Monthly Archives: June 2018

The Real Fantasy

You know how I know I write fantasy?

It’s not the chains. It’s not the slavery. It’s not even that my female protagonist inevitably ends up with the hottest partners conceivable. I mean, that’s just expected, right?

No. It’s the fact that I had my leads out a predator in my [second book][https://www.amazon.com/Aces-Spaces-Gamblers-Book-2-ebook/dp/B01GIJSNJQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530048354&sr=8-1&keywords=aces+and+spaces%2C+daphne]. Afterwards, he is quite vocal about how many speaking gigs he has lost as a result. He’s even forced to leave town.

At the time, I knew of a small band of people who had moved, more than once, to different corners of the country due to what I will politely describe as controversy. Apparently, their story made my little subplot seem plausible.

I cringe at my own naivete now. Because, unfortunately, real life does not work that way.

Instead, the bad apples just keep bobbing to the surface. And given enough time, fewer and fewer people know there was ever any problems at all. Memories are short in this community. With so much turnover, some of us end up telling the same story over and over, while the predator takes advantage of the ignorance.

It’s draining.

But that’s what the predators count on. That we will be too tired to stand up to them. That we will be too scared. That it simply won’t be worth the trouble. That we will give up.

Don’t fucking buy it. We’re not all wide-eyed newbies.

I don’t know what the secret is to avoiding burnout. I’ve been there, and it is a tough place to dig yourself out of. But I do know that we can support each other, validate each other, and stand together. We can also stop supporting groups that harbor ongoing, blatantly predatory behavior.

Step back if you need to. But don’t let them permanently sideline you.

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Perspective

Until recently, my novels have been written exclusively from the perspective of one person – my protagonist and female lead, Lucy. it’s no secret that she and I have a few things in common too. We’re both a little (sometimes a lot) awkward, we both own a baseball ball gag, and we both have strong, irrepressible sarcastic streaks.

In other words, it’s not a big stretch for me to get into Lucy’s brain.

In the fourth book, Riding It Out, it became necessary to enter my male lead’s head. There were simply too many events that Lucy would necessarily not be around for.

Seth could easily, if simplistically, be described as the strong, silent type. He doesn’t always have a lot to say. Nevertheless, I fully enjoyed finding his voice. He embodies confidence though he is rarely cocky. When problem arise, he faces them head on and wonders why you ever doubted that a solution could be found.

I took that man and made him vulnerable. Repeatedly. Suddenly, the solutions weren’t so simple, his foundations weren’t so secure

I don’t know if this counts as a spoiler alert, but I loved Seth’s perspective so much, I decided to use it for the entirety of book five. And you know what? When writing as Seth, I found myself walking with a bit more swagger, a little extra strut in my step.

Eventually, I realized that *that* was why I enjoyed writing him so much.

I finished a draft of book five – it only has a tentative title so far – in February. My process always includes a cooling off period between drafts. I call it letting the book marinate. I need time to forget what I’ve written so I can go back with fresh, objective eyes.

In the meantime, I wrote a first draft of the sixth book. I doubt it’s very good, but I made myself finish it before going back to edit the fifth book. For book six, I decided to take on another character named Celine. If you’ve read the series so far, you’ll recognize the name. So far, however, she hasn’t had too large of a part. That’s over.

I’d long thought of Seth and Celine as extremely similar. At the very least, they are two sides of the same coin. Which makes complete sense. After all, they were both inspired by the same real-life person. And while Seth broke from this person somewhere in the first book, Celine is a much closer match.

Celine is a lesbian, a psychic, and a pure sadist. She’s had to prove herself, in one way or another, for one reason or another, her entire life. She doesn’t quite have a chip on her shoulder, but if you challenge her, she will not hesitate to push back. She has a zero tolerance policy for straight, cis-male bullshit.

While Seth’s priority is control, Celine’s is pain. She doesn’t need to be in charge or enforce rules, she has little interest in power exchanges, but she will push you to the edge of pain. And you will thank her for it.

You love her already, right? Me too.

Writing as Celine really helped to highlight the differences between her and Seth. Even if book six ended up being nothing more than a writing exercise, it helped me to better understand her. And that makes it worth writing.

Celine’s voice took me some time to find though. I didn’t slip into her brain anywhere near as easily as I did Lucy or even Seth. But once again, I found her perspective colored the way I looked at the rest of the world. Any fucks I did have, disappeared.

There is one scene in book six where I switched back to Lucy’s voice. It had been a while, but the re-entry was pretty smooth. Her awkward side was on full display and, wouldn’t you know it, that side of me came out in full force too.

It was fascinating. And probably something I should have picked up on some time ago. Certainly I had in real life, but this was an object lesson of the best kind.

Changing your perspective changes the way you look at the world. How you approach the world. We should all try it more often. It’s all part of listening to what those who are different than us are saying. It’s part of believing them.

Look. Look through their eyes and See.

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Saying Goodbye

There is a theory that, in the olden days, we called people who heard voices insane and put them in institutions. Now, we simply call them writers.

Bah-dum-chee.

And yet, there is a certain amount of truth to that. When writing, the background noise in my brain is my characters chattering away. I can turn it off, and often do for hours at a time, but thoughts of the current or next scene are never far from my consciousness.

I’ve always said that I have kept writing because my characters kept talking, whether to me or to each other. They’ve been doing it for years. Just when I thought I was done, I wasn’t. Just when I thought I knew what was going on, I didn’t. They’ve surprised me time and time again.

And now they’ve stopped.

Monday night, I finished a first draft of what will be book six in my timeline. And for the first time, it truly feels like the end. I don’t have a story in mind for after this. I don’t see a reason to continue or anything else productive that I can do with these characters. Everything seems to have led to this point.

I assumed this day would come as a relief. Finally, they wouldn’t bother me when I was working, or wake me up in the middle of the night with the next big, important conversation. This was supposed to be a good thing.

Guess I should have been more care with what I wished for.

Because now I’m just at odds and ends. I don’t know what to do without their chattering. All day, I have felt like someone I have talked to every day for the past four years has suddenly disappeared. There’s nobody to text, no one to call, no way to contact them on social media.

It would seem that Seth has well and truly gone off the grid.

I’ve been assured this is normal, that I will make new fictional friends. Perhaps I will. But I also like to think that, as I edit, my old friends will come back. I have a lot of editing to do, plenty of time for them to show up and let me know where I went wrong (spoiler alert: it’s pretty often).

So today, I am feeling this. I watched a favorite funny movie, ate some ice cream, and allowed myself to mourn. That may sound like I’m overstating things, but I promise that I am not. Make no mistake, this is a loss. Given how much of a distraction these people have been, both from work and from world events, it is a significant loss at that.

Thanks, guys. It’s a been a real fun ride.

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