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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The Price of Immortality – A Short Story Based on a Prompt #amwriting #asmsg

Happy Hump Day! For today’s post, I have decided to play with a story prompt. I have chosen the first one from an article on the blog Hobby Lark, in a post contributed by Moe Wood.

My little story is quick and rough but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on it so please share! Who knows, perhaps with your suggestions, I could turn it into a longer story?

**Doug stuck his hand in the box and immediately pulled it out. “Ow,” he said. He licked the side of his index finger as if it had honey on it…**

After nearly a decade of searching, he never expected his treasure would be quite like this. The box was smaller than he’d hoped but didn’t Cora always say the best gifts come in small packages? His frown deepened at the memory. She had said it just before he disappointed her with a box of chocolates for Christmas when she’d been hinting at an engagement ring.

He shrugged off the memory, rubbed his finger against his thigh, and carefully replaced the lid on the box. He’d made so many sacrifices to reach this goal. He knew it would be part of the price he’d pay so there was no sense in getting all sentimental over lost love. Besides, once he returned to Cora with the good news of his victory, she would surely forgive him. She, of all people, understood what was at stake which was precisely why he’d been so baffled by her reaction.

A single drop of water dripped from the roof of the cave. Doug watched it splash next to the ground, transfixed by its delicate beauty in the candlelight. He felt as if in his haste, he’d missed some important piece of the puzzle but he couldn’t imagine what? Perhaps it was the hollowness he felt at knowing Cora should be at his side sharing this moment?

With trembling arms, he picked up the box and began carrying it down the dimly lit corridor. Fatigue filled his body but he wasn’t in any hurry. Not any longer.

Now, in his hands, he possessed the secret ingredient to grant him eternal life. He’d slain dragons to obtain it. The only thing that remained was to deliver his prize intact to the witch in order to convert its energy to his gift.

Suddenly, a foul stench filled his nostrils and his belly threatened to empty. He sensed the presence of the demon before he saw it and he knew it was too late to shrink into the shadows unseen. The figure emerged from the darkness, its glowing red eyes the only hint at its inhumanity.

“What do you have in the box?” the demon said in a deep voice which bounced off the cave walls. Doug took a careful step back.

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?” He raised an eyebrow. “Such careful attention for nothing.”

“My… girlfriend requested this token, a symbol of my devotion…” Doug choked. Cora had always teased him for being a terrible liar so why did he believe he had any hope of fooling a demon? His chances were better of defeating the vile thing by more physical means except he couldn’t seem to muster the energy.

“Your girlfriend doesn’t seek immortality.”

Doug felt as if his body temperature dropped. His hands trembled so fiercely he could barely hold the box. Was it his imagination or had it become much heavier since his unwelcome companion approached? He considered the path ahead and wondered if he dared such a bold move, could he outrun the demon? Even though the entity appeared passive, almost bored, Doug wasn’t fooled.

The demon moved closer and Doug held his ground as he clutched the treasure close to his racing heart. With a long, lazy finger the demon stroked the edge of the lid in thoughtful contemplation.

“A mortal must work exceedingly hard to uncover the secrets we bury deep in the caves of the Cartid Mountains. The fact that you have managed such a feat gives me a reason to reflect on your worthiness of such a prize.”

“I… believe I am… worthy.”

The demon held up a hand and it was as if Doug’s legs lost the ability to hold him. He fell with a thud to the ground and watched in horror as the box toppled from his grasp, falling end over end until it finally settled at the demon’s feet.

He’d worked too hard and had come too far to give up now. He closed his eyes, gritted his teeth, and attempted to summon the power within him to block the dark magic but it was no use. His hands quivered in exhaustion and dropped in defeat. Instead, he reached out to grab the box but the demon was already one step ahead of him and he planted a large black boot on his hand, mashing it into the floor of the cave. Doug sucked in his breath as the bones crunched under the demon’s weight.

“Writhing, sniveling snake in the mud,” the demon taunted, “Have you no brains in that head of yours? You cannot overpower me.”

“What do you want?” As soon as the weight lifted from his hand, he clutched it to his chest and fought to hold back tears. Immortality would bring the absence of pain. Until then, he must remain strong and resilient.

“What do I want?” The demon considered this as if it hadn’t occurred to him before that he should want anything at all. “What are you prepared to offer?”

“Anything…”

“Even the one thing you hold dearest to your heart?”

Doug didn’t answer. His breath came out in hollow rasps. He was fighting a losing battle. White spots filled his vision and with his good hand, he swiped at beads of sweat on his brow.

His life he’d lived simply with just one goal – uncover the secrets to gain eternal life. Because of this, he prided himself on a detachment to material possessions. Truly anything he owned, even of value, he could do without. This must be some trick. The dark figure loomed over him, waiting for a response.

“Anything in my possession to give you, it is yours. Take all of it,” Doug said. It was a fair trade for this precious gift of life when he’d have a dozen lifetimes to secure whatever he needed. He’d already paid his greatest price.

The demon snickered. “Very well then.” He kicked the box carelessly toward Doug who scooped it delicately into his arms, no longer concerned with his broken hand.

Spreading his arms wide, the demon muttered an incantation and vanished.

For a full five minutes, Doug did not dare to move. When he was finally sure the demon would not return, disappointed that Doug had nothing of value to trade, he mustered the strength to pull himself to his feet and complete his journey.

**

Doug could barely believe his fortune. By the next full moon, he’d secured his goal with the help of the witch and could barely contain his excitement in sharing his prize with his beloved. In haste, he journeyed to the old village he once called home and rapped eagerly at her door, impatient for an answer. In his pocket, he carried a small, velvet box containing the ring he’d carefully selected for this occasion.

No matter how many demons or dragons he’d faced, nothing prepared him for this moment and the agony he would endure in anticipation of Cora’s response. In order not to prolong the suffering, he fell to one knee the moment the door slowly opened. Except, he didn’t realize until he looked up that it wasn’t Cora who had answered. An elderly woman stood staring at him with wide, curious eyes. Sadness darkened her features and Doug wondered if he should remember the old woman from his past.

“Is Cora here?” He got up and brushed off his slacks, feeling a little embarrassed for rushing into his proposal.

“Cora? She no longer lives here.”

“Oh…” He felt it then. The heat surrounding him, the scratching at the back of his mind. If he listened closely, did he hear the demon’s laughter? “Where might I find her?”

“She’s gone,” the old woman said sadly.

Doug felt his throat begin to close, his heart racing. This couldn’t be true.

“Gone where?”

The old woman shrugged. “Simply vanished one day into thin air.”

He had so many questions but the old woman wasn’t interested in answering them. She closed the door and left him standing, broken and beaten.

Gone.

To his left, he caught a glimpse of movement. A dark figure disappeared from view just as he turned to face it.

The demon had taken her, he was certain of it. Anger raged inside him. Cora wasn’t a possession. He wasn’t free to trade her life for the box. The deal was unfair and Doug refused to accept it.

“Damn you,” he said raising a fist to the air, “I will find you and you will pay!”

Again, he heard the faintest of laughter in the distance. Taking to his horse in a hurry, he set off in the direction of its sound determined to free his beloved.

**

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.

#Nanowrimo Begins Wednesday – Happy Ten Years of Writing

As this November approaches, I can’t help but to feel a little nostalgic. It is, after all, my tenth year of participation in the event. Hard to believe.

On one hand, I feel a little sad admitting it when it seems I have so little to show for my efforts. I mean, where are the stacks of published books? But published books or not, I’m proud of how much my writing has changed over the years. I may not be where I want to be yet in terms of a full-fledge career but if you were to compare my first Nanowrimo attempt with the last, you would insist they weren’t written by the same author. Yeah, the first one was that bad.

For anyone who doesn’t know (and if you don’t know, have you been living under a rock all these years?), Nanowrimo is National Novel Month and it happens every November. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s more about the commitment to finishing a novel than the word count, I believe. The people who run the show do an excellent job of promoting enthusiasm amongst its participants and offering great advice along the way to keep you motivated.

In 2007, I was a stay-at-home mom looking after a toddler just shy of his second birthday and a six month old baby. Both were in diapers. But being very routine-oriented, I had both on a similar schedule that included at least an hour long afternoon nap. That’s when most of my writing happened although I do remember squeezing in free moments early in the morning before they woke or in the evening with a glass of wine after they went to bed.

I had little reason to think I could actually write a novel but I’d always wanted to try. My entire school career, I’d never met an English teacher who didn’t go crazy over my creative writing. I’d had an entire lifetime of people telling me I should write a book and I always thought I’d be good at it. I mean, how hard could it be, right?

HA HA HA HA

Turns out, writing a book is a lot harder than I’d ever imagined and although I “won” Nanowrimo by completing 50,000 words that first year, my so-called story was a royal mess. A couple of times I’ve looked back and wondered if there is anything in that jumble of words I could salvage but the answer is no. Just no.

BUT! It taught me a valuable lesson. Before that attempt, I’d never tried to write anything longer than a short story. I discovered that it was not only possible to sit my butt in a chair and work on a novel but I actually really loved the process. I had a blast. Even though I knew I didn’t have a story worth rewriting and submitting – I was hooked. Most Novembers I have participated in Nanowrimo, I have successfully written 50,000 words. I think there have only been 2 I did not.

Fast forward to 2017. Now I have a young man just shy of his 12th birthday, a 10 year-old, and I’ve added a third kid to the mix who is now 8!

I kept writing even when it wasn’t November, although some days that’s easier than others with small children. Now that all three kids go to school, however, I have the days to myself to write to my heart’s content. I forget sometimes how crazy the days used to be. And some days I kind of miss that. It was fun having little kids around with big imaginations and they forced me to be more focused in time management.

My approach to Nanowrimo has changed. For so long I insisted that November was my play time as a writer. I would approach the month with only the inkling of an idea and just let the story unfold as the days went by. Sadly, as much fun as it is to write this way, the end product still tends to be chaotic at best.

I’ve finally accepted that in order to produce something that stands half a chance of being worth working with come December, I have to plan. Maybe not every scene but I have to know something about my story. I have to understand story structure. I have to know characters and plot points. There is just no way around it. I’ve been spending a lot of time studying books on writing and I still struggle with it. Sometimes I swear it makes sense so I put together an outline and bam, I write … and I still stall out.

Take Waking Fire for example. There is a story there, I’m convinced of it but the rewriting process, to me, is almost painful. Not nearly as much fun as the creating stage. I’ll get there eventually but just not nearly as soon as I’d like.

So… this November I try again. It’s my tenth year anniversary, after all, so I’ve got to make this special, right? I have this little voice in my head that keeps whispering this is the year I am going to write something great (okay, I’ll settle for publishable). I have an idea and I’ve put a lot of thought into that idea. Today and tomorrow I will attempt to complete at least a high level outline. At the very least, I need to know the main turning points and how it all ends and I need to feel confident those choices are solid so that every scene I write during the 30 day frenzy makes sense.

We’ll call this  year’s attempt at a novel “Hope” and I’ll sit down to write on November 1st with the same flurry of excitement I always feel when the story is still fresh and new and anything is possible…

Anything.

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month this year? Want to be my buddy and cheer each other on? You can find me by clicking here -> Nanowrimo

 

Waking Fire Second Week Update

I’m making progress!

Waking Fire is moving right along. Nine days into the month and I’ve already passed the 20,000 word mark. I’m pretty happy with that.

Not only that, I’m still enjoying the story. The outline helps as I work my way from one chapter to the next. It’s vague enough that I still get to daydream about the scene I want to write but still includes all the important points I want to hit in that scene. Most days I’m averaging just over 3,000 words but last Friday I pushed until I’d written 5,000 words. (Saturday and Sunday, I rest… but daydream.)

Fast progress is great – but it’s also dangerous. Too much time spent staring at the screen means I risk burning out before I reach ‘The End’. Not only that, but it’s still summer and I want to enjoy family time too! So yesterday we took advantage of beautiful weather for a day at the local amusement park. But even if it’s fun with the family, I like to think of it as a little research, too. After all, most of the scenes I’m writing this week take place in a traveling carnival. Not quite the same as an amusement park – but close enough to inspire the real life sights and sounds one might encounter. So yes, I’m taking notes.

Now that it’s midweek, I’ve worked my way through Chapter Seven with plans of hitting the story’s midpoint by next Monday. Things are getting exciting and I’m getting even more excited to share the story I’m bringing to life on the page.

Thanks for reading. Now it’s back to writing!