Five Reasons to Love Fie

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Fie is one of my favourite characters that I’ve ever written.

Here are a few reasons why you should love him as well.

1. Beard. The Beard. His beard. Beardy bear of a man that he is.

2. His strength and courage facing his fears.

3. Did I mention the beard?

4. His love of pottery.

5. His relationship with Haggard, his service animal and best friend.

And a million other reasons.

Five Ways At War Surprised Me

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I’m a panster (I write by the seat of my pants, usually without a plan at all.) So, in a way, my stories always surprise me.  Here are a few ways that At War with a Broken Heart surprised me.

  1. MacFluff – Did not see him coming at all. I was a quarter into the story when I realised the novel was shifting into m/m/m.
  2. Davet’s uncle – the complexity of their relationship did catch me off guard a little. I had to make sure I got it just right.
  3. Condoms. You’ll understand when you read the novel. =)
  4. All the various familial relationships. There are a lot of complex emotions. I worried quite a bit about getting those the way I wanted.
  5. Fraco. I can’t give away too many details here. *spoilers* But the entire storyline around Fraco broke my heart and surprised me.

 

How One Line Becomes Fifty Thousand Words

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I can’t speak for others, but my ideas come from a variety of places and almost always surprise me. At War with a Broken Heart was no different. It started with a song.

In my typical autistic way, I listened to Be Still by The Fray about a hundred times. I became obsessed. It even lulled me to sleep for months.

And then, from the vibe of the song, came a single line: “You broke me. You lost the right to put me back together.”

I had that line rolling around in my head for days.

It didn’t fit anything I planned to work on, so I jotted it down in an empty A5 Muji notebook (I use them for my book bibles.)

One line became a conversation.

“You broke me. You lost the right to put me back together.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Well, I hope it made you feel better to finally say the words. I still feel like shit.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You sent me to war with a broken heart.”

The characters hadn’t even been named yet. I didn’t know who said which part. Or if this would turn into a second chance romance.

It didn’t.

And then, Fie Morogh Russell came first. Beardy bear of a man who makes pottery. The painful, heart-breaking words were his. His character clung to my muse.

Very distract and annoying since I was working on a different novel.

Some characters make me work for it. I tug their secrets out like a dentist with a wisdom tooth. Fie flooded my brain with more information than I could handle.

I knew he’d gone to war with a broken heart and returned a shattered soul. He’d lost friends—and himself in many ways.

He hid away with his dog, his music, and his pottery.

But those words wouldn’t leave me.

And At War with a Broken Heart finally came to live with Fie, Davet, and Sid.

It’s amazing how one line of dialogue can spawn a fifty-something word novel.

Quoth the Raven

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(I was going to start this out with, these are a few of my favourite things. But now I’ve got that damned song from The Sound of Music stuck in my head.)

I wanted to share a few of the quotes on writing that I go to when I’m floundering.  This first one from Neil Gaiman is actually pinned on the board above my desk.

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“I am not at all in a humour for writing; I must write on till I am.” ~ Jane Austen

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” ~ Terry Pratchett

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ~ Octavia E. Butler

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” ~ Doris Lessing

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” ~ Neil Gaiman

 

Balance

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If 2018 had a word for me, it would be unbalanced. At least, that’s how the last six months of the year have gone. You know when you set goals/deadlines for yourself, and things start to pile up? And then it’s like a snowball rolling downhill, and you’re the target?

That was me.

So, for obvious reasons, my goal for 2019 is ‘balance’.

Balance in writing. Balance in my personal life. All about balance.

(How many times can I use the word balance in one post?)

My plan is to tackle this issue in a few ways.

I don’t know about other authors, but I struggle with all recommendations for ‘how an author should author.’ All those ‘experts’ who have the latest greatest advice. I think you have to be careful not to fall down every single rabbit hole with them.

And it is SO hard not to.

There’s always the latest greats ‘everyone is signing up for it’ new social media app or site. Mewe anyone?

Here’s the truth we never want to accept. You can’t be on EVERY single site. You can’t follow every piece of advice. You can’t be all things to all people (I think Lincoln said that.)

You just can’t.

There’s only so much of my brain power I can give.

I’m autistic, balance is crucial for me. If I push myself too far, I shut down. It’s horrible for my health to continue pushing and pushing.

That was 2018 for me.

Unhealthy.

So, 2019?

All about that bass…I mean balance.

What’s your word for 2019?

 

The Poisonous Influence of Perfection.

Me to my brain:
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Perfection is a toxic poison that strangles out my creativity.

And really, it’s less about perfection in the end product of my writing–and more about attempting to be expectations I’ve set up for myself of what I think others can do–or think I should do.

It’s a theme that has followed me throughout my adult life working first in restaurants, then as a teacher, and later in insurance.

A theme I didn’t truly understand before learning I’m autistic.

I’ve always needed to demonstrate my abilities at work. Striving to be the best. Not to overshadow others, but more to appear capable. I’ve had a fear of seeming unable to manage: work or life.

And as a result, I work myself to the point of exhaustion.

It’s a trend that followed me into writing.

Setting schedules and deadlines I can’t possibly manage.

Overachieving.

It’s not a bad thing, necessarily.

It is when you’re ignoring your health.

Autistics, at least from my personal experience as one, tend to battle inner ableism. This little voice that tells me I’ve not only got to be at the same level as non-autistic authors but better. It’s poison.

It really is.

The same inner voice that tells me I don’t need help or accommodation when I do.

It eats away at your accomplishments and makes missed goals or deadlines seem like monumentally massive failures.

This year, I managed to almost double my word count.

Brilliant, right? Except not, I didn’t take the breaks between projects that I usually do. I’ve ended up not enjoying writing as usual.

And the last two novels I’ve worked on have been a painful slog until the bitter end.

Next year, one of my biggest focuses will be to enjoy myself with writing.

Deadlines are important and so are word counts, but I can’t write myself into a serious health issue again.

 

 

Nope, No, Never.

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Everyone has advice on how to manage your social media. Everyone. People sell books, hundreds (just do a check on Amazon.) And like tips on writing, tips on book selling/promoting can often be contradictory. And, I’m grumpy enough to usually avoid jumping on the bandwagon.

One: I hear quite frequently is that you should always link all your social media accounts, mainly FB, Twitter, and Instagram, for crossposting.

Here’s why I disregard that:

  1. Linking accounts creates a nightmare if you are ever hacked.
  2. 50% of the time the hyperlinks created via crossposting wind up not functioning correctly.
  3. Each social media platform has a distinct vibe. Things I post on FB don’t necessarily reach a Twitter audience.

Having said all of that, I will occasionally copy/paste posts between FB and Twitter, but very rarely.

Two:  People often recommend an app that auto-shares a post to all your FB groups.

I’m not a fan, personally. I prefer having control over what posts where.  You also run the risk of promoting in a non-promo group or promoting the wrong book. For example, promoting a non-paranormal novel in a paranormal group.

Three (or maybe Two B): Another App is an Auto-Retweeting on Twitter one.

Here’s why I think that can have disastrous consequences. You’re surrendering control of what winds up posted on your account. What happens if you wind up retweeting a post about someone’s personal grief over the death of a loved one?  Or, retweeting one you actually disagree with?

Also, I’m a control freak.

I want to know what I’m sharing.

Four: Don’t be too personal. (Or transversally, always be yourself.) I’ve heard marketing/promoting experts offer both schools of thought.

I firmly believe, for better or worse, you should always be yourself.

Readers will be drawn to who you are. And if they aren’t, they probably won’t enjoy your book. Books are an extension of ourselves in many ways.

Last but not least, Five: Creating Teasers.

Granted, creating teaser images doesn’t quite fall into the same category as all the others. It’s an important one. If you’re going to use images to promote your book, be sure you have the right/permission to do so.

Seriously.

It can save you a world of hurt if you get sued.

Also, it’s disrespectful to the photographer if you’re using their work without permission.