Re-read The Boy In Her Dreams Chapters 11-15

The Things They Didn't Bury

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*And this is where the clock officially starts ticking. One of the most valuable pieces of feedback I received during early drafts of this series was to drop a ticking time bomb early on in order to drive the story forward while simultaneously driving the reader mad with worry. Much of my previous work had a tendency to be very episodic–this happened and then this happened and so on. I was used to writing literary fiction where the plot is mostly driven by the emotional development of the characters rather than external factors. But genre fiction is different. It’s much faster paced and every single word on every single page has to force the reader forward. Finding that momentum forced me to break old habits and think about stories in an entirely new way. Now I measure the potency of new ideas in terms of speed and friction. My characters don’t just need motivation but they also need a genuine fear–something that terrifies them into paralysis or motion. For Bryn that fear is never truly living, either because she’s dead, or helpless, or because her soulmate has no memory of who she is.

*Bryn doesn’t have many diving head first into a black hole of rage and hopelessness moments but the destruction of her sculpture provided an essential turning point in her story. She’s angry; she’s scared but her physical reaction is also incredibly defiant. Her body may be weak but she still has the power to destroy something, even if it’s her own dreams. Even if it’s the future she thought she wanted. Bryn may lose control in this moment but she also gains something valuable–acceptance. She doesn’t give up or accept her disease or Roman’s memory loss as a failure. Instead, she accepts the fight. There’s a war going on inside her, one that will manifest itself in the real world, and as she destroys this symbol of her past hopes and dreams she also resolves herself to fighting for new ones…even if she doesn’t know what they are yet.

BD-6-10Q2*Bryn and Dani have a special connection, one I’ve mirrored in Orphans of Paradise and The Things They Didn’t Bury. They’re more than family, which means that their friendship is forged by a kind of unbreakable bond. I don’t know what it’s like to have a sibling or even a cousin who you consider a best friend. I have childhood friendships that are familiar and comfortable and true but I’ve always been somewhat of a recluse, which is why writing about best friends has always been a fascination of mine. Like most introverts, I’ve fantasized about what it would be like to have an inseparable group of friends or a sister to share a bedroom with. I’ve always secretly wanted those things and during various phases of my life have tried to forge those bonds but the truth is I can’t function in those kinds of relationships. I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost eight years and we’ve lived together for almost six and I have no idea why it’s different; why it’s easy. But for me, female friendships are just different. They’re much more mysterious and powerful and who wants to read a story about an eccentric writer with no friends? Great stories have great characters, which means giving your MC people to interact with who aren’t just foils or plot elements. For Bryn, Dani is much more than that. She’s her soulmate.

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*Roman’s grandparents are based on my own grandparents, although his get along much better than mine actually do. My grandmother used to make me eat so much I’d puke and my grandfather would sit with me while I cried for my mom, crying for his mom too. He is very sentimental and cries every time I see him while my grandmother always greets me with a status update on my weight.

*Bryn’s vision of her father being attacked was also a very last minute addition. Book 2 was really quite a mess until the third installment gave the paranormal aspects a more definitive direction. I wrote the majority of the first draft of book 2 totally not expecting Bryn’s father to have anything to do with the paranormal part of the story but it was definitely a fun surprise.

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Conquering The Funk

The Things They Didn't Bury, Writing

So a few months ago I was trudging through editing purgatory and making my FINAL revisions to The Things They Didn’t Bury—combing through every sentence and every word trying to get it as close to almost perfection as I possibly could before its publication in December. The first ¾ of the book I edited in a fury, diligently working on it every free hour I had for almost two weeks. I made some HUGE changes and added a whopping ten thousand more words. I was totally in the zone, every error or confusing bit of prose or problem with continuity jumping right out at me and the subsequent solution just as clear. Things were going great. In fact better than great! I was suddenly having revelation after revelation about a two year old manuscript that just a week earlier I was so sick of looking at that I was this close to ripping my hair out! I could finally see the finish line and was experiencing this new rush of confidence and excitement that seemed to have arrived just in time—you know just a few months before I planned on actually sharing this formerly solitary endeavor with the masses.

And then in the midst of my triumph and accompanying victory dance came the funk. Fast and furious it took over and ruined everything. I have no idea where it came from or why or how. But I hit a wall. A really thick wall that I couldn’t tear down, scale, or even tunnel under. I only had 20,000 words to go, just six more chapters to revise and then I’d be done. Forever. Then I could finally move on to editing the next book and finishing up the rough draft of the 3rd. But all of that was still in limbo, so much time wasted all because I couldn’t get through those last 20,000 words. And it wasn’t like normal writer’s block where I just couldn’t find the words. This funk had more than just my creativity on lockdown, it also somehow managed to completely arrest any kind of motivation I had to even open up the word document and stare at the screen.

I was so sick of that manuscript, I mean literally sick; just the thought of it made me want to vomit. Sorry for the mental picture but I’m just trying to be honest. I mean I wasn’t just tired of working on it I actually loathed the thing. Which was scary because just a month earlier I was still totally enamored and all giddy every time I opened up the word document. So obviously this was bad, I mean really bad, so bad that the fate of its publication literally hung in the balance.

This had never happened to me before. Sure I’d had my days where I just didn’t feel like writing, not because I couldn’t come up with anything, but because I just wasn’t in the mood. But this wasn’t about just not being in the mood—moods are fleeting and for me a bad one never lasts more than a couple of days. But it had been three weeks, going on four and I just couldn’t afford to waste any more time. I felt like I was moving backwards. I started brainstorming remedies and trying to clear my head, which resulted in watching a lot of True Blood, and pinning a lot of cheesy inspirational quotes on pinterest, the sentiments of which I couldn’t seem to adopt. But none of it was working. And then one day I made a breakthrough.

I wasn’t any more interested in getting back to editing than I had been the day before or for the past two weeks for that matter but I did realize that maybe this psychological stalemate I’d been having with my manuscript had nothing to do with my creativity or my abilities but it had everything to do with how long I’d been working on this one story and my subconscious, as afraid of change as always, just wasn’t ready to let go of it. What if subconsciously I wasn’t ready for the end and therefore was putting it off. The closer I got to the publication date the more nostalgia and self-doubt and fear and all of these conflicting emotions began to impede my creative process.

But it wasn’t just my fear of finally being finished and having to move on to the next thing that was holding me back but it was also my fear of failing.  Of course when I hit publish at the end of December that was an incredibly realistic possibility and so I had been purposefully trying to evade the inevitable—not that I’m going to fail as an author or that the book is going to fail in general but that for some readers it will.  Because some readers just won’t like it.  I will not please everyone or even most everyone and those are the facts.

So what was really stopping me from writing?  The very cliché quest for perfection.  We all do it (even though I didn’t realize how much so until recently) and it’s that fear of being imperfect that was getting in the way.  I was trying to combat it any way I could by brooding over the same paragraph for four days, or spending hours plotting out projects two years in the future, or trying to come up with a completely ridiculous writing schedule that detailed my itinerary every day for the next year.  Yes I am that crazy!  So once I realized that ALL of my stress was SELF-IMPOSED I had to stop.  I mean how stupid?  So I got rid of my ridiculous deadlines and I took a break—at the end of which I was chomping at the bit to get back to work.  There will be enough pressure on me when I’m finally a working author (you know the kind whose writing actually pays their bills) that I might as well enjoy the process now that I’m still a nobody who only writes for fun.  That’s what it’s all about anyway.

So if you’re suffering from your own funk here is my advice:

STOP.

The problem is not your ability. The problem is you’re imperfect and you haven’t accepted it yet.

The story will still be there whenever you decide to get back to it and if you’re good at what you do, you’re not going to spontaneously wake up one day and have somehow lost your talent—if you’ve spent time building up those skills, they aren’t just going to go away. So don’t panic.  Just because you’re having an off day or an off month it’s ok.  Just be patient.

Reading Lark Giveaway!

The Things They Didn't Bury

Want another chance to win a free copy of my debut novel, The Things They Didn’t Bury??
The Reading Lark is hosting a giveaway going on NOW and you can sign up here to win 1 of 10 FREE COPIES!

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Still not convinced? Check out these awesome reviews from around the web!

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The Things They Didn’t Bury NOW AVAILABLE!!!!

Indie, The Things They Didn't Bury, Writing

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MERRY CHRIMBO!

Life, Teasers, The Things They Didn't Bury

It’s Christmas Day! And believe it or not it’s snowing!!  My first trip home in six months started out like this:

Yes, good ole West Texas, just how I remember it, nose bleeds and all. But it looks like the haboob’s finally moved on and it finally almost feels like the holidays!  But what says Christmas time more than snow?  Waiting. Tis’ the season for waiting—waiting to fall asleep, waiting to open gifts, waiting for the food to be ready, waiting for that awkward silence that accompanies every family gathering when someone accidentally mentions that one mentally unstable member of the family who has recently given up bathing. But this year I’ve also been waiting for this incessant pain that’s been radiating from my jaw bone to just between my eyes to finally subside (yes I made the horrible decision to have my wisdom teeth removed mere days before Christmas and no I didn’t do it to stave off the dreaded 5 pounds I had expected to gain while on vacation, although it has seemed to help…a little—unfortunately brownies seem to be one food that a recently excavated mouth can actually tolerate) and I’ve been waiting for the first unbiased reactions to my novel, advanced copies of which were recently sent to reviewers.

Fortunately the combination of an empty stomach and high doses of hydro codeine have kept my mind in sort of this spinning symphony of blah and I haven’t had the chance to really absorb the fact that right now, at this very second, someone, somewhere could be reading my book.

Could be. Probably aren’t but might be soon. It’s a reality now but instead of lingering in that anticipation and imagining every worst-case scenario, I’m doing this:

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That’s my dog

Oh and this:

The brownies exploded

Anyone else spending Christmas day in editing purgatory? Or are you all outside building snowmen and stuffing your faces and a million other things that would be way more fun.  By the way, just in case you need another Christmas present (because you know you deserve one), why not enter my giveaway to win a copy of The Things They Didn’t Bury, set to release on December 31st. It’s free, takes two seconds, and since I’m giving away 100 copies it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll be getting your hands on one soon!

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Oh and how about one FINAL TEASER to hold you over until Monday!

Liliana felt something warm trickle into her eyes and her fingers searched her scalp for the wound. She winced, plucking tiny flakes of glass from the cut as she tried to open her eyes. She saw Diego, lips taught as he tried to wedge himself free from behind the steering wheel. She smelled the dust as the van’s tires sent it swirling into the cab. She heard the door crack open, the sharp cock of the gun and then all she could do was crawl into the crook of Diego’s arm, her face pressed to his mouth as she waited for them to take her.

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