How to Write Historical Fiction Without Really Trying

Today I’m excited to have a guest post on Amie Winters’ blog, the author of Strange Luck and soon-to-be-published The Nightmare Birds (available for pre-order now!). Amie and I write very different books, but we have tons in common, from collecting fun socks to being writers from childhood. In fact, tomorrow is her monthly Throwback Thursday Writer event (#tbtwriter), so check back in with us both for this month’s fun (and usually funny) posts.

Before I wrote Anatomy of a Darkened Heart, I was sure I would never write historical fiction, even though I enjoyed reading it. In fact, I didn’t think it was possible for me to include that much research in a fiction book. So how does someone who is convinced they can’t write a genre end up with a debut novel, an upcoming fall publication, and a 10-year publishing plan that all revolve around that “impossible-to-write” genre? Find out in my guest post on Amie’s blog! Click here to read.

Indie Pride Day FB Party Takeover

Today is Indie Pride Day, and it’s going to be a day of fun and giveaways! My time slot at the Facebook party is 6:20 p.m. to 6:40 p.m. Eastern Time, and here’s the link. I will have multiple giveaways and easy ways to win, so be sure to stop by! See you then!

 

Indie Books Be Seen 2016

 

YouTube Review of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart!

Yesterday, Peter Clark the Writer left a magnificent YouTube review of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart. I’m so excited to share it with you! He even reads some of his favorite passages and lines, and see that in the background? That’s the wallpaper wrapping paper I used to send him his signed paperback. It’s pinned to his board! Coolest guy ever? I think so.

If you’ve read Anatomy of a Darkened Heart or if you’re interested in reading it, please pass on his video! Peter really covers the book and its many facets well. Thanks for watching!

Anatomy of a Darkened Heart and Shakespeare

Saturday was Shakespeare’s 400 year anniversary, and somehow I feel sad he’s gone…for 400 years. Even though I could never meet him, I feel a huge connection to him. His plays made Anatomy of a Darkened Heart happen. My interest in most of the elements that make up AoDH came from my experiences reading Shakespeare. He built me into the reader and writer that I am.

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Hamlet: I would say Hamlet had the biggest influence on my writing career and on the Dark Victoriana Collection in particular. This was the first piece of literature that introduced me to the sheer depth psychology can give characters not only within their own selves, but in their impacts on others and their interpretations of others. Wow. Without this play, I’m actually not sure AoDH would exist. Even with the number of books I’ve read involving important aspects of characters’ psychologies, none of them have ever struck me the way Hamlet did, and I truly believe I would never have developed such an appreciation and love for psychological depth without having read it.

Julius Caesar: Planning, scheming, and secrets, not to mention some class A manipulation. Julius Caesar was the first time I saw a character manipulated so heavily, he carried through a plan to become something he was not only incapable of but didn’t even really want. That manipulation and its results stayed with me to help create the levels of manipulation in AoDH.

Henry IV parts 1 & 2, Henry V: Good-hearted characters don’t always start out that way – and vice versa. The processFeatured Image -- 1269 by which Prince Hal slowly becomes King Henry is one that creates a character I feel like I traveled with for a long time. I felt proud of his progress and I also felt the pain of his decisions. The closeness to this character and his development was the first time I really cared about what happened to a character as if they were a person I knew. Without that feeling, I don’t think I could’ve written Abigail’s character in a way that makes readers squirm as her life takes darker and darker turns.

Macbeth: This is not my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays, but it did show me how to write a convincing slow mental breakdown, not to mention some good manipulation and scheming. I can’t think of another book that has a slow insanity quite like this, and for those who have read AoDH, you know where this comes in.

Shakespeare will forever be my greatest writing influence, even in the general way of having so many meanings behind his carefully chosen words, phrases, and sentiments. Happy 400th anniversary, Shakespeare. Your writing will never fade. Not now, and not in another 400 years.

~~~

Anatomy of a Darkened Heart can be purchased on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. You can also buy the paperback directly from me, the author, here on my website, signed and customized.

Women in Publishing Discussion Recording Available!

Forgive the lack of Monday Thoughts on Creativity, but BIG NEWS! If you missed the Women in Publishing/Strong Leadership live discussion panel on April 10, you can watch the recorded video here:

We had great questions from Twitter, varied opinions and ideas, and overall a fantastic panel of successful women in the publishing industry. This is a video you don’t want to miss!

 

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Simplification

Be gentle, Monday. It’s all a bit sudden.

Creative simplicity

Have you ever read a line in a book or a poem that blew your mind with its simplicity? Sometimes a writer can break a concept down so far that you’re wowed and amazed that it never occurred to you to phrase or express it that way. I find this to be a rare quality in fiction – usually just one or two sentences through a whole book, and only 1 out of 25 books – but when it happens, it stops me in my tracks. If I’m listening to an audiobook, I rewind to hear it again. Sometimes I stop the track just to think about it. If it’s a physical book, you can bet I’ll lose some serious reading time in admiring that brilliance.

I feel similarly impressed when a writer can take a story down to its bare essentials and come out with something distilled to the point of perfection. I like to pause and think about why the piece would normally be longer and what would be fleshed out and detailed. When an author can take all of that out of a piece and end up with something more powerful than the usual elongated version, it took some serious creative thought. It sounds like the opposite – the more creativity something takes, the bigger it should be. Well, that can happen, but think about how creative you have to be to whittle and whittle and whittle until you’re down to only the most hard-hitting words for a complex and expansive piece of – what? 100 words? 20 words? Now that’s my kind of creativity.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Clearing Your Mind

Hello Monday. You’re unexpected.

creativity fill

Sometimes when I’m overly stressed, I can’t concentrate on creativity easily. It’s not a flowing process, so I need to cleanse my brain’s palette. There are two ways that I do this:

  • I make lists of everything I need to do. One of the things I constantly stress about is forgetting what needs to be done, and that can even keep me from sleeping well. Luckily there’s a simple solution: always having to-do lists. That’s easy enough!
  • When I get overwhelmed and have a hard time clearing my mind, I write haikus. I typically look up pictures of nature or the beautiful landscapes in Morrowind and write haikus about them, which is especially gratifying since haikus were originally intended to revolve around nature. Somehow this has a calming effect on me and clears my mind enough that I can let creativity take over.

A couple of weeks ago I asked what others do to relax themselves when they’re overly stressed, and I’m going to do a video about that soon. I got some great suggestions, so hopefully they’ll help you too! In the meantime:

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Creativity is Subtraction

Mondays are very sneaky, aren’t they? Just as you get used to living in the weekend, BAM, Monday wakes you up at 6 a.m.

YES. One way I personally interpret this – and I feel there are many ways to read it – is that editing is also creativity. In order for me to write and not edit as I go, I’ll include cliches and wrong words in the first draft of a novel or short story or even poem. I’m trying to get my ideas down, and in novels, twists and turns and psychology. Those are the most important things in the first draft. When I edit, I accentuate my writing style. I delete all unnecessary words and cliches. When I add something, it’s necessary, and when I change something, it’s to make it original. I adjust the character’s voice to sound like them in particular. I consider editing part of the art of writing.

Another way I interpret this is the very reason I love flash fiction, and the shorter the better. I recently wrote two 16 word pieces. I started with something 21 words long and whittled it down to 16 words with careful consideration of tense, anything that slowed it down, every word counting for more than it’s worth, and meaning behind the meaning. I came out with something much stronger than the 21 word version.

My opinion is that creativity is many things, and nothing can be left out. Creativity is subtraction (careful wording), addition (fleshing out characters), multiplication (creating series), and division (anthologies). It’s the only kind of math I care to do.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Do Share

Monday is only acceptable if you take the day off.

contagious creativity

I love this concept. In this day and age, with all the social sharing we can do, this has never been more true. We can share small works, especially passages from our current WIP and haikus and photography. Whether it’s through something formal(ish) like Wattpad or relaxed like Instagram, we can share our work and our ideas instantly and for free. I’ve never shared a whole book for free, only short works, but I do have a book or two in mind to share permafree.

Think about this too.

Libraries, art galleries, restaurants – these are all ways to share creativity, free or not. Whether it’s a novel, a piece of art, or a fusion dish, it’s something meant to bring beauty and inspiration, thought and emotion to us. Those who enjoy it get inspired to create something else, whether it’s something similar but with their own spin, or something completely unrelated. It’s because we can share our visions, our drafts, our final products that others catch the creativity bug. It’s about sharing and appreciating and interpreting. It’s about opening ourselves up to everything and deciding for ourselves what we’ll be and what we’ll create because others have shown us more than we could ever imagine. So share and share alike. I know I will.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Risk and Failure

Monday keeps coming around again, but I didn’t send it an invitation…

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This is so extremely true. Creativity isn’t about waiting for inspiration to strike, it’s about living in an inspired state. That’s how I see it. Some times are more creative than others, but if I don’t allow myself to live in my creativity, I start to lose my place in my writing. I literally can’t remember what I’m doing with a current work in progress.

That being said, taking risks and failing can be SO HARD! When you’re very attached to your work, it’s a part of you, so a risk is actually scary and a failure is devastating. This is what it’s like:

Risk: Let me try going in this direction with my story, I think that will work well. Yes, this is great, now I’ve spent a month on it and it’s really exciting. Oh wait, I hate it. Oh my goodness, it’s total garbage and doesn’t work at all. Oh no, now I have to start over!

Failure: I hate myself. I hate my writing. I hate everything I touch. I’m not worthy of a pen.

Yes, it’s that dramatic. But when we take these risks and we fail and we cry (and cry again), we also learn what went wrong and whether it could or couldn’t be avoided. We unveil another layer of our creativity, another secret to our inspiration. And finally, we learn that it’s worth it, through all that pain and torment, to do it again and again. And again.