It has been a dream to become a writer since I was seven. I've said that many time here. The reason it's so important now, is I'm putting the finishing touches on book four of the Wizard Hall Chronicles called Prophecy. While it'll be out in November 2019, it is the turning point of the series; the work horse. It links The Day of First Sun, Black Market and Wizard War to the final book in the series. It tells a complex story.
I had to get the story right. When I originally started writing the series, I had planned on stand alone books, that told a different story in the wizarding world all centered around Annie Pearce. I wanted a strong female character, a role model for everyone.
The series shaped up to become something far more than I anticipated.
I wrote The Day of First Sun, a story about the magical death of a high-profile, non-magical princess. I combined my two favorite genres, urban fantasy and the police procedural/detective novel.
For many years I sold the book to readers by stating “It's a little like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and CSI.” It's still a bit true, but the reality of the series changed as I wrote Black Market. A plot point began to develop and I couldn't overlook that both book 1 and book 2 tied back to the death of Annie Pearce's father, Jason Pearce.
I'm not much of a plotter. I tend to write by the seat of my pants, having an idea of what the book will be about and how it will end. I hadn't planned to link the books, but I couldn't deny, there was something there.
Clue emerged in the first three books pointing to the climax, the truth about what happened to Annie's dad. I couldn't stop it from happening and yet, I needed to tell the story in two books.
Many years ago I had written a book called She Wulf, a tale loosely based on the story of Beowulf. The book was released and to make a very long story short, it didn't go well. In the end I decided to take She Wulf off of Amazon and work on the next book in the series. As I've mentioned here before, that too didn't go well and I ended up rewriting The Day of First Sun and re-releasing it.
I followed the natural flow of the series which led to Black Market and Wizard War. In my infinite wisdom I decided it was time to retell She Wulf. It could no longer be a cute stand alone story, it had to do so much more. I renamed it Prophecy, and pulled out of it Annie's journey to the truth. The truth about the past and the truth about her family as she must make difficult choices in her life that could result in Annie loosing everything.
As I struggle with various things in my life, a child with anxiety and OCD, a transgender child and the death of my first child, I channeled all of the confusion, hurt, anger, and love into Annie journey. While she and I are on different journey's we are trying to overcome our problems with class and grace and come out on the other side intact.
Prophecy became an act of love from me to myself as a way for Annie to forgive herself for her past mistakes and for me to forgive myself and learn to accept the realities as they are.
Will Annie accept her destiny and save the future or return to the past to save her family?
We all have difficult choices in our lives that deserve careful consideration. Some of us have more difficult choices to make but we must trust ourselves to make the choices that best fit our lives and our families and we must most importantly love ourselves, care for ourselves as we move through life.
I have a dream that I keep front and center because it is what keeps me sane in the middle of the insanity. I can't let go no matter how much stress I carry in the rest of my life. That includes the impossible task of marketing myself and trying to sell my books so that I can stay at home and concentrate on creating more stories.
As Annie struggles, I struggle and together, I can assure you, Annie Pearce and I will make it to the other side.
Catch up on the Wizard Hall Chronicles on Amazon today.
Life is hard. We work full-time. We have children, friends, family, hobbies if we're lucky. We need to eat well, exercise daily. I have an adult child with severe anxiety, ADD and OCD. My youngest is a transgender male.
There's sleepless nights worrying about the extraordinary and sometimes I only have time to worry about the ordinary. You have to pick your battles.
I've always wanted to be a writer. I was seven when I started the Nancy Drew Mysteries. From that moment I not only wanted to read her adventures, I wanted to create and write my own adventures.
As life pulled me in difficult directions, writing became something more for me than just a means to make money doing something I was fairly good at. It became an escape from increasingly difficult and out of the ordinary situations. It was my inspiration.
Mystery novels have always been my first love. Taking a problem and digging one layer at a time to discover the truth. I also love the urban fantasy, epic fantasy realm. Hiding in the make-believe. It's there that I find equality lives, women can be strong leaders, justice most often prevails.
This is why I imagined Annie Pearce. Young, smart, beautiful, seemingly perfect but when you dig deeper, when you get to know her, she's flawed, she's vulnerable, she's real. She works in a highly male field as a Wizard Guard. A magical police officer who fights demons, vampires and evil wizards. She falls in love with her best friend and partner at work, Bobby “Cham” Chamsky and had to deal with the new emotions while investigating the biggest case of their careers.
Annie Pearce makes mistakes, some are small and easy to fix. Other mistakes can risk exposure or cause a wizard war. But she perseveres because that is her make up. She wants justice for the downtrodden, for the victims of crimes. Though she is young, she can be an inspiration.
I wrote Annie to be the woman I wanted to be. A strong survivor who can and will find her way through a difficult and often scary world. Joss Whedon's Buffy Summers was one of my inspirations for putting together a relatable woman.
While I stumble through my life with increasingly difficult situations that make me want to cry or hide in the sand or simply run away, I remember the alter ego that I created. I suck it in and imagine the confidence and take one step in front of the other. This is what I want and for now, Annie is my own fairy godmother and inspiration as I make my way through the world of writing to become the author I want to be.Continue reading
Reboots are all the rage. I've watched very few of them. Successful reboots invite you back into the family fold, pick up years later so that the fan can catch up with our favorites. Think Gilmore Girls. Other shows reboot the show's description but create new characters and maybe, just maybe bring back some of the original favorites (I didn't watch Beverly Hills 90210, but I read stuff.)
I'm a fan of a reboot though under very specific circumstances.
I enjoyed the Gilmore Girls reboot because I got to catch up with old friends. However, I'm not expecting that from the Charmed reboot. Here's why I won't be watching. I invested seven years with Prue, Piper, Phoebe, and Paige; these strong, powerful, vulnerable ladies. Their journey was my journey. They laughed I laughed. They worried, I worried with them.
What I would have loved to see, was a continuation of their story. Get a glimpse into their future or if anything visit with their children: Chris, Wyatt, Phoebe's three daughters and Paige's twins and son Henry Jr. Why? Because I loved the original women, and was given a glimpse into their future during the series finale. I saw that their future was good and that I'd watch.
While I'm all for the diversity that comes with the new cast, I'm in for a retelling of the story of three sisters who learn as adults that they are witches who must fight evil. For me as a fan of the original series, this seems like nothing more than a copy and no matter how well the story is told and how well the actresses are plunged into the world, I'm just not interested in investing any time to this new Charmed.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been talked about for a reboot. Again, seven years I sat alongside Buffy as she fought demons, and grew from a reluctant hero to one willing to die to save her family and friends. I watched her come back and struggle with life outside of heaven. I watched Buffy take down the First and close on of the gates of hell.
I will always admit that Buffy was the model I used when creating my own strong female, lead Annie Pearce. She was a blue print as to what a female superhero should be: strong, smart, beautiful, vulnerable. A complete package of a woman, her ups and downs. But if they retold Buffy's story, I shall also say no to that as well.
In the series finale, we had a clear understanding that the slayer was no longer alone. All potential slayers were now given the same powers as Buffy. She now had an army to work with her.
If the Vampire Slayer storyline was rebooted, an all new focus on one of the army, I'd be there anxiously watching how this new slayer would handle the pitfalls and accomplishments of her calling because it is a continuation of the original story. To retell Buffy's story seems like a copy I would choose not to see.
We fan are of Science Fiction/Fantasy are a loyal band of geeky nerds. We love our heroes and are loyal to them. If you give us copies we will be angry. If you further the story (think Star Wars Episodes 4, 5 and 6), we will be forever loyal and grateful and will watch hungrily. I promise you this.
One of my favorite television series is Supernatural. Do you watch it? On that show, two brothers, Sam and Dean, spend their days keeping the world safe from demons and other supernatural beings from the beyond. A recurring theme throughout the series is legacy and destiny. See, Sam and Dean were born into a “hunting” family. Hunters devote their lives to fighting the bad things that go bump in the night – vampires, sirens, spirits, and demons. Raised by their father, they travelled from town to town, staying in lousy motels until the evil de jour was gone—only to move on to the next town and the next threat.
At the beginning of the series, Sam has found a way out of this calling. He enrolls as a law student in California. That is until Dean knocks on this door and begs for his help to find their missing father. And with that, Sam is sucked back into the hunting game. Sam finally understands that he cannot escape his legacy. He is a hunter, by training and by family destiny. No matter how many times he attempts to carve out his own path, he is still hunting 13 seasons later. Ultimately he realizes that this is his role in life – to keep saving the world.
Another one of my favorite television characters is Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She too is led by her destiny. Unlike Sam, Buffy has no idea that true evil exists before assuming her slayer powers as a teenager. Her learning (and accepting) curve is much steeper than the other protagonists who have never known life without demons. She laments that her simple high school life is gone and tries to embrace her new skill set and her destiny. As the series comes to a close, she is still committed to combating evil even though the journey has been physically and emotionally exhausting.
Our Wizard Hall heroine, Annie Pearce, also has her own legacy – one that has been passed down from her father (like Sam) and one that involves inheriting powers (like Buffy). Annie’s father worked as a Wizard Guard and now she is following in his footsteps. She was born into the magical world and has had her powers since birth. Unlike Buffy and Sam, Annie has never questioned her path.
Somehow Annie seems to be able to carry this load without losing herself to the shadows that lurk underneath. Maybe it is because Annie has the best of both worlds—the powers needed to succeed and the history to accept this responsibility. Maybe it is because Annie is a part of a greater magical community with a whole infrastructure behind her while Buffy and Sam have to fight their battles with only a few cohorts by their side. Or maybe there is something in Annie that just makes her more innately suited for the job.
Regardless, these characters constantly succeed and beat the malevolent forces they encounter. They are all fierce fighters because of who they are and because it is their legacy. I find them each inspiring in their own way. Share some of your favorite characters with me on my Facebook page.Continue reading
I search for a hero. It's my current life's quest or, in this case, of television time, it's the theme I'm most drawn to as I clamor for a new television show. Generally I watch television for two reasons: first and simply, to entertain me. Secondly and more complexly, I'm drawn to shows that resonate with me in some way. Lately it seems, I'm amenable to shows that center around strong female characters, women who fall and rise up again.
This could range from the obvious, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed come to mind. But it's not the obvious I'm searching for. It's more subtle, based in someway in reality. Stories centered around Queen Victoria or Claire Frasier in Outlander. Or even closer to home, the women of Criminal Minds.
I fully admit, I'm in one of those valleys in life when things seem impossible, too hard. A time when I feel as though I work so hard without anything to show for the world.
It's at those points when the search becomes the focus, looking for that story that will inspire me and lift me from the muck. It's the one thing that can pick me up from this downer I've been in.
I'm drawn to stories of women and their struggles. Not because they struggle although that makes me feel better; rather I'm so very curious about how they overcome and rebound and say “Screw you!”
Queen Victoria and Claire Frasier wanted more, wanted to be heard. Sometimes they knew it would have been easier to be born a man. I look to them with admiration whether they are real or just pretend and realize, we all have our issues. Our downfalls. Our time to shine. I don't want to be them. I want to be me. To be my own hero and prove to myself that I am a good writer, I can do this for a living. Giving up isn't an option.
I write my own hero in Annie Pearce. A women I wrote to be real, to be admirable. To rise and fall in a real way. I want readers to connect with her, to understand her. To love her and at times hate her because she can be vulnerable.
She is me and I am her and as I work through my ups and downs through specifically sought after television shows, I also channel that energy into a hero of my own creation and hope that someone who needs her, can find her, just like I've done in my own search.
Here's to us, who search for that extra lift. A hero that inspires our dreams and grows side by side with us as we live our real woman lives.
This self-proclaimed television junkie fully admits I love the medium. It's easy as it comes to me. I can watch in my pajamas, under a blanket while the snow falls and the temperature drops, eating my weight in chocolate.
Movies, while fun spectacles of light and sound in it two-story glory, can't always tell the full story. Plot lines are shortened, back stories almost non-existent. Television can take it's time.
Characters and plots can roll out slowly, and meander through a plot, like a river gliding through the countryside.
I like the bizarre characters, good writing, good acting and fresh stories. And there in a commercial I see it. My perfect show. Dirk Gently Holistic Detective Agency. In my head, it seemed like the best of both worlds. Detective shows (one of my favorite (with quirky characters and fun stories).
I got so much more.
Obviously by the title, it's a detective agency based in a different reality. Here there's time travel and fantasy elements. Just making it that much better. I was told once you couldn't mix genres. But this mixing creates an amusing tale that leads the viewer down a twisty, windy road. A little like following the white rabbit down the rabbit hole.
And yes. You can mix genres.
Slightly supernatural in that Dirk the detective, believes “It's all connected”, and it's that philosophy that lets Dirk glide from one clue to the next. He knows it will happen that way though he doesn't know what or when it will happen. He's adorable, he positive until he isn't and he walks through the case believing that it will turn out just fine.
Todd Brotzman, his unwilling partner, stubborn, lonely, working a dead-end job, is dragged through the adventure, sharing with Dirk the discovering of each new clue, he soon realizes just how true “It's all connected” really is.
There's Farrah, Amanda and Bart and Ken and the Rowdy Three, all quirky in their own manners, their own very different lives and psychic abilities. Each of them roll out to us slowly, confusingly as we wonder what their place is in this murder mystery. None of them are walking billboards for a type of person. They're all complex, multi layered people, who you love, you hate, you cheer for, you boo, depending on the episode. They're human, they're funny, they get frustrated, and upset as their worlds collide, and fall apart and they pick themselves back up, just like the rest of us.
I didn't even mind that I was thoroughly confused each episode, because you were meant to be confused. We were meant to experience the story in a frustrating, confusing way, just like the characters do. I couldn't wait for each episode just to experience the rainbow of emotions, fun and frustrating in each hour-long episode.
I couldn't wait for season two. And it didn't disappoint. They grew closer, they missed each other, they were so determined to find each other and solve the crime. Unwavering belief that “All things are connected”. And then they cancelled it.
Please bring it back. Please let me hide under the covers and wear a smile on my face for an hour as the friends take me on a bumpy ride through another case that will get solved because “It's all connected”.
I left with a little disappointment floating around my head. It wasn't what I had expected to be doing after a trip to Wizard World, one of the many comic cons that spring up every year. It could have been a totally cool conversation with a with an actress from a show that inspired my characters; the strong female character.
I fell in love with Buffy. The characters, the story arcs, the development and most importantly, I was impressed by Joss Whedon and his ability to create these real women. Women who are strong, who fall and pick themselves up and write their own rules.
I explained to Charisma Carpenter, the actress who played Cordelia Chase, how much I loved the show, the female strong female characters. I proclaimed my admiration for their creator, Joss Whedon and how his characters were the blueprint for how I developed my own characters.
She expressed her congratulations on my writing my books but asked me what I thought about the Joss Whedon news that had recently come to light.
I had no idea.
Charisma shared the news that while Joss was married, it is alleged he had multiple affairs and asked about my thoughts on that. My first thought, I could separate the two. The man who was raised by a feminist. A man who was a self-proclaimed feminist, who won many awards for his work.
But can I really separate the two?
It was disappointing to say the least. I had admired him for so long. What I felt was his true work, spoke to me, inspired me as I wrote about Annie Pearce., developing her in a way that made her a real woman, a strong woman. Buffy Summers as my model. Was it all fake?
As I grapple with the meaning of this news, I still feel that how Joss Whedon wrote women, was spot on. They feel real, they are relatable, and beautiful and smart and they each have flaws and issues and problems they face. Just like me. Just like my characters. That for me is real.
Is he entitled to write them? Yes he is. Do I have to admire him? I can admire the work that he has done. The characters that mean so much to me, but I no longer admire the man the way that I once was. He isn't perfect. But then, either am I. He doesn't have to apologize to me and I can still watch and love the characters that were created. Maybe some day I'll have different thoughts. For now, I'll move on to what's most important to me. Saying what I need to say about myself as a woman with dreams and goals. And maybe in the future, I should create my own blue print for the strong female character. I think I can do that.
I'm a television junkie, who in what I choose to watch, oftentimes finds strength and confidence. My choices run in cycles. I can be hooked on re-runs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed, only to grow restless for something different. There's been cycles with the Big Bang Theory or MASH and recently Gilmore Girls. Always choosing shows that have a personal connection, whether it was to a storyline or to a character.
My cycle now is an attachment to shows in which the female lead is struggling through a life event or doggedly pursuing a life's goal. As much as I watched Gilmore Girls, I came to realize that I didn't need every episode to satisfy this weird need. Just a handful of episodes held personal meaning for me. Right now, storylines about Lorelei buying and running her very own country inn, in both the original and the reboot, grab my attention and hold on tightly.
I've re-watched the fourth season as if it were my blue print for becoming a successful author. I cry when Lorelei cries, or cheer her on as though I'm unaware of the outcome. In that experience, I gain an odd sense of strength and confidence.
Grace and Frankie. Though I'm considerably younger than any of the main characters, and have nothing in common with them, I'm drawn to them and their struggles. It's a familiar theme of surviving a difficult change in life; trying desperately to pick oneself up off the ground and move forward. I'm not divorced and/or in my 70s but I do understand how difficult it is to discover yourself and how to achieve a dream. This hilarious show, and even funnier season, I can't stop watching the emotional roller coaster that comes with starting their own business. Yeah even selling vibrators come with unique challenges.
Choking back the tears, Grace and Frankie fight for their demographic, for their product with doubt and confidence at the same time. With each step they take forward, I can almost touch their goals too.
You may or may not remember the television show “Ed.” A quirky little show from the early 2000's; a NY City lawyer who divorces his wife and moves back to his home town, a small town in Ohio. He spends most of his time when not lawyering (his office is in the bowling alley he purchased in episode 1), pursuing the girl of his dreams, Carol Vessey, high school teacher, who went away and returned home.
The show's been a great easy watch, enjoyable and fun. That is until today's episode called the “The Proposal.” As you'd expect, Ed, the bowling alley attorney, proposes to Carol, after four seasons of back and forth. She says yes and that's not the point. What struck me in this episode is in his quest to create the perfect proposal, he finds a list his bride-to-be wrote when she was 16 years old; a list of her favorite things.
I've been trying for the last year to reinvent myself. Let all the difficulties of my life wash away, rediscover myself, who I am, what I like. And as I watched this episode, as Ed gave Carol her twenty-five favorite things, I wondered to myself, “What are my favorite things? What do I like?”
In no particular order:
Art imitates life, at least I can find inspiration in the stories I see. As I work towards obtaining my goal of writing for a living, publishing and selling my books, I found myself flocking to television shows that reflected my current journey.
I've been obsessed with shows before. It started with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I probably watched the entire show from pilot to finale three times, before I could no longer watch anymore. Leaving me to watch only the episodes that I truly love. I did it with Charmed and Supernatural too.
So as I searched for my newest obsession, I rediscovered Gilmore Girls. I'd already seen the entire series, but this time, there was something else. Lorelei Gilmore was opening her dream, The Dragonfly Inn.
I know this is only a television show. I know she's not real and The Dragonfly Inn is a fake set in California, but I relate to the sentiment.
I've said it here many times. I knew at the age of 7, I wanted to be a writer. I started crafting my own stories, modeled after the Nancy Drew book series. I created characters, dropped them into adventures and most importantly turned my day dreams into living, breathing stories.
And then life comes in and drags you down several paths, some your choice, others outside forces pull you somewhere else. After many years, I finally got a chance to go back to my dream, much like Lorelei. We both stepped off that cliff, took a chance. She opened her own inn, I published a book. I re-watch the episodes with a new point of view. I get emotional, it inspires me, I dream big. I can do this too. Yes I can.
My brain never shuts down. Stories and characters scream in my head, begging to be let out. I can't write fast enough to get all the ideas out on paper. I get anxious the closer I move toward publishing my book, to selling at Comic Con, to finding a publisher. And watching this amazing, strong, ambitious, character in Lorelei, achieve her dream, makes me laugh and cry, sometimes in that ugly cry sorta way.
Go get 'em Lorelei Gilmore, because if there's a dream, there's a way.
To order my dream, The Day of First Sun check out Amazon.com.
I love chai tea, I love the spice, the sweet, I just can't drink the latte anymore. So in my quest to find a non latte drink, I finally found a blend that I truly adore and decided to buy the loose tea at a tea store. Yeah, they really have those. As I entered the store, I noticed a song over the speakers and I had to ask the sales clerk if it was indeed “Walk Through the Fire,” from the musical episode from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The girl became excited and mildly surprised that I even knew that and my daughter responded by saying “Mom, you're such a dork.” Which is really the pot calling the kettle black.
While waiting for my order to be bagged, I found myself discussing the merits of Buffy and the show and the episode in question. What it comes down to is those that loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer understood just what the show was about. It wasn't just a female lead, but she was the strong female character, not a bitch, but a real woman who could be strong, could be insecure. The point is she's a real woman who deals with real issues and can still kick ass when she needs to.
We discussed our love of Buffy and how impressive the musical episode really was (Joss Whedon, creator not only wrote the episode he wrote all of the lyrics and music) I was reminded of the influence the show had on me as a writer and of my character Annie Pearce. As I write her, I think about how she should respond to the people and situations in her life. As I work through Annie, I'm always reminded of the honesty of Buffy. Annie can't always be strong, she can't always be right and she can't always need someone to get her out of her situations.
After I left I knew I needed to download the soundtrack. I needed the catchy songs and the reminder of how to write a character that struggles and endures. I just downloaded the music and as I finish my final draft of The Day of First Sun, I'm conscious of making sure Annie isn't too much of anything. That she's just right and that she's human.
Once More with Feeling is the constant struggle of finding ourselves and our place in the world and how we find our way to fitting in. The music brings me back to the struggle and influences how I write and edit and create a story that's believable and one that the reader can fall in love with the characters and in that love, they will want to stay and be there as they grow and change.
And yes, I'm a dork, proud of my love for the fantasy television show. But most importantly the show is mere fun.
As I start this blog entry I'm really want you to know I'm not trying to whine or complain. I'm just taking stock of the last year and making decisions. This is really meant to be a look back and maybe someone, somewhere can benefit from my mistakes. Or maybe you can relate or maybe this will make you feel better because things aren't as bad for you. Or maybe no one will read it. I can never be sure.
I'm seriously thinking of quitting. I'm not sure I have what it takes to be an independent author and maybe the last four years were simply the act of fooling myself into thinking I was actually a writer. Pros and cons cloud my mind as I contemplate giving it all up and I change my mind so fast that my head is ready to spin-off. I wish I had me to talk to when I started this process, when I decided to write my first book. This debate started when I released She Wulf and agonized over horrible reviews and it's come to this because I haven't sold a book in months. Granted I haven't been pushing them, I'm just starting to think it's not going to happen.
I know I've chosen a difficult path for myself and I know we all can't be best-selling authors, but I was hoping for something a little more. I at least put myself out there and I tried, but honestly, bad and so so reviews make me believe that my work is just that, so so and bad. Either that or I'm failing miserably finding my core audience. Regardless, I'm finding it difficult to find the inspiration to keep at it. So if my legacy in the end becomes a cautionary tale for other writers so be it. I'll just have to find that happiness somewhere else. In the meantime, I honestly feel like I have something useful to share. So here it is the many things I've learned about writing and publishing. I hope it inspires or helps, either way, it's one perspective that not many chose to share.
1) Editing. Hire a good editor. My first go round I went through CreateSpace. I'm not saying their editors are bad, I'm just saying it wasn't the perfect situation for me. I need someone who I could easily contact. Someone that I can throw ideas out to. Someone who intimately knows my book, story and characters. Before re-releasing The Day of First Sun, I had it re-edited. To this day I can still go to my editor, Ashley and ask her questions. She one of my biggest supporters and one of the reasons I've hung around this long.
2) Editing. Yeah. You really need to edit. Two drafts might be enough for some, but for me what I learned about editing is this, finishing one draft and starting the next one after only eight hours of sleep isn't long enough to process your work, think about the direction or come up with new and unusual plot points or characters. I edited The Day of First Sun at least six times, one right after the other. When I decided to re-write it last year, I picked it up for the first time after a full year, and boy did I see it differently. So much so it became a complete rewrite. Though the story is the same, it's really so different and I might say even better.
3) Editing. Again. See number one and two. Don't be afraid to re-write, move, or edit out stuff. I tried so hard to create the world in the first book that I wanted to include everything, including flashbacks, spells, and creatures. Write them down and save them for the next book. As it turns out, I removed the memory modification scene from The Day of First Sun. I think I'm actually using that spell in my second book in the series.
4) Editing. And you thought it was something else. Make sure you trust and like your editor. This one is for Kira, who after I received horrible, mean and nit picky reviews for She Wulf , she kept me sane, was a great support and took time out from her busy life to teach me new ways to write and edit. I wrote Yeti with her help. She spent weeks coming up with lesson plans and going through the story re-teaching me how to write and edit my work. I can never thank her enough for doing this on her own time. Her support has been amazing. I wish I was a better student and had more to show for it, but because of her my rewrite of The Day of First Sun is far better than it originally was.
4) Write everyday. And you thought it was about editing again. Nope. I'm done with editing. I wanted to be a writer when I was seven years old. I did write a lot when I was a kid. I had my own detective series with a female detective named Jeffrie Marcus. (Thanks Nancy Drew.) When I got my first job out of college I knew it wasn't going to be perfect and I knew I wouldn't write a book at first, so I worked my way into a writing position so that I could do what I wanted and make money while I contemplated my first love. Eventually life got in the way of my dream. Kids, death, depression can muck up your life and they are things you can't go back and change. It's the one thing I truly regret is that I stopped writing. So if you want to be a writer, write even if that means you write a line a day.
5) Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Tiberr, Instagram… Buffy had the Evil Trio as her arch nemesis. I have Twitter. You have to be social on social media if you are trying to sell your books. I have yet to master this which is part of my problem. Social media is not necessarily for introverts. I still have no idea how to make it work. I've hired help and she's been fabulous increasing my twitter following and Facebook author page, but I'm still at a loss as to how to create these relationships the marketing experts always talk about. I'm trying to build a following but for me I think I just don't know what to say. Find out who your audience is and what they are interested in and talk about that. If you figure it out please let me know.
6) The blog. Now here's my problem with blogging. I don't read blogs. I usually found the information very high level and not usually useful. Also, see number five. I just don't know what to say. I've been reworking and rewriting trying to find that one thing that gets people interested and every once and awhile I hit on something that people want to read. But mostly it's high level and quick because none of us has time to read lengthy material. What I do know is, talk about yourself and share. So here's my sharing.
7) Don't jump into self publishing unless you really know what it consists of. I jumped right away. I didn't edit my work enough. I rushed without learning about professional editing, without talking to agents, or attending book fairs. Talk to other authors, find out what's out there. Find someone like me who's willing to share the pitfalls. I've done this several times to other aspiring writers because I want them to go in knowing what they're getting themselves into. I wish I knew.
8) You can't please everyone. I have a writer friend who's had the opportunity to talk to agents and others in the book industry. Each one of them has offered her suggestions on how to change her book. She's made so many changes that the book is far from her original vision for it. I suggested she make changes that make sense and yet allow her to retain her vision. She's rethinking her book because unless one of the agents is taking her as a client, she can't try and please all of them.
9) You can't please everyone but you can accept suggestions. As part of eight, here's nine, similar and yet different. This friend once told me she really liked one of my characters, one that I had only written into the first half of the book. After discussing our books with each other, I realized she was right. I should include Jack Ramsey in the latter part of the book and planned how to do that. I figured an FBI agent whether he was in charge of the case or not would want to be there to see the case through and I had him conclude the investigation by being there to capture the murderer and arrest him. The second major change came after my editor pointed out that all of my relationships started before the book's timeline and that maybe it would be more interesting if we saw the start of some of those relationships. I thought about it, agreed and changed one of the key relationships in the book. Jack and Annie no longer knew each other prior to the story. It changes how they interact and creates a little tension and confusion. Make the changes that make sense, because you can't please everyone. Please yourself first.
10) Believe in your work. I love my characters. I love the story lines. I love my book series. I really believe I have a great idea for book series and a television show. If I don't believe that I should stop writing.
11) Most importantly, believe in yourself. No one else will. You will find supportive and helpful friends but only you can write and edit and do the things you need to do in order to make your dreams happen and you have to believe that you can do it. If you don't believe in yourself you won't get very far. You are a writer, you deserve a chance to try to make it. We don't always get what we want but if you have no faith in yourself, you will never achieve anything. And I discovered I believe that I can do this.
Am I bitter? Sometimes. Do I lack self-esteem? When it comes to my books, right now yes. But I've learned a lot in the last four years. And one of those things that I've learned is, I have a lot to offer. I'm a good writer with a good idea. It's just going to take me a little longer than some. And in reality I was never really going to quit. I'm a writer after all and that's what I was born to do.Continue reading
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933.
I was watching television the other day and I saw that commercial. You know, the one with the kid and he's looking up how to give a speech and he stumbles across Franklin D. Roosevelt's inaugural speech. Yeah that one. I never remember what that commercial is about, I just remember that. It gets me thinking about a monster that paralyzes most people. It's fear.
Always afraid of the unknown, I spent a lot of time not trying things, not doing things, hiding in the shadows or observing life as it passed by. Never fully reaching for whatever dreams I might be dreaming at the time, fearful of the failure or being made to look foolish for screwing up. It took me many years of my life to finally say I'm no longer afraid as I jumped feet first and wrote my first book.
It was important to stifle the fear, the fear of reviews, of people returning the book because they didn't like it, the fear of no one discovering all of my hard work and it just sitting there on my shelf collecting dust. I'm a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and in one of my favorite episodes called “Fear Itself.” It's about the gang and their plans for Halloween. They choose to attend a frat party where as you can imagine, living over the hell mouth, the night doesn't go as planned.
Before the party even started, one unsuspecting frat boy paints the Mark of Gachnar on the floor. He has no idea what this is, just that it's cool. Once a drop of blood from the character Oz lands on the mark, we see the floor change. In short, Gachnar, the demon of fear was just summoned.
As the party winds up, everyone attending soon faces their darkest fears and it is that fear that feeds the demon. Whether it's Xander's fear of being ignored, manifested by his turning invisible to his friends or Oz's fear of turning into a werewolf and hurting someone (he ends up in a bathtub vehemently trying to convince himself he won't change), or Buffy, thinking Willow is in trouble, runs to helps but falls into the basement where the dead start coming up from the ground and grabbing at her. She is visited by a dead man who tells her that no matter how much she keeps fighting, she will always end up in the same place. Each member of the Scooby gang runs from the fear. It separates them from each other leaving each of them to deal with their fears alone. As the gang finally realizes that their experiences are all in their mind, they are eventually able to find each other, coming together to conquer the demon.
When we finally see the demon for the first time, we might expect the same manner of demons that we have since the beginning of the show, strong, beefy, scary looking in their stature. Instead we see a demon that is all of four inches, if that. What the demon was able to do was take their basic fears and grow them until it paralyzed the owners. Buffy looks down and sees her opponent for the first time. Seeing what their fear really is, she simply raises a foot and steps on the demon, squashing it beneath her Keds.
We fear the unknown, the unfamiliar and unless we're willing to face our fears by staring them straight in the eye we can't squash. But if we say enough to the imaginary fear, we can stomp on them until there's nothing left.
My kid did something that I had wanted to do for years and it only took her a month to do it. She decided to watch Doctor Who, all seven seasons of the reboot. I never thought there was time, nor did I realize every episode was On Demand. So the kid got me hooked on yet another show which gets me thinking about time travel. The idea of being able to go anywhere in time and in the case of traveling with the TARDIS, anywhere in space as well.
If time were no longer a linear concept, would you take advantage of it? Where would you go? I might be intrigued and head to the past, my past specifically and visit my seven-year old self. I have so much wisdom I'd like to share with myself. Though changing my past my make my present unrecognizable. Maybe I should go and experience history, the greatest moments when events changed the world.
Since I have yet to see my future self in my present timeline, I can assume time travel hasn't been invented or perfected in the future. So it remains a science fiction concept and storyline. I can live with that and I can suspend my disbelief that time travel is plausible as long as the explanation makes sense. Think of Terminator. I can believe that Sarah Connor's protector came from the future and became John Connor's father. Because in the version of time travel I like to think is possible you can't go back to the past if you hadn't been there when the past was actually the present. Think of it this way, if you meet your future self today, because that future self came back to the past, you will be able to do it in the future because you came to this point in the past. If that didn't make sense than maybe this will, you won't be able to go to your past because you didn't meet yourself in the past already. And of course since I don't know you, maybe you have. In that case, I'd be very impressed and a little jealous.
When writing a series, like Annie and Cham I'm always dreaming of unique storylines that could hold the reader's attention. And in the middle of falling asleep on the couch and watching a documentary about Beowulf, I began imagining Annie in the past. More specifically, Annie as Beowulf, saving the world from something scary. She Wulf became a story of Annie's adventures in ancient England during the time of the Vikings. A chance for her to save the world from an indestructible demon, and in return, watch the demon's extinction. And when things didn't go Annie's way, she still remained hopeful. With the demon no longer in the present world, she knew she could resolve the situation and return home because she already had done it in the past. It was just now in her present that she actually remembers experiencing it.
I'm glad my daughter decided to watch Doctor Who. I enjoy the endless possibilities as a watcher, reader and writer. If you could would you travel to the past? Where would you go and who would you meet? Just remember, don't touch anything, talk to anyone or change history. You might not recognize where you return home to.
There's something about Annie. Rebekah Stoner doesn't know what it is about the woman who appears at several unrelated crime scenes in The Day of First Sun. But there it was, as the young and observant journalist has discovered, Annie is some kind of investigator, she doubts she's really with the Chicago Police Department, because why would she be at the murder scene of Princess Amelie? She wonders too, what was Annie doing at the FBI Agent Jack Ramsey's apartment late at night holding THAT book? And in book two, tentatively titled Heavenly Gifts, why then was she at the scene of the crime on the other side of the world?
Not all of the monsters in Annie's world are actually monsters or mythical creatures. In The Day of First Sun, Annie deals with her fair share of vampires, but there is something else lurking in the shadows that Annie will need to deal with if she is to survive intact and most importantly, undiscovered.
In many of the shows about super heroes, there is a constant theme that runs through each storyline, that one rule which is required in order for said hero to survive. Never reveal your secret. For Annie, that is hiding her true self, ensuring that the non magical world has no idea that magic exists in the world. When Annie and Cham are called in to solve the magical murder of the very famous Princess Amelie, they realize early on that hiding their secret with the rest of the world watching would be very difficult.
Charmed is a great example of this. On several occassions the sisters find themselves in a situation in which they are discovered or will be discovered. Their final time of being discovered costs their friend his job and they decide to fake their deaths, become other people all in the hopes that they can simply fade into a normal life. But they can't. They're still responsible for their magic, for the lives of others and it becomes imperative that they re-enter the real world and finish what they started.
In my creation, if there are missteps, what would the consequences be for Annie and Cham and all their friends and family. Would they be arrested, brought in and poked and prodded, examined to learn their differences? Would they have to fake their own deaths, run away and hide and become someone else. This becomes Annie's most challenging monster yet, the journalist whose determined to find out who she really is.
In my world, the non-magical world becomes a character. A monster that needs to be controlled because if the non magical world discovers their secret, that would be their downfall. So here's to that monster and holding it back so Annie may live another day.Continue reading