a group of kids getting out of a math lesson. My director had her doubts that my quiet personality would fill the stage and so did I.

But you know what? Something magical happened what I stepped onto that stage. When the spotlight hit me, I came to life. I wasn’t nervous anymore. I wasn’t me anymore. I was Lisa and when I spoke about my loneliness and fears of the dark, the audience responded and I felt a strange connection that I’d only just hinted at before. By the time the spotlight went down after my first monologue and I sat in the darkness, I couldn’t wait until the spotlight returned to me so that I could continue to share my connection between Lisa and the audience. By the end of it, I’d impressed my director, my cast members, and the family and friends who’d come to see me and I’m pretty sure I’d done my part to satisfy the members of the audience that didn’t know the quiet Stephanie behind Lisa.

I’ve never stopped writing but every once in a while, I wonder to myself what keeps me going. After all, 90% of what I’ve written has never been shared and probably never will be. Being on the stage is very different from writing a novel but essentially storytelling is the same. The basic drive is bringing to life characters that will make the audience feel some sort of connection. On the stage, that connection is immediate. In a novel, I won’t know when you gasp or laugh or feel sad but I can hope that emotions still exist on the page. There is a dialogue that exists between the writer and the reader. In some way, our worlds come together and we share some common bond, even if it is only temporary.

Which books do you think have most successfully created connections with readers?

Big Day, Happy News

I couldn’t let the day pass without a quick post to the blog just to say … Guess What? Today I finished the final edits on my current work-in-progress. Oh yes! Care to join me in the happy dance of joy? Of course you do!

70, 674 words. 29 chapters. I’m still calling it Ghosts Don’t Wear Silk Stockings for now but this title is subject to change. Although a part of me is a little sad that I won’t be self-publishing this book in early September as I’d originally intended, I do hope to find a happy home for the book where everyone can read it soon.

Next step? Rest! Recharge! Eat some ice cream!

I’ll start writing a rough draft of the synopsis tomorrow. I’m a little terrified of the next unknown steps but I feel compelled to give my book a chance.

More news to come!

Walking the Plank

Over the course of the week, I’ve inevitably hit a high and a low and gone back and forth a few times. The problem? The edits on my current work-in-progress are nearly complete and I’m faced with putting it in the hands of readers (or not) by blog posts, self-publishing, traditional publishing, or smoke signals. Which one will be most effective? Which path ultimately steers me in the right direction?

Not sure. That’s pretty much what it all boils down to. I’m so close to setting the story free that I’m getting cold feet on committing to any direction at all.

It’s been an entire year since I self-published The Between World and a lot has changed in my world since then. I didn’t have a plan when I finished that first book. I didn’t have a fancy smancy “platform”. I didn’t bother with blogs or meeting new friends on Twitter. I didn’t even have an official author page on Facebook. (I did have a book page though.) I really had no idea what I was getting myself into and I paid a price for it. I’ve been trying to work it out ever since and hopefully (fingers crossed), I’m in a better place than I was on the publication date of book #1. I still have so much to learn and so much to do … but maybe I’m starting to find my feet.

Ghosts Don’t Wear Silk Stockings is very different from The Between World. It’s quirky and (hopefully) fun. It deals with demons and ghosts but it doesn’t take the subject too seriously. I don’t wallow in spectulations of the after-life. Not that I really did that with The Between World either but still, Nina and Yalen were a different cup of tea with literally the entire universe hanging in the balance. If they didn’t work things out by ‘the end’ then the world could have ended as we knew it. Yalen and Nina rarely found themselves in a light-hearted situation.

Different is good and I’ve had a lot of fun writing something that I hope is suspenseful but still fun at the same time. I hope I’ve offered the reader a few good laugh-out-loud moments that will stick with him/her. But now I’m starting to worry too… what if I’ve tried too hard to make it fun and in the process just turned it into something silly? What if the readers just roll their eyes and put the book down to move on to something better? What if anyone that dares to read this story makes a mental note to never pick up another book I write thinking that I obviously must not take my craft seriously?

What if the men in white coats come knocking and lock me in the rubber room?

GASP! It’s a gamble. If I self-publish this thing, I’m putting myself out there on the pirate’s plank, blindfold and all, holding my breath, waiting, and just hoping. Do I sink or do I swim? When I put chapter one out there and had little response, I guess I hit the panic button even harder and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take the risk that this would be the end as I know it.

I’ve strongly considered the possibility of submitted the story to a traditional publish and run the risk of it not seeing readers’ hands until a year from now or longer and that’s assuming I have any hope in the traditional realm at all. (I like to believe I do with a little effort.)

Problem is that I’ve gotten quite comfortable with the Indie publishing world and being that I like to control, it suits me. (I am an Aries, after all.) Someone has been kind enough to tell me that I don’t necessarily have to have it one way or the other. In this case, I could have my cake and eat it too. But really, what it boils down to is being afraid of the story hitting rock bottom and not being able to take it back and I’m going to have that fear no matter which path I walk.

So, bottom line? Ignore me. I’m moving full speed ahead as originally planned. Edits are going very well and with the husband out of town all week, I’ve had plenty of time to get ahead of the game. How the book will be received by the world, does it really matter? I am sharing a story that I love and I’m bound to find one or two who share my unusual sense of humor and that’s what makes the writing all worthwhile.

I’m back on track and ready to take the plunge…

Thanks for sailing the stormy seas with me. It’s a pleasure to have you on board. 🙂

Choose For Me

The kids are on summer break and I’m expecting to spend more time over the next couple of months reading instead of writing. Only trouble is, I have a lot on my kindle and I can’t decide which one to pick next! Perhaps my first summer read is something completely unexpected? I’m definitely in the mood to try something new.

So that being said, I’m putting the decision in your hands. Choose for me which book will be my first summer read. I’m open to genres. Do you have a special favorite you are excited to share? Post the title and author in the comments and I will randomly select by putting all the choices in a hat and letting one of my kids pick the winner. If you’re an author and you want to suggest one of your own books that I might like, I welcome that as well. If I enjoy it, I’ll be happy to post my thoughts in the form of a review on Amazon and Goodreads.

I am looking forward to the next possibility…