Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Not the greatest day

Friday, December 1st, 2017

This morning I had to go to the hospital to have a “suspicious tumor” surgically removed. I find out on the 15th if it’s cancer.

I found out tonight that my main publisher Loose Id is closing. That happens in May. You can read more about it here.

I’m…tired. So I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do. All but one of my currently in-print books are with LI. I could resubmit elsewhere, but LI was rock solid and now they’re shutting their doors. I could self-publish, but I’ve done that twice and hated it both times. I could, well, stop.

I don’t know.

And come to think of it, how screwed up am I to be more upset that my publisher is closing than at the idea I might have cancer?

Maybe I need to step back and get my priorities in line.

Let’s show a reader some love.

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Recently, I received a comment (copy/pasted below) from a Jascian reader that broke my heart. They live in a place where buying gay-themed books (physical or digital) could get them into a lot of trouble, so they can only read stories that are posted online. While I do intend to update Jascian as soon as I can, realistically that could take a while. So I’m asking for suggestions from you. Gay male love stories (centered around love, not just sex) that don’t have to be downloaded in order to be read. I know there are a lot of really, really great stories posted online for free, and I’d very much like to show this reader that we as a community care.

 

Please post your suggestions in the comment section of my home blog (not tumblr, twitter, or Good Reads) to make them easier to access. Whatever platform you’re reading this on should have a link to it, but just in case: http://rowanmcbride.com/blog/?p=391 . They didn’t ask for any of this, but if it were me a story suggestion, or a few words of personal encouragement, would go a long way.

 

Thank you. And thank you to w. brown for writing to me.

__________________________________

From w. brown:

 

This is harking back to antiquity and another topic but the theme is timeless and I don’t see it on the index.

 

I’d give anything to read the continuation of the story, The Jascian’s Toy.

 

I live in a country with an oppressive attitude toward LGBT, a country where nobody is out because being out would mean the end of your career, eviction from your home, the loss of most if not all your friends because people would be desperate to show that the contamination of association with a gay had not wiped off on them. Gays who have been discovered while they’re doing military service have been killed because it gets them out of barracks nobody would want to share with them. Gay bars are a hopeless dream here. There are covert meeting places but they can be dangerous and at the best are little better than a meat market. You might meet a guy you like but just as likely meet one that you need to hide from later and there’s isn’t any time to linger over finding somebody compatible. It’s the luck of a hasty draw that determines who your partner is.

 

Buying a book from abroad would be impossible because it never would clear customs. I would even be afraid of getting anything by email since I don’t know if surveillance would extend to it, or to transactions needed to obtain it. The only source I have to read LGBT material is sites like this, of authors who have generously shared their work in public because I still have anonymous access to some PCs at my workplace. This story in particular has been a godsend since it is a masterpiece, and an abiding consolation that I can resort to without growing tired of it. It is the thing I always turn to when I feel discouraged. I can feel there is a happy ending lurking in it and that Gavin will find a way of showing Blake where his true happiness may lie, and Blake will quietly continue to improve the plight of lessers by urging Gavin to employ His power sympathetically. But it is more than just a beautiful romantic tale, the great adventure of the the love between The Ideal Giant and a human. It makes me feel that there is more to live for than the life I see around me. Every time I read it I want to be a better person, one like Blake, although I cannot be as brave as he is but I think that I could be as brave as I am on my best day.

 

Please, Mr McBride, do not forget about this life-changing story and that it is crying out for completion. Even the occasional addition of a chapter would be such a blessing.

Amber Quill Press is shutting down

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

One of my publiahers, Amber Quill Press, is shutting its doors for good. Their official closing date is March 30th, but they’re already beginning to wind things down.

This means that two of my books — Lone & Warm Rush: Chasing Winter — are going out of print. That makes me especially sad, since those were the only books I had available in paperback. If you were planning to buy the hard copies of either of those novels, I’d do it now. I’m not sure when exactly they’ll be pulled down, but if what happened to Want Me was any indication, the prices after AQP closes could skyrocket to $150. I love Lone and Warm Rush, but they are definitely definitely not worth that much. O.O

If there’s an upside, it’s that the e-book formats of both both books are seriously discounted on the AQP website, if you’ve been meaning to check them out.

It’s still sinking in that AQP is closing, so I haven’t decided what to do with my orphaned stories yet. Did you know that I wrote Lone especially for AQP? They were invitation-only and I certainly didn’t have an invitation, but I kept the finished manuscript under my bed for at least a year on the slim chance I’d receive one someday. Then, out of the blue, the invitation appeared in my inbox and I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the happiest moments of my life.That’s what I’m going to focus on for now. Business stuff later.

I’m not ready to say goodbye, Amber Quill, but I will say thank you for allowing me to be part of your writing family. I will miss you dearly.

If my head weren’t screwed to my body

Friday, August 21st, 2015

…I’d have lost it back in 3rd grade, latest. >.< Okay, so here's the deal: The M/M Romance Group on goodreads is celebrating its 6th Anniversary right now. Today (Friday, August 21st) is actually the 7th day of the party, and I... uh... sorta... {clears throat} I TOTALLY FORGOT I DONATED A PRIZE. Fortunately, my prize hasn't been claimed yet (I know, I know. Shocker, right?), which means you can still win it, and it's a pretty good one, if I do say so, myself. 😉 I'm giving away one chapter from a story on my Serials page (www.rowanmcbride.com/stories/serials). The chapter will be written within 60 days after the prize won, and it will be dedicated to the winner. You can choose to update any story on the Serials page. Yes, that includes Jascian. Yes, that even includes Davey. Giving away this kind of prize is a big deal for me. I never sell stories on proposal (they're always complete when I submit), I never take commissions, and I'm infamous for ignoring reader pleas. Plus, the last time anything on the Serials page was updated was November 1st, 2014, because that's how terrible I am. XD There's a bunch of ways to win, but the first step is to go to the M/M Romance Group on goodreads at https://goo.gl/duVOEA and join the group. Check out the prize vault (https://goo.gl/zdsbXm) in case a prize other than mine {gasp!} interests you. Go to https://goo.gl/4O1Wou and get your game on. If my prize isn't claimed {double gasp!} after the end of the GR celebration, then I promise to offer it up again in a separate drawing. Again, I'm really sorry to be so late about letting you know. Good Luck! -- Rowan McBride www.rowanmcbride.com PS: Computer died.  Sending this from my phone, so please let me know if there are any formatting errors since I'll be writing that chapter from here and my tablet.

One of Us Must Know

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

So… That Next Page work ethic I was trying out, oh, a year ago? It didn’t work for me so well. I mean, it worked. I had four chapters of One Good #3 written before I knew it. But they were crap chapters. Choppy, disjointed, almost to the point of incoherent chapters. I ended up scrapping all four of them. No worries, though. For me, “scrapping” means putting the files into a separate folder, so I can always go back and see if there’s anything I can salvage later. And I think there will be, because writing “wrong” for so long gave me some insights into better directions the story can go, and that’s always a good thing.

But I must admit, not liking anything I wrote was a new and scary experience for me. I realized I was very rusty at my craft, and that I needed to stretch and practice. But I didn’t want to risk screwing up a book, and I didn’t want to derail any of the serials I’ve been working on for so long. Truthfully, for a while there, I was afraid to touch a keyboard at all.

Luckily, I’ve got good friends. Some of whom suggested I write for fun, with no goal in mind. It was good advice. I eased into it. Saw a few images on Tumblr that inspired me to write some flash. Mostly about merfolk which is kinda weird. You can read those extremely short fics here:

Sunrise
Hangover
Sunset

And — AND — I wrote my very first piece of fan poetry. My first piece of fan-anything. It was about “In the Flesh.” You can read it at:

In the Flesh

Please please please watch the show. It is amazing and there’s still no word on a third season. I — personally, selfishly — need a third season, so watch it and tweet/blog/tumbl (tumble? tumblr?) about it with a #SaveInTheFlesh tag and also talk to me about how great it is and your favorite parts and all of it. XD

The next step was writing something long-form. I didn’t really have any ideas, but I did have two characters, and I was curious to see how they would work together. So I gave myself permission to just start writing, with no plot in mind, no end in sight. A new serial, but one without a plan.

I wrote — AND FINISHED — a first chapter, and it was hella fun. My plan was to post it on the Evolution Forum, because that’s where I got my start writing for public consumption and it was great interacting with the readers there. I was seriously looking forward to recapturing that magic.

But, alas, the Fates conspired, and the Ev Forum shut its doors the day I was going to post. Heh.

Side note: Because I got emails suggesting I post to one of the two spinoff forums, I’m going to address that here. It comes down to the terms of service.

• Forum #1:

  • Allows people to post stories that don’t belong to them, and I’m apparently the only one freaked out by that.
  • The moderators are allowed to edit your post as they see fit, which seems…weird. I know I’m a “pro” writer and I should be used to getting my stuff edited, but that’s with my consent and with, uh, reasons.
  • Once you open an account there, you can never ever ever get it closed. I don’t even know why that freaks me out but it does. Maybe it’s the possibility that the site could fall into nefarious hands who do nefarious things with it and, just like that, I’m part of a nefarious organization. I’m paranoid, I know. But it’s part of my job description.

• Forum #2:

  • Not easily accessible by my phone or even my e-reader. I know that’s totally petty, but my computer’s so old that it’s pretty much only capable of wordprocessing at this point, so I use my phone for almost everything internet related. When I first designed my site, I designed it with a variety of screen sizes in mind, so while it’s not optimized for mobile, it’s readable on most phones. I’m currently working on the optimization part, but it’s a delicate balance because I also want people with dial-up to be able to access my site fairly quickly. This is personal for me since I have friends who still have dial-up. Anyway, my point is that if a site is impossible to read/navigate on my phone, I won’t bother.
  • The TOS states that you cannot delete a post once you’ve put it up, which essentially gives them infinite rights to that content. Non exclusive rights, sure, but many places won’t accept a story that’s already available to everyone everywhere. Let alone pay you for it. Advice to any newbie writers out there — don’t do that. Especially for free, even with stories you intend to be free forever. You might want to take it down for completely non-money releated reasons, and unless your wrote a story on commission, you should be able to do it for whatever reason you want. Also, read the Terms of Service and/or contract (even with a commission) with a fine tooth comb before handing over your story. Also, don’t mix metaphors. Also, try not to start three sentences in a row with “also.”

Those are my reasons. To the people who sent me emails regarding this, genuine thanks for trying to help. It’s just that neither of the new sites feel like home to me, you know?

Speaking of home, I didn’t know what to do for a while. I kept scratching away in my notebook. When I had three chapters, I realized I really wanted people to see them, even though I still had no idea where I was going with the story. 🙂 Then I remembered, duh, I’ve got my own site. And a blog that allows comments. If that’s not a recipe for a playground, I don’t know what is.

So now you can read the first chapter of “One of Us Must Know,” on my site at http://rowanmcbride.com/stories/serials/, and you can comment by either clicking on the link at the bottom of the chapter, or going to http://rowanmcbride.com/blog/?p=315. If you read it, please comment. I would very much like to know what you think. I’m needy like that. 😉

Oh, if you’re signed up for my newsletter, you got to read this chapter October 1st. From now on, that’ll be one of the perks of the newsletter — members get to read a new chapter on the first of the month, nonmembers still get to read the chapters, but they won’t be posted to the public until the 15th. If you’re interested, sign up for the newsletter at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rowan_mcbride/. It’s free and very low traffic. I think my record number of posts was a whopping five in one month.

I think that’s it. I hereby present you with OoUMK (wow, no matter how many times I see it, that is one unwieldy acroynym), a story with no plot, no planned ending, not even a smidgen of a general direction. Sounds fun, right? WheeeEEEEEEeeee…eee?

Go go. Read. You don’t really have to comment. But I’d honestly love it if you did. XD

Body Language

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Note: The following post contains graphic language. About bodies. And their parts. Also there’s some random swearing. Well maybe a lot of swearing. A metric ton of swearing, really.

Also metaphors.

______________

 

I had a conversation with a female friend of mine last week, which reminded me of a conversation with another female friend of mine a few weeks before that, which reminded me of an attitude I used to have a few years back, which brings us back to a here-and-now that’s a little bit clearer for me.

So let’s start with the thing I thought a few years ago:

I was active on a lot of writer loops, reader loops, M/M loops (ah, energy. I miss you so). There was a conversation that popped up fairly often (and I imagine still pops up fairly often) on why women write M/M. It turns out women write M/M for a variety of reasons, how wild is that? From “if one man is great, two is better,” to “I cut my writing teeth on slash and now I’m here” to “I wanted to explore relationships that featured couples who carried a different sort of gender baggage” to “I like love stories in whatever form” and on and on. All of it was interesting because it’s interesting to find out why writers write (interesting to other writers, anyway). But there was one that never failed to piss me off.

“Girl parts are icky and gross in erotic romance. I’d rather not have to describe them.”

What. The. Fuck.

I was judgmental as shit. You’re talking about your own bodies! I thought. Girl parts are fucking awesome! I thought. If the only reason you’re not writing M/F or F/F is that you don’t like the way women’s bodies are portrayed, then write a fucking book that portrays them differently! I thought. You’re fucking writers! That’s our fucking job!

I swear a lot internally.

Fast forward to around a month ago. I was talking to a friend on the phone, and we ended up talking about body parts.

 

“I’m thinking of writing an M/F,” I said, “so I’m picking up a lot of newer ero-romance to see if there are any new words in circulation to describe female parts.”

“I can tell you right now that they’re all the same ones. There is no good word for vagina. Or vulva. None.”

“Oh, come on. I’ve been out of the loop for like seven years. There’ve gotta be–”

“Nope.”

“Huh,” I said.

“Yep,” she said. “I hate them *all.*” And then she brightened. “You know what? We should make up a new euphemism. One that has no baggage tied to it whatsoever and has nothing to do with anything. Like… Like… Oh! Like ‘shoe’!”

“Haha. What?”

“Or stereo!”

I laughed. “Or checkbook! That way your body could actually write checks it couldn’t cash!”

She groaned. “Or… Or…” Several moments of silence. “Or leaf.”

We both went “Ohhh.”

“That actually sounds kinda nice,” I said.

“Yeah. Yeah, I think I’m gonna go with it,” she said.

“And it totally works. Because a leaf is what’s left when someone takes your flower.”

She groans again, this time with real pain. “Aaaaand now you’ve ruined it for me.”

“What? Why?”

The next few minutes were her explaining to me why the whole concept of “taking someone’s flower” is kinda gross. Then I felt bad.

“Okay, okay. I take it back.”

“You can’t take it back! It’s in my head! Now we’re going to have to use stick or bark or twig or something.”

I chuckled. “I really am sorry.”

 

She grumbled for a while longer and then we talked about other things. After the call ended, I decided I still kinda like the word “leaf.” Dunno if I’m the type of writer who can pull off coining a term like that, though.

Which brings us to last week, and a txt convo I had with another friend of mine. I’d read a review where the reviewer had called one of my characters a cunt. I’ve been writing for a while, so I’m used to harsh reviews. They’re part of the baggage that comes with writing for public consumption. But that statement had really jarred me, and I was ranting about it with her.

 

Me: Saying sorry for using the word “cunt” as an insult does not excuse him from using it. Good lord. I know a lot of women in M/M who write M/M because the words they’re required to use for female body parts give them anxiety. And that shit right there is why. (Epiphany Achievement: Unlocked! Angels sang on high, heavenly light streamed onto my phone. Aaaaaand, it only took me seven years to level up. O.O)

Her: Female body parts are the reason I read a lot of M/M.

Me: It’s hard. All the words you have to use are also terrible terrible insults. There are no sex-positive words for that area. Except clit. I’m quite fond of clit. Probably because I’ve never heard some random douche yelling it out in anger.

 

So today I was thinking about how hard it is to be a female reader/writer of erotic romance. You literally have to split your psyche in two in order to enjoy it. You have to pretend that the part of you who knows that “cunt” is considered one of the worst insults you can hurl at a person does not exist. Otherwise you associate that word in your book with violence and then it becomes an unsafe space. You have to pretend that you don’t know men often refer to “pussy” as a completely separate and inanimate thing (Comedians talking about “old pussy” and “new pussy” and the lengths they have go to in order to “get pussy,” for example), as if there’s no living, breathing person attached. Otherwise you start thinking about objectification and rape culture and the book ceases to become a safe space.

If any space should be safe, it’s a love story. But there aren’t a lot of words that describe your body and are not simultaneously derogatory. So you split yourself in two, or you switch over to books that don’t feature women having sex at all, or you drop the ero from your romance and read books that don’t use graphic language, even if you like graphic language.

And that whole situation fucking sucks.

Realizing that, I apologize for my foul attitude back in the day. I don’t think anyone noticed it, because I make a point of being polite (note: polite does not mean nice and in NO WAY equals kind), but I am sorry for raging at my screen without trying to understand. I know it seems like I’ve been apologizing a lot lately, but eff it. People should apologize more often because genuine apologies clear the air enough to let honest discussion take place. And honest discussion is good.

Plus it might lead to words for female body parts that aren’t triggering, and that would be fantastic because both the parts and the whole are fucking awesome.

So if you’d like to continue the discussion, please do so in the comments below. Trolls and disrespectful comments will be deleted, however, because this is my safe space and I can totally do that.

Words

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Note: The following is a brief post about slurs, and hence might contain triggers.

Some time in late high school or early college, I started to correct my friends whenever they used the word “gypped.” In most cases it wasn’t a confrontational correction, because–like with so many other casual slurs–they had no idea what it really meant. I’d say something like, “Did you know that word comes from the word ‘gypsy’?” Usually that was more than enough. They’d be horrified, they’d tell their friends, and within a couple of years I stopped hearing the word in any of our circles.

Generally speaking, I have good taste in friends. They’re good people. They just didn’t know.

Here’s something I didn’t know until last year.

“Gypsy” itself, is a slur. It’s been used for centuries to run Romani people out of villages, towns, cities, countries. It’s been used to deny employment or to justify slavery. The Romani have been victims of lynching and concentration camps, of hatred and erasure.

You might be tempted to tell yourself, “But that’s overseas. Here in America ‘Gypsy’ has a completely different connotation.”

No. Not really. In part because many Romani who survived the Holocaust moved here, and many survive to this day. They have children and those children feel the pain of their parents and grandparents acutely, so that connotation hasn’t disappeared, nor should it. Remembering that something happened is the first step in making sure it doesn’t happen again. Plus America has its own set of stereotypes, as well as its own history of enslaving Romani people.

A short, but by no means encompassing, list below:

  • Gypsies are thieves/charlatans who will rip you off if you let them.
  • Gypsies are fortune tellers.
  • Gypsy women are whores.
  • Gypsy men are killers.
  • They have the power to curse people.
  • They all love to dance and play tambourines and wear bandanas.
  • They’re hypersexual and hot tempered.
  • They’re all homeless and at best travel in roaming caravans criss-crossing the country.

But… But… I have Romani friends and they *self-identity* as Gypsy!

And that’s their choice. The people within a marginalized group can choose to reclaim a word used to shame and hurt them in an effort to turn it into a positive. However, it’s almost never okay for people outside that group to use the word to identify said group.

But the DICTIONARY says–

Stop. Just stop. Many dictionaries still list a definition of “nigger” as a snag or hindrance.* I dare you to use that term around me and try to use that definition to defend yourself. Pro-tip: You won’t have a chance, because I’ll already have blocked you.

So, yeah. “Gypsy” is not a good word. And I used it a lot.

I used it in the first edition of Want Me. Joel often calls Walker a “gypsy” because Walker is a wanderer (see dictionary excuse above). I didn’t think anything of it because I have American-Romani friends who self-identify as Gypsy (see friends excuse above). But since then, I’ve come across several articles** and firsthand accounts written by people who were pained by the term. They were emotional, and true, and hard to read. And if they were hard to read, I knew I had no concept of how painful it was to live that reality.

Honestly speaking, I don’t care about offending people. I do, however, care very much about hurting them.

When it came time to edit the second edition of Want Me, I took it as a second chance and made some changes. The story still starts with Joel using that word, but as his world gets bigger and deeper he–as he does with so many other things–matures out of it in a way that I think is believable and organic. I was glad to have the opportunity to make those changes, to have a chance to mature with him.

To anyone who was hurt reading the way the word was used in the first edition, I apologize. Full stop.

______
* A few of those articles:

** To be fair, Dictionary.com (from which I paraphrased this particular definition) tries fairly hard to explain that it is a slur, is offensive, and should not be used. And although I disagree with some of the things in its usage note, “Gypsy” doesn’t even get that treatment.

Blurbs

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

I have a love/hate relationship with blurbs. When I’m trying to write them, it’s full-on hate. But when it’s done, and it’s good, it’s so, so good. I want to hold it in my hands and pet it gently and hold it up to the world to see as I proclaim “Look! I wrote this! Doesn’t it make you want to read the story behind it?”

Unfortunately, I’m not the greatest judge of my own blurbs.

Take Paul’s Dream, which I consider my best one:

Paul Graham is content with his life. An up-and-coming lawyer, he has no time to dwell on the mazes, puzzles, and riddles he solves while asleep. He has no interest in dreams, or anything that might derail his career.

Until Kian shows up. Sensual, playful, he claims that Paul rescued him four years ago. Now he’s determined to repay him with the one thing he knows best: sex laced with… magic.

Kian is unlike any man Paul has encountered. He won’t go away, for one. The fact that Paul doesn’t remember him doesn’t deter his mission of seduction in the least. But soon enough, Paul finds that this strange, carnal creature has the ability to melt his ice with a touch, to bring out a sweetness Paul didn’t even know he had.

As Kian becomes a part of his life, Paul finds himself more and more attached. Forgotten dreams, buried memories, and the dangerous obsession of another conspire to tear them apart. Is he strong enough to endure a trial by fire in order to keep them together?

Ohhh, was so proud of that one! I thought (still think) it was sexy, had a touch of humor, deftly hinted at the suspense elements in the story. The last line was an excellent hook, which is what last lines in blurbs are supposed to be. Perfect.

Except, not so much. I remember it got panned by several reviewers, most of whom called it “blah.” One was straight-up angry with me for not spelling out exactly what Kian was in the text of the blurb. I imagine Paul would have agreed with that last one. He didn’t get the specifics until chapter four, and he wasn’t exactly keen when he had them.

The story did okay. Word-of-mouth saved me from my own blah blurb. I think that’s when I learned that no one element is going to sink a book. Just work hard so that as many elements as possible hit the mark.

But blurbs are important. At least, they are to Reader-Rowan. When browsing books I notice first the cover (because I’m shallow), then the blurb, and if the blurb is interesting I read the excerpt to check and see if the writing style is compatible with my reading style. I think there must be at least a few readers out there who browse like I do, so I work hard on blurbs, going through several drafts, wondering if the draft I’ve got is too dramatic for the story or not dramatic enough. Too much information? Not enough information? On and on. And when it’s done, I cross my fingers and post.

Which reminds me:

Look below this line! I wrote this! Doesn’t it make you want to read the story behind it?

__________

Chains

A new prisoner has been brought to the castle. They say he’s a warrior. They call him a demon. They whisper that he can grant wishes.

Saiven can’t resist. He sneaks into the secluded dungeon to see, but the man chained to the wall is not what he expects. Smiling. Teasing. He introduces himself as Faolan, and Saiven is caught.

This…man. He makes Saiven feel things he should not feel. Draws forth confessions that were meant to stay secret. Faolan freely grants him warmth and laughter. But now…

Now it’s time to find out if Saiven is strong enough to earn a wish.

Straightforwardness

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Main characters in my finished and published stories, ranked in order of straightforwardness, starting with the most straightforward and ending with the least:

Rafe Dirisio — (Lone)
Paul Graham — (Paul’s Dream)
Joe Wilson — (A Picture’s Worth)
Kian Somers — (Paul’s Dream)
Zakai — (Paul’s Dream)
Joel Beckett — (Want Me)
Keith Taylor — (Chasing Winter)
Ace Donovan — (One Good Hand/One Good Year)
Riley Jameson — (One Shot)
Walker Cain — (Want Me)
Nick Carlyle — (One Shot)
Spade Hart — (One Good Hand/One Good Year)
Seth Anderson — (Lone)
Draven Donnor — (Just Perfect)
Mason Ripley — (A Picture’s Worth)
Asher Croft — (Paul’s Dream)
Jesse Winter — (Chasing Winter)
Dorian Burns — (Lone)
Cody West — (Just Perfect)

You might be thinking, “What?! How is Jesse so far down on the list, and how is WALKER square in the middle??” If you are thinking that, what follows is what passes for logic on my end:

First, this list only gauges straightforwardness, and does not take badassitude into account. Though, really, when you think about it, Jesse is plenty badass. Whenever Keith–who is gigantic and endowed with freaky super strength–steps out of line, Jesse never hesitates to knock him right back into it.

Second, the ranking is value-neutral. So whatever nefarious schemes a character might have going on (I’m looking at you, Draven), they don’t count for anything in this list.

Last, straightforwardness does not mean trustworthy. So, while Spade is arguably the most trustworthy character on the list, he waits till damned-near the end of the first book to tell Ace what he is, which Ace doesn’t take well. At all.

But anyway.

Jesse is in the bottom three because through most of Chasing Winter what he says and what he’s thinking are totally out of sync. For example:

“You always told me that willpower could accomplish anything.”

If I had known he’d remember every damned thing I said, I would have tried harder to stay away from such trite clichés. “Yes, I did say that.”

Or–

Keith grinned. “I’m making you uncomfortable, aren’t I?” He left the couch and searched out his briefs. “I’ll get out of your hair.”

I grabbed the top of the couch with my right arm and pulled myself up to watch him dress. Now that he wasn’t touching me, I felt…oh, God, I felt more alone than I ever had in my life. “Thank you.”

And he’s like that through most of the book. So now he’s on the bottom of a totally arbitrary, written-by-the-whim-of-the-author list on straightforwardness.

Jesse was fairly easy to place. If you’ve read Just Perfect, then you know why Cody ranks rock-bottom. No brainer. Same with Rafe and Paul. Rafe wears his heart on his sleeve and is always sure everyone around him knows where he stands. Paul’s heart is frozen solid for a while, but even then everything he does has a reason and he has no qualms about explaining those reasons to you.

Walker wasn’t so easy. Sure, he locks Joel to him in a horrifying spiral of magic that pretty much ruins both their lives, but remember–nefariousness has no weight on this list. He’s also a liar by nature, which would naturally rank him lower. But he doesn’t fuck around when it comes to his obsession with Joel. Never deviates. Never lets Joel forget that he’s never going to deviate. So, yeah, horrifying. But hey, straightforward.

You’re probably safer if you just don’t believe in anything Dorian does or says. Ever. I know it sort of worked out in Lone, but dude. Trust me on that one.

Riley was also hard to place. One Shot’s told from Nick’s point of view, and he’s royally freaked out through most of that story, so it’s hard to gauge how much of Riley’s actions are warped by that filter.

Seth was a pain in the ass. He’s got that crazy Ravager-magic-want-it-now-so-will-HAVE-IT-NOW thing going on. And first instinct is to rank him higher because even in human form he’s all “Look at my massive brown puppy eyes don’t you want to pet my hair?” But Seth doesn’t even know himself, so by default that cripples his ability to be straightforward with Rafe.

So that’s my logic, such as it is. I think it’s pretty easy to see why I put the others in their places on the list.

My question: Do you agree with me? Disagree? Where would you rank these guys, and why?


Interesting fact: I was not aware that “straightforwardness” was a legit word until I typed it up for the first time and didn’t get the red spell-fail squigglies. Prior to that I’d assumed I had made it up. “Squigglies,” however, is apparently fake, which feels wrong to me. >.>

Pressure

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Writer’s block can be triggered by any number of things. Real life gets too busy, you get sick, you wrote yourself into a corner, you can’t get that freaking song out of your head and it’s ruining your scene.

Sometimes it’s pressure. With writers, there are three main sources:

  1. From your publisher
  • Although I’ve been lucky in this respect, some publishers take that wonderful book you wrote over the course of a year or two or five and want you to write three more just like it. By the end of the year.
  • From readers, real or perceived
    • This can be tricky. Most readers aren’t trying to pressure you when they’re asking when the next installment of this or that series will be out. You did your job as a writer, and now they’re a fan of the world you’ve created. This is a good thing. It’s a compliment.
    • Occasionally, though, I get a letter telling me to finish a particular storyline, and that generally has the opposite effect intended because I’m childish that way.
  • From yourself
    • This is the worst, by far. Writers by nature have overactive imaginations, and we can blow things all kinds of out of proportion. So everything listed above gets spun into your own psyche, along with:
      • If I don’t write three books a year the readers will forget me.
      • If I don’t write this freaking sequel the publisher will drop me.
      • What if this sequel isn’t as good as the first story in the series?
      • You’re only as good as your last book.
      • Nothing I write now will ever be as good as that one beautifully crafted book I wrote five years ago.
      • What if I never finish anything again?
      • I suck.

    Dealing with the first two sources is easy.

    1. If your publisher honestly expects you to write five books a year and that is not within your skill-set, tell them that. If they still expect the wordcount, then find a new publisher.
    2. Acknowledge that people love your world/characters enough to write you about them. Then take your time, and write a book that you love as much as the first one. Be good to your readers by being good to your story.

    See? Easy peasy. #3, though… There’s no simple way to lose all that baggage. But here are some of the things that I do:

    • Get a hobby that is not writing.
      • It clears my mind, relieves stress, and reminds me that there are other things in life.
      • I draw, fold origami, take pictures of toys and sometimes make animated .gifs of those toys, play soccer with my nieces and nephews (because apparently one little league season during kindergarten makes me the expert in my family).
      • I know other writers who sing, who cook. I’ve seen a lot of them knit during wait times at conventions.
    • Make friends with creators who are in the same fix.
      • Writers, artists, comic book creators. Talk about stuff. Vent that frustration we all get when we try to create a work of art only to have to market it as a product. Share that fear that we’re being pretentious when we refer to what we create as “art.”
      • This helps me realize I’m not alone. That these problems that seem so devastating are actually very common. Once the problems become common, they put a lot less pressure on me.
      • Note: Make friends. Don’t join a gang. The point is to get all those positive vibes flowing, which clears the air around you, which makes it easier to write.
    • Write under a secret identity for a while.
      • Hold on, hold on. I know this sounds mad sketchy. But it helps, especially given that I’m an established (am I being pretentious when I call myself “established”?) writer and the people around me tend to assure me that I could never write anything short of wonderful. Which is bullshit. Everyone will write a flop eventually. Most people will write several. But sometimes I get caught in one of two traps:
        • I get tied into knots because I’m terrified that the next book will suck and all these people who had faith in me will be disappointed.
        • I start to suspect my friends are lying to me.
      • I create a new username. I pick a forum or other such free story site that either aligns perfectly with my interests or falls way out of my comfort zone. I write. I get feedback from strangers who don’t know I’m Rowan McBride.
      • Rules:
        • Tell no one (not even my best friend who lives in another state and doesn’t like the internet) of my username. The primary point of this exercise is to see how I do when I have to “start from scratch” in a sea of people who do not know me.
        • If I’m writing in my comfort zone (frex: muscle growth) then go all out and write it, without all those invisible rules that come with being a published author tying me down.
        • If I’m writing out of my comfort zone, write it. Do my best to rock this strange new world.
        • Experiment.
        • If I fail, be glad. It won’t affect my writing career and I’m learning something.
        • If I rock it, be glad. I have proof that I am awesome.
    • Create long, rambling lists with bulleted points on how to relieve pressure. 😉
    • Read. Inside your genre. Outside your genre. Discover how absolutely fabulous you really are and realize with joy how much better you have the potential to be.
    • Listen to music.
    • Dance.
    • Breathe.
    • Write.


    Note: Thanks to Sherry on Goodreads for the suggestion of “breathe.” 🙂