About Writing, The Scion Suit

Hartmann

We’ve finally hit December.

This year has been very draining for a number of reasons. I don’t even want to get into them, because of the overwhelming, “Ugh, just get everything over with already,” feeling that comes with them.

So, along the lines of Things That I’ve Been Thinking About….

Mandatory Exposition: I wrote The Scion Suit in 2019 as a response to a Reddit writing prompt, and it ended up becoming mildly popular, etc. This year, I’ve been working on an expanded version of it.

Given the circumstances of when I originally wrote the story, MSG Hartmann’s character ended up being regretfully underused. I wrote some other thoughts about that. With rewriting and expanding The Scion Suit, I’ve had a lot more time to further develop his character.

At some point during the last several months, I decided that Hartmann coped with the stress of military life through womanizing (specifically PUA), and it’s had a rather interesting effect on his overall characterization.

In 2019, I wrote, “Brooding, he hung around to watch Carol work on his beloved Suit, and his heart stung with jealousy when he saw how tenderly she touched the metal. When she opened it up to wipe down the leather interior, he couldn’t stand it anymore; it was worse than walking in on a spouse in the thralls of another lover.”

But, this new course in characterization has resulted in a fundamental shift.

Instead of feeling possessive ownership over the Suit, Hartmann instead sees himself as The Other, who has no choice but to return the Suit to its loving spouse (Carol) after every excursion. He uses the Suit, but he knows that he doesn’t belong to it — which adds an element of pain to his actions and motivations (and all that jazz).

His development and redemption now involves learning to see himself as a person worthy of an actual relationship and future goals, instead of simply being a military puppet with zero long-term prospects.

But he still has to give up the Suit in the end … because of the aliens… >.<

Alice and the Warden, Stories

MatC – Finale (sort of)

I’ve been sitting on this for awhile now.

All I need to do is write up the last few paragraphs, which I have neatly planned out and all that jazz.

But something about it doesn’t feel quite right, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what.

I’ve decided that it’s been long enough that I ought to go ahead and post what I have written, and I apologize that it’s not 100% finished.


Miranda waited outside the prison gates, resting against the hood of her car as she kept a careful eye on the drive between the thick walls and the building kept therein, occasionally fidgeting to check the time on her phone. Her fingers were growing numb in the late Autumn air, and while she considered retreating into her car to keep warm, she knew that she didn’t want to miss the exact moment he appeared.

After ten long years, she was about to be reunited with the man who had both destroyed and saved her life. He had gone into prison every bit a scoundrel, and Miranda hoped against hope that the improvements he had professed to have undergone during their correspondence were genuine. It was easy to keep up a facade in letters, and she didn’t want reality to prove differently.

Two figures appeared, and a relieved smile swept across her face as she recognized the gait of one of them. She stood straighter as they approached, but she didn’t take a step forward until the guard saw the former prisoner and his small box of personal items through the gate to the outside world, then turned to retreat back to his duties.

Damon faced her wordlessly, and they both struggled with how they should greet each other in the moment. He awkwardly put out his hand at the same time that Miranda moved for an embrace, and they laughed nervously then settled on a one-armed hug.

“You sure about this?” he asked, as Miranda motioned for him to get into her car. “It’s not too late to have second thoughts.”

“I’m sure. Just … don’t ever lie to me again, okay?” She folded her arms and bounced lightly on her feet, feeling both antsy and cold. There was a clarity in Damon’s face that hadn’t been there when they had first met a decade ago, and it made her certain that what they had written to each other wasn’t just a fantasy.

Damon looked her up and down, and a mischievous glint entered his eyes. “In that case,” he murmured, pushing Miranda back against he car as he pressed himself against her, gently touching the side of her face as he locked his gaze on hers. “Should we pick up where we left off?”

Miranda wrinkled the bridge of her nose. “With deceit and blackmail? Definitely not!”

“I meant in our letters.” He brushed his lips against hers. “I seem to remember a very sweet confession of love from you, and I want to reciprocate it.”

Her heart quickened and her eyelids fluttered as they deepened the kiss, and his touch felt both new yet familiar. Memories flooded her mind of the nights that they had spent together before his incarceration, back when Miranda had been reluctant to admit how much she loved the way Damon had made her feel alive and feminine while underneath him, and she quivered with emotion as her hands found the nape of Damon’s neck. However, her touch made him flinch, and he took both of her hands into his as he said, “You’re freezing.”

A minute later, Damon’s boxed was neatly in the trunk, and they were both sitting in the car with the engine idling and the heat blasting as Miranda held her hands over the vent to warm up, continually glancing over at Damon to study him. “You’ll like the ranch, I think. It’s good land, and the house is a decent size, too, with a detached garage that you can use as your shop. All we need now are the horses.”

“Sounds good,” he replied simply.

Miranda took a deep breath to work up the nerve, then said, “Let’s get married.”

“Isn’t that supposed to be my line?” Damon grinned. “You don’t want me down on one knee, after sneaking a diamond ring into your glass of champaign?”

“Don’t you think that we’re a little old for that sort of stuff?” Miranda shook her head with a smile. “We can stop by the courthouse on the way home and get it done today.”

“Sure. No point in waiting any longer than we already have.” He reached over to touch her leg, his fingers absentmindedly stroking the fabric of her pants as he sank into his thoughts. After a minute, he said quietly, “I half expected you to lose interest as soon as I was out.”

Miranda giggled slightly. “I half expected to discover that everything was a lie. We’re a couple of pessimists, aren’t we.”

“Guess so.” Damon chuckled as well. “We’ll suit each other well enough.”

They paused as Miranda popped her car into gear and began driving, then she ventured to ask, “Are you going to reach out to Alicia?”

Damon frowned. “No.”

“Why not?” Miranda asked, surprised.

He looked away. “I … don’t want her to be ashamed to have me as her father. Right now, all I have is my former life and the time I spent in prison, which isn’t anything to brag about.”

Miranda opened her mouth, then thought better of what she had been about to say. Instead, she mused, “I guess a little bit more time won’t hurt,” then glanced over at Damon as she bit her lip. She wanted to argue with him, and tell him that he was being pointlessly insecure about his daughter, but she had grown enough sense to know that she shouldn’t push him during his first hour of freedom. There would be plenty of time for that later. She asked sweetly, “Do you have a recent photo of her?”

“Yeah.” Damon shifted to pull out his wallet, and produced a picture of a 10-year-old girl grinning widely at the camera. “The warden gave it to me this morning.”

“She seems really happy,” Miranda murmured, doing her best to divide her attention between driving and studying the picture. “Spitting image of you, too.”

“Ha. Maybe a little.” Damon smiled warmly at the photo. “Lets get that ranch you wanted up and running first, then we’ll see how it goes.”

“Do you think I can actually do it?” Miranda felt her nerves bubble up as she thought about the plans that she had worked out with Damon over the last few years. “I’m terrified that there’s nothing left of me outside of being a lawyer.”

“I don’t see why not.”

“For starters, there’s not going to be someone announcing whether I won or lost. How am I supposed to know how well everything is going without that?”

Damon patted Miranda’s shoulder, then smiled devilishly. “You’ll just have to go off of how pleased I am with you.”

She felt her cheeks turn warm. “It looks like there’s one part of you that hasn’t changed at all.”

“Don’t think it ever will.”

Miranda smiled as she reached over to take Damon’s hand and give him a squeeze. “It’s a good thing I’m not a pushover; you’re going to have your work cut out for you.” She laughed. “All right, we’re here. Let’s get married before either one of us has second thoughts.”

After a short ceremony and several signatures, they were back out on the road, silent as they drove towards the outskirts of town, each deep in their own thoughts.

About Writing

NaNoWriDon’t

I’m going to go ahead and say this again: I don’t NaNoWriMo.

This is the wrong time of year to put the pressure on.

You see, I’m one of those weirdos who has a family.

I’m currently designing children’s clothing and shopping for fabric, I’ve got Thanksgiving to plan out and execute, which will be shortly followed by preparing for Christmas … and Animal Crossing is a mere 3 days away from a major update. I don’t have the time or energy to write 50,000 words this month. Or next month.

Instead of trying to write a novel as fast as possible, I’m a huge advocate for creating sustainable writing habits all year long. It’s important to have the space to live and breathe as a person, as well as the time for ideas to fully mature before they’re set down into words.

Frankly, NaNoWriMo is another aspect of a Fast-Food culture where everyone wants instant gratification at the cost of quality. Let’s face it: people are going to churn out something derivative this month, then spend the next year flogging it to death on social media to extract out as much money as possible from mindless consumers. Rinse and repeat.

So go ahead and spend the next four weeks furiously rewriting someone else’s ideas — I’m perfectly aware that nothing is going to stop you.

About Writing

Negative Attitudes Towards the Romance Genre

A few months ago I wondered if I should pull back on the romance label to help broaden the appeal of my writing, but recently I saw a youtube comment (on this year’s overtly capitalist re-imagining of Cinderella of all things) about how women are constantly attacked and shamed for liking romance.

I thought about my own personal experiences, how I was treated like I was too stupid to appreciate more sophisticated story lines, and how I was told repeatedly through my childhood and teenage years that I needed to settle on a career because no one was going to find me lovable. Not to mention, the frequent accusations of romance novels being nothing more than porn …

So I decided that the world needs to change. What I went through is messed up, and society needs to stop inflicting that on women and girls.

And I can’t change the world if I don’t own the fact that I write romance novels.

I love romance. I love deep emotional connections. I love happily ever afters.

This is a subject that I have researched and lived, and despite romance being considered a “stupid” genre, it takes an enormous amount of knowledge and skill to write emotionally engaging relationships that don’t fall flat.

A good romance novel is inspirational.

I’m not going to downplay the nature of the novels I write. I’ve already endured an enormous amount of criticism for being who I am, so there’s no reason to back down now.

About Me

Rambling

I sat down and read an entire book in two days.

It’s something that I haven’t done in years, but I like that I still have it in me to pull it off. I usually bounce from activity to activity, fulfilling an obligation here, stealing ten minutes there, trying to make the most of my day. I haven’t spent so much time on one activity in ages.

The funny thing is, as soon as I finished, I launched into an analysis of the author’s psychological problems. I couldn’t resist — the romance was so badly tacked on, it just screamed to be probed and dissected.

At some point, I decided to experience novels beyond what was written on the page. I try to see the authors behind the words, and can get a pretty good idea of what they’re like before I go searching for the bio. Unsurprisingly, the above author turned out to be divorced, and currently lives alone with two cats — which is probably why she failed at portraying romance effectively.

But otherwise, the story was very enjoyable. After all, I finished the book in two days.

That’s also why it can be so hard to share my writing with others, because it feels like I’m exposing huge portions of my insides to anyone who bothers to look. Guess why there’s a reoccurring theme about social outcasts? Obviously it’s because I’ve spent my entire life surrounded by a group of BFFs who love and support me. /sarcasm

As serious as I am about the craft of writing, I’m a flake about marketing. Big time flake. Heck, I worry that developing that part of my brain would hurt my artistic integrity, so it’s easy to shrug it off. My goal isn’t to become an entrepreneur.

Actually, there isn’t any real point to this post. I’m rambling.

Before 2020, I had been planning on some real-world marketing strategies to get my name out there as an author. Obviously when people started wearing gloves and hitting the hand sanitizer hard, I put those plans on the back burner. It still doesn’t feel like the time is right to engage with the real world yet, and I don’t want to fuss over stats on social media.

I don’t mind biding my time.

It’s nice to take a couple of days off for an indulgence, just because I felt like it.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com
About Writing

Readers’ experiences matter too

There’s some famous micro-story that goes something like, “Baby shoes for sale. Never used.”

As a mom, my immediate thought was that the parents forgot about getting the shoes because they were sleep-deprived, and the shoes ended up buried at the bottom of a drawer during the week the baby was the right size to fit into them — I have all sorts of baby items that were never used for that very reason. Heck, I was rather shocked when I realized that most people were so morbidly eager to mentally kill the baby based on so little. Ya sickos.

Writers cannot control what the readers imagine and assume while they read. They can appeal to the mainstream and draw on the experiences that people try to conform themselves to, but there’s always going to be someone who takes away something different.

I recently watched a movie, where some guy was wondering whether or not he was engaged to the right woman. Some other man decided to chip in, and talked about how he had been married for over 20 years, then went on to tell about how long ago he had met the most perfect woman ever and fell madly in love right there and then, but then was separated from her a couple of days later. The first guy was like, “So how did you find your wife again?” and the second guy replied, “I didn’t. That woman isn’t my wife, but I always think about her.” Cue sentimental music.

And I was like, “Wow. You are a horrible person for forcing your wife to live in the shadow of a fantasy for over twenty years, instead of appreciating her.” I definitely didn’t take away the message that I was supposed to.

I read reviews for books, and often see wildly different reactions to the same story. Where some people see virtue, others see emotional blackmail. Where some see strength and empowerment, others see discrimination and marginalization.

For me, that’s part of the magic of writing: everyone experiences the same story differently.

I think that it’s something writers should embrace.

Instead of seeking singular control over everyone.