Tuesday, August 11, 2020

What does a writer read?

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.”― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

The quote above is from one of the many books I am currently in the process of reading. Yes, I have multiple unfinished books―more than I can even calculate at this moment. I will be doing a completely different post about types of readers, but for right now, know that I am one of those types.

Another book I am reading is the second in the Expanse series. I love to read books that inspired film. I do not wish to get into the debate about which is better, or which should be done first, but I can tell you it is much simpler to watch something first and determine if the story is worth my time, than to find a new book by random chance and commit to the weeks it would take for me to read it. I have watched this entire series, and the characters are absolutely fantastic. I had to read the book(s).

I have often thought, given the large amount of science fiction I enjoy, that if we could just make it to the next step in our existence, then maybe humanity would be united. If we made first contact, or we all needed the same thing and worked toward it, or we just got smart enough, then we could be at peace with each other. I also often believe this to be completely fantasy. This series is perhaps a more realistic prediction. Although the humans in this version of the future are no longer judged by skin color or even gender, they have come up with a new way to divide themselves. You are from Earth, from Mars, or from the Belt.

This story was originally developed to be a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game―think World of Warcraft). James S A Corey is a pen name for two authors who work together on the series. One designed the game concept, the other realized the potential as a novel series, and they went with it. They take turns writing chapters that focus on specific characters using third person limited.

Beyond all of that, it is a really good read. There is a lot of action, which keeps the book moving quickly despite the fact that it is big enough to assist your toddler in reaching something she should not have. Each one is over 500 pages (most close to 600) and there are nine. Those are just the novels. There are short stories and novellas and of course the games and TV series. Let's just say this can keep you quite busy and you definitely won't get bored.

Back to the characters. If I had a circle of friends, I would want them to be like these folks. It kind of reminds me of Parks and Recreation a little. Everyone has their character flaws, but they fit together so nicely and they each know what to expect from the others. The hero―he will always do the right thing at the wrong time with the best intentions. The engineer will ground everyone and keep anyone from screwing up too much (unless she is the one screwing up). The mechanic sees the simplest―most blunt―answer, and he will almost always be right. The pilot is kind of the outsider, but he fits in just perfect, and is often a tie-breaker.

Then there are the politics. It is always interesting to me to read about the motivations behind the actions. Centralized power is fascinating and creates an internal struggle within individuals to follow their leader, or think for themselves. It is, after all, how leaders are created. This book has a very powerful leader, even if she is pulling the strings out of view. She is proper, wears brightly colored saris, is extremely intelligent, and drops the f bomb at a pleasing rate. If she ran from president, I would quit everything and go serve her. Hell, if she wanted to be queen, I'd fight in that army. Woman has style. (And she is written by two men...go figure.) The actress plays her beautifully in the series, I can't wait to find out how the character develops in this book.

I think I love these kinds of stories because they are like reading about history. The conflicts and the people seem so real, and so relatable, but they are supported by fantastic glimpses of an alternate timeline. As a writer, creating a new universe is the most enjoyable part. I hope my creations can bring this much joy to someone else.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Insecure Writers Support Group - August

Happy First Wednesday! It's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop. You can check out the blogs of many good writers by following the link behind this badge:

This month I am sharing the work of a fellow writer, Chrys Fey. You can read my story of depression and burnout, as well as how I am overcoming it below. You can also access a second blog hop by clicking on the cover image below:


 Catch the sparks you need to conquer writer’s block, depression, and burnout!


When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:


·        Writer's block

·        Depression

·        Writer's burnout

·        What a writer doesn’t need to succeed

·        Finding creativity boosts


With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love - writing.





Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo





Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips on how to reverse writer’s burnout. https://www.chrysfey.com/


My Depression Story:

I have shared a little about this topic in earlier posts, but I think that it is an important discussion to have. The worst part about suffering from depression and burnout is the mental isolation. You can be in a room full of people, or surrounded by family and friends, and still think that you are completely alone, facing your demons with no help at all. 

I have struggled with this most of my life. I never quite fit in, and I never understood the people around me. I have very vivid memories of mistakes I made and moments of complete humiliation when I realized too late what I had said or done. Even at a young age I remember not getting invited to all of the sleepovers. When I was invited there were pranks, arguments, and mornings of discussing recipes and cooking techniques with moms. How many seven-year-olds teach their friends' moms how to make a sunny-side-up or how to cut the milk with water before making gravy? It was the least I could do after she politely showed me how to thaw my underwear in warm water before putting it in the dryer. Now that I think of it, that mom was a child psychologist and probably the reason why I was continually invited over. (I realize almost everyone has a prank story from a sleepover, but I had the same problems at Girl Scout camp, overnight school trips, Girls' State, college, and my foreign exchange time in France. Put me with a group of people and I would mess it up every time.)

If I'm honest, now that I have spent two years contemplating my sons diagnosis, I have become very suspicious of myself. The more I read, the more I realize it isn't a diagnosis, it is a state of being. Autistic people are not diseased, they are just people. Most adults who have been diagnosed with Asperger's, or High Functioning Autism, or whatever they have decided to call it this week, are accepting of themselves and want that acceptance from others. It turns out, women in particular 'suffer' from this identity because most of them don't know that they have spent their whole lives trying to fit in when the fact is they were born to stand out. Whether or not I am one of those women is an unknown, all I can do is tell you how I have made it thus far.

Maybe my identity crisis has been the main culprit, or maybe it was something else. My first suspicions and insecurities hit home when I was about to graduate college and I saw my flaws through the eyes of an ex-boyfriend and a college dean who upon reading some of my journal entries, approached me about suicidal thoughts. This wasn't the first time someone approached me with that concern, and it wasn't the last. It seemed that everyone else was telling me I was depressed, but I wasn't. I decided to make some changes. Maybe everyone else knew more about me than I did. But the worst part of my life came a few years after that with postpartum depression. That is what made it real to me. This is the only time in my life that I was suicidal, and ironically no one talked to me about it then. But I remembered all those people who had talked with me in the past, and I called for help. (*Side note:  If you know a person who you think is depressed/suicidal and they insist they are not, be aware, that if they ever actually reach the point of depression, you won't know it, because they will hide it very effectively, especially from people they do not want to disappoint. I called a hotline, not my loved ones.)

What has helped me in general:  meditation, yoga, reading, and Buddhism. I do not consider myself a Buddhist, but I would say that I have learned the most about reality and myself through the teachings.

What did I read:  Radical Acceptance (Brach), When Things Fall Apart (Chodron), The Zen Path Through Depression (Martin) and some others I can't remember because I actually read them at least a decade ago. Reading these helped me recognize the moment when I needed to get help. 

What else helped (when it got real):  A therapist who told me I was a good mom. A mom who was an even better mom. A husband who went through marriage counseling with me. An awesome doctor who helped me find an anti-anxiety medication that didn't have side effects worse than the depression. Never giving up.

Where I am now:  Four years without medication. Two years without therapy. Ten years married. Thirty-four-ish years of living in my skin. I found a diet that makes me feel better. I am in shape and healthy enough to enjoy my youth. I still have anxiety attacks. I still make mistakes and dwell on them for days. I still feel low and dark and I know that is okay. I have successfully made relationships and zero enemies (that I know of) in my last two places of employment. I absolutely enjoy social distancing (just not the reason). Writing about my characters' lives in my stories helps me think about people, reality, and the world. 

The most important thing to me right now is the knowledge that I will likely have to watch one or both of my children go through this difficult path and I fully intend to shine for them when they get lost.

Good luck to each of you on your journey!