How Much of Me Is in My Writing #MFRWAuthor

Do we write in order to fulfill fantasies and experience what we will never face in reality? Do we write to make sense of past problems or heal old wounds? Or do we simply enjoy the idea of playing God and watching the characters we create become a better version of themselves?

Me?… Well, I have had a pretty amazing life up to this point so there aren’t many scars to mend and the few crazy encounters I’ve had, I prefer to forget. So, that’s not why I write.

Fantasy fulfillment? A chance to play God? Well… maybe.

Why ask these questions in a blog post about how much of ME I put into my writing? Because how much of me exists within my characters and story worlds kind of depends on why I put them there, to begin with, doesn’t it? And for me, I believe it comes down to the pure joy of putting something to paper that previously only existed in imagination. It’s reminiscent of playtime as a kid. (But let’s not forget kids play to learn and make sense of their world…)

There is always a piece of me in everything I write but just like my kids are not ME simply because I am their mother, my characters and stories are not autobiographical either.  Other factors in my life help to influence, shape and create what ends up on the page, sprinkled with a lifelong interest in psychology and astrology. (Odd mix, I know.)

Inevitably, I know myself best so I will take quirks, hobbies, experiences from my own life and sprinkle them into my story. For example, headaches are a big thing for me. I started getting migraines when I was in elementary school with intense pain and vomiting. That sort of experience is not only uncomfortable but interferes significantly with daily life. My main character in the novel, The Between World, suffers from this same infliction but in her case, it is an unfortunate side effect of psychic abilities. (If only I could say the same…) It was an experience I felt I could write even if the reasons for it differed.

I like to think of my characters as friends I’ve never met. When I sit down to write I ask myself who is this person living in the story world I’ve established and why would she do what I’m asking her to do? Will her personality resemble mine? Probably. Would I do the same in her situation? Not necessarily.

If the character doesn’t interest me or I don’t care about the world in which she lives, I have no reason to follow her. I’m human and let’s face it, as humans, we tend to be drawn to others who share something in common with us. Shared experience is often the foundation of new friendships.

So yes, I suppose you will find ME in varying degrees in every story I write. I hope that’s a good thing. 🙂

Thanks for checking out my post in this week’s challenge. Hop over to the MFRW52 Challenge page or click on the Linky Tools below for the complete list of participating authors.

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Saying Goodbye

GrandmaLast week was a very long and difficult week for my family. Earlier in the month, my grandma had suffered a silent heart attack. Despite all the efforts at the hospital and the initial optimistic views that she would be going home in a few days, it never happened.

Sunday the 15th the hospital suggested that all the family come to say our goodbyes.

My grandma had six children, including my dad. Most of those children married giving her many grandchildren and even great grandchildren now as well. It’s a big family!

From Sunday to Wednesday, my dad and his brothers and sisters lived at the hospital. No one wanted to leave Grandma’s side for fear that when they did, the worst would happen. Sleeping on chairs or waiting room couches took its toll on her children but everyone else pulled together to be there and offer support in any way we could. There was always a full crowd in the waiting room and people ready to make a run to get food.

The hospital staff bent the visitation rules because there were so many of us there to see her. Instead of only allowing two to three visitors in her room at a time, there were as many as ten at a time.

It was during this time I realized how blessed I am to be part of such an amazing family. It was a sad experience to know that I was there to say goodbye to someone I loved but at the same time, it was amazing to watch everyone come together and just be there for each other – no questions asked. Sometimes we just sat, each lost in his or her own thoughts staring at the wall or with head in hands but it wasn’t always sad and serious either. The days sat by Grandma’s side were filled with reminiscing of the happy times and remembering other loved ones that had gone before her.

Tuesday night her children spent a sleepless night by her side and Wednesday morning she passed away.

Those six children are living proof of the good person my grandmother was. They are six people who will always be there to support each other in any way needed. They didn’t turn out that way by accident.

I’m sad to say goodbye. I can’t imagine the holidays without Grandma. I can’t imagine not having her around. But I am also very honored and grateful to be a part of this family so if there is any good that comes out of an otherwise painful experience, it’s knowing how much love we share and that we’re never alone.

RIP Grandma. I will always have fond memories, especially of all the fun camping trips that we shared while I was growing up.

Grandma is pictured above on my wedding day with her youngest son, my Uncle Tom.

Live in Fear of the Dreaded …. Saturday the 14th?

bad luck misfortuneIt’s kind of funny the way something that happens to us as a kid has a lasting effect on the way we approach something as meaningless as a date on the calendar. It happened to me.

Flashback to an eleven year-old Me. Back then, it was fun to “fear” Friday the 13th. But even as we poked fun at the day, I ended up having incredible luck. I don’t remember the details of what exactly made it so amazing but I remember those fly-high feelings. I remember deciding at a very young age that bad luck on Friday the 13th was nothing more than a silly superstition.

Then came Saturday, the 14th and that changed everything.

Saturday, those happy feelings came crashing down right along with me as I plummeted down the steps. As if that wasn’t bad enough, later that same day, I fell off my swing. The swing incident might not have been so bad if it weren’t for the fact that I’d instinctively clutched the metal chain trying to catch myself, slicing open both my hands in the process. Ouch!

While I didn’t suffer any major injuries for either of these mishaps, they certainly left a lasting impression, one that made me look at the calendar in a whole new light. Maybe for me, I thought, Friday the 13th isn’t the bad luck day – it’s actually Saturday, the 14th! As if someone needed to prove this theory true, since that horrible day, I don’t remember having anything good happen on a Saturday the 14th, and believe me, I pay attention.

So now, as some of you step tentatively out your door this Friday and fear what fate may lurk around the corner, I will be embracing what I expect to be a wonderful, good luck day.

And tomorrow… Well, maybe after all these years, I should finally forgive that one bad day and accept that maybe Saturday the 14th is just another day on the calendar after all…

Maybe.

In the meantime, check out this article on BBC News – Friday the 13th: The Accidental Superstition?

Do you have any superstitions or exceptionally bad luck stories that center around a specific day on the calendar?

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. 🙂

Blog Awards and Reminiscing

Back in my day … watermelon had seeds in it and half the fun of eating it was to spit the seeds on the ground and wonder if they’d grow.

Sound familiar? If you’re my friend on Facebook, it does. I posted this as my status yesterday evening after my son freaked out at dinner because he found a brown seed in his watermelon. He didn’t know what to do with it. Maybe I’m a bad parent, but I found his predicament slightly amusing. After all, to me, watermelon is supposed to be littered with brown seeds. That used to be half the fun.

And again, maybe I am weird.

I also remember when the weather was pleasant enough to spend every day outside. We didn’t get into “the three H’s” (Hazy, Hot, and Humid) until late summer and even then, we weren’t in high 90’s to 100’s *every* day. Today I look out my window to brown grass and July has only just begun. I looked at the current temp and remarked, “OH! It’s only 90 right now.”

Only? I should never have to say “only 90” as if this is a good thing.

Should I keep complaining or are you getting sick of me yet? Hmmmm…

Moving along… Karen Einsel has surprised me with a blog award today – or three, I’m not sure. I got a little confused. I’m easily confused. Cut me some slack, it’s hot, remember? Regardless, I want to offer Karen my sincere gratitude. I’m very flattered! Thank you! Please click HERE to check out Karen’s blog and learn a little more about her. It’s a great read, I promise.

First: The Rules.

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog.
2. Answer the 9 questions below
3. Nominate 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy. Or you pick the number.

4. Pay the love forward: Provide your nominee’s link in your post and comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been included and invited to participate.

5. Pay the love back with gratitude and a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you. 

While I am very flattered and happy to participate, doesn’t this sort of thing kind of remind you of chain letters? Back in my day (yes, I’m going there again), chain letters came in an envelope via the mailman. We had to copy them and mail them to X number of our friends. Later, it came by email. I guess nowadays it comes by blog. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind. Gives me something to post if nothing else. I’m just relieved that I’m not promised some version of a horrific fate for not completing the rules exactly, especially since I am breaking the rules a bit. I am not going to nominate others. Not because I don’t know any terrific bloggers. I sure do! I follow many entertaining blogs and I will recommend all of them in a heartbeat. What I don’t want to do is spam people, especially the ones I really like, and that’s kind of what I feel like I’m doing if I list a bunch of people who are obligated to follow these rules.

So… in effect, if YOU are reading this blog and you have a blog of your own, then YOU are nominated! This is doubly true if you also happen to follow MY blog and I follow YOURS. BAM! There you go… that’s easily more than 20. 😉 You know who you are so come on, hop to it. Don’t pretend that I can’t see you hiding in the corner…

Alright then, here are the blog awards:

Wow! Now I really feel special. Thanks, Karen. 🙂

Questions for me to answer from award #1:

What is your favorite colour?

Red!

What’s your favorite animal?

This is a tough one. I love most. I’ve always had a thing for dolphins though.

 What’s your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Coke

Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook for keeping up with family and old friends. Twitter for  making new friends.

What is your favorite pattern?

Plaid, especially in the form of shirts on a man.

Favorite number?

5

Favorite day of the week?

Saturday. Family time!

Favorite flower?

I love all flowers and my favorite changes all the time.

What is your passion?

Writing!

***

Most Inspiring Blogger Award – Need to share seven things about myself that you don’t already know. This shouldn’t be too tricky since 99.9% of you don’t know me all that well. (yet)…

Hmmm… so what do I share??

1) I hate butter and all its wannabe counterparts such as margarine and the like. I mean, I really, really hate it and I have since I was a kid. People have often thought me strange because I will eat plain toast, plain baked potatoes, and plain corn on the cob. If I go to a restaurant and forget to ask for “no butter” on my pancakes, I can’t touch them. The sight and smell of butter melting over pancakes is enough to make me feel sick to my stomach.

2) As a kid, I was so skinny that my family nicknamed me Pretzel Legs. Once at the pediatrician’s office, the doctor asked me my name and I responded, “Pretzel Legs”. My mum was a tad embarrassed. 😉

3) My favorite sport is ice hockey. (Go Penguins!)

4) I once swore that I’d marry Simon LeBon from Duran Duran. I joined the Duran Duran fan club in Birmingham, England and protested when the band split. I never did marry Simon but I did eventually visit England and met the man that I would marry, a native of Birmingham. We share an interest in music.

5) I am an INFP and an Aries.

6) I still think that Ghostbusters is one of the most amazing movies ever made. I secretly believe that I was put in this world to write screenplays this brilliant and when I overcome my fear of writing one, the rest will fall into place.

7) I am Mom to three boys. Because of #4, my kids will always have citizenship to both the US and the UK. I think that’s pretty cool.

That is probably more about me than you ever wanted to know! If you accept these wonderful awards (and I sure hope you do) then please make sure to send me a note so that I can learn more about YOU too!

Happy Weekend! See you next time for Six Sentence Sunday when I will share a snippet from something new.