Pick a Genre, Any Genre, or Two or Three

January 21, 2020

When I began writing fiction, everyone assumed I was writing science fiction. But I wasn’t.

king ludlum steel

 

 

My reading taste has always been eclectic. When I was younger, my favorite authors wrote horror/sci-fi, spy thrillers, and romances.

 

 

 

My taste slowly evolved. For a long time, I read legal and political mysteries. I also like sagas.

                           mysteries     saga

 

Then I discovered science fiction.

scifi

 

Next, I came across books with magic.

fantasy

 

I’ve always had an affinity for the tales of King Arthur and Merlin the Magician.

arthur merlin

 

I also like the classics. And poetry.

                                        classic books     poems

 

For the last decade, my favorite genres have been science fiction and fantasy.

jordan gabaldon

 

These classics are my all-time favorite books. A family saga and world building.

favorite books

 

I read the Game of Thrones series by George RR Martin long before it became a TV series. (The first book is on loan to a friend.)

Martin

 

When I sat down to write my fiction, the stories in my head were women’s fiction. Stories about relationships and how we react and change due to the events in our lives. I’ve read some women’s fiction over the years, mostly when I want an easy read. It surprised me a bit, but that’s what I was compelled to write.

On a fluke, I wrote a spiritual story and entered a short story contest. My beta readers cried, and I won an award. Then, about a year ago, I saw a contest for sci fi, fantasy, horror, thriller, or any combination. I decided that could be fun.

My story started as science fiction. By the third page I had added fantasy elements. It became a thriller by page 5. I added a bit of horror around page 10. My beta readers said it was dark and creepy. I was thrilled. We want to provoke emotions in our readers.

I ran out of time to polish the story but entered the contest anyway. I didn’t win, and I’m revising that story. There’s another story in my head. This one is fantasy. I’m not sure where it’s going, It might end up being a love story.

Are you confused yet?

jumble of books

Writers, editors and publishers tell you to stick with one genre. Maybe that works for most people. It doesn’t work for me. The stories I write are the ones that I’m compelled to write. The characters talk to me, and they don’t shut up until I write them down.

Right now, I’m revising my sci-fi, fantasy thriller. I’m also polishing a spiritual short story. And, I’m jotting down ideas and scenes for my fantasy romance.

We’ll see where it all takes me.

What genre do you prefer for your reading and writing? Or do you cross genres like I do? Do you think the “experts” are right? (I don’t.)

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Words & Strides

November 26, 2019

This is the time of year I often neglect myself. Not on purpose. I enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the necessary preparation. My days are filled with doing for others, even more so than I usually do, and that’s a good thing. It’s a big part of who I am. However, the more personal things that feed my soul often fall by the wayside. I’m determined to try and fit them in this year.

What things? Writing, running, and reading. I have work. I’m dealing with my relatives’ estate. I have yard work, shopping, and soon I’ll be decorating and going to holiday parties. Already, I find myself saying, I’ll write later, I’ll run later, I’ll read tomorrow. And then I don’t.

A week ago, I decided to start my morning with a run. It was snowing. Nevertheless, I went out. Snow was beginning to blanket the grass but it hadn’t yet stuck to the sidewalks or roadway. It was cold. It was glorious. Snow quiets the world and quiets my thoughts. We got 10 inches that day.

snowedit2019nov

I enjoy winter running if it’s not icy or windy. There’s something magical about it. I have all the gear, even though I wonder if I look like a criminal with the balaclava.

balaklava

I’m also taking an hour – just an hour – to write in the evening. It’s difficult to tune everything else out and focus on my story. I succeed 3 or 4 times a week, and those small successes bring me joy and a happier outlook.

writingpad

I try to read a novel once a week, again in the evening, an hour or two before bedtime. It helps me unwind.

readingbook

Recently, I read a blog post about the importance of taking time for yourself, and then a friend mentioned the same thing. Sometimes I feel selfish when I have such a long to-do list. I have to remind myself that I’m happier, more positive and more energetic when I fuel my passions and feed my soul. It’s like the instructions on airplanes – if the oxygen masks drop, put yours on first, so you can help others. It’s the same theory, right? Then why is it so hard?

oxygenmasks

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Intense Experiences Color Your World and Your Writing

October 15, 2019

Last month, I unexpectedly found myself caring for two older relatives during — what I had no idea would be — the end of their lives. Throughout an intense 6-week timespan, I became a primary care giver and dealt with doctors and nurses. Following the sudden death of one relative, I made funeral arrangements. Then, I dealt with different doctors and nurses at a hospital, a nursing home and finally hospice for the other relative. The second death was somewhat expected, after which I interacted with a different funeral home. It wasn’t the decision making that was hard, it was the reality of dealing with life and death. The 2 deaths were just 15 days apart. This was one of the hardest and most intense experiences of my life.

Dealing with life and death has changed me. 

 

I’m sad and will be for some time to come. I also feel honored and blessed to have done the very best I could, with God’s help and guidance. Some days I can’t believe how much changed during that short time period. Although I’m relieved the intensity has ended, everyday things now seem trivial. How do you go from doing something so important to working a regular job, cooking dinner, folding clothes? From past experience with the death of loved ones, I know these feelings will fade in time.

As I contemplated what to blog about, my planned posts on genre or story form just didn’t cut it.

My experience is hardly unique. People deal with death all the time. I have always had great respect for medical professionals, in particular the care givers and hospice workers. What was so heart-wrenching for me is a true calling for those in the field. I thank God for those people.

It’s said that we reveal parts of ourselves in our writing and I’m no different. I’m a pantser by industry standards, an intuitive writer to the rest of my friends. I go with the flow, let my intuition direct the story line. My recent experience has colored my world and will color my writing. It has touched me in ways I can see and in other ways I may never recognize. I do know one thing. It has changed me and eventually will show up in my writing. Maybe in a hospital scene or an emotional scene with a character dying. Probably in an unexpected form.

My life experiences direct my writing.

 

My fiction includes material drawn from my dating life in my teens and 20s, from social interactions that took place years ago and I didn’t even know I remembered until I wrote them into a character’s life. Material comes from workplace people and happenings, from vacations, from my life. Sometimes, I’m surprised when these memories surface in my writing; sometimes I’m not. I never plan these scenes; they simply bubble up at the right time.

Here’s to my relatives who are now hanging out in heaven. I salute you. I miss you. I’ll be seeing you again soon, in the pages of my fiction.

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Inspire Me!

September 17, 2019

I got into sports at a young age, and my mother gave me three small posters that I framed and hung on my bedroom walls.

3-inspirational-posters.jpg

“You must believe to achieve.” 

“The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.” 

“I can let things happen or I can make them happen.”

quote notes

 

Those posters now hang in my home office, along with hundreds of inspirational quotes I have collected over the years. Since quotes abound online, I’m only including one here. I found it on Twitter; it’s by Jennifer Lee:

 

follow that dream

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. Don’t get influenced by what people tell you should be your dream.

 

 

Here are my three favorite motivational movies. I’d love to hear about movies that motivate you.

Akeelah and the Bee – Little Akeelah Anderson competes in the National Spelling Bee.

The Pursuit of Happyness (yes, that’s how the movie title is spelled) — Will Smith is great as a homeless Chris Gardner pursuing career options.

Rudy – Daniel Ruettiger is determined to play football at Notre Dame.

 My friends also provide inspiration, especially when I’m feeling discouraged. The beauty of nature always lifts me up, whether it’s flowers, trees, mountains, lakes or oceans. Finally, and foremost, my faith is the most important aspect of my life – it brings love and acceptance and encouragement and so much more.

I’ll end this post with a poem you may have seen before. Enjoy.

OUR DEEPEST FEAR

by Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Where do you find inspiration?

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Here It Is! I Found It! In the Candlelight.

September 3, 2019

I shuffled through the bedroom to the adjoining bathroom wondering why it was so light in the room. Squinting at the bedside clock, my eyes opened wide. The digital clock was blank. I looked around the room suspiciously, wondering if one of my cats had somehow pulled the plug.

Shaking my head, I continued to the bathroom and flipped on the light switch. Nothing happened. I groaned, completed my morning routine and ventured into the kitchen where my boyfriend was reading the paper.

His head appeared over the newspaper. “Power went out an hour ago.”

Glancing at the clock, I understood why it was so much lighter in the bedroom. I grunted, got out a bowl with oatmeal and opened the microwave door. “Oh. Duh. Let’s go out for breakfast.”

“OK, the power will probably be on by the time we get back. It never goes off long here.”

candle2

He was wrong.

That evening, as he found our flashlights and battery-powered radio, I lit candles throughout the main floor rooms. The candles imbued a dreamy ambiance. The only problem was that I kept tripping over our black cat.

“This is great.” I plumped up the cushions on the living room and settled in with a thick book. “How often do you get to read with no other demands?”

He raised his eyebrows. “You’re not going to write?”

“Nah. Still not in the mood. I’m only about half recharged from our train trip.” (My earlier post – Big Sky, Blank Paper – explains how I had run out of creative energy, was unable to write, and needed to recharge.)

The next evening, I got home from work to find the power still out. We went through the same routine as the previous evening, except I was all read out.

“Why are you pacing?” my boyfriend asked.

I shrugged. “Dunno. Restless.”

I looked around the quiet, peaceful room with its multiple candles flickering from the slight breeze wafting in through the open windows, and I was compelled to sit down and write. My calico cat curled up next to me and I breathed in the scent of the rose candles on the mantle. With my writing pad on my lap and my favorite gel pen in hand, I wrote. I was calm. I was thoughtful. The words flowed.

candle1

The third evening, I again lit my candles and settled down for an evening of writing. And then we heard a click.

The lights and fans turned on. Through the open windows, we heard the neighbors cheering and we joined in with delight. Relief mingled with disappointment. Writing would not be on the agenda that evening.

The fridge and freezer needed to be cleaned out, laptops and phones charged, candles and flashlights put away… writing would have to wait for the following day.

As I threw away spoiled food, gratitude welled up. Losing electricity had prompted a personal recharge (and an appreciation for all the things electricity provides). I had found my way back to my happy writing place.

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