Posts Tagged ‘family’

hurts
I don’t often reveal much of my personal life. Please don’t be offended by this, I was raised to believe that showing any of your vulnerable underbelly was a weakness should be avoided at all costs. My family taught me that I had nothing of value to say and that none of my emotions were valid.
Perhaps this is why I ensconced myself in books. In their worlds I got to see what it was to have a parent who asked a child about their day or hugged them, something that I didn’t get at home. Fiction was a safe place where anything could happen because it was pure fantasy.
As embarrassing as this is to admit, it’s only really been in the last few years that I’ve realised some people out there do reveal themselves to others. Sadly, I have been conditioned for three decades and so my learned behaviours are fully engrained; opening myself to anyone in person won’t be happening any time soon.
Please don’t feel sorry for me, or laugh, at how pathetic my upbringing was. My father left when I was a child and I lived in a cold environment with my mother where feelings, or discussions of them, were bothersome. You do what needs to be done and that’s it. You get up in the morning, go to work, eat and sleep – that’s about it. There is nothing more to life. At least that’s what I spent my childhood believing.
All of my pitiful ramblings above are the prelude to how I feel this evening, which is why I am chattering. Sometimes I do feel alone. Being estranged from my parents was nothing in my youth when I had a million friends (rather superficial acquaintances) and a frantic social life. But I don’t have that mask disguising the truth anymore.
As luck would have it – or not – when I did find a man to settle down with it turned out that man was an abusive alcoholic who thought only of himself and not of me or our child. Eventually I freed myself from him and now I have a lot to be proud of in my life. My son is smart and beautiful and keeps me going every day. I built a business that I run from home so that I can be there for my son when I need to be and never miss a school show – even if it means working until the early hours when he is asleep.
Writing has been in my life since I was a child, as I said before it offered me an escape and let me explore the emotions I felt but was not allowed to express. But it was my grandmother’s death that prompted me to publish. The woman was a tower of strength, the most incredible person that I have ever known, and one who would give her last to those in need. I’ll admit that she was from a different generation and wasn’t exactly the tactile, warm and fuzzy type, but she cared for my sister and me in a way that no one else ever did and she never made us feel like a burden.
Through the years I have loved and lost in relationships of the romantic and platonic variety. I’ve stood up in courts to defend what is right, even when it broke my heart. What family I did have left I lost when I defended my niece and nephew against the only sister I have, in order to prevent them being subjected to her abuse.
I’ve proved to myself that I have integrity and I have proved that I can, and will, work hard and do what it takes to care for the children whom I love so much. I imagine sometimes that my grandmother watches over them, as she watched over us, and that I have to do for her what she no longer can, because she is not on this earth with us anymore.
But it’s hard, oh god, it’s hard. Tonight I’m feeling blue, as you may have guessed. Having struggled all of my life with depression and anxiety issues I recognise that this will pass, sometimes life slaps you down just to remind you of the strength it takes to stand back up.
Why do I bother? No one in my real life knows that I publish. I was taught to never expose my emotions or inner thoughts, and there isn’t a place more personal or revealing than the words I put onto paper. No one would understand. If they read and saw just what went on within me I’d never be able to look them in the eye again. I’d be embarrassed and ashamed, not because of the explicit content of my novels, but because then they would know that I feel.
But when no one in your real life knows that you publish and you have no one to share your frustrations and triumphs with online either the whole experience becomes so isolating. There’s no one there to say, “Wow, look what you did…” Only writers know how many hours (see months and years) it takes to hone your craft enough to publish. Only writers know how invested we become in our characters and their worlds, and how much of yourself you pour into them.
Spending all of that time writing is one thing. But to publish is a whole other ballgame. You have to learn how to make covers, write your own blurbs, and fill out acknowledgements. Believe it or not, those are the fun parts. Learning the ins and outs of formatting was fun (not) and each platform has its own rules, so getting the hang of KDP means nothing when you head over to Smashwords.
KDP, there’s a laugh. You think you know what that’s about? No one does. And they keep moving the goal posts. Should you give Amazon exclusivity and enter KDP Select? What the hell is KDP Select? Right, ok, so I can’t publish elsewhere and they let me choose promotions from either free days or Kindle Countdown Deals… wait, what? What the hell is Kindle Countdown and do I want it? Ok, pick your dates and how many increments, and fill out all the—pop-up box, “Your book must have been…” and there’s a list, the same price for thirty days, and then you can’t change the price for two weeks after it’s done and… forget it, let’s go with the free days.
I could write a novel on my experience of self-publishing alone. I can’t even count the number of hours I’ve spent reading blogs and Googling terms I’ve never heard of before in my life.
Learning how to publish is a steep curve, but the promotion racket is worse! Then you have to build a website, make teasers and banners, and adverts. You have to run all your own social media, even when you know no one, and have no clue what you’re doing. You sign up for everything that’s going, and never use half of it again, but you sign up anyway.
After all those hours writing the book, formatting and publishing the book, then promoting (making a nuisance of yourself everywhere) the book – all the while wearing your cheery, plastic smile – you look up and realise… it all means absolutely nothing and has gotten you nowhere.
The truth is, the world is too big. It doesn’t matter if you write the best novel in the universe, if you can’t get it out there then no one will ever see it. For the girl who was taught that every time she opened her mouth and uttered a word she was an irritation, it’s very difficult. I am proud that I’ve worked hard and learned so much. I am a grown woman. So why do I still feel that I should apologise for existing?
“This too in time shall pass…”
“Ours is not to wonder why…”
The clichés mount up until you find yourself sitting in the dark at four in the morning wondering why on earth you bother. No one can take writing away from me, but why do I work so hard to do the best I can? I can’t answer that.
I’m a strong person, but I’m not a social person, I’m an observer. I was sent here to watch the world, not to participate in it. I love to watch and to wonder. The trouble is, I’ve spent so many years learning to be invisible that now I’m in a situation where I want to be seen, I don’t have the first clue how to do it.
Anyway, sorry for taking up your time. I’m sure that most won’t get this far in my blether and I’m sure that I’ll be embarrassed tomorrow for writing this. But getting it out there, freeing these words, somehow makes me feel less alone. So thank you, it might be feeble and pathetic, but gratitude is all that I have left.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

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ANZEMC_HandshakeElectric_1

What’s the most important part of any fiction novel? The genre? Location? Style? Maybe the premise? Not in my opinion. In my opinion, the most important part of every fiction novel is: the characters.
If we care about the characters, if we connect with them, then the other aspects merely compliment and enhance these people who we are on a journey with.
From an authors point of view, we have to be willing to spend an awful lot of time with these people, months, sometimes years, getting to know them. While we work with them, they are our best friends, our lovers, and our allies. They are our colleagues and they are our family. They are us and we are them.
So, let’s start with nothing. Try to recall how you feel before you open a book, when you’ve maybe read the blurb but really don’t know anything about who is in the book or what they’re going to go through, when you’re completely clueless. Then think about your last book hangover, when you really didn’t want to close the book because then you knew it was going to be over. When you didn’t want to put it down. When you cared so much about these characters that you couldn’t get them out of your head for days and lay awake at night thinking about them. Quite a transition, isn’t it?
We rarely fixate on the location or even the specific storyline of a book for too long. The characters are what linger with us. As humans, the psychic connection is crucial. In real life, there’s not always a physical reason for you to care for someone, but we still do care about them.
Developing this kind of connection between reader and character is very important in ensuring the most satisfying reading experience.
So, how do we create a character? For the most part physical attributes aren’t really very important, they are window dressing. Sometimes a vision of a character will be what first appears, but the look of a character isn’t what makes them complete. We don’t connect because we know someone is six foot tall and has blue eyes.
To write a character that readers can connect with you have to understand the essence of them. You have to be able to live in their head and understand their motivations, their actions, and their mannerisms etc. Why do they use certain words? What are their habits and ambitions? It’s not enough to keep a bio, to have a list of facts about upbringing and environment. We can’t simply list their CV, likes and dislikes, and think that a collection of facts will bring about a relationship between reader and character.
All of us are flawed and so characters have to be flawed too. They are not perfect. They are not (depending on the genre) omnipotent and can’t necessarily read the mind of a person who may be hurting, or be able to see danger coming from around the corner. Characters have to be thrown off-guard and out of their comfort zone, when we as readers understand that they are mentally or emotionally struggling but they battle on then we start to root for them.
But it starts with a link. The writer has to be linked to the character, we have to be able to live in their head and have them inhabit ours. Imagining how they would react in even the most mundane of circumstances helps with that, talking to them, writing scenes that will never make the book, all of these things help to develop a trust and understanding between character and reader, because it’s only when the author cares about the character that the reader will too.
This goes for the villains too. Care doesn’t have to be tender. You have to understand the motivations, and the history, of your antagonist as well as you do for the protagonist, it gives the relationship between those characters balance.
The writer, and the reader, should always remember that these characters are only given life when they are experienced and remembered. They can only feel if you feel. You are their heartbeat and their soul inhabits yours. Take a piece of your favourite characters with you wherever they go – they’ll appreciate the adventure.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

thankyou

We all spend so much time thinking about what is not done, “You didn’t take out the trash,” “you forgot to buy milk…” etc. that we so often fail to notice the things that are done.
Taking things for granted in life is something we have all been guilty of. That’s why so often praise or gratitude is surprising, quite often if people show me gratitude for something I think it’s the start of a joke :p
Don’t for a second think that I’m going to start singing about appreciating the warmth of the sun on your face and the sweet, delicate melody of the birds chirpring in the trees. By all means appreciate those things, you should. But today I want to think about appreciating the other humans around us.
Now I know it’s easy to get mad at the kids, and at your husband when he didn’t “hear” you tell him about the neighbour’s dinner party. You should get mad, I’m sure they deserve your wrath 🙂 But we are nothing alone. Our family and our friends are what propel us forward. Our ambition determines how high we aim. But at the end of the day everyone needs help to achieve lofty goals.
So thank you. That’s really the aim and simplicity of this blog. Every single person who reads this is doing me a kindness. Every person who reads my books, love or loathe, review or not, you’re all doing something nice for me.
I have to show my gratitude to you all. If I could thank every person who bought my book, or read my comments on social media, then I would. But I think I would come off as a bit creepy if I started following all you guys around.
So I want to take this chance, on this platform, to thank you all for having faith enough to take a risk and read my work. All of you are valuable to me, and if I could show you my gratitude personally I would… in a completely non kinky way, promise, lol.
So often we hear about authors, of all varieties, and we hear of publishers, and of distributors, so often the reader is overlooked. There is no industry without you guys. Would it matter if half the writers out there stopped writing? Not as much as if half the readers suddenly stopped reading. You have to be respected by authors, all of you, by every part of the machine. Don’t underestimate your power. By sheer will alone you have the power to change the market. Pick a book you love and tell everyone you know, they tell everyone they know, and suddenly this little pile of words that spoke to you has taken the world by storm. That is the power you have.
Writers shouldn’t be revered, yes, they should be respected for the hard work and perseverance that it takes to produce the goods because it is a long journey. But that journey has no destination without the reading community. Yes, writers are readers, they have to be, there’s absolutely no equivocation on that, but we’re not the most important ones.
The most important person in a writer’s world is… you. Not the guy next to you, not the guy running the country, not even the distributors and publishers who are slugging it out. Let them have their war. This is about you. I have to connect to you. I have to work hard, for you. No one else. I don’t do it because I think I’m going to tempt a million readers. I want to connect with you. I want my words to affect your life, even if only for a few seconds. I want them to provoke a reaction. I want your heart to beat faster, or I want it to spasm with sorrow. I want you to laugh. I want you to cry. I want you to care.
My characters don’t belong to me. They are yours, they are what is in your heart, and in your head. They are what you want them to be. All I do is assemble thoughts and scenarios, the emotion is yours, it’s in you, you make the story what it is.
So thank you for taking a risk. Thank you for reading. Thank you for infusing my stories with sensation. Your wonderful mind processes the words I put together and causes that sentiment to your senses. You see it, you feel it. You are the story. It is for you. You have my eternal gratitude.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx