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Your WordCrazy hostesses, Michelle O'Leary and AJ Caywood, welcome you to their blog about writing and hope you enjoy the mind-bending mania. Feel free to join in with your own brand of insanity...crazy loves company.
Whenever there’s a popular show or book, Internet travelers are bound to find fanfiction about it. Fanfiction is creative writing about characters and storylines that were created by someone else. Some original authors and their publishers frown upon fanfiction, implying that it’s a copyright infringement. Perhaps it is…but how ‘bout that publicity?
Fanfiction is a way for the fans of a movie, show, or book to express their admiration, prolong the feelings they derived from the original, and extend contact with their favorite characters and storylines. It is NOT a sign of a pervasive lack of originality in the writers of fanfiction—some of the most creative and expressive writing I’ve ever read has been fanfiction. And I don’t say this just because I’ve written some myself… ;)
I understand an author’s concern about copyright infringement—the characters and storylines are theirs by creation and license. However, the benefit of promotion can’t be ignored. Fanfiction brings attention to the original, gains new followers, and shows the dedication of the original work’s fanbase. Fanfiction writers are loyal to a fault, and most have friends who they will persuade to read their fine work. This often triggers curiosity about the original creation, which is always a good thing for any author hoping for interest in their work.
Fanfiction is often extremely enjoyable, from straight orthodox fiction to humorous spoofs. So if you have a favorite show or book, do a search online for associated fanfiction. You might be surprised and entertained by what you find. ***
Along with my novel-length works I also have a plethora of short stories I'm working on. I thought it would be fun to touch on some of those in this series as well. For a while there I wasn't sure if I'd be able to write a short story. To tell a complete story in this format was daunting to me, as I truly love to explore deep into my character's hearts, digging up and uncovering what they are all about in different situations. But once I had my first short under my belt, the ideas came pouring out for more, and in many different genres. Here is a sneak peak into one of those that is out on submission.
Burial in Creelsboro by AJ Caywood
Dusty and Lauren Gibson were living an idyllic life until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The disease claimed his wife, along with Dusty's dreams. In his grief, Dusty decides to bury his wife at the back of the family farm in the small Creelsboro cemetery instead of in town. He wanted her close and he wanted her safe, and no one could persuade him otherwise--not even an old terrifying legend connected with that cemetery. Dusty soon comes to understand the terrible consequences of his choice, and why some traditions are abandoned and left in the past.
I have some short stories that are already published and available. Just hop on over to my website to find Baykal's Bane, The Promise, and an array of shorts available in anthologies. www.AJCaywood-Author.com
This is the second installment in The Sunscapes Trilogy, a science fiction romantic adventure about the epic struggle between two mega companies that will decide the fate of the entire galaxy. On one side we have Shay Enterprises and the Shay twins, mysterious and dangerous, as unpredictable as they are beautiful. On the other side we have Quasicore and Webster Griffin, ruthless and lethal, whose hunger for power and control might just destroy all civilization.
Here There Be Dragons picks up where Last Chance left off, following Nick Givliani as he investigates Shay Enterprises, and Cassie Draegen as she desperately struggles to fulfill the next step in the Shay’s battle plan against Quasicore. As their resident genius and driven by a dark past of her own, Cassie is the Shay’s technological advantage over Quasicore. But that doesn’t make her safe, from Griffin or from Nick’s investigations. The following is a snippet of Here There Be Dragons for your reading pleasure. _________
Thoughts multi-tasking at light speed, Cassie automatically cleaned up the remains of her breakfast and headed for the door, her mind’s eye seeing code and algorithms, schematics and components, rather than her quarters. But all brain function came to a screeching halt, as she stepped out into the corridor and saw that she wasn’t alone.
A Federated Planetary Alliance inspector, here on the pretense of visiting his brother. But his real reason for remaining on the station was to investigate the Shays. He’d grown suspicious of the twins’ activities and was concerned about his brother’s involvement with them, so it didn’t surprise Cassie to hear that he’d been rather enthusiastic in his investigation so far. Considering her position with the Shays, it was only a matter of time before he started investigating her.
That meant she needed to be cautious around him. Avoiding him like a plague would be a good idea. At the moment, though, she was having trouble just remembering to breathe.
Suns, she groaned to herself, why does he have to be so friggin’ beautiful? ________
For those who read the first book, Last Chance, and are waiting impatiently for this installment, I beg your patience and understanding. I know where this story is supposed to go, and it’s driving me nuts not to finish it immediately, but there have been life events and priorities that have kept me away from it. Argh! What I need is a long writer’s vacation. Anybody got a winning lotto ticket??? *grin*
Oh, the horror of the blank page! All writers can relate—that empty paper or screen can be both tantalizing and terrifying. Not only are writers supposed to put loads and loads of words on that empty expanse, but they're supposed to make them string together in a coherent and hopefully entertaining way. No wonder most writers have experienced writer's block, the inability to begin or continue a piece of wordsmithing.
There comes a time when the writing muse takes a hike, the brakes engage, and the words come to a screeching halt on the page. Why, oh, why? There are as many reasons as there are writers—each writer has a unique set of environmental, mental, and emotional stressors that can cause hiccups in their creativity. But the following are some generalized causes.
1. Life stress—when life's inevitable ups and downs interfere with the work
2. Wrong turn—when the piece goes in a direction that wasn't intended
3. Loss of interest—when the writer falls out of love with the subject
4. Technical difficulties—when the words aren't lining up right
5. Lack of material—when there isn't enough material to continue with the article/story
Alas, there is no such thing as a cure for writer's block! There is no magic pill that will make it all better. But there are work-arounds that can get a wordsmith past the bumps in the writing road.
Life stress is probably the worst offender for creating writer's block, with time constraints and crises with family, friends, work, home, etc. There is no cure for life's interference, only ways to balance writing with the rest of your life. Find your writing nirvana—the conditions that are most conducive for you to write—and then recreate them as often as you can within your life's schedule. For example, if a certain kind of music turns on your muse, carry that music with you and crank it when you have a few free minutes to dive into the writing zone.
For wrong turns, loss of interest, and technical difficulties, the following are a few work-arounds that might make a difference:
1. Rereading from the beginning—sometimes this can clarify the root of the problem
2. Read out loud—hearing how the words come together can give a whole new perspective
3. Second opinion—having someone else read it often offers priceless objectivity
4. Stepping back—work on something else for a while, and then hopefully go back to the original piece with a refreshed attitude
5. Hack and slash—if a word/sentence/paragraph/scene is giving you loads of trouble, often it's because it needs to go
When there's a lack of material, if it is an article, perhaps the subject is too specific and needs to be more generalized. For a story, it's possible that the sequence of events needs tightening, or that the whole thing needs to be in a much shorter form.
Don't Give Up
There is nothing worse for a writer than that stuck feeling, splatting against a creative wall in the brain. But there's hope! For every brick wall, there's a way around, over, or under. The key is to believe in yourself as a writer—if you were excited enough about a project to begin it, than there's good reason to finish it. You might have to do some creative finagling to get it flowing again, but it is possible. Writer's block isn't a dead end, but only a detour, and sometimes detours can lead to fantastic places.
This is my second attempt at a novel-length work. I know it's been a while since I've completed a second novel since STAY IN THE LIGHT. I have been writing, though! I've had eight short stories published, but boy it's been tough for me to get another novel completed. I've realized that the pressure I've been putting on myself to make my second novel so much better than the first has chained my muse. But I'm going to bust out of those chains because the love of writing is straining to be set free!
Retrieved Heart is a Science-Fiction Romance full of action, suspense, and spice! This story centers on Britt Masters and her small crew of Retrievers, a close-knit group who risk their lives to retrieve valuables lost in cosmic crashes. For Britt, it's much more than saving man-made valuables, but the human survivors that are so often left behind due to greed. Britt pushes her ship through the ferocious Devil's Tongues--deadly solar flares that dance and twine directly through the shipping lanes. Saving those that might meet the same fate as her parents is what drives Britt, and she has no life past that. That is, until the brooding and seductive Garrick Donovan shows up, complete with a bad reputation and secrets of his own. Britt finds him hard to resist, but she has to because he works for one of the most hated retrieval companies in the galaxy. Forced to save Garrick from the sentence he gave so many other crash survivors, Britt brings him on her ship. She soon unravels some of Garrick's secrets, showing her who he really is, and it opens up her heart.
I've completed over half of this story, writing on it like a madwoman at times, worrying if it's coming out the way I want it to at other times. The important thing for me is to let go of those worries, let the story and characters take control, and immerse myself in this wild and wonderful world I'm creating. When it's finished, I hope my readers will enjoy it too.
This is the first in a series of posts describing the writing projects that Anna and I are currently working on and hoping to finish/publish/sell-like-crazy-and-win-critical-acclaim. ;) We will be alternating posts, with one project for each post.
That said, let's get on with the show!
What Are We Working On? Part 1
The Third Sign by Michelle O'Leary
This is actually a finished novel, though my efforts to get it print-published have not been fruitful thus far. But I haven't given up on it yet! Every once in a while, I get frustrated and discouraged, wondering if the thing is any good at all. Then I re-read it and fall in love all over again with the characters and the story. I get sucked in, can't put it down, and think to myself, "If I like it this much, there have got to be others who will, too!"
The Third Sign is a science fiction romance with a dark twist and non-stop action. Abandoned by her brother and out of her depth in one of the foulest prisons in the galaxy, Priya finds an ally in a half-mad newcomer with a deadly beauty and a mysterious past. Together they hatch a plan to break out of the prison, but before they can put their plan into action, Priya’s brother Tier arrives as a new inmate. Determined to rescue his wayward sister, he is dismayed to find that the child he knew has become a bitter, wild young woman, with a companion as magnetic as she is murderous. Between one woman’s fury at his desertion and the other woman’s seductive menace, Tier discovers that escaping with his skin intact might just take a miracle.
This story was exciting to work on, flowing out like someone had stuck a spigot in my brain. Those who have read my Huntress novel and shorts will recognize common elements between The Huntress and the Black Widow, the volatile, dangerous heroine in this latest novel. What can I say--I love strong, kick-ass females! Priya, the other heroine, is almost as feisty, but also brings a great deal of heart to the story. And the hero, Tier, offers so much more than just the yum factor. The story takes these characters on a wild ride, with plenty of twists and action to keep even adrenaline addicts busy.
I'm a feedback junkie, so I'd love to hear any and all comments or questions about this project. You can either comment on this blog or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org