Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Things I’ve learned

Ah, the ending of another year, and time to reflect.

Here are a few tips taken from my past almost two years of being a published author:

    1) Believe in yourself, or just be really, really stubborn. Some folks will shoot you down, even people who mean well. ANYTHING big in your life- writing, art, whatever, is going to change things with you and your relationships with others. This can be threatening to some folks. You have to hang on to the dream that got you on this path—and don’t let go. Setbacks will happen and so will crippling self-doubt. Hang tight and push through.

    2) Think long term when naming things that will be around—long term ;). I love the name Asarlaí. It’s different, cool, and fun (it is also stolen from another language- wanna guess which one? ;)). It’s also a pain in the butt to have to keep correcting that accent mark at the end.  Had I thought about it, and the number of things that word would have to go on, I probably would have found something less problematic.

     3) A six book story arc series is hard. Okay, The Lost Ancients started as two trilogies. The print book of book one still says that. But as I wrote book two, I realized it was one big-ass story and splitting it like that was artificial. However—six books in a single story is FREAKING HARD! Curse of having big-ass stories in my head I guess. But moving forward, going to really try to stick to stories that will fit into three books at a time.

    4) Not everyone will like your books and that’s a good thing. I had a woman come up at an event and demand that I sell her on my books. I asked her what she liked to read—she said dark, angsty, tragic, love stories. I smiled, and took my book out of her hand. I told her she would probably not like my books and explained why. She nodded (she’d really wanted me to give her a hard sell) then she said she did have a friend who liked more of what I wrote ;).  Know what you write. Accept some folks won’t like that, and even some who do like the sub-genre, may not like your book. I had one person who looked like they would like what I wrote, write that The Glass Gargoyle was too complicated for them to read, but would probably make a good movie. (Somewhere in there, I’m thinking is a compliment?)

    5) Pushing yourself is good. It is so easy to let yourself find a way out of doing difficult things—even ones we really want to do (or have done).  Get your self-nagging hat on, and cut the TV time, get up early, work during lunch. To quote one of my favorite people, “Make it work”.

    6) Be sure you have awesome people behind you. I wouldn’t have the books out that I do without all of my amazing beta reading/editing friends. People who emotionally supported me or let me bounce ideas off them. Not to mention the people I found and hired-artist, editors, formatters. People who believe in you are worth their weight in chocolate—always value them.

     7) Dates may be closer than they appear. Yeah. Even after four books out, I still think things will get out faster than they do. Life happens. Reality changes. Same for folks who are helping you get a book done—they have lives too. I was hoping that The Sapphire Manticore would be out in December…then it became very very late December….now we’re looking at January (hence my posting the first chapter over in my pages section on the right side). Part is doing a book this time of year is hard. Part—this is a big book and everything takes longer with big stories. Part is reality changes sometimes. But the fact is, I want this book tight, clean, and ready to ‘wow’. One more round of edits to come back (and I’m still doing more too), then it’ll go to the formatters (who also have to make the full print cover out of the art my artist made).  So….it will get here, just not when I’d hoped.

     8) Enjoy the journey. No matter where you are, what you’re doing—enjoy the process! If you don’t, none of this is worthwhile.

Merry Christmas, Peaceful Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

#IWSG- Book Domination Wednesday!

Welcome one and all to another episode of how the writer’s world turns—aka the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Once a month, writers from all over the globe gather online and share our thoughts, fears, and hopes.

Today is that day!

The suggested question for this month, is where do you see yourself (writing wise) in five years. A fair enough question.

I see a drunken faery on every bookshelf and a pissed merc at every desk!  World book domination!

Okay, so maybe not.

Part of answering such a question is to look back at where you've been.  In March 2014, I decided that I was going to take my writing career into my own hands and self publish in March 2015.

March 26th, 2015 The Glass Gargoyle came out.

I am now working on final edits for the fourth book in that series (my fifth book over all since I started publishing).

Within five years, I would love to be able to leave my day job, to spend all of my time wandering around all of the worlds that live in my head. If you read my books, you’ve seen two of the worlds, but there are many more beyond those.

If, however, I still have to maintain my day job by then, I see myself still getting my worlds out there—just not as quickly as I could as a full-time writer. 

At my current pace, I can probably hit 2 and a half books a year (based on that, if I were a full time writer, I’d say it would be closer to 4 a year).

At least 10 books—probably more. This would mean, The Lost Ancient’s original six book series would be finished; The Asarlaí Wars trilogy would be done. The steampunk series would have launched and be a few books in. At least two other series would have started. (And most likely some short stories or novellas from the two finished series--nothing is ever REALLY finished ;)).

My writing and book processing routine probably won't have changed--but with each book my skill and knowledge would hopefully have grown.

In five years I hope to be a better writer, with more books, that are enjoyed by more people. Aka doing more of what I love.

Happy IWSG day!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

NaNo Fail

Well another NaNoWriMo has come to a close--and for a second time in a row I didn't make it. But a lot of my friends DID make it- some are listed to the right ----all those folks who have over 50,000 words won. If you've never tried doing 50,000 words in one month you might not know the epic achievement that is. To make it easier to see--that is completing between 175 and 200 PAGES in a month (depends on word counts per page ;)).

That. Is. HUGE!

So for all my NaNoing friends who won- CONGRATS!!! 

Now for the folks like me, who hit the wall.

Totally not making excuses here, but I did know it was a long shot since I was editing The Sapphire Manticore at the same time I was NaNo-ing Victorious Dead. But I love the excitement and madness of NaNo, so I tried it anyway.

Sadly, the combo didn't work as well as had been hoped and I also hit an emotional wall Thanksgiving week.

But even though I didn't win, I am so glad I did it.

NaNo 2016 Round up:

Victorious Dead is now at 159 pages (I had some words down prior to NaNo)--I wouldn't be that far, especially while in edits, without NaNo.

I still love all the energy around NaNo. Seriously folks, it's the one time of year writers can spend a month with folks who are as crazy as they are--if you write, you should try it at least once.

I will most likely go for it again next year--even if I am doing something like editing another book. Not everything created during NaNo is usable--but I always find parts that are.

339,407. That is the number of words I have done during my NaNo lifetime (they keep track--I sure wouldn't have known. )

This was my 8th year- I won 5 out of those 8. Last year was like this one where I just knew that there was no way I could catch up without killing myself. That day job I have doesn't understand, "Can I take a week off to just write? I'm behind on my NaNo."

Even if you don't write- find something to push yourself!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Okay, I just made up that word. It’s not a misspelling of scheming, it refers to schema (psychology’s usage) “A schema is a mental concept that informs a person about what to expect from a variety of experiences and situations. Schemas are developed based on information provided by life experiences and are then stored in memory. Our brains create and use schemas as a short cut to make future encounters with similar situations easier to navigate. “

What all that says, is that as we build more experiences and repeat situations, we begin to form expectations about a situational outcome in similar situations.

For writers and readers that means if you pick up a book with a demure 16th century maiden on it, being clenched by a big burly highlander, you are NOT going to be expecting a slasher scene in the middle of the book. Or anywhere in it.

People who design covers, whether it be the author themselves, someone they hired, or a publisher and in-house artists, strive to make sure the cover is appealing, but also targeted to peoples’ schemas for the book’s subject matter. If I want a historical romance with a good-looking Scot, that book I mentioned above is perfect.

When we pick up a book based on the cover, then read the blurb, maybe a page or two, more of our schemas engage. A word might through us off and we think of other books that we didn’t enjoy based on a concept or wording that seems similar.

So what has this to do with writing you ask? Everything.

If I am writing a slasher book, but no one gets slashed until page 130, I have a problem, and any readers have probably dumped the book in disgust.

Same thing if I were writing something with a lot of sex—I’d better let the reader know up front (through cover, blurb, etc) and I better not wait until page 200 for the action. Inversely, if I’m not writing graphic sex, springing it on a reader at the end of a book, or in a later book in the series when it hasn’t been in evidence at all previously, can shock a reader.

Working with schemas doesn’t mean being predictable—we all read for new adventures—it just means falling within the expectations of the reader.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Two awesome reviews! Thank you #RT!

I have been horribly remiss in not posting this sooner--but I received two wonderful reviews from the big kahuna's of book reviewing- Romantic Times Book Reviews!

To be fair, I just found these-LOL. Tell's you how focused I get when I'm racing to a deadline ;).


RT Rating:

auhor(s): Marie Andreas

Andreas has already been making a name for herself with her terrific fantasy series The Lost Ancients, but now she kicks off a fast-paced and high-energy SF series featuring a band of mercenaries led by Starship Captain Vaslisha Tor Dain. There is plenty of action, thrills and some humor in her new series, The Asarlaí Wars, as these mercenaries become reluctant sort-of heroes in the face of treachery and fanaticism. The launch book sets up this dangerous universe and fills it with amazing characters who are sure to grab reader’s hearts and minds. This is going to be a very twisty and dangerous ride!
Captain Vaslisha Tor Dain only planned to be on vacation for a couple of weeks, so when she returns to find that her beloved ship The Victorious Dead has been “mistakenly” scrapped for parts, she is livid and bent both on revenge and getting her ship put back together. In the meantime they have a job to do, so Vas takes the only ship available, The Warrior Wench, that used to be a brothel. Vas then rounds up her second in command, the telepath Deven, and the rest of her crew. However Vas nearly dies of a poisoning and only Deven’s quick work saves her. Who or what is after Vas and her crew? Ominously it seems that things are not right in the Commonwealth of Planets. It may be up to Vas to kick butt and take names! (MARIEANDREAS.COM, May, 368 pp., $14.00)
Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith

And The Lost Ancients got represented as well!

RT Rating:
Four stars https://www.rtbookreviews.com/sites/all/themes/boardwalk/images/icon-top-pick-0.png

Author(s): Marie Andreas

Aficionados of action-packed fantasy laced with a generous dose of humor should immediately check out the talented Lost Ancients series. The Emerald Dragon is the third installment in this terrific series which follows the semi-apocalyptic adventures of archaeologist Taryn St. Giles. Elves supposedly disappeared from the Four Kingdoms eons ago and Taryn makes a living mining their ruins. Andreas does a fantastic job building a compelling world and developing characters that leap off the page! Fantasy fans should not miss out.
Beccia used to be a quiet little city until Taryn’s talent for digging placed them at the epicenter of two previous destructive encounters with ancient relics. Although Taryn and her friends/allies (including her trio of often-drunken fairy sidekicks) prevented previous doomsdays, they again find trouble after a series of explosive tremors rock the area. When Alric the elf disappears while investigating, Taryn starts a hunt to find him. Suddenly she is up against bloodthirsty relic hunters and nightmarish monsters as they all hunt for the legendary lost emerald dragon! (MARIE ANDREAS, Apr., 324 pp., $14.00)
Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith

Thank you Jill M. Smith and RT Book Reviews! These really made me scream, cry, jump around like a mad woman, and generally mean way more to me than you could know. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

#IWSG- Joys of writing

Welcome to another Insecure Writer's Support Group post! 

 Every month, writers from across the globe join and shout our fears into the Universe!  Join us! 


Today's question was "What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?" I really have to give two answers- just because ;).

1) Creating new worlds and new characters- my people become very real to me, and I might not like all of them, but I respect them. Many I adore, most I wish I was more like. The joy of creating new characters and setting them lose in a new world is amazing. Knowing, "Oh, she'd NEVER do that" just after a few pages of meeting a character is very very cool. 

I've always been a storyteller, creating people out of anything around me or just in my head. Writing takes it out of my head and lets me tell larger stories.

2) The second part didn't happen until I published--total strangers reading MY books, and some LOVING them! That is a very VERY cool aspect to being a writer. I would still create my people and my stories even if I couldn't share them, but sharing my worlds is a very special feeling.

I count myself extremely lucky that I can create things and share them-it's a wonderful feeling.

Happy IWSG day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Finishing a book

I'm writing this moments after finishing the first draft of book four in my Lost Ancients fantasy series. The Sapphire Manticore is alive!

This is a seriously big book, currently at 400 pages. I know it will shift a lot with rounds of editing, mine and others, but right now it's a very big, bouncing, baby book.

I have mixed feelings right now. I'm glad it's done- been waiting this week to get there, and finally hitting it was amazing.

But I'm also a little sad. Yes, I'll be re-reading it until I'm blue in the face, and editing like mad the next month or so, but it's not the same. This book I really pushed. Since the end of August I've been hitting 5 or more pages a day- for a writer with a full time day job, that's pretty good (at least this writer ;)). That type of rate builds a closeness to the story I wasn't expecting.

And it's left me a little sad. But like I said, there will be edits, and book five and six will be waiting :).

Sleep well my little drunken hooligans, another adventure has been recorded.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Push it...

Yeah, okay, so sorry if some of you now have Salt & Pepper's song in your head. But today I wanted to talk about pushing ourselves--in this case for writing, but it's true for most everything.

It's easy to believe we are driving ourselves as hard as we can. That we're doing the most we can do. This is especially true if we're trying to do more than one thing with the bulk of our time--in my case, a full time day job and building a writing career.

I would love to say that I am a naturally driven person, that I set goals before the sun comes up and have them weeping in the corner before breakfast.

But that would be a lie.

I'm naturally very lazy. REALLY lazy. Unless I'm trapped somewhere I don't want to be, I am never bored simply because I am that good at doing nothing.

Yet, I have written more words since the end of August than I probably did for the six months prior. And, as noted in prior blogs, it's not because my day job slowed down--I work at a college and the start of the semester is intense. 

It's because I made a conscious effort to stretch myself, to increase my writing goals in the face of intense madness at the day job. I started with a goal of 1500 words a day in The Sapphire Manticore (the fantasy series), and if I hit that, I could start working on Victorious Dead (space opera trilogy) at 500 words a shot.

With a few weeks of that under my belt, I increased to 1600 a day--these are work days mind you, the weekends are between 2000 and 3000 depending on what is going on. But I am writing every day. If I'm sick, I might write less, but I am still writing something. It keeps me set in my worlds, so even when I'm not working on them, part of my brain is thinking about them.

I've been at 1700 words since October first, and am now going to bump it to 1800 (aka about 6 pages a day). I am actually kind of surprised at this pace, but I've noticed that I feel much better when the words are done. And I feel better about the books in question.

When we push ourselves, even just a little at a time, we stretch what we're able to accomplish. Right now, stand up. stick your arms out from your sides, and twist one direction. Go as far as you comfortably can. Note how far you go, then turn back to where you started. Now do it again. Your "as far as you can go" is a little further. Because you stretched yourself, and can now reach further.

That's why things like NaNoWriMo (Google it ;)) can really help some folks, they make you stretch further than you thought capable. 

Pushing what you think you can do by constantly stretching just a tiny bit further will get you closer to your goal. And will help you realize just what you're capable of.

If it works for a lazy person like me, it will work for anyone.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

#IWSG- Is it done yet?

Welcome to the monthly blog collection from the Writer’s Insecure Support Group! 

Today, a question was suggested—How do you know when your book is done?

Well, kids, here at the Butterball School of Writing, all works in progress come with a handy little pop up device. Once you’ve run through enough drafts, editing, beta readers, more editing, more readers, etc—the button pops up and voila! You have a finished book!

*waits for the laughter to die down….okay, gives up on the attempt at humor*

Homage to Thanksgiving and comparing our books to cooked poultry in an attempt at humor aside, this is a tricky question. Far more so, the more you look into it. Like most all aspects of writing, it depends on the individual to know when their book is done, there’s no one size fits all program.
For me personally it’s still an “it varies” answer, as each book has a different cooking time. But there are some components that follow through on each book.
I throw a lot of stuff on the page (I’m a pantser folks) and my first draft is sometimes pretty wild. I do little edits/re-reads as I’m working on the first draft, but nothing really big. Then I print it out and edit. I slice and dice for story and character arcs first. Something doesn’t actually go somewhere (or set something up for another book in the series- so if you see something touched on in say book two- it might not have an impact until say book five) it’s out. I may cut and save it, if I really love it, but I’ve learned to be brutal. If it’s doesn’t move things along- it’s outta there. Your “darlings” (the words) lose individual strength when compared to the entire piece. Move it or lose it my little wordy friends!
After a few edits, I send it to my developmental editor. She calls me on anything I may have missed, or just refused to see was a problem. Then my beta readers have a whack. I am totally lucky to have some insanely talented friends who are willing to point out where I’ve screwed up, typos, and major “WTF?” issues. Then a nice line/copy edit for clean-up. I also go through a few passes before and inbetween all of these.
At each of these stages, I’m keeping an eye out for anything major, something that tells me the story isn’t doing what I need it to do. If it flies through after all these folks poking and prodding it, and feels solid, I pronounce it DONE!
Told you the pop up button idea was better ;).

Happy IWSG day!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Making it "real".

Beginning writers often fall into the same traps, one of which is to describe the hell out of EVERYTHING.   What people looked like down to the smallest details, places, houses, kitchens, closets, stores, how to drive a car…you name it, I can promise it has been described to death by thousands of writers.

Writers do it because, especially when we’re just starting, we’re trying to make it real for the reader—to do that we need to make them see it, right? Every last button, lace, design on the dagger?

Ummm- no.

Good writing has a trick to it—it implies real life, it gives the illusion of real life, but it’s not real life.  Use dialogue as an example.  We may eavesdrop on folks to pick up on things, but you’d never use real conversation in a book (and if you are, stop it. Please. ).  In real conversation people are repetitive, they use fillers (um, ah, etc) they talk over each other, hop subjects, are boring, and a whole lot more.

So, we don’t write like people speak-- we write what feels like how people speak.  Our dialogue needs to give the illusion of real conversation, but in a much tighter and structured form. 

The same thing with description.  A laundry list filled with tiny details might make for a happy writer in some cases, but it’s not going to make for a happy reader.  As writers we have to give an impression of our characters, their homes, their lives.  Give enough detail to anchor the reader a bit, then let the reader’s imagination do the heavy lifting- let THEM determine what everything looks like.

I had a friend ask how I pronounced one of my character’s names once.  I shrugged and told her.  She frowned and said she thought it was something else.  To which I said, “Yep, you’re right too”.  I know how my characters look, sound, move, and react.  It’s in my head all the time.  But once a reader meets them, those characters are theirs now as well.  If they build that character based on your words and their own imagination, that character becomes far more real to them than if the writer forced a list of descriptives down their throat.

Heavy lists of what things look like actually slows down the reader as they try to pull the very detailed image together.  It ruins the pacing and pulls them out of the story.  A death sentence for any book.

I’ve come across books that gave me no classic descriptives of a character at all.  No eye color, hair color, skin color, height, weight, nothing.

And I can promise you I KNEW what that character looked like just from the writer’s other words.  Now, did my character look like what the writer was thinking?  Maybe, maybe not.  But what’s important was that I as the reader saw the character. I didn't see the writer telling me about the character.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The creative brain divided

I have discovered a secret way to be more productive—work on more than one project at a time. 

Now, before you all start screaming about it being hard enough to get one creative thing down at a time, let alone multiples—just hear me out.

At the end of August—the start of the school year, and the most hectic time of year for someone who works at a college—I started demanding a higher word count for myself. Now, in part, this was an attempt to save my sanity by massively immersing myself in my creative world because the day job was brutal.

As a “gift” for getting the word counts in for The Sapphire Manticore, I allowed myself to start Victorious Dead (the follow up to Warrior Wench). I wasn’t sure how it would work doing two different books in two different series in the same squished amount of time.

It worked!

Since the end of August, I have cranked out the highest level of word counts I’ve ever done outside of Nano.

I even upped the multi-world issue by adding a light read/edit of A Curious Invasion- a steam punk adventure with vampires and aliens coming out next year.

Now, a few caveats:

1)      There is a very good chance I have a weird brain. I’ve always enjoyed multi-tasking and while I do also enjoy big chunks of magic time to work on a single subject, that isn’t my reality in my day job—nor my writing.

2)       The three projects are all within the SF/F heading, but all different. The Lost Ancients series is a six-book, first person POV, monster. Aka- it is one giant story carved up into six pieces.  The Asarlaí Wars trilogy, is a 3rd person POV, three book only series- shorter story arc, and third person is a different head than first. The steampunk is also 3rd person, but is an open ended series—all books are connected and build on each other, but they are not a single story. The pacing is different-these people drink a lot of tea. Not to say it’s not as fast paced as the others, but the feel (and my headspace) is very different.

3)      I couldn’t do it if they were all the same sub-genre.

The benefit is an increased vitality for all three stories- I am writing more, but they also act as each other’s palate cleanser.  I’m tracking more of what happens in each because I have to stay focused since I have three going. Sort of like juggling, I need to keep my eye on three balls, so there’s less likely of me getting distracted ;).

Will this work for you? Dunno. Worked for Isaac Asimov. He apparently would have a bunch of typewriters with a different story in each—one gets stuck, move to the next (and yep, I’ve noticed that too ;)).

It’s been a great experiment, higher word counts, more engagement, and stronger stories. I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised.

Folks often try to make time for what they want, you can’t do that. Make the time. Push yourself. Go beyond your perceived limits. You might be very pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I wanna be a KILLJOY!!!

WRITER....Killjoy writer. As in a writer for the TV show KillJoys, one of the best shows to pop on the airwaves in many a year.

There is NO way I'd want to actually be a Killjoy, unlike Dutch, I wouldn't live more than a few minutes in that world. But to be a writer for them? Or even just be hanging out in the writer's room?!  


First, I'll explain for those of how have managed to not hear of KillJoys  go here  http://www.syfy.com/killjoys, watch the first two seasons (they are short seasons, I'll wait.).

Killjoys is an amazingly fun, dramatic, actiony, sexy, SF TV show. But the main reasons I love it are the characters- they are flawed, massively in most cases, but they still pull you along for the ride. The writing is awesome. They don't "explain" the world, or the set up to you repeatedly and they get that most folks who watch SF shows get it- we've seen SF shows, we can figure out the basic ideas as we go along.

I'm rough on shows, I think it's the writer brain, but I am always guessing what is going to happen--far too often, I'm right. With Killjoys I am almost always wrong. But their writers are so tight, that their way makes absolute sense.

So, my dream is to one day sit in a Killjoys writer room, absorbing all the magic....hopefully for their tenth season ;).

So what TV shows have just knocked you out of the park in the last year or so?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Today is the day! A chance for writers everywhere to shout out their fears, worries, conundrums, etc to the world--and hope someone shouts back.

Join us!

There are some times prompts for this wonderful day, no one has to use them, but they can come in very handy. Like today ;).

So, today I will be talking about time to write- it is made or found?

First off, I have a full time day job. Most writers, unless they have a spouse with lots of money, have a day job. That means 40 + hours are just sucked out of my week faster than a really thirsty drunken faery working on her first bottle.

Then you have sleep, food, hygiene, etc, and you don't have a lot of time left.

So, I make time. Waiting for it won't work.

I get up at 5am so I can get words in before the day job (I aim for between 500 and 800). Then after the day job, I aim to get the rest of my 1600 word goal for the fourth fantasy book.
Recently, I started adding on 500 a day for the new space opera after dinner.

I limit my TV time to ideally only an hour, and I'm getting up at freaking 5 am.

But it is so worth it.

I don't do this everyday, these are goals to follow and strive for,  not to control my life. But I know when I hit them, even just getting some words in, I feel better.

I've never had anyone tell me, "I wish I had time to write a book". But I'm waiting. So many friends and other writers in groups have told of these people who think we write just because we have nothing else to do. I have been practicing my look of derision and scorn for when that question happens.

No, we write because we make time to do it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

BOOKS! Where are your BOOKS?!

Now, if I were a neat, organized writer, I'd show you my library/office at this point. Some nice, awesome photo to make folks purple with envy. The point being to get you thinking about books, where yours are, how you organize them, etc.

Alas, I am not.

So, I'll describe it because a photo would terrify millions.

My office/library (could never decide which name I like better, but I do lean more toward library) is in an extra bedroom, the walls are a dark green, I have a cool, but starting to look not so cool border of burgundy, dark blue and dark green along the top of the walls. My desk faces the window overlooking the side yard. And I have six bookcases, a small square spinning bookcase, and wait for it-- an actual bookstore book cart. All loaded with books.

The book cart was from when they closed my Waldenbooks (I was the manager) way back in the day and I asked if I could keep it. 

My books are sorted by non-fiction and fiction, by subject for non-fiction, alpha and series for fiction (yeah, if I didn't just tell you I was a former bookstore manager, that would have epicly tipped it off).

I counted them (I also have two bookshelves in my bedroom) a few years ago and I had over 1,000. There have been some purges since then, but then more books have flowed in to take their place.

I do read on my kindle as well, but I just love books. I love being surrounded by them.  They make me happy and are a great thing to be around when one is writing ;).

Ironically, I don't read much in my library, I usually read in bed or the living room. But I keep my books here, some are my friends, read repeatedly, some just waiting for the right time.

So what do you do? Have tons of books? On shelves?  On a e-reader? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Focus? Or Scatter?

I've had theory for years that people are either a "focus" or a "scatter". Now, I don't mean scatter brained, although that can happen ;). I’m talking about the way people work and function in their lives. 

Focus people usually have a very narrow and intense way of doing things. In school they often excel at whatever topic they study. My former thesis adviser is an excellent example of a focus. When I met her she was only 27 and was already a tenured professor at a University. She also had spent time with the World Health Organization in Geneva. At 27. Scared the crap out of me for reasons you'll see very quickly.

I, on the other hand, am an example of a scatter (stop laughing folks ;)). Someone as intensely aimed at their area of study like my thesis adviser was a bit unnerving for me. Scatters find so many things interesting that we rarely get to the level of intensity that a focus does. The whole "ooooooh!  What's THAT?!" can really cause a crimp in our plans for world domination.

Both types in the extreme can be problematic. Scatters may fail to reach their potential if they can't put some blinders on and focus on the task or goal. I have been mostly able to combat this with my writing, but only in the last eight or so years. Before that I would write for stretches, then get distracted and wander somewhere else.

The focus folks can miss out on many things in life if they become too obsessed with a single subject. I'm thinking my former adviser did NOT have a rip roaring fun time in college-LOL!

But both types have strengths as well. If the object of the focus’s intense dedication falls through, they may find themselves at a loss. But the scatter can pick up and find another topic of interest. However, the focus can get to a level of depth within a subject that would be very difficult for a scatter.

Like all personality traits- my little scatter to focus category isn't extreme. Just like most folks are on a scale for introvert verses extrovert, people range on this one as well. 

Now how does all this relate to writing, you ask? It impacts both your characters as well as you the author. Understanding where on the sliding scale of focus your characters are can help you keep their behavior consistent and believable.  And it's always handy to have another personality aspect to play with ;).

Understanding your own position on the scale can help you keep your writing form in top shape. You need to understand how your mind and personality work best so that you can keep moving forward in your writing career. Now it doesn’t mean that a scatter can’t become more focused and visa versa- but before anything can change, you have to understand what’s there to begin with. True for our characters and ourselves.