Monday, December 10, 2018

Where's My Writing Been This Year?

So recently, I read a post by a writing acquaintance. She was a self-published author but she's one of the few self-published authors who got picked up by a publisher and now her series is being reissued in trade. She was talking about how she couldn't keep up with the quick release dates necessary for self-publishing success and how having a publisher means more distribution for her work. Which is great! I'm so happy for her!

But it made me think about what and where I've been with my writing, because if I thought I was unfocused last year, then this year's been worse. Granted, until I quit one of my jobs in September, I was exhausted and working bizarre hours and stressed out and depressed, which is not a good recipe for being creative, at least for me.

I've written and finished two short stories this year--one is in my files, waiting for a home, and the other entered into a contest. I'm tinkering with a third short story. I have the half-written, half-organized creative non-fiction project on my computer, though I'm not sure if I'll ever go back to that. I have the beginnings of a contemporary romance, one of my Broadway romance stories. I have plot bunnies.

I'm...not terribly interested in actually writing any of them, though. And that's fine. Writers go through cycles and phases and inspiration and wanting to hibernate and read rather than write. Maybe it's time to fill the inspiration cup rather than piece it together in a creative piece.

I've had the inkling for a few years now that as much as I dream of being a full-time author, I'm probably not actually cut out for that, at least not now. I've enjoyed self-publishing the little bit that I've done, but I'm a slow writer even when the writing's flowing, so "success"--whatever your definition of that is--is unlikely to catch me as a self-published author. And whatever, that's fine. I'll be thrilled when I actually finish an entire novel and self-publish that dang thing.

But I can't write and release a book every three months. And though I'd LOVE to be agented and published by a publisher, that's a fucking crapshoot and it comes with its own set of pressures and expectations.

So as usual, here I am going against received writing wisdom: I'm not writing everyday, I'm writing when I feel inspired to. I'm not writing for a daily word count or daily page count or writing for a specified amount of time each other; I'm writing for as long as I feel like writing, pausing and changing and mulling over where the characters can and should go next in their story. I'm trying not to obsess over story structure or the plot too much and just letting the characters lead me around their world. Because getting back to the basics of "I'm creating this character and they're doing things in a world I'm making up and omg, wouldn't that be cool if I wrote that into this story" is the magical bean of storywriting.

And maybe that sounds like creative writing is more of a hobby at the moment than a "serious" attempt at crafting a fictional story, but if that's what it is and that's what I can manage right now, then so be it.

Millennials are known for monetizing every hobby and interest we have because we've come of age in this recession-induced gig economy. I will finish a longer piece of writing that I'm mildly satisfied with again, at some point. And I'll probably decide to self-publish it because I'm impatient and the publishing industry takes too damn long. And maybe some people will buy it and review it and tell their friends. That'd be cool.

I mean, it'd also be cool if a few hundred people bought it and liked it and reviewed it and then told a few hundred of their friends and so on...

So clearly, my thoughts of world domination via story aren't completely gone :-)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

IWSG December



It's the first Wednesday of December and time for the last IWSG post of the year 2018! The Insecure Writer's Support Groups posts of their writerly insecurities every first Wednesday of the month, founded by Alex J. Cavanagh. Check out the group here. 

This month's IWSG question is fun:

What are five objects we'd find in your writing space?

1. My laptop

Also the instrument of my greatest distractions, my laptop is where I write in spurts.

2. Notebooks

I like to jot down my story ideas by hand on paper, so I have notebooks for separate story ideas and a small one for carrying around with me and jotting down ideas on the go. They live on my nightstand, right beside the recliner in which I perch.

3. Mug

Usually filled with either tea or water.

4. Books

Said recliner is wedged next to a bookshelf, where my ever-expanding book collection is. I don't re-read my books as much as I used to, but they are shelved right next to me and I can grab one quickly if I need to look something up.

5. Lin-Manuel Miranda candle

On my desk, less than a foot away from my recliner, there's a lot of junk. But the Lin-Manuel Miranda candle is not junk, though I've never lit it. A friend bought it. I look at my Lin candle and and remember how much writing he gets done. My life is significantly less chaotic that his, so I can very well not play CandyCrush this one time and get some writing down.




Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Interview with House of Falling Embers author Krystal Jane Ruin!

My friend Krystal Jane Ruin released her fourth book on October 1st and I finally finished reading it a few days ago! As per tradition, I asked her a few questions about the story!

House of Falling Embers is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, and other online retailers!


Once upon a time there was a witch. She was a kind witch, but that didn’t matter. The people were afraid, and fear often turns to hatred.
When Artemis was thirteen, her best friend Aris was swallowed by the crumbling house they found in the woods. Like a coward, she abandoned him to the horror within.
She moved away. She tried to forget. But when she finds herself back in her old neighborhood after college, the ghosts—and her guilt—are waiting. A charred figure stalks her dreams, and someone, or something, haunts her from the trees.
Going back into the woods might be the only way to save her sanity.
Because nine years later, the house is still there. Still waiting. Still restless.
On with the interview!
1. Can I gush about the cover and how well it goes with the story? So great! How did the cover come together? 
Thank you! It was a bit of journey. I knew I wanted trees on the cover, but there are so many things you can do with trees and running amok online was driving me crazy. I finally just sketched some concepts and went with one of those. The easiest decision to make was with the font. I’m really into fonts and such, and I loved the idea of doing a textured and gradient effect with the title. 

I definitely wanted everything to be purple, but in my initial email with the designer, I completely forgot to mention it, so my first two mock-ups came back with just purple font. The colors on the first mock-up were too warm, which made the forest, house, and book title kind of blur together. She did cooler hues on the second concept, and there was also a person on that cover, but it gave the book a ghost-thriller vibe that didn’t work for this story. She suggested then that we make everything purple, like a mind-reader, and I was totally up for that, of course! 


2. So, most of Artemis' storyline seemed to be based in, like, reality--I mean, the book is 

fantasy, but she has work problems and relationship problems, just like all of us do. 
How did you find writing those more mundane parts for you? 


I actually really liked it. I don’t often get carried away with the more contemporary aspects of a 
story. I think the familiar setting contributed to that, because I didn’t do it on purpose. But I got 
to use a different set of writing muscles, and it was definitely more fun for me than I would have
thought before diving into it. I feel like I often forget to round out my stories with more normal 
and every day kind of things. So, it makes sense that my brain would pop out something more 
rooted in reality than usual. 

3. You love fairytales! Was this based on one?

It was! I didn’t quite stick to my original idea, but it’s definitely Hansel & Gretel inspired.
Originally, it was set in olden times, and Artemis was a seamstress apprentice and engaged to
a grain farmer. She temporarily moves back in with her parents to plan her wedding, and while
there, she’s literally and emotionally haunted by the past. So, the concept mostly held up, but
while it sat in a drawer, it turned into a more modern kind of beast. 



4. I wanted more Greta and her story---where did she come from? Is there any chance you'd tell 
more of her tale?


I love Greta! Artemis, Aris, and Greta all have fairytale equivalents, so they were the first
people to sprout up with the idea. When I was still in the brainstorming process, Greta was
going to be in the story a bit more, but once I started writing, things took a turn, as things are
prone to do.   

It’s not likely I’ll go back and write some kind prequel with her. My brain is very cluttered, and
I’ve yet to finish any kind of sequel or companion story to anything. But I love the thought of it,
and I don’t ever like to rule anything out, because I never know what my brain is going to latch
onto.

Thanks for having me over! Interviews are so fun. ^_^


You can find Krystal at her website, The Narcissistic Rose. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

NYC from different perspectives

I've been noodling around with story ideas in the past week, including finally getting some actual word count words down on my Broadway romance idea, the first of four stories. It's...not going to be done any time soon, guys.

But thinking of that story world again is bringing me back around to one of the core components of the stories--the setting, my hometown, New York City.

Today we are having our first snow of this autumn/winter. It was supposed to be slushy sleet but no, it's definitely sticking-to-the-ground snow. Also, you may have heard that Stan Lee of Marvel Comics died a few day ago. Stan Lee was born in Manhattan and grew up in the Bronx. He set many of the Marvel comics in New York. You can read about some of them here.

Peter Parker aka Spiderman is supposed to be from Queens!

Of the eight main characters in my stories, two are Queens natives, one was born in Brooklyn and raised in the suburbs on Long Island, and one was born and raised in New Jersey, the state New Yorkers make fun of. Some of the characters have recent immigrant roots while others have more distant migration in their backgrounds--and because it's contemporary and theater and based in New York, these characters are diverse (to the point where my best friend was like, "He's half what and half what? Did you pick those two ethnicities out of a hat?")

The other four characters are a mix of visitors and transplanted residents.

I've read very little fiction set in New York--but I've seen New York portrayed on TV and in movies.

And it either makes me cringe (ugh, the accents; I swear, not all of us sound like that) or just shake my head in New Yorker fact checking ("That is not anywhere near that. How'd they get there so fast? How come the subway isn't delayed? Where's the cat in this bodega? How can she afford this apartment in that neighborhood? Why is everyone on this show white?")

I feel like people who move here--excluding immigrants for a second, although immigration is a huge part of New York's past, present, and future--tend to come with "ooh, this place is bright and shiny!" or with "Ugh, this place is overcrowded, dirty, unfriendly, loud, and too expensive" attitudes. Both points of view are valid. Then there are the rich people who stick to their rich people enclaves, but I don't know any, so we won't talk about them.

Broadway is part of the bright and shiny of New York City, but Broadway actors experience the graft that artists anywhere experience--with the added pressure that New York City is expensive and theater is, like all creative careers, hard to get into.

You may have heard that Amazon is splitting its second headquarters between northern Virginia and Long Island City, which is a Queens neighborhood right on the East River. When I was a kid, Long Island City was pretty industrial--a lot of warehouses--though it always had its residential areas. In the last five, ten years, Long Island City has really boomed as people are priced out of Manhattan and even parts of Brooklyn. Now that Amazon looks like it's coming to Queens, there's real anxiety that the prices and rents in Long Island City and Astoria will become ridiculous and that that'll ripple on down the subway line further into Queens.

Gentrification is real in New York and just like in RENT, the first gentrifiers of a neighborhood are often artsy types. And then the tech and finance bros follow. And then new buildings start going up. Then prices go up. Then small stores start closing or turning over, unable to afford jacked up rent.

This is why New Yorkers do a lot of, "Oh, wait. Didn't that used to be...?" when pointing at stores or buildings.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

IWSG November


It's IWSG time again! The Insecure Writer's Support Group posts every first Wednesday of the month. Our co-hosts for November are:


And the IWSG question this month is: Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor,Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman!

How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

In short...I started writing as a kid, so I don't really remember much of life without writing. I used to draw a lot with crayons as a child--houses, anatomically incorrect people, but though I liked the different colors, I was mostly drawing things and making up stories about whatever was going on in my picture. 

And while I like other creative endeavors--I grew up in a city full of museums and theaters--I can't sing, dance, act, paint well or really even like talking to other people, so writing is my creative outlet.