Writer’s Block Need Not Be A ‘Vice’: A Brief Story About the Struggle to Create

Vice Front Cover 5.5x8.5Vice is finally published! Part two of my YA Sci-Fi series has made its way into the world, three years after the release of the first book, Tick. I did not plan a pre-release. I have not sought many ARC reviews. The birth of Vice was a challenge to say the least, and I wanted to share what I have learned about the process of writing this book, what I hope to gain from the experience, and some advice and wisdom to other struggling authors.

Let’s go back to the beginning. I wrote the first draft of Tick in three and a half weeks, a serious feat for any writer. The story poured out of me from beginning to end. I knew little about where the story was going beyond a handful of major plot points, and I didn’t have an ending. I got up every morning and hammered out 5-8 thousand words a day, seeing maybe only the next one or two chapters in my head. It was during the process of writing Tick that I discovered the ending, that I realized the purpose behind the story, that I was revealing a part of myself that needed to be healed in not only the process of writing Tick, but sharing it. I spent an additional seven months rewriting and editing Tick, but it was an almost magical writing experience. Continue reading

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Guest Post Update: Why It’s Time to Redefine the “Strong Female Character”

everybody loves crazy (image courtesy of Netflix)

everybody loves crazy (image courtesy of Netflix)

Emily over at Awesome Indies has granted me the fabulous opportunity to write a guest post for her blog. Originally intended as an exploration of Strong Female Characters in literature, the post took on a life of it’s own after I spent most of my birthday weekend binge-watching Orange is the New Black. Clearly, it was a great use of my time. It did, at least, provide some much-needed inspiration for the blog post. I have posted an excerpt below, but please read the rest at Awesome Indies:

The issue is not that we lack strong female characters—there are quite a lot of them cropping up in spandex jumpers and heeled boots—but that we lackstrong characters that are female. We are made to assume that the term is synonymous with “strong women”, meaning that at the end of the day these females are decidedly the heroes of their stories who fight against all odds (i.e., the patriarchy) and emerge with battle scars and a sense that they have got it all figured out. Simply putting a gun in a girl’s hand (or an arrow, or a tattoo gun) does not make her a strong character; it makes her a character with a prop.

What about those other women, the ones who are not fighting wars or preserving their innocence for the sake of personal sacrifice during the climactic moment of the plotline? A woman’s strength is not defined by her physical dominance or thirst for revenge. She does not need to be superior to the other female characters; she does not need to be equal to her male counterparts. She does not need to be a superhero or a badass warrior or a feminist advocate. More than anything, the female character must be human, a complex individual whose agency moves the plot forward separate from any other character in her story (man or woman), equally capable of failing and succeeding, equally capable of dishing love and pain, a woman who can both fight for herself (literally and metaphorically), but will also forfeit in a sob storm when she doesn’t feel strong enough … and sometimes in the same scene. That is what makes her a strong character. READ MORE

It’s All In My Head

fuel for the mind, circa 2002

People often ask me, “Have you always been an artist?”

“Of course I’ve always been an artist,” I say with an undertone of resentment for the fact they didn’t already know this. “Just because this is the first time you’ve ever seen me paint something, doesn’t mean I’m making it up right here on the spot. I didn’t become an artist overnight.”

That last bit is never said out loud, of course, because I’m not an asshole, and it’s not really their fault they don’t know what I do when I’m not pretending to be a respectable citizen.

Even while I internally fume about how still — even in my adult age — so many people have a terrible misconception of who I am, I understand why. Outwardly, I don’t give off the “artist vibe”. I’m not covered in tattoos, I dress fairly conservatively, I don’t spend my days yammering about artsy things. Quite frankly, I don’t find most meetings to be appropriate for such conversations, but given the right time and place, and I’ll talk your ear off about music or books or movies or politics. I didn’t gain an interest in those topics overnight, either; I simply choose to not talk about them all the time.

Perhaps the reason why I don’t expose myself as an artist in my daily life is because I’ve learned to compartmentalize those versions of myself. Growing up, most people in my life didn’t understand that I had such an incredible need to express myself. I channeled my emotions through any medium I could — music, art, graphic design, poetry, storytelling, anything — because the real world did not offer me the platform to truly speak my mind. Both my parents have artistic backgrounds (my dad is a writer, my mom has done fine art for decades), yet both their lives followed a path that halted their progression as artists. You know … the real world. So when it came time for me to graduate high school and decide what the hell I was going to do with my life, the voices of family members and friends alike resonated through my head: “You won’t make money as an artist. Pick something else.” Continue reading