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Ask an Author 2.0 #17

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Carlos Hazday

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We have something a little different this month. A reader sent in a question for Mann Ramblings that we’ll start the feature with.

@Mann Ramblings

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be? 

• • •

Ok. Here's my answer: 

You're not an erotic author. You're an author.  

Write what you want. Let the boys get raunchy, and sometimes beat the hell out of each other. Feel free to kill off the character if it's right for the tale. But temper the sensational aspects. Too much sex or hyper-violence will unbalance a story and they'll never let you forget that one scene. 

You're going to hate some of your old work. Rewriting an entire novel is a bitch, but you may do it anyways. 

• • • • •

Considering how much I’ve benefitted from his experience when he edits my work, I found both the question and the answer fascinating. So much so, I decided to pose the same one to a few of our Signature Authors. We can all benefit from their experience.

• • • • •

@Cia

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?

• • •

Let's see, how about, "Don't stop writing so you forget how to do all this." As a teen I wrote fantasy stories, but then I stopped. Picking it up again as an adult meant relearning a lot of rules I'd let myself forget because, frankly, you don't write dialogue when you are writing purchase orders or grocery lists. Good thing, I guess, since it would take up a lot of room to write "Your daughter's stinky butt needs more diapers because you're running scary low and she exploded three times!" the babysitter said or "Milk, you always forget you need more milk," her husband reminds her. It'd take forever to cross everything off the huge list I'd be dragging along behind me through the store!  

• • • • •

@Valkyrie

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be? 

• • •

I would tell my younger self to write more.  I dabbled in writing in my youth and never finished a longer story until I joined GA.  I wrote more poetry vs prose back then.  When I tried writing longer works, I'd get bogged down in trying to make it 'perfect', so the biggest piece of advice I would give my younger self would be to relax and simply write, and not worry about revising as I go

• • • • •

@Graeme

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be? 

• • •

Firstly, listen to your editor. I've been lucky in that I've had a number of experienced editors over my writing time, but when I started I didn't listen as much as I should have. In hindsight, they were correct with their observations, but it took me some time before I accepted what they were saying.

Along the same lines, I would tell myself the advice I received later on in my writing, and that's to always keep in mind the end goal. Work out how you want the story to end, and then write in that direction. Don't lose sight of that goal, because that's how you can write yourself into a corner. If you know where you're headed, that will help remind you to leave an escape route to allow you to get to that goal. Meandering on your way to the goal is fine, but don't forget where you want to finish while you wander.

Finally, don't be afraid to try new things. Some will work, some won't, but even the failures will teach you something. 

• • • • •

@CassieQ

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be? 

• • •

Set realistic goals. 

 I started writing with the idea of completing full novel-length works when I was in high school.  I sucked at it.  I went for years without being able to complete a full novel length work and I grew incredibly frustrated with myself and thought maybe I just didn't have it in me to be a writer.  I think it was around 2004 when I found NaNoWriMo and managed to pull off my first full length work in a reasonable amount of time.  I had been setting deadlines, but they were super vague, like “I’m going to finish this novel by the end of the year” or “I’m going to have this done by the end of the summer” but without really laying down a plan or breaking a huge task (finishing a novel) into smaller goals.  NaNoWriMo’s daily word count goals were like magic. It taught me how to break down a 50,000-word project into ~1,500 words per day.   

Right now NaNoWriMo is a bit too ambitious to fit in with my current schedule, but it helped immensely to help develop realistic writing goals when I was working on later works, especially longer pieces like Reach, Not The Sun and Geeks. 

• • • • •

@CarlHoliday

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be? 

• • •

Your writing mentor gave you a list of authors to read and those not to read. Now, you need to read all of their works. Plus, go back to school and take all the writing and literature courses you can. Don't force your writing. Let your voice come out naturally through your reading, studying, and practice writing the kinds of stories you read. 

• • • • •

 

I’ll finish the month off with one of the questions still remaining from a previous feature.

• • • • •

@Geron Kees

What reform do you most admire? 

I would have to say that the word reform draws me in two different directions.  

As mostly used today in the broad sense in our country,  the word means very little to me. We live in an age where words have attained new power as manipulative tools, specifically selected and used to make unpopular or unbeneficial things sound more palatable. The word reform is spat out in connection with every change that those behind the change want to sound wonderful - tax reform, health care reform, social reform - but the truth is that it is misused in most instances. The word reform, used as a noun,  has a dictionary meaning of: "a change for the better as a result of correcting abuses; a campaign aimed to correct abuses or malpractices; a self-improvement in behavior or morals by abandoning some vice." 

All definitions point to a change for the better and/or the correction of some level of abuse or evil. 

In the times we live in, the word is a mask for changes that do not benefit society or the individual that lives within it. Or, shall we say, not the average person that lives within it. Most changes these days touted as reforms benefit a select few. The complete absence of real truth in political and corporate America today is frightening. Here is where reform is needed, but where, historically, it never happens, until the type of upheaval we all dread occurs. 

On the other hand, personal reform, as in, how can I better myself, is entirely another matter. Here is a use of the word I can actually control. In reference to myself, it really is about positive change, and it requires a change that most people - but especially me - feels betters my life and the lives of those around me. I have always been a person that, once focused on a troubling aspect of my life, takes steps to correct it. So in that area, I embrace reform, both as a word and as an action. I prefer to like myself every day of the week, and not just on Sundays, like so many others seem to do these days. 

You asked, and I answered. 

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? 

"You're the last to arrive. Everyone will be delighted to see you again!"

• • • • •

 

That’s it for March! Tune in again next month. In the meantime, send me your questions, and I’ll chase the authors down to get a response.

Namaste

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@Graeme said: " always keep in mind the end goal. Work out how you want the story to end, and then write in that direction. Don't lose sight of that goal, because that's how you can write yourself into a corner. If you know where you're headed, that will help remind you to leave an escape route to allow you to get to that goal. Meandering on your way to the goal is fine, but don't forget where you want to finish while you wander."

 

 In my experience this is a truth worth repeating!

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      To craftingmom: Is it difficult writing a character's struggle to get through abuse and hardships? Finding ways to resolve them?
       

      Yes, I cry--a lot. I often try to put myself in the character's place, getting into their head, their thoughts and feelings of guilt and hopelessness and such, relaying as much of the emotional turmoil that I think someone would almost have to be feeling in such a situation--and I try to write it as realistically as possible. I figure the more emotion and struggle that I can convey that the character is going through, the more the reader will feel it as well. I go through a lot of tissues when I'm writing highly emotional scenes, often having to stop to dry my eyes long enough to read the screen. I know that I sometimes drag my readers through a bunch of emotional turmoil, but I hope that it's because I've managed to create for them a connection to my characters that makes them feel real. Then when the resolution finally comes, I hope readers feel some satisfaction in the ending, hope that things will be better; healing takes time and patience, and of course love. Yes, I'm an emotional sap.
       
      We finish up today with author pmdacey, who comes to us from Portland, Oregon. 2014 brought us more chapters of Things are Different, which was sadly put on hold in early 2015, but was very much enjoyed by readers. It’s the story of Jay, who moves from Texas to Portland and made me wonder from early on how much was based around pmdacey’s own life. In addition, google his husband’s name to find some cool art.
       
      To pmdacey: How did you overcome the writers blocks that almost overwhelmed you the first time you tried to tell your Portland story "Things Are Different?”
       

      I have to overcome it every time I sit down to write (when I can find the time to write). I have to constantly remind myself to not care what other people think, that I am telling this story for myself. It is a story I would want to read and if other people like it, then that is a bonus. Not only that, but it is also a deeply personal tale. It is fiction, but the characters, in a sense are very real. I suppose I have always struggled with some form of writer's block and it initially took putting "Things Are Different" out there anonymously and getting some positive feedback to let me expose more and more of myself and grow some of the confidence to handle criticism. The fear of criticism is, after all, what keeps writers from putting pen to paper or an artist putting brush to canvas.  
      That’s it for now! For more info on these authors, go check out their stories, post in their forums, and/or catch them in chat!
       
      See you next time, with authors A.C. Benus, Aditus, and the return of Mark Arbor!
       
      Want to ask your favorite author a question? Simply PM me (Dark).

      Until next time!



      Dark


    • By Renee Stevens
      I've heard countless times how much everyone loves the Ask An Author feature and want to give a big Thank You to Dark for taking the time to contact all the authors and compile these wonderful Wednesday pieces. Don't forget, if you have a question you'd like to "Ask an Author" all you need to do is send Dark a PM!! Hope you enjoy!!!
       


      Ask an Author #32


       

      Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors!
       
      In AtA #31, we had questions for authors Andrew Todd, Headstall, and Sasha Distan.
       
      In AtA #32, we hear from authors aditus, Cia, and wolfwriter.
       
      For their protection, the members who asked these questions shall remain nameless (unless they choose to reveal themselves). Please note that all author replies are copied as is, spelling errors and grammar eccentricities original to the individual.
       
      First up is Promising Author Aditus, whom we last saw in AtA #25. Once a scientist, Aditus continues to let his curiosity guide him and many of his interests pop up in his stories. Speaking of which, Aditus is one of the regular prompt-writers; and congrats on making it to 3000 rep! Recently, he’s been attempting National Poetry Writing Month, where authors are challenged to write a poem a day for an entire month. His current story is The Lonely Heart Club, a romance based on two things, the Friday prompts and Billy Joel’s “The Piano Man.” Love the song like I do? Then see what the plot bunnies are chewing on.
       
      To Aditus: What inspired the creation of Jonah from Red Running Shoes. Did the dove as a symbol play a role in his development?
      Jonah was inspired by a real person. Someone you’d think has it all: He’s good looking, has a well-paid and interesting job, and a lot of nice friends. His issues, however, are what make him story-worthy.
       

      One reader very keenly concluded that Jonah has a typical INFP personality. For those who aren’t familiar with this, here are some facts: true idealist, always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people, often a writer or poet. Add to this some quirks and baggage from the past that leads to a great fear of being betrayed, and you have an interesting character to write about. Those who read my stories know that my focus is usually on the characters of my stories, on their feelings, their reasoning, their reactions to obstacles life throws at them. You can see why I couldn’t resist Jonah.  

      I like names and their meaning and read a lot about this topic. When Jonah’s character was shaping up, his name was suddenly there. I looked it up and found it strangely fitting. Doves stand for love, sacrifice, peace, and hope. I just had to use it. So, I guess the answer is no. The character was mostly finished before I named him, it’s nevertheless a very suitable symbol for Jonah’s personality.  
      We venture now to redhead, sci-fi-loving Cia. We haven’t seen her in this blog in awhile, but the majority of us here on GA know her quite well as one of the behind-the-scenes workers. As if being a mom and admin aren’t enough, she’s also got a new puppy! And check out her blog Cia's Stories for more info on her published works. Crazily, Cia had a run-in with plagarization, with someone trying to rip off one of her stories. Grrr. Sadly, it’s not the first time something like that’s happened, but thanks to our wonderful readers (both on GA and elsewhere), fixes are much quicker than they used to be. On a happier note, congrats to Cia for making it 18 years with the same person. Happy Anniversary, and here’s to many more!
       
      To Cia: I love some of your short stories. Have you thought of serializing them? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
       

      That depends on which short stories you're talking about! Honestly, most of my non-contemporary stories are whole new worlds I could explore. Coupled in Synchronicity is going to be a novel. Married to the Enemy began as a 2k short and went to 12k. The Breach is a nice contemporary start, but it doesn't scream out to me, "Write More!". I do have a few flash fiction pieces I want to expand, but most of my Dribbles are just as is. I guess I'm just not motivated to write enough each day, but if I was (or my kids weren't so darn needy, they expect dinner EVERY night, can you believe it?!) then yeah, I'd love to serialize more of my shorts.Inspiration... well that's a tricky thing. Sometimes I don't feel it at all, and writing is a slog each week to get through because I just know it'll get easier if I keep trying. Sometimes my plot ideas are inspired the prompts I receive each week from the Wednesday Briefers, my off-site flash fiction group. I've been inspired for basic concepts in a story by a magazine article on passionettes (Changing Focus), a scientific research topic (gamma radiation from a supernova in Cataclysmic Evolution), a philosophical debate (Jung's theory of synchronicity in Coupled in Synchronicity)... and once even from my cat curled up on my shoulder and letting me rub my cheek against his soft, fluffy fur.  
      Author wolfwriter is our third and final author today. From Dallas, Texas, Wolfie loves stories with werewolves and other were-animals. She’s been with us since 2012 and published her first story with us in 2013. Her latest project is Love Bite, a story about a were-bear and a vampire and the sequel to “A Trip to Love.” Just this summer, Wolfie got “Uncommon Valor” published through Amazon. The cover to that, and others of her stories, are in her gallery. See what else she’s been up to on her website through weebly.
       
      To wolfwriter: Your works range from The Marine to Lonesome Theta: what got you to try your hand at 'were-stories'? The mind-link is a nice touch--what inspired you to add that aspect to the tales?
       

      I actually started my writing with were-stories. I read Timber Pack by Rob Colton and was hooked on them. One day I had an idea to try my hand at writing my own and came up with Your Alpha, My Mate. I wanted my characters to be able to communicate with the ability to have a conversation without anyone being able to overhear it when the need came. As for my non-were stories I was challenged by my beta of Your Alpha to try to write something more contemporary and I came up with A Chance At Love. While I love those stories I also love my were-stories.  
      That’s it for now! For more info on these authors, go check out their stories, post in their forums, and/or catch them in chat!
       
      See you next time, with an extra-special edition of Ask an Author!
       
      Want to ask your favorite author a question? Simply PM me (Dark).
       

      Until next time!
      Dark
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