Tag Archives: creation

Why do I Write in the Fantasy Genre?

At recent book reading for Dormant, someone asked  why I write fantasy novels. My gut answer was that I’m all about escapism and what better way to escape than by hiding in another world?

As I thought about it, I realized there’s a longer answer. I write fantasy stories because of the world building, the chance to create the rules and structure the characters inhabit. To me, a good fantasy story balances between describing the world and describing the characters’ journey — it’s not always an actual journey, of course. For that matter, it’s not always another world. Many wonderful fantasy novels take place in our world…with a twist.

In each world, there are rules that define how life works. The rules can relate to magic — does using magic make a sound that other magic users can hear, can only certain people use magic, or are only certain locations magical?  Where does the power comes form — is it an inherit ability, or does it come from a magical object?  Are you born with the power or does it turn on like a flipped switch? Does magic come from a fragile balance between man and nature that can break without explanation?

The writer defines the rules — she must follow those rules or else build the story around why the rules are suddenly suspended. It’s both fun and daunting to face creating a world with certain guidelines. Staying within the rules can be just as frustrating for the writer as it is for the characters. However, rules must exist because if the character can suddenly change within the story to resolve an issue then there is no conflict.

In The Well World series by Jack Chalker, he creates a planet where the rules change geographically by creating hexagonal like worlds with the major world. The rules of one hexagon might allow magic while the next one over doesn’t. Machines work in some hexagons while they don’t in others. It’s one of my favorite series simply because the rules can change so quickly but within the construct of each little world, the rules are absolute. Machines go from useful to lumps of useless metal just by crossing a border, geography deters poisonous gases, and an extreme patriarchal society borders a hive world run by a queen.

Sometimes people assume authors spend time creating the rules before starting to write the story. Obviously, everyone has a different process but many writers develop the rules while writing the story. I began Dormant with some basic rules — you’re born a supernormal with basic package abilities (super speed, super hearing, super strength, etc.), your significant ability manifests at age thirteen and you don’t get new abilities once you’ve grown into the significant ability. This means I can’t decide Olivia’s ability is fire and then add the ability to fly because it would be an easy away to get her out of a sticky situation. Other rules of the supernormal world inhabited by Olivia and her family evolved as I wrote the story.

As I write Root, the second book in the series, I’m having fun defining more rules — for supernormal beasts, for Ben’s mind reading ability, and, well…you’ll just have to see when Root comes out later this year.

What is your favorite fantasy novel and what are its rules/laws?

LeeAnn Elwood McLennan 05 Color (2)LeeAnn Elwood McLennan is the author of Dormant, the first book in the Dormant Trilogy available on http://www.secondwindpublishing.com, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She’s diligently working on Root, book two in the trilogy. Follow LeeAnn on Twitter @atticusmcl and on Facebook at LEMWrites.

 

 

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It’s Raining Words by J J Dare

I like rain and gloomy weather. My middle child and I were discussing where we’d like to live in the future. The upper west coast is definitely an option, particularly Oregon and Washington, and the areas around Seattle appeal to me.

Rain, rain, don’t go away . . .

My affinity for gloomy, overcast skies has nothing to do with my personality. I’m a pleasant, middle-of-the-road gal and when I feel morose I usually snap out of it quickly. The reason I like dark skies and no sun is because it reminds me of Christmas.

The yuletide seasons during my childhood were usually cold, wet and dark. On the outside, that is. Inside my parents’ home it was constant activity (at least from my viewpoint) with presents (and Daddy “helping” me open them) and food (always too much food) and Rudolph, Frosty and Charlie Brown on the television.

Pops, Tippy and that skinny kid my siblings called “Mouse”

Gloomy weather reminds me of those days when I didn’t have too many cares in the world. My main concern back then was whether I had enough allowance money left to go down the street to the creepy little candy shack with the nickles glued to the floor.

I wasn’t worried about paying the bills or fretting as the youngest child moves five hundred miles away or wishing I was closer to the oldest child who is figuratively on the other side of the world or gearing up to cry at the wedding of the middle child. I appreciate the carefree childhood my parents gave me.

My Three Girls

There are some days I wake up and for a split second I’m back in my old room, burrowed under the covers with my mother fussing at me to get up. Who doesn’t want to crawl back into the safe womb of childhood?

Dismal weather helps me write. If the sun is shining outside, I have trouble getting a bead on my thoughts. It’s too bright to think and the light feels like a heavenly interrogation. When it’s darker during the day, my mind has a chance to escape the cares of life and dive into worlds I create.

So, come on rain and gloom and darkness. The oppressive atmosphere makes me happiest and I feel alive when the skies are grey. I escape into my cocoon of gloom and write the real world away.

^^^^^

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and too many works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Highfalutin Flying Pigs by J J Dare

When friends and acquaintances find out I’m a writer, a few of them want to pick my brain about something they’ve either written or want to write. For the most part, I don’t mind. I mean, after all, everyone starts somewhere and a few of the lucky ones end up on a bestseller’s list.

A few months back an acquaintance from school sent a manuscript she’d written to a group of our former classmates. She asked everyone to take a month or two to read it. I took her literally at her word and read it on the last day of Month Number Two.

The problem with critiquing anything is: opinions are subjective. Others may love what I dislike. One thing I don’t like is pretentiousness – in person or on paper. In my neck of the woods, highfalutin flying pigs are shot and roasted – metaphorically, of course.

This manuscript was a challenge. Every fifth or sixth paragraph was written in Babelfish German. I know Latin (though, as the years go by, I remember less and less) and can vaguely translate a smattering in other languages, but this was migraine-inducing.

Here’s an example of what I faced: “Der Esel fliegt schnell Fett Himmel. Wer kratzt mein Zeh-Saft? Das Gestein beißen das Brot.”

Which loosely translates to: “The Donkey flies fast Fat Sky. You scratch my Toe-Juice? The Rock bit the Bread.”

The German words she used added nothing to the story except irritation. It was simply a play to get noticed – until someone who actually speaks German starts translating.

I have used foreign words in my stories but I limit myself to the easily recognized. The French words c’est la vie, au revoir and bonjour are familiar to American readers. The Spanish compadre is used down here more often than friend – and that’s kind of weird since this region is full of Cajun-French influence.

I draw the line when I feel myself trying to impress with my limited foreign language knowledge although I was rather impressive when my kids were younger. Sadly, they’ve caught on to Mom making up her own foreign words to sound smart. They speak French and Russian, so they are way out of my league now and I’ve stopped trying to bluff my way past them.

 How to tell a fledgling writer I would not buy their book if I need an English/German dictionary at my fingertips? It’s not easy when someone is dressed to the nines and you have to tell them their underwear is showing.

😯

^^^^^

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Mean Girls

I thought when I graduated from high school that I would leave the “mean girls” behind but, sadly, my first roommate and suitemates were all members of that breed.  I was a transfer student and they had planned to room together with another girl who had apparently decided to elope with some guy she met over the summer.  So, we got stuck with one another.  While it was fascinating to watch them up close and outside of the public eye – mean girls are sort of like sharks in blood saturated water, they are as likely to take a bite out of each other as their prey – I was sure that once I entered the working world they would be elsewhere.  Alas, after more than 25 years in the workforce, I have come to accept that the stereotypical “mean girl” is as much a part of life as taxes and dying.

As a child and teenager, I was always puzzled by “mean girl” behavior and admittedly, at times, deeply hurt by their barbed comments or actions.  As a young adult, I learned how to ignore them or at least pretend to be ignoring them.  As a seasoned adult, (translation – over 40) I am more amused by them than anything else.  The only thing that has changed is the tracks of time on our faces and the fact that we all need to start thinking about covering those pesky grey hairs.  The faces change but the games remain the same.

Normally I avoid them, but I’m getting quite chummy with a mean girl these days.

Her name is Candee.  She’s a character in my current work in progress and I’m having a lot of fun with her.  Candee started out as just a minor character, but she is taking more and more of the center stage and, though I fully intend to kill her off in a particularly fitting manner, she is helping me work through a difficult scene that was holding up the completion of my book.  In developing her character, I’m revisiting memories of every mean girl I’ve run up against in my life.  It’s been an interesting trip down memory lane.  I’ve also realized that either there are a lot of “mean girls” in the world or I am a magnet for their attention.

The motivation of the stereotype has, in my opinion, been hashed out enough.  Some say the behavior is a manifestation of poor self esteem, herd mentality, a need to control everyone and everything, bad breeding/manners, really bad PMS, or just a general snarkiness in the personality.  I’ve even heard it attributed to eating disorders and low blood sugar.  (That one I can buy, when I’m hungry or my blood sugar is tanking, I can be pretty mean too.)  Regardless of the cause, the end result is the same – somebody gets their figurative hair pulled and spat at.

In my story, the “mean girl” is the perfect foil.  She’s the one who can be just despicable enough in her dealings with others that next to her, my anti-heroine seems reasonable and relatable, yet she isn’t really even evil nor does she distract from my villain.  She’s just really mean.  Candee is something of a demi-villain if you will.  At the same time, she has something that does draw people to her and allows her to get close enough to draw blood – in this case literally and figuratively.  She’s no “bad girl with a heart of gold” – in fact, I’m not entirely sure she even has one and I’m pretty sure her victims would agree with me.

In general, I tend to build my characters on traits or characteristics that can’t be attributable to one particular person.  Under the “write what you know” school of thought, I suppose it could be said that there are usually traces of people I care about in my main characters or hero/heroines but not so much with my villains.  Up to now that is.  Candee seems to be taking on many of the physical traits of one particular person from my past.  It was a bit of a shock to realize that on some levels, I see this person as a “mean girl” because I hadn’t thought of her that way; a bit unkind or careless in how she expressed herself, but otherwise fairly harmless.  As I read back over what I have written, I am seeing her in a whole new light.  I do wonder if it’s time for me to buy that shirt that cautions others to be nice or they might wind up in my next novel.  Or perhaps I need to hire a good attorney.

So, how often do you use or realized you have used a real person from your life as the basis for a character?  And, how far can you go without risking a lawsuit?

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and
contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her
belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres.
Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind
Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com)
or Amazon.com.

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Temptation & Motivation

I’ve been thinking a lot about temptation and motivation lately.  In part because of my weight loss efforts and in part because I am struggling with the “why” of how one of my characters needs to act for the final chapters of my sequel to A Love Out of Time to work.

The surface level mechanics of both temptation and motivation I get.  It’s the deep “lizard brain” stuff that escapes me.  Take the weight loss thing for example.  I want to lose the weight and I believe that I am motivated.  I’ve kicked my addiction to Mountain Dew and all carbonated sodas.  I am well aware of the nutritional information of everything I put in my mouth and just how long I would need to work out to burn it off.  I have a well thought out plan that will pull two pounds a week off me, as long as I stick to it.  Life is going along just fine and I am on track, then a slice of cheesecake crosses my path and the next thing I know, I’m in a carb coma wondering where the hell my will-power disappeared to.

So, how does one resist temptation?  What truly motivates someone to do or to not do something?  And most importantly, what makes sense or what is believable to a reader?  I can guarantee that some of you reading the previous paragraph totally understand what I am talking about and there are others who don’t.  For them it’s a simple equation of want to lose weight, don’t eat the cheesecake.  But that is another topic.

When I work on character development, one of the tools I use is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to lay a ground work for why a character is tempted or motivated to behave in a particular manner.  For the basic framework, it works for writing and in trying to figure out why the heck I do what I do in my own life.  Unfortunately, Maslow didn’t have all the answers.

Given we all have different filters on our perceptions of the world around us and of how other people are acting, one can’t just assume that your motivators will be the same as your neighbors.  Think about the work-place and if you have ever had to manage/supervise others.  What motivates one employee to correct performance issues is not necessarily going to work on another.

Writing about truly evil characters is easy.  They can behave in all sorts of heinous ways simply because we accept that the villain’s actions or motivations will be outside the norm or what we consider reasonable.  If their actions were reasonable, they wouldn’t be such a “bad” character.  Likewise, creating a traditional hero or heroine is pretty easy.  Writing a true anti-hero or heroine is slightly more difficult (and I think incredibly fun) but what I find the hardest is taking a traditional hero or heroine and making them do something that on the surface seems to go against the grain of everything you believe of them.  Some could argue that what you’ve done is simply flipped them to anti-hero status, but I disagree.  It’s more complex than that. Finding that one event, that one temptation that even they can’t overcome, or that motivational need that answers the question of why.  That is my current quest.  (And maybe if I can figure that out, I can apply it to my cheesecake issue.)

What tools do you use to develop complex characters?

 

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead seeks work/life balance and writes paranormal romance. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

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Creativity does not obey a time table

“I don’t understand why it’s taking you so long to finish writing that story,” groused my husband this evening.  “You’ve been working on it off and on for the past couple of years.”

“Sure you do,” I replied waving my hand in the direction of our back yard.

A blank stare.  “No, I don’t.”

“Two words Sweetie, fish pond.”

“Oh…yeah.  I guess I do at that.”

In September of 2003, Hurricane Isabel damaged an 80 foot White Oak tree in our backyard.  It was a wonderful tree and we had hoped that given time, perhaps the tree would re-seat itself and continue to thrive.  The winds were so bad that the tree’s movement had caused the ground to “pouf” up above where the roots lay underground as far out as three feet from the trunk and left it slightly leaning towards our home, which was a mere 30 feet away from the tree.  (You do the math.)  The arborist who came out to inspect the damage and determine if the tree could be saved gave us the sad news and a very strong recommendation to take the tree out sooner rather than later if we were fond of our house.

Two weeks later, I found my husband in the backyard staring at the space where the tree had been.  It was rather sad to look at the barren spot where beautiful old tree had stood.  We talked about how bare that area of the yard was and what we could plant around the stump to make it attractive.  After a few moments of silence, he threw an arm across my shoulders.  “Ya know,” he said, “once we grind up this stump and dig out the roots, we could put a small fish pond here.”

And so began what we call the tale of the fish pond.

It started with his researching ponds while we put aside the money to get the stump ground up.  He researched drop in ponds, build it yourself ponds, and having someone else come do it for you ponds.  He began researching the types of plants and fish he wanted to put in this pond.  When September 2004 rolled around and we still hadn’t hired someone to grind up the stump, but he had reams of notes and hand-drawn sketches of what he had in mind.  He knew what plants we’d have in and around the pond.  He knew what sort of fish we’d have in the pond (goldfish to start – Koi as we gained experience), and he knew that he wanted to dig it out himself and build the pond with a custom liner to follow the footprint left by the tree.  He even bought a garden statue that he felt would be a key element in the design.

The discovery that we were expecting again in September of 2005 diverted our attention, along with any funds we had on hand to grind up the stump or start buying pond building materials.  Then we decided to put an addition onto our house after our second child arrived in 2006, so the stump grinding/pond building was put off another year.  In September of 2007, we finally hired someone to grind up the stump and my husband decided that none of his original drawings of the shape of the pond would fit the footprint left once the stump was gone, and with a new shape to work with, he had different ideas about how the landscaping should look, so back to the ideation stage he went.

In the fall of 2008, he finally started digging.

Somewhere along the way, the pond size grew from a small quaint pond to something that is going to require at least an 11 by 21 foot liner, a king’s ransom in water lilies and assorted other plants, electrical wiring to run the granite and slate waterfall he plans to make from the excavated dirt and all the granite and slate he’s salvaged from neighborhood clean ups and trips to the dump, as well as solar lighting “accent” pieces.  I’m leaving that last one alone because I never thought to hear the words “accent pieces” uttered from my husband’s lips without that distinctly male “snort” that every man uses when confronted by throw pillows and knickknacks.

He’d dig a little bit every day for a few weeks and then the weather, or kids activities, or work would get in the way.  Some days he just didn’t feel like digging.  Some days, he changed his mind completely about how the pond should look and he’d go back to his drawings or research to see if he could find a better idea.  Sometimes months would pass without any digging and when he got back to it, he’d find that the passage of time had filled the hole with leaves and clutter that had to be cleared out before he could begin to dig again.

Over the years, Joe has taken a good amount of ribbing from friends, family, and neighbors about our “pond” – no, he isn’t trying out low cost funeral planning, the kids are not taking up mud wrestling as a sport, and it isn’t a crude tiger pit to deal with the neighbor’s dog who likes to jump fences and leave, er, presents for the unwary.  Any time someone is stumped about a gift to give him, they get him a gift certificate to the nearby garden center that has a specialty section for backyard ponds or a book on backyard ponds and landscaping.  Even the kids had long ago lost interest in helping Daddy dig out the fish pond, figuring it would always be that one project Dad is forever working on but never quite gets finished.  Kind of like some of Mommy’s stories.

Four years, two pick-axes, three shovels, and an incredible amount of patience later, I came home the other night to something that actually looks like it might become a fully operational fish pond before the end of September.

Maybe, when he’s finished, I can take my laptop outside and find an inspiring spot to finish the last few chapters by the waterfall with the solar lighted accent pieces.

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

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My Book Trailer Experience by Coco Ihle

My son, Rob, was visiting recently and I asked him if he would like to help me put together the trailer for my book, SHE HAD TO KNOW. He was enthusiastic, but busy with work, so I did the preliminaries. I watched dozens of book trailers on the Internet and came to two conclusions. The perfect length seemed to be a little over one minute, and eerie music and a British voice over would really help set the mood for the Gothic feel I wanted.

At my piano I experimented with notes that would create an eerie tune. When satisfied with the music, I developed a script. The hard part was keeping both simple.

Many of the trailers I’d seen had too much unnecessary information in the overall content, too much text per frame, hard to read text, too many pictures or ones that moved too fast. I needed: the one sentence TV Guide version of my book, in video.

The basic elements of my book contain a premonitory dream, one sister searching for her birth family, a castle, secrets, an ancient treasure, danger, a murderer.

Now to decide what pictures to use. First, I needed a title page and a background graphic. I had painted a faux rock wall in my sunroom a couple of years ago and thought that would make a perfect backdrop for the text of my book title, so I took a photo of a portion of the wall.

The next would logically be from the dream—a hand coming from a grave. On a night with a full moon, Rob, and I went out in the front yard and set up a floor lamp in front of a gnarled tree. The lamp highlighted his arm, but was hidden from view as I positioned my camera in front of Rob. Just as the camera started shooting, he blew cigarette smoke toward his hand and the resulting video looked like a hand reaching upward on a foggy night with the gnarled tree silhouetted in the background.

We didn’t count on my neighbor walking his dog about this time. Can you believe we scared him? He uttered a strange nonverbal sound, and to cover it, said, “What is this? Halloween?” Rob and I were still laughing when we went back inside.

The next pictures needed were of a man in a kilt and a picture of a young woman (family). That was easy enough. I used photos on hand.

Then, we needed a castle at night. I went searching on istockphoto.com and Fotolia.com and finally found a black and white video that was perfect. I purchased it and downloaded it to my computer.

For the “secrets” shot, I went hunting again on the Internet and found the tunnel video.

For the “treasure” shot, I gathered all the things around my house that could possibly be used to represent a treasure and took a photo.

For the “danger” shot, I went to the Internet again and found the wonderful eyeball. For the last shot, Rob and I videoed my arm falling. Next was the book cover and credits.

Using a program I had on my computer for doing family slide shows called, Magix PhotosStory on CD & DVD 9 deluxe, we lined up the photos and videos in order and added the music I had composed and recorded on an organ at my son’s store (complete with sound effects embedded.) The next step was adding the text to some of the frames.

I convinced a British friend of mine to do the voice over. That comprised the second sound track. All I had to do then was add the credits and send the video to Youtube. I also made a DVD of it, just for me, and I asked my web maven to put it on my website.

Some of you may want to hire a professional to do your book trailer, but I really wanted to try one on my own. It gave me a wonderful bonding experience with my son and memories I’ll never forget. If anyone has questions about how to put a trailer together yourself, I’d be glad to help if I can. If you’d like to see my trailer, go to  www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS_L0wQ7Zws  note: that’s a zero after the L. Any comments? Your own ideas?

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The Real Color of a Beautiful Epiphany by J J Dare

There is a little boutique in the middle of town one of my daughters loves. Every time she comes to visit, we end up going to this quirky little dress shop.

Hanging in the window display was a beautiful blue blouse. Well, I’ll correct myself: a beautiful blouse. My daughter argued it was not blue. She said it was a beautiful green blouse.

She wears contacts and I wear glasses, we’re both corrected to 20/20, so it was a toss-up as to who was right. We consulted the dress shop owner, who, though she’s been helpful before, was no help now.

“It says ‘blue-green’ on the invoice,” she said with a shrug and a smile.

My daughter and I looked at it again.

“Blue,” I said.

“Green,” she said.

Impasse, we both agreed.

She saw green and I saw blue. As it turns out, we were both right.

We all view the world around us through different eyes. What I see may never be exactly what you see. It makes it very interesting to know you are viewing life in your own unique way and in a way no one else can.

Within the structure of my novels is the language of normal, every day people. What I didn’t take into account was what is normal to me (y’all back yet, don’t that beat all, how’s it going, you gonna eat that, etc.) may not be normal to others.

My language is common and somewhat regional. However, what is common and regional to me may be foreign to others. The same holds true with writing: what I consider stuffy and stiff may be normal language to some people.

I’m loose and free in my conversational skills and it reflects heavily in my writing. I talk like the everyman. I write the same way.

But, there in front of my face was the type of stilted writing I typically steer clear of. The dialogue between the characters was as if they were putting on airs. Their affected conversation sounded silly and pretentious.

I read a few comments on this little piece of writing and was very surprised to see some people (including two English professors and a linguistics major) were raving about how they loved the writing.

Eh, well, I could see that. These were people who preached “the word is the word” and lived in the world of proper language. Even though I’m an English major, I’ve often thought I was better suited for a Real World English degree.

A few more comments came in and these were from ordinary students. One was in biology, two were business students, and one was aiming for a major in whatever he had enough credits for by the time his funding ran out.

They echoed the education professionals: they loved the style of writing.

What the heck was going on? I looked at the excerpt again and still found the words lacking in warmth, sincerity and realism. I was a harsh critic, blunt where I’m usually kind and sharp where I’m typically gentle. After all, who is the best critic of one’s own writing but oneself?

I had written a short dialogue as an exercise in writing outside of my normal style. I was mimicking the stilted style I found unreal and unnatural. I was mocking what I, apparently, didn’t understand.

Like the real world, the world of writing is subject to the eye of the beholder. While I found this type of writing abnormal and uncomfortable, others did not see it that way.

I learned a lesson. What is not liked by one person is loved by another. Pickled herring is yucky to me, but I know plenty of people who swear by it.

On that day, I learned that green is blue and blue is green and I shouldn’t judge a book, even one of my own, by its cover.

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Displaced Pudding by J J Dare

The world is chaos. Chaos is disorder. Disorder begs an established order. From this, we create.

Writers write for many reasons. One of these reasons is to make sense of a puzzling situation and bring fictional closure to a mystery they cannot solve in their own lives. Writers live in their own heads and, for me, it’s a nice world in which to be Head Honcho.

It’s a tough job. I’m responsible for all of my characters. Woe to me if  Misty’s lost inhaler is used a few pages away without an explanation to its disappearance or discovery. I’m an absentminded creator if Jennifer’s missing twin brother suddenly appears with nary a question posed or Brad’s immovable wrecked truck miraculously moves. Yes, even miracles need an explanation and if my characters could fire me, I’m sure some would have by now.

I coined a term for my tangible and intangible lapses: Displaced Pudding. Since my home is now housing three full households and two partial ones, displaced items are the norm. The pudding incident is the least of these (I did find the pudding several days later, balefully sitting atop the refrigerator like an angry Buddha).

The bottom sheet incident is still being investigated. A new set of sheets was last seen a month ago. Yesterday, I discovered the bottom sheet to this set had gone AWOL. I checked the top of the fridge first, which seems to be a gathering place for missing and exploited items, but it wasn’t there. If it’s hiding in plain sight, it’s as good as Chris Angel.

I still can’t find the missing blouse from last week. It was there in the morning and gone by evening. Several others suggested possible theories, but I’m leaning toward what my daughter said about “Our house’s black hole that sucks everything in.”

Occasionally one of my cats is missing for a few hours inside my home. I think cats understand and use black holes to display their superior intellect. They understand the “now I’m here, now I’m not” concept of Displaced Pudding.

I’m beginning to understand there’s a place for displacement in the world and in the world of writing. If everything had an explanation, the world around us would be boring. Searching is sometimes more satisfying than finding the answer. However, too much Displaced Pudding can have a negative effect on your life or in your writing.

Thoughts?

(P. S.: If anyone sees a full-size black and white bottom sheet floating around, please let me know – it might be mine)

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Touchy Subjects

A very good friend, who also happens to be a member of my family, is in the finishing stages of a book that has taken him five years to write.

Now, that doesn’t sound like any time to a lot of writers, but he’s done this living on the edge. The edge of poverty, the edge of sanity, the edge of grief – almost every edge you can imagine.

His motivation is the message he wants to spread. His muse is God.

It’s a very touchy, personal subject he’s writing about and the audience he’s targeting is narrow: abortion within the 19 – 25 year old age group. To top it off, it’s fiction.

He’ll never make the money he needs from this book if it’s ever published. Every agent and publisher he’s approached has turned him away. His subject material has made him a publishing pariah.

The author is sixty years old and has never had any experience in the subject matter. However, he says he feels led to preach, I mean write, about this hot ball of wax topic.

When he discusses his book with me, I keep my opinions to myself except when I can be constructive about the mechanics of his writing. The content is his own business.

He is a good example of writing outside the box. He is writing about issues he is only familiar with through research; he has no firsthand knowledge in the area.

Of course, how many writers have the very personal knowledge in the area they’re penning? In my case, I’ve never held an AK-47, I’ve never been to Austria, and I’ve never been a man in the military. Yet, my main character has all these attributes and more.

There is often a message, hidden or blatant, in good writing.  Without a lesson, the story will leave the reader feeling empty.

What leads you to the topics you read? What leads you to the topics you write? Do you write far from your personal field of experience or do you keep it closer to home?

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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