Category Archives: Family

Happy Halloween!

halloweenselfiesThe dead arise
with a skeleton sheen.
Be careful when you’re out
on Halloween!

October draws to a creepy close, full of little witches, ghosts and goblins out to fill their pillowcases and plastic pumpkins with tooth-decaying treats. Remember not to take a selfie in the moonlight or you may discover you don’t look as well as you did this morning.

We hope you enjoyed our October theme of dark fiction with a twist of pulp history tossed in for good measure. There are plenty of long-deceased authors whose works survive in tattooed dead-tree format and electronic mediums. Several of our Fictorians have dark fiction works for sale, or you can even check out Gutenberg.org and search for “ghost” to find scary tales from folks like Algernon Blackwood and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. If you prefer to get a nice collection, perhaps consider Ancient Terrors Volume 1, since both authors are contained therein.

Everyone here at the Fictorians wish you and yours a delightfully scary and fun Halloween. Above all, be safe, be warm, and make sure you brush your teeth after gorging on sweets!

March Wrap Up – Nathan’s Top 10 Take Aways

This month on the Fictorians, we’ve thoroughly explored the many aspects of balancing our writing with the myriad of other responsibilities we have in life. I lead this month by insisting that we all have to choose how we spend our time. I have the words “70 hours” written on my bathroom mirror to remind myself that I have plenty of time outside sleep and my job. It’s up to me to choose how I spend it. And I still stand by all of that.
However, the stories and experiences of my fellow Fictorians and our wonderful guest posters have helped me realize a few things about my own work-life balance. It’s not perfect, nor does it need to be! Instead of repeating their words, I’ll simply share my top ten favorite posts for the month. Do they line up with yours?

  1. I found out the secret of Gama Martinez’s awesome prolificness! The man keeps up with one of the most aggressive release schedules I know of by writing his books 10 – 15 minutes at a time when necessary, capturing every opportunity he can to do what he loves.
  2. Ace Jordyn reminded me that you don’t need to write every day to be a writer. We all have our own rhythms. Do what works for you!
  3. Kate Corcino told us about some pretty intense points in her life, how she struggled to find time to write, and those times when writing wasn’t the most important thing she had to deal with. Writing’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  4. David Heyman talked about the struggle to have your cake and eat it too. Sometimes, however, you must give up a slice to make time for your novels. It’s essential to remember that you need to take that slice out of your own portion of your time, not out of the work that pays the bills or the family that loves and supports you.
  5. No one is busier than a new momma, but Joy Dawn Johnson let us peak into her crazy, distraction filled world. And yet, she still gets work done. The trick? No matter what distractions arise, always come back to the keyboard.
  6. Speaking of distractions, there are some things that come up that we have to attend to, while others can be ignored. At least for a while. Emily Godhand talked about how to tell the difference and knowing when to remove or ignore the ones that are keeping us from getting writing done.
  7. I’ve been obsessing about making my writing a business so much over the past couple years that I’ve lost sight of the need to let the artist run the show sometimes. Like Sean Golden, I’ve recently found that my best work has been done when I’m not worried about making a sale, but rather focus on writing a good story.
  8. Nancy Green reminded us that you can’t have “it” all; you just have to decide what “it” actually is.
  9. Jen Greyson talked about the difference between balance and equilibrium. After all, it doesn’t matter if the scales are even, so long as you can be happy with where they lay.
  10. Holly Roberds’ post reminded me that you can’t be a slave to your work. Sometimes you just need to cut yourself a break and give yourself permission to do something other than writing. Seriously! It’s healthier that way.

And those lessons only represent about one third of all the insightful posts we’ve seen this month! Did you catch them all? Which were your favorites? Unfortunately the month is almost done and we need to be moving on to a new theme, but please come back for April’s topic. I promise you’ll love what Anne has in store!

Balancing Life and Ambition

A Guest Post by RJ Terrell

Balance is a state that most of the human population strives to achieve, in some way or another. And there are different types of balance, such as with the body, the mind, career, etc. In this world that we live in, finding the right balance in any part of life is a challenge. We have so many things that call, or rather, demand, our attention.

Balancing life and career, is a particular challenge that I can confidently say an overwhelming majority of the population faces. We must earn enough income to make a living, while carving out enough time to enjoy our lives, the fruits of our labors, as well as the important people in our lives.

Since I was a child, my dad would often say to me, “you have some kind of ability to make things difficult.” Of course, he had no idea at the time what my career choices would be, but to an extent, it was right on the money. Since I was a child, I’d wanted to be an actor, and early into adulthood I realized that I was also a writer.

You may be gritting your teeth by now. Yes, I’m called to be an actor as well as an author, while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Making a living is difficult when you are working to become a fulltime working actor. Ask any actor out there, and the will agree. They may even sigh while agreeing. Making a living while working to become a fulltime author is not quite as difficult, as you can hold down a fulltime job and write in whatever spare time you can allot, but that does not diminish the difficulty. Building any career while working a job is not easy.

I wake up in the morning with the story I’m writing on my mind, almost from the start. Then whatever is happening in film industry at the moment, or what I need to do in terms of filming a scene to send to my agent, a script I need to prepare for class or an audition or a show that day, etc. At the moment (even as I type this) I’m thinking about whether I have received all the necessary forms so that I can submit my taxes.

I sign books and meet fans of the shows I’ve worked on at various comicons throughout the US, which takes me away from home at least four days per show. When I’m not on set, I spend an entire work day writing. It’s a constant seesaw battle between both professions as they demand my attention. Then there’s exercise, the passive hobbies of video games (which has become a rare enjoyment) and reading. And then there’s my poor wife.

I’ll not pretend that I’ve got it perfect. In building two careers at the same time, you begin to understand how life works from an interesting perspective. I can literally compare the progress I make from either endeavor based on how much energy I put into either. With acting, more factors are out of my control in landing an audition and booking the role. All I can do is continue to train as much as possible, put things on tape to send to my agent, and repeat the process until I’m called for an audition. As a writer, I have a bit more control. I can write, edit and revise, and mail the manuscript out to a prospective publisher, or publish it myself. (this is a gross over-simplification of the process, but I figure you’re not interested in all that, and I don’t have enough space here in any case) The odds are a little easier, as when you submit to a publisher, good work stands out like a blinking ‘Eat At Joe’s’ sign.

So for me, I must fight the temptation to spend all of my time writing and none of my time training with fellow actors for when an audition does come my way. This is a difficult thing when with one, you can see the results of your efforts in a relatively short period of time, versus with the other, where you can put in the effort for weeks, months, or in some cases, years, without seeing results for your efforts. It’s a tough thing to do.

And there have been more than a few occasions when my lovely wife reminds me, (sometimes gently, sometimes with more force) that it would be nice to see me, or spend time with me.

So how do I manage all this? Well, it’s an interesting dance, but being that I’m an introspective person, I tend to think a lot. Often too much. But one benefit to this is I can remind myself of what is most important in my life, what I want most out of it, and what I need to achieve it. Splitting my energy between two careers at the same time is a challenge I’ve not yet mastered, but when I am building my career as an author at the expense of my acting career, I pull back and shift things. I may have to shave an hour out of my writing time to go over a scene and play with a character, or dialogue.

I can say that there has never been a reverse situation. It would take a great effort for me to ignore my writing at the expense of acting, because unless I am a fulltime working actor on a show, I need only chip out an hour or two a day to stay on top of things.

And for my personal life, I often remind myself that I should feel quite fortunate that there is someone who wants to spend time in my presence. I’m incredibly lucky to be married to the woman I am married to, who understands and supports what I am trying to do. I owe her my time, and much more. Not to mention the fact that I love spending time with my wife. The trap, for me, is being in the mindset of working to create the life my wife deserves to have, so that we can live a comfortable life devoid of financial struggle. But all of that is meaningless if we have no life together.

Everyone is different, but for me, balancing life and career(s) is a matter of communicating with my wife if I’m under a deadline, or must concentrate hard on a scene I may be filming or auditioning for. When I’m not working on set, we drive together to her work, and I do my writing nearby so that we can meet on her lunch break. She goes back to work, I go back to writing, then we drive home together.

When we get home, we may sometimes workout together, but oftentimes, if I’m under a deadline or have a scene to work on, we’re in separate rooms until an hour or so before it’s time for sleep.

Balancing career against career? It’s one-sided. I constantly remind myself to pull out some scenes and work on them, continue to exercise my acting muscle, keep the instrument working. Writing is easier, because I simply sit down and do it, whereas with acting, you get the best out of your work with another actor to bounce the scene off of. So for me, that is the biggest challenge.

So I haven’t mastered this dance. I’m still working to create that rhythm that I might sink into so that this becomes second nature. Until then, I remind myself when I am neglecting a part of my life that needs attention.

Working hard toward goals is a good thing, but keeping life in perspective helps me to keep in mind what is most important in my life.

RJ Terrell:

Ramon 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 shows Supernatural, izombie, Arrow, and Minority Report, as well as the hit comedy web series Single and Dating in Vancouver. He also appears as one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men in Once Upon a Time, as well as an Ark Guard on the hit TV show The 100. When not writing, or acting on set, he enjoys reading, video games, hiking, and long walks with his wife around Stanley Park in Vancouver BC.
Connect with him at:
http://rjterrell.com/
R J Terrell on facebook
RJTerrell on twitter
R. J. Terrell on Goodreads

The Writer’s Cave

A Guest Post by K.D. Julicher

I work from home, forty hours a week. I write – almost always at home – another twenty or more hours. I do chores around the house, tend my child around the house… and for the last seven months, it’s been a pretty small house. Most of my waking hours are spent at my big work desk, ten feet away from my kitchen and five feet from the couch where I spend a lot of the rest of my time.

One of my biggest challenges is switching out of job mode and into another area of my life. I can shut off the computer and walk away, but getting my brain to realize that we are done now and I can go work on my creative projects is something else. It’s probably the biggest hamper on my productivity right now. I find myself dawdling, or surfing the internet, instead of getting to my writing. Or there will be some chore that wasn’t important enough to interrupt my day-job for, but now absolutely must be done. Or my child is being dreadfully neglected, or there’s some exotic ingredient I must have for dinner…

So I have coping mechanisms. First, I try to do mental prep-work in the half hour leading up to quitting time. I assess whether I’ve got dinner under control, and if not, make a plan. I organize my thoughts and figure out what I’m going to do when I get done with work. Maybe I think about the scene I’m writing, or the plot problem I’ll be addressing.

Then I get done with work. I stand up from my desk, I stretch, I get a new drink, and I relocate. I have an awesome work desk with a super comfortable chair and a huge monitor and a keyboard I love. But if I try to write there, I’ll get nothing done. I need a change of setting after 9 hours in the same spot.

I walk back to the spare room, where in one corner, away from the massive quantities of Lego and the storage tubs that wouldn’t fit anywhere else, I have a wooden desk. Or half of one, depending on how much of the Lego array has migrated. I’ve got a keyboard and a pair of headphones, and I bring in my laptop, plug it in, crack my soda, sit down on the less comfortable office chair, and bring up my project file.

Human brains are amazingly strange things. Everyone’s experienced that moment where you get up to look for something in another room, and then you can’t remember what it was. Turns out that the act of leaving one location and entering another serves as a cue for your brain to dump whatever it was remembering. That’s annoying when you are trying to remember what you were looking for in the kitchen, but really useful when you’re trying to shift from one mode to another. By training my brain that the spare room is for writing, I can leave the day job behind relatively easily.

We’re going to buy a house soon, and I know that my writing space will have to be planned from the start. It’s very effective for me to have a place I can go to and draft. By the same token, that isn’t my editing spot. I edit curled up on a comfortable chair, usually while my husband reads the draft on his ipad so we can go scene-by-scene, line-by-line through the story. Trying to edit in my writing spot would make me crazy. The subconscious cues I have to tell me to “just sit down and write” would make trying to take time and actually edit impossible.

The writing spot is going to be different for everyone. An ergonomic setup is best for your body, but that can mean a fancy chair, a squat ball, even a walking desk. Maybe you write on a netbook. Maybe you have a 32-inch monitor. Have you spent time thinking about your surroundings? Take some time now. Try something new. A different computer, or a typewriter or a new notebook. A different chair. Maybe your chair is too comfortable, and you get all relaxed and can’t produce! Perhaps you need headphones to shut out the outside world, or a nice set of speakers so you can play music and still hear the doorbell, or you have to work in absolute silence. Maybe there’s a door that you can close, or a window that needs to be open.

If your writing process is stalling out at any stage, take a look at your physical environment. Is the rest of your life intruding on you? Are you trying to write next to a pile of unfolded laundry? Are you editing in a tiny closet with no way to look outside? Are you trying to brainstorm on the treadmill, even though you know your best inspirations come when you’re in the shower or hiking?

I’m not saying your surroundings have to be perfect. If writers could only produce when seated at 19th century desks in a New England garret, bookstore shelves would be empty. But for those of us who struggle to keep up our productivity around all the other demands of life can help ourselves by taking a few steps back and thinking about where we write instead of just what we write.


K.D. Julicher:

K. D. Julicher writes from the mountains of Nevada, where she and her husband collaborate on novels and raising a daughter. Her day job involves keeping trains from running into each other. She won the 2014 Baen Fantasy Award and will be published with this year’s winners of the Writers of the Future contest. Links to published works and infrequent news can be found at www.kdjulicher.com.