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.

Go Indie Now: The Latest Indie Trends

Indie is where you discover brave new adventures in creativity. My friend Joe Compton, author of Amongst the Killing and super fantastic supporter of all things indie, has started a website called Go Indie Now. It’s the place to be for live interviews, events, and more, all revolving around the latest in indie culture. Authors, musicians, movie producers, and loads of other indie artists are and will be featured constantly and consistently to give you your indie fix.

I was lucky enough to be featured on Go Indie Now’s very first podcast and YouTube video series! My chat with Joe was so much fun, you’ll feel like you’re sitting right there with us. Visit his video and comment so we can all discuss: https://youtu.be/taoN8PaU6Qg?t=48m53s. That link takes you right to my chat with Joe, but watch the whole video for more interviews, all so completely different: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taoN8PaU6Qg&feature=youtu.be. Don’t feel like watching a video? You can listen to the podcast of our chat: http://goindienow.podbean.com/e/goindienow-episode-1-interview-with-christie-stratos/.

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The next HUGE event is the weekend of April 8-10, when Go Indie Now will be having 72 hours of live coverage for the Brain to Books Cyber Convention. That’s 3 full days of interviews, chats, music, first-look book trailers, and all sorts of cutting edge things. Everyone will be talking about it, so be sure to stop by Go Indie Now’s site! I’ll be moderating a discussion between some amazing women in the publishing industry, and I’ll probably participate in more than one live event. Watch my blog for dates and times.

In the meantime, be sure to congratulate Joe on his wonderful support of all things indie!

Connect with Go Indie Now:

YouTube

Podbean

Twitter

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Risk and Failure

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

creativity-risk

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.

LOCKE AND KEYE Update

I have a big ol’ update on Locke and Keye, the second book in the Dark Victoriana Collection, and it was too big to write! Instead, I’ve updated you in my latest video:

 

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Ditching Clichés

Aaaaand we’re back from the weekend. Happy Monday!

creativity-think

I think this quote is true of success in general, but creativity in particular blooms from original thoughts about the same old thing. In particular, think about descriptions.

There are so many clichés out there, so many overused phrases that we accept in every single book. It’s really special when I read a description of someone frowning, or a gesture, or even a color in a way I’ve never read before.

As a writer, sometimes I think, “Well, how else am I supposed to describe a frown?” Really there is an uncountable number of ways, but we tend to automatically feel cornered into clichés like “brows knitted together” or “eyebrows drawn into a V” because they’re what we’re used to – pre-approved and always understood. Creativity is looking at simple things like that and turning them into something that works off the ambiance of the scene, the situation, or the personality of the character: “She didn’t frown – it was too harsh an expression for her, too base and unattractive. Instead, her face remained an unreadable stone, even blank where natural creases should have been.” Here we learn something about the character’s personality (self-righteous and cold), what she thinks of others who frown (vulgar), what she thinks of herself for not frowning (attractive and well bred), and her looks (wrinkle-free skin).

Creativity is thinking outside the box – way outside the box – so that everything comes alive in 3D ways you can practically reach out and touch.

 

Locke and Keye Update!

I can’t believe how little I’ve told you about Locke and Keye, the second book in the Dark Victoriana Collection. Well, it’s time for a nice big update, including some secrets to look forward to. Shhhh… 😉

Brutal Doom = Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

One of my favorite video games now has three number 2’s associated with it: today Doom 2 is 22 years old. I think that calls for a post!

Doom is a classic video game with many versions, and Doom 2 is my favorite iteration.

The first first-person shooter game I ever learned, I still love it, and now they have BRUTAL DOOM, a version more bloody with updated, more fluid controls, new fatalities, better weapons, and heavily updated graphics. It keeps the feel of the original and brings it into the 21st century.

Why am I telling you about this transition from 1990s cutting edge computer game to revamped and updated classic video game (with many versions in between)? Because it’s something happening constantly with books today. Take Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

This classic book has had many rebirths as films and through alternate tellings, including the strangely popular Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

This is a prime example of taking something people already love and giving it a spin that’s very popular today. I remember when everyone was joking about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but it became a bestseller and will be a film in 2016.

My point is that you never know what will inspire you to write, to imagine. And you never knowFeatured Image -- 1269 what piece of creativity is going to hit the mark with your audience. I’ve read historical fiction books for a long time, but I literally (and I mean that in the literal sense) never thought I would write historical fiction. My exact thoughts: I could never write historical fiction, it’s too complicated. Way too much research. And yet here I am. My first published book is historical fiction, and not only that, I enjoyed writing all the tiny historical details from life in the 1800s. I mean…wow. I went from “never ever” and “impossible” to having a 5-year publishing plan based almost entirely on dark historical fiction writing.

This should teach you one thing: never feel silly for hanging onto a kids’ book or playing an outdated video game. You just don’t know how it will positively affect your present – or your future.

 

“Desensitization” Poem Published in The Andromedae Review

Very exciting news! A poem of mine called “Desensitization” was recently published in The Andromedae Review‘s premier issue! You can see it here for free. It was put into three columns, but just read one column at a time.

“Desensitization” was inspired by a time that I drove past a car on fire that was parked right up against a building. I pulled over and called the cops right away, and of course they’d already had plenty of calls about it. Once the call was over, I sat there feeling strange. I had never seen something like that before, and it struck me how scary it would be to be the owner of that car or the building next to it (the fire was starting to pop and sending fiery bits all over the place at that point) and have no idea what was going on. I could be happily shopping at the mall, meanwhile my car is on fire and starting to destroy something else around it.

This made me think of the difference between watching similar things (or much worse) in a movie and feeling no real connection to them versus seeing them in person. There is an extreme difference. The level of desensitization we have to shocking, frightening, and life-changing events is higher than we realize. I hope this poem expresses that fact.

Anatomy of a Darkened Heart Launches Today!

The day has finally come! Anatomy of a Darkened Heart is now available on Amazon for digital and paperback purchase. Celebrate with me on my new Facebook author page, where I’ll post giveaways, chats, and other fun things all day.

Anatomy of a darkened heart 3D

Anatomy of a Darkened Heart is just the first book of five in the Dark Victoriana Collection. Three novelettes will launch in 2016 followed by a final novel in 2017, so go ahead and get addicted! Plus October is the perfect month to read this dark and disturbing piece of historical fiction.

Want a signed copy of the book? No problem! I’ll even personalize it for you. Buy Anatomy of a Darkened Heart directly from me and pay the exact same amount as on Amazon – only more special. Check out the details here.

See you at the Facebook celebration!