The Best Laid Plans of an Author

Pickled Petunia

2020 has been a year like no other, hasn’t it? I mean, it’s been three centuries long. So much has happened that I keep forgetting random massive events that happened in January or February because it feels as though they occurred a few years ago and not months.

And like everything else, my writings plans haven’t gone….to plan. I haven’t struggled for inspiration. But trying to stay focused in a trash-fire year has seemed almost impossible.

I fully intended to start November 1st with Pickled Petunia, book 3 of my Motts Cozy Series. It’s likely I’ll start a week late as I’m wrapping up another novel.

The lessons I’ve taken from 2020 have been to try and stay open to change. And don’t get so wrapped up in what and when you think things are going to happen. Life, particularly this year, doesn’t always go how we expect.

It’s not easy as an autistic. I like my routine. I need a schedule that makes sense for me. 2020 has shredded my regular routine completely.

I’m hoping to end 2020 with four novels written. I’m 80% through my third, Ghost Light Killer. With a bit of luck and hard work, I can add Pickled Petunia to the list. We’ll see.

What about you? How has 2020 affected your writing plans?

Things you should never say to an autistic author

Or just an autistic, in general.

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As an autistic author, I’ve always prized inclusivity, diversity and unique own voices.

Talking openly about being an autistic author, my experiences, my journey is just one way to hopefully educate and prevent the many misconceptions that can be damaging and insulting. Sometimes, it’s necessary to put it bluntly and plainly in a list of does and don’ts.

Not an all-encompassing list, of course. And my experiences as an autistic may differ from another.

If you’ve met one autistic, you’ve met one autistic.

Don’t…

  1. Tell them they don’t seem autistic.
  2. Tell them it’s ‘person with autism.’
  3. Suggest a cure. Don’t. By suggesting a cure,  suggests to us that you wish we weren’t alive.
  4. Bring up Autism Speaks. (https://intheloopaboutneurodiversity.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/the-ableist-history-of-autism-speaks/)
  5. Treat them like they’re a child and can’t understand what you’re saying.
  6. Tell them their autistic characters aren’t realistic because they’re not like your child/relative/friend.
  7. Insist they’re ‘so brave.’ Seriously. Don’t.
  8. Email them with your expertise on autism despite the fact that you’re not actually autistic.
  9. Ask them if they’ve tried a gluten-free diet.
  10. Suggest yoga might make everything better.

For a point of reference, these are all things I’ve been personally told either by friends, family, authors, or readers. Some have been emailed directly to me. Others were said in person. Some have been directed to me on social media.

What can you do?

  1. A quick search on Google will find Autistic bloggers and Autistic-led organisations with loads of resources.  Here’s one of my favourites: https://autisticadvocacy.org/
  2. Be patient in conversation with us. Auditory processing disorder is something a lot of autistics deal with, we may need you to repeat yourself for us to catch up.
  3. Meet us halfway. We’re doing our best in a non-autistic world, educating yourself can help bridge the gap.
  4. Extend invitations to us. We might not always say yes but no one enjoys being excluded.

**Thanks to my beloved friend and publisher for giving me a hand with the wording of this post**

Musical Theatre Faves

My two main characters in Cosplay Killer are obsessed with musical theatre. Here are ten of their favourite shows.

1. Hamilton

2. Six: The Musical

3. In The Heights

4. Wicked

5. Only Fools and Horses

6. Matilda

7. Jesus Chris Superstar

8. Little Shop of Horrors

9. School of Rock

10. Rent

What’s your writing kryptonite?

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I think every author has a kryptonite. An aspect of writing that is difficult for them. Or, at least, I DEFINITELY do.

I thought I’d share my kryptonite with you.

  1. Editing, in general. We hates it, precious. I mean, I love my editor (love you Liv!) but I hate editing.
  2. Commas.
  3. Commas.
  4. Commas.
  5. Forgetting a word and changing an entire paragraph to compensate so I can use another one.

What about you? What’s your kryptonite?

Character Exploration

What secondary characters do I wish I could explore?

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(Me to my muse.)

This is a dangerous topic to discuss. My muse has a habit of running away with me when I’m supposed to be focus on a specific story. But, I thought it would be fun to talk about the various secondary characters in all of my books that I wish I could’ve explored further or written something for.

I picked just three either individuals or couples. There were a few others but if I give my muse too much temptation, I might get myself into trouble.

1. Silus/Zeb

The first one who came to mind was Silus and Zeb from The Sin Bin. Remi’s cousin and Scottie’s little brother who develop a romance in The Lion Tamer. I’ve always wanted to write their romance, but things just didn’t work out there. Maybe one day.

2. Jesse

The second person who came to mind was Jesse from Found You.

Here’s the intro you get to Jesse in the book:

Jesse had lived in Key West for almost twenty-three years. He’d arrived on Dusk’s seventh birthday, having drifted ashore in a banged-up life raft, looking like a cross between Santa Claus and a starved pirate. The man had claimed to have no memory of where or when his boat had sunk or what his last name was. No one knew his true age or name, though he appeared now to be in his late sixties. A jack of all trades who had done stayed on the island, doing odd jobs to make ends meet.

I have ALWAYS wanted to delve deeply into the mysterious past of Jesse and what led up to him getting shipwrecked in Key West. Maybe one day.

3. Remi/Sara

A couple we see in The Sin Bin books. I’ve written a flash fiction for them at one point. But I think it would be brilliant to dip into their backgrounds. Remi and Sara both have some interesting family dramas to cope with. We only get the slightly hint about them in the series and again in Forged in Flood.

Honorable Mentions: Ahmed from The Misguided Confession, Dr. Gen from The Caretaker, and Bishan’s siblings in The Grasmere Trilogy.

Hamilton.

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Since Hamilton came to Disney+, I’ve watched the entire play about ten times. I’ve watched the first half an additional ten or more. The second half tends to make me weepy and I’m not always in the mood to cry.

Each time I watch Hamilton, something new seems to stand out to me.

Here’s a few things I’ve noticed.

1. Christopher Jackson’s face during the final song while Eliza sings about his story and slavery.

2. The brilliantly subtle moments of foreshadowing woven throughout.

3. (or technically, 2a) Burr’s ‘like I said’ comment at the first scene in the bar where Hamilton meets Lafayette, Mulligan, and Laurens.

4. The Bullet. If you know, you know.

5. David Diggs. His pure joy in performance.

6. Brilliant word play and musicality.

7. Leslie Odom, Jr’s masterful performance.

8. The emotion evoked by Renee Elise Goldsberry in Satisfied.

9. Jonathan Goff’s laugh after One Last Time.

10. The interplay between Hamilton and Samuel Seabury during Farmer Refuted.

My Editing Process

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I’m pretty sure my editor doesn’t think I have a process.

(She might be right. Love you, Liv!)

So…here’s what usually happens for me throughout editing.

  • It starts while I’m writing. I generally send each finished chapter to two of my betas. I find it helps me with keeping tracking of things, though that’s not always successful either.
  • Finish the book! (Yay! Collapse in a heap. Throw confetti. Have a nap.)
  • Do a round of edits.
  • Send to my last beta who works magic for me.
  • Do another round of edits.
  • Do a third round with Grammarly.
  • Submit my book to my publisher after whining endlessly about writing a synopsis.
  • Multiple rounds of edits with my editor and publisher.
  • So many rounds.
  • All the edits.