Monday, October 28, 2013

Portents and Funky Dreams


Hello Friends,

I had strange dreams  this weekend.  I even dreamed about my characters involved in something (some battle or a conference-hard to tell which) but it is a misty shadow now.  Dreams may fade but they leave their mark.  It could be too much Halloween candy.  It is unsettling when my actual dreams are invaded by my characters, but I must take it to heart when that happens. 

They want my attention.

As I start another Monday and plan my week of writing my novels, I find myself pondering how to achieve more writing time.  What makes it difficult is the ever present threat of laziness on my part.  Once I do force myself to the laptop or writing pad, I can become immersed in the ritual of the chapter and characters.  It is wonderful when that happens.  I am like a Goddess unleashing her power of creation (but in a benevolent way).  A Wonder Woman of the Pen.  A Celtic storyteller.    But I must get there by sitting down and doing it!

I must admit, I am luckier than most writers, as my husband never expects me to cook dinner for him or even keep the house tidy.  But I do get lazy-watching a movie or spending too much time on Facebook or emailing a friend or long lost publisher.  Our tools for efficiency tend to make us inefficient.  We get lazy.  We wile away valuable time on nonsense.  We become complacent.  I must steel myself against the temptation of downloads and DVDs.  I must focus on my writing and become more prolific.  I want more things published than one novel and some short stories ( My second novel is done though), but I want more!  Think of the great writers of the past, content to use pen and quill or a clunky old typewriter!   Yet they did it-and they did not even have spellcheck! 

So I count my blessings and promise to create more.  I have 3 novels now I am working on (I must be a masochist) and they are all clamoring for my attention.  Sigh.  More later. 
Happy Halloween!

Verna McKinnon   

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Procrastination Curse

Hello  Familiar's Tale Friends & Writing Enthusiasts!


I confess I am guilty of procrastinating.  Actually doing the "writing your novel" process is a lot like being on a diet.  You will start tomorrow, next Monday, when the stressful week is over, write my blog, after I watch this episode of Buffy, when Hell provides chilled beverages...the list goes on.

Writers are the greatest procrastinators of all time.  It is strange because we love what we do.  It is a voluntary occupation and even a vocation.   Once in a college class, we watched a funny video about an author who was prepping to write his novel.  First the pencils were not sharpened, he had the wrong paper, the paint was old and he repainted the office!   A lot of effort to avoid what we love to do.
It is more frightening to realize the consequences.  Franz Kafka stated that, "A non-writing writer is monster courting insanity."  It is a bit grim, but the point is clear.  We are at mental risk when we do not fulfill our purpose.  An author has a lot of issues of course- fear and rejection, waiting for months to see if our work is accepted or rejected, publishing delays that border on insanity, and many other things that are draining on our mental health. 

Sometimes it is lack of time or laziness, of course, but we must make an effort.   I nudge (okay I nag) my husband Rick Hipps to finish his novel, a mere 4 chapters from completion.  I am guilty as well.  But I promise to do better.  More to come.

Verna McKinnon   







Friday, October 4, 2013

Nothing is set in stone..and even that crumbles

Greetings Friends,

I want to discuss the importance of fresh ideas and perspectives.  As I sit here consuming coffee, I think about how when writing fantasy and science fiction, sometimes people fall into traps of repeating same thing over and over in the lather, rinse, repeat fashion.  That is a shame because those folks need to play the"what if" game more often.  A Ray Bradbury favorite (we miss you Ray)



Example, for years I thought the use of animal familiars in fantasy fiction was rather limited and their idea and use was not expanded very often.  So I imagined a world where animals familiars play a more active role in the story and with their mages.  I even included a vast array of animals in the mix, rather than focusing on the usual cat familiar or owl (sorry Belwyn you are the best owl familiar ever).   My familiars are everything from owls to wolves to badgers, tiger hares,  and sloths and new creations like wampus and scorpion snakes.  Yes, a sloth for those that have not read my book.  A slow, sleepy sloth named Buzzy that spouts wisdom and sleeps in a special tree in his sorcerer's lab.
But it developed a whole new idea on relationships and family and the use of magic.

There are only so many plot devices in any genre, but it is always possible to twist things around and find an idea that creates a new type of story.  It is the characters that matter.  Battling dark vs light is a common thread in fantasy-but it is how you create your world and characters that can make it shine.

Doing a vampire tale-what is the vampire is not usual blood sucker?  What if the vampire feeds on life energy instead?  Writing a magical fantasy?  What if unicorns were evil?  These are simple examples of course, but you should as a writer expand and force yourself out of the comfort zone.   How can your warrior or wizard be special?  What can make your world different and how will that effect your characters or story?     

So expand your horizons and let your imagination roil with new ideas.  And coffee-not not forget the coffee.
More later.

Verna McKinnon