Monday Musings, the terror of publishing

I started this on a closed facebook page for writers. This is the post.

I have almost as much a fear of success as I do of failure, and it often keeps me from moving in any direction. I think it’s because for writers success means people reading your work, which can be very personal.

I’ll be honest–this is as much a reason for my lack of blog posting as anything else. It’s terror of people reading my thoughts and that terror is there even though I have maybe one person visiting my two blog sites a week, and, lately, very few sales. I rarely hold back in my writing and when I do I get angry with myself. But putting myself into my work is exposure. Anna Nalick explains this best in Breathe (2 am)

Two AM and I’m still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer
Inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to.
And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
‘Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to.

Mind you, by putting this here I am, literally, using her words however I want to.

The thing is, I don’t know how to not write. It feels to me like communication through the written word is part of my DNA and as the world moves on and methods of communication through the internet becomes wider, it becomes almost compulsive. I am on facebook multiple times every day. And fiction, for me, is a great way to “illustrate” my thoughts and emotions. Some of that is subconscious, and it takes a book or two before I realize that I’ve been working out some things.

And that makes it even scarier.

I also tend to write my books in a bubble. I write what I think and feel, and I try to understand others’ thoughts and feelings by delving into the heads of other characters. It is so much a thinking process for me and I love it. I really do. There is nothing in the world like it. But then I have to come out and I have to share it and suddenly I realize that I had written no-holds-barred and what I put out there is me. I am partly afraid of rejection, but I am also just afraid of people knowing me. It’s an introvert thing, which I have yet to be able to explain fully.

Obviously I have found the courage to publish the work, both through a brick and mortar house and through the indie world. That much I can find the courage to do. What I have a difficult time doing is promoting it. Promoting for me is not just standing in front of a crowd naked, it’s yelling, “Hey look at me! I’m naked! You know you gotta see this. You’ll love it.” Totally terrifying.

But. . .I am determined to do it. This week, even. I’m moving forward on newsletter writing, and giving away a free book (details later) and finding newsletter subscribers, and maybe posting some excerpts here. Just know, anybody who reads this, it is terrifying for me and for many writers. Writing and publishing are acts of courage.

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Monday Musings

So I already broke my promise and didn’t “muse” last week like I was going to. I didn’t lost-in-thought-1220447-639x833post about that giveaway either. See, I’m just not very good at all of this. I love my books and I adore my characters who are, to me, people. Friends. But introverty-introvert that I am actually promoting or marketing them. . .well I avoid it. A lot. All the time. I want people to read my books, because I want to share my books and my friends. But I don’t want people to read my books because so, so much of me is in them. It’s a privacy thing.

But. . .I guess I just have to believe that, while there are people who will hate those aspects of me, there are people who will love them, will love my books, will love more. Those are the people I want to reach but I guess I won’t get there without some promotion. Without having the courage to show people my bared soul. Blech.

Let me see, what other musings have I got? Not much. I guess I am not really deep and meaningful on Mondays. Oh, here’s a thing. I’ve decided that I’m going to, for the PostPlague series under D.L., start working on some short stories about the secondary characters to fill in for newsletter subscribers while I work on the third book. Okay, scratch the “decided” because I have commitment issues, and say “thinking about.”

It occurred to me that I could probably do that for historical romance readers as well. I’m just not sure what yet. I’m thinking about the books out there and pretty much everything you need to know about the characters are in the books. The PP series is first person, so writing about other characters gives you their perspective. But my romances are 3rd person, so we see everybody’s perspective. I mean, I guess I could tell readers about Rick Winchester’s story before he arrives at the Bar M (The Wild Half) but I’m not sure that’s really all that interesting and the purpose of romance writing is romance. If that’s not in the short stories, do readers want to read it? I don’t know.

For other characters, I have the whole book written or am writing it. For example, in Running Wild, at the end of the book we have this little part about the private investigator that Nick hires: (Could be some spoilers here–fair warning–oh there, I xxxxx out a name to save a little something)

 

“That might explain why he’s so dead set again the movement,” Nick said. “You think his father’s connections could have gotten him access to the baggage car and Star’s trunk?”

“Easily,” Gabe answered.

“What trunk?” Lee asked.

Gabe stayed focused on Nick. “We’ve no direct proof, not yet, but as possibilities accrue. . .”

“And then there’s the picture frame,” Del said slowly. “Doubtless xxxxx used xxxxxx to enter the house.”

“I expect so,” Gabe said, as if he understood perfectly well the information about a picture frame that Nick had never heard of. “Nick, I’m in complete earnest when I say there’s no time to lose in this.”

 

and then there’s this a little later:

 

Gabe hesitated. “From Boston, is he? I should be honored to make his acquaintance. First, though, Nick, if you would be so obliging, I would like a moment’s privacy with you.”

Nick frowned as he pulled his six-shooters from the bedside table to lay on the bed. He couldn’t see what Gabe could have to say that the others couldn’t know, but arguing would take precious time. “O.K.” They stepped into the hall. “What is it?”

Gabe took a breath and put a hand on his shoulder. Something crossed his face briefly before he said in a low voice, “Miss Montgomery shall be fine, as long as you leave tomorrow and take Huntington. You’ll want the assistance. But don’t—and I mean this in all earnestness—don’t allow him near Mrs. Huntington. Understand?”

Nick frowned. That marriage had always made him uneasy and Del’s notorious reputation for an explosive temper only crowded the mourners. “You’ve heard of them in Philadelphia?”

Gabe smiled wryly, a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “One can hardly avoid it. Keep him as far away from her as possible.”

Nick sighed. “I’ll try, but I can’t keep a man from his wife if he wants to see her.”

Gabe held his gaze a moment before dropping his arm with a sigh. He shook his head. “You’re right,” he said looking away. “It’ll be for Viv to manage then,” he added under his breath.

“Viv?”

Gabe looked back at him. “My sister-in-law. She’s quite, uh, talented at cleaning up messes after the fact.” He took a breath and then offered Nick one of his rare, real smiles. “You’ve got your guns. A rifle cane too, I believe?”

“Yes,” Nick said. Had he told Gabe about that? “Star gave it to me.”

“Good. Keep it with you at all times. You’ll need it.”

 

In these paragraphs I’ve set up 3 stories–Gabe’s, Viv’s and Del’s. Okay, Del’s has already been set up to some extent in 2 books, but I’ve given hints of Gabe, whose romance with Catherine Clifford is entwined with Vivian Taft’s. So I can’t really give anybody a short story on that. Those are two books, which were half written before The Post Plague Trilogy screamed “write me, write me.” But. . .hmmmm. There are parts of Catherine’s story that I could write, I suppose. I should consider that.

Okay, so those are my musings for the week. Now I actually get some writing done! Oh wow, look, I figured out what block quoting is and how to use it. Cool! I’m kinda psyched about that.

 

 

 

 

 

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Been away. . .

So, I’ve “been away” for a while, ie: haven’t posted to this blog since 2015. I’ve been busily working away on my dystopian trilogy. But then I come here and see, wow, I’ve been hacked! Somebody came on and put in their contact information. Not sure exactly why they came to this blog, which has almost no activity, but, well, I guess all hackers can’t be brilliant, right?

Anyway, I’ve got some little bits of news: I am working on getting my rights back on Wicked Woman and The Wild One. Also, the second book in the dystopian trilogy is out. I’ve decided, too, that I should come and post here more often. So come Monday, I’m starting with Monday Musings. Just my thoughts for the week. Next Monday–4/3/17–it’ll be about a facebook hop that I’m in, which will giveaway some books on various facebook pages (including my D. L. Eagan page) and at least one amazon card worth $200. You might want to come back and check on that!

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The Liars, not really victorian. At all.

I’m tired. But I finished my dystopian book that I started in March in a fit of insanity. It is now up on Amazon. I’ll put it up on other platforms within the next couple of weeks.

Did I mention I’m tired?

First thing, probably should post the blurb.  And mention that even though it’s not Victorian, or a romance, it does have romantic elements. And I do believe that my years creating the Victorian world for readers has helped me enormously creating this dystopian world.

Freedom is the first lie.

274 years have passed since hatred, greed and corruption created the plagues that took down civilization.  Out of the chaos comes a new religion, Reyism, and an ideal government, the Temple.  The Temple generously provides all citizens with daily injections of life-saving serum, and an ideal test to assign them to their ideal jobs. They have achieved utopia, or so the Prophet preaches.

It’s a lie.

Neri Symmes’ survival depends upon lies. She must lie to stay alive. She must lie to keep her sanity, because anyone who challenges the benevolence of the Temple, or her husband, the Prophet, risks savage punishment and execution. Then Neri discovers that two friends, one of them an old flame, are embroiled in a desperate scheme against the Temple. Joining them might mean true freedom, but it also means deceiving her sadistic husband, who has all the power–and all the serum–on his side.

And pretty pretty cover.wtf liars

here’s the link

So basically what happened was I got very caught up in reading Hunger Games. If you’ve looked at the rest of my blog at all, you will see that. And then I got caught up in wanting to read more books like that, but I couldn’t find any that really hit me hard. So the part of my imagination that I seem to have no control over started posing that What If question that starts pretty much every story.

What if the protagonist of the Evil Authoritarian Dystopian Government is part of that government?

Or, what if she was the sister, daughter, wife of the leader of that Evil Authoritarian Dystopian government? Basically, what if the protagonist is Eva Braun (Hitler’s mistress)?

Well. . . kind of couldn’t see Braun taking down Hitler, especially since she was at his side when he died.  And no matter how I worked it in my mind, I couldn’t see how she could be sympathetic, so I had to work around that.

Also, didn’t really want to do Hitler. Lots of reasons, but mostly because I think he was nuts. And he had reasons, horrible and terrible though they were, for what he did. I wanted a straight-up sociopath. So, that’s what I did.

Then I had to create a government. An evil government. And what hit me first and hardest was an evil religious government, but not a religion that currently exists. This idea scared me, and that’s when I went for a long drive. And sent many WTF? emails to my critique partners.

And then, even though I thought I lost my mind, I wrote the book, because what else could I really do? And since I’d already gone down the rabbit hole, I took pretty much everything that fascinates me and put it in the book. There’s a Meyers-briggs type test. There’s the sociopath. There are plagues. There’s a love triangle, pretty clothes and the heroine, Neri, looks like she’s living the high life to everybody else, but she is so not.

So. There’s the story behind the story.

Give it a try. I love the story and heartily recommend it. Or I would heartily recommend it, if I weren’t so tired. I mostly just recommend it.

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The Suprising Science of Happiness

Love this:

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Another Day in the Twilight Zone

images[6]Two weeks ago, I decided I would do weekly updates on my writing. I figured that’s what a good writer does on her blog. I also decided that I would do weekly posts on my Hunger Games obsession, because for me, writing is a release of energy, and that was where a lot of my energy was focused.  I figured between those posts I would be better able to direct other energy into Spirited.

And then. . .the energy shifted.

This is what happens with me and obsessions: they create a need to write. Emotions create a need to write as well. It’s too much to keep inside, and for whatever reason I best express everything through fiction. And so I started to think maybe I could write, for myself, a more satisfying end to The Mockingjay and that would help me get back on track with what I really wanted to do.  The end of that series really left me sad, depressed, and yearning for just one more conversation between Katniss and Peeta, Gale, and Haymitch. I wanted the closure that I felt was missing from those books. Those are not my characters, however, and I don’t really know what they’d say. No matter how many times I read the books or watch the films, I can’t write the ending I want, because it just won’t ring true. Fan Fiction just doesn’t work for me.

So I started, instead, to fiddle with the idea of, hey, maybe I could write something similar–again, for myself–that would give me that satisfaction. I even sat down and started a little file with a little list of the things I needed closure on.

I got 4 things on that list before I realized I needed a dystopian world for my “closure” and I needed a triangle, and while I was at it, my characters needed to be older. I liked the main characters in The Hunger Games, because they felt older most of the time; they had to grow up fast. But I am not a teenager, and I wanted to write it in 1st person (present tense) like the series. I needed my protagonist to be older. And so I sat with my husband, who is a sci fi fan, one weekend morning and we spent a happy couple of hours or so talking about a dystopian world and characters. It was fun. Until the following week, when the thing took off in my imagination. I started writing a little–Closure!–and then more and then more, and suddenly this female character took over. And two male characters. And then the world.

It’s not what I wanted. I wanted closure so I could get back to Spirited and The Seventh Son. Instead I wrote 27k words in 3 days, and felt–still feel–like I was going nuts. I have a story where there was none before, and it’s in a totally unfamiliar genre. Well maybe not totally unfamiliar. I grew up on sci-fi, and I’ve lived with a sci-fi fan for most of my life. My son is as well and I’ve watched more Dr. Who than I ever wanted to (which isn’t so bad, because there’s humor in it). I’ve read some as well, but it’s not a go-to thing for me. So how on earth am I writing this?

I don’t know. I have no clue as to what I’m doing and this protagonist is definitely not Katniss, so there will be no closure. All I can really say is that the plot, the characters, the dialogue and the words just keep coming. I can’t tell you if it’s good. I can’t tell you if I’m following any kind of sci-fi formula. All I know is that it’s there and if I don’t get it out, my brain will get stuck and I won’t be able to write anything at all.

So. . .that’s where I am. I’m not working on Spirited. It’s what I want to work on, but it’s not really a choice right now. All I can say to anybody who is hoping for that next Victorian romance, is that I’m sorry.  I want to write it, but my muse has been kidnapped by a 26 year old woman living in the 23 or 24th century (not quite sure yet on that). Why she chose me–and that’s how insane this feels right now!–I don’t know; there are plenty of wonderful sci-fi dystopian fiction geniuses out there who could do a better job. All I can promise you is that at some point, this will be finished and I will once again be a Victorian romance writer. Until then, I’m living in the Twilight Zone.

 

 

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Obsession Friday, Hunger Games Part 2

How sad is it that I’ve looked forward to doing this all week? It’s been a bad writing week. I had goals and high hopes, but for some reason the words just would not come, even though I managed to do this:

(I tried to scribble out readable stuff so as not to spoil Spirited for people who want to read it)

(I tried to scribble out readable stuff so as not to spoil Spirited for people who want to read it)

You’d think it’d help, wouldn’t you? It did not. I keep trying to be Castle, but I don’t ever manage it. Then again Castle doesn’t seem to spend a whole lot of time writing, so maybe this week I am Castle.

At any rate, bad week writing but today is Friday and it’s time for obsessively 847280c0-a3e0-11e2-9075-bc764e10a080[1]analyzing the Hunger Games trilogy. Yay! I’ve got my kindle here and the dvd in the player. Let the second weekly analysis of The Hunger Games begin!

So when we last left our (re: my) Hunger Games obsession our intrepid characters (re: Suzanne Collins’) were in the chariot in the Capitol. We’d met Cinna and talked about who decided to hold hands (Cinna) and how Peeta and Katniss were afraid they’d, literally, go up in flames, something the film changes.

So one thing different in the book and the movie, is that in the book, while in the carriage, Katniss somehow manages to get her game on and flirts with the crowd–she even throws them kisses. Not a huge difference, so I’m not putting a number next to it. Besides, as you may recall, I started this to help me understand why I feel Peeta is definitely the right choice for Katniss, although my inclination would usually be for a Gale-type hero.

We ended with number 8, so:

9) This is not a big deal, either, but in the book Effie talks a bit about manners and how she’s pleasantly surprised that Peeta and Katniss have half-way decent manners. It’s a little bonding in that they are both irritated and feel angry and protective of their district.

10) The avox: An avox is a person whose tongue has been cut out, punishment for some terrible crime against the Capitol. In the book, an Avox is their servant in the training center, and Katniss knows her. There’s a bit about how she and Gale saw the Avox and her boyfriend one day in the woods, running away. A hovercraft comes down and takes the girl and her boyfriend away, and Katniss feels guilty that they didn’t do something to help them (in the book Katniss is all guilt, all the time, and it only gets worse as people die–you really don’t get to see that part of her in the movies, because it comes to us in introspection).

Anyway, when she sees the Avox at dinner, Katniss blurts out that she knows her. Everybody immediately informs Katniss that she can’t know a criminal. It’s kind of a threat, and we get the impression they’re being watched. Peeta very smoothly covers for Katniss by saying that the Avox like somebody they went to school with. It’s a blatant lie–the girl Peeta mentions looks nothing like the Avox. Still, Katniss and Peeta once again work well together, exchanging a few lines about their schoolmate, and then the subject is dropped.

Later, however, when they go to their rooms, Peeta brings it up. He’s curious and they go to the roof to talk about it. Peeta leads her to an area where there are wind chimes so they are less likely to be heard, and Katniss tells him the story. It’s the first time that Katniss receives any comfort from Peeta. It’s the first time we can really see how a relationship between them would work. More importantly, though, in these scenes we learn something about Peeta that does not come across well in the movies; he’s adept at lying. It makes him a stronger character. Because he does it so easily, Katniss is not certain she can trust him, and doesn’t believe his declaration of love for her until very near the end of the book. She believes it’s all an act.

I understand why they left this part out due to time crunches, and I’ve got no idea how they could bring this trait alive in Peeta’s character in the movie. It’s worth reading the book for, though.

11)The team approach: In the book, Cinna, Portia (Peeta’s stylist) and Haymitch decide to present Peeta and Katniss as a team. Haymitch says “In public I want you by each other’s side every minute.” When they start to argue he snaps, “It’s not open for discussion. . .You will be together, you will appear amiable to each other.”

It’s an unusual decision and Katniss is very leery of it because, of course, in the end she’s going to have to kill Peeta. She does NOT want to become attached to him (although we can see by the way she thinks about him that she already is, and she’s fighting it). Their stylists put them in matching outfits and are told to go stick together during the training sessions, including lunch. They grapple for some manner of conversation isn’t about home, which is painful. Peeta coaches Katniss through this by telling her when to laugh and smile because she admits “he’s much better at this than I am.” It’s difficult on them both. At one point when they’re alone, Peeta cracks a joke and Katniss laughs. She follows it up with. “Don’t. Don’t let’s pretend when there’s no one around.” He responds tiredly, “All right, Katniss.”

12)Katniss’s temper and breakdown: After Katniss shoots the arrow at the game keeper, she worries that they’ll kill her or her family. She goes to her room and cries for an hour. Also, the night before the interviews she loses her temper and tears up her room. In the movie she appears to be fairly calm, but in the book she comes across much more like a scared, anxious 16 year old girl.

13) Training vs Coaching, and Peeta’s decision: There’s training in the center and then there’s Haymitch’s coaching. Peeta and Katniss are never “trained separately”. Peeta does ask to be coached separately. The movie and Katniss’s point of view in the book implies the 11 score. However, his request comes before a full day of “coaching” about how to act in front of the cameras. Obviously Peeta wants to keep his crush on Katniss–the star-crossed lover’s bit–as a secret until they’re in front of the cameras. I kind of wonder if Haymitch knew this early on and always intended to capitalize on it (thus the “team” schtick). Based upon Katniss’s irritation over the team thing, he’d expect her to object. In my mind, the separate coaching was always part of the plan, and not Peeta’s reaction to the scores.

14)Peeta’s declaration: a)He tells Caesar that he’s not the only one with a crush on Katniss, but that a lot of the guys in school feel that way. She’s not just a “star-crossed lover” thing, but a heartbreaker.

b) In the movie, Katniss reacts by shoving him against a wall. In the book she pushes him, he crashes backwards into an urn, falls and then cuts his hands pretty badly on the broken pieces. Although in the movie, he just walks away, in the book, Peeta’s pretty snarly about that. He says she’s only worried about “her boyfriend’s” reaction and that Gale won’t care because she never said she loved Peeta. All of which leads to. . .

14)Argument on the roof: The movie has the scene were Katniss finds Peeta on the roof that night to be sweet. In the book, she does apologize but they still end up arguing. She doesn’t entirely understand what Peeta means by “I don’t want them to change me in there.” She’s irritated at his “superior” attitude and ends up saying “No offense, but who cares, Peeta?” He takes offense, and they part badly.

15) First days in the arena: For all that Peeta’s pretty ticked off at Katniss in the book, in both book and movie, when they’re on the pedestals, he sees that Katniss is considering disobeying Haymith’s orders, and shakes his head in warning. It confuses her Katniess and she ends up with the backpack instead of the bow (which probably saves her life). In the backpack she finds a sleeping bag, something that they don’t have in the movie. It’s pretty important. It gets much colder at night in the arena than we see in the movie, thus the reason that one tribute lights a fire, which leads to her death. Also, in the book, Katniss comes lose to dying of dehydration in the first three days. Leaving this out doesn’t really make a difference in tone or emotion or anything else, however it makes for interesting reading.

16) Peeta and the career pack: In the movie when Katniss sees that Peeta has joined the career pack, she’s obviously disgusted. In the book, the pack is arguing over whether the girl who lit the fire is dead. Katniss realizes Peeta’s part of them when he tells them he’ll go back and make sure she’s dead. He does that, but whether or not he kills her, we don’t really know.

While he’s gone, she listens to the rest of the pack talking about him. She learns that Peeta’s “handy” with a knife, (which we never really see in all 3 books) and that he hasn’t told them how Katniss got the 11. He keeps her deadliness with a bow secret.

17)Parachutes: In the book, there are no messages with the parachutes. It’s necessary in the movie for the viewer’s sake, but in the book Katniss feels that she and Haymitch have a kind of silent code.

18)Everything thing is affected by the fire: The other tributes are burned as well. Katniss herself suffers from not just the burn but smoke inhalation, which  causes her to vomit. And most importantly, the reason she’s not initially attacked by the tracker jackers is because of the smoke.

19) Peeta’s fight with Cato:  After Katniss is stung and gets the bow, she starts to hallucinate. At the same time the career pack is returning for their weapons. Peeta reaches her first and tells her to “go”. In the movie, she runs off and that’s that. In the book, Peeta turns and fights Cato off, thus saving Katniss. We learn that a few different ways later (we’re in her point of view, so we hear it from other people). This is how Peeta receives the wound that almost kills him, by risking his life to save her.

This is big, and I really don’t believe the film ought to have left this out. Honestly, all they would have had to do was a quick 20-30 seconds where Katniss stumbles off, Peeta turns a spear on Cato as he crashes through the trees, sword drawn.

20) Rue doesn’t “change (katniss’s) leaves twice.” We have the impression that she does sort of look out for Katniss while she’s out cold for two days. And she does teach Katniss which leaves to use and how to use them to suck out the tracker jacker venom.

21) The explosion: When Katniss sets off the mines around the careers’ pile of goodies, she’s thrown backwards. She loses her hearing in both ears for a night, and is too injured to move. She sleeps under a bush until she can escape the next morning. She recovers her hearing in one ear, but not the other until she returns to the Capitol.

A little bit later, she hears that there can now be two victors and that takes us into the last third of the book/movie. That’s for next week.

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