Wednesday, July 11, 2018

On Pseudonyms

I've started writing a creative nonfiction project which I hope can be self-published by the autumn. But I've decided already that I'll be publishing it under a completely different pseudonym, for reasons.

As many of you know, the name I write under--Michelle Athy--isn't my legal name. Michelle is my middle name. Athy is my real last name. I write under that name for a few reasons. I don't like my real first name, it's too distinctive. The name is part of my real name but different enough that it wouldn't cause issues in Real Life.

I know a lot of romance authors use pseudonyms: Courtney Milan, for instance. And some authors use different pen names for different genres.

I'm hardly an established author by any means, but I have written stories in different genres already and they all used my author name--and most of the things I'm working will be published under Author Name, whenever that may be.

But not this particular memoir/creative nonfiction thing. I haven't decided what the name will be, but it is an interesting thing--like, do I have to have an email under that name? What about social media? How do I promote the thing without linking Michelle Athy me--which admittedly is pretty easily connected to Real Me if you know where to look--to the thing?

Frankly, the idea of having yet another email and twitter for a pen name I'll probably only use the once sounds exhausting.

Do you use a pen name? How did you come up with it?


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

IWSG July 3rd!


It's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group post, one day earlier than usual because the first Wednesday this month is the day us Americans eat too much and shoot explode-y things off in the air. 

Getting on to the July IWSG question: 

What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time?

Well. How haven't my writing goals changed over time? I've referred to myself as a "recovering writing major" a few times because at least at my college, the Writing program was very focused on literary fiction. And while I knew I didn't fit in to that whole thing--there was no way in hell I was MFA-bound--I did still have that weird fog of wanting to write the Great American Novel. 

That's gone now. 

I always wanted to write novels and I was always a bit frustrated in workshop classes because we only ever wrote short stories. Well, I still want to write novels, but I seem to be writing short stories these days and I'm totally cool with that. Short stories come easier to me. Now, I'm a little frustrated that I can't seem to sustain a plot long enough for a full-length book.

Knowing that, I'm taking my time writing a first draft/outline for a full-length book. It's not the Great American Novel--it's a contemporary romance--but I know my weak spots in writing. I know they always have to do with plot and structure.

So my primary goal with this first draft/outline has been to nail the structure and the plot. I want to make sure that the conflicts are strong enough, the stakes feel appropriate, and that the story isn't repetitive. The ultimate goal is to have a book that doesn't fall apart at some point in the middle.

My ultimate writing goals: a book-length plot, novels that entertain and inform, novels that show diversity as natural and a strength no matter the time period they take place in.


Friday, June 29, 2018

Books To Read When the World is a Dumpster Fire

Hey y'all.

It's hot as hell here in New York today. New York has this particularly humid quality during the summer that makes everything sticky.

I keep hearing rumors that in some regions of the country, there's this thing called a dry heat. What does that feel like? I've never experienced a summer with dry heat.

Anyway. The world feels like an increasingly dumpster fire-like place. When the world feels fairly doom-laden, I find it hard to be creative. Also, with limited time at the moment to be creative, the doom-laden parts of current events weigh a bit more because writing is not only a deep hobby and a continual puzzle and pursuit of mine, it's also my major mental, emotional, and creative outlet. So even if I want to unload issues in writing, sometimes I find that I can't because the world sucks or I'm just really tired or really, I only want to watch YouTube and not do anything else.

And that's when reading comes in.

I'm 5 books ahead of where I should be in my Goodreads reading goal.

For me, of course, my solace reading is usually something romance. I've read a lot of contemporary romance this year because a) I'm trying to write a contemporary romance and b) I've been wanting to read more diverse stories and many of the diverse authors and stories I want are contemporary set.

My other solace reading is fanfiction, which is truly when I want to read something but my brain is like, "I want words but I want to shut off."

But I always like to try to explore other genres as part of my annual reading challenge, too. This year, I've read a couple of books I missed reading as a kid because I was never a big fantasy reader as a child: A Wrinkle In Time and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. They were wonderful.

I've read a couple of travel memoirs. They were different in style and in where the authors traveled, but I loved reading about different cultures, languages, ambiences, and food.

My friend Krystal released a supernatural and fantasy novel earlier in this year--fantasy is a really good escape when the world feels like it's falling apart. I mean, think about The Lord of the Rings, which I was obsessed with in high school and college. Middle-Earth is in peril. Everyone fights to save it from certain destruction.

My favorite book this year is a steampunk novel set in China during the Opium Wars, called Gunpowder Alchemy.

I try to read enough nonfiction in the course of a year because I like learning things. You never know what'll prove useful or inspiring for fiction, for one thing. I tend to read history and generally, when someone takes the time and research to write about something historical, it's because that subject or time period was a true dumpster fire of a time.

So in a way, that's consoling?

What do you do when the world is tilted on the wrong axis? Do you read? What do you read?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

"But this is America--this is not who we are." (Spoiler Alert: It's exactly who we are)

Unless you've been living under a rock in the past week, you've probably seen news stories and Twitter feeds about migrant Central American children coming into the United States with their parents to escape any numbers of dangerous situations seeking asylum, only to be separated--the parents sent to one place, arrested, deported; the children sent to detention centers and not let go to be with their parents.

I've been seeing a lot of "This is wrong, this is immoral"--which it is--but I'm seeing a lot of "This is un-American." Now what exactly does that mean? "This is un-American. This is not who we are as a nation."

I feel like that's either a call to American exceptionalism, an overly optimistic view of the American government and nation, or a lack of knowledge of our history.

I didn't put this list together to diminish anything that's going on today, because yes, I see some unsettling echoes of bad eras of history going on. But honestly, y'all--the United States has done some shitty shit to people in the past and it's doing shitty things to people now. I personally don't know people who approve or want any of this crap to be taking place, but they are. These sorts of things are not new and we need to reckon with the past and solve the present so our future can be full of less crap.

Also, this list is not comprehensive because that would take too long.

When you don't know history, you are bound to repeat it. When you don't know history, you are bound to let your government repeat it.

(And yes, I know, the American people and the American government are not the same entity. But since the government does things "in the interests of American citizens," there you go. This has been our country. This is our country.)

How do we get those kids out of cages and reunited with their parents? How do we grant asylum to people fleeing unstable countries? How do we improve our immigration laws?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Reading Challenge 2018: 20 Books!

Woohoo! I have finished my twentieth book of 2018, putting me something like 4 books ahead of where Goodreads says I should be, which means I can now take my sweet time with the other books I want to read.

Here's what I've read:


11. A Princess In Theory (Reluctant Royals #1) by Alyssa Cole. Fiction/ Romance/Contemporary Romance. 3 stars.












17. The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction To Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker. Nonfiction/Human Sexuality/LGBTQIA/Asexuality. 4 stars.


18. Gundpowder Alchemy (The Gunpowder Chronicles #1) by Jeannie Lin. Fiction/ Sci-Fi and Fantasy/Steampunk/Action and Adventure/Romance/Nineteenth Century/China. 5 stars.


19. Clockwork Samurai (The Gunpowder Chronicles #2) by Jeannie Lin. Fiction/Sci-Fi and Fantasy/Steampunk/Action and Adventure/Romance/Nineteenth Century/China/Japan. 4 stars.