Influences and Inspiration 

I’ve been asked a few times recently, who do I aspire to be like? That answer is simple. No one. I don’t want to be the next what’s-her-name, or be seen as so-and-so’s antithesis. I want my story to be one that is appreciated on its own.

However, I am sure my influences will be seen in the novel. 

As a reader, I search for books that have something that excites me. Something that sparks my interest and keeps me reading. That may be a well written fantasy novel (Anthony Ryan, Brent Weeks, Susan Dennard), or a genre specific series (Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris), or even a true horror story (Jeanne Kalogridis, Jonathan Maberry, Adam Nevill, Christopher Golden, Anne Rice). Of course, I would hope to bring the same excitement to my readers. 

Do I feel I can paint a landscape like Anthony Ryan? No. Do I feel I could surpass the success of those who came before me? I don’t know. Do I think I can create tension and grab the reader, sinking my claws in and immersing them into my world? I hope so.

Have I pulled elements from what I’ve read? Of course. There is not a writer alive who hasn’t used the techniques, landscapes, phrasing, or even simple genre outlines of their predecessors. 

Honestly, what is the point of writing if you are not well read? How would you determine if you had something worth reading?

As for inspiration, mine comes from many different aspects of my life. I’ve always heard, “Write what you know.” I agree with that wholeheartedly. Speculative Fiction is an exciting way to put twists and turns on what people already know and accept. However, in order to make something widely accepted new and exciting, you must know the essentials of the world (or in my case, monsters) you want to write about. I grew up on Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark. I ventured onto Fear Street. I craved movies that made me shriek or want to close my eyes. Eventually, that led me to picking up anything that showcased monsters. For years, horror was the only genre I would read. The rest wasn’t worth my time. So, I was inspired to add my own manuscript into the mix. What better company could I hope for than that which shaped my mind?

Music is another huge inspiration. I have always had the ability to visualize scenes when music plays. While writing, I am never without my headphones. This is most prevalent in my character Nicholas. I have quite literally used a specific artist’s entire body of work to form his character. While listening to this artists music I was inspired to create a balance to my main character. He is everything she isn’t, but wants to be. However, not all of his qualities are good. He is jealous, quick tempered and very much alpha-male. Can I say that about the artist? Of course not. I don’t know him personally, but that’s why it’s called inspiration.

Music is also a great inspiration for setting a scene. On the front page of this blog, you will see the original “soundtrack” to the novel. All have inspired specific scenes within the book and have helped me set the mood while writing. As the book has taken shape, other artists and genres have come into play. While I relish hard-rock, I’ve had to step away from it from time to time to find different kinds of inspiration. “Levels” – Nick Jonas and “Cake by the Ocean” – DNCE have been on rotation since adding a clubesque scene. “Come Crashing” – Digital Daggers and “Love Me Like You Do” – Ellie Goulding were added when I decided there needed to be some romance. 

I am also inspired by the people around me. I own a coffee mug that states, “I’m a writer, anything you say or do may end up in a novel”, and it’s true. When you hear a funny joke, do you keep it to yourself? Of course not. When you hear an asinine, or provocative story, do you say to yourself “better bottle that one up?” No. You tell someone. Being observant is part of being a writer. Sometimes that means conversations, anecdotes, or simple body language, are observed and translated to paper.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few influences and have barely struck the nail of my inspirations, but that’s all I have for today. Maybe I will touch on others later.

Happy Reading!

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What Constitutes a Distraction?

Over the past few months I have let a multitude of things take time away from my writing. I have three adorable dogs, a feisty cat and an adoring husband. I have a best friend, who is also an author, that loves to drag me off to do any number of fun things. I have a close-knit family that demands my time. But I cannot label any of them distractions. I have a life outside of my writing.

So, what constitutes a distraction?

My husband and I had this discussion last night. I told him I needed to focus on my writing. He lovingly reminded me that we had no food in the house and a trip to the grocery store was more important. I jokingly said, “There you go, distracting me again.”

He rolled his eyes and grabbed his keys. “You always say that to me.”

It’s true. I tend to say that often, even when I don’t really mean it. I realized I may be making him feel unwanted, possibly even unloved. It made me want to clarify what I deemed a distraction.

I have my own library, and while that is a wonderful thing, it rarely offers the solitude I need in order to write productively. My dogs do not like being banned from whatever space I am in. They will whine, bark and try to scratch their way through the door. If allowed into the room, they want to be the center of attention, many times planting themselves between me and whatever I am focused on at the time. Then, if my husband is home, he likes to be in whatever space I am occupying (I know, it’s tooth-achingly sweet, right) and I love that about him, but he also wants to talk to me. Doesn’t matter what I am doing. He will plop himself in the floor and strike up a conversation. (He loathes silence.)  Yet, I love his company and never want to kick him out. Plus, even as a non-reader, he is very good at helping me overcome my writers block. He can talk me through any issue I am having. He can help me see it from a new perspective. He has given me insight on character development and how to break down a scene to make it work. He even came up with the title for my book. However, there are times when I need it to be only me and my pen, or computer. I need the solitude, the quiet space, to let my words flow.

Another huge distraction for me is my cell phone. I never get calls or texts until I boot up my computer. While I love that everyone, and their dog, now wishes to communicate with me, I have now decided “blackout times” are my only option. Having a close-knit family, we are in constant communication. I have sisters, nieces, nephews. I have loving friends who wish to share their every move with me. I adore this about every one of them. I wouldn’t change it. But now, I post on Facebook when I am going “dark”. I still end up with multiple texts, tags and calls but they know I will get back to them when the “blackout” is over.

Family (even fur-babies) and friends, need to know they are still a priority in a writers life, but I have found that telling them you need time for your craft is something they understand. Some will even be excited that you have taken the time to truly focus and finish what you are currently working on.

So, what constitutes a distraction? Honestly, whatever you let be a distraction. That book you’ve been reading. The noises outside your window. The dogs trying to claw their way through your door. Your husbands hesitant knock on your office door.

Set your boundaries. Let people know when you need alone time, but don’t let the word “distraction” stop you from caring for the people around you.

An Update

This last week I have been forcing myself to focus. I got off track for a while and decided I needed to clear my head and figure out what was going on with me. For some reason I had convinced myself to stop writing the novel. INSANE, I know. I just couldn’t bring myself to put pen to paper (yes, I’m a purist that way).

So, what did I do?

I purchased a workbook on writers block. It is meant to help you figure out why you convince yourself to pause in your writing career.

I came to a very odd, and albeit confusing conclusion.

I don’t want to be famous.

Weird, right?

I didn’t even know I had this complex until I made myself sit down and hash it out. I am not one for crowds. I don’t like to be the center of attention. I know in the back of my mind that there is the possibility of book signings, conferences, places where I may be asked to do some public speaking. This is what terrifies me. It is not the possibility of not being published. It is not the underlying dread of “Well, what if no one likes it”. Honestly, I am writing this book for me. This is the book want to read.

I have no delusions of being the next J.K. Rowling. Hell, I have no delusions of being the next Laurell K. Hamilton, but the possibility sends a shock of horror through me every time I consider it.

This can’t be normal.

With this knowledge, I am pressing on. I am eight solid chapters in and I refuse to give up. The novel itself is nearly written. Now, I just have to put the rest of it together and make it what I know it can be.

Why Twitter Gives Me Hope

Social media is a fun and engrossing experience for most people these days. I am addicted to Pinterest and Twitter, but maybe not for the reasons everyone else is. I love seeing the struggles of those who are already successful. I don’t mean that to sound rude or hateful. I simply mean, it is nice to know that even as a successful author, they go through the same struggles as us “starving artists”. 

I know I can look at something I’ve written and want to rip it apart. I know my weaknesses in my writing and I can see every flaw. Yet, when I hand it over to someone to read, the reaction is never what I expect.

Here’s to those still struggling to finish up edits from NaNoWriMo and to those just starting. Hang in there. It will be difficult and sometimes painful, but those who came before you are going through, or have gone through the exact same thing.

Didn’t Hit 50,000

Not that I am going to let that hold me back, but I was hoping to have enough typed up to hit the mark. I know I still have a ton already written. However, I have allowed myself to be completely distracted this week. With Thanksgiving, and my husband being off work most of the week, I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write.

Lacking the distractions this week held, I will be off for 3 weeks coming up. I know Christmas and dental surgery will fall into those three weeks but it should work out to where I have a week off, then Christmas/dental stuff, then another week off. I do seem to do better when I have a schedule, so maybe I will plan one out in advance this time.

Good vs Evil

What makes a character inherently good or inherently evil? What if the character remains neutral? Does that land the character on one side or the other by default?

This is one theme I am always drawn to. It is present in a good majority of my favorite novels and is present in most of the video games I play.

For example, in Dragon Age 2 (my favorite video game), Hawke, the main character is thrown into the midst of a rebellion. The game opens up on a scene of him/her fleeing their homeland to outrun the dangers in his/her hometown. We find out that Hawke or his/her sister is a mage and that his/her brother is not. Within the game, mages are seen as evil creatures. Their powers stem from the demonic and therefore everyone is afraid of them. They lock them away so they cannot harm others.

Within the context of the game we learn this is not true. Most mages are good. However, as the game progresses, we see the age old adage, absolute power corrupts absolutely, play out in extreme ways.

Hawke, throughout, tries to remain a neutral party, both within the rebellion and amongst his/her companions. Of course, this can be played in different ways. Hawke can choose a side, but keep in mind, either Hawke is a mage or his/her sister is and their brother is not.

Hawke is also raised by a mage Father. This puts him/her in a very precarious position either way.

However, by remaining neutral, Hawke is forced to see the abuses of both sides. The Templars claim to only want to protect people by forcing the Mages into cells and locking them away from their families. The Mages only desire small freedoms but many are willing to gain their freedom by extreme means.

Hawke is also forced to witness murder, for the sake of his/her companions safety.

So, this again begs the question, does remaining neutral place you on one side or the other by default?

These are questions I hope to raise in the course of my novel! Let’s see how it plays out for my characters.

Happy Reading!

Nearly 12,000 Words

It is day 16 and I have nearly 12,000 words. It seems like a lot but that just means I have started on Chapter Six. I am enjoying slowly revealing the ties between the characters. I am also enjoying writing a “good” character. That is something new for me. Most of my characters are quite dark. I knew I needed someone to balance the scales a bit. His name is Nicholas Lycanos and he is the Alpha-Were of my novel.

I always found it odd that supernaturals were always pitted against each other (in nearly everything I’ve read to date), so I decided, instead of having the different types going at it, I would create factions of supernaturals. This means, vampires fighting vampires, witches fighting witches… etc.

The main character in my story is a vampire who is betrothed to the Alpha and best friends with a witch. I have not yet decided if this means they will not have children, or if their children will be hybrids but we shall see. Maybe they won’t even stay together. It’s honestly too early to tell.

NaNoWriMo

I am still waiting for my coffee to kick in, so I figured, why not start a blog about my writing. That way friends and family, and possibly future fans could keep up with my progress.

My goal, as is most who participate in NaNoWriMo, is 2,000 words a day. I have not been good about sticking to it. This is in large part due to the fact that the book is (mostly) already written and I do love to procrastinate. The book has been 3 years in the making. I have put it off time and time again. There is something quite terrifying about writing something so close to your heart. Granted, the last time I set it aside was simply because every time I looked at it I just got angry.

writing

Now, I have gone through the slightly horrific process of adding a new character to an already written story, but I am finding he provided the balance I needed for the novel.

So, I’m sure everyone is like, yay… good for you… but what is the story actually about?

I have been a horror junkie most of my life. So naturally, when I began writing, I knew I would want to delve deeper into the genre. I decided I needed to see the vampires I grew up with. Dark, dangerous, pretty darn evil. I also wanted a character people could connect with. In short, I set about creating vampires that pulled from all the old and new vampire tales. My vampires are true immortals. They do not glitter or burn in the sun. They hearken from the Fallen. Most are over the battle over good vs. evil and try to live fairly normal existences, for a vampire, anyway. Supernaturals are the few, and very few. Humans become feral when exposed to their blood. They do not need to kill to survive, but that doesn’t stop some of them from doing it anyway. Supernaturals live in a semi-peaceful existence with one another, due to the fact that they all come from the same place. Vampires are born, not turned (see above).

And that’s just a few facts about the book itself.

Well, I am off to pursue another 2,000… wish me luck!