Summer-Spiration & Showing Up

The Winter of discontent is over and Summer-Spiration has officially begun…at least in my corner of the world.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a Winter person. Winter constipates and depresses me mentally, emotionally and creatively. I need the warmth and vibrancy that summer brings to feel truly in tune. This winter has definitely been a winter of discontent and hibernation. On Sunday morning our clocks changed to Daylights Savings and my Creativity Savings kicked into high gear.

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London

A few weeks ago I shared a post about this discontent and my creative constipation. I am usually not one to whine, complain or moan. Quite the opposite I tend to always forge through and look for the sunshine behind the cloud. But this winter things fell in on top of me and I swallowed my pride and told you all about it. You see it wasn’t that my well had run dry or the ideas had abandoned me. Rather I curled up in a fetal ball and hid from the dreck, muck & mire of my real life. As soon as I posted this messy confession, I was twisted into a contradiction cook-sister. *another analogy would be pretzel* One part of me felt “damn Kim you scraped off your protective tough outer layer and let them see the fragile messy parts.”… But once the comments and the emails started rolling in from all who read the post, there was a cathartic healing; that feeling that I was not alone in my discontent. These were some of the comments/responses that helped me uncurl myself from that fetal position to a sitting position…

I read this post and felt a deep recognition: I could have written this…I’ve been so stuck this year, and every time I un-stick… bam: another storm to weather, another day to survive. It is making me realize I need other sources of stability beyond just my writing. Putting so much pressure on my writing to be The One Thing that Makes Sense and Always Helps is putting too much strain on my creativity. As much as this year has been difficult, it is one that is teaching me how to Be. It will be worth it – for both of us…

I feel like not writing is a form of self abuse…

Well said, darlin’. It’s been that kind of year for me, too, and I’m only just starting to get out from under it. Write on…

I have been here, Kim. I have been shut up behind the dam. The put it bluntly, it f-ing sucks. You pound and pound and pound and yet nothing will come out. Nothing did for me, anyway, until I took the advice of a friend and started writing a journal about writing. It helped a lot. Perhaps give it a try. It is where I found my honesty with myself when it came to dealing with the stuff that was preventing me from actually getting my work done. Sometimes I still do it, though I am no longer dammed. I hope you find the fissure through which to burst…

Write whatever you need to. They don’t have to see the light of day but may help you, both in getting through the difficult time and getting back in touch with the writer in you

Honey, I’m with you. I make you look perfectly normal. If writers struggle to get past the “why isn’t this sounding like I’d envisioned it” stage, it’s because they’re still amateur. When a writer hits this point, however–like you and me–it’s a show that we’ve hit another level of knowledge between life and writing. Because dealing with difficult emotional memories in life is the coloured picture, and writing it into a fictional story is the black sheet with little peepholes the writer carves out so the reader can glimpse into what’s being told…

When your dam breaks, I’m sure beauty will spring forth. If a little on the dark side…

The fact is, writer’s block is not funny.

When the words elude me, I start to feel desperate. I have a harder time dealing with the crap in my real life because there is no escape. The absent words haunt me, and wound me. I feel this vague sense of constant irritation, an emptiness where words used to be.

Right now, I’m making myself write. Every day. Even if it’s only one word. It seems to be helping, though I may be 90 by the time this ms gets finished…

Just get up everyday and keep going. You will prevail over this. Go for a long walk and just keep being you. We all sadly have something that tries to beat us down. Keep going please…

You are fighting your demons, but you are also dancing with them. This takes the greatest courage of all…

I loved your quote : “Life should not be about surviving. It should be about LIVING.” I’ve been avoiding an essay I started about a childhood trauma and you have inspired me to get back to it.

Thank you so much for sharing your struggle…

Wow! Talk about “Knowing it, Feeling it, Living it.” These comments were my inspiration that uncurled me into a sitting position again. That post was written a month ago. That was the first step into a sitting position. September was all about uncurling myself from a sitting position into a standing position. Now I stand here in the “standing position” and I am ready to put one foot in front of the other into a walking position. Because life is now about “not, not getting knocked down or not, not getting knocked back, but it is about getting knocked down or knocked back and standing up again. Once you start moving, walking forward you start taking a step to dancing with your dreams, your goals, your aims, your aspirations, your joys.

So to each and every person who inspired me to uncurl myself into that sitting position…

So this Summer is all about getting from that “Standing” position to the “Walking Forward” position. I am really excited about what I have in store writing-wise.

  • I am in the middle of writing “The Tattooist – Liquid Ink” *more about this WIP here*
  • I am working on a short story that will be included in an exciting anthology *watch this space for more* with some awesome authors later this year.
  • I am also working on a six-book *so far* series of stand-alone novellas that will be published next year. Series working name: The Red Gates Secrets *The series is paranormal horror and one I have been itching to write for a while now-Based on fact*
Life should not be about surviving. It should be about LIVING and that means the dark shades are as important to colour in as the light shades are. Perhaps the darkest shades are the ones we need the most because if there is no dark there need be no light. I am ready to un-dam those waters and let the dark words out so the spark of a match will lead me back to my creativity and back to my place of sanity: writing. I have to remind myself  that even the rubbish words are still words. As scary as it is, it is time to un-dam the words. Otherwise I may as well just give up now. I am too stubborn to give up yet. 

I’ll leave you with my new favourite motivation song…

Pink says it best > “Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die

You’ve gotta get up and try try try!

What gets You up to Try-Try-Try? 
What do you desire enough to take a Risk of getting burned?

 

The Next Big Thing #11 | Blood & Ink

I have been tagged in The Next Big Thing by Judith Van Praag @ Hope Filled Jars. So in this game of “Tag, You’re it” my current Work in Progress gets to be tagged and then I have to tag 5 other writers’ WIPs. When Judith tagged me in this post and emailed me the idea behind it, I was thrilled to be in and to be tagged. This blog-tag post is perfect for writers as most writers I know, including myself, hate talking about ourselves but ask us about our stories and our characters and we can wax lyrical. Look for the five writers I have tagged at the bottom of this post – their “Next Big Thing” posts will be posted between the 11th and the 17th of September so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for those.

What is the working title of your book?

The Tattooist – Blood & Ink #1

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was reading an article about tattooing and how intimate an art form it can be and it sparked an idea. A few nights after reading this article I dreamed the first scene of the story. I woke up at 4am and started jotting down the dream and within a couple of hours I had the first draft’s main plot-points drafted out.

What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal Psychological Thriller

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Heroine = Sasha Roulette
Keira Knightley is the perfect actress to play my main character in The Tattooist. She has that rare quality of being believable as a bad girl turned good but also has this raw vulnerability that gives her depth. Keira IS Sasha in The Tattooist.
Image credit - wallpowper.com

Image credit – wallpowper.com

Hero = Shane Patrick
Colin Farrell IS my bad boy hero. He is the perfect flawed character, the bad boy who you want to reform. He IS Shane Patrick, my bad boy hero.
Image credit - collider.com

Image credit – collider.com

Villain = Michael Dali
For my villain I needed to cast someone intense, charming, seductive but chilling – who better to fit this role than Viggo Mortensen. My villain is known by many names but the one he chooses to call himself is Michael Dali. Killing is not just an occupation but it is a calling and an art form to this ice-cold killer. Viggo IS Michael Dali.
Image credit - releaseddonkey.com

Image credit – releaseddonkey.com

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A paranormal psychological thriller about a tattooist who bonds psychically with the people she tattoos who realizes that she can now read a sadistic serial killer’s mind and is the only one who can stop him but if she can read his mind, can he read hers?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will be submitting it to agents.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I am still in the process of the first draft but typically a first draft takes me 4-6 weeks to write.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I have long been fascinated with tattoos and I have been designing my “dream” tattoos for years now. I have not yet found the perfect tattoo that I would want inked on me permanently yet so the search continues. But a tattoo is so much more than a symbol or a fashion accessory, in many cultures it is an integral part of the culture’s history and spiritual practices. Tattooing is a bizarrely intimate ritual: a ritual where a person literally carves a symbol, words or an image into your skin with permanent ink. As a writer alone this bizarre ritual where blood and ink are fused together into a permanent “stain” sparks my imagination. This long-held personal fascination with tattoos and the desire to seek out their history in different cultures + the article I read sparked the idea for The Tattooist.
The Tattooist is the first book in a Series: The Blood & Ink Series. The what if’s started piling up in my imagination and before I knew it I had a plot.
Next the characters themselves inspired me to write their story. All three main characters, the heroine, the hero and the villain have a very strong voice. I also wanted to write a story where the heroine is not your typical girl next door or perfect heroine. I love flawed characters and characters that have to fight their way through life. All three of my main characters are deeply flawed and in this story the truth is never just black and white. Nobody is all good or all bad in this story.
The story’s theme is about facing the fact that we all have darkness within us and that we could all be pushed to give in to that darkness if the stakes are high enough. All three main characters, the two protagonists and the antagonists fight this inner darkness as their own demons threaten to overwhelm them. At the end of the day whether they choose the darkness or the light is what will be both the making and the breaking of them.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

  • Tattooing
  • Samoa
  • New Orleans
  • Crime
  • Criminal Profiling
  • Serial Killers
  • Evil vs Good
  • Darkness vs Light
  • Psychic powers
  • Clairvoyance
  • Precognition
  • Telepathy

Tag, your WIP is “The Next Big Thing”

Message for the tagged authors and interested others:
Rules of The Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post

***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress)

***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
*****
Writers: What is your Next Big Thing keeping you awake at night?
Readers: What Next Big Novel are you biting your nails for in anticipation?

A Tendency to Obsess…

I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas.”                           – Albert Einstein

Is obsession a bad thing? Sometimes it can be especially if your obsession is a person. But for most careers and most dreams obsession *in a particular field/set of skills* is not only healthy but necessary for success. I – like so much of the world – have been caught up in the Olympics over the last few weeks. With 9 dedicated channels to 24/7 Olympic coverage on the television, there is always some event to watch or some interview with an athlete. These Olympian athletes are prime examples of Obsession being a necessary boost to fulfilling their ultimate dream of besting their personal best times and ultimately standing on the podium accepting a medal.

Growing up I was fascinated by the law, science and journalism. I chose my high school subjects with that focus in mind. It was a toss-up between being a criminal prosecutor, a pathologist, a criminal psychologist or a National Geographic journalist or a war journalist. I was also enamoured *and still am* with the FBI and MI6. Unfortunately though geography did not favour me here.

“A writer is someone who writes, that’s all. You can’t stop it; you can’t make yourself do anything else but that.” Gore Vidal (Writer)

Life had another route for me though, one that would lead me to the truest path for me and that is writing. If I had pursued any of those adolescent dream careers I might have come to the writing path much later. I am certain no matter what route I chose it would have eventually lead me to writing. But for now I am really glad that due to life circumstances I did not pursue any of those careers.

obsession |əbˈseSHən| noun the state of being obsessed with someone or something: she cared for him with a devotion bordering on obsession.• an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind: he was in the grip of an obsession he was powerless to resist. DERIVATIVES obsessional |-SHənl|adjective,obsessionally |-SHənl-ē|adverbORIGIN early 16th cent. (in the sense ‘siege’): from Latin obsessio(n-), from the verb obsidere (see obsess) .*Dictionary Definition*

I am a 100% all or nothing type of person. When I put my mind to something I put it in 100% effort and everything else falls to the wayside. I also have a perfectionist gene inherited from my German mother that won’t allow me to be anything than the best or put any less than 100% effort in. Which is why I am glad I did not pursue those early dream careers. I would have thrown myself headfirst into them and writing would have fallen to the side.

The creative habit is like a drug. The particular obsession changes, but the excitement, the thrill of your creation lasts.” – Henry Moore (Sculptor)

But my dogged determination, my stubborn perfectionism and a tendency to obsess serve me perfectly in Writing. As a writer my characters have their own careers, their own obsessions that have to come across as authentic. So here is where my leaning towards the law, justice, science and journalism can be played out on the page.

I’ve been called many names like perfectionist, difficult and obsessive. I think it takes obsession, takes searching for the details for any artist to be good.” – Barbara Streisand (Actress)

One of my favourite parts of a new story, any story, is the research. To come off as authentic your plot, your setting and your characters have to be obsessively researched. Once you have come up with the idea then the FUN part begins. You get to throw yourself into a hunt for information of all kinds.

“If you don’t have obsessions, don’t write. My characters are obsessed.” – Marguerite Young

My current WIP deals with serial killers, psychics, tattooists and the FBI. So to get my facts correct I must study up on everything I can to get the characters right and to come up with an authentic plot. The internet is fantastic for the modern-day writer. Now with a tap of a button I can research millions of articles related to the subjects contained in my WIP. I can connect with experts in these fields through their online presence by following their blogs, emailing them pertinent questions and picking their brains on likely hypotheticals.

What moves those of genius, what inspires their work is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” – Eugene Delacroix (Painter)

Even though I am writing fiction, I still have to get the facts straight. If I don’t, the errors will be picked up by readers. The worst thing for a writer is to come across as inauthentic. So for this WIP a tendency to obsess combined with an adolescent fascination of criminal law and justice gets to play out in my research. This means I am in my element. For the time that I write in the Voice of my characters I get to see the world and the story through their POV. I get to “be” a criminal profiler much like the actors on shows like CRIMINAL MINDS (One of my television obsessions.) have to step into the shoes of criminal profilers. I also get to understand the alternative world of the tattooists and psychics.

The trade of authorship is a violent, and indestructible obsession.” – George Sand (Writer)

So even though I did not become a criminal prosecutor, a criminal psychologist, a pathologist, a National Geographic journalist or a war journalist…I get to “be” all these for a time period in my stories and through my characters. I get to write about people in these fields and for as long as I crank out the words in the drafts I get to “be” these people. I get to rub shoulders with the experts who are willing to assist me.

“You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.” – John Irving (Novelist)

Yes, a tendency to obsess over the details and the facts and to walk in your characters’ shoes/inhabit their lives is necessary to write authentic fiction. I know I am a writer because even in life’s worst circumstances in real life I am spinning these seeds into story ideas. I hear things, see things, experience things and my itch to get it into a story is nothing if obsessive. It is true what they say, be careful what you tell a writer…you may read about it in one of their stories. Writers are the obsessive magpies of the world always on the hunt for that shiny new idea.

What are your obsessions?

If you could have your life over, what dream career would you have?

As a reader, have you come across glaring errors in stories that have had you questioning the author?

As a writer, what has been your favourite subject to research and obsess over?

The hot fresh smell of Home-Made Bread…

Free Stock Photos - Bread
© Photographer Anatoliy Babiychuk | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Mmmmh…There is nothing like the smell of hot, home-made bread, fresh from the oven. I wish the internet/WordPress could figure out how to embed scents into blog posts but since I know you have a great imagination…Close your eyes and picture/smell bread fresh out of the oven.

Bread is a world-wide symbol of nourishment. In my own home, I have many fond memories of my mother baking homemade German bread *recipe passed down through the generations* and the amazing smell wafting through the house, guaranteed to pull all of the family to the kitchen.

So…what does this have to do with writing? Well, bread has to have one key ingredient to give it that rise and that ingredient is yeast. Much like a story has to start with a kernel of an idea. A question of what-if? A character with such a compelling story that you have to be the one to write their story. A setting that teases your imagination. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Secrets. All of these are the yeast to a writer’s baking.

Home-made bread is the symbol for my month of August.

July was a wash-out for me as personal issues pushed writing to the background and at times I felt like I was a wheat kernel on the threshing floor waiting for the harvester to scoop me up. But sometimes we don’t or can’t control our external lives and we just have to keep our head above water and keep swimming.

The good thing about real life dramas is that we can use them for fodder in our stories. I don’t mean writing a tell-all or fictionally “killing off” your most troublesome relatives. *Even though it is incredibly tempting to do both.* No, you can use the emotions – both high and low – to bring depth to your fiction. Going back to my bread analogy: Baking bread is tough on the muscles. You need to knead away any imperfections and to continue until you get the perfect consistency. Then you need to have a hot oven or hot fire to bake the bread. In just the same way the fire of real life dramas can help you bake a story that is rich and layered. For this writer, writing is both my therapy and my sanity. It is the best place I know to throw excess emotions leaking out from real life dramas…

So this August I am going to be baking my bread and watch it rise into a hot, fresh and new manuscript. (Genre: Paranormal Psychological Thriller) I already have all the ingredients mixed in especially the yeast of a sparkling idea, now I just need to pop it in the oven and see what rises. Hopefully what comes out of my efforts is hot, fresh and delicious. I am really excited about this new WIP and have been itching to get to work on it. The main character is already a favourite of mine: She is complicated and strong-willed but she has a secret she can’t tell anyone because if she does they may just lock her away in a padded cell. But keeping this secret makes her the #1 suspect on investigator’s lists which leads her into a whole world of trouble. Watch this space and I may drop a few more breadcrumbs about her story.

I have a ^word count goal all set in Scrivener^ for the whole month and broken down into the individual word counts for each day. I have a plotted out first draft, character profiles and backstories. I am ready to make this the month of the WIP.

(Aside: ^^ = To edit and utilise Project Targets in your Scrivener project. See below.)

On your Scrivener Menu – Go to Project, Then Show Project Targets

There you can edit either a session goal (words/pages/chapters) and/or a project goal. You can also add in a deadline date as well as mark what days you will be writing on. Then Scrivener will calculate it all together for you and give you a daily total of words/pages/chapters needed to reach either/both the session and the project goal. *This instruction is for Scrivener Version 2.3 for Mac*

What are your goals for August?

Bread-wise…do you have a favourite bread recipe you would like to share?

Stories: Passports without borders

Stories are passports without borders. Stories are passports without visas. Stories are passports to adventure. Stories are passports into the exotic and the extraordinary. Stories are portal doors into worlds unknown. Stories are magic carpets.

One of the first reasons that made me fall in love with stories is the ability to travel to exotic places, experience exotic cultures all without leaving my chair. I love traveling and often call myself a Gypsy at heart. New places usually mean new people to meet and new adventures to experience. In an unknown place the average and ordinary can suddenly become extraordinary. Having a coffee in my local cafe is very been there, done that. But having a coffee in some little plaza in an Italian village on the Amalfi coast would immediately be extraordinary for me. In the same way, that Italian local may find having coffee in my local cafe an extraordinary event.

For this reason I have always read books that are based in foreign countries and even foreign cultures. I come from South Africa, now live in New Zealand – to me neither of these two places is exotic. They are what I know. They are familiar. But when I have told American friends that I come from South Africa and now live in New Zealand – they are always fascinated. They want to know if I have seen lions in the wild. When I tell them that we had a family of leopard living on one of the farms my father managed, they go: “WOW!”. They want to know all about New Zealand especially since the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that really put NZ on the map. But for me exotic places are in Europe or in Central Africa/Northern Africa or the Amazon in South America. But I doubt those same locals who live in these areas think that they live in an exotic locale.

That is the joy of reading stories and in my case going one step further and creating your own stories. I love writing about places I have not been because I find often what may be fairly ordinary to the locals there becomes extraordinary and special in my fresh eyes. One of my favourite pastimes is searching for fresh inspiration for not just story ideas but setting ideas. Pinterest (new addiction) comes in as a very useful tool in these moments. I also love reading/studying/researching the history of each setting and often finds it seeds an idea in my imagination that I let lie and germinate to see what it could potentially blossom into. Nowadays with the ease of the internet and software like Google Earth/Google Maps your research into a place can become acutely accurate down to the street names and the name of that cafe on the corner in that Italian village on the Italian Amalfi Coast.

But at the end of the day the best research you can do when checking out a setting in an exotic locale (if traveling there is absolutely ruled out) is to talk to the locals on the internet. In this day and age there is an internet group for just about everything and there are blogs for just about every type of subject. So I trawl the blogosphere and see if there are any local-specialised blogs devoted to the locale I want to set my story in. Setting is so much more than just a geographic location or street names. Setting is also about the quirks that make that place unique. Is there a particular smell? Smell is a big one. For instance when I smell oranges and lemons I immediately think of Athens, Greece. One of the strongest memories of my time spent there 12 years ago was the tree-lined streets with trees heavy with oranges and lemons. So the smell of oranges and lemons now sums up Athens for me. Location bloggers will give away a lot of these type of tidbits in their blog posts. And most people are always flattered when you tell them you want to learn more about their home because you find it fascinating.

So while I have begun writing on my next project I have been trawling the internet for setting ideas. So I will leave you with some images from my Pinterest board. Some of them are definite settings in my story and some of just teasing seeds of inspiration right now…Mum’s the word (for now) on which settings I am actually going to be using in both the current WIP and upcoming ones. Perhaps you can guess which settings I have chosen.

Perhaps you have been to these places or live there. I would love to know at least 2 quirks that I could not find out from the internet that is unique to each place. Leave me a comment in the comments.

Tell me>> What exotic places would you like a story to be set in? What places grab your imagination?

Source: weburbanist.com via Kim on Pinterest (Abandoned mountain town in Sardinia, Italy)

Source: worldtopjourneys.com via Kim on Pinterest (Manarolo, Cinque Terre, Italy)

Source: toptenz.net via Kim on Pinterest (The City of the Caesars, Patagonia, South America)

Source: underthesunexperience.blogspot.co.nz via Kim on Pinterest (Carcassonne, Languedoc Roussillon, France)

Source: earmchairtraveler.blogspot.com via Kim on Pinterest (Meteora, Greece)

Source: accommodation-bol.com via Kim on Pinterest (Dubrovnik, Croatia)

Source: une-deuxsenses.blogspot.com via Kim on Pinterest (Swallow’s Nest, Crimea)

Source: toptenz.net via Kim on Pinterest (Angkor-Wat, Cambodia)

Source: weburbanist.com via Kim on Pinterest (Gunkanjima, Japan – “Ghost Island”)

Source: roman-empire.net via Kim on Pinterest (Herculaneum, Italy)

All imaged embedded via My Pinterest boards – Feel free to follow me there…