Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Writer's Block? Or Fear?

Okay, so you're racing toward the end of your novel, Muse on full throttle (for me, at least, my Muse is a fast, black, exotic.....sports car), and then suddenly, without warning, you....slow.....down. The Muse refuses to go faster than 30 MPH. What happened?

Is it writer's block? And what is writer's block? As a writer, I've never acknowledged that phrase. I've had periods where the writing has been sparse and not because of lack of ideas (those are always populating my head like super-fertilized clinging vines), but more because of other, less clear reasons. Could it be writer laziness? Maybe something more like fear or insecurity?

I've thought long and hard on the subject and read the many varied debates on it's existence or reasons for being and have come to my own, personal illumination on what causes my slow down in penning words to empty space. Fear. Yes, I had an epiphany, of sorts. No matter that I've written four entire novels (the fifth Brenda Strange, XIMORA, is nearly done, if only that black sports car that is my Muse will pick up speed.), had nominated short stories and edited an anthology of horror flash fiction, fear and uncertainty still rear their ugly heads. I'm leaning to the belief that there really is no "writer's block" per se. Allow me to explain, if you'll indulge me.

Let's say you have the entire scenario for one bang up of an ending. All the bits and pieces are neatly in place. You have the clear visuals as if the ending is a film winding down to an exciting ending. And then you falter when it comes down to writing them. It happens to me. Not often, than God. My epiphanic conculsion is that deep down in my writer's psyche, I am afraid that my writing skills will not match my creative skills. Will the language I use to describe the powerful scenes to end the novel make the reader see the picture I have in my brain? Am I a good enough writer? This is what caused my Muse to sputter and slow. I also know that once I add more fuel and gas her up, I'll be back at full speed, leaving all my doubts behind like so much exhaust fumes. I guess being able to overcome the fear and insecurity of writing is what makes us authors. Is it writer's block? Nah, I don't believe it for one minute. It just is what it is. The more we give power to the phrase "writer's block," the more we struggle with it.

Does this happen to you? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, December 22, 2008

How to cope when you are no longer employed?

I was laid off from my job of thirteen and a half years this past Friday, December 19th. I was in shock first and that gave way to disbelief, followed by bitterness and then resignation that I was no longer part of the productive throng of the world. I currently run the gamut of emotions from depression, anxiety, hopefulness, despair, and back to hopefulness. As a diabetic that is insulin dependent and also take medication, a big concern is the cost of my meds. I no longer have insurance. I can't see my doctor because just her office fee is seventy dollars. I believe un-employment funds are only a third of your paycheck. That won't cover my meds, the mortgage, health insurance, etc. I did have a bit of money saved and that will help. And I am Blessed to have my Faith that keeps me strong and my family and friends that are the life-line to much needed support.

It's a strange, disconnected feeling....not being employed. It would have been nice if this had come closer to my retirement age. But it didn't. I suppose the ideal word for the feeling is...... Surreal. I think a good description is being pushed off the firm, earthy footing of a hill and suddenly be suspended in air, with nothing underneath you. Nothing. What lies below?

I'm living in surreal days and surreal nights. I hope to get much writing done. Don't they say that starving artists are the most creative? Don't they say that strife and hard times bring out the creativity? Does that mean that rich people can't be artists?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Juggling Desires

I write and I create graphic art work. I've also been working since I was 18 years old. I'm tired of the 7:30 to 4:00 drudgery and am so wanting to retire, I can taste it like hot chocolate on my craving tongue. But alas, I have five years to at least early retirement. What does all this have to do with writing? I'm sure I'm not unlike most authors who, when embarking upon the great writing career, have hopes of becoming successful and famous enough to make writing the only thing they need to make a living. Who wouldn't want to work from home in jammies all day?

At 57, I am neither famous (not even well-known), nor able to make even enough royalty for a weekend dinner from my writing. I no longer have that burning passion or desire to burn down the doors of agents or big-time publishers in search of a lucrative contract that might propel me to the desires and expectations I once had. I've been through three disastrous contracts with publishers that were less than admirable and I will name them here: Justice House, Barclay Books and Bella Books.

So, what do you care if I'm stripping myself naked here in front of you? Well, on second thought, don't answer that. I'm at a crossroads where I wonder how many other authors might have come across or will come across. If you don't get what you expected, despite much work on your end, how prone are you to letting go of writing altogether and soul-search for something more fulfilling? I've been writing since the late 1960s. It was fun then. Today, I keep hearing the buzz words: "It's a business." Well, it might have been a business back then too, but it sure didn't feel like it. Mind you, I'm writing this simply through my own experiences. I never felt that writing back in the 60s and 70s was so cutthroat. Perhaps it was my own naivety. I was a beginning writer. What did I know?

I'm a graphic artist. I work for a photography studio and do Photoshop work. I've lately gotten freelance work doing book covers and am greatly enjoying the diversion. I haven't been writing as much. I like the instant gratification of creating a piece of art work in a day or two and presenting it to waiting publisher and author. I like it.

Juggling desires......Should writing be my mistress or my wife?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

How Much is Enough?

I belong to several online writing forums and the subject of promoting one 's work comes up often enough for me to post a blog about it. Writers can sometimes become obsessive about finding as many avenues to promote, market and otherwise, expose ourselves and our books online.

My question is, how many web pages, blogs, forums and online activities can an author indulge in without seriously injuring their ability to work on our actual books? At what point do you realize that keeping sites like MySpace, Facebook, and other "friends" type sites become a burden and full of people that aren't going to buy or promote your book at all and merely want to post pictures and converse? And do you think all the web pages and web exposure actually do anything to sell your book or draw more readers to you?

Are readers really spending their time online to find authors and visit author web sites? I sometimes get the feeling that the only ones who are joining forums, checking out web sites and communicating with authors online are other authors. Pitching your book to other authors isn't necessarily what I'm interested in. If we are really honest, author-ego is present within all of us and we are most interested in mainly our own books. Be honest. And how many of us have so much time, with work and life, to really read as much as we'd like? I know I can't.

How do you reach the non-writing reader online?

Let's start out with a recent Interview.....

Author Interview Patty G Henderson:

It's rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a 'real' job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you've had in your life?
Patty G Henderson: I’ve been a “Jill of All Trades” in that I’ve done many things from working in the library to pumping gas. I’m currently employed at a large, national photography studio where I do graphic retouch work with Photoshop. I’ve been doing that for 13 years!
What compelled you to write your first book?
Patty G Henderson: Disenchanted with not finding the kind of books I wanted to read, I thought I could write one. Seriously, I’ve had a desire to write since a young teen and quickly figured out the type of books I enjoyed. But as I grew up, more of those types of books became less common and books began to get bigger and fatter. The types of books I enjoy are shorter, more compact stories, much like those older paperback books from the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Patty G Henderson: Well, technically not “always,” but definitely as a young teen when I began to read voraciously. I wanted very much to write and I began with short stories.
Tell us a little bit about your book/s. What are their titles; which is your favorite if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about. Pay particular attention to your most recent book and/or your first book:
Patty G Henderson: I love to talk about my books! I’ve written one vampire lesbian romance thriller, SO DEAD, MY LOVE, recently revised and re-distributed last year, and three books in the Brenda Strange supernatural suspense series. The first book was THE BURNING OF HER SIN, followed by the second, TANGLED AND DARK, and the third book, THE MISSING PAGE. I’m having a blast with Brenda Strange and hope the series remains as exciting to my readers. I’m working on the fourth book, XIMORA, which I hope to have out by the end of 2008. The Brenda Strange series is more than just a mystery/suspense series. The books follow Brenda through life changes and my intent is to bring the reader into Brenda’s life and be able to live the drama, tragedy and experiences.

As for my favorites, each book is my favorite while I’m working on it, but I have to say that I believe the very first book in the Brenda Strange series, THE BURNING OF HER SIN, was an almost mystical experience for me. I might have done some channeling while writing that book. It flowed from my mind and body without much effort on my part.
Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?
Patty G Henderson: You bet I am. Watch for the new Brenda Strange book, XIMORA, to be available this Christmas. You will never think of the story of Pygmalion fondly again! LOL.

I am also editing a gay/lesbian anthology of horror and dark flash fiction (stories under 1,000 words) for PD Publishing called CHILLING TALES OF TERROR AND THE SUPERNATURAL. There are some great writers lined up for the anthology and it should be available this summer.
What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?
Patty G Henderson: Music is the food my Muse requires for optimum writing. I don’t listen to music while I write, but I enjoy music as often as I can and that calls forth my Muse most of the time. I love mostly instrumental Ambient/Techno music like Delerium, Enigma and others of that type. Moody and dark. There are too many that I enjoy to remember or list them. But I enjoy most music and have an eclectic taste except for Country and Rap.
What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing?
Patty G Henderson: I have no children and that is a regret I suffer. I am currently single and at 57, hope to still find that one, great partner in my life. I have been married once and still love my ex very much as a friend.

I have one sister. We have no common bond at all. My mother will turn 84 this summer and she is the focus in my life. She has my utmost admiration and love. Most of my family supports my love of writing, although some don’t understand it.
The main characters of your stories - do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?
Patty G Henderson: I try to distance myself from each of my main characters. As a matter of fact, I attempt to make them as different from me as I can. However, all the other characters that inhabit my worlds do carry the essence of who I am peppered through them. I love throwing in traits found not only in myself, but also parts of my unsuspecting friends, relatives and family. Not one single character is a carbon copy of someone I know entirely, but is more of a combination of a number of traits from different people.
Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
Patty G Henderson: I’ve never wanted to write like anyone else and I hope that my writing has its own bold voice that is mine and mine alone. However, there have been writers that have forever burned their words in my heart and mind. Among the living, the early works of Stephen King were influential as was Anne Rice. In the mystery genre, Ellen Hart and Sandra Scoppettone are teachers I must forever credit.

I do have a writing mentor and I am in debt to her. I value not only her voice of reason but her friendship as well.
When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?
Patty G Henderson: I would not be writing today if it hadn’t been for the love affair I had with Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. My favorites were Poe, Lovecraft and the “Conan” series by Robert Howard.
What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?
Patty G Henderson: I honestly have no favorites now except for all of the Jane Lawless mystery books by Ellen Hart. I admit that I have such little time for reading; I don’t get as much done as I’d like. I read mostly lesbian fiction (in particular mysteries, pirate yarns or sf). I also love Ramsey Campbell and James Herbert. I no longer read Stephen King and Anne Rice has given up vampires and horror. My favorite genre is supernatural/horror and paranormal mystery, but will read a straight mystery and even some Star Wars series books. LOL.
Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now. If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?
Patty G Henderson: I’ve grown up in the city of Tampa, Florida since 1951. I come from a Spanish ancestry and learned how to speak Spanish before English. I now speak both fluently. Tampa has grown way too much and I seek a quieter, less congested country life. As long as there is a theater, a hospital, a bookstore and a Wal-Mart, I’ll be okay. My ideal place would be in the mountains, away from over-populated cities, (but not too far where in case of an emergency we could get there without dying! LOL), with a loving partner, lots of pets and plenty of cold winters. I am tired of the Florida heat.
Do you have any pets? What are they? Tell us about them.
Patty G Henderson: I love…love….love cats! I would have farm full of cats if I could! I have always had cats since childhood and continue to support the loving felines. I currently have only one, but will be adding another and have at various times had up to five at one time!

I am not a big dog fan….just don’t love them as much as kitties.
Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
Patty G Henderson: I don’t have a set place to write. I write anywhere and whenever I can. I write at work at my first fifteen minute break. I write during my half hour lunch. I write in my last fifteen minute break at work. I write whenever I want at home on my laptop or at my desktop. I write in front of the television. I write in my room….I write on the dining table. I write on laptop or paper. Well, you get the picture. LOL.
Do you watch television? If so, what are your favorite shows? Does television influence of inspire your writing?
Patty G Henderson: I can honestly say I watch very little television. The one thing I share with my mom is that we both love the Spanish Tele-Novellas on the Telemundo Television Station. They are basically soaps with a beginning, middle and end, much like an adaptation from a book or novel. Oh, they are in Spanish, did I mention that? LOL. I especially like the historical period ones. I also watch some of the Barrett-Jackson automobile auctions and also “Ghost Hunters” on the Sci-Fi Channel.
What about movies? Same as above.
Patty G Henderson: Don’t laugh, but I love the computer animated flicks. I also enjoy the PG-13 supernatural/ horror movies, sf and fantasy. But with the astronomical price of a theater ticket nowadays, my trips to see a film are few and far between.
Focusing on your most recent (or first) book, tell our readers what genre your book is and what popular author you think your writing style in this book is most like.
Patty G Henderson: My main focus is the Brenda Strange supernatural mystery/suspense series and I would say this series defies categories and definitely crosses genres. Many enjoy the mystery and suspense while others love the supernatural aspect of each story. You could find my Brenda Strange series in the mystery section of any bookstore and you would be delighted with the book. On the other hand, you could also pick the book up in the horror section and be equally entertained. My style is my own and I refuse to share it with any other writer. LOL.
How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?
Patty G Henderson: It’s amazing how each book is never the same. The last Brenda Strange book, THE MISSING PAGE, only took about a year to write. I’m already taking far more time on the new book to be released late this year, XIMORA. It really depends on the amount of research you undertake for each book, your working schedule at the time and other matters life ultimately throws in your path. I’ve never honestly had any preconceived ideas on how long it would take me to write any book.
Now, use this space to tell us more about anything you want your readers to know.

Thank you, Michy, for the interview. My books are all available through the usual online bookstores such as Amazon.com or can be ordered at any local bookstore if they are not on the shelves. To keep updated on the new Brenda Strange book, contests and pictures, visit my web site at: www.pattyghenderson.com.