Rough Going: Motivation Monday

I love the #MotivationMonday hashtag because, well, I need the extra prod and dose of inspiration the posts so often give me. Today, I’m facing down the barrel of rewrites and plotting for an extremely rough draft (Moya’s book, YAY!). It’s easy to get frustrated when looking at a mangled, wonky set of scenes. It’s easy to feel that I’m a hack, to think that I’ll never get the hang of this writing thing despite the fact I’ve been doing it for a whole lotta, tonna years.

It’s easy to get frustrated and want to back away.

Thing is, a lot of writers or creative content makers feel the same way. Those first few stanzas, the early line-art–it can feel like such a mess. But it has to start there.

ocean-3605547_1920 (2)I love what Terry Pratchett said about rough drafts–“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” Sometimes, we don’t know where a draft will take us, despite the best of outlines and most fastidious of planning. As vexing as feeling lost can be, I need to focus more on the magic of it all…the strange and wonderful alchemy of a story letting me know its intentions. I can only find the way, though, if I sit down and start writing. Eventually, the rough draft becomes something wonderful–in need of polish, but new, full of potential, and laced through with the joy of creation.

To all of you out there working on creative projects today, I hope you find the motivation you need to push through any barriers. I promise it will be worth the effort! ❤

 

Return of the Light

Happy Monday, dear reader!

I am looking outside my window into a cold and snowy morning. The skies are gray giving way to still, quiet fog and the world feels muted. I have to think for a moment to suss out which way I’m facing (southeast, from where I’m sitting) since I cannot see any evidence of the sun. Though I love the quiet and coziness of winter, I miss the light.

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The winter solstice heralds the shortest day of the year though the days following the holidays can feel mighty light-less. The thing is, it’s halfway through January, racing toward February. In February, as my husband likes to point out, something wonderful happens. As each calendar date ticks off toward the spring equinox, we gain more and more light each day. Even if the air is still chilly or the ground covered in slush, I feel it–the return of the light.

This astronomical/seasonal observation brings me to some thoughts about my creative motivation and inspiration. The reason I write what I write is exactly the reason I look forward to those February skies: the light. Life can at times be heavy and frightening, stressful, wearying. What I want readers to take away from my work is a sense of lightness. I want you, reader, to feel just for a moment like there is sun waiting to burst through the fog, and that all will be well.

valiantheart2The world of Tanahr and the events of Valiant Heart (and yes, the sequels I have planned, SQUEE) are not always gentle. At the end of each book, however, I want you to walk away with the sense that there is goodness and love to be had in this and any world. Grief, hard times, trauma, and hurt are realities of existence. But so are love, kinship, victories both small and large, and beauty. This is the light I strive for in my writing.

Valiant Heart is available tomorrow…links to come! I hope you are staying warm (or cool if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, storing up the sun for when winter rolls around for you). Thank you for reading, and walk in the light!

Be Valiant!

BeValiant2Happy Monday, all…I hope you are well and thriving.

Next week, my fantasy novella Valiant Heart releases and wow, I am over the moon about it! Writing this book has been an adventure. Many ups, just as many downs, and everything in-between. I have learned so much about myself and my process along the way.

You see, Valiant Heart existed in this world once before. Back in the day when I was still primarily writing and publishing poetry and fiction of a slightly more literary ilk, I wrote Valiant Heart as a tribute to games and books I’ve loved, and most of all for original characters I created and adored but who needed a fictional home. I self-published a very different version of the book, sold less than 20 copies and pulled it down when I realized something sobering–the book was far from complete.

I had published what, for me, was the equivalent of a rough draft.

Between that first iteration and now, Valiant Heart has experienced a remarkable journey. It lived through a full-manuscript query request and the ensuing positive feedback, through a series of world-building changes, being shopped around and more. When health issues required my mental time and energy (I’m fine, by the by), I realized that self-publishing might be the best way at this point for my career to proceed in light of the need for a flexible schedule that allowed for extreme self-care.

In the quiet that followed, I realized that Valiant Heart existed not just in its own world, but in my sprawling fantasy and sci-fi expanded universe. Wow. I mean, on some level I knew this all along, but with certain projects shopped with trad publishers and others still in the works, I never gave into the urge to weave it all together, keeping parts sequestered here and there in case of publication and contracts.

The thought of taking a leap of faith into indie publishing and moving all of my favorite projects into this one universe was more than a little daunting. When other projects I had been working on in different spheres of my literary life fell through or came to a natural close, I had no more excuses not to start. I had nothing holding me back. I again had to face down my fear, but in the end decided to be valiant, and to see what striking out on my own would bring.

Turns out, becoming untethered was the most remarkable boost to my creativity and productivity. I chipped away on writing and edits, on making a cover that I loved, on creating a final product (with formatting help from the amazing Cassandra Chandler), and on slowly building a platform from which to launch this shiny new airship into the big blue skies of the world.

Valiant Heart is a light fantasy romance novella that follows Sylvan elf and soldier Niamh Starsong and mechmage Jeron Wright in their adventures through the steam-powered, magic-fueled city of Astra, a jewel in the Commonwealth of Tanahr. It will be available digitally on Tuesday 1/15/19, with a print copy to follow in the coming weeks. I cannot wait to share this journey with you all, and I’m already writing the next two books of the series with all due haste!

Stay tuned for updates, more about the world of Tanahr and the characters who inhabit it, and do sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know about these exciting things as they happen. Thank you all for reading, and wishing you the best on this lovely Motivation Monday!