Saturday, March 22, 2014

Birthday Reflections

Every year, I write a blog post looking at the past year, taking measure, and setting goals for the year ahead.  This year is no different, except that I have nothing but good news to report for a change.  I'm thirty-eight today.  That's amazing to me.  I can't believe I have lived this long, and for those who know the stupid stuff I've seen and done I bet you're just as surprised.  But I'm here.  And I'm ever so grateful.

As I get older, I am more comfortable with myself.  I still try to identify my flaws and resolve them.  I'm still trying to figure out what the right thing is, and I don't always know what to do next.  But I love my husband, I finally have a job where I am happy on all levels, and my writing has really started to move.  My enemies are few and my problems even more scarce.  For the most part, I live a charmed and satisfying life, and except for winning the lottery I can't think of what I might wish for.

It's been a year of change.  I cut ties with some influences that may have had a great impact on my writing career, but were ultimately not in alignment with my own principles.  I have mostly given up political writing and am working on fiction.  It seems like a long time since anything has come out, but that is because it takes a lot to get the ball rolling with fiction writing.  I have started school and am loving it even while I cuss at homework and cry over math problems.  All of these changes are good, but navigating them has been challenging at times.

I think the single greatest thing of this year has been an overall coming together of past, present and future.  I have finally been able to let go of some people and things that don't belong in my world any longer.  My past is finally fading.  My present is wonderful.  My job and friends and school life makes for a busy time, but I am happy and I feel the love.  After cutting out the toxic friendships of my twenties, I have found healthy relationships that actually make life nice.  It's terrific.  My future is a little slow to piece together, but growing into a beautiful picture.   Bart is about to graduate with his degree in culinary arts, and I am finally grasping the realization that I will someday work in journalism or media.  It's crazy, but we are on the brink of a whole new life, and we have laid the foundation carefully.  I'm very hopeful.

Thank you all for sticking around, and I hope the next year brings us all blessings and growth.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Sister Alice

It's been hard to transition to writing fiction.  Sort of like when a person who used to be in good shape takes a long break and then suddenly gets the itch to run a few miles.  I can do it, but it hurts that muscle like hell sometimes.  Working constantly and embracing the pain is the only way to get past either one, and I'm finally starting to get conditioned to the cycle of pondering, stewing and actually writing.

The one that has come to center stage for now is my first collaboration project.  I wrote with others on Dead Shuffle, but we each had our own story lines and styles.  In this case, I was able to hear someone's idea and (I hope) execute a thoughtful story that is great on all levels.  It will be a novella and if it does well it will be a series.  I would love to have it on Amazon by the time we take our vacation (more about that later) but it's far more likely I will finish it on that trip while we drive for 5-8 hours a day.  Hey, as long as it gets finished, I'll be happy.

Besides collaborating with someone, this has been a first in many ways.  I'm really learning a lot about the editing and publishing process, and I have made some great connections that will let a lot of people have a hand in the finished product.  From a special request in the artwork to hidden mentions in the story, I have taken a lot of things and thrown them into the pot.  It's also a crazy story, my first departure from "plausible if not provable" fiction in over a decade.  This is fantasy, and I haven't touched that since Shadow Men.  I've had to break out of my comfort zone, because it gets scary to me when you leave the facts behind.  But it's also been great.  My characters are growing quickly and sometimes the magic really is there, if only for a moment.

I'm hooked and having a ball.  Expect updates here, and of course on my author page on Facebook.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Shift In Direction

Life is about change.  There were times I wanted to write different things, and I have enjoyed writing several different lengths in a variety of genres.   I have spent the majority of my effort in writing nonfiction in general, and it has been delightful.  I have learned discipline, gained valuable experience formatting and thinking about both the moment and the big picture when it came to picking and choosing stories.  I was blessed to write for delightful editors who whipped me into shape and then gave me full access and creative freedom.  I hit some heights and did many things that made me proud.  I love all of the work I did, and the people I met while doing so.

However, having said that, I believe it's time for me to primarily go back to fiction writing.  Some editing and writing opportunities have come up, and they are all in fiction.  This is my first love, making things out of nothing.  Meeting characters in my head and getting to know them.  Figuring out why they're talking and what they are really saying.  I enjoy the hell out of political commentary but my roots are here.  It's what it is all about.  And it's time to go big or go home.  I can't split my energies between so many different things, and with a full-time job, school, the resulting homework, following politics, researching history, working on The Daylight Man, writing short stories and doing that little thing I call "sleeping" I find myself a little swamped.

This doesn't mean I will stop writing for Zandar Versus The Stupid.  I've written for him for years and I really enjoy his company and his audience.  A lot of my followers that I have gotten to know over the years hang out there, and I've met a lot of great people through comments that led to online friendships.  That is my nonfiction home and I want to give Zandar my best while we start to gear up for 2016.  There's a lot of work ahead and I want to do my part.  I may occasionally send a piece to a different source, but that's where the vast bulk of my commentary belongs.

The dawning realization of the need for a change in direction came right before something else captured my fancy.  A very talented person had an idea they wanted to share, and it has sparked something amazing.  In a few days of chatting, a firm story has formed and it's currently underway.  It will be out as soon as possible.  I would love for it to be on Amazon by the end of summer, but it's too soon to see just how big this one is going to go.  In the meantime, that is where the bulk of my creative writing is going.  Hang it all, I am in love with these characters and this will be a great transition project.  I'm getting back into that creative place, and it is nice.  I forgot how much fun a little magic could be, and the burden of plausibility has been lightened in this universe.  Anything is possible, and that has been just what I needed to get back in touch with my fiction self.  Thank goodness this person was able to share their ideas effectively, and help me when I was a bit rusty.  Reading is fun, but my God writing is better.  Collaborating has been both fun and challenging, and adds a whole new level of difficulty to the mix.

It's a big deal for me to put the brakes on the nonfiction for a while, but this really does suit me better.  I am no journalist, I am a storyteller.  Or at least, I like to think so.  When I think about my long-term writing career, I envision myself writing novels and making people believe in the people and places that bloom in my head.  I guess I'm just surprised the change in direction crept up on me, because I didn't realize I was there until I had been there a while.  I'm at the final push to making my dream come true.  I've spent five years building a diverse and specific list of accomplishments.  Now it's time to do a few short jumps back into fiction and push for the book.  I'm there.  I'm freaking there.  I'm terrified.  I'm freaking terrified.

The good news is, instead of waiting two years for a book, I'll have something out soon and a book coming out in two years.  This won't slow me down.  It's the door opening, taking me back to that place in my head where anything can happen.  I've missed that place, and I don't know that I can ever make myself leave again.