About Writing, The Scion Suit

MSG Hartmann

Wow do I need to come up for some air.

If I had written Alice and the Warden at this pace, it would have been done in half the time. XD

One of the things that I’m really loving about doing TSS as a branching story is that I can more fully explore MSG Hartmann’s character. Originally, I created him with every intention of him playing a much bigger part. Then I realized that, logically, he’d be neutralized pretty quick, assuming that my military had any sort of competency. Like, if you can’t apprehend a severely injured man on your own danged base, then you guys are pretty pathetic.

My military isn’t supposed to be the best — they’re losing and desperate, after all, — but that’s a level of stupid that I wasn’t willing to go to.

I basically had to give Hartmann a cursory nod, then medically discharge him. Thank you for your service, and all that jazz.

But what if Carol had made a choice that sent the story in a totally different direction?

What if Hartmann was placed front and center, while Lambert was relegated to the sidelines? Brain damage and all?

So that’s what I wrote.

And the part that has my heart beating excitedly is that I managed to work in a survival in the woods scene. Finally, my past life has a purpose! Har de har.

Truth be told, sometimes I kick myself for how I let myself get wrangled into writing a story about the military. I’ve been researching and all that, but I don’t have the IRL experience to feel confident about what I’m writing.

About Writing

Study Psychology

I keep an eye on current creative writing practices, even though I think that it’s shallow and inane. Yeah, I know, I’m a total snob about this. Egotistical. Et cetera.

But srsly

When the masses are saying, “Make sure that your characters act like real people,” I can’t help but scratch my cheek with a sense of bafflement. Okay. Yeah. Sure. Sounds solid.

BUT HOW DO REAL PEOPLE ACT?

I know it sounds silly on the surface, but it’s a legitimate question. When was the last time you went out of your way to watch real people, see what they do, and wonder why? (probably not since March 2020, snerk)

Which is why I say, “Study psychology.”

Personally, I like self help books, since they’re easier for individual study and are written with “real world application” in mind. I have a huge number of books on marriage and relationships, and also topics like manipulation, business, “how to be happy”, spirituality, etc (I’m a knowledge junkie, so I’ve never been all that picky). Heck, even developing an understanding of astrology will give you a good base for creating characters, not to mention the Myers-briggs personality types.

No, it doesn’t wrap up neatly for a bullet point in an article. You can’t churn out a story, look at it and say, “Yeah, that’s totally how real people act,” then give yourself a pat on the back. When it comes to truly understanding people, you never cross the finish line. People are beautifully complex and unique like that.

And ultimately, fictional characters are supposed to be larger than life anyway.

About Writing

What AatW isn’t…

My husband and I like each other, so we tend to talk a lot. Like, for at least a couple of hours every day. We’re serious BFFs.

Recently, my husband said, “The only reason Hackett isn’t a cuck is because of his sense of dignity.”

I both laughed and felt mortified.

Because for the last eleven months that I’ve been working on this story, I’ve been worried that it was going to be misconstrued as a cuckolding fantasy, or the MGTOW narration of, “Girl gets pregnant by sexy alpha, then dupes nice guy into financially providing for her.”

It’s not.

One of the main themes of the novel is the value of self-worth. Hackett comes in with a strong sense of who he is, and doesn’t let others belittle or manipulate him. Alice, on the other hand, starts off struggling to figure out her identity, while dealing with the aftermath of “living like she was disposable.” Essentially, Hackett becomes the example that inspires her.

Hackett still expects fidelity, and to be treated fairly and respectfully. He ain’t no cuck.

But I can see how the same scenario with a weak male lead would very easily be along those lines.

About Writing

How much is too much?

I have a straight-forward style of storytelling, where I deliver what I promise with no gotchya’s or plot twists. When I was posting stories on Reddit, I’d occasionally get comments from people who were relieved that I ended on a happy note, instead of abruptly implementing, “rocks fall, everyone dies” for dramatic impact.

I confess that my tastes in fiction are quite old school, so I can’t speak with 100% certainty of what’s being done currently, but from what I saw others posting on Reddit, and what I know of popular series like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, a lot of writers are obsessed with killing characters, plot twist betrayals, and numerous cheap ploys that tug on emotions.

Sometimes I wonder, at what point does it become emotional abuse?

Bear with me a moment here.

As a writer, I have an ego — my decision to make my stories available for other people to read is testimony of that. I’ve spent years practicing, studying, and philosophizing, and while I don’t think that I’ve achieved perfection, I do believe that I’m better than average.

But I don’t think that I command any sort of god-like control over anyone who chooses to read my fiction.

I am not out to deliberately manipulate your emotions.

My goal is to tell a story.

The thing is, if you were in a relationship with someone who was deliberately keeping you off-balance, utilizing your emotional attachments to punish you, and dangling good promises with no intention of delivering, that would be a horrendously abusive and toxic relationship, right?

Well, guess what?

Writer – reader counts as a relationship.

Readers have the power to put down a book at any point for any reason, so on some level Game of Thrones fans are agreeing to be subjected to an endless parade of death, etc. However, the frequent use of manipulative tactics combined with persistent anxiety, makes me think that readers might not realize they have that power.

We don’t have to accept being jerked around so much we can’t enjoy a happy light-hearted story without panicking that something bad is going to happen.

There is a point where enough is enough.

Alice and the Warden

Alice Leigh

Since I did a post on Hackett…

The title character from Alice and the Warden.

Rebel Alice

The story starts after she’s already begun her redemption process, so this phase is only referenced/flashbacks. Funny enough, this is also the phase that I’ve had the most brainstorming sessions with my husband about.

Chin-length hair, dyed vivid pink. Lots and lots of black eyeliner and mascara. Goes out of her way to look like a rebellious, sexy, motorcycle chick. Cusses a lot.

However, her lifestyle is harsh on her. She’s malnourished, waxy and pale, and is usually too out of it to think for herself.

Her boyfriend, Damon, managed her use of drugs and alcohol to keep her malleable, but he never gave her any of the scary stuff.

Redeemed Alice

Her natural hair is growing out, so the top half is brown while the bottom is still bleached. Chocolate brown eyes. A healthy diet, lots of rest, and pregnancy, has helped her fill out and given her a much softer appearance.

More than anything, she wants to keep her baby and be a good mother, so she’s been doing everything in her power to change herself. Her isolation has enabled her to do a lot of introspection, and she has admitted a lot of hard truths to herself. She’s cleaned up her mannerisms considerably.

However, she still struggles with self-esteem and views herself as permanently damaged because of her past.

Anyway, it’s both hot AND humid today, which has me feeling totally miserable, so I’m gonna call this good.

About Writing

Realistic Fiction

I don’t normally write realistic fiction.

I was put off the genre back in my Creative Writing classes, when everyone assumed that my realistic stories were biographical, to the point where it caused some unwelcome drama. No, I did not base any characters off of you as some sort of passive-aggressive attack. Chill out.

Currently, Alice and the Warden is my only story that doesn’t contain fantastical elements, since my main reason for writing it is to indulge in over-the-top adorableness and romance. Throwing in things like magic, dragons, or aliens would detract from that. Aside from being set in a castle-prison in an ancient forest, everything could sort of actually happen maybe? Since it’s more realistic than, say, The Scion Suit, I have anxiety that others will think that it’s biographical.

Especially because a lot of authors really do base characters off of real people.

No, I have never met any women who ran off with degenerate boyfriends in their teens, then turned their lives around when they had a baby (and that never happened to me either). I could say that Alice is based off of attributes from a wide variety of people that I’ve met in my lifetime, but in my opinion, the most accurate way of describing it is that she sought me out on the spiritual level to tell her story.

Things writers don’t talk about because it makes them sound crazy, lol.

Truthfully though, I could never write anything too realistic. I like to take too many creative liberties. After all, castle-prisons are far more romantic than regular prisons.

About Me

Too Late?

Sometimes I worry that I decided to jump into the whole ‘author’ thing a bit too late. Blogs are, like, totally old hat by now, and everyone has literally switched over to YouTube. Most of ’em haven’t read anything since Fifty Shades of Grey anyway.

The funny thing is, I was planning on retreating for the first half of this year, given that I’m expecting our fifth baby (omg that’s a lot of kids). Instead, the characters in my head have gotten louder, to the point that it’s meaningless to argue that I’ve got my own major life events going on. So, here I am, writing another story.

And I wonder: is there going to be an audience for novelettes posted on some random person’s blog? Even if I put tons of effort into marketing in my own way, will it ever amount to anything? It’s been ages since blogs were the hot new shiny item, and as much as I love fantasizing about being a crazy trend-breaker, I’m not sure if anyone else wants to go along with it.

Am I too late?

In a way, it’s also exciting to discover who’s still out there.

Hello, we’re the weirdos who stubbornly do our own thing, irregardless of where the masses have gone.

The Black Magus

Real Love

I’m a hopeless romantic, through and through.

This was perhaps a bit silly of me, but after “The Scion Suit” gained a smidgen of attention on Reddit, I wondered if I should downplay the romance aspect of The Black Magus to make it sound more appealing to the sort of people who would actually read it — after all, I don’t think that I’d gain much traction with Twilight fans. But, I decided that would be rather disingenuous, considering that it’s right there in the very first chapter.

So there you have it: The Black Magus is the ultimate Mary-Sue fanfic, where the main character is a shy nobody who through sheer coincidence gains the attention of the most powerful magus on the planet. He competes against another magus to win her affection in a saucy love triangle, and ultimately pulls ahead by gifting her the most expensive car ever built. The girl, on the other hand, maintains an emotional affair with the other guy, just to prove how strong and independent she is after she’s married …

LOL JK

I’m totally not awesome enough to write that.

It’s not the sort of crap that’s always portrayed in popular romance novels. It’s also not the sort of “singles together” crap that we’re told to settle for because “romance doesn’t exist”. You won’t find any Taylor Swift songs that fit it.

It’s about devotion and compassion. It’s about two people joining together to become a family, and learning how to be there for each other. It’s about real love.

There’s also some stuff about magic and the world they live in, and a few other characters who have some dialogue and whatnot. You know, that necessary story-type stuff, to flesh it out into an actual novel and set up the sequel.

So, I have decided against downplaying the romance aspect of The Black Magus, because it is the entire foundation and structure of the novel. Please, don’t dismiss it because of a few bad stereotypes — I assure you that this story is different.

The Black Magus

The Black Magus characters

 

I know.

I spent over a year working on the first draft for this novel, and these are the only notes I made on the two main characters.

Lawl.

I confess, I’m terrible with notes, so I often find it easier and more organized to keep all of the information in my head. I don’t create character charts, or worksheets, or blah blah blah, because I make a point of locking everything in my mind.

Which is probably one of the reasons why I don’t fit in with writing communities.

Besides. Most of the time, I just listen to what they have to say anyway.

So, here we are: introducing the two main characters from The Black Magus, my upcoming fantasy romance novel.

Are you as excited as I am?

About Writing

Female Characters

Female characters tend to kill novels for me.

I think there was a convention some years ago, during which it was decided that there was only one acceptable personality type for all women forever, and it was to be: “independent and feisty.”

So it doesn’t really matter what genre you pick up, the main female character will inevitably be “independent and feisty.” And just like all the others, she’ll insist that she isn’t anything like all of the others. Dunning-Kruger.

And in a giant sea of endless independence and feisty-ness, the attributes lose all meaning and deteriorate down to a simple, “Wow, she’s a bitch.”

There wouldn’t be anything wrong with “feisty” if one also regularly came across female protagonists that were shy, compassionate, bitter, fanciful, neurotic, etc. Maybe I’m just too avant garde or something, but I really don’t think that women should all be pigeon-holed into one or two word descriptions. Female characters are capable of being more than the “independent and feisty” stereotype. Aren’t we supposed to be breaking out of stereotypes? So why is this one so deeply entrenched in fiction? Where’s the individuality in writing the same characters that everyone else is writing?

But every time I skim through a new book with the thought, “Maybe I’ll enjoy reading this one,” the monotony of endless repetition in female personalities inevitably makes me pass. I want to read about characters who are different; I can go out into the real world if I want conformity and sameness.