One week ago, we introduced a new member to our pack.
Rorshach is an 8 week old Siberian Husky. Which makes him 5% panda bear, 10% dog, 15% squirrel, 10% wolf and 50% cat by my observation. (Disclaimer: If the numbers are off, I never claimed to be a mathematician.)
He’s adapted rather quickly to his new home. I’m sure it helped that J’ouvert is absolutely in love with him. She’s kind of like a dingo, only instead of eating the baby after she steals it, she wants to raise it herself and indoctrinate it into the way of the Malinois. Which generally involves lots of biting and destruction.
A husky and a malinois? Am I insane?
At least it’s never dull.
P.S. A “Rorshach” is the inkblot test psychologists use to analyze their subject’s perception. It’s also the name of one of my favorite characters from the graphic novel and movie Watchmen.
I’m one of those people that makes everything a lot more difficult than it has to be.
Not sure why, but despite my minimalist lifestyle and tendencies, I’m definitely missing the simplify gene . It could be the anxiety, or the fact that my patience might as well be a damn creature of myth.
Whatever the reason, I’ve got to combat it. One of the first lesson’s in Holly Lisle’s How To Think Sideways course teaches you that every problem presents an opportunity, so long as you’re willing to pay attention and think it through.
Yesterday, when I was so totally not procrastinating at work by looking for inspiration for a blog post (because I am a goddamn professional thank you very much), I came across an e-mail that had been gathering cob webs in my inbox for the past few weeks. It was a blog post from a site I’d subscribed to, Write To Done. Though always informative, their articles are often hit-or-miss for me because they cater more towards freelance writers than writers of fiction. (Not that that should ever dissuade you. I’ve “tiefed” writing advice from the most unlikely of places, including but not limited to art books. You can apply almost anything to writing if you look hard enough.) This post hooked me right from the title, How To Write Smart, Not Fast
I am not and probably never will be a “fast writer”.
The very thought of Fast Draft pushes me head-first into a panic attack. I’ve tried lots of different ways to boost my writing speed, but most of the time I just end up getting in my own way. And there’s a very good reason for that, almost no one else’s method takes into account what your own strengths and weaknesses are.
Now, I’m not telling you not to take advice from other writers. You absolutely should. Just keep in mind that you may need to adjust their methods to better suit your needs. Because everyone’s mileage varies.Personally, I’m just really bad at adjusting other people’s methods. I feel like I’m violating their process.
In case you were concerned, yes, I’m completely aware of how illogical that sounds.
Alas, How To Write Smart, Not Fast has come to my rescue with some handy-dandy advice about coming up with your own system tailored to your own personal strengths and weaknesses. I will be test-driving this method for the next few weeks, but I’ve already reaped a huge benefit.
In making a list of my strengths and weaknesses, I noticed I’m really good at writing in an engaging and emotional head space. The emotional risks come easy to me, it’s all that plotty stuff that kicks my ass.
So for my last weakness I put down “showing character through plot…sometimes I feel my plot dictates one thing but the character dictates another and so they end up contradicting eachoth-”
And then it hit me. Like a piano dropped from twenty stories high.
Why, in the name of all that’s blood and gore-ie, was I not showing that in the narrative? That. That right there is the heart of great conflict. But I, dumb-ass that I can be, had completely missed the point.
Don’t get me wrong, I love figuring stuff out. I just hate how stupid it makes me feel for not catching on sooner.
P.S. The blog title is actually a chess move. It means “I adjust”
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m sorry I can’t link to the specific video because it’s apart of Holly Lisle’s How To Think Sideways course. But I can direct you to S. Winchester’s post which, while not talking about the video at all, still gets the gist of what it was about.
Enjoy… I’ll be in the corner, wearing my dunce cap for not catching onto this, like, 12 years ago and saving myself a lot of unnecessary clutter in my stories. *headmeetdesk*
A – Age: 26 B – Book you are reading: Ghosts of Tsavo by Vered Ehsani C – Chore you hate: Small talk D – Dessert you love: Too many to name. I have an enormous sweet tooth. Particularly anything s’mores related. E – Essential start your day item: Coca-Cola. F – Favorite author/ book: I have way too many beloved books to pick just one. Favorite Authors: Joely Sue Burkhart, Holly Lisle, G – Gold or silver: Silver H – Height: 5’7 I – Instruments you play: None sadly, but I’ve always wanted to learn the violin. J – Job title: Writer. K-9 Trainer. Artist. K – Kid(s): Two. One baby dolphin (my last gig was Dolphin Training) and a Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd Royal Bahamian Potcake named J’ouvert. L – Living arrangements: Permanent Renter. M – Most overused word/phrase in your vocabulary: Things that would be censored on television for 500… N – Nicknames: Shaynone, Sarge, Thannon, Shan, Evanka, Trouble. O – Overnight hospital stay other than birth: Thankfully not. P – Pet Peeve: People who can’t think for themselves. Q- Quotes you like: “Semper Fidelis”. If I could convince myself to get tattooed, my body would be littered with every quote I’ve ever fallen in love with. R – Right or left handed: Right S – Siblings: One sister, who I would not trade for anyone. T – Time you woke up today: 8:55 am U – Unique thing about you: As soon as I find out a person’s zodiac sign, I mentally chart how their personality fits with everything I know about the particular sign…. V – Vegetable you love: Potato W – Worst habit: Procrastinating…usually as a result of over-thinking. I over-think about over-thinking. X – X-rays you’ve had: Right arm…fractured…twice Y – Yummy food you make: I make an epic Turkey, a damn good banana bread, a decent Cottage Pie, and a not bad Curry Chicken. Z – Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
Every year, I return to dust the cobwebs off my humble base on the blogosphere. Every year, I return with a vision of how this year, this year will be different. Every year, I label that vision ‘Operation’, and hope that by naming it so, it will kick the relentless all or nothing switch in my brain into overdrive. I know it’s there, because I use it with just about everything else that I do. Every year, I return with conquest in my blood and first of the year idealism ringing in my ears like a war drum.
And every year, I start with great promise only to stall, fall short, and burn out by no later than March. And every month after, I agonized. How did I allow this to happen? Where did I go wrong? Why can’t I soldier through this as easily as I do everything else? I can do anything I set my mind to. So why do I fail at this, the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do?
If any of this sounds familiar, peace. You’re not alone, but I have some good and bad news.
The good news is there’s a way out. The bad news is the only way out is through.
Sometimes I forget things that I’ve written and other times, things I’ve written have haunted me. Confronting the Void‘s an odd mixture of both.
If you’re anything like me, The Void is your worst enemy. It’s that first word. First sentence. First sense of crippling self-doubt and failure. Maybe your Void is different because your mileage varies and we’re all triggered by different fingers but I think the heart of it is always fear of failure. Worse, the fear of failing the only thing you’ve ever wanted to do, the one thing you’re supposedly good at.
So I’m here once again to remind myself and whoever may need it: if you never dare to try, you can never hope to succeed.
And She Who Dares, Wins.
So tomorrow, when Operation 2016 goes live, I will strive again.
I will breathe and hope.
And if you’re struggling to make your life, and whatever you wish to make of it, a priority, then I hope you will too.
“I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.” – Rachel Platten, Fight Song.
It’s the first of the year and I’m settling both into my new home and into the new website. So much has changed over the past year. Past five years really.
Ever since I came back from England, there’s been a quiet unraveling. A silent revolution working it’s way through all my previously conceived notions. My once tried and true beliefs.
I’ve changed, and I continue to do so from one second straight on to the next. Which was undoubtedly always true, but that trip to England in ’09 set things in motion I would have never imagined. 2015’s highlights were particularly interesting…
I met a man named Dwight Higgins. He is the owner of Elite K-9 Work Dogs and is the best working dog trainer on the island. After several shop-talks, in which he admitted he would soon be leaving for Australia indefinitely, I decided I would stop at nothing until he agreed to teach me everything he knows.
And he did so…
I quit my EDJ as a Dolphin Trainer
…and got a dog. Her name is J’ouvert (pronounced ju-vey). She’s a year and 2 month old Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd Mix “Royal Bahamian Potcake”. This picture was taken the first day we met. She was 6 months at the time and a complete handful to her previous owners. She’s without a doubt the best thing that happened to me in 2015…
I started a mobile dog training service called K-9 Elites
I started working with De-Nature Photography as a model, photo editor, concept artist and content writer.
I’ve never been an organized person, but more and more I’ve come to realize that my old “controlled-chaos” habits no longer serve my needs. So, I took a deep breath and threw myself into the work with the same bull-headed determination I apply to most tasks. The morning consisted of ripping the room apart just to put it back together. I can see my floor now. This is a huge accomplishment. Going through the motions did more for me than just on an aesthetic level, it helped to relieve me of the mental clutter I’ve been dragging around for the past year.
It seemed like such a pain in the ass at first. Yet now, having done it, I feel a lot better. I can tackle my goals without feeling so claustrophobic and boxed-in.
I can pat myself on the back and tell my inner critic, “See? I’m not worthless. I do things!”
Back in 2010, I was heavy into my training in the hopes of enlisting in the British Armed Forces. Running, once the bane of my existence, had become the foundation which made or broke my daily workout regime. If I didn’t get out the door to do a run, the whole day fell apart. And there were days, especially in England, where the weather outside greatly affected my enthusiasm.
Adapt or die. I adopted the runner’s mantra quickly, “The first step out the door is the hardest.” Suddenly, I actually quite enjoyed running in the rain.
Put another way, you can’t edit a blank page. And maybe the first word is the hardest.
In The Artist Way, Julia Cameron called it ‘resisting the jump’. I prefer ‘confronting the void’.
Sometimes, you just need to show up and look (pay attention), and you’ll discover there’s a light down in the abyss after all. Other times, you may need to bite the bullet, to take the leap.
If I’ve learned anything in all of this, it’s that bull-headed determination and a dash of courage can go a long way.
I invite you to watch the following video made by Sandy B. Jensen in response to the series of questions circling around some writer blogs. This video focuses on the question “what are you currently working on?”
“We are an ancient sort of resilient. Made for the falling and the rising. Made for the burning down and rebuilding from ashes.”– Jeanette LeBlanc
In some ways, 2013 was better to me than I deserved. For one thing, I did, indeed, adjust.
Last time we spoke, I had just dived head first into a new job. Though, to call it a job seems almost sacrilegious. I train Dolphins. For real! It’s a ‘happy accident’ turned dream come true. Heck, not only do I train dolphins, but I have the absolute honor and privilege to train and work with a baby dolphin on a daily basis. Something not a lot of rookie trainers get to do.
You guys remember Sands? If not, that’s fine. I could talk about him for hours. My little munchkin will be two this month! Cue dreamy sigh.
Erm, but that’s not what we’re here for. (At least, not today…)
Although I am in a much better place financially now than I have ever been, and my body is feeling healthier not just from the daily (exquisite) grind of swimming and toting around equipment that comes with my amazing job, but also a new hobby I’m having way too much fun with (flag football, who’d’ve thought?).
…There’s just been something missing. A lack in my lustre.
2013 was a year of withdrawal from my creativity. Even now, on the dawn of a new year, I’m trying to look on it as a necessary step I had to take. This is my first attempt at practicing self-compassion, another one of my goals for this year. 2012 hit me square between the eyes, sucker punched me in the gut and left me with so many exist wounds I thought I’d bleed out. Still reeling from my losses (I still have a hard time not seeing them as failures, but my God do I have to try), I carried them over into ’13.
I was hurt. Deeply hurt. So naturally, writing hurt. Because you can’t cheat The Overflow. At least, I can’t. I was afraid to even feel, so the very last thing I wanted to do was write. Not when I would be forced to confront said feelings. Because you can’t write and not confront, it just doesn’t work that way, and I was terrified to spill everything out in black and white where it couldn’t be disputed.
So I did something I learned not to do a very long time ago, but apparently had to relearn. I bottled.
I’m trying not to look at it as a mistake. Because in spite of this self-abuse, I learned a lot about myself this year. Not all of it pretty. One very important lesson being that bottling everything up, isolating and throwing myself into work, while not lacking in a certain nobility (and nobility is cat nip to a woman like me, it feeds into my “good little soldier” complex, which I’m trying to rework if not abandon completely), will only burn me out and dry my well up.
We all need water, myself especially.
In forcing myself not to, in allowing myself to suffer the withdrawal symptoms, I learned that I really do need to write. To create. It’s not just something I can pay around with anymore. It’s a goddamn survival strategy. Something I do even when I don’t realize I’m doing it. But not committing to it, not engraving it on paper or digital media, that’s where the burn out occurs. That’s where I smoke to cinders. That’s when the Overflow turns into a desolate drought.
And who can blame her, my muse? It’s like I betrayed her.
But I know what it means to burn on the inside now, to be left parched and smoking and frayed at the edges and I can no longer be content with it.
So I’ll rise from the ashes, fill my well one step at a time, confront my void, until The Overflow returns, brimming with pride.
Farewell 2013, thank you for all the lessons. You were an excellent teacher and I’ve learned so much, but it’s time to let go. I’m done with you now.
Hello 2014, you’re going to help me create myself. To embrace the creator in me. It’s time for rebellion. I was made for this. Let me show you.
J.R. Pearse Nelson is a fantasy and paranormal romance author. Her work is fast-paced, adventurous, and sometimes dark.
J.R. is a native Oregonian, residing in the beautiful Portland area. She lives with her husband, two small daughters and the family dog. J.R. is always searching for the magic in our world. She weaves tales rooted in mythology, bringing legend to life in modern-day and fantasy settings. J.R. is the author of the Children of the Sidhe paranormal romance series, and Queen Witch, the first installment of the Foulweather Twins series.
1. You write both Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. Do you have other genres you hope to explore? Or even experiment with ‘cross-genre’ing?
Thank you kindly for the invitation to your blog today, SJ!
In answer, I don’t think I can help but cross genres. My paranormal romance series has an overarching fantasy plot, and my new adult fantasy series incorporates mythological and urban fantasy elements. I have a steampunk story I’ll write eventually. I also have a fairytale in the works (or it might end up being two). I’ll probably have sci-fi elements in some work down the road, but magic will be right there, too. Magic is the thread that ties it all together for me.
2. Is there a genre you absolutely couldn’t see yourself writing in?
Crime fiction. I would never want to spend my time researching crimes and cop procedure and plotting how to murder off my characters….okay, I do a little of that.
3. How long have you been writing for? What was one of the first stories you wrote (or attempted to write)?
I’ve written since I was a child, but I was never able to stick with a story long enough to finish it. I started writing my first novel in 2004, when I was 24. I worked on it until 2007, but not with the regularity needed to be successful. I’m still quite attached to the story, but I entirely messed up that book! And the next novel I tried! I committed to regular writing as a vocation in 2008. So far I’ve had the most success with the novella length. We each have our own ways.
4. Did you always have being published in mind? When did you decide to go Indie as opposed to the more traditional route?
I’ve always dreamed of sharing stories with the world. I paid attention to developments in publishing from the time I started writing that first novel in 2004. At first the plan was to query agents. However, by the time I had a book finished, the landscape had entirely changed, with a revolution on the horizon. Also, the first book I finished was a novella, the first in my Children of the Sidhe series. I loved the book, but from everything I read no publisher was going to be interested in it because of its length and quirks – it’s about the daughter of an Irish love deity, living in modern-day Portland when she’s drawn into a conflict with the ancient enemy of her father’s people. The first part in a series of novellas with contained romance plots and an overarching story of war. To put it simply, I think indie was made for authors like me. I write well, but I choose odd topics, twisty plots, and experiment with genre, length and structures within series. Traditional publishers don’t know what to do with an author like me. I love my freedom to experiment – it’s part of what makes writing so fun.
5. Who inspires you?
Great question! I wish you’d narrowed it a little, ‘cause gosh…In general, the really smart people who are making strides to change our world for the better every day, especially scientists and some philanthropists. That work takes strength, ingenuity, and a positive outlook – I find people like that inspiring. Writer-wise, Ursula Le Guin (fellow Portlander and AMAZING sci-fi writer. AMAZING.) Octavia Butler, another sci-fi writer whose books always blew my mind, and who, sadly, has passed from this earth. I also must mention my extreme fangirl status when it comes to Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly – he’s even made comics cool for me). Music-wise, I love a powerful songwriter. I adore Neko Case, Tori Amos, Regina Spektor, P!nK, and recently I’ve been very inspired by Macklemore, both by his artistry and his story of persistence and eventual success.
6. What’s your “process” like? Are you a pantster or plotter or a bit of both?
I’m definitely in the plotter camp. I think I’ve mentioned my twisty plots? I need to plot or I won’t keep it all straight. It also cuts WAY down on revision, for me at least, and revision is the most painful step of creating a book. I also love the act of plotting. I like to make drawings and maps (rudimentary, and only for my eyes. Ha!). I like to brainstorm and then keep a folder of all those notes. However, once I’ve done all that plotting, my characters sometimes take over and the unexpected happens. That’s magical, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I get far off my outline, I take time to revise my outline, and then get back to writing.
7. Do you pursue other creative endeavors besides writing?
I do lots of arts and crafts with my little girls (ages 2 and 4). I incorporate creativity in the kitchen, as good food makes my soul sing. Crafting story is definitely my chosen art.
8. Do you have favorite words? Most of mine tend to be censored on Television and the others make me question my sanity.
I don’t know about favorites, but I do engage in silly-speak to a high degree. I can’t seem to be serious for long. My poor kids think “cuddly-wiggins” and “ootsi-tootsi” are real words. But hey, we have a lot of fun.
9. If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title be?
Making Worlds from Words
(By the way, the toughest interview question ever. J)
10. What would be your ultimate writing environment? Mine would be a laptop that never lags, ever, and has all of my music readily available, a view of the ocean, art supplies, a bottle of Sprite, and a chocolate fountain or two. Just sayin’…
Mine would be a turret overlooking some Oregon forest, with an expansive desk and huge windows. I’d have an overstuffed chair and ottoman for when I wanted to sink into a book, or edit away from my desk. A wall of bookshelves housing all of my favorites and my many reference books on all things ritual, magical, mythological, historical. A big dog or two would be lying around, waiting for a walking mood to strike. Right now I have a spare bedroom as an office, but it has the reference books, a view of my roses and the sky and trees, and my Labrador. So I’m pretty content. J
11. Do you have a muse? Do you even believe in Muses and if so, what do you believe about them?
I mention muses sometimes because I think it helps people who aren’t writing understand that there is a magic that happens where it feels the words aren’t coming from you. There are also those stunning moments of insight you can’t quite own up to responsibility for. A muse would make these things easier to understand. But in truth, my brain is wired to look for connections, and once you learn to open the floodgates, you don’t have to focus on each word or each idea, you just have to channel them. In fact, intense focus and critical thought can hurt the creative process. More than muses, I do believe in the idea of the “one mind,” that once an idea is out there in the world around you, your subconscious can pluck it up, run with it, hybridize it, whatever…but once it’s out there, an idea is free.
12. Flight, available on Amazon June 26th, 2013, is the third Children of the Sidhe Novella. How many more books do you have planned for this series?
Descent, the fourth book, will be out in September, and the fifth and final book, Shield, will follow in January.
13. Do you have a WIP on the backburner or any ideas for future books you wouldn’t mind sharing?
I don’t mind sharing at all! At my current pace, I have about ten years worth of ideas, so I’ll stick with what’s coming up the soonest after my current series – a fairytale! My major decision is whether it will be one fairytale or two…or whether to stick with the world even more and write some shorts there that tie in with the novels. I wish I could get to all of my ideas faster, but I can’t write them all at once. Lol. I love all of these stories, and can’t wait to share them.
Nathan Jeffries doesn’t entirely understand his affinity for hawks, until he finds he can shift into one. Fae blood is to blame for his good looks and luck with the ladies – but now that luck has turned. Nathan is on an Otherworld assassin’s hit list, and the only person stepping forward to help him just may be playing for the other side in the Sidhe Blood Wars.
Tessa Anndrais isn’t sure where she stands. When Abarta – the assassin – threatens to reveal a family secret, she’s determined to protect her own. She’s never approved of thinning Sidhe blood by mixing with humans. Yet she finds herself watching Nathan, the half-human son of the Lord of the Skies, with enough approval to keep her warm all through the night.