The Fictorians

Why I Write

28 July 2015 | No Comments » | fictorians

A Guest Post by R.J. Terrell

There is a fundamental reason behind most of the things we do in life. The larger, or more significant the activity, the core value or reason will correspond. This base, or core reason behind our actions is a reflection of who we are and the experiences we’ve had in life. Now this may be dramatizing the subject if we’re referring to why I chose the shoes I laced on this morning, but if we’re referring to something with more significance in life, the ‘why’ also becomes more significant.

When Bruce Wayne climbs into that awfully uncomfortable-looking batsuit, there is a strong ‘why’ present. Growing up with the recurring images of his parents’ murder before his young eyes, he swore to make a difference, and to bring justice to gotham while striking fear into those who would strike fear into it’s citizens. There was a time in my life when I’d been at the precipice of a similar decision, where I’d been ready to become part of the night, stalk the streets of my home city, and bring justice to it through the nightly terror of those who commit crime…

But I didn’t have enough money, so I became a writer.

While my reasons for becoming a writer might not be as dramatic as Bruce Wayne’s decision to become The Detective, we share two elements in common. Love, and calling. As Bruce loved his parents was called to become Batman because of what was done to them, and to protect Gotham, I was called to become a writer because of my love of stories and writing. This is something not to be taken lightly. I believe that whether easily accessed or buried deep within us, each person comes to this life with a purpose, or to put it another way, a calling.

This is what keeps you going despite lack of sleep, lack of recreation, the difficult times when you’re banging your head against the wall, or even those times when you’re ready to quit. It is what helps you to think outside the box when faced with a challenge. It is what gave Michael Jordan the strength to lead the Bull’s to victory against the Utah Jazz despite being very ill.

Years ago I learned a hard lesson about striving for my calling versus striving for that which will make me money. It was a costly one lesson. I was practically born an actor who discovered during my college years that I was also a writer. The little signs of the writer in me were always there, but I’d never paid attention. Even my friends saw it despite my blindness to it. I’d always wanted to be an actor, and that was considered a hobby that people starve while working in futility to achieve success at.

So I read books on business and real estate. I devoured as much information on the subject as I could, attended seminars and workshops, classes, etc. I listened to speeches, and did my best to replicate the methods of those millionaires who’s success I sought to achieve. But I’d missed one detail. Each of these people enjoyed the business of real estate. The lived it and breathed it. They loved what they did, and were creative at being able to solve problems and create deals that had them virtually drowning in money.

I, however, had zero interest in real estate. I didn’t care for it, I didn’t like it, and I didn’t even want to do it. But it was a lucrative industry that could yield a large residual income for the rest of my life. I could build my little real estate empire, then pursue writing and acting on the passive income falling from the trees of money I’d planted.

Alas, you’ll be surprised to learn that this did not happen. My lack of interest made each problem significantly more taxing. I had no creative way to solve problems because I was going on knowledge alone without desire. Whenever a problem arose, it sucked the energy right out of me. As a result, I’d spent thousands of dollars in classes and books, destroyed my perfect credit score, and lost 3 investment houses as ‘tuition’ for an important life lesson.

The lesson? Asking and honestly answering the question of ‘why’, and understanding how the world works in relation to it.

I became a writer because I love stories. Just as I love reading about different worlds and the peoples and species that inhabit them, I love creating them as well. I love building a world and traveling alongside the characters as they relate their life histories for me to transcribe along the journey.

I write because at the time I began my first book, Echoes of a Shattered Age, the fantasy genre was severely lacking in human diversity, and this was a thing I felt the genre could benefit from, and also something I as a reader hungered for.

It is this ‘why’, the passion and love for the craft of writing that sees me through the difficult times when I’m editing a manuscript and figuring out a difficulty in the plot structure. It is this strong ‘why’, that kept me writing despite the numerous rejection letters I received in the beginning that all writers receive. It is this strong ‘why’, that plants me in the chair in the coffee shop or my office when it’s beautiful outside, or my friends are inviting me for some social ordeal or another.

I could not sit down and write a five hundred page book if I didn’t love it. I could not sit through the tedious process of reading over a manuscript for continuity and other details if I did not love what I do. And I certainly could not endure the climb to success that begins with an income that one would be happy for if it paid just one credit card payment.

Why do I write? The answer to this question is the same as when people ask me how to know if you’re really a writer. I have an irrational love and passion for the craft. Contrary to popular belief, most writers are not wealthy. Most writers do not earn enough from their work to live on. It is not a field to pursue if one strives for wealth.

But as with being a teacher, or an archaeologist, or a nurse, I love what I do, and I love how my work affects the people it touches. My calling and irrational love of writing sees me through endless hours at my craft. This love will see me editing instead of the Sunday motorcycle ride my friends have invited me on that I’ve refused with the intention to get back to work after I finish writing these words.

It is my irrational love for writing, the calling to create, that I am a writer.

 

 

About the Author:Author
R.J. Terrell is an actor and author who instantly fell in love with fantasy the day he opened R. A. Salvatore’s The Crystal Shard. Years (and many devoured books) later he decided to put pen to paper for his first novel. After a bout with aching carpals, he decided to try the keyboard instead, and the words began to flow. As an actor, he has appeared in the hit television show Supernatural, izombie, and Arrow, as well as the hit comedy web series Single and Dating in Vancouver, and is one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men in Once Upon a Time. When not writing, or acting on set, he enjoys reading, video games, and long walks with his wife around Stanley Park in Vancouver BC.

Connect with me at:
www.rjterrell.com
R J Terrell on facebook
RJTerrell on twitter
J. Terrell on Goodreads


 

Why I Write What I Do

27 July 2015 | No Comments » | fictorians

A Guest Post by Monique Bucheger

The theme of the Fictorian blog this month is “Moments Of Inspiration In Life: Our experiences as people influences our writing.” Which made me ponder: Why do I write what I write? And why do I keep doing it? The answer comes from my individual journey through life.

When I was 12, two of my friends from school were physically abused at home by their parents. I knew they needed help, but since I was also a kid, I didn’t know how to help them. That feeling of helplessness stuck with me for many years—so I decided to do something about it.

Soon after we married, my husband and I applied to be foster parents and were licensed. Through the years we have cared for over 100 foster kids as well as our own 12 children. The feeling of helplessness lessened, though the guilt for not being able to help my abused friends never went away.

When I was pregnant with our youngest child, I started writing again—something I did all the time as a teen—but had put on hold to raise our family. I had intended to write one book about a quirky, spunky 12-year-old girl named Ginnie West to keep a promise to my high school creative writing teacher.

Ginnie West 4 covers squ (1)Instead, it has turned into a four book middle grade series with at least three more books to go.

The series features half-orphaned Ginnie West and her best friend, Tillie. Ginnie’s mom died in an accident when Ginnie was three. Tillie’s dad abandoned his family six years before the start of book one (The Secret Sisters Club) after abusing Tillie and her mom.

Tillie’s parents have been divorced for four years. Now, Ginnie and Tillie want to be sisters—for very different reasons—and since Ginnie’s dad and Tillie’s mom aren’t dating other people, the girls decide to nudge them toward each other.

Mostly the series is about friendship, BFFs, horses, finding out who you are, changing what you don’t like, and belonging—important things to kids aged 8-14, as well as everyone else.

My Ginnie West Adventure series also deals with surviving the ripples of child abuse, defining who you are, being okay with who you are, accepting other people within safe parameters, going outside your comfort zone to do the right things and not defining yourself by other people’s weaknesses—among many other things.

It is also a fun, funny, wholesome series set on a modern day farm where kids “candle” eggs they gather and milk ornery goats. Where family is defined by people you choose to associate with as well as by those you are born to. Where kids concoct schemes that often backfire—resulting in both humorous and not-so-funny opportunities to solve problems and mature in unexpected ways.

In short, I write contemporary realistic fiction with humor. Helping kids (and adults) navigate the murky waters of pre-adolescence in what I hope is an empowering way.

Kids may not be able to change certain realities in their world but I want them to know they get to choose how they think about themselves and and their reality. If there is something they don’t like, they can make changes. If there is something they do like—I want them to embrace their uniqueness.

Middle grade is the time when kids start realizing that the world (and themselves) are full of possibilities. It is also when peer pressure begins—in both positive and negative ways. Kids hear and embrace certain messages about themselves—and they believe them.

This can work equally as a benefit as well as a detriment. When kids live in a safe home and have good self images, they flourish. When life experiences haven’t been so kind, kids believe the worst about themselves or other peoples’ bad opinions of them.

Because of my background as a foster parent, overcoming child abuse and other hardships are themes in my books. Even if a person wasn’t or isn’t a victim of child abuse, we all know people who were or are.

Bruises on the body heal and disappear, bruises on the soul linger and color lives in unexpected ways—often resulting in poor choices that complicate life unnecessarily.

Child abuse and its effects are not something people want to talk about, but something way too many people live with or were wounded by, and something that affects how people make decisions for the rest of their lives. When you are the victim of child abuse, you want to know why—and you want it to stop.

Sometimes I wonder if the time spent writing my books would be better used doing something else. Then I hear from someone who has read one or more of my books and lets me know that the book or story line helped them deal with something they were struggling with in their life.

Before I was published, a lady I’ll call Lily, messaged me one day and told me that she had read all of my books on our critique site. She had grown up in an extremely abusive home—her mother locked her and her sister in closets for days on end-not feeding them, beating them, allowing boyfriends to have their way with her daughters.

In short, Lily grew up with horrific, vile, damaging experiences. She told me that she couldn’t believe that any family could be so loving as the West family, but it was healing to her that such a family could exist. She told me that reading about how the West family helped kids like her comforted the abused little girl inside her—and gave her hope for other kids like her.

Lily’s story encouraged me to pursue publication—not an easy journey as people familiar with the process can attest. However, since my series has been published, I have heard from many other adults who lived with an abusive parent who have found peace and strength in my series.

Adults who weren’t abused (many teachers and parents) have told me they welcome an opportunity to read an age appropriate series with their kids so they can have open discussions that deal with the ripples of child abuse (poor self image, wrongly thinking they deserve to be abused, feeling powerless to change things).

I have been pleasantly surprised to find my books resonate with kids and adults alike—one of my biggest fans is a 72-year old man. Last year several tween and teenage girls rushed over to my table at a book signing, wanting my newest release, Being West Is Best. They were fully invested in Ginnie and Tillie, and wanted to find out what happened next.

My main character, Ginnie, is a spunky, courageous girl with a strong sense of loyalty and adventure. She loves trying new things and while she doesn’t often outright break “the rules”—there are often piles of twisted and bent rules in her wake.

Her BFF, Tillie, is more timid—but no doormat. In each successive book, Tillie realizes that she can overcome her rough beginnings and that she is worthy of being treated well. Together, they give each other strength and permission to explore this thing called life and make their own definitions of who they are.

Like Ginnie’s great-uncle is fond of saying: “You may not be able to help the whole world, but you can do your part to help your corner of it.”

Empowering kids and adults to overcome bad experiences and to find courage to redefine their world and how they view it—in effect to become superheroes in their own lives—is why I continue to write the Ginnie West series.

About the Author:Author
When Monique Bucheger isn’t writing, you can find her playing taxi driver to one or more of her 12 children, plotting her next novel, scrapbooking, or being the “Mamarazzi” at any number of child-oriented events. Even though she realizes there will never be enough hours in any given day, Monique tries very hard to enjoy the journey that is her life. She is the author of the middle-grade Ginnie West Adventure series, a picture book titled “Popcorn,” and in the process of releasing two new series in the near future-a family drama and a middle-grade fantasy.

 

Turkeys Can Fly

24 July 2015 | No Comments » | fictorians

A Guest Post by Lee French

I’ve never needed inspiration to write. From the moment I figured out letters could be arranged to form words which in turn could form sentences, I’ve been brain barfing all over the place. At the age of 6, it all clicked in my head. A few years later, thanks to the influence of Charlotte’s Web, I wrote a magnificent 6 page epic about turkeys and eagles and a crotchety old man. It got a shiny gold certificate of merit in the regional Young Author’s Faire, which probably had about the same value as a pat on the head.

It sat in a box in my closet for a long time.

Last summer, I moved after living in the same place for 15 years. The distance of the move—from Massachusetts to Washington state—meant that every square foot of stuff cost me a fair amount of money to get from point A to point B. In the process of preparing to move, I went through everything and tossed/donated/recycled umpteen bags of crap.

By the time I decided to move, I’d already self-published five books. With those five books, one of which is no longer available, I made a lot of mistakes. Looking back, it’s amazing how many awful, horrific blunders I committed. At that point, in May of 2014, I knew I’d made mistakes, and had an understanding of the scope of them. The idea of fixing them bore a great deal of resemblance to the process of packing up one’s voluminous belongings and leaving a house forever.

Two daunting yet necessary tasks converged and weighed me down. This was a dark moment when writing ceased to be a joy and became a chore. I saw it as a job instead of a diversion, the kind of drudgery best handled with a bottle of wine or three. Bang, bang, bang, went my fingers on my keyboard until I wore out the C key and space bar. Thanks, me, good job on making this even worse. True frustration is typing with an intermittently functioning space bar. It’s extra bad if you also like to play computer games like Orcs Must Die.

There I was, going through all my stuff and my kids’ stuff, thinking that selling my house and moving across the country could be the worst thing I’ve ever inflicted on myself besides the decision to self-publish a book. I had to fight with my kids to convince them to part with things they never used but refused to accept parting with anyway. The logistics of ensuring our pet mouse survived the journey seemed ridiculous. I had just surfaced from the unpleasantness of a divorce, and because of the move, had to dive back into contentious negotiations for visitation and child support. On top of all this, both my kids have wildly different manifestations of autism, which is a constant source of…lots of things.

Of course, there’s more. I’d been getting involved in local Worcester politics for a couple of years. In many ways, it never seemed like I, personally, had an effect on anything. We marched in the streets, we held standing protests and vigils, and we attended city council meetings. While the people I did these things with sometimes won small victories, I had the sense of being an ant among giants. They knew all the right things to say and do, and I had nothing to offer beyond holding a sign. Though I believed in all these causes and things, participating made me feel smaller than standing on the sidelines.

And then I sorted through that box.

Early July 2014, I sat in my bedroom with my old box of stuff. Sun poked through the cheap PVC blinds we’d never replaced after moving in. The window A/C unit chugged away, keeping the room pleasantly cool. I finally threw out the broken Discman I’d held onto since college for unknown reasons. My old high school drumsticks went into the trash too. I flipped through folders of old D&D characters and campaign notes, and then I found my first book.

I ran my fingers over the hideous red and green plaid fabric covering two pieces of cardboard for a cover. The sticker, though worn around the edges, was still shiny. Cracking it open, I found worn and yellowed pages of high quality paper on which I’d hand-written blue ink with a felt-tip pen:

A New Adventure in the Mean Old Man’s Backyard

LeeFrench1

Written and illustrated by Lee French

Along with these words, I found colored-in stick figures of a frowning person with a cane and feathered hat, a mouse, a turkey, two eagles, and a pond with three orange fish. My allergies may have acted up right then. Or something. I’m sure there’s an explanation for all the water that rushed to my eyes. Turning the page, I found black ink. The lines I drew in pencil with a ruler to keep the text straight had never been erased.

This book is for Heather Feather, Miss Moussese and Garfield Whale, who inspired this story.

Clearly, I should be outraged that I didn’t use Oxford commas then.

The world stopped while I paged through the book, reading my early prose. I remembered my mom, who has a degree in English, being proud of me for entering it into the Faire in the first place. I remembered the original story about The Mean Old Man’s Backyard, which involved turkeys because that was the only thing I knew how to draw. I remembered going to the Faire and seeing all those books and thinking…I’d have a real one of my own someday.

Sometimes, it takes a child to reveal a simple truth. Sometimes, that child is you.

I tucked the book into a new box and have never looked back again.

 

About the Author:Author
Lee French writes fantasy and superhero stories in Olympia, WA. Her favorite non-writing pastimes include tormenting D&D players, destroying weeds with fervor, and arguing in favor of Oxford commas. She is an active member of the Northwest Independent Writer’s Association and serves as one of two Municipal Liaisons for the NaNoWriMo Olympia region. Find more of her babble about bicycling, books, and bedevilment at www.authorleefrench.com.

 

For Christmas, I Made My Mother Cry

23 July 2015 | 1 Comment » | Guy Anthony De Marco

When I was eight years old, my brother and I were trying to figure out what we were going to get for our mother for Christmas. I had already made a crude bookmark out of yarn in my second-grade art class, but it wasn’t good enough in my opinion. Gilbert and I thought about it for days, although most of the time we drifted off-topic and started wondering what Santa was going to bring us. Christmas was fast approaching, and we couldn’t find that “perfect” gift for her.

I came up with the notion that we could buy her something. My brother had a whopping five dollars, which was only five dollars more than I had. I had to find a way to earn some money, but people were not hiring little kids in Far Rockaway, New York back then. While walking home from school, I struck upon the idea of collecting Coca Cola bottles and returning them for a nickel each. I hit up every neighbor for their bottles, and when I told them what I was doing it for, they gave me all they had. One nice elderly woman paid me a whole dollar to “help her out by taking those nasty old bottles off of her back porch”.

I made a little over seven dollars this way. This was more money than I had ever had at one time.

On December 23rd, my brother and I walked from our second-floor apartment on Beach 19th Street to Central Avenue, our pockets filled with coins and a couple of dollar bills. We strolled up and down several blocks window shopping, occasionally getting in some additional ideas for ourselves at the toy shops. After over two hours of wandering, we came upon a jewelry store. Not just any jewelry store, mind you, but one of the most expensive ones in the area. I was convinced Mom would love some jewelry!

We went in and started looking at the diamonds. The saleswoman eyed us for a bit, and went in the back to get the owner. He was a kindly old gent, and he treated us like important customers.

“What can I get you two fine gentlemen this afternoon?” he asked with a smile.

“We’re looking to buy our Mommy some jewelry for Christmas,” I replied. Shopping was fun!

“Hmmm,” he mumbled. “What price range are you looking at?”

I pulled the dollar bill and a few handfuls of nickels out of my pocket. My brother pulled out his cash, and we placed all of it on the counter.

“Wow, that is a lot of money,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. The saleswoman and the two older ladies she was helping had stopped their transaction to watch us. The owner poked through my nickels. “I may have just the thing for you two gentlemen. Please wait here while I go to the vault.”

My brother and I started grinning. We were going to buy our Mom some expensive jewelry! We felt so grown up.

The owner came back with two items. One was a large pin with a bunch of red stones, and the other item was a green and gold bracelet. I picked up the “ruby-encrusted” treasure in awe. I was sure Mom would love it. My brother gravitated more towards the bracelet.

“How much, Sir?” I asked. The owner poked through the nickels again, and took exactly three dollars. He charged my brother three as well. The saleswoman and her customers came over and began to ooh and ahh, saying we got a good deal and that they were sure our mother would be pleased. The owner wrapped our gifts in shiny metallic paper with bows and ribbons. We thanked them all for helping us pick out the perfect present.

When Christmas came, we first tore through most of our presents under the tree. We then decided to give Mom her gifts. She was very pleased with my bookmark (“What a wonderful job you did!”). When she opened my ruby pin, however, she began to cry.

I was very confused. “I can take it back if you don’t like it,” I said.

She choked back her tears, and told me that it was the first time we had actually gone out and bought her a gift. When we told her of our shopping adventure, she cried even more.

“I’m crying because this is the sweetest thing you two have ever done,” she finally blurted. She gave us both a big hug.

So that Christmas, I gave her a ruby treasure, and a treasure from my heart she always remembered.

When my mother passed away twenty years later, I found the pin in her jewelry box. She had kept it all those years.


 

I originally started writing this story as an entry for one of Glimmer Train’s contests. It was one of the toughest ones to finish. My mother never had the chance to read any of my published work, although she used to play Dungeons & Dragons with us when we were still in our teens, so she did get to experience some of the modules I wrote.

When it comes to your work, make sure your loved ones have the opportunity to read it. Don’t force it on them, and don’t ask for feedback unless you’re just looking for the obligatory, “Oh, it’s wonderful, honey.” Should you be lucky enough to have a family member who will give you constructive criticism, consider yourself blessed.

About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award®; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.
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