Action vs. Thought: Meet the Reapers

As promised, I’ll be doing an entry today about the assassins living in the world of the Reave series: Reapers. Though the MC is not one, the entire series basically revolves around them – the things they do, the situations they bring about, what they cause, how all of it is dealt with. So, I can just as easily say the series is about assassins as I can say it’s a story of self-discovery. It all just depends on how you look at it and if you’re focusing on the growth of the MC, or the story as a whole.

(At the risk of starting this off in a confusing manner, I’ll say there are two named ‘categories’ I suppose, both of them beginning with the letter R. It can get a bit O.o, but . . . it happens.)

Maybe I should set up the world a little, to put the Reapers and their place in it into perspective. There are ‘cities’ (don’t think skyscrapers, just large places where many people are – it was just the word used). They have different ways of running, though that doesn’t come into play until later, as the MC is only in one and clearly couldn’t know how all of them function. Anyway, the only thing tying all of them together is the existence of Reapers. Every city has them, every city uses them for whatever purposes (clearly fun purposes, right?).

As I said in the last entry (Inspiration: One Word), there are no guns. With Reaper being the word that started it all, it completely started with them. I began getting a clear view of them before I sat down and started writing the MC. There were things I wanted from them, and things I didn’t want. No guns. It’s scary to think a person could shoot you from however far off and you could fall over dead at any moment that way, but scarier (in my opinion) by far when they come for you. I like the thought of having to literally face your own demons – mortality, judgment, consequences, etc. So, in a way, they’re the physical manifestation of a lot of things that may typically only take place inside a person’s head. And I love that – the symbolism and all.

It’s not just about killing with them. They train their entire lives, not only to kill, but to deceive – to infiltrate, adapt, blend, prevail, move on, repeat.

I don’t want to say it, but deception is the basis of the entire series. It’s a terrifying thing, I think, attempting to trust people. I’m not talking ‘I trust you to be somewhere when you say you will be’ . . . I’m talking ‘I trust you with my life’. Because how could you really trust a person with that? And I think a lot of that is getting into whether or not we can ever really trust ourselves, with everything, all the time. I don’t want to get into that because the rambling I could do about it isn’t relevant enough here.

One thing I want to point out is part of the title: Action vs. Thought.

Despite ‘assassins’ (enough said there) . . . action was not the point of it to me. It’s the thought involved – why, what it all does. As much as I’m not immune to the excitement of a good explosion, I don’t like thoughtless violence. I don’t like the thought that violence is inflicted with no personal consequences that follow – the guilt of having to live with it, to attempt accepting it, to try carrying on. You can try escaping the reality that it would – or should – affect a person, even in a book, but I think that’s such a shame. Not to mention how large an injustice it is. I wanted the Reapers to be as real as I could make them – sometimes seemingly heartless, sometimes broken, haunted, but always flawed. We’re all flawed enough, but to do the things they do . . . they would have to be. If you could break someone’s neck and feel absolutely nothing . . . you need some help.

I guess I can add here that some of the Reapers in the series need some help. (In a lot of ways.)

Obviously characters get injured and/or die in the series, despite the focus. Come on now. Assassins. Don’t expect it right out of the gate. I’m sorry, but it’s not a bloodbath from the get-go. Every bit of action, every attack, every injury, every death, every anything like that has a purpose. It’s not there if it isn’t needed, even if it would make it SO MUCH MORE entertaining. And trust me, there are some things along those lines that I WISH I could take out (you have no idea how badly), but . . . I can’t.

Putting my horrible writing aside, the one thing I will always be disappointed with myself in is the Reapers. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t quite get them onto paper the way I saw them in my head. I can explain them from my perspective, of course. I can explain them and cause nightmares (that actually happened, oddly enough), but it’s different when you’re writing through the eyes of another ‘person’. They look at things the way they look at things, see what they see, and you can’t change that without changing the person (character). I couldn’t change the MC any more than I could change you sitting there reading this right now. People are who they are.

Anyway. Moving on.

I personally have an aversion to knives (though I do have some and have played with swords once or twice . . . [I don’t advise that, by the way]), so just the thought of people running around almost covered in them – and knowing how to/being fine with using them – makes my skin crawl. That alone is enough to creep me out a decent amount, but it’s the way they behave that is the most unsettling thing about them. They’re just . . . off.

As much as I love the MC in Reave (I’m firm that she’ll always be my favorite, and I’ve written quite a few), the Reapers will always be at the top of the food-chain when it comes to my favorite things I’ve written. There doesn’t need to be endless action with them. It’s not how they are. They go in, do their jobs, and move on. But I will say that when more of them come out to play later on . . . it gets interesting. Especially when they aren’t playing nice and are just playing. And they’re always playing something, it’s just a matter of whichever way works for whichever situation.

I just love them – trying to figure out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it (I LOVED writing this series). I might be a bit biased about that, but . . . they’re very complex. Nothing is ever simple when they’re involved, and I like it that way. I like things being hidden in books, and having to think. I don’t enjoy things being tied up nice and neat with a pretty little bow. (More on that at a later date.)

It would’ve been a totally different thing if I’d focused on the action with them (which could’ve been possible, I suppose, and I’ll probably do a spin-off for my own amusement at some point), but I would’ve hated it for this. It wouldn’t have done justice to it or to them, or to the uncertainty of life as a whole. Maybe I just like philosophizing about life and wondering why. Who knows? That translated to this series, I think, and it is what it is.

I just hope someone out there appreciates the Reapers for what they are – sneaky little devils. 🙂

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Madness.

That’s what the past week and a half or so has been for me. It’s gotten to the point – numerous times – where I’ve just wanted to close my eyes, put my hands over both of my ears, and scream, “STOP THE MADNESS!” Best Friend will get the inside joke there, if she reads this. It’s really not a joke though.

I guess it’s just been one of those, “When it rains . . .” bouts of time.

There’s just been madness in what seems to be every avenue and aspect of my life, ranging from small frustrations, to outright confusion, to absolute discord. A lot of that is my fault, I’ll admit, for being how I am. Such small things from flopping around again about what I want to do with my books, to gigantic things that I have no desire to talk about. I’m pretty sure I’ve got an uncountable amount of new gray hairs that will have to be covered up, just in the past ten days or so alone.

I’ve been hiding in my shed. I kind of realized about a week and a half ago that ‘hiding’ is what I do there, among other things. Being happy, being productive in the only way that I am, etc. I’ll admit without any issue that this past week, hiding has been the main priority there – hiding from life as much as I can. It works a little. Works better than anything else.

But I was struck yesterday that I can’t hide from most things. Acknowledgement, and acceptance.

I – partially intentionally and partially accidentally – messed up my sleep schedule so that I’ll be awake on days for a little while. I can’t write during the day, as I get bombarded with what I’ll politely call distractions. Basically, I’m forcing myself to take a pseudo-break. I’ll still be writing (yes, I’m writing), but I’m going to have to do some other things too. I asked Best Friend and her significant other to hang out with Husband and I tomorrow. I’m going to see my grandpa and have lunch with my parents. I’m going to be getting sucked farther into Diablo III with Husband. I’ve been trying, very hard, to get some things out and dealt with (though it’s difficult due to reasons that I have no control over).

Writing for me, generally, is healthy in most ways that matter (at least to me, which I’ve mentioned recently). But given all the nonsense and madness and . . . ugh . . . other things currently going on around me, I just can’t let myself do what I usually do. Can’t run and can’t hide from everything. It’s not healthy.

Anywho, that’s the reason for the lack of everything on here. I’ve been hiding.

Expect my usual Friday post tomorrow.

I really, genuinely, hope that everybody out there is having a fantastic day. I really do. The world needs a bit more good and fantasticality.

A Word

The word moment is a tricky thing for me. There’s really not any other word that be used in replacement to prevent over-usage. Instant only seems applicable under certain circumstances, as does second or stretch of time – things of that nature. Sometimes only one word can be used – should only be used – when all other words would fall short of doing justice to a situation, a message you’re trying to get across, something you’re trying to explain the right way, or some hidden thing that you might be the only person to notice.

Words are a big deal to me. If I told people how many words I’ve written over the last several years, I would get The Look – the same look that I had on my face yesterday when watching YouTube videos of a guy getting scared while playing video games (it’s the, “You need to get out more,” look). Most numbers, when thinking about it, should usually be kept pretty close to the vest when they pertain to personal things. It’s taken me a bit of time to realize that.

Words are my entire life. I wake up, I read the ones I wrote the day (night) before, and then I write more. When I’m editing, I read the ones I wrote, add more, take some out, and move them around, trying to make all of them as close to perfect (my perfect) as I can get.

I don’t know how many times I can say, “I fail words constantly, but they never fail me,” or some variant of that with the same message.

And moment has always given me headaches. It took me an extremely long time of writing stories to realize what I said up top. Sometimes . . . nothing else fits. People might criticize you for it, but you know what fits in your own writing, and in your own life.

But, if we’re getting technical, I should explain.

Writing is like . . . medicine for me. It’s my way of coping with stress, and struggles, and life. It is for most people who do it, but then again, I think most people who do it manage to balance life better than I do. I go and crawl into my shed – sometimes almost literally when I’m just waking up – and I stay in there. I force myself to come out sometimes, just to do things I need to do. More often than not, it takes me several days to manage some things (which things I’m talking about shall go unmentioned past mentioning). I put things off because something inside of me says . . . I need to. For myself.

I spend my life – almost every second of it – writing the moments of people’s lives that only exist in my head. It prevents me from having my own moments. It’s healthy in ways, but not in others. Is anything in the world ever ENTIRELY good for anyone? I don’t think so. A new study comes out daily, contradicting the one before it. This is just me. It works. It makes me . . . better.

The point of this is that I had my own moment two days ago.

Normally, I would explain – rattling off for 2k words about events leading up and the like. I don’t feel I should.

I’ll only say that I realized two days ago that, well . . .

Words don’t mean the same thing to everyone that they mean to me. It’s easy to say the things that you mean and mean the things that you say, but when words are thrown in to any situation . . . the possibility for failing them is almost inevitable. The difference between, “I have faith,” and, “I hope,” is the difference in saying you believe something will happen, and that you believe it won’t.

Words.

I’ve been waiting three years to hear certain words. I hadn’t known – not exactly – what they were. But I heard them two days ago.

My father said, “I think you could’ve been a [INSERT MEANINGLESS WORD] and it would’ve just been a stepping stone. You would’ve ended up here. You’re doing exactly what you should be doing.”

There were more words said, but the last sentence up there was the one that got me. It was the only one that mattered.

I cried.

I cry over the lives of the characters that I write. I do. Often; I’m not ashamed to admit it. I laugh, and I cry. I cry about my own life a very small handful of times a year, if even that.

It was kind of amazing, having my own moment.

Just thought I’d share it. It’s funny how a moment can seem insignificant to some people, but can be the furthest thing from it for others.

I really can’t explain how much I hope all of you are having your own moments out there. That’s not me saying, “I don’t believe it will happen.” I’m saying that I hope it does.

Sometimes . . . a word is just a word. It’s everything behind them that matters – feelings and thoughts that hardly anyone can ever do justice to, express correctly, or truly get across.

When we fail with words, it can be so much worse than anyone ever thinks about. But if we fall, stand up, and try again?

It might be the one thing someone needs to hear, or see.

Words are never just words to me. They’re my life. That doesn’t mean I’m not falling.

Fail, Fall, Stand up, Try again.

Lions, and tigers, and sex sc – Wait…what?

Ah, the dreaded three letter word that starts with S, ends in X, and rhymes with HEX.

It’s not such a dreaded word in reality (at least not for most people under whichever circumstances), but for writers who are not Romance novelists? Oh yes, that word is SO dreaded. I’m not sticking all of you other writers out there into that little box with me, but I’m definitely in it and I know I’m not the only one.

I have to keep in mind that most of you who read my blog have had zero interaction with me off of here. I email with a few people. I’ve talked on the phone to one person a few times. So yes, the only way most of us all know one another is through interactions on WordPress. In a way, that can almost give you deeper insight to a person than you’d normally get – at least in my opinion. We share our hopes and dreams on here – our pains (not paints, way to ruin a moment with a typo, C), our struggles, and our ambitions. We share our WRITING. I know you all get me on that level, which is fantastic.

I’ve said on here before that I’m a pretty closed off person in some ways. If I know you, I’ll spill my deepest secrets (or the next level above the deepest) to you in a heartbeat. I can be a very open person. But let me give you a little insight . . .

If I did NOT know you, and you came up to me on the street and started rattling off about sex scenes, one or both of my eyes would likely start twitching. I would sweat profusely. I would be polite and say, “Hey, Random Person, this is somewhat inappropriate.” At least I would want it to come out of my mouth that way. It would probably be more like, “Whoa dude, wtf are you doing?”

That’s me.

I’ve written a lot, alright? That type of stuff HAPPENS when you write books, because that type of stuff HAPPENS in real life. I’m a fan of The Cut-Off. If I lead up to something happening well enough, I’m PRETTY SURE your mind can fill in the gaps. It’s my goal as a writer to make that happen. It’s better that way, I think (just my opinion). At least I am better at it that way, which . . . sometime you out there can be the judge of that, if you ever want to be. When writing Young Adult, it’s almost better to do it that way, again in my opinion. And I don’t want to feel like I’d be responsible for a crapton of sexually deviant teenagers running around doing things that they do. Hey, they do it, but I don’t want to feel responsible for it. And I would feel responsible, even if nobody ever accused me of it.

Oh my GOD, ALL THE EVILS IN THE WORLD ARE MY FAULT!!

That’s how my brain works, okay?

There’s a part of me that’s not comfortable writing YA at all, as I cover a lot of subjects in my books that I’m not sure the younger end of YA readers . . . I’m stopping myself there, as I cannot say who should and should not (or would and would not be able to) handle whatever. But I’m less comfortable writing in the adult genre, in ways.

I’ll give you a scenario – it’s a truthful scenario that happens quite often with me while I’m writing (or editing) a book.

I’m sitting there in my shed (I have every intention of posting an entry about my shed on here, so let’s leave the shed at that for now), writing (or editing). Sexy scene comes up. I type (or read/write) a few words. I giggle. I type a few more, put my hand over my face, and start talking to myself (“Oh my god,” for example. “I can’t believe I just wrote that,” for another). I type a few more and giggle again.

It happens.

There are some scenes in some of my books that – I kid you not – will have me nearly rolling around on the ground giggling in uncomfortableness. I do weird things when I’m uncomfortable, if you haven’t gathered.

So yes, adult books have their downside, as The Cut-Off is generally not wanted or accepted.

But I’ll tell you something I learned . . . yesterday? Two days ago? The days blur . . .

I knew that I’d done a relatively decent job with the more ‘intimate’ scenes (not sex scenes) in the book that my editor HAS IN HER HANDS RIGHT NOW. I knew that I had because my husband’s response after reading one of them in particular was, “I felt like I was intruding.”

That’s one of those things where you think about it for a little while, and then nod your head in satisfaction when you’re alone. It must’ve been good, in some way.

I’ve never really felt like that – at least no more than I usually feel when I’m writing. I already feel a level of intrusion into the character’s stories that I’m telling because I feel like I’m telling the life story of some person that has no business being told. I’m giving words to their lives for other people to read.

I have to be honest and say that I finished writing this new trilogy last week. I didn’t want to say anything on here – partially because I’ve been busy (writing and now editing), and partially because I read on a blog awhile back that talking about writing prolifically can make other authors feel bad. I’ve actually been struggling a lot with both that, and the fact that I write full-time (without pay because I have no books released yet . . . give me some time to get everything in place and they will be out there, I promise). I don’t want to make anyone feel any negative thing due to what I’m doing, so I haven’t wanted to be like, “HEY, I FINISHED ANOTHER BOOK!” And then another one a few weeks later. But hey. I have.

Guilty feelings come to me again now.

So anyway, I had to say it so that what I say next will make sense.

I was editing the first book in that trilogy and came upon the actual first legitimate sex scene that I’ve ever written. It was torture writing it, let me tell you. I was pleased with it afterward. I thought I kept it classy (as classy as they can get). I postponed writing it for as long as I freaking could, let me tell you.

Anyway, came upon it when editing.

And by god, if I didn’t feel like I was intruding then I don’t know what that was. Well, uncomfortable, yes. But intrusive. I felt so unbelievably intrusive.

So, after getting through editing it and taking a few minute break afterward to try and fix my brain back into its normal – un-uncomfortable – mode, I sat there and I thought about it.

I’ll never be a Romance novelist. Not ever. Well, I can’t know that for certain, but I know for certain that I don’t want to be. I love the natural romance that happens between characters, but I’m not trying to turn love stories into the pornographacation (*ding* new Non-Word) of a character’s life. I will write and write (and write and write) about things that don’t happen, but I like my books to be realistic enough that the other things can make those unrealistic things believable. And throwing in a bunch of words that people DO NOT THINK into scenarios and DO NOT HAPPEN . . . Where is the believability there?

I’m not writing this to get into a debate about Romance novels. People like them, and that’s cool. I just don’t write them.

What I’m trying to say is that I learned, finally, that I CAN actually write a sex scene if I feel that I absolutely must – if the story, or the characters say, “Dammit, woman, TELL THE STORY!”.

And I’m proud of myself for that because it was such a freaking struggle for me.

But hey, I’m a bigger fan of the leading-up-to anyhow. For the most part . . . I think I’ll stick to what I’m good at when it comes to that sort of thing with writing. I’ll venture out of my box to grow, but . . . yep, done that. Check.

Sorry this was so long, but I haven’t been blogging very much. Pretty poor way of making up for it, come to think about it.

Anyway, if anyone else has had the same struggles – or similar ones – feel free to share. Maybe I won’t feel so ridiculous.

Hope everyone is wonderful out there.

🙂

Now if only I can get over the thought of my mom reading these new books of mine that she’s been asking to read . . .

Small update on new WIP

I remember now why I become so hermit-like while I’m writing.

I started working on a new book the other night and have been alternating between that, one I started on a few months ago (and haven’t done much with), and messing around on here in between.

I’m EXTREMELY satisfied with the progress of the newest, although I have some concerns about it. Mostly because it’s screaming the word ADULT at me, and I have a very difficult time writing adult-type things. I’ve got around 14k words on it already and I’m trying to just . . . take it one step at a time.

The older-new-one makes me want to break my laptop. I’ve realized very recently – partially due to this particular WIP, and partially due to fixing some technical things in my first series – that I seriously suck at writing contemporary stories. Well, maybe it’s not so much that I suck, but just that I don’t really enjoy it as much.

I haven’t started on that ‘experiment’ I mentioned the other day, mostly because the newest WIP has been forcing me to tackle the things that I’d planned on tackling with it anyhow. Well . . . to be totally honest, there hasn’t been much tackling of anything quite yet (apart from a few things), but it’s gonna happen – that’s for sure.

My family has been on my case about going fishing while it’s ‘nice out’, but I feel like I don’t have the time to piddle around. I should probably go back there, at least for a little while. (We have a lake [large pond, but we call it a lake] on our property – I have a picture of it somewhere recently on my Instagram).

I’ve been trying to work out some sort of schedule. Work (Write), Read, Work (Write), Blog . . . it’s just not quite working out the way I wanted it to. I guess I’m just going to have to get accustomed to doing more than one thing at a time in life. Ah, it’s an experience.

All I can do is grow. I think it’s helping.

Hope everyone has a glorious Friday, followed by a fantastic weekend.

You know where I’ll be. In my shed. Writing.

🙂

A new journey is nigh . . .

It’s time to start writing again . . .

The realization that the time was here again hit me a few days ago – Friday night/Saturday morning (depending on your opinion as to whether a new day actually starts until you’ve slept or not). Husband and I had spent a little time with my sister, which was nice, but somewhere along the way I started talking about my books (I’ve just recently began calling it ‘soapboxing’). At some point, Husband went inside and left Sister and I standing out in my driveway. Talk of books slowly bled over into my anxieties – both in general, and where they pertain to my work.

I don’t generally do a lot of talking when I interact with my sister. More of it now than I used to, for sure. But I think that was the most talking that I’ve ever done with her about myself . . . possibly ever. It was nice.

Anyway, there are a few points to this. She basically told me that I’m being irrational about things, which is something I’ve been aware of for an extremely long time. I know when my reactions aren’t ‘normal’, but . . . it’s me.

My realization was that it was finally time. I’ve been losing my mind, and writing is . . . Well, it keeps me sane.

I haven’t been able to write a new story – despite my attempts – since I finished The Big 2 (which is my second series and, after looking through my first yesterday, is the only one worth mentioning). I blamed it on needing to get this series going somewhere – to be able to set it free, or lay it to rest, or do something FINAL with it. Realizing that it is now in the hands of Editor and all that I’m doing is waiting to hear back . . . Well . . . that’s pretty final. I have nothing else to do with it – at least not the first book, which is the only one that I can focus on until it’s OUT THERE (until I get it back, that is).

So I’m finally – in a way – feeling that sense of finality with it. Not with the world, but with those four books and their part in it. I’m torn about that, but it had to happen eventually.

I’ve been going back and forth about WHAT I want to write next. I have a few ideas swirling around in my head, and one of them that I’d started (those attempts at writing I mentioned earlier). But after doing some major self-evaluation where it pertains to my writing – playing to strengths, etc. – I’m just not so sure that I could do a more contemporary-based-in-this-world sort of book, and do it well. I don’t know.

Which is making me look at tonight and my adventure out into my writing shed in a new light. I have about as much idea-wise as I’ve always had when starting out . . . just the basis of SOMETHING. But . . . I’m looking at it as a completely new journey. Not into a new world, which will naturally happen once I get one set up, but a journey into my own abilities and limits with writing. I just might try an experiment – solely for myself.

I’m thinking I might try this absolutely mad concept of working on multiple things at one time. Possibly that experiment while working on an entirely new story. Who knows?

I’m going to have to get much better at multitasking. I’ve already fallen behind (AGAIN) with reading on here, and I’m one day late with my three-day-limit. Could be worse.

I’ll figure something out. Some sort of schedule, or something. We’ll see how that goes.

Either way, it will be new. And no matter the apprehension I feel towards leaving the world that I’m familiar with and love so completely . . . I can’t help but be excited about going on a new journey.

It will have to be good in order to hold a candle (in my heart) next to the old one.

We’ll see. 😉

Novel Writing and Dream Following

Writing a novel…it’s not all rainbows and sunshine, like most people (including myself before I dove into it head-first) would believe.  It’s sort of like being blindfolded on a roller coaster.  You sit down, prepared only with the knowledge that you’re about to go on some sort of journey, get strapped in, and then you’re off without even the vaguest clue when to brace yourself for the sharp turns and sudden drops.  I’m writing this post partially to give advice to potential novelists who are beginning to toy with the idea of taking the same journey that I’m currently on, and partially just to help people understand why this is the best journey that I’ve ever been on.

I will start it off by saying that any views, opinions, methods and thoughts that I share in this are only my own.  I cannot speak for anyone else and I would have to assume that (after reading the blogs of many authors) my methods are likely not the same as a lot of other people who have done this.  That’s the amazing thing about it though; there IS no wrong way to do things.  The only way to write a novel is by doing it your own way – by doing whatever works best for you.

I am a planner.  I plan everything out in advance – meals, clothes, things to do.  Try as I might, I cannot plan a book out beforehand.  There have been innumerable times where I have sat down with a notebook and sparkly pen and attempted to map everything out – from main plot lines, down to individual chapters and character  developments.  I’m sure that works for people.  I would think that, in order to release books in a series separately, it would be the only way to get things done.  You would need to have everything perfectly planned and all details sharpened to a point to be capable of making sure the characters and story did not get away from you.  It does not work for me.

I have written two different series of books.  I went into both of them with an idea and thought that I could keep control of them; I could not.  To me, creating a story is creating an entire world.  You imagine the scenery, the landscapes, the buildings.  You create issues, ways of living.  And then, you plop little people down into some place that you made up inside of your head.  Sometimes those things change as you’re writing.  The most magical thing about it is that – just like in the real world – these people grow and adapt.  They live and make choices.  They surprise you, they make you angry.  They make you want to punch them in the face.

When writing my first series, the only thing that I could compare it to was a boulder rolling down a mountain.  I felt like I had pushed it from the top and was simply following it down as it made its path.  I had no control at all.  I could not control the characters and their decisions any more than I could control the decisions of my best friends, or of random people walking down a street.  They might not be real, but they were alive enough to live in the world that I had stuck them inside of.  Beautiful.  Chaotic.  Stressful.

I had so many issues when writing that first series.  I couldn’t count how many times I discussed those issues with my friends and family, attempting to get their opinions on how things should be handled (without really telling anything about the story to anyone but my husband because I am unbelievably paranoid about them).  At the beginning of 1-3 (the third book in the first series), I was having a huge issue with one specific character.  During the course of their time in my little world, they had changed (shown their true colors) and made it impossible for them to continue playing the specific role I’d had set for them.  What an issue to have for an important character!  What to do, what to do?  My best friend suggested that I have them do something that would change the dynamic drastically; she gave me a few examples that might possibly work with the limited information I had given her at the time.  I couldn’t do it.  It truly wasn’t that I didn’t want to do it, but that I just couldn’t.  I said, “I can’t make them do something out of character.  It would be like intentionally slamming my own hand in a door.  I wouldn’t do that.  I can’t make them do something that they wouldn’t do.”  It wouldn’t even be like cheating to get what you want; it would be like a betrayal to what a person stands for.

Frustrated, I continued on, letting the dynamics naturally change just like they would between any two people.  Eventually, another character popped in.  Now, one would think that – because I am writing – I would have the final say in how much or how little a character will be in a story.  Again, I don’t.  That second character was meant to be fleeting – just some random person met in the course of the story.

You meet a ridiculously large, uncountable number of people throughout your life.  Some of them you don’t care for.  Some of them are alright.  And sometimes, you meet people that you just click with.  My main character in that series clicked with that fleeting character.  I could not get rid of them.  They caused so many problems in the story, so many stressful situations that drove me insane as I was writing.  Then one day…everything fell into place.  That fleeting character (I call them accidental characters) fixed the situation that I’d had so many issues about in the first place.  Of course they created new ones, but that was not the point.

Accidental characters – while initially frustrating or nearly rage-inducing – can be a saving grace.

Another example.  At the beginning of 2-2 (second book in second series), accidental character shows their face.  I wrote them out.  I complained to my husband about it.  I said, “I don’t want them there.  I can already see the problems they’re going to make.  I do not want them there.”  Two different times I wrote that character out – opened new documents and started the chapter over.  They just kept showing back up in different forms.  On the third try, I went with it.  Again, that character ended up being integral to the development of the main character.

You cannot write people out of your own life, can you?  No matter how badly you occasionally want to, once a person has met you, they have met you.  That is never a bad thing.  You are the main character of your own life story; every person you come into prolonged contact with leaves some sort of mark on you – whether it’s a different way of thinking about something, or simply a memory that you’ll never forget.  It’s personal development.  I could never deny that to these poor, unfortunate souls that I torment in my books.

After so many different attempts at keeping control over my books, I decided to just go with it completely – to trust the base story and the characters to carry themselves through whatever messes came their way.  For me, it works.  It’s why my second series was written so much quicker than my first.  That’s why it went more smoothly and gave me (hopefully) less gray hairs that I have to cover up than the first.  Sometimes, you have to trust other people to make, maybe not the best decisions by other people’s standards, but the best decisions for themselves.  Sometimes, you have to trust yourself enough.  Sometimes, you have to stop being such a control freak.  (Those last two sometimes statements were mostly for me.)

Oddly enough, when giving up some of that control, I felt like I had more of it.  It’s possible that I had initially been so focused on squeezing the life out of it to keep hold that I didn’t realize it just needed a push here or there in a certain direction.  In the second series, while I felt I could not say where one relationship went with another, I could say that I had hold of the main thing – the story.  At the end of the day, I said who was good and who was secretly bad.  Sometimes, the characters played it out in a way that I could not make them anything more or less than what they were.  Mostly…I had some sort of say in the decisions where they did not pertain to any specific character and their relationship with any of the others.  But can I really claim that?  If a person is good, they are good.  If a person is bad, they are bad.  Do I get to claim that I decided it for them?  I don’t know.  Isn’t that fun?  *shakes head and sighs*

I know that many people have separate jobs while they work on their books – that it’s the enjoyable thing they do for themselves in their time off.  Personally, I don’t know how they manage it.  For me, it was/is/has been the most consuming thing that I have ever experienced in my life.  I slept those stories, I ate them, breathed them, drank them.  My god, I feel so sorry for my husband having to deal with me staring off into the distance, trying to work things out in my head for such a long time.  “Did you hear what I just said?”  “Uhm…what?  I’m so sorry, I was thinking about my book.”  “Don’t you remember what I said to you yesterday?”  “Uhm…you were talking to me yesterday?  Wait.  Oh yeah, I remember you talking.  About something.  At some point.  Yesterday?”

I’m sure it sounds humorous that way, but imagine my husband having to deal with that constantly for the past two and a half years or so.  I feel bad for him, but he says that I’m doing what I love and that makes him happy.  Support is worth more than gold.

Writing is the loneliest place imaginable.  You feel like you live for the sole purpose to get this story out of your head.  You can’t think about anything else.  You can’t concentrate on anything else.  Every second of every day that you’re not physically working on it, you’re mentally working on it.  You’re trying to figure out where to go next, you think of a tiny snippet of conversation to put in, you’re trying to line up little details with big details.  Then, at the end, you can’t even be satisfied because all you’re doing is thinking about all those miniscule details that don’t add up, all the things you have to change to make it perfect, all the things that hardly anyone else would notice, but are giant, flashing neon signs to you.  It is…exhausting.  Add onto that the fact that you are constantly attempting to improve your writing…it goes to some place beyond exhausting.  Some place that makes you pass out as soon as your head hits the pillow (as long as you are not focused on some scene that you’re trying to work on).  I’m not sure if all writers believe their writing is crap, but I’m convinced that horrible feeling is integral to improvement.  As long as you always feel like it is never good enough, you can make it better.  One thing that you change might be the one thing that kept someone else from appreciating your work.  I watched Jurassic Park yesterday so I’m hearing Malcolm in my head talking to Ellie about the butterfly effect.  One person might not sound like a lot, but one person might tell ten people, who might tell ten more.  One person might write an amazing review.  That one person might just need to hear some joke that you slipped into the cracks of your book to feel better.  That one person might just need to read about your characters getting through something awful to know that – if some made-up person can do it…they can too.  That’s what books are for.  Well, one of the many things that they are for.

I will admit that when I first started out on this extremely long, stressful, beautiful journey, I had absolutely no intention of ever attempting to get anything published.  I wrote my first book for myself.  It was only when I was partially through the first series that I realized the selfishness of it.  Why should I keep it to myself?  Sure, a lot of people would hate it, but some people would like it.  It would make some people laugh, or cry.  Why should I be selfish when I could help people the way that authors have helped me with their books?  I get my pride from my father – this unwillingness to ask for help when I most desperately need it.  I get a double-dose of it from my mother, who is incapable of sitting down for five minutes and stares out the window when it rains or is cold because she cannot go outside and do something.  I grew up watching both of them almost literally kill themselves to take care of their family.  So asking anyone in this world to help me is like some sort of betrayal to the person that I want to be for my parents – the person that I want to be in case I have children one day.  Asking an agent to take a chance on me when – on paper – I am not worth taking a risk on…even though it’s the way that things are done, it kills my soul a little every time.  I can’t explain it.  So, going into this sort of thing with the knowledge that it is impossible to do on your own…it’s something that you’ve got to accept.  It’s something that I’m still working on.  Can we really do anything entirely alone in life?  There will always be people who want to help, you just have to look in the right places and let them do it.

You get hung-up when writing.  Some conversation won’t work out, some scene, some character isn’t doing what they’re supposed to.  Now, my best friend has written about half (I could be wrong, don’t hold me to it) of a novel.  She and I deal with the hang-ups in opposite ways.  She skips and goes back to it.  I angrily trudge along through the muck.  That is mostly due to the fact that I cannot connect things; they have to be written in order completely.  I have tried it the other way and it just doesn’t work.  Hang-ups are to be expected (and usually happen at the most inopportune times, for good measure to rain on your happy parade).  If you work on them, they go away for a time, but they don’t ever stop.  Expect the hang-ups, mentally prepare yourself for them, have a few motivational things to tell yourself to get through them (It will be over with this scene, If I get through it I can work on the next part).  If you’re writing anything – be it a blog, or a novel, or a journal entry…they happen.  You hit roadblocks, mental walls.  Break them down and tell yourself that you won’t let an inanimate object control your life.  It sounds silly, but it might work for some people.  It would be a shame to let ten lines of a conversation ruin the entire process.  Hurry up and write a book; it might be my new favorite.  I might tell ten people about it.  Who knows?

I’ve been asked how I find the motivation to work so much.  When I am actively working (writing or editing – not query-ing), I do it between 9-14 hours a day (or night because I am a night owl and it is the only time where there is nearly complete silence in the world – meaning it is usually the only time that I can actually think).  It’s why I could finish an entire series in about six months; I worked my back end off on it.  The only answer that I can give people is, “It’s what I love doing.”  I watched my father wake up at precisely the same time every morning to go to work to provide for us until he was injured.  He overslept once when the power went out.  He was late once when his truck rolled down the hill and was hanging over the drop-off above the creek.  I don’t know that my father ever loved what he did.  He loved his family so he did what he had to for them.  I had a conversation with him about this a few weeks ago when I was feeling very downtrodden about the whole getting-published thing; it’s difficult to have a conversation when you’re attempting not to cry on the phone to your daddy (I don’t like crying where people can see/hear).  I don’t want to look back on my life and say that I did what life forced me to do.  I want to look back at the end and say, “I did what I loved.”

It’s quite likely that I will continue to be life’s play-thing for the entirety of my time spent in this world.  But…it’s possible (though highly unlikely) that one day, I will look life in the face, smile, and say, “I won.”

If you want to write a book, write a book.

If you want to learn how to sail a boat, go sail a boat.

If you want to fly a plane, go learn how to fly a plane.

If you want to be a teacher, go do what you need to do and spend your life striving to sharpen children’s minds.  (We need some good teachers out there who care).

If you want to be a nurse, go take care of people.

A vet, to fix up animals.  A therapist to help people deal.  A chef to make beautiful, tasty food.

If you want to see the world, go do it.

Find a way to make your dreams happen.  Don’t let inanimate objects hold you back.

It’s your life.  Do what you love so that one day, you can look life in the face, smile (or possibly laugh) and say your own variation of, “I won.”

Be happy.  Why else are we here?