Real or Not Real? Location, location, location!

Hello my friends. Welcome back!

Lately I’ve been thinking about locations. Why? Well, I live in southern California and recently I’ve decided that the weather is bi-polar. Yep. I’ve taken to wearing tank tops with a coat just so I’m prepared for any eventuality. Being on the coast, we have such a thing called “May Gray” and “June Gloom.” It’s a time of year where we get a cloudy maritime layer of yuck over the city for the better part of the day and the sweet Cali sun will bust through. This year the weather seems to be flip-flopping a bit more than usual and I find I have to change my clothing at least once a day to follow suit.

Annoying sometimes as a resident. Intriguing as a Writer.

This got me thinking about all the books I’ve read that were based on real cities and places. I really love it when authors do this. The fact that I could board a plane to Forks, Washington or Manhattan, New York and follow the steps of the character; see the sights they saw and ate where they ate is very appealing. There’s a kind of grounding in reality with this kind of setting. Blue sky. Green grass. Neon lights. Yapping dogs. It’s comforting and familiar and it makes me that much more connected to the book.

I’ve set my “Silver Sun” story partly in my own city. I love being able to share a walk down Main Street with my readers and describe the smell of Thai food mixing with the pizza place across the street. I can include real live people (with permission of course) that I’ve talked to, like my favorite postal worker and my cat’s veterinarian. Not to mention its kind of cheating. There’s no need to make up a city and people to interact with. They’re already pre-set for the writing!

It definitely has appeal for a writer (and a resident in my case. I’m lucky to live in my little paradise.) Even less than desirable cities and neighborhoods can make intriguing stories. “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Alan Paton comes to mind and “A Child called It” by Dave Pelzer We just wouldn’t necessarily want to GO to those places. They’re tangible locations you could put  a pin in on a map though.

Then again you can also change reality and still base it on earthly locations. A melding of the two. There’s a whole genre that has explored this phenomenon and it’s called “Fiction” with sub-genres such as Paranormal, Science Fiction, and Magical Realism. A certain percentage of the story is based on earth with cities and people who resemble reality but might have portals to other worlds or have mythical creatures walking among the humans.

I think that would be a really awesome reality to live in. This kind of setting is where I base a lot of my stories in. There’s so much freedom! To be able to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge and then rebuild it with super advanced alien technology or step through a mirror and end up in another realm is appealing to imagine, not to mention write. You can choose how much science and how much fantasy are included in your story although you run the risk of getting those ultra fussy critics that demand facts to support your werewolf metamorphosis theory.  (My husband is one of these *ROLLS EYES*)

And then there is, in my opinion, the hardest kind of setting to write. Let’s sing about it Jasmine!

~”A whollee neewww worrlllddddd! A dazzling place I never knew!”~

Sorry. There’s your ear worm for the week. But it’s true. Writing an entirely new world is a daunting task. I’ve read quite a few Epic fantasy sagas that are so rich in politics and language and lore I wonder how they ever found the time to FINISH it. “The Lord of the Rings” by J. R. R. Tolkien, “Symphony of Ages” by Elizabeth Haydon and “The Belgariad/Mallorean” series by David Eddings. So much work and thought and love went into each one of these stories. But even these are still roughly based on reality.

Creme de la Creme? Science Fiction writing. How about we take all this up to the stars? I don’t read much Science Fiction because it’s not my cup of tea but I greatly admire authors who write this genre. This is completely new territory that they literally build from scratch. So little is known about space and what IS known barely makes sense to the professionals who study it much less curious writers. However, this, in its own way, gives complete freedom to the author to write whatever they want; even more so than fantasy writers.

Advanced technology. Brand new races of people. New threats and planets and galaxies born from their imagination. New problems and conflicts and malfunctions. New issues with politics and marriage and bearing children. All off the surface of the earth into the last frontier. How amazing is that?!

I certainly don’t have the fortitude or the will to create something out of nothing. Yet. Baby steps. But deciding where you’re going to base your story changes the whole tone of it. The setting really IS its own character. Probably the most important side character ever. World building gives the reader a frame of reference to where everything is happening to the main characters and paints the canvas of your mind with color and feeling. Don’t treat it like the background that it is. Make sure you can engage all five senses when you’re writing and have your characters interact with their surroundings frequently.

Keep it real. Or fantastical ;D Your choice!

Enjoy and keep plodding.

Hell Hath no Fury…

Today I would like to talk about mood.

A helluva bomb was dropped on me recently and my mood has been more up and down than a Six Flags roller coaster. I’m having an extremely hard time dealing with it but strangely, in all it’s complexity, it makes me want to write, which is a good thing, yeah? Of courrseeee it is! Anything that compels someone to write is a good thing!

As a writer, you have to be ready and willing to strike a mood at any time for any scene at the drop of a hat. I usually use synthetic mood inducing music playlists for each of my novels so if I need to induce anger or sadness or a sappy mood all I need to do is click a button and let the music take over. It really is only a placebo affect though. The real thing, the REAL anger and the REAL sadness…there’s no truer writing and it’s a difficult place to be.

Writers are at their truest selves when they take from real life. My stories, for instance, Ni Hao Handsome and I’m the Punch Line? Wow, Really? were stories taken from my real life. There was embarrassment, self-deprecation, sarcasm, joy and so many other minute things. I formed them into something other people can relate to and that’s phenomenal. I was damn proud of those stories! Am, actually. And looking at those stories makes me realize how important injecting human emotion into stories is.

No matter what you write, Fiction, non fiction, biographies, Cook books, sci-fi, literary, poetry…all of it, every single word, is used to invoke emotion in the reader. Some will read the same poem and take different things away from it. Some will critique it or not feel anything. That’s okay. I just believe that with your current WIP, whatever it may be, deserves an injection of real emotion, not stuff that SOUNDS real.

Like, when you’re reading a paragraph and the author makes an analogy that so totally fits your understanding you have to believe they’ve felt what you have at some point. THAT is what mood helps us to do. It’s so broad in interpretation too! There are things written that you may never have thought about until you pause and contemplate.

“Wow….Okay yeah! I can totally see that.”

These are the moments I believe that writers have when they’re genuinely feeling that emotion. I admire them for translating their thoughts and feelings onto paper without sounding contrived. To cry over a death or a reunion or get angry at a villain for doing this despicable thing…I enjoy those experiences and try, whenever I’m able, to write my mood as well.

For instance, there is someone that I desperately miss right now, even though we’ve never met in real life. I miss his mind, his humor, his gentle admonishments when I’m being an idiot. This brings to mind my Silver Sun story, when the main character Merry is missing her almost-husband Gaelyn. I would use this emotion to write scenes where she’s reflecting on him. I would put her in my shoes and attempt to write the emotions I felt.

Or maybe I’m black with rage and feel like I could cut down the first person who crosses my path. This could be Nona, the main character in my Hourglass novel when she realizes her husband is dying without her. What a damn good ride this rage would take us on!! And I know my readers would relate to the emotion, if not the situation. It is, I believe, every writers dream to connect like that to their audience.

Nothing is purer than the emotion of real life experiences. If writers are able to capture than and funnel it into their novels, then I know their readers will thank them for it. Readers are not dumb. They can tell when something is contrived. Write the truth and readers will respond.

Sorry this is a short blog post. My Jim Beam shots are kicking in to numb me because I just feel too much right now. Nothing is clear enough to write except this blog.

Take care y’all. write on.

I can’t sing! I can’t dance! I have to WHAT? Ahh CRAP…

Sometimes I think I really shouldn’t read blogs. I mean, I like to, but sometimes there’s that one article that just leaves me paralyzed with shock. It could be horrific natural disaster photographs with survivor stories interspersed, or a particularly moving piece of poetry that somehow ripped the words from my soul and displayed them on the computer screen. I kinda like when that happens to be honest. It makes me feel more connected to my fellow writers and reminds me that YES! I have a home here! These people UNDERSTAND *_*

And then there are blogs where I wish I hadn’t read them because they’re so right it’s painful. I am, of course, talking about writing. Specifically, PUBLISHING—DUN DUN DUUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*RUNS AND HIDES*

I have a board on Pinterest labeled “Writing Amusé” . Anything that interests me about writing will be pinned to this board. Writing prompts, funny quotes, good blog articles, tips and tricks to writing genre fiction… it’s all there. There is, however, a distinct lack of anything having to do with–

*GASP*–PUBLISHING.

Ermagherd Jess! Your dream is to become a published novelist and you know NOTHING about it? Seriously?

I know. I KNOW. It’s a hurdle I really haven’t thought about passing. I’ve studiously avoided it because I knew that all that careful self-confidence I’ve been trying to build would crumble in fear and I would hurry back to my turtle shell of safety. And so it has.

Pinterest presented me with an article that seemed pretty safe. It was written by Carly Watters, a literary agent, and it was called “4 Platform Elements that catch an Editor’s attention”. Now, the whole reason I’m even on WordPress is because I knew that it was suggested that writers start a writing platform to reach out to the public. (See? Not COMPLETELY in the dark here!) I took that baby step toward successful writing. But this article spouted terribly frightening things like, CONNECTIONS, PRESS and E-MAIL. EN MASSE.

D: I have to WHAT? Ahh crap…

Oh yeah. The whole publishing dream behind my rose-colored glasses has been shattered. I figured it would be like this:

  1. Write a book
  2. Get an editor
  3. Get a book deal
  4. Get marketing to do a bang up job promoting the book
  5. Make millions while inspiring people to write their own stories

Book writing in 5 easy steps folks!!

Yes, I can hear the world laughing at me. I accept this.

Reality (ad-libbed from the article):

  1. Make connections. Go to writing conventions. Get business cards. Meet other writers in your town. Sign up to follow other writer’s blogs. Form a support—I mean a WRITING group. Be as interested in these other people as you are in your own novel. Make friends with all different kinds.
  2. Press appearances. Get comfortable being in the spot light and public speaking. Promote your book and yourself with charm and grace. Don’t be afraid because this is what will sell your work.
  3. Get Numbers. The less work an editor has to do with marketing and audience gathering, the better the chances are of getting a YES. Use blogs, twitter, Facebook pages to promote yourself. If an Editor sees that you already have a decent following, it’ll boost chances considerably.
  4. E-mails. As annoying as those e-mail pop ups are, nearly everyone who frequents social media has an e-mail. It’s the fastest way to reach the public even if they don’t frequent your blog/twitter/Facebook page. A significant e-mail number with impress editors and agents.

The article is from a literary agent’s point of view. I mean, this is the goods! Real information on how to get your foot in the door and be noticed among the stacks. It’s just, for someone like me, who enjoys being a chameleon, it’s crippling to be told it’s necessary to be a flashy peacock. Do the song and dance to make people notice you and THEN keep them interested. Give them the ol’ razzle dazzle and rise above the other nublet novelists to be noticed (while still being their friend).

Well after my initial freak out, running and throwing myself on my husband’s sympathetic mercy and getting metaphorical head pats from my infallible friend Owen, I decided that it doesn’t matter.

Yep. I said it. IT DOESN’T MATTER–RIGHT NOW.

I have taken the first step and started a blog (which my family doesn’t even know about but HEY! Getting there!) I am writing the first re-draft of my 2015 NaNoWriMo Novel. That is all that is necessary at the moment. There’s no use freaking out over something that I can’t control. I only have 11 followers but that’s on me for not promoting myself better and not writing blogs regularly. And that’s okay. There’s no rush to fame.

(And to be honest, I’m actually dreading book tours and public appearances for so many reasons). So remaining unknown is perfect for me at the moment. I’m not ready.

Keep calm. You’ll get there. I’ll get there too.

So the point of this short blog is to just remind you to stay focused on what you CAN handle. Everything will come in its proper time.

Good luck my friends!