When Fantasy Goes Awry

Fantasy writers create worlds within worlds and story scenes inside the mind at any given moment. It’s just what we do. And when it comes to our real life…not much different.

Possible scenes:

1. Imagining a rude, condescending boss tied to a chair, mouth taped, as we peacefully finish our work. Disclaimer: No bosses were hurt during the writing of this post or thereafter.

2. A traffic-free expressway/highway.

3. No line at our favorite restaurant for lunch.

4. A quiet spot in the house where everyone around us is floating overhead in slow-mo and on mute just to be able to get a few moments of writing done.

5. The day the youngest child becomes of age–the ripe old age of eighteen (okay, so this was my favorite one anyway).

Yesterday was that day for me and it failed in comparison to what I imagined years ago. There was going to be a party…for me, celebrating my new independence. But alas, the day came and instead of partying, a slight whimper escaped my lips as I repeatedly glanced over at my baby girl all growed up.

The parental tears of empty-nesting were falling like icicle daggers, realizing that she wouldn’t need me anymore because she was coming into her own. This was supposed to be a good thing, I thought. Is this what happens when real-life and fantasy don’t see eye to eye?

And then it happened, she looked at me and asked if we could get matching tattoos. Oh…the honor felt that she would let me, her mom, share a piece of her hip, new adult world and there was no prouder moment.

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Not quite ready to release her out into society just yet, so I’m going to keep her close a little while longer. Now, onto new fantasies in the true fashion of, “be careful what you wish for,” or fantasize about.

How did your fantasy-to-real-life moment play out? Was it close to, true to or not at all what you imagined?

Holiday Cheer-less

The rush for holiday events has arrived. And with it comes the mundane tasks of plotting and planning parties, decor, meals, entertaining visiting guests and family, etc. Each detail meticulous, down to how many pecans and walnuts needed to make the perfect fruit and nut basket. And the questions…Who will we sit Aunt Martha with this year since she drank a whole bottle of wine, with several vodka chasers, fell out with EVERYBODY last year and still plans to show up? Do we have enough fresh linens? And so on.

There isn’t enough Cherry Maalox and Pepto-Bismol on the planet to fix the uneasy stomachs that some people get around the holidays. Opt for a solo season behind closed doors, bottle of spirits in one hand and clicker in the other? Nod and smile at the table? Engage in idle chatter?

What tips do you have to help readers get through the stresses of the holidays?

Christmas Towns

Christmas holds different significant meanings for people: religious meanings, commercial and of course the favorite one for children…the fantasy behind it. Well, raised on the two topics not to discuss–politics and religion, the one I would like to shine the spotlight on is the fantasy one.

We never had Christmas in our house growing up. No tree, Santa who? No decorations, unless you count the candy canes and glitter ornament-adorned evergreen trees I would make out of red and green construction paper. Mommy would let me tape a few to the front window. And I tried hard to believe in Santa Claus. It came as no surprise that not only would Christmas be brought to life in my own home as an adult, but the fantasy of it would be so great. I used to want to live in an actual Christmas Town, where 24/7 it would rain, sleet and snow Christmas any and everything. My town had lights that never went off, snow-covered cottages with ample color and candy accents (think old-fashioned Gingerbread houses). And every house had a brick fireplace.

Share how you see your Christmas Town? Would it have reindeer? Would it be a Christmas Farm? Would it look like a scene straight from How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ Whoville?

I Know Where the Muses Play

by A.M. Day

Recently, while on a river walk, I stumbled across something huge—the undeniable urge to write about what I rediscovered…Muses. Like other writers, I sometimes have more than one. They tap and hammer and hone in on my frequency, sometimes all at once—especially, if I’m ignoring them to quiet my mind. And I have been ignoring them lately…my own Muse included. I found a way to silence them when needed. My Muse had been resting comfortably during her forced hiatus as I began to reflect on this year so far. She usually shows up when I’m truly in need of some Muse musings, inspiration.

But the last couple of months…nothing. Not a peep out of her or the other Muses. I searched deep within the walls of my mind, my heart. She wasn’t there. This dragged on, forcing me to do whatever I had to in order to revive her spirit. I walked and ran, hoping she’d pop in with her regular chatter and rattling off as the endorphins opened me up. And still, no Muse or Muses. She was snubbing me, giving me the cold shoulder, like I had been doing to her.

I killed my Muse! I remember thinking. A feeling of loss came pouring in as I sat on one of the nearby benches. The river rippled and something gushed from underneath, pushing bubbles to the surface. As I took off to finish my walk, a song played out against nature’s tapestry, enticing me to take a closer listen. Every step felt as if something were touching me, playing tag with my soul. It danced a circle around me, in front of me and behind.

Something was with me the further I walked through the lushness of the tree-lined path. My ears became hyper-aware as the droopy tree branches on either side of me began to sway synchronously. The soft, colorful fall leaves and the stiffened, brown ones blew underneath my feet, racing me, as I lifted one foot after the other. There was a lively jolt further in that became dormant when I passed the thicket, toward the opening to the end of the path. I turned to go back the way I came, only to find that my Muse had warmed up to me again and invited a few of her Muse friends to play.

“She’s not dead! I didn’t kill her!” I sputtered inside. All the joy came flooding back to me. Gleeful whispers passed my ears, and then I heard it…loudly, distinctly. “You would not like it if someone tried to quiet your voice. Why would you quiet our voices? Never turn your back on us again or we might have to leave you for good…for someone who will appreciate our gifts and who enjoys playing with us.”

“I have learned my lesson well, Muse. And I will never turn my back on you again,” I replied.

If you lose the Muses, remember, they play all around us and within. We just have to be willing to pay attention, respect them or begin-the-begin.

Guest Post: Views From Another A.M.–Write the story you were meant to write, not the one you think you are expected to write!

Today you will be entertained by a fellow blogger, another A.M. who refers to me as other A.M. And no, another and other A.M. is not any of my extra personalities. This is a guest post as promised in my last post—Riding the Wave, so without further ado, A Novel Perspective welcomes guest blogger, A.M. Schultz.

It’s never been easier for anyone to become a writer than it is today. Really, it’s a quick-punch, instant ticket to supreme coolness. You work a crummy 9-5 job, or a minimum-wage weekend gig? It’s cool, because you are a writer. A month of moderate effort, and you could be sitting on the next big potential vampire saga, or fantasy series, or horror story. Or you could be driving yourself batty trying to find a new take on a genre that is already beyond cluttered.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of the terminology gets muddled and wires get crossed—I’ve found myself trying to taxonomize the different genres, which have almost become ambiguous due to trends. There’s erotic fiction, romance, paranormal romance, occult romance, and so on. A couple powerhouses strike it big in a sub-genre, and within weeks, there are knockoffs, parodies, and a thousand new submissions that are more stale and flavorless than gas station-brand tortilla chips. There’s a ton of paint-by-number recreations out there, and I think the “art” of writing is being compromised by the money-driven genre gluttony.

Seriously, how many books are out there by first-time authors that have been directly influenced by Twilight? 50 Shades of Grey? Two franchises, THOUSANDS of knock-offs. Throw in Hunger Games and Game of Thrones (yes, Game of Thrones, because the show is PHENOMENAL), and there are thousands more.

That said, these are the major markets right now. YA is huge. Paranormal is huge. Epic Fantasy is on the rise. Thrillers and Crime novels are, have been, and always will be big sellers. Some people truly love these genres, which is awesome. Others become slaves to the trends and bigger slaves to the numbers.

If your venture into writing is solely based on bringing home the bucks, then yeah, stick to what people are definitely reading. The ones who write it well, market it well, and churn out book after book without a break will rise to the top. They’ll pay some bills, maybe take a nice vacation, and carve a niche for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that if the venture is taken seriously.

However, for the writers who struggle for months trying to shoe-horn a vampire into a story that doesn’t really require a vampire (see me, June-August 2012), then maybe genre is not for you. Or a particular genre is not for you. You can’t write convincing fiction without real passion.

For me, the genre-scene is all muddy water. I never considered myself a “horror” writer, but my short stories are tending to drift into that territory, and I’m totally fine with it; however, I don’t label myself a “horror” writer, or a “satire” writer, or a “comedy” writer—the limitations do more harm than good sometimes. Let your audience decide what you are. If you write about vampires who play hop scotch while eating yard gnomes while training for the Olympics, let that be “your” genre.

Ultimately, I think the goal of every writer should be to CREATE a demand for their product. If your desire is to write about three-armed monkeys, then write the best story you can about three-armed monkeys and give people a reason to buy into the new genre. Make your three-armed monkey story the Twilight-esque catalyst that fills up an entire row of shelves at Books-a-Million in three years with knock-offs.

Write the story you are meant to write, not the one you think you are expected to write.

-A.M. Schultz

A.M. Schultz is a student, pseudo-scholar, writer, closet-nerd,
and philosophy junkie. Predicted to become either a college professor, a full-time author, a part-time Buddhist, a selective pescatarian or a total recluse, he enjoys sporadic fits of writing in between meditation sessions, kickboxing workouts, Greek yogurt/sushi indulgences, drooling over the works of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, scribbling in his Moleskine notebooks, preparing to battle the dreaded GRE, underachieving and spontaneously traveling across the eastern United States in search of high adventure and low-country cuisine. He is set to release two novels in early 2013: RING GIRL in January, and CUSS April.

Thanks for reading. When A.M. is not busy working on custom book covers and other stuff, he can be found unleashing his ever-witty, informative insight on writing at his HEADSPIT blog  http://amschultz.com

A.M. Schultz shared his perspective. Now, share yours!

Riding the Wave–Genre Hopping Part 2

by A.M. Day

Writers dive headfirst in the craft daily. Plugging in, banging out and picking away at the habitual utterances of what is left of the conscious mind. Once creativity takes over our psyches, transporting us into the chosen themes and plots…game on. We ebb and flow endless ideas. They can come at us like a battering ram when we least expect it. We’ll scrawl illegible phrases and sentences on napkins, bills, mirrors and so on, with anything from pen to marker, to lipstick or eyeliner in a pinch. But, do we write what’s currently popular? Or, do we write what really inspires us?

The erotic romance sub-genre took on a new role this past spring when the Fifty Shades trilogy was thrust upon us, selling more than 10 million copies in record time. This caused an ongoing spark of erotica to flood bookstore shelves and the internet from well-known authors to unknowns. Sylvia Day’s erotic Crossfire series has been “all-the-rave” on social media platforms lately. Fans anxiously wait to see what happens with young Eva and the Dominant Gideon Cross this fall. Of course, these weren’t the first ladies to write erotic romance novels, but they lit a fire to the backside, giving the market a huge boost. Ann Rice, the Queen of Vamp’s, had an erotic romance trilogy first released in the 80’s, now resurfaced. And I’ve heard it’s quite steamy. I’ll be picking that trilogy up soon.

I must admit, the thought crossed my mind to put out an erotica novel and maybe I will, but for now, I’m comfortable with modern twist/Greek myth. For one, I have two due out anytime now (fingers crossed) and 1-2 more left in the series to complete, not to mention the YA spin-off series with the teens from the first few novels. But I can switch it on and off while I’m working on my screenplays.

Once again, I enlisted the help of fellow tweeters/bloggers. Melpomene Selemidis @Melpomuse concurs like most writers I’ve spoken with, citing that, “I definitely write for me, what I’m inspired by.” @Melpomuse also writes love poetry inspired by Neruda, Rumi, Homer and Greek myth. She writes YA stories as well “…because it’s a time full of passion and promise and I write adult stories to explore relationships. I love to include magic realism like, Marquez, Allende and poetic prose like, Winterson and mix genres like A.S. Byatt.” We can take from Melpomene that her inspirations come more from various authors’ styles as opposed to the new hotness covering the front-shelf displays in bookstores.

Kate Policani @KPtwitrnovel writes what inspires her also. “Without inspiration it isn’t really fun fiction.” Right you are, Kate. And without the fun, writing is a drag. Kate’s upcoming novel, “Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic” is due out this October.

Fellow blogger A.M. Schultz @am_sh feels, “A month of moderate effort, and you could be sitting on the next big potential vampire saga, or fantasy series or horror story. Or, you could be driving yourself batty, trying to find a new take on a genre that is already beyond cluttered.” With much elaboration, as I welcomed and expected, from Schultz’s engaging prose, he brings up some really interesting thoughts on the topic that I think you guys will find enlightening and entertaining as well. See his full post on my anovelperspective.wordpress.com blog as my guest blogger this week.

Last week, I created a poll to get writers’ views on the topic of riding the wave. It was no surprise that the votes came in at 100% that those 5/5 writers write what inspires them. Thank you for your votes. With that said, in the end, it really doesn’t matter whether a writer gets inspiration from popular genre/story lines. To be inspired to write anything is inspiration in itself.

There is no right or wrong answer. We write what we write, most, with no indifference to genre/story lines. Do we do our stories justice when we write them, in order to receive a strong following from our target audiences and beyond?

I think that should be the question and one we ponder regularly as we write. This is A Novel Perspective. Share your thoughts!

Thanks to fellow tweeters/bloggers for contributing. As always,You Rock!