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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Waking Fire Fourth Week Update

It’s been an interesting week of frustrations and progress.

First, the frustrations. Writing shouldn’t hinge on whether or not I have an internet connection but it’s rather eye opening to consider just how often I depend on said connection. Take that away and leave me crippled, or at the very least, grumpy, even though in fairness, I should be way more productive writing. I wish I could say those issues have been resolved with the installation of a new wireless router but lo and behold, we’re still struggling and I’m fighting an in and out connection just to accomplish anything that requires I be connected to the world – like right now writing this day-late blog post. (ha)  Any suggestions?

It’s the last week of summer vacation for the kiddos and while I should be happy that soon I’ll have uninterrupted writing time, I am inevitably sad that I’ll be on my own. <big sigh> Let’s face it, I get way more done when I can concentrate on well… getting stuff done … but it’s not nearly as much fun. I like having the company and I miss them when they’re gone.

Since school starts next week, that also means even if technically, summer isn’t really over, it might as well be. Back to the grind. Early bedtimes. Nightly homework. Grumpy mornings. No more leisurely start to the day or trips to the pool. The days are getting shorter. I already notice the early darkness and the fact that it still looks like nighttime when I get up at 6am. As much as I love fall and look forward to everything it has to offer, I’m reluctant to kiss summer goodbye. I guess that makes me a sentimental sap. I’m already mourning the end of my garden.

We’ve spent a lot of time this week preparing for the dreaded back-to-school. The kids approach this task solemnly. It’s kind of fun to pick out new clothes, shoes, and supplies, but it means the day they would rather put off is catching up with them.

We were totally boring for the eclipse. It didn’t occur to me to get glasses and I know what my kids are like so I didn’t want them tempted to look. So instead, we locked ourselves away in the house for three hours with all the curtains pulled to watch movies. Boring. I’ll be better prepared for the next one in seven years. (ha ha)

But in all the crazy to-ing and fro-ing, I did manage to get a fair bit of writing done. I’m not quite as far as I’d hoped to be by day twenty-four but sitting at 38,578 words and 64% complete is not too shabby by any stretch of the imagination! I’ll take it.

I have a growing list of changes I want to make when it comes time to start rewrites and a nagging fear that I’m writing complete crap but I will persevere regardless. There are other aspects of my story that I do like. I am going to finish this draft. Okay, maybe not by the 31st as originally planned, but I haven’t given up hope on that either. I may have hit a few road blocks with one thing or another but I know when the kids are back in school, I will be able to write a lot more than I do now – maybe even double. If that is the case, there is no reason why I won’t be celebrating the completion of draft one by September 1st!

What do you suppose would be an appropriate way to celebrate?

This morning in the shower, I was struck with a way to make an older idea of mine better. It was a story I started a couple years ago and never finished because I never quite figured out what story I was trying to tell. Maybe it finally hit me? During my down time, I’m going to start brainstorming and who knows, I could end up with the outline for my next book.

Okay, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. (Restlessness is setting in.) Fear not, I still plan to immerse myself in rewrites for this book come September.

Time to enjoy those last fleeting moments of summer with my boys. Until next week…

 

Waking Fire Third Week Update

Even slow progress is still progress which is what I keep reminding myself this week. I’ve still not quite pushed past the midpoint of my story but I’m teetering on that edge with 28,326 words. I anticipated I would need to put aside the writing for at least a day or two because of family issues I anticipated this week but I underestimated how big an emotional toll those issues would take on me. Once I hit Monday, my writing ceased and if I write much at all today, it will be dabbling just keep my forward momentum. The setback was inevitable but I’m not letting it slow me down and by Thursday this week, I expect to be back into regular writing routine.

Aside from that, I’ve also started hitting those middle part ‘blahs’. By the 9th chapter I felt like everything I wrote was the same. Was it because I already mapped out the story ahead of time and therefore had no big surprises? Or did the pacing feel slow because it inevitably takes longer to write than to read? I see a lot of areas where I will need revisions – dull descriptions, overused words, etc. My enthusiasm started waning and some days it felt like I was pushing myself just to get the words on the page and because of that I worry about how much I will end up cutting when it comes time to start revisions.

Then again, my head was not really in the best place because of the family issues looming closer so perhaps those chapters I wrote before all the dust settled are more a reflection of my anxious state of mind? Let’s hope!

I wrote the first draft of my book description but I expect this to go through many more revisions before it’s worthy of sharing. The first draft wreaks of melodrama and made me realize I don’t have a very clear vision of the overarching series antagonist. This is something that may become clearer as I finish writing the book I’m writing or it may be something that requires a little extra work to uncover before the first book is complete.  I’ll worry about that next week.

In the meantime, I will continue to push forward on the first draft because I still feel it’s a worthwhile endeavor and hopefully I will have better progress to report next week!

Back to dabbling… I stalled out on chapter ten where I’m expecting the first love scene so this should certainly prove an interesting place to pick up the pen and start again.

Waking Fire Begins in August

Where did the summer go? August is here and the haze and humidity of late summer brings new writing adventures. I’ve been daydreaming, planning, and outlining the first book in my new series for quite some time now but because of prior commitments, I wasn’t able to devote the time to start writing until now.

I  completed a seven-page outline by the end of July, just in time to roll up my sleeves and get cooking. It’s kind of like Nanowrimo, except a lot lonelier. You know, instead of the comradery of completing lofty word goals as a collective group, I’m standing alone in an empty chamber listening to my voice echo off the walls. “Anyone there?”

Nonetheless, I’ve attempted to create a progress bar which should be on display on the right hand column of my blog. (If it’s not, well, something apparently went wrong with the gobblety gook, as I so affectionately term the computer language, or my ability to update the tracker. Either is just as likely.)

The series is still untitled but I’m hoping the writing will spark ideas. The working title for the first book is Waking Fire. At the time of writing this post, I’m not in love with that title but it’s growing on me.

My goals for the month are ambitious. I have set out to write at least 60,000 words before the 31st. I figure if I average 3,000 words per day (which is totally doable when I follow an outline and a clear path) during a normal five-day work week, I should finish in time. Of course, I say this overlooking the fact that the kids won’t start school until the end of the month. Inevitably, life will throw wrenches at me and my foolish plans. (ha) Whichever way the wind blows, however, look for updates on the story progress once per week, on Wednesdays.

So far, I’m only on day two. Enthusiasm and optimism are still high. I’ve completed the first two chapters with 6,343 total words combined and I’m eager to jump into chapter three but holding myself back because I don’t want to burn myself out in the first week. The fact that I’ve thought so much about the characters helps a lot. It’s almost a relief to finally get it all down on the page.

I’m well known for diving into stories with great gusto only to run out of steam somewhere around the middle, completely lost. There are so many stories I once loved that now sit on my computer abandoned and unfinished.

This time, I’m determined to keep that from happening. Even if the story gets a little muddled or takes longer to write than I hope, I’ll keep pushing forward and shove those perfectionist tendencies back in the closet where they belong, hidden behind the winter coats. They can come back out later when it’s time to crack the knuckles and start rewrites in September.

So, until next Wednesday… Back to Writing!

I’m Shooting Cupid – A Fun Valentine’s Day Excerpt

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“It’s done.” Riley slumped down into the chair across from her boss’s desk without waiting for an invitation. She ignored the look of annoyance on his face. What was he going to do? Fire her? She was the best he had and he knew it. She knew what she could get away with.

“Riley Evans,” he said with a sigh, “Just the girl I needed to see.”

“Rick and Pam are a done deal. I want that promotion you promised me. You owe me, Frank.”

“You’ll get the promotion.”

“I sense a ‘but’ here? I don’t like when there is a ‘but’.”

Frank sat forward in his desk folding his hands as he looked at Riley with his serious expression. She hated the serious expression. It meant there was something on his mind she wouldn’t like.

“I’ll walk out that door right now if you don’t give me what you promised.” Riley indicated the back of the door which was partially opened. On opaque glass was black letting spelling out the letters C.U.P.I.D., the special top secret government agency for which Riley had worked for far too long already. She wasn’t sure what waited for her on the other side of that door but she’d put up with Frank’s B.S. long enough to know she was ready to make good on her threats. “It’s in my god-damned contract.”

Frank might have caved except he also knew how much Riley depended on that paycheck. She watched him suspiciously as he sat back to open his top drawer and pull out the little slip of paper with her name on it. She silently cursed under her breath for not signing up for direct deposit when she’d had the chance. She hated giving anyone power over her, especially one with morals as scrupulous as Frank.

“The thing is Riley. You have skills and we need that. And as I understand it, you need us as much as we need you.”

“Spit it out, Frank. What is it this time? You know I deserve that promotion. You’ve been dangling it in front of me for too long now. If there is a reason you’re holding back then I need to hear it so get on with it already.”

“Victoria has made unexpected progress this month.”

“Victoria,” Riley grumbled. Victoria had been a thorn in her side since the moment she walked through that office door. She was the only agent whose skill and tenacity even came close to Riley’s. “Victoria started a full year after I did and I’m better at what I do. I don’t care if she’s learned how to shoot hearts out her ass. That promotion is mine. You promised me.”

The promotion is yours as soon as you carry out this one last assignment,” Frank said with a sigh.

Riley laid her head back and stared at the ceiling as she tried to keep her frustration in check. Killing Frank, albeit satisfying as it may be, would not get her where she needed to be.

“I’ve heard that before.”

“I mean it this time. Handle this one and the promotion is yours. I will even throw in an extra bonus on top.”

That got her attention. She lifted her head to peer at her boss, trying to determine whether the asshole was telling her the truth this time. Unfortunate for Frank, he was a pretty easy read. He tugged at the neckline of his collared shirt, beads of perspiration on his forehead, both good indications that Frank was involved in something he didn’t like.

“This is important to you,” she said.  cupid

“Yes, and it should be important to you, if you value your career.”

“So what’s the deal Frank? Get into bed with the wrong bimbo again? Her husband threatening to end your existence once and for all unless you set things right in the world, starting with their loveless marriage?”

“No,” he said, clearly annoyed with her accusations. She nodded, noting that he didn’t exactly deny it either. As far as bosses were concerned, there were worse in the world than Frank but she sure as heck wouldn’t want to be married to the scum bag. She often wondered how his wife of thirty years had put up with him for so long. No doubt his profession had a little helping hand in that respect too. “Not this time.”

“Uh-huh,” she said completely unconvinced. “So what is it then?”

Frank got up and went over to a safe he kept hidden behind a picture frame. Riley rolled her eyes. The man was a walking cliche. But her attention was piqued. Most of the files ended up in the filing cabinets outside his office, under the not-so-great watch of his secretary, Betsy. Only the top tier, super important ones found their way into the safe. Someone didn’t want anyone to find out about this particular job. Whatever their reasons, Riley didn’t care. There were so many anti-C.U.P.I.D. protest groups nowadays that she had a feeling secrecy was going to start being the new norm anyway. The important part to her was the fact that top secret usually translated into top pay.

He slapped the file down on the desk in front of her and she reached over to take it. Before she could pick it up, his hand came down over hers. She felt her skin crawl at his touch.

“This is between you and me,” he said, “You breath a word of it to anyone else and there will be consequences. Dire consequences. Am I clear?”

“Crystal,” she said wrinkling her nose. She’d say anything to get her hand back.

His smell filled his nostrils. The man needed a bath and an entire stick of deodorant under each arm pit.

“One more thing.”

“Yeah?”

“I’m assigning you a partner to help with this case.”

“No, Frank. You know I only work alone.”

“Yeah, yeah, but this time you’re making an exception. Like I said, you have skills and it’s about time you begin sharing those skills with our less experienced agents. Just last week I handled five end-of-love cases all because new agents are screwing up.”

“That’s not my problem. No exceptions, Frank. Whatever this is, I can handle it. You know that. I don’t need help and I don’t train newbies. They’ll just get in my way.”

“I’m sorry, Riley, but it’s either accept the terms or I’ll have to give it to someone else.”

“Someone else?” she said raising her eyebrows and yanking her hand free from his. As if there was anyone else he could trust to carry out this mission. “Fine. Do that. Give it to Victoria for all I care.”

“Come on Ri. Don’t leave me hanging here. This one pays better than any job you’ve done for me before. You need the money. You need that promotion.”

“That’s not fair, Frank. I’ve earned that promotion. You can’t take it away from me just because I won’t make an exception.”

“Last time I checked, it was my name on that door, which makes me the boss. I can do whatever the hell I want.”

Riley got up to leave. One thing she refused to do was bargain, especially with the likes of Frank.

“Fine,” she said, feeling the weight pull down on her shoulders, “Have it your way then. No deal.”

“You walk out that door and I call Victoria right now with the good news.”

“What?”

She spun around on her heels, ready to leap on the loser and pound some sense into him with her fists if she had to.

“You heard me. The promotion is hers. Victoria is willing to do a hell of a lot more to earn it.”

Riley felt her skin crawl again at the implication. She happened to know for a fact it was true. She’d already caught Victoria and her boss together once. It was an image she’d have forever burned in her mind despite all her attempts to erase it.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve after all I’ve done for you. After all I’ve done for C.U.P.I.D.”

“Don’t go getting all emotional on me now. You and I both know you need the money and I need you to help guide a wayward agent who happens to show great promise. You’ve got to help me out here, Ri, and I’m not playing games.”

Riley turned back to the door but when she went to grasp the handle, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She thought about Charlie. What would happen if she couldn’t keep the money coming? She shuddered and realized like it or not, Frank had her bent over with her pants down. She couldn’t afford to tell him no. If nothing else, her ego wouldn’t let her give slimy Victoria the upper hand.
When she turned back to him, he was smiling. Damn it if he didn’t know he had the upper hand, too.

She snatched the file off the desk and thumbed through it. Nothing about it struck her as particularly remarkable or difficult. She shrugged. There were probably a million and one questions she could ask about why this particular case warranted such extreme measures but she’d already wasted enough of her time in Frank’s presence and she was tired and in need of a hot bath and a bottle of wine.

“I’ll leave you to sign off on the paperwork with Betsy,” he told her, “And she’ll give you the arrangements to meet with Madison, the trainee.”

“Just this once,” Riley said forcing her blood to stop boiling, “because I don’t need no stinking sidekick.” She could almost feel the steam coming out of her ears like the Saturday morning cartoons she’d watched as a kid.

“Just this once,” Frank agreed. He put out his hand to shake which she did reluctantly. “And Ri, you won’t regret this. I’ll make sure of it.”

“Yeah, yeah” she said turning her back on him. “And don’t call me Ri.”