About Writing

Pathos

Writing a dark story is turning out to be more of a challenge than I expected.

I have an idealist inside of me that tries to insert insights and epiphanies that would prevent the Traumatic Climax from happening, so I have to pull back and rewrite. The result is that the characters keep coming oh-so-close to redeeming themselves, then turning away and clinging to their dysfunctions.

It’s realistic enough; I’ve watched plenty of people do that in real life.

I’m not the sort of writer than deliberately sets out to manipulate the emotions of readers. The only reason why I’m writing this story at all is because it’s stuck in my head too badly to be ignored, and the only person intended to ride this roller coaster is me. There is no sadistic glee happening behind the scenes.

Perhaps this is a concept that’s difficult to grasp in our society, but I don’t write for money or popularity. I write for me. I write because I gained knowledge too heavy for me to bear, and my childhood hobby became my vessel of expression. I need it to remain artistically pure for the sake of my sanity. That’s why I always pull away from online groups and self-advertising — anything that could influence my writing away from what I need it to be.

Is there anyone out there capable of understanding?

So here I sit, feeling bad that Hartmann is too caught up in self-pity to realize what he’s doing, that Carol’s personality is too weak to resist, and that Lambert’s too checked out to notice. All it takes is one sentence to turn everything around, but I can’t let myself write it until it’s too late.

If this story wasn’t pounding at my head, I wouldn’t be writing it at all.

About Writing

Yarn and Readership

I was comparison shopping yarn and browsing through reviews, when I came across someone complaining that 100% wool yarn smelled weird when wet.

Well, yeah … being wool and all, it does smell like it came from an animal — especially when wet.

So

Last year I made inquiries about different self-publishing avenues, and was warned that I needed to be careful about the sort of readership I catered to. I’m not talking about “target audience,” but rather something more specific that has popped up with the rise of social media.

For example, the general consensus was that people who wanted to read books for free, were also the most entitled, demanding, and critical. So, while it might be easier to get readers, the “fans” were abusive enough to make you regret it.

To get back to the beginning, the review complaining about the wool yarn made me think about self publishing.

On the surface, you might think that “crafty yarn people” counts as a specific group, but once you dig deeper, you discover that some of them can’t stand things like inconsistent thickness, knots in the yarn, or the smell of animals fibers. Others, like me, prefer the unique personalities of handspun yarns, don’t mind working around knots, and enjoy the characteristics of natural fibers. The two groups might fit under the same crafty umbrella, but the sort of yarn they want is completely different.

Self-publishers need to think about more than a general target audience. Metaphorically speaking, trying to sell handspun wool or acrylic yarns to the wrong subgroup is going to end miserably.

And frankly, with something like writing, authors need to be mindful about where they go searching for their readers. No one wants to get sucked into catering to an audience that kills all the joy out of writing.

About Me

The Scions Part 1

I didn’t want to write this.

It felt too much like taking all of the worst traits of these characters and amplifying them into a sordid and depressing story. I very much didn’t want to do that.

But the idea has been niggling at me for months. It won’t leave me alone.

I’ve caved. Fine. I’m writing it.

But this is a very sordid and depressing story.


Master sergeant Hartmann wasn’t certain when he had first begun to notice the cleaning lady. Two years prior, more for the sake of politics than anything else, the General had declared that they were going to improve national security by limiting the soldiers’ access to the Suit, and a civilian was picked out of the Base’s janitorial staff to be the designated caretaker of the military’s top asset. It turned out to be a plain, mousy woman, who quietly devoted herself to the job then faded into the background as another functioning cog, and business moved on as usual.

Hartmann was by far the best at piloting the Suit. Although it was obviously alien technology, he had an intuitive understanding of how to operate it, and was consequently given all of the important missions. He had already been considered something of a hero due to his ‘bravery’ and ‘leadership’ beforehand, but the Suit had skyrocketed him to the status of a superstar. He was worshiped by those below his rank, and greatly respected by those above. It was unspoken, but everyone pinned their hopes of winning the war on his abilities, and he was more than willing to accept the mantle.

Yet, somehow, the moments he had spent basking in the adulation of a job well done melted away as the cleaning lady took up more and more of his awareness.

There were moments when it was comical to watch her, a slim 5’4” woman standing on a stepladder with a soapy sponge, contrasted against the 12-foot mecha that she rigorously scrubbed. However, when she worked on detailing the interior, it stung to realize that she was more intimately familiar with the Suit than he was. He felt like the interloper, good for a wild ride before the Suit returned home to its loving family. He never had the liberty to simply touch and examine the Suit, no matter how much time he spent inside.

To make it worse, the cleaning lady was completely unaware of him. Hartmann was attractive and muscular, with sandy blonde hair and sharp eyes, and took it for granted that women would preen and flirt as they competed for his attention. The cleaning lady, however, never smiled or brushed her hair behind her ear; her eyes slid over him as if he was any other uniform in a sea of soldiers. He had even bumped into her deliberately to see her reaction, but she had tersely apologized then skirted around him, never quite managing to raise her eyes to his face during the entire exchange. The other soldiers had snickered, and someone had said, “I guess you aren’t her type,” as Hartmann stared after her, his face hard.

That was two strikes against her.

In between missions, he kept an apartment off Base, and he liked to amuse himself by taking out a few of his buddies to pick up women at bars and clubs. The thrill of simply bedding them had vanished years ago, but he still got his kicks out of playing with them. He had developed a good eye for finding the ones that were attractive enough to be worthwhile, but still had the shadow of desperation that spoke of a willingness to do anything. That night, he imagined that he had the cleaning lady in his clutches, and pushed the woman to a level of filthy that he had never gone to before. Unsatisfied with how easy it had been to control and degrade her, he sent her away from his apartment with one of his friends, and from the way she giggled he knew that she was up for another round of debauchery.

Alone, he knew the folly of his fantasy. The cleaning lady was the sort who spent her evenings curled up with a book and a glass of wine – she would never be under his power.

So he watched her. He watched her clean his Suit, watched her love what should have been his, all the while knowing that she was untouchable. The cleaning lady was ranked above him, the master sergeant.

And that was strike three.

About Writing

Writing

My big complaint about CR1515 is that I feel like I’m only writing half the story.

So far, Talon exists as a prop. He’s there for the first few paragraphs, then vanishes forever — something that’s driving me batty. I want him to exist as a character, and to establish a solid foundation that helps the reader understand Aurora’s emotional conflict over the situation she finds herself in.

When I talked with my husband about the troubles I’m having with this story, he suggested that I change the first chapter to focus on Talon’s perspective, and end it with the sinking realization that his girlfriend has vanished. It’s a brilliant idea, and I love it.

But it also puts me in the same position I am in with The Scion Suit; I currently can’t maintain a masculine frame of mind for the life of me.

I adore masculine characters, so I don’t want to phone it in or force it. They need to flow naturally and keep consistent personalities.

Writing hasn’t been going all that smoothly with this pregnancy anyway; at this point I feel like waiting it out isn’t going to make much of a difference. Everything I’ve written is very likely going to need to be rewritten anyway.

CR1515

Musings on CR1515

Somehow I’ve managed to write over 10,000 words for CR1515, despite feeling tired and busy with the gazillion things that always happen at once, and I still haven’t found the proper flow for the story. Not 100% settled in to it yet.

I can’t help but wonder if I should dial back on the philosophical ranting and put in the effort to submarine it more, but it probably doesn’t matter. People can be shockingly oblivious to what’s right underneath their noses, so I might as well slap a fancy border on it and proudly display it.

The fun part about the Aurora/CR1515 pairing is that they argue A LOT more than any of my other main couples. The fireworks are a blast to write (har har), which is probably how I’ve managed to do as much as I have, despite being excessively busy/tired with a gazillion things. We have stubborn pride going up against unyielding stances, in a scrumptiously confined space. What’s not to love?

Just wish I could find the groove for this story.

About Writing

Romance

In the vein of, “Everyone else is doing it,” I tried thinking of some books where I enjoyed the romance/couples/literally-anything-emotional, and I came up with nothing.

OMG I am so cranky.

At which point I realized that I actually have ZERO interest in the idea of ‘love’ for its own sake; might as well read about someone and their anime body pillow for all the difference it makes. Throw in the fact that everyone writes female characters as psychotic self-absorbed bitches, and you basically have the reason why I can’t name any romance novels that I like enough to recommend.

So there you have it: Don’t bother reading books. They all suck.

LOL

The thing is, I often feel like a hopeless romantic trapped in a world where romance has been deliberately slaughtered — of course I don’t enjoy it. Why would I? It’s all just pointless nihilism because nobody knows how to genuinely connect with another human being anymore.

For now, I’m content to sit inside my own little bubble, occasionally sending out the message, “It doesn’t have to be like this,” with the knowledge that even a butterfly’s wings can have a huge impact on the world.

CR1515

Prewriting – CR1515

The fun part is, I first came up with the idea of “CR1515 the robot” clear back when I was a teenager … like, 20 years ago. XD

The easy vocalization of his name is “Crisis.”

He is quite literally “above it all”, living in a space station where he continuously monitors everything that happens on the planet below. He’s existed long enough to watch humanity decline into fatalistic complacency, and he knows that a large part of that was due to his presence. The story starts when he decides to step back and let people figure out how to take care of themselves without him.

However, when Aurora unexpectedly shows up at his door, a new plan forms in his mind.

CR1515 is the most straightforward character, to the point of almost being one-dimensional in his clarity of purpose, and he functions more like an anti-hero/villain in the role he plays.

His big secret is that he was born human, and is closer to a cyborg than a full robot.

About Me

Women’s Fiction

Aye, it’s good,” he said, handing the goblet back. “It’s also double strength. Colum takes it at night because his legs pain him. How much of it have you had?” he asked, eyeing me narrowly.

“Two, no, three glasses,” I said, with some dignity. “Are you implying that I’m intoxicated?”

“No,” he said, brows still raised, “I’m impressed that you’re not. Most folks that drink wi’ Colum are under the table after the second glass.”

-Outlander

I don’t typically read books written specifically for a female audience.

Because they make me feel bad.

Emotionally.

For example, the above quoted scene from Outlander, where the main character holds her liquor better than most men. High five, girl power, etc, etc, etc.

But me, being a real woman in real life, can’t handle booze for the life of me. It’s a bit of a joke between my husband and me, but the one time I attempted to get drunk, I ended up hunched over the toilet pretty quick. I based this scene in The Scion Suit off of my irl experience.

And, of course, the fact that I’m usually pregnant or nursing means that I’m borderline teetotaler anyway.

Back to my point: the female characters in per se “women’s fiction” are completely and thoroughly unrelatable to me.

I don’t have any fantasies about being able to out-drink a man … I don’t understand why one would want to. I don’t want to show anyone up or cut anyone down, because, well, that’s mean. I don’t like hurting people.

I’m not ambitious, and I don’t want to slave away for the sake of some job. I like having the freedom of dressing like a hippie and going to the park on the spur of the moment. I’m terrible at handling external pressure, and numbers never meant much of anything to me.

I like the color pink.

Yet if one were to go off of books, movies, TV, video games, etc, women like me don’t exist. Wow. Fantastic. I feel so accepted.

“Target audience: women” doesn’t include me. In fact, it seems to go out of its way to deliberately exclude me.

Why am I not allowed to read about relatable female characters? Why must I always feel like society is out to punish me for not living up to its expectations? Why am I not allowed to just be myself?

Sometimes I wonder if it’s gotten to the point where most women feel alienated in one way or another.

Or maybe it’s just me.