Always extra room in my closet for some…Dress me Inspiration

“Fashion is as profound and critical a part of the social life of man as sex, and is made up of the same ambivalent mixture of irresistible urges and inevitable taboos.” – Rene Konig

I know that I have been lax in posting on the blogs but hopefully this post of inspiration will make up for it. Though I am a writer and should be more focused on words than anything else, I am also a very visual person. I have spoken before about how I create vision boards for each of my WIPs and even for future works. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but for me one picture can spark off a whole manuscript. One of my favourite forms of vision boards are when I find clothing for my characters. I never need an excuse to stroll through fashion magazines/sites but when I can mark it off as “work” in research, the satisfaction is doubled.

"Everything you own should have value, either because it's functional or beautiful or you just love it."-- Peter Walsh

A week ago I was invited to sign up to a new social network: Pinterest. I had heard about it for a while beforehand and had even had friends who signed up but I resisted the lure of another social network. The resistance proved futile and my curiosity finally won out. I wanted to know what all the cool “kids” were on about. I wanted to be in on the secret too. So a friend kindly invited me (like most deliciously secretive societies, Pinterest membership is by invite/request for the time being) to Pinterest and within a few moments I was in and had my own Pinterest boards.

 “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” – Yves Saint Laurent

Pinterest is fantastic for a person like me who is a vision board junkie. It is set up much like a regular cork board vision board you would set up at home. You create all these boards, title them, describe them and then you “pin” your interesting images, either your own from your computer’s drive or pinned/linked from other online sites. The great thing with Pinterest is that the original creator of the image is credited and you also have the original link from where you found the image in the first place. This cuts down on your web-browser bookmarks and keeps all your visual inspiration in one tidy place.

” ‘Style’ is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style.”           – John Fairchild

So here for example is my Pinterest board for my current WIP trilogy – The Curse`d. So on this board I have a few of the images that I have used for inspiration for my WIP, whether it be settings, culture types, clothing and characters.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” – Coco Chanel

Which brings me to CLOTHING and STYLE. Two of my favourite interests but also vital to a story. I don’t know about you, but if I can picture the characters the way they are dressed it really gives me a picture in my mind. The type of clothing worn by some characters can tell me much about who they are. It also tells me when and where the story is set. Clothing/Style of characters can tell me about whether the character is a businessman/woman, a lady/man of leisure, a woman/man of action and it can also tell me what the character wants me to know about them. Clothing can also be symbolic of a character’s emotions. Memorable outfits by literary characters/film characters come to mind at the drop of a hat and we can recall the stories behind these outfits. Think of the green dress in Atonement or the fire dress in The Hunger Games. Clothing can make a character stand out from all the others. In a sense the fashions in a novel are characters in and of themselves.

 “Fashion is born by small facts, trends, or even politics, never by trying to make little pleats and furbelows, by trinkets, by clothes easy to copy, or by the shortening or lengthening of a skirt.” – Elsa Schiaparelli

I love the societies that my current trilogy is set in: a mix of contemporary urban, early Victorian society and Romany Gypsies. The inspiration for the clothing is almost limitless. You have the exquisite formality of the Victorian era, the romanticism of the Romany Gypsy culture and the simplicity and understated sexiness of the urban-contemporary.

“What I really love about them… is the fact that they contain someone’s personal history…I find myself wondering about their lives. I can never look at a garment… without thinking about the woman who owned it. How old was she? Did she work? Was she married? Was she happy?… I look at these exquisite shoes, and I imagine the woman who owned them rising out of them or kissing someone…I look at a little hat like this, I lift up the veil, and I try to imagine the face beneath it… When you buy a piece of vintage clothing you’re not just buying the fabric and thread – you’re buying a piece of someone’s past.” – Isabel Wolff

So here for your pleasure are some style/clothing images that have been the inspiration behind my WIP.

This is the inspiration for one of my MCs.

This dress is the dress that my MC will mean in a key moment in her story.

This is another key piece worn by my MC later in her story.

The inspiration for the debonair man who catches my MC’s eye and heart.

This is inspiration for my second MC but later in the trilogy.

This is my inspiration for my hero.

This is inspiration for my second MC.

Writers: What do you use for fashion inspiration in your novels?

Readers: What are your favourite outfits from the pages of fiction?

 

What lies beneath the surface?

You are pulled from a deep sleep, your heart racing. What woke you? The night is dead with silence. Your eyes glance at the bedside clock: 3:oo am flashes at you in neon green. They call it the Witching Hour. I call it my hour of secret dread. Every tale ever heard about bogeymen, ghosts, poltergeists, knife wielding masked burglars rushes through my brain. What was that? Did I see a shadow or did my eyes just make that up? Why is the curtain moving when the windows are closed? That door is opening…

You are visiting a new friend. Something tugs at your thoughts as you knock on the front door. You wonder where this sense of memory stirs from. The door is answered. You know what she is going to say before she says it. You know what the entrance hallway is going to look like. You have been in this house. Before. The whole visit spins out before you echoing your memory. But this is the first time you have walked into this house. Isn’t it? De’ja`vu. Hindsight or foresight?

Footsteps in an empty house. Inexplicable sounds and smells. Shadows in doorways. Objects being moved. Someone watches you. You turn around, there is nobody there. Someone follows you. You feel a breath on the back of your neck that raises all the hairs on your neck. A terrible foreboding of danger.

What lies beneath the surface of your 5 senses?

Whether you are superstitious or cynical, we all have a 6th sense. This is the sense that warns you of dangers you cannot expect. This is the sense that makes sense of the impossible, the illogical, the supernatural. This is the sense on high alert at those eerie hours when the night is the most silent and it is the darkest and coldest hours before dawn. This is the sense that makes you turn around and look for the watcher, the stalker, the hunter when you know you are alone but someone or something is following you. This is the sense that you experience when “someone walks over your grave” and a shiver down the spine shakes the bones in your body. This is the sense that you tap into when something strange is suddenly inexplicably familiar. This is the sense you tap into when you walk into a house and know within your bones that though you are alone, you are not the only person in the house.

This is why I write the stories I write. I have always had a strong 6th sense. Those closest to me have been known to be freaked out by my 6th sense. I have seen ghosts. I have spoken to ghosts. I have warned ghosts away. I have dreams of future events that always spell danger or threats with an uncanny way of coming true. It has got to the point that loved ones do not want me to tell them if I dream of them. I have innumerable events of de’ja`vu. I can see through social masks of strangers and judge their characters accurately within minutes of meeting them. This strong 6th sense is something I have alternately loved and hated all my life. It saved a friend and I from the clutches of a serial paedophile/killer. It saved my father from being strangled by a vengeful ghost. When it comes now, I listen. It has never been wrong. But now I accept it as part of me. These are not stories. They are inexplicable events that have happened.

But this 6th sense, this sense of the eerie supernatural and inexplicable paranormal has always fascinated me. Whether one believes in ghosts or other supernatural/paranormal beings, there are many things in life that seem to lie “beneath the surface” of what we know or can explain. You may believe a house is just a house. But sometimes there are things left over, a sense of people and emotions that your rational brain just cannot explain. There are too many things/events that happen that overwhelm the rational brain but the evidence is too strong to be in complete denial.

I love exploring what “lies beneath the surface”. It is about digging beneath the layers of the inexplicable and allowing your 6th sense to guide your other 5 senses. These are the questions that fill my stories: What is the sense of de’ja`vu really? What is that 6th sense of danger, of knowing/feeling someone’s eyes on you even when you are alone? What is the meaning behind dreams? How can you tell whether a person has good or evil intentions with no known proof except a “feeling”?

As children this 6th sense is undisputed and accepted. But when people (usually adults we trust) start telling us we are just “imagining” it, we doubt ourselves. We start doubting the innate ability that we all have that taps into our survival skills. We start “growing up” and decide it was all just child’s play. But was it? Even the most cynical adults do get glimpses of this 6th sense throughout our lives and more often than not, this usually is re-activated by events/people/objects that put us in danger and we tap into our base survival skills. This is why I write the stories I do and even read the stories I do. Stories where someone’s life is put in danger through natural and/or supernatural means have a heightened sense of this 6th sense.

Adults have a lot to answer for. We tell a child they can do anything but they cannot think or feel what they think or feel if it does not fit into a rational acceptable explanation. Are we helping them grow up or are we stunting their innate abilities and gifts not to mention imagination?

What is imagination after all? What is so childish or illogical about imagination?

If a man had not imagined flying there would be no aeroplanes – something we now take for granted to get around this global community. If a man had not imagined there was land beyond the seas he could see in all direction, most of this planet would be undiscovered.

Talking to the cynic in those of us over the age of five…

  • Are you willing to suspend your rational beliefs when faced with something you can’t explain? 
  • Are you willing to admit that life is full of inexplicable matter “beneath the surface”? 
  • Does everything have to be tied up in a tight, neat box of explanation wrapped in a tidy bow of rationality? 
  • Are you willing to ask: What if? 
  • Are you willing to admit you cannot explain everything? 
  • Should you want to explain everything? 
  • Isn’t that the beauty of life: it’s mystery and unpredictability?

Trust that 6th sense. Explore the de’ja`vu. Trust yourself. Open your mind and open your eyes. Unleash the childlike belief you were born with. Life is full of inexplicable mystery.

The joy is not in having all the right answers but in discovering the right questions.

 

Who needs edits? I opt for Brain Surgery instead!

…No really I am not joking…after the round of migraine attacks I have had just this year I am ready for elective brain surgery, failing that a brain transplant from a non-perfectionist…

Archeological remains of patients of brain sur...
Archeological remains of patients of brain surgery performed by ancient doctors of the Inca Empire in the 15th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So March is National Chainsaw-Wielding Editing Month…However for me, I have been deep in editing mode for about 6 months. But for me March is the If I don’t step away now I will …. End-Game. So what have I hated learnt about the brain surgery editing process?

 

  1. … I am a Control-Freak Perfectionist and my own worst enemy not to mention my novel’s. 

  2.  …Don’t over-edit…That is what an “Editor” is there for.

  3. Step away from the manuscript slowly when you have the itch to wield a chainsaw. (Or make sure there is a tree nearby that needs pruning if you cannot step away.)

  4. … In the words of a very wise CP : Say to your EGO “SHOVE OFF” or use more colorful  4 letter terms, I am sure I don’t need to elaborate here.

  5. Step away from the manuscript when you want to kill all your characters from frustration.

  6. …Make sure you have someone in your life who will call you on the head-crap you put yourself through in editing mode…

  7. …Do not hit delete (as tempting as it is) instead Step away and send it to that person who does not accept head-crap from you. (Tip: Make sure you truly are scared this person will whack you if you don’t let them help. Fear is a great motivator to get rid of the EGO.)

  8. …Don’t be so struck with stage-fright or that dreaded EGO to not ask   demand help from any corner willing to give it.

  9. Step away from the manuscript when it starts turning your hair follicles white and your fingers are being chewed to the bone from tension and nerves.

  10. Step away from the edits and play with another WIP to rejuvenate your creative self-esteem…It helps if the next WIP is all about a serial killer…There is something soothing about killing off your secondary characters in a new story. Great stress-reliever.


When all else fails, buy yourself a bottle of red wine, a ginormous slab of chocolate and curl up on the couch with your favourite thriller (Then making sure all the windows are closed, you can scream out your frustrations with the excuse that you are scared of the killer lurking on the screen.)

… What doesn’t kill you, (or make you kill others) will make you stronger….Breathe…Count to 100…Stretch…

So nod yes if you have learned any of the same lessons above as I have. Nod yes if editing your own ms has given you grey hair and/or a license to wield a chainsaw. Nod yes if you wished a virus would eat up your ms so that you could just forget it and head onto the next story.

Now I am stepping away, putting down the chainsaw, staying away from the Destroy “Delete” key and off to play with my new WIP…Followed by red wine, chocolate and the scariest thriller I can find on the movie channel.

Rinse & Repeat: What doesn’t kill me (or make me kill others outside of fiction) will make me stronger!

I can sleep when I am dead…

…this…according to my internal clock (life of an insomniac) and the alarm clock that is my Muse (life of a writer)…motto of story = Drink more coffee!

Sleep is over-rated anyway…No seriously, before you lecture me on the importance of sleep, I rate sleep highly especially because it tends to elude me. Main reason # 1: I am an insomniac, irrefutable, incurable. Believe me I have tried everything from acupuncture to sleeping pills to sleeping herbs to lavender sachets on pillows to silk eye masks to white noise machines. I have just learned to accept that about myself. Reason # 2: My mind does not switch off…I can lie in bed for hours with my eyes closed and still sleep does not arrive. I think I need to send a “redirect all mail” to the Sandman as he has obvious issues with getting to me in time each night. Reason # 3: (and the reason that led me to writing this post) My muse drags me out from my sleep-starved state, usually just as I have finally fallen asleep, at the craziest hours with the best ideas and sometimes if I am lucky enough with the best scenes.

Funnily enough I can be sitting in front of the computer all day waiting for inspiration to strike and nothing happens. But come the hour between 3 -4 am and he won’t shut up. But don’t get me wrong I am not complaining. Thank goodness my Muse won’t shut up. But just once it would be nice if he kept human hours not cat hours. Now you can see why this blog is called “Wrestling the Muse”: He is usually trying to drag me kicking and screaming from a very sleep-starved state and I am usually wrestling to get back to sleep. Who wins? The Muse. Sorry Sandman. But my writerly Muse trumps you every time and kicks your butt to the curb…sleeping dust or no sleeping dust.

This was the scene in my bedroom this morning at about 4.45am. I know this was the time because when I was dragged from my sleep (which had only arrived at 3.15am) I looked at the clock to see if I had actually made it to past sunrise which my aching mental muscles prodded me into denying. What dragged me from sleep? My Muse and the first scene of my new WIP. I saw the scene as clear as if I watching it on a high-definition 3d cinematic screen. For about a minute I wrestled with my Muse and gambled whether if I rolled over and ignored it, I would be able to remember it when I woke up after sunrise. But the wrestling did not last long as I knew the gamble would come with the higher risk of me not remembering what I had seen. So without switching on the light, I grabbed my iPod touch and logged into my Evernote app (Not just a name-dropping plug…This app is amazing! My favourite note-taking/note-syncing app – seriously you should try it out!) and wrote exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye. I barely knew what I was writing as I was still in a 1/2 sleep/wake state. Then I rolled over and fell exhaustedly into sleep again. When I woke the second time this morning (this time after sunrise) I had the next 2 scenes ready to write as well. The Muse’s prodding was so strong that instead of my usual dreamless sleep I fell straight back into the scenes of my WIP.

So now I sit with the first three scenes, two new characters and very little sleep. But I am not tired. Instead I am high on adrenaline. The exact same way I get when watching a scary movie or after rigorous exercise is how I am feeling right now. It is early afternoon now and I am buzzing with adrenaline, excitement and anticipation. To be honest, the scenes that I dreamt were not how I was planning on starting the WIP. I had a total other beginning in mind or rather my conscious mind had another plan entirely. But my Muse / my Sub-conscious knew better this time. This beginning, coming from the depths of a sleep-starved mind is much stronger and more visceral in intensity than what I had planned in my conscious awake state.

Perhaps there is something to that scientifically speaking…Perhaps because our subconscious mind knows no inhibitions nor any doubts, what comes from these sleep-starved states is more pure and real than what we can plan in our wake states. Perhaps also it is because our conscious editor is not active in our sub-conscious self. We are only creative and instinctual creatures in this raw, sub-conscious state. Perhaps writers are all just lucid dreamers more in touch with listening to our subconscious selves. Perhaps we need to not fight our subconscious creative instincts with our conscious plans.

For me, as much as I can plan a story or plot a pathway on a map for my characters, rarely does my story or my characters stay on the path. I tend to always “colour outside the lines” and my best writing comes from these early morning wrestlings with my Muse. Funnily enough new stories always arrive when I am busy with another story. They never wait their turn. But then again I will take that over “searching and not finding” inspiration any day.

So on second thought I won’t send a complaint to the Sandman for missing my address yet again. Instead I am thankful for wrestling with my muse whether it be at pre-dawn or post-sunrise. I know the real problems will start when I am no longer being dragged from my sleep to write down that fleeting piece of inspiration, that one of a kind sentence or that crucial scene.

>>What about you? Are you often dragged out of sleep to write down that idea? How many ideas have you lost the tail end of because you rolled over and chose sleep over inspiration? Do your ideas for new stories wait their turns for you to finish the current WIP? Are we just slaves to our inspiration and creativity? Well as long as my inspiration / creativity / imagination/ sub-conscious / Muse keeps my notepad full of ideas and my stories full of new scenes than I am happy to be a slave to it. Anyway…I can sleep when I am dead.<<

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
― Ray Bradbury

Sneak Peek…Tease…Unzip…

You met my Amazing Cover Artiste, Silviya Yordanova (@Morteque on DeviantArt.com), in my last post:

Cover Lust

So….

As promised….

I promised you a first sneak peek teaser unzipping of my new cover art for my WIP…

Designed by Silviya Yordanova.

Ta-da….Here it is…Hold your breath….It’s juicy….

RingARingORoses-Teaser(1)

Ring a Ring o’ Roses  

A Paranormal Historical – Book 1 in The Cursed Trilogy

by Kim Koning

Kintala | Balance is Sacrifice

Between what we know

and what we fear to believe…

One place | Two times

Two women | One secret

Eliza Chambers

A woman who speaks to the dead

Vortimo…

Truth hides in reflections

Beth Cooper

does not believe in Ghosts

Both women have the Gift

One accepts the Gift

but denies the Truth

One denies the Gift

but seeks the Truth

The Secret of the Past

brings revenge to the House

Kintala…

Balance requires Sacrifice

~~~

“A gust of wind swept over it and a rush of heavy black wings lifted from the chimneys.
The Ravens kept their silence, roosting in their nests, a court of jesters wearing the colours of mourning.
Their eyes missed no secrets and their wings shadowed them with darkness. Every night they took flight.
Their wings of coal like liquid night.
They hunted while the living slept.
Their prey did not hear them until the talons of fate caught up in their fur.
Death came swift and silently.
It was dressed in feathered robes of black.
Its talons gloved in the jeweled ruby tones of life.
As the dawn sky cracked open the night, death flew home to savour the sweet taste of life in its talons.
It landed on the cold gray stone.
It watched as the night leaked into soft light.
The song it sang farewelled the night of death with a haunting cry.
It watched over them.
Its dark gray stone walls were cemented with their secrets.
Shadows stood veiled in its windows.
It breathed slowly and ominously.
The walls would not give up the blood of their despair.
The windows shuttered the grey of their shame.
The doors kept the dead and living captive.
It was their keeper: this court of stone.
They called it The Raven’s Court.”

– Excerpt from my WIP (A Paranormal Historical Trilogy)
Ring a Ring o’ Roses 
~ Book 1 – The Cursed Trilogy ~

Cover Lust

There is a saying: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Of course in the world of publishing we know how incorrect that statement is. Publishers judge books by their covers. Publicists and reviewers judge books by their covers. Buyers and retailers judge books by their covers. Most importantly, readers judge books by their covers. So the oft unnamed cover artist is a vital and integral part of the publishing and marketing process. This is one of the reasons why I love the world of Indie or Independent Publishing. In the land of gatekeepers, the BIG6, very rarely do the cover artist/s and author ever meet or have any contact with each other. However in the INDIE world to find a cover artist you can connect with and foster a relationship with is like finding a nugget of gold in a mound of rock and sand.

I have found that nugget of gold. For me the cover of a book is almost as important as writing the book is. I am a very visual person so for me to have a visual symbol of my imaginings is very powerful. But though there are many cover artists out there, it is a harder task to find a cover artist who can see what your words should like in a picture format. So I have been searching for over a year, trawling through various art communities but more often than not trawling through the artists on Deviant Art. Until one day I came across an image from one of the deviant artists that just took my breath away. This was the image that hooked me: Enslaved by her song. I knew I had found my cover artist. I emailed her to find out if she was available for commissioned work and whether she would be interested in working with me on my manuscript. Within 3 emails I had her eager agreement and I had met a twin-soul in her love for dark emotional subjects and a love of the paranormal. So as much as I would love to keep this artiste’s talent all to myself, I realised that I needed to introduce her to those I know. I am very excited to feature this emerging cover artist on this blog. I am thrilled she agreed to sit down and have a chat with me about what got her into art, why cover love, and the inspiration behind some of her most popular images.

Enslaved By Her Song
Enslaved By Her Song

So as much as I would love to keep this artiste’s talent all to myself, I realised that I needed to introduce her to those I know. So here she is.

Meet my Cover Artist and Artiste Extraordinaire…Silviya Yordanova.

1) Introduce us to Silviya Yordanova. Who is she?

My name is Silviya Yordanova and I am a 21-year-old self-taught digital artist from a very small country called Bulgaria. I’ve always wanted to find a way to create beauty and letting the world know my story and this is where digital art came! I have been into it for a few years now, started in the early 2008. Since then I can honestly say that I believe I’ve found my own style – depicting the reality through a twist of imagination. My works are always a mixture of concept, emotion and a drop of darkness. Photo manipulation has since then become a very important part of me and since I began doing it I’ve been trying to evolve my skills as much as I can. At first it all started as a hobby but in time it became much more. I found that through it many doors of opportunities were opened for me when I was first contacted for a commission, then for another one and with time it became my own little business and I hope for all the best in the future. I am currently a student in the University of Economics in my home city – Varna but being an economist is not what I want to be, there is no beauty in it …My passion lies in making art, trying to make the world a better and beautiful place, into expressing myself through it. My dream is to keep doing what I love for a living. I wish that someday I could be able to share the knowledge, experience and passion I have to others and help them discover their hidden talents as digital art was for me!

2) What type of art inspires you?

I love all kinds of art but mostly art pieces with an interesting concept, beautifully made with a lot of skill that has amazing impact on the viewer!

3) You have been featured in many interviews lately, which one were you most thrilled for?

I’ve been most excited about the features in big magazines like Photoshop Creative and Advanced Photoshop. Also at the end of February and March I am expecting 2 more features in such magazines but won’t reveal anything yet! If you’d like to be updated with news about me and my work feel free to like my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/MyBeautifulDarkness

4) What awards, if any, have you won for your work?

Well I haven’t won many awards but the one I am most proud of is getting a “Daily   Deviation” award at deviantART.com that I received for my interpretation of the story about Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs – “Snow White Strikes Back”. For me this is a huge deal and to be chosen is a great honor! Another award that I was very thrilled about is getting a “Featured Portfolio” award at Shadowness.com and also receiving 2nd place at the “Digital Artist of The Year” competition at ModelMayhem.com 

5) Tell us a little about your background in art. How did you get into it?

I’ve always loved art since I can remember. I admire people who have the talent to create beauty and I’ve always wanted to be like them. I really like the traditional art of pen and paper but digital art is where my passion lies. I can’t define exactly where my love of art itself came from, I guess it was something I’ve always carried within me.

6) You have said before that you want to make a living designing book covers. What about designing book covers appeals to you?

I was actually talking to my friends the other day about that. The thing that most appeals to me is being able to recreate the author’s vision for the cover that would best fit their story! I can’t imagine something more rewarding than making their wish come true. I see how important this is because despite the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” people actually do it. No matter how good the story is, for those who choose a book just by how good the cover looks, it is the only way to grab the viewer’s attention sometimes. What appeals to me also is someday to be able to look at my bookshelf and to see books whose covers I created – this would mean I actually left a trace in the world, even a small and maybe insignificant one, but it’s there and I did it! 🙂

7) Do you have a favourite genre you like to design for and why?

My favorite genres are those that have something to do with darkness, the paranormal, emotions and such, I love stories about the creatures of the night – vampires, werewolves, witches etc. I also really like love stories, mysteries.. I think you get the picture  Which is another reason Silviya’s images stood out to me above other cover artists.

8) How many book covers have you designed?

Well I have only designed covers for e-books and so far I’ve designed 5 for author Joely Sue Burkhart, she is fantastic, we correlate so well! You can check them on my Facebook page. Plus my book cover which we are in the process of designing. Ebook version complete and now working on the print version…. watch the space on this blog for the teaser reveal of my cover later on today.

9) What is your favourite art image you have designed and why?

Actually yes, there is one piece that is exceptionally important to me and it’s called “Reborn”. As you see, the title clearly reveals the concept of this piece. I wanted to portray the feeling of letting go of the past and embracing the bright future. You may be wondering why I chose to portray this exact feeling. Ever heard the saying “Let go of the past and embrace the bright future?” Well that about sums it all. This is what inspired me to create this image and why I chose this title. This work of mine is very important to me because of its meaning. What a beautiful inspiration for a haunting image. Another winning image from you Silviya.

10) You work mostly in photo-manipulation. Is there a reason why you prefer this medium to any other?

I guess it is because photo-manipulation offers you more control over the image, you can easily fix any mistakes, try different things and if you’re not happy just remove the element that bothers you and try again  Besides I’m really into technology so these are two passions fused together! An artist after my own heart. I love art in all its forms but digital art is the way of the times. 

11) How would you describe your art style?

My works are always a mixture of concept, emotion and a drop of darkness. This is what stood out to me in Silviya’s images when I first came across her profile on deviantART. This rare combination of darkness and emotion was something that I wanted to capture for my covers as this echoes the premise of all my mss. Her images will haunt you and the longer you stare at them the more they draw you into their depths. Talented is an understatement here. Artiste is a more appropriate description.

12) If an author wanted to commission you, how would they go about this?

If anyone is interested in having me design a cover for their book the first thing they need to do is contact me at my e-mail morteque@gmail.com , let me know whether you’ll need only a cover design or a whole book layout, your budget for the book cover and then we’ll be able to discuss a price and continue further  Don’t fear a long wait either when contacting Silviya. I emailed her one day and that evening I had an answer in my inbox and from there the ball got rolling very quickly. 

13) What sort of working relationship do you like to foster with the clients who commission your art?

I’d really like to keep in touch with them, to be aware of their accomplishments, to see whether they are happy with my work for them. I can definitely vouch for her keeping in touch. Not only is she my cover artist but she has become a hugely collaborative part of this ms. She has also become a good friend.

14) How long does it take you to complete a commissioned image?

Each time it is completely different, for example with sometimes the working process goes on very smoothly and easily, I manage to do exactly what they want without the need of many corrections and changes but there are times when probably because the image the client requests is very different from what I’m used to do or because the client doesn’t really know what they actually want and keeps changing their mind about it, the working process can be very difficult, time-consuming and even frustrating at times. 

15) What is your process, in short, from start to finish when you have been commissioned?

The process is as follows: first you tell me a little bit about the image you want me to create, what you will be using it for, then we should discuss the price, discuss and find the right stock images so that I can get an overall image of what I should create and after this I can start working. Then I keep you updated regularly with screenshots of the working process. At the end when you are satisfied with the final image I put the finishing touches and after receiving full payment via PayPal I send you the high-resolution image and we’re done!  Talking as one of Silviya’s clients – she does indeed keep you regularly updated. I saw every single shot and edit that was added to my ms’ cover. At no point did I have to chase her up. In fact I was bowled over with her speed in both creating the cover and communicating every detail of the process to me.

16) What are your tips on creating a strong book cover image?

My only tip is to know how to or to find someone who knows how to create an image that will catch the viewer’s attention, books are just any other products when it comes to selling – the packaging is very important! Very good advice Silviya – books are a product. As much as to us writers they are our babies, once written and sent out into the big bad world they become a marketable product. This is when the cover becomes so vital to a well written book.


17) Writers get very attached to their stories and nowadays with the rise of ebooks we all realise how strong a good cover is. How do you work with a writer when designing the cover? 

Process is the same as I described above in the question about commissions, the difference is that we need to talk a little bit more about how the image will look like, what story it should be able to tell and the impact you’d like it to have. I can say that Silviya is exceptionally prompt and professional. It is very important for her to work closely with the author.

18) Are there any book cover designers you consider your mentors or coaches and why?

No, not really, I am all self-taught concerning photo-manipulations and everything related with that so I guess I am self-taught cover artist as well, I guess I have an eye for the beautiful things  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say.

19) Where can people find you on the internet?

My Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/MyBeautifulDarkness

My deviantART profile http://morteque.deviantart.com/

My Shadowness profile http://shadowness.com/morteque

My ModelMayhem profile http://www.modelmayhem.com/1043696

and of course my e-mail morteque@gmail.com

20) Are you working on anything at the moment?

Actually yes, I am thrilled to say that currently I am working on my first ever cover for a printed book for a publishing company in my country and I am so excited because this could be my big chance at breaking through in this business! The cover I am working on is for book 8 of The Vampire Diaries! Wow! Can’t wait to see the finished cover.

IMAGES

“Black Widow” – Here I wanted to express my idea about dolls – for me they are both beautiful and scary at the same time. You stare at their beautiful faces and then realize that although they look perfect they are hollow and dead inside. I have always thought there is something frozen and chilling about doll’s faces. Silviya captured this sentiment beautifully in this image.

Black Widow
Black Widow

“Awaiting the Night” – For this particular image my inspiration came from my love of the dark mystical creatures that walk in the night and my love of wolves. I love the sense of fear and power in this image. Then girl should be afraid but she has a power in her that comes across in her stance and her eyes. Who does not love wolves?

Awaiting The Night
Awaiting The Night

“Equilibrium” – Have you ever felt the warm summer rain on your skin? This is actually the feeling I wanted to portray in this image. I am always drawn in by images with water. This image feels so real you think you can feel the water on your own hand and feel the raindrops on your skin.

Equilibrium
Equilibrium

“Snow White Strikes Back” – This is my take on twisting a fairy tale – what if Show White wasn’t awaken by the kiss of the prince… but by his bite! And now she will have her revenge… I’d love to have such a tale. Wow – what an original spin on such a well-known tale. Snow White has never quite looked like this. Very original.

Snow White Strikes Back
Snow White Strikes Back

“The Quiet Place” – Everyone has their own special place, their happy place – this is mine. This is another favourite of mine of all your images. It is absolutely ethereal and haunting. An image that stays in the mind for a long time.

The Quiet Place
The Quiet Place

“Reborn” – As you see, the title clearly reveals the concept of this piece. I wanted to portray the feeling of letting go of the past and embracing the bright future. Beautiful.

Reborn
Reborn

“Take My Pain Away” – When your soul and heart hurt and you’d give anything to make the pain go away…You can feel this girl’s sorrow and broken heart almost as if it was your own.

Take My Pain Away
Take My Pain Away

“Enslaved by Her Song” – A beautiful girl with a wicked gift of a beautiful song that enslaves the soul of every person who has ever heard it…This was the image that first hooked me. Look closely at the violin. Incredible image Silviya.

Enslaved By Her Song
Enslaved By Her Song

“Death, come near me” – Inspired by the beautiful sad song by Draconian – Death, come near me..You have made death look beautiful. Very haunting Silviya.

Death, Come Near Me
Death, Come Near Me

~~~~~

Thank you Silviya for taking the time to answer some of my questions. It has been a pleasure and my honour to have you featured on my blog. I am also very proud and honoured to say that such an incredible ARTISTE is my cover artist. 

Talking of my cover art…Watch this blog for a posting later today where I will tease you with a small reveal of part of the amazing cover that Silviya has created for me. 

#CoffinHop | The winner is ….

My Contest – Prize Time

My next WIP is a psychological thriller and it involves psychological twists and a cold-blooded killer. This killer curdles my blood. Already the killer haunts my dreams. But the worst thing about this character is that I am struggling to name him. He does have a moniker that he will be known by in the story but he does need a name.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. He is a psychopath. He is exceptionally cruel and sadistic. He is also a perfectionist who never leaves any trace of himself at the crime scene. He is fastidiously clean, almost surgically I would say. He preys on people that he feels are “fallen”. He is incredibly alluring and seductive. He is hard to say “no” to. By the time his victims realise he is the final person they will see, it is too late and they are taken by surprise. This man could be anyone. He might be your friend, your brother, your father, your lover, your husband or your colleague. He stalks you like a silent lioness. Do you know his name?

Well, after 19 entrants with 22 entries, I have managed to nail it down. The task was not easy. There were so many names that would have worked but when this name was mentioned it sparked. However, what I had kept to myself is that my killer does not just have one identity…He changes identities as part of his ritual without giving too much away which means I have 1 ultimate winner who wins the 3 ebooks but I also have 2 runner-ups who will also each be getting an ebook. On top of that all 3 names will be used by the killer in my WIP.

Rolling the drums…

Crashing the Cymbals….

The ultimate winner of the Prize for “Name my Master of Darkness in Murder” is…..

Penelope Crowe with the name of: Michael Dali

Michael (inspired by the Archangel Michael

Dali (inspired by the mad genius of Salvador Dali)…

Congratulations Penelope!

Your synapse must have fused with mine because I had actually been toying with the name of Dali initially. Salvador Dali is also my favourite surrealist artist. I also love the inspiration of naming after Michael the Archangel.

The two runners up are:

Carole Gill with the name of: Christian Delacourt

Ash Krafton with the name of: Grayden Slate

Congratulations Carole and Ash! 

 

All the entrants had such great name suggestions that I have literally been thinking over this all week. In the end I had to choose these 3 as my favourite names.

I will be emailing each of you with details of your prizes. So if you have not received an email from me by Monday, please email me because then something has gone wrong with the email.

Thank you so much to each and every entrant. All of your entries were inspired. The hop was a huge success and a huge amount of FUN. I love the chance to get to meet authors of like mind and be so inspired by a week long of amazing posts. I was lucky enough to win 4 contests myself and the books won in these were the cherry on top of a delicious week of blogging ice-cream dripping in hot chocolate sauce filled with the spice of fear and suspense.

                        Click on the Full Moon above to check out some very talented authors’ blogs…                       you will want to follow these people

Coffin Hop | Something comes howling in the wind…

the gory details:

1) HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME!2) INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND SPREAD THE WORD!3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, October 24, 2011 at Midnight (PST)
THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, October 31, 2011 at Midnight (PST)
Winners will be drawn and posted November 1, 20114) MEET AND MINGLE WITH THE AUTHORS! EXPERIENCE A NEW DESTINATION AT EVERY STOP! PARTICIPATE IN EVERY SITE’S CONTEST AND BE ENTERED FOR CHANCES TO WIN MULTIPLE PRIZES! EVERY BLOG VISITED IS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO WIN!

5) PARTICIPATION AT ALL SITES IS RECOMMENDED, BUT NOT REQUIRED. THE MORE SITES YOU HOP, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING PRIZES.

6) DID I MENTION TO HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME?

***Authors have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this tour is subject to these rules***

________________________________________________________

My Contest – Prize Time

My next WIP is a psychological thriller and it involves psychological twists and a cold-blooded killer. This killer curdles my blood. Already the killer haunts my dreams. But the worst thing about this character is that I am struggling to name him. He does have a moniker that he will be known by in the story but he does need a name.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. He is a psychopath. He is exceptionally cruel and sadistic. He is also a perfectionist who never leaves any trace of himself at the crime scene. He is fastidiously clean, almost surgically I would say. He preys on people that he feels are “fallen”. He is incredibly alluring and seductive. He is hard to say “no” to. By the time his victims realise he is the final person they will see, it is too late and they are taken by surprise. This man could be anyone. He might be your friend, your brother, your father, your lover, your husband or your colleague. He stalks you like a silent lioness. Do you know his name?

So…this is where you blog-hoppers come in. I need you to put your creative hats on and spin me a first name and surname for my sadistic killer.

The best name will win three ebooks by three phenomenal authors. (I will be announcing the names of the authors and their books closer to Halloween but believe me you will want these ebooks.) 

The best name will also become the name of my sadistic killer.

You need to be subscribed to this blog to enter (so join up if you are not already) as well as leave your best answer (along with your email address for winner notification) in the comments on any of this week’s posts on this blog. You also need to have visited and commented on at least 5 of the CoffinHop bloggers.

The winner will be announced on this blog on 5th November. 

______________________________________________________________

 

Tuesday = Theme Music

 

Have you ever tried watching a horror or thriller without the sound on? I guarantee you that you will not have a problem turning off the lights and going to bed. It is the creaks and the strange sounds, the eery music and whistling wind that truly send the shivers down our spines even before the villain has come onto the scene ready to kill. The core element for horror and thriller is the theme music and the background noises.

How do we convey this horror element and scare factor into writing? How do we create shivers down spines with ink on a white page?

We must write out a theme music. How do we do this? We write using all of our senses. We bring all of the character’s senses into the story. We bring in a deep POV (Point of View) where by writing from the character in the scene, we effectively put the reader into the scene. Their heart beats as quick as the characters. All of a sudden they are not sitting there reading a harmless book…they have been transported into a situation of being hunted and not knowing what was hunting them. Our characters senses and emotions are the writer’s theme music for the story.

Here is an excerpt of one of my own stories to demonstrate. Tell me if your heart beats quickened.

“The night is dark. Not even a full moon lights up the gloom. A twig breaks. Someone is out there. Fear raises all the tiny hairs on my arms. I shiver with the adrenalin. Halting foot-steps are the only sound. I pray that my hiding place, in the hollow of the old tree stump, is not betrayed. My lungs are bursting with the trapped air. My heart beats are pounding enough to drown all hearing. The world has gone silent except for my pounding heart. Another twig snaps. I see a faint outline of a darkening just past the stump. A shadow? Fear takes over and every limb in my body fights my stillness. I want to run. I have become prey. The darkened shape moves. It grows. My heart threatens to leave my twitching body and fly into the darkness of escape. The darkened form takes shape. It becomes a large hand encased in black leather. The fingers are long and hypnotize me. I push myself as far back into the hollow as the dead wood will allow me. My eyes are locked on the hand. It moves forward, seeking, towards my throat…My breath now held tightly, the edges of my vision start blurring. The hand creeps closer and closer. Searching. Just as I can almost feel the long fingers close around my throat; my vision fades. The last thing I know is the cold smooth leather touching my throat. I pass out…” © Kim Koning

Did your heart skip a beat? Were you there with the character? Now I didn’t tell you who the character is or where exactly they may be. I just wanted you to feel this character’s fear and desperation, her mind stretching for an escape but knowing it is too late.

Now character’s emotions and senses are not the only way you can set your story’s theme music. What happens if you want to set the scene when the horror has already passed? What happens if your key character in the scene cannot move, feel or even speak? What tools does the writer have then? You have the setting. This is when you use your setting. This is the time when you put a hard focus on the body lying broken. The horror will edge across your spine like a crescendo of violins. 

Here is an excerpt of another of my stories to demonstrate…

  “She lay on the ground, a confusion of twisted limbs and red sand.

The sun was slowly starting to break over the ocean’s rim. Already the seagulls were flying overhead, their harsh cries echoing in the noise of dawn. The girl lay very still and quiet, limp like a rag doll. Slowly she cracked open her eyes, seeing only red sand. Closing her eyes again, she moved her tongue around her mouth feeling for broken teeth. The sand beneath her cheek grated painfully into her bruises. Her left hand, held in a fist, was bent over her back. Carefully she uncurled her fingers. A whimper escaped as sharp pains shot up her shoulder and into her neck. Trying not to move her arm, she lifted her hand slightly off the cool sand. With a sharp gasp, she dropped her head back onto the ground. The sun started to punish her bare legs with its rays. She opened her eyes again and watched as a tear fell from the tip of her nose into the sand. Suddenly tired, her eyes blurred. The light faded and she fell into a black hole.

   That was how they found her: a confusion of twisted limbs and red sand. 

She lay face down on the beach with her limbs contorted into uncomfortable angles. The bright yellow shift that she wore was twisted up around her waist. Her left arm was twisted around her back. Her other arm lay in the sand above her head, her hand curled tightly into a fist. Her right leg was bent at a right angle slightly above her hip. Her left leg was stretched to the side. She looked as if someone had tried to pull her body apart starting at her legs.” © Kim Koning

This scene unlike the first does not have the action element but the theme music is still loud and clear. Something horrific has happened and the heart of a reader is tugged. 

How do you compose the theme music of your story? How do you make ink on a page send shivers up the reader’s spine? How do you crawl into the head space and imagination and pull out horror in your reader? What are your best tools? Look at your own writing and listen to it instead of reading it. You will hear the music. You will hear the creaks in the floor. You will hear the soft tread of the killer. 

Now I will leave you with the creepiest theme music I know. As you listen, remember how important the music of a scene – both visual and written – can be to converting the true horror. Here is Angelo Badalamenti’s “Dark Water” Suite. Enjoy the chills…

Coffin Hop | Something walks in the dead of night…

Click on this image to tour the Coffin Hop.

Here are the gory details for the Coffin Hop!

1) HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME!

2) INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND SPREAD THE WORD!

3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, October 24, 2011 at Midnight (PST)

THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, October 31, 2011 at Midnight (PST)

Winners will be drawn and posted November 1, 2011

4) MEET AND MINGLE WITH THE AUTHORS! EXPERIENCE A NEW DESTINATION AT EVERY STOP! PARTICIPATE IN EVERY SITE’S CONTEST AND BE ENTERED FOR CHANCES TO WIN MULTIPLE PRIZES! EVERY BLOG VISITED IS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO WIN!

5) PARTICIPATION AT ALL SITES IS RECOMMENDED, BUT NOT REQUIRED. THE MORE SITES YOU HOP, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING PRIZES.

6) DID I MENTION TO HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME?

***Authors have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this tour is subject to these rules***    

__________________________________________________

Monday = Murderers

Life is precious and fragile. We are all part of the animal kingdom and supposedly we are the most intelligent species. I am not so sure about that. But I do know that we are the cruelest species. Death is a natural part of the circle of life as are predators and prey. But though animals hunt for food and sometimes kill for dominance, animals do not murder.

Murder is something that is the reserve of humanity. A murder was the first crime in the world when one brother murdered another out of jealousy and envy and then covered it up. So Murder is truly as old as humanity itself. 

Some psychologists believe that everyone is capable of murder but that some are not capable of controlling this black streak. But some murders don’t fall into the murder category, they fall into manslaughter or self-defense. When you hear those terms, you can understand the theory that anyone of us is capable of taking a life especially if it is to save another person’s life or to save your own life. Does this make us more human or less human? No matter how murder is justified, killing is killing. A life ends at another’s hands.

Murder does lend itself to the world of cinema and fiction. There is nothing as riveting as a good old-fashioned murder mystery. There is nothing as thrilling and spine-chilling as a psychological thriller. There is no antagonist/villain as frightening and horrific as a psychopathic, cold-blooded serial killer.

I write dark paranormal fiction and in my stories there is always a lurking ghost, a psychological twist or a cold-blooded killer. Many people ask me why I write about the stories that I do. Am I that fascinated with ghosts and murder? Yes I am. I am fascinated and horrified by ghosts, spirits and killers because like it or not they are there. That scares me. To conquer your fear you have to face it. So I face it by writing about it. Often this means I do not sleep at night and this is caused by a combination of my imagination and my insomnia.

My next WIP is a psychological thriller and it involves psychological twists and a cold-blooded killer. This killer curdles my blood. Already the killer haunts my dreams. But the worst thing about this character is that I am struggling to name him. He does have a moniker that he will be known by in the story but he does need a name.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. He is a psychopath. He is exceptionally cruel and sadistic. He is also a perfectionist who never leaves any trace of himself at the crime scene. He is fastidiously clean, almost surgically I would say. He preys on people that he feels are “fallen”. He is incredibly alluring and seductive. He is hard to say “no” to. By the time his victims realise he is the final person they will see, it is too late and they are taken by surprise. This man could be anyone. He might be your friend, your brother, your father, your lover, your husband or your colleague. He stalks you like a silent lioness. Do you know his name?

Prize Time

 

So…this is where you blog-hoppers come in. I need you to put your creative hats on and spin me a first name and surname for my sadistic killer.

The best name will win three ebooks by three phenomenal authors. (I will be announcing the names of the authors and their books closer to Halloween but believe me you will want these ebooks.) 

The best name will also become the name of my sadistic killer.

You need to be subscribed to this blog to enter (so join up if you are not already) as well as leave your best answer (along with your email address for winner notification) in the comments on any of this week’s posts on this blog. You also need to have visited and commented on at least 5 of the CoffinHop bloggers.

The winner will be announced on this blog on 5th November. 

Write from the Heart | Write your Story

Heart

Two things have really struck me over the last few weeks and I felt I needed to blog about them. Both lead into the same subject but from different angles. The subject that has been niggling at my conscience: (Warning: this will be a long post.)

Write from the Heart

For the past 6 weeks I have been working on the final edits of my current WIP. Let me tell you…when I say “working” I mean just that. Anyone who says that writing a novel is difficult has obviously never got to the editing stage. For me first drafts are simple. The words, plot and characters flow out onto the page like opening a tap. Why is writing a first draft simple for me? I am a pants-plotter. I am not 100% a pantser nor am I 100% a plotter. I like some form of an outline but I it is just strong enough to light the next 500 words of each scene. But I am a night owl. Which means that I don’t write by day….In a way you could say that I drive at night if my driving is my novel, my headlights are my plot and my time of day is ruled by the light of the moon. I write like a driver who takes a journey at night. I can see just far enough ahead to know I am not going to crash into anything but there is still enough darkness and mystery that I can still be surprised by what turns the journey can take me on. 

I would say that I plot 30% and free-form write about 70%. For me the story has to be written as it comes to me. If I plot too much I tend to lose that emotion that fuels my writing. I plot myself out of the story if I think too much. So, yes, viscerally it is vital that I write that first draft from the heart. I don’t subscribe to writer’s block. I think you write the story as it comes to you. But I do think you can out-think yourself out of the story and ultimately out of the writing which would in turn lead to a brick wall: the notorious writer’s block.

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it is like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

There are so many writer’s books, writer’s classes and workshops out there both online and in real-time. The information network through these channels as well as social networking can be wonderful but adversely can also be really overwhelming. Information is freedom. Or is it? Can too much information be overwhelming? Like the wise people say, too much of a good thing can be overkill. Yes, sign up for writer’s classes, attend conferences, read craft books and network with other writers and mentors…but when push comes to shove, you have to stop the information overload long enough to shut out the world, open the heart and start writing. To be a writer you have to write. To be a novelist or short story author, you need to finish a novel to a short story. Nobody said it would be easy. In fact, I guarantee you that most people love the dream but fear the reality of being a writer. But you knew this when you decided to write. You have to write because otherwise this story and these characters will not let you rest: they haunt your every hour, day and night. Yes, you must write. So the birth of a first draft starts. 

First draft is just that. Your work is not done when you have got to those magic words “The End” of your first draft. Pat yourself on the back for finishing that story or that novel. Unfortunately though, now the real labour pains of the birthing process start. Writing the first draft was just your pregnancy. It may not have been the smoothest pregnancy and you may have had morning sickness but overall you know your “baby” is growing, changing and getting ready for entry into the real world. Your first draft is just like pregnancy in that it is really something intimate and the writing is for you. It is your chance to get to know this story. It is something that nobody else can do for you. Your real work has not even started until the “9 months” is up and your water breaks. Writing “The End” on your first draft is that water breaking. 

But the real guts and glory are in the labour pains of birth. Writing is not easy but editing is painful. Editing a first draft should not be easy. It should be pain-staking, heart-wrenching and pure “work”. 

If writing is sitting down and opening a vein…Editing is sitting down and cutting the vein.

I always thought that if you write from your heart, you must edit from your brain. In theory this is accurate. But can you out-think your first emotions from your first draft? Can you over-analyze to the point of killing the heart in your story? 

I have realised that unfortunately you can over-analyze a story. I talk from very fresh experience. Funnily enough, I am usually my own worst enemy when it comes to critiquing my own work. However it is also true that like all writers, I can also miss certain elements that need to be corrected in my own work. This is when writing partners and beta readers come into play. If you have good writing partners, they are honest and forthright with you at all times. They are your headlights in the editing journey. But say now you get through that first and second edits (your second draft) with your mental health intact and your manuscript looking better for the cosmetic surgery…What now? 

After both you and your writing partners are satisfied you have done all you can to edit your story, you start submitting and pitching it. If you are lucky enough to get an agent or editor to love your first pitch and they request a partial or a full manuscript, you have to put your hard hat on again and enter the final edits. Of course I am not even mentioning the edits that take place after a manuscript has been accepted by a publisher. No, I am just talking about the edits that may be required of you by the agent or editor in the initial request. 

How far do you take those comments on your manuscript? Do you do a complete edit and rewrite again? Do you tweak only a little using both your intuition for the story and the advice you have been given by agent/editor? When does too much change become overkill for your story and your characters? 

From very fresh personal experience, I can tell you that you can over-analyze your story into overkill. You can also change and rewrite your story so many times that after a while you wake up one morning, look down at the screen or the page and wonder who wrote this story? Too much editing and following too many pieces of advice, no matter how well intentioned, can cause you to fall out of love with your own story. You become an amnesiac and the story that you first wrote has disappeared into the ether of too much editing. If you get to this point, you must stop! If you try to push through determined to follow advice and to get that manuscript just perfect, you will start to feel like you are taking dictation and not creating. You become a secretary and stop being a creative writer.

If the advice you are getting is making you change your story to the degree that you are hating your own story and wanting to put off working on it, you must stop! You need to stop and recognise that your cosmetic surgery is becoming ugly and morphing your story into something unrecognisable. If you have fallen out of love with your story because of over-editing, that lack of emotion will come through and stain the story for any readers. 

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” ~ Robert Frost

There comes a point where you have to follow the initial stirrings of your heart. At the end of the day you are the writer and this is YOUR story. These characters came to YOU. The story’s idea may not be original in that isn’t every romance like any other or a thriller just a thriller. What is unique and what is special to your story is YOU and YOUR heart/ YOUR emotion. Great emotion that is tenderly written into the spaces between the words is what makes a story a great story. 

Ultimately advice is just that: advice. You choose what information to use and what to throw away. Ultimately YOUR story has to be YOUR story. You have to write from YOUR heart and you have to write YOUR story that you feel. Let that emotion come through and your story will be the better story for it. So yes: write the first draft with your heart, edit the second draft with your brain but the final checks need to be with your heart and your emotion. Be true to that initial emotion and that initial excitement when you first met your characters and heard their story. If you are true to your story and your characters, the story will be true for your readers. Essays come from the brain but stories come from the heart.

Write from the Heart .

Write Your Story.

Edit with your brain but let your heart be the final check.

Editors and agents are not writers. They are salesmen who help you polish up your story, promote it and market it to sell it. Don’t ever forget YOU are the Writer. It is YOUR story. If you feel strongly enough about keeping something in your story, then you MUST be true to that. It is called instinct. It is called creative license. It is: You writing Your story. Be true to it! Be true to you!

“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.” ~ Arnold Bennett

Have you ever over-edited the heart out of your story? Or have you ever been told to remove something / change something vital from your story? What did you do in the end?