A Week in the Life of a Writer

I want to try something different. A sort of stream-of-consciousness thing. Mental notes from a writer in the process of the first draft of a novel.

This might be a huge mess. But I’ve had a couple of new followers lately, so I thought I should do something to let you guys into my world.

It’s Friday, January 25th. I’m at the end of a stressful week.

I’m a freelance writer by day, so I’m pretty much writing every minute I’m awake. This week, I worked harder and made less money than I have in a while, which is always fun. That’s the way it goes, sometimes. Freelancing is a hunt, and on a hunt, you don’t always end up with a meal.

The novel is going well. It doesn’t have a name yet. I keep getting an instinct to hold off. This book is a rewrite of a story I started years ago, but many of the scenes are new. Piecing it all together has been hard. I’ve been working on it since I got back from Bali. It’s almost twice the length of BEYOND MY DYING MIND, which I guess gives it full “novel” status as of now. I prefer to write novellas, so we’ll see how much this one changes as it develops.

It’s Saturday now. January 26th. I was determined for this to be a mental-health day. I’ve been struggling with the negative mindset lately. I think it’s work stress. But today was a good day. I meditated, exercised, and went for a long drive. It was nice, despite that my car is old, lacking a radio, and always causing me a low level of terror that it might break down at any time. The grass was bright green in the fields after all the rain we’ve had. 

The lock is broken on the driver’s side door of my car, so I maneuver in through the passenger seat. I like the challenge.

More meditation tomorrow. More writing tonight.

It’s 1:51 a.m. on and Sunday, January 27th, and I’ve completed my first draft!

I’m so relieved I can move ahead with my normal rewriting process now. The first draft is the hardest part, and none of the magic even begins to happen until somewhere in rewrite four, usually. I’m getting there.

I’ve been staying away from social media lately. I needed a detox. Although, I’m still looking at Instagram, but my feed there is mostly yoga routines and pictures of the Alps. Maybe I should stop scrolling there, too.

The thing about stepping away from this stuff is you create silence in your life, and then you realize how loud everything was before. You get used to this new level of peace, and it becomes harder to reintegrate. But maybe reintegration isn’t what I want. Maybe I need to walk through a silent world until I find something new.

I meditated today.

I get into the headspace faster now. Some days are easier than others, but no matter how “well it goes”, it always does me good. I sometimes convince myself I’m too busy, which is stupid. I stopped meditating for a few weeks due to work stress and feeling overwhelmed, and it was such a mistake. I felt myself begin to revert to the negative, depressed person I used to be as the days went by.

I commit to meditation. Exercise is so important too. I did two workouts today.

And now for another thing that keeps me sane: writing. Second draft. Here goes nothing.

It’s Monday, January 28th, and I’m hard at work on rewrite two. I’m putting heart into this story, weaving memories with fiction. I’ve never wanted to share too many of my real-life paranormal stories with the world. It feels too personal. Being able to explain aspects of my experiences through fiction is a pretty amazing gift.

I have a dream of becoming multilingual and being able to write books in different languages. I’m trying to learn Spanish right now, which I’ve failed a few times in the past. The way teachers showed us in school just didn’t stick in my brain for some reason. I’ve been using a language app to study and it seems a bit better of a method. We’ll see. If this goes well, I’d like to also learn Chinese and German one day.

Well, I’m off to clean, light some black sage, cook dinner, and relax for sleep.

It’s Tuesday, January 29th, and I just finished watching episode one of the new True Detective. So very into it.

Work is going okay. I’m all caught up as of now. This job is such a crazy cycle of trying to catch up and then immediately being desperate to find work again.

I’m back to working on rewrite two. I’m 32 pages in, and it’s mostly small changes so far.

It’s Wednesday, January 30th. It was a depressing day. Low energy. I took time off work. I wanted to get my taxes done, but I gave up halfway through because it was too overwhelming. I’m going to set that aside for a while, I think.

I’m feeling low today, so I won’t write too much. There’s a lot I could say, but I’m not a big fan of “venting”. I’ve never gone on a rant and then felt better afterwards.

I get to write about immunity within the federal court system tomorrow. Woo!

It’s Thursday, January 31st, and it’s a better day than yesterday. It’s been a rollercoaster lately.

It’s Friday, February 1st, and I’m back down again. See what I mean?

I’ve completed one week of this journaling experiment. It’s a tough day. I couldn’t work due to fatigue and not feeling well. It happens. The thing about using your creative power to make money is it’s not always there. If I become too drained and out of balance, I get writer’s block and can’t work. I’m working on this whole, embrace imperfection, go-with-the-flow thing. It’s the hardest thing to post this (or any) blog because I have so many worries over perfection. But I guess I’ll do it anyway.

Be sure to check out BEYOND MY DYING MIND on Amazon.

Noland would do anything to save Jasmine. After all, she saved him. But traveling through time to influence the living world has consequences, and if he’s not careful, he might doom them both forever.

Creating Original Creatures: Inspiring Monster Lore from Around the World

One of the hardest parts of writing creature fiction is coming up with original ideas. It doesn’t matter whether your monsters are located in the physical or spirit realm—making frightening entities that people haven’t already seen zillions of times is tough. From things that mimic every form of insect, to gigantic, shapeless alien blobs, it probably exists out there somewhere.

There’s nothing wrong with creating a new story featuring classic monsters. As a long-time zombie fan, I know I’ll never get sick of reading or watching that genre. But if you’re like me, and you’re looking to create an original cast of horrifying creatures for your next book or film, you’re going to need to think outside the box to make your monsters different.

Monster Concepts: More than Just Design

It’s natural to start out by focusing on the physical design of your monsters, which is important. However, it’s often the other details about a monster that make it unique.

Some questions to ask:

  1. Why do your monsters do what they do?

Are they on a non-discriminatory path of destruction or going after certain entities? Is there a sentiment behind their actions, such as revenge, or are they driven by something more primal, like hunger? Are they individual entities capable of making their own decisions. Or, are they mindless drones?

  1. Where are your monsters from?

There are many places that monsters can originate from. Outer space. A giant crack in the ground. A gateway to hell. A scientific experiment gone wrong. If you’re looking for innovative possibilities for your monsters, consider giving them a unique origin. Any of the things I just listed still have new possibilities within them.

For example, aliens don’t necessarily need the “conquer and steal resources” motivation you see in a lot of stories. Is there another reason they are here? Think outside the box.

  1. How Do They Communicate?

Communication is another big factor that sets monsters apart. Look at the difference between the Anne Rice vampires and those found in the 30 Days of Night comics. The former are eloquent, well-spoken, and glamorous beings. They can go unnoticed or even pass as human in the right situation. The latter vampires are much more monstrous, and while they can also communicate, it comes off in a different way.

Another example: That iconic scene in the original Independence Day when the alien manipulates Dr. Okun’s vocal chords to communicate. That was a good example of using communication in an innovative way. Since the aliens did not communicate to mankind throughout most of the story, it made that scene even more powerful.

Finding Inspiration: Monster Legends

I’ve always loved reading about monster lore from around the world. Everyone knows about Bigfoot and Chupacabra, so I did some research and came up with three less-popular monsters to provide you some inspiration.

  1. Manticore

The Manticore is a creature from Persian mythology that seems to have a lot of variations. The general features include the head of a human with a lion-like body, the tail of a scorpion and rows of razor-sharp teeth. Legend has it that the Manticore uses its

venomous tail to paralyze its victims before devouring them whole. Some describe the tail as something that can shoot venomous spikes at enemies as well as function as a stabbing device.

The Manticore story dates way back to a dude named Ctesias, who was a Greek historian in 5th century BC. His detailed descriptions of the creature inspired Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder to include it in his book Naturalis Historia, which was super popular throughout the Middle Ages. According to Pliny the Elder, the Manticore could also mimic human speech—which ups the creepy factor by a lot if you ask me. I’ve always loved monsters that could lure people out into the dark woods by mimicking human voices. So wicked!

  1. Hungry Ghost (Preta)

The legend of Hungry Ghosts, also known as Preta in Sanskrit, originates from ancient India. It is believed that pretas are spiritual entities stuck in a hellish existence in which they feel a constant level of insatiable hunger, often for something disgusting, such as decaying flesh.

They have mummified skin, swollen bellies, and thin limbs due to starvation. Their necks are slender, and their mouths are too small to eat normally. Some pretas are said to be able to eat but not gain fullness and others can’t eat at all due to their deformed mouths. They must endure this terrible suffering due to acts of cruelty or betrayal that they may have carried out in past lives.

  1. Mongolian Death Worm

I was proud of myself for discovering a new cool monster I’d never heard of–until I realized the Mongolian Death Worm is such a well-known thing that Sean Patrick Flannery made a movie about it in 2010.

Legend has it that the worms, which hide out in the most isolated regions of the Gobi desert, are between two and five feet long and can kill a human via touch using its poisonous skin. It can also supposedly shoot corrosive venom from its mouth and electrocute victims from a distance.

In 1920, the Mongolian Death Worm was featured in the book On the Trail of Ancient Man by Roy Chapman Andrews. He described it as being

“so poisonous that merely touching it means instant death.” How he developed this theory is unclear, and unfortunately, no one has gathered any real evidence of the Mongolian Death Worm’s existence.

That said, many locals stand by the legend. And I’m a firm believer that things exist if enough people believe, so let’s make this happen, damn it! #MongolianDeathWorm2018

Well, that’s it for today’s blog. I hope you guys enjoyed reading about these creatures as well as learning some of my tips for coming up with original monsters of your own.

Be sure to check out my time-travel fantasy novella, BEYOND MY DYING MIND. It includes a few cool monsters!

Happy Birthday to Me: AKA, My Official “Separating from My Publisher” Post

Monday is my 34th birthday, and on paper, I’ve accomplished nothing.

Actually, if we’re being technical, I’m going in reverse. I once had a book deal. I once had a cool apartment in Denver. I once had a plan for my life that looked different from what is currently happening. To quote one of my favorite romantic comedies: I am “Benjamin Buttoning.” And you know what? I’m okay with it. Sometimes you have to back up if you want to get on the right path again.

How Book Deals Disappear: What Happened with GMMG

As some of you might already know, my publisher, Georgia McBride Media Group (GMMG), who owns both Month9Books and Swoon Romance, dropped many of their authors recently. There was a lot of scandalous craziness going on with the situation, but I don’t see much point in focusing on that negativity any longer. Other people can investigate if they want to, and if you’re interested in learning more about what happened, here is an article. I’ll just say that it wasn’t working out anyway, and I’m happy to be able to start over as an indie author.

I should have known that I was always meant to be an indie. I want the freedom to release books on my own schedule with my own covers. I want to set my own prices and have access to my sales. I still have no idea how many books I sold. I’d guess it isn’t many, but still, I’d like to know. I don’t do well with being kept in the dark about things, and I’m pleased that I’ll never have to deal with that again.

Still, I’m not bitter. It’s hard to shift your perspective when you had hoped something would be your “big break,” but it can be done. This experience gave me a place in the writing world. I can walk away and wish everyone involved the best.

What Happens Next: The Future Feels Much Brighter

I have to sign a bunch of paperwork to get the rights to my book returned to me. That paperwork will be taken care of within a week or two. As soon as GMMG stops selling the book and takes it down from Amazon, I’ll be free to self-publish. However, I don’t believe I will be putting Edge of Something More back on the market, heartbreaking as it is.

Instead, I’ll be moving away from contemporary romance and focusing instead on fantasy and supernatural subject matter.

In Conclusion: My Thoughts on My Birthday

So yes … I’m about to turn thirty-four, no longer a published author, and on paper, I’ve accomplished nothing. I also have more freedom and opportunity than a lot of people my age, and for that I’m very grateful. I’m like a thousand high-quality parts that are just sitting on the ground in a big room waiting to be assembled. I’m not sure what this fully formed me will look like or if I’ll even live long enough to see her in the mirror. But I will keep working on building myself. I refuse to let a terrible experience bring me down.

I want to thank everyone who has offered me love, support, and friendship during this rough time—especially my fellow authors. Getting closer to a lot of you guys was the best part of this entire experience. I feel blessed to be part of such a supportive community.

UPDATE: It’s now 2020, and I’m going back over some of my old blog posts. I’m happy to report that I’ve continued with my writing career, and my fantasy novella BEYOND MY DYING MIND is available now on Amazon.

Stay tuned for more!

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