Life in progress


Enigmatic – #JusJoJan Jot #4

“Enigmatic” is, for some reason or another, one of those words I always mix up the meaning of. I don’t know why, but I keep thinking it means the same thing as “charismatic.” Yeah, I know the word “enigma” is right there, plain as day. And I know what that means.

‘Tis a mystery. 😉

I enjoy writing both enigmatic and charismatic characters. The combination of the two absolutely delicious. A tall, dark, handsome, and mysterious Prince Charming to whisk away the princess and give her the happily ever after she’s always desired.

Rarely does real life work out that way though, does it? The enigmatic prince ends up hiding his feelings until the princess wants to rip her hair out. Not so romantic.

Nah, I prefer living vicariously through my characters these days. Far less messy.

Thank you so much again to Virgobeauty for our prompt word of the day! You can find her post for today here!

If you’d like to join in, click the following link to find the rules. It’s fun!


What To Do, Part 2

It’s been two days and I’m already going stir crazy, not having something to post daily on my blog. It’s habit-forming, damnit!

But there’s something else bugging me: whether or not to publish the Second Seat series.

If I turn it into a book to sell on Amazon (I’m leaning towards 99 cents and making it exclusive to ‘Zon so Prime members can get it for free), I’ll have to change some of the characters’ names. I can’t make money off Edward, Bella, and Alice, even though they’re really nothing like the Twilight characters. I’ll be sued to Forks and back. Whether or not I can get away with the ads that are referenced (Grey Poupon, anyone?) and Sylvester (ssthufferin’ ssthuckotash!), not to mention songs that are mentioned in a few episodes is also up in the air. I think most of them are vague enough, but I’d still need to consult a lawyer or take them out.

But the real question is, would anyone read them in the form of a 365-chapter book? I’m too close to the whole thing to see it clearly. Most of the episodes are only around 100 words, so it won’t be novel-length.

I just don’t know.

So here’s a poll. Let me know what you think.

If you have any other suggestions, please let me know. Ta!



#JusJoJan 2018, the 16th – Contemplation

As a writer, I spend a lot of time contemplating the stories that form in my head. At my worst, during my most creative spells, my mind blocks out everything going on around me. I become consumed, beyond contemplation, in my own world. I get to the point where I’m not telling the stories anymore, rather the stories are telling me what is and isn’t true. I’m not imagining; I’m listening.

So it’s rather a shock when my beta readers tell me I should take out a scene because it makes them uncomfortable. I don’t blame the readers; I appreciate their input and I understand their discomfort. But I’ve lost two betas at the same spot in the second book in my series, “The Great Dagmaru,” in the last week, and that makes me wonder if they’re not right. My guilty conscience for making people uncomfortable is warring with the writer in me who says the scene in question IS part of the story. It’s what happened. So changing it or removing it comes to the same result: compromising the story’s truth.

I have a feeling that if I leave the scene in, it’s either going to make or break my entire series. The readers who realized it needed to be in there enjoyed it (or tolerated it) because it made them feel uncomfortable – it’s what it’s meant to do. Those who hated it may end up hating me. Should I be hoping at this point that it will push enough buttons, whether positive or negative, to make the book go viral? On the other hand, maybe it’s not all that bad, in the hands of the right audience. Speaking of which, note to all the readers who thought The Magician’s Curse should have been categorized as “Young Adult”: the second book will prove to be distinctly “Adult.”

Stay true to your story and publish without fear, says most of me: Write to please people with a story fit for Hollywood, the part of me that wants to bow to the more sensitive readers says.

Lots to contemplate. Opinions are welcome.

This contemplative and rather undecided post is brought to you by Just Jot it January, and in particular, prompted by the word “contemplation,” provided by Cheryl! Thank you so much, Cheryl! You can find Cheryl’s JusJoJan post by clicking right here. Please go and say hi! To participate in the prompt, please visit this post, where you’ll find the rules and you can leave your link in the comments.



#SoCS – Giving birth to characters

Being a writer, I’ve read thousands of articles and opinions on how we typically come up with the characters who appear in our fiction. Is there a typical way? Probably not, but being as this is stream of consciousness and I stuck that damned rule in there to say we can’t edit, … that’s all she wrote.

Anyhoo, back to the topic of characters. One of the phrases I read a lot is “giving birth to characters.” I can’t say that I do that. “Giving birth,” to me, implies that they’re brand new shells of people who rely on me to fill them up with experiences, emotions, ways of speaking, and things they’re likely to do and ways they’re likely to react at any given moment. For me, characters appear as already-formed beings. I don’t give birth to them as much as I discover them.

One of the ways I know this–one of the main ways I know this–is when they show me their accents. In this alone I can tell where they come from, whether or not they have a lot of money, their age, their demeanor. I suppose it’s not necessarily as much “accent” as way of talking. Inflection, grammar, whether or not they use a lot of cliches. That sort of stuff.

It’s not as though I have them hanging around in my head all the time. If they did, I wouldn’t get a thought to myself. Nah, they come and go. You’ll see them in my “Second Seat” series. Come to think of it, it’s almost as though I have a bus inside my head …

Hmmm… Now there’s a thought.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is a weekly prompt that anyone can participate in. Click the following link to find out how, and see all the other posts in the comment section. 🙂 Give it a try!


Book Review – “Losing Clementine” by Ashley Ream

Losing ClementineLosing Clementine by Ashley Ream
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m giving this book four stars even though it pissed me off. For the first half of the book I didn’t really like Clementine, the main character, which made it hard to care about her. What gives the novel four stars is the compelling way it’s written.

Ms. Ream is an extremely talented storyteller. She pulled me through the tale until I couldn’t put it down. Until I began to feel angry because in the end, I was forced to care about a woman determined to end her life. I was mad at Clementine. The novel made me feel, which for me is the greatest compliment anyone can give to a writer.

Losing Clementine is not a lighthearted read. It’s a powerful one, about relationships and how deeply they can affect everything, right down to personality.

View all my reviews


Themes Reveal

atoz-theme-reveal-2016 v2

Yes, I know, I’m a week late. My excuse is that it’s taken me this long to a) decide on my theme, and b) decide whether or not to incorporate the same theme on both of my blogs. Being the glutton for punishment I am, I’ve made up my mind to flog myself participate in the challenge, using two completely different themes.

Here, on Life in Progress, my theme will be living with a Deaf child as a hearing parent. It’s a subject I’ve considered writing about in length for quite some time, with the goal of writing a book about it. I’m hoping this challenge will get me well on the road to where I want to go. Some entries may be heartbreaking, each will probably contain humour, but my ultimate plan is to make them entertaining and something anyone can relate to.

On my fiction blog, Inspiration in Progress, my theme will lean toward creative writing, and in particular, character types. It took me less than three minutes to come up with a title for each letter of the alphabet, so I took that as a good sign. Each post will include a scene or a story containing a character described by the title of the post. I’ll also include an explanation of how I came up with the inspiration for that character. I have listed my fiction blog as Adult Content (AC) on the sign-up list for the A-Z Challenge, but it is not my intention to write AC fiction. The thing is, I never know how the muse will strike me, nor what the outcome of my writing will be until it’s written. Thus, the AC categorization just in case.

There’s my big TA DA! for today. If the whole enterprise turns out to be too difficult, I’ll consider buying a flail for next year.


The Plan

As many of you know, my epic work-in-progress (my novel The Great Dagmaru) is a paranormal romance about a magician and his assistant. As many of you also know, I have great fun doing research in the interest of making the book as believable as possible. This research has in the past included staying in the haunted mansion in Kingston that inspired the setting, and traveling to Ottawa to spend an afternoon backstage at the National Arts Centre, where one of the performances in my novel takes place. (Check out the links. There are pictures.)

Now I have a new and exciting opportunity ahead of me. This time it’s a little more nerve-wracking. Last weekend when I was again visiting Kingston, I met a magician. And he’s agreed to let me interview him! A real live magician! *ahem* Once the interview is complete I plan to make an article out of it and sell it to a publication. Depending on the slant I put on it, I may pitch it to an online magazine for kids, a parenting magazine, or even as a general interest piece for the Huffington Post. At the moment I’m still coming up with questions. I have quite a few already, but I don’t want to miss anything important. Some of them will pertain to background information that might not even make it into the novel, but they’re things that are necessary for me to understand. Most of the interview will, I hope, shed some light on what makes a magic show fun to watch and what makes a magician want to perform. Not too much light though… it’s the mystery that makes watching worthwhile.

An awful lot is going into the making of my novel. With this article, not only will I have the benefit of the knowledge of someone in the business (a real live magician! *ahem*), but I’ll have something extra to add to my resumé. One way or another, I’m having a blast. It’s all adding up to an experience that not a lot of people get.

Go me!


Character-Driven vs Plot-Driven Stories

There are many writers out there who craft their stories based on a “what if” situation. They will come up with a scenario, such as “what if a meteor hit the earth?” or “what if a guy goes to the store and finds all the cars in the parking lot stacked on top of each other?”

These two scenarios may sound very similar, but they’re not. Yes, both start with the same three words, but the difference is this: the first revolves around a plot. The plot has yet to be populated by humans (assuming there are humans left alive after the meteor hit). The second scenario already has a human in it. Here may be the difference between a plot-driven story and a character-driven one.

For me, populating a story that contains a story first (aforementioned meteor crashing down) is near impossible. I can’t wrap my head around a crowd of people who have been plunked down in the middle of a situation. But give me a person to work with first, and I’m off and running. What any ONE person would do in a strange situation is fairly unique to that one person. That, to me, gives a story its excitement and its hook, if you will.

This whole topic came about when I started to think about how difficult it is for me to write a short story. Given a plot, I may be able to bang out a few words. But when I get my head wrapped around a character I find it hard to let go after just a few hundred words. I get attached to my characters very easily, and once I have them in my head I don’t just want to tell a bit of their story, I want to tell it all. Before I know it, I’m well on my way into a novel.

When I first began writing, I belonged to a Yahoo group in which a bunch of writers developed characters who not only interacted with one another, they told each other stories of their lives before they met one another. Quite like anyone would in real life. So I’m thinking about writing a character on my fiction blog rather than attempting and consistently failing to write short stories. Just a thought at the moment.

The character-driven story is a subject very dear to my heart. My characters become almost like  family to me, much as the characters do in some of the novels I read. Especially the ones I’m sad to put down when they’re finished.

I’d like to hear from the writers out there – do you write character-driven or plot-driven stories? Have you ever ventured out of your comfort zone and tried the other one?

And from the readers – have you ever become attached to a character that was so well written, you never wanted their story to end?


Horror vs. Slice and Dice

I was having a little discussion, as I do, in the comments on this post with my friend Foolsquest on his blog, 642 Things about horror movies and what makes us laugh, and I got to thinking about the horror I write.

I don’t particularly like watching horror movies. I used to enjoy them when I was a kid, even though they scared the bejeezus out of me. I remember one night when I was about 15, babysitting a couple of young kids in this old century house. It had a clawfoot bathtub in the washroom. Anyway, I’d read and thoroughly enjoyed the book Carrie and the movie was on TV that night so I decided to watch it. I admit I was fine until the damned dream sequence at the end. I’m sure that bit wasn’t in the book. Suffice to say I was so grateful when the parents got home that night I almost hugged them. But I digress.

I DO, however, enjoy reading horror books. And I enjoy writing horror. What I really can’t stand are slasher films. You know the ones – they invariably include a half naked chick getting stabbed through the bare naked chest and a bunch of people who can’t seem to run as fast as the bad guy can walk. At best, they make me laugh, but for the most part, I think they’re a waste of time.

Now give me a psychological horror and I’m all over it. Even better if it’s in print, because there’s only so much psychology that can be related on screen, The Silence of the Lambs notwithstanding. So I got to thinking, maybe it’s the blood and gore I don’t like. But then I reminded myself of this bloody little gem I wrote just over a year ago and I realised that’s not necessarily all there is to it.

I think blood is okay. Sometimes it’s necessary to fully explore the world in which the characters live, if they’re very off balance or have particular … er … tendencies.

I just can’t see the value in watching pointless violence, just for the sake of violence. Do you?


Rock-Star Writer

I feel like a rock-star sometimes.

Look at me here, with my happy-go-lucky lifestyle

Not a care in the world but

My laptop with my novel open

To the juicy bits – the personalities with

their fabulous lives and exciting drama

their ups and downs and their

…oh their endless passions

and love.

I’m a rock star.

My characters make me so.

Do you ever live vicariously through your characters? I’m thinking about my upcoming trip to Ottawa where I will go backstage at the National Arts Centre to see the dressing rooms and the back hallways where the stars meet. I’ll go on stage and look out at all the seats and maybe I’ll do a little dance.  But it’s not just the fact that my main character happens to be a performer. There’s so much more going on in his life than that; it’s only a facet of who he is.

My fictional characters go through their own lives with the dramas and fears and loves that I only wish I could experience. Sure, sometimes they are tortured by those very same things. But their stories are interesting – worth telling. Is my own life worth a tale? Sometimes, I suppose. But not like the lives of my characters. They live out loud, doing things I can only dream of having the opportunity to do.

I suppose all writers of fiction live, at times, in the imaginary world where their characters exist. A fantasy world, if you will, where not even the sky is the limit, and where unexpected things happen.

Once in a very rare while, I feel like I’m really there. And in a way my research will take me there. I’ll have my notepad and pen and my camera on hand to record the moment, but for the most part I’ll be living it.

Has it happened to you? I’d love to know.