Character Love

Today I’m writing on my script, and I’m simply in love with it. There’s nothing quite like creating something from absolutely nothing, pulling entire beings from the ether, and bringing them into the world in a blaze of expression and beauty.

My characters have a tough time. They are often in despair. They don’t believe they can face another challenge or climb another metaphorical mountain or survive another second without going completely batty.

But I see something different. I see that they are achingly beautiful and magical and perfect. I wish that they could see themselves the way I see them, and they would understand that they could conquer anything. At the very, very least, they’d feel better about themselves.

And it makes me wonder, is that what we’re like, as humans? Are each of us just simply amazingly beautiful, and we just don’t know it?

Are we THE POINT, and yet have no understanding of that?

Here we are, just taking everything so seriously, trying to accomplish, to acquire, to overcome, to rise above – and I sometimes think that maybe the point isn’t the overcoming or accomplishing or any of that stuff. Maybe the point is growing in our beauty, becoming brighter and more profound. Becoming more aware and alive and vibrant. Becoming more us.

I’m incredibly grateful to witness my own characters’ journeys, these poor beings who I put through such tortures in my stories, knowing that when they come out the other side of their particular fire, they’re going to glow like the sun. And they are going to see that in themselves; they’re going to see how they’ve changed and why.

We should all be so fortunate.

Apologies and Get Out While You Can

It seems that even before I started blogging, there was copious advice out there on how to get people to read your posts. As years went on and the internet chatter got louder, there were more and more experts out there who could guide you in acquiring readers. Now, I receive numerous emails per week giving me advice on how to increase my readership. I even get them in comments through my blog, and ironically, I’ll probably receive some (that I’ll erase) even on this post.

For years, I’ve told myself that to “make it” as a writer, I needed to write lots of content that was important to my readers. I made up blogging schedules that I never kept for long, tried to dream up content that people might like, and basically put on the shackles of what I was “supposed to do.” I also felt like a failure when I didn’t keep the schedule or create enough content of value.

In other words, I did a crappy job and I felt terrible about it. But I’ve discovered a new way to blogging happiness. I’m firing myself.

From now on, I’m going to write what I like, when I like to write it. My posts don’t have to be worthy of my readers;  they just have to be worthy of me – and my standards aren’t nearly as high.

So, fair warning, future posts are not going to be well studied, or wise, or inspiring. In fact, they’re probably going to be random and weird. That’s not a promise either though. Boring and mundane is just as likely.

So if you know you can’t take it and you’re not my mom or my best friend, unsubscribe now. I will not blame you! And no, this isn’t a Lemony Snickett ploy to intrigue you. One of my biggest “gifts” is overwhelming, almost uncomfortable sincerity. Sorry.

And yet I’m not really sorry.

However, I am sorry for not being sorry. So there you have it – a sincere apology.

Blessings!

Tackling Procrastination – Part One

Things become what you think they are – including your story.  

You finally have time to write. The house is quiet. You have no pressing duties. It’s just you and your book for the next two hours. You approach your desk – and a sinking feeling creeps its insidious way into your stomach, or a tension headache flares, or you simply walk away from your work, suddenly realizing that the bathroom tiles need to be regrouted. And you do this, despite your characters calling to you, no matter how much you believe in your story, and regardless of how much you know you’re meant to be a writer.

Why does this happen?

If every time your book crosses your mind, your stress levels rise, it’s a strong indicator that you’re in a rut where focusing on the negative has become a conditioned response. The problem is, we can’t think a certain way for long without training ourselves, the same way Pavlov trained a dog to salivate at the sound of a bell – except instead of hearing a bell and thinking of treats, you think “writing” and feel dread. Your book = pain. And that makes accomplishing your dream thoroughly unpleasant – something that you feel intuitively is not the way it should be.

But there is a cure!

First, seek out and destroy every harmful thought that crosses your mind about your project. If you can’t control a specific negative thought, then at the very least, tag it until you can. Becoming aware of a certain self-destructive turn of mind helps you minimize the damage it causes.

Second, concentrate on the positive. Remember what inspired you about your book in the first place, and grow from there. Marvel at that brilliant scene, or this character’s unique flaw, or the impact of that plot twist.

Do these two steps for a while – even weeks, if necessary – until positivity begins to cling to your work again, and then…

Third, make your procrastination time valuable by using it to mentally fall into the awesomeness. Then as you slowly meander in the direction of your desk, feeling only positive thoughts about your book, you allow your procrastination habit to work for you, not only by making your writing practice more joyful and therefore easier to start, but to mentally play – and it’s in playing that we discover the aspects that make our story come alive both in our minds and in the imaginations of our readers.

Many more facets on procrastination to come on my Patreon page. Why self doubt is a jerk we sometimes love, how to use imagination to conquer procrastination in a fun way, how to manipulate your biggest enemy – yourself! – and more!

You’re Invited Aboard My New Venture!

I’ve been writing juvenile novels for more than 15 years, while making occasional forays into non-fiction, literary works (short stories, postcard stories, and poetry), and magazine articles. Now I want to turn my hand to writing humorous adventure novels for adults and family friendly and comedy/adventure screenplays.

To do that, I need time – and you can give me that time. How, you wonder? By commiting $1 or more a month on my Patreon page.

In return, I hope to entertain you, to give you freebies, to send you autographed copies of my books, or if you have stories in you that are yearning to get out, I want to help you make them real!

If you’re hesitating because you don’t know the quality of my work, check out my two free e-books online: Winter of the Crystal Dances and Dark Fire. They’re both juvenile fiction, but they’ll give you an idea of why I’ve been called “one of the best writers of modern pony books around.” I strongly believe I can do the same in my two new genres.

I hope you believe the same and will join me on this journey!

Many thanks to those who have already come aboard! You’re my heroes!

Two Celebrations

First, tell husband that any day now, I may hear from one of the two screenwriting contests that I entered in 2016. I’m kind of nervous, you see. After all, the story or the concept or the writing or the characters might be crap, right?

He assures me that HOLY COYOTE will do great, and wanders off.

Second, check email. There’s an email from the Screencraft Family-Friendly Screenplay Contest!

OH MY! The Quarter Finalists have been announced! With trepidation, I click the link.

My name isn’t included on the list … except that I forgot I used my pen name (AY Dorsey). I am there! And so is a screenwriting buddy, a super talented writer! Double Whoo Hoo!

Third, rush to tell hubby, and receive:

a) “I told you so.”

b) Congratulatory hug.

c) “Remember, I’m always right.”

Fourth, come back to my computer, and open my inbox to read the rest of the email. Except that there’s a NEW email there – and it’s from the Circus Road Screenplay Competition!

OH MY! OH MY!

“Circus Road is pleased to let you know that your Screenplay Holy Coyote is a Semi-Finalist in…”

Semi-Finalist!

What happened after that is a blur – or should I say, blurt, because I told EVERYONE on social media!

Two screenplay entries. Two short lists. Yup, I’m celebrating!

Is a Patron like a Patronus?

In a way, yes. Both a patron and a patronus help the one they’re connected to.

I love being a patron. I give a small amount monthly to two worthy entities on Patreon: Pulp Literature Magazine and Inspire Nation Show.

I feel good doing it. Not just receiving the rewards, but knowing I’m helping someone accomplish something that inspires them and others. I can’t afford to give much, but that’s the beauty of being a patron. You don’t have to give a lot to make a difference to the creators, because each creator (hopefully) has more than one patron.

And now I’ve decided to take the plunge and open a Patreon page myself. As some of you know, I’m moving from writing juvenile fiction to writing novels and screenplays. Unfortunately, I’m in the VOID – that dreaded, poverty-stricken land between once being established in a genre (the juvenile fiction) and working to become established in a different genre (novels and screenplays).

So far, my Patreon page is still in development, and today, I developed the rewards: those things I give in return for support. So fun to gather up the things I can give! Cards, ebooks, paperbacks, sneak peeks, your name in a video, you naming a character in a novel, editing services, and biggest of all (to me anyway), my eternal gratitude!

Just so you know, you don’t have to be a patron to receive gifts from me. I have two free ebooks out there that are just waiting for you to read them, and soon will have more! Look for Winter of the Crystal Dances and Dark Fire on your regular ebook site. If you can’t find them there, let me know your ereader, and I’ll direct you to the right place.

If you are interested in becoming a “Patronus” of my work, watch this blog for the announcement that my Patreon page is LIVE! And please feel free to ask me any questions you want.

Happy Reading and “Patronizing” to All!

So Many Supers!

whisperI picked up Whisper, by Phoebe Kitanidis, from my daughter’s shelf. She is fifteen, so as you might guess, Whisper is a Young Adult novel. The story was entertaining, fast moving, had a nice mix of action and drama, plus family and friend relationships, and even a budding romance. My daughter loved it and I was entertained by it, so it was a win!

What I thought while reading: Like most YA novels these days (including some of my own books: the Whinnies on the Wind series, the Horse Guardian series, and more), Whisper featured a teen who has an extraordinary ability – and I couldn’t help but wonder yet again, why do such a high percentage of YA movies and books feature superhuman teens?

One can say that all demographics enjoy this genre, and that’s true – but the genres available to older readers are far more diverse. We have plenty of non-super protagonists to read about. In YA, the majority of novels include teens with an unusual ability of some sort.

My first thought: having super powers puts protagonists in previously unheard of situations, and therefore may create story interest out of novelty. But then I wonder, after a while wouldn’t reading about a non-super teen become new and fresh? Also, wouldn’t a “normal” character be more relatable?

Maybe the attraction to the super teen is an indicator of how some teens feel powerless in their lives. In the pages of a book, a reader usually feels as powerful as the protagonist, so that very well might be the draw. But do that many teenagers feel powerless? I hope not.

Another option: the super teen phenomena could simply be boredom with the world as it is. Yikes, and almost as sad as the feeling powerless theory. Especially since there is plenty to see in the world when one takes the time to really look.

Maybe it’s because teens are in the process of finding and realizing their own abilities, including those things they’re gifted at. In that case, reading about superhuman teens would be research. And as an aside, it is possible to have a super power. Here’s a list of 50 real-life superhumans.

Then I moved on to the other side of the computer, so to speak. Why do writers write about teens with super gifts?

I can’t speak for other writers of course, but I have tried to infuse my teens’ superpowers with a deeper message. In the case of Evy in the Whinnies on the Wind series, that truth was that we, as the dominant species, need to have compassion for all living creatures and treat them kindly. If, by reading my books, one person does something kind for an animal that they might not otherwise do, then Evy’s superpower has served its purpose.

In Whisper, it is possible that Phoebe Kitanidis also intended to show a deeper truth. Her protagonist’s superpower – to hear others’ thoughts as whispers – gave encouragement to the reader to be authentic to themselves.

Isn’t that something that we all want to hear – or dare I say even need to hear? I believe that on some level, we all know that honoring our most authentic self is how we reach our greatest potential. To me, to be personally authentic is a true super power – and I believe it is to young readers too.

The Foundation of Success

I had a new blog post all written and ready to post, and then I came across this video. It’s only 10 minutes long, and I recommend it to anyone who wants success for themselves or their children. Yes, it’s that important!

Enjoy!

Crowd of Awesomeness

crowdI’m not complaining. Keep that in mind as you read this. It’s just I have too many ideas for books, movies, articles, and more, and choosing which to work on seems almost impossible some days.

Though it doesn’t seem like a curse, this is the bane of many writers: too many beautiful, compelling stories shouting out how engaging they are, how clever, how they’re the most fun, most striking, most worthy to be put into physical form. At this very moment, I have eight solid ideas in my head – five screenplays, a novella that may turn into a series, and two non-fiction books – and that doesn’t include the blog posts, short stories, poems, or memoir pieces that are malingering in my head or on my computer in various states of completion.

Out of sheer necessity, I’ve developed different ways to chose one story from my crowd of awesomeness to work on.

To begin with, I follow my passion and work on the project that calls the loudest. The problem with this can be that one project may be deafening on Day One, another on Day Two, another on Day Three – which means I have to practice crowd control. These are my crowd control tools:

Ask myself: which project is my top priority in relation to my long, or sometimes short, term goals? Short term trumps long term only if it’s a firm commitment, like a deadline. Why does long term usually have priority over short term? If a short term goal doesn’t support the long term goal, it shouldn’t be there to begin with.

Ask my writer support group what they think. The right writer support group is a profound resource. Hint for Success: If you don’t have one, get one. Then ask them.

Ask a writing mentor friend, someone who has been there and done that. If I don’t have a writing mentor friend in the discipline I need, I hire one, and talk to them about what project might have the most potential. And I really listen, even if it hurts. Note: it usually hurts.

Work on more than one project at a time. I can do two in a day, and sometimes three, with a couple hours on each project. Sometimes, to keep my brain from completely frying, I diversify the form of writing. For example, today I am writing a blog post, editing my current script, outlining my novella, and thinking about a non-fiction book. And though I’m not complaining about the writing related activities, I will complain about the bookkeeping I have to do. Ugh.

There is one more thing that I do, and not just as a last resort, simply because I like it so much. This activity solves all problems, not just this one: walking and talking… but that is an entirely new blog post, one I definitely want to write.

Someday.

When it starts shouting at me.

The Hazards of Personal Mind Games

Aztec RuinsThere once was a person who wanted to create stories, and so she did. Her first novel was purchased by a publisher who liked it so much they asked for more. Overjoyed, she wrote more novels for them that they also loved. Other publishers in other countries published her books as well and soon she quit her “day job” and became a full time writer. Happy day!

The publishers wanted new books quickly, so she wrote two or three books a year. She developed tricks to manipulate herself into doing the writing required and never missed a deadline for years… for a decade… and then longer.

But what she didn’t realize as she tricked and cajoled and rewarded herself through writing those books (stories that she loved, BTW) was that she was reacting to these manipulations of self the same way she would if anyone else was manipulating her – and because she, the creator, was being used and dominated and treated as less important than what she created, she eventually lost the desire to write.

Yet she couldn’t stop writing. This was now her job. She had contracts. Obligations. Fans.

To ease the pain of sitting down to write every day, and because it was her habit, she continued for a time to try coercing herself out of not liking to write, plus she took on a writing partner to do half the work and to keep her on track. But of course, nothing worked because she wasn’t addressing the core issue.

She decided to work on getting back the joy she once had for writing. It was difficult at first. She started small, like appreciating a certain combination of words she’d written, or enjoying a character in her mind. Baby steps. Next she stopped using the timer and the schedules. If she made the deadline, good. If not, she’d be close enough.

And so it went, step by step, dropping rule after rule, until one day she truly felt the joy again, and with the joy came the realization that the root of her angst was that she didn’t like to be manipulated, even by herself. Maybe even especially by herself. She understood that the creator is more important than the created. She was more important than her novels. Her uniqueness, her individuality and spark were what made it all happen, and that was what she needed to value and cherish and encourage. Only then would she reach her full potential as a creator.

And that, my friends, is why there haven’t been many blog posts lately. However, there is a NEW MOVIE IDEA! I’m sure the joy will return to the blogging again, just as it did this morning, with this little story.

Blessings to you on your own creative journey!

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I am living this year with the view that ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. What this year may include: adventures in travel, career, personal growth, and more. If you are interested in following my haphazard posts, sign up here. Thank you!