Process and Routine

Thinking about process right now. And what is becoming clear to me as I try to get myself into some routines is that trying to be that writer who sits down and writes for X hours per day and churns out X000 words per day isn’t going to work for me. Discipline isn’t really the issue. I can do that. I did NaNoWriMo for many years—I lost count—and always hit my target. So it’s possible for me to do that, but it’s not sustainable for me. And even though I’m putting words on the page, they might be pure, directionless crap. So I feel like I need to find a different process that is more in line with my personality, lifestyle, and other responsibilities.

I did some research recently about the habits of some of the greatest writers, and I certainly found some solid advice that resonates with me. The idea of ending before you’re done so that you know exactly where you’re starting when you get to the next session is brilliant. And I also saw a lot about getting exercise and having a dedicated space. I can check those boxes.

But what I realize is that trying to do anything for extended periods makes me restless and my mind wanders and then I procrastinate or engage in some other distraction. I’m fairly sure that if I were growing up now, I’d be classified as ADHD. But in my day, I was just really smart and eccentric. I can focus on things in short bursts, like 20-25 minutes before I need to move, unless I am super engaged and the words are flowing. Then I can sit for hours. But that’s not an everyday thing.

Maybe it would be a more efficient use of my time to make a list of what I want to accomplish for the day and then just tick off boxes in whatever way they get done. I already have my routine of doing yoga every morning, except when I had Covid—I had to take a couple of days off because I literally couldn’t move. And then I make my tea or hot lemon water and I do my tarot readings for the day. I can make my list after my readings. That way whatever else comes up can be fit in around what I know I have to get done. And on those days when the words just flow, I can stay in my little cave as long as I want. How beautiful is that?

One of the reasons I started freelance writing years ago was because aside from loving to write, I wanted flexibility—in what I wrote, who I wrote for, and how I did it. So why should writing fiction work any differently? There needs to be structure, but it needs to be my structure. I’ve never fit into anyone else’s mold, and I don’t think I can start now.

Doing Away with Roles and Limitations

I was thinking about roles earlier—how we identify ourselves according to the roles that we perform. We live in a culture that has a tendency to be obsessed with categorizing and putting things into little boxes, which is annoying. But we all tend to have these roles that we fit into, like I might have the role of mother, or I might identify with the role of writer. We identify multiple roles simultaneously, all the time, so people are constantly wearing different hats. You don’t necessarily take off one hat when you operate in the space of another hat. For instance, I might be acting in the role of Mom when I drive my daughter to work, but I’m also wearing a driver hat, and I’m also wearing black woman hat. All these things overlap and intersect constantly.

One thing that I’m trying to be mindful of these days is that because one can have multiple roles, they don’t have to define one’s self-view. All those functions can be true simultaneously. Even being many things at once doesn’t equal the sum total of anyone’s identity. Leaning too much into or identifying too much with designations is very limiting because they don’t account for so many other things that one could do or be that maybe hasn’t been revealed yet. So it’s not necessary to be so tied into or wedded to the roles that are put on us, sometimes without our consent. Gender is usually (not always) assigned to someone based on their genitals. But we now know that gender identity can differ from gender assignments.

I’m thinking about this topic in part because I have this online space, this website, that’s usually just sitting here. I haven’t used the blog or put anything much in there because I felt like this is a writing space and my author page, and so I should only put stuff there that pertains to my writing, or writing in general. I limited the content of this page. And further I limited it to specific kinds of writing like—primarily fantasy and horror. But that’s not the only kind of writing I want to do. Sometimes I want to just write about my thoughts. So this space stagnated because of the role that I assigned to the site. The beauty is that I can choose to expand it.

What I want to do now is use this blog space to write whatever I’m thinking about at any given time, unlimited. And further, I don’t want to limit my writing anymore. Maybe sometime I will write a romance or maybe I’ll write a children’s book (unlikely but you never know). Perhaps a memoir or a self-help book, who knows. I want to start using this space more than I have. In terms of looking at the roles that identify me, I personally am trying to lean away from any specific designations because even in a particular job, you don’t do just one thing, right?

I used to work in accounting. I had multiple tasks and responsibilities—sometimes I had to do payroll. Sometimes I had to do travel reimbursement. Sometimes I had to do escrow accounting. Within a role, there can be multiple branches and there needs to be fluidity in moving between them. So being wedded into one way of identifying oneself or what an identity looks like at one point doesn’t necessarily allow for growth and expansion. If one’s goal is to keep growing and expanding, they have to release the idea of being this thing because it might go through many iterations and manifestations. So I think this space is going to evolve, and I am going to evolve with it.

On Weirdness, Diversity, and Moving Out of Boxes

I’ve come to the conclusion that my work is always going to be a little weird. A little quirky. Not a nice neat fit into any genre. And I’ve made my peace with that. I can try to fit better into boxes, but I find these days that I just don’t want to.

A few years ago I wrote a novella about zombie dragons. It was kind of fantasy but set in a post-apocalyptic, steam-punky world. I had such a blast writing it. I submitted it at a conference for feedback, and while the editor loved the pages, she said it would be a nightmare to publish—not in a discouraging way, but just letting me in on the reality of the industry at that time. Perhaps I’ll self publish it one day.

It feels like the world is in a place–with this vibe–where people are starting to just embrace who they are and retooling their environs to fit them as opposed to squeezing themselves into imperfect containers. It feels like as a collective we’re moving away from the cookie-cutter traditional everything: education, jobs, marriage, families. Overcrowded as it is, the world is so big with so much room for diversity, and the pandemic seems to have given people time and space to envision how to make that work for real and not just lip service and workshops.

I’m rambling a bit. I’m okay with that.

Yesterday on Twitter I saw a question posted by an author who was being told to lean her writing into what was more commercially certain instead of what she wanted to create. The responses telling her to do what she loved were so gratifying to see. I think I will take the advice that was given to her.

And on that happy note, Merc and I have been chatting and she’s requested some changes to her narrative. So we’re getting back to work now.

Have a beautiful day!

What I’m Reading These Days

The Four Agreements (+Companion Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz

A book of Toltec wisdom that changes your perspectives and perceptions in order to lead a happier life. Some tough self examination but well worth it.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

An experiment gives two best friends super powers and then pits one against the other as the author examines what really defines a hero or villain. Loving it so far!

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Anthology of short horror fiction – weird and beautiful. I also recently read her memoir, In the Dream House, which I highly recommend.

Quick update

I haven’t posted here in a minute! Mainly because my last publications were in 2018 – The Magical CSI anthology stories. Umbra’s Shadow was in publication for a while, but the publisher, Roane, shut down and so Merc is now waiting for me to decide her future. Back in 2020 I had signed a contract for another anthology, but before it could be published, it was scrapped due to Covid ruining everyone’s plans over and over and over.

I can’t lie. I lost all inspiration to write as the pandemic dragged on and only brushed off my keyboard recently. So hopefully I’ll be able to get some work out again soon.

Hope all is well with you!

Cover Reveal!

umbrasshadow_cover

Umbra’s Shadow
Contemporary Fantasy
By AndreaStanet
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: March 13, 2017

Keywords: Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy, Shapeshifter, Mercenary
Got a problem that needs a kick-ass mercenary to fix it? Merc’s your shapeshifter.
It’s been open season on changelings—human/faery hybrids—until word gets around: someone’s got their backs.
Merc relies on her unique shapeshifting talents to defend the poor and disenfranchised hybrids living on the fringes of a modern-day Hudson valley city. Perhaps her past spurs her to help—orphaned, unable to remember her parents or her original form, forced to survive alone until a kindly Changeling couple takes her in. But Merc also dreams of escaping the poverty and rescuing her boyfriend from the environment that feeds his addictions.
Dúl, a mysterious and seductive full-blooded fey, seems to offer Merc the way out. But the job he proposes will plunge her into the political wasp nest of the Dreaming World and its fey courts. Dúl hires her to rescue the female lieutenant of the Shadow Court’s king. But Morgan isn’t the only full-blood that’s disappeared.
Nothing is what it seems. A hidden player is capitalizing on the animosities within the four courts, and Merc must solve the puzzle before anyone else falls victim. Her investigation exposes the web of betrayals and lies ambushing the courts from without, or maybe from within.
No one could defeat this conspiracy alone. Merc must suppress her solitary nature and learn to work with a team, while Dúl enters into a bitter alliance with his most hated enemy. Amid this treachery, the magnetic attraction between Merc and Dúl deepens into a forbidden bond they are powerless to deny.
Even if she unravels the chaos plaguing the Dreaming, can she handle the truth about the full-blood she’s fallen for?

 

About Andrea Stanet:

A dream stalker, shadow man, vengeful steampunk siren, ghost, and now fey court intrigue—while Andrea Stanet doesn’t shy away from any genre, her passion is writing fantasy and horror fiction for various age groups. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies and an online literary magazine. Her most recent releases are “The Tradition,” a middle grade horror about were-crows, and “Song of Vengeance,” about a young performer whose father traps her dying spirit in a mechanical bird.
When not fixating on dragons and zombies, Andrea’s hobbies include running (clearly displaying masochistic tendencies), cycling (hills are only fun when going down), reading (anything and everything), and gaming (Cthulhu themed board games are favorites). Andrea lives in New York with her husband, two kids, a cat that thinks she’s a dog, and another cat that thinks he’s a mountain lion.

Links:

Fright Before Christmas Anthology

It’s the most wonderful time of year…or is it?

Christmas Eve is a night of mystery and magic, but not always in ways we expect. Things lurk in the shadows and they’re not the least bit jolly or merry. Let’s just say some presents are better left unopened.

‘Tis the season to be screaming along with our thirteen tales of holiday horrors. Ghosts. Monsters. Demons. And more!

This Christmas, be careful what you wish for…

Author List:
Richard Ankers
Jackie Horsfall
Boyd Reynolds
Lea Storry
Ally Mathews
Laura Pauling
Ty Drago
Jessica Bayliss
Judith Graves
Andrea Stanet
Patrick Hueller
Dax Varley
Medeia Sharif

Pre-Order Sale and Book Links:
Goodreads

Pre-Order ebook sale for $1.99 – regular price $3.99
Amazon
B&N
iBooks
I’m very excited to be a part of this anthology. It promises to be lots of fun!

Brief Reflections on 2013

214px-Adult_deer_tick

I try to avoid all the usual end-of-year trends toward lists and replays, but when the alarm went off this morning, I started thinking of all the things I wanted to accomplish today. This led to the realization that 2013 has been a year of some high highs and some devastating lows. I’m typically a middle-of-the-roader, so for me, these extremes are noteworthy.

Personally, on the most positive end of the spectrum, I had three stories published and actually got to see my name in physical print book form twice. When I saw the print version of Stalkers, I won’t lie, I nearly (very nearly) cried. These were huge accomplishments for me, and they gave me the confidence and drive to think of “novelist” as an actual job title and a real possibility. So there was that.

At almost the same time (I think it was literally a week after my first acceptance), my whole little house-of-cards life was collapsed by a stupid, six-legged beast the size of a pinhead. Ugh. I have developed an undying hatred of all tick-kind. While I won’t get into all the details of all the ways Lyme disease ruined the past six months, I will say that I have sworn off card-house building and anything domino related. And I’m recovering, so there’s that.

A small consolation from the Lyme debacle was that it inspired a mini story. When I started the first course of antibiotics, a friend showed me a contest prompt: write a 40-word story that begins and ends with the same word. I had nothing else to do but lay in bed in pain, so I transferred all my negative feelings of the moment into a story. I never submitted it because, at the time, I was mentally incapable of figuring out the hows.

But here is the mini-short that Lyme made:

Tick needed a human to pass the lyme to. He waited on a blade of grass, hitched a ride on Deer, and hopped on Cat’s scruff. A human appeared.

Chicken chomped the insect. “You’re not giving my human lyme, Tick.”

 

Clearly, I was not in my right mind, but it made me smile for a bit. I wrote two versions. This seemed the stronger of the two.

 

Ironically, I had written a novel several years ago in which one of the villains used a tick-like weapon. I wonder if I was having some kind of premonition.

 

Anyway, overall, 2013 taught me a lot and assigned me lots of work to do for 2014. Hopefully, I’m up to the tasks. I don’t do resolutions, but I have some goals in mind.

  1. To sell or indie-publish a novel this year
  2. To transition from “freelance writer” to “author” as a job title
  3. To get on solid financial footing

 

Do you have any major accomplishments or lessons to share from the past year? What are your goals for 2014?

Thousand Prompts Contest Entry

A snippet for the 1,000 Prompts, $1,000 Writing Contest:

 

An explosion rocks the castle as a boulder crashes into a wall below the south tower. Several books from the uppermost shelves fall helplessly to the earth. Emilio manages to duck out of the way of one musty volume, but another hits his shoulder, deflected by his blood-streaked armor. Emilio’s chest and back plates are dirty and dented, his helm lost hours ago. He shakes a sweaty clump of dark hair out of his eyes.

“Are you insane, old man? I can’t leave! What about my father? My mother?  My brothers might be falling in battle while I am shut in here listening to your madness. I won’t run.”

“Highness, your father has ordered it. And if you do not, your beloved family will be doomed. You must return the artifact before the next full moon rises over Umberdon. Otherwise, Milton will be invincible.”

Emilio grips a handful of his own hair and squeezes, wishing to tear it from his head along with everything Astrark has said in the minutes since he captured Emilio, spiriting him away from the fight. The silver edge of his wrist gauntlet feels cool against his forehead. As much as he wants to choke the old scholar, Astrark is right. There is no one else with Emilio’s abilities. Not here, and not now.

He crosses the room. The volume of steel clanging on steel increases, assaulting him in a roar as he opens the balcony doors to take one last look at his family before accepting his duty.

The field is a mess of bodies, mud, blood, and weaponry. At the edge of one garden hedge, Emilio’s eldest brother holds off two opponents with a short spear in one hand and a flail in the other. Not his usual combination—he must have lost his sword and dirk. Emilio last saw his younger twin brothers heading into the forest, longbows slung over their backs. He looks down, and on the stone patio, his father hurls conjured balls of ice at the invaders.

For a split second, King Tomas looks up. His eyes meet Emilio’s, imploring his son to make haste. The full moon is only two weeks coming. The king’s guards will hold the castle.

His head drooping, Emilio pounds his fist into the railing. His hands clench, dirt-packed nails digging into rough palms. After a moment, he turns to the scholar. “All right. Tell me again, quickly, what to do.”

Following behind Astrark, Emilio catches a glimpse of himself in one of the castle looking glasses. His dark hair curls and mats in places. A pendant of the family standard—three swirls, symbolizing the wind, circled by seven stars—hangs around his neck, a gift from his mother last year when he finally reached the age of manhood. A brownish-red slash divides his bottom lip in two, and his normally tan skin is mottled with black, blue, green, and red stains.

Emilio chuckles at the memory of Darnel, one of Milton’s newer captains, delivering the blow that split his lip. Emilio could easily use magic and avoid marring his pretty face, but honestly, there’s nothing like a good brawl to get the blood pumping. He recalls the satisfying crunch of Darnel’s nose under the impact of a well-placed elbow.

He touches his medallion and hurries after Astrark.

They travel through hidden stairwells that are unknown to Emilio. How much had the scholar been keeping from the royal family? Down and down, through the cellar, past unfamiliar rows of cells.

“Ast, what is this place? A dungeon beneath the dungeons?”

“Magical prisons, Highness.”

Emilio would have to ask Father about this place later.

“Where are you taking me?” the prince grumbles. The heat of battle is starting to cool, and his wounds and aches begin to complain. Not badly yet, but it won’t be long until they are screaming bloody hell.

“My lord, precision is key, and according to my calculations—”

“All right, I understand. I’m just anxious to get there and return. You’re sure time will move differently there?”

“Just a guess, my lord. I may be mistaken. Time may move at the same pace or faster. Best to find the medallion as quickly as possible. Ah, here we are. Are you ready?”

A rickety wooden ladder leads up to a square door.

“Where will this take me?” Emilio asks, looking up at the hatch in wonder.

“Er…the gazebo, my lord. A hidden trap door.”  Astrark fidgets with his fingers.

“What?” Emilio shouts. “Why not walk straight out the back door and paint a bull’s eye on my chest? I’ll be right in the middle of the battle!”

“Yes, my lord. Your father is aware and says that he will take care of it. Do you trust him, even if your trust in me has wavered?”

Emilio scowls at the man who has taught him since childhood. “I never said—”

“No, and now is no time to discuss it. I assure you, this is absolutely necessary.”

“Fine. Let me be gone, then.”

The ladder creaks and lists with Emilio’s weight as he climbs to the top. The trap door sends down a shower of dust, adding layer of gray over the other colors painting the canvas of his face. He eases the door open. Milton’s forces are held at bay.

Light streams down over Emilio, temporarily blinding him after spending so long in the catacombs of his home, the home he might not find when—and if—he returns. He takes a deep breath. With a nod back at Astrark, he pushes up through the opening.

No one notices him. Emilio has a moment to take in what will be his last image of home for a while. A line of bodies tangles together through the tree line. Every few seconds, a green-clad figure falls with an arrow sticking from it. Apparently, one or both of the twins are still alive,  probably engaged in a morbid contest to see how many men they can assassinate before they have to relocate.

A strong, frosty wind kicks up around Emilio, blurring his view. He spins to see his father chanting, hands outstretched toward him as if longing to embrace his middle son. Green-clad soldiers, led by Darnel, rush toward Emilio. He has been spotted. He spares a wave to his father, his king, and then turns away to concentrate.

He has spent countless hours training for this. Emilio blocks out the impending attack and sounds of battle, staring straight ahead until he visualizes the rectangular space, opening and widening before him. He does not know where or when it will take him, but if Ast is right, it will lead him to the object of this quest.

The pounding of his heart in his ears creates a rapid drumbeat. Marching drums. He only needs to step forward into the unknown.

The ground beneath him shakes. Darnel and his men arrive at the base of the gazebo. As the first boot stomps on the bottom step, Emilio turns to fix Darnel with a smirk, a wink, and an obscene hand gesture. He steps through the portal. It blinks shut behind him, stifling Darnel’s frustrated howl.

He focuses again to find the miniscule glimmer of white that will show him a way out of this emptiness. There is no sound or sensation. The darkness closes in. Emilio’s breath constricts. He reminds himself that this is just an illusion as the first fingers of fear tickle his consciousness.

What if you don’t find it fast enough, Emilio?  Will you be lost forever in nothingness? Will you fail before you even begin?

He controls these thoughts and pushes them aside. Squeezing his eyes shut, he struggles to feel something. To feel some sense of power within this void that always reduces him to a small, helpless speck.

Opening his eyes again, he scans ahead. And then he finds it. The light. Such a thin sliver it might be his imagination. It isn’t. He reaches for it. Power surges down his arm, beyond his fingertips. The light grows into a door. Emilio steps through and studies the surroundings.

It is daytime and noisy. The air holds a crisp bite. Sharp stinks make his nose burn. He seems to be in a tunnel yet above ground—he can see daylight.

He can turn toward the portal or continue in the direction he faces. Looking back is not an option. Emilio walks forward and begins his search.

 

Here is a link to the prompt I chose:

7. Create your own fantasy world using any of the following elements: magic, elves, secret dungeon, a captured prince, and a self-replenishing bag of gold.

 

And here is a link to the overall contest.

 

Wish me luck & feel free to leave constructive feedback!

Guest Author: Jodie Pierce

In Vein Best 3crime bites and so do i 1

I have had the recent pleasure of becoming acquainted with and working with author Jodie Pierce. She is coordinating the upcoming Supernatural Writer’s Group charity anthology, Wild Cards. In August,she released the paranormal thriller, Crime Bites and So Do I. Here, Jodie shares some thoughts about her work and writing in general:

Bio:

Jodie Pierce is married to her hubby, John who gave her a storybook happily-ever-after. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio but traveled to Brasil when she was 16 years old as an exchange student and she continues to travel the US with her hubby. Jodie started writing as a teenager and even wrote for her schools’ newspaper and yearbook.

She has had a fascination with vampires since they were introduced to her as a child so she’s had a long history with them. It wasn’t until she started reading the Anne Rice vampire books in college that she was truly inspired to stop writing sappy teen romance stories and focus on the vampires she loved. You will find some of her experiences from Brasil in her stories. Many of her stories have historical or researched facts as she also enjoys research and learning about new places.

She has published four short novels (Eternal Press), a short story in “Midnight Thirst 2”, an anthology (Melange Books), has five self-published books (with 3 more charity anthologies by the end of 2013). She’s published her first charity vampire anthology book with various Authors named In Vein, where all the proceeds of the book went to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. She loves helping out other new Authors, runs blog hops and Facebook events for them to help market them. She has her own small publishing company named Vampirical Lyrical Publishing where she takes on new Authors and helps them see their creations come to life. She’s always busy with the next great vampire story as her mind is non-stop and even plagues her dreams. She’s co-manager of the Facebook Supernatural Writer’s Group where they put together 2 charity books a year where all proceeds will be donated to a special charity.

 

On what sparked her passion for books and good stories:

My parents were always good readers and I picked up the hobby from them. I just started writing short stories about my life, moved to romantic fiction and then was inspired to write about vampires. After years of trying to get published, I was finally introduced to publishing houses and later on, self-publishing. I was ecstatic to see my stories come to life and to be able to share with others.

On the books that inspired her:

Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned were the first books to inspire me. I then read Anne Rices’ erotic novels and found that I could also write stories that were similar though I preferred the vampire romance genre.

On the challenges she’s faced in her writing career:

Marketing and promoting have been the thorn in my side. Even with the publishing company, the marketing was left up to me.

Best moment as a writer?

The best moment was when I got the email stating they wanted to publish my book. Nine months before, I had sent my manuscript to them and they refused it. The, Twilight broke out and I resubmitted it to them upon the request of my hubby. They took it and when I read the email, I thought someone was messing with me. It turned out to be real and I was really excited

Author idol?

Anne Rice is my first idol. J.K. Rowling is a close second but she doesn’t write about vampires which is unfortunate. Christopher Paolini gave me inspiration for fantasy and the Anne Rampling series encouraged me to write the one erotic book I wrote as well.

On seeing herself in her characters:

Absolutely. Most of my characters are based on the people that have come into my life in many different ways. Sometimes, just their personality or physical traits are included in my characters.

Any occupational hazards to being a writer?

Absolutely! Fear of rejection can cause many authors to give up and quit their dreams. Also, as in my case, I’ve typed for so long that I now have Carpal Tunnel and have to limit my typing each day which just kills me. I have to write and I enjoy it so it’s very hard to stifle my creativeness. I’ve started writing ideas down in that notebook I mentioned so I can write a little more later.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit?

I have never wanted to quit. Rejection at first made me feel horrible but as time went on, I learned it’s all part of the process and can brush it off as it comes along.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Write what you want, not what you think publishers want. Write from your heart and the creative juices flow more easily. Jump in with both feet and bring your ideas to life through your writing.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Never give up and support your fellow authors. You can learn a lot from them and it will make you a better writer. If I gave up every time I was rejected, I wouldn’t be published. Take the bull by the hands and make your career what you want it to be.

Where to find Jodie:

www.thevampirequeen1@gmail.com

www.thevampirequeen1.blogspot.com

www.vampiricallyrical.blogspot.com

www.thevampirequeen1.weebly.com

www.facebook.jodie.pierce779

www.amazon.com/authors/jodiepierce

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=the+vampire+queen

https://www.facebook.com/groups/supernaturalwritersgroup/