I’m vacationing in Amsterdam, so I haven’t been able to write every day as I had been. But today, I finally found some time to hang out at a three story cafe and write until I felt too shaky from all the coffee I drank. I wrote a little bit of the new Maddie book and a little bit of Forever Candy. I’ve revised the Prologue so many times and have moved on to Chapter One. I believe I finally found Candy’s voice. 

There is a similarity between this narrative and the narrative in The Scribbled Victims. Many readers of The Scribbled Victims don’t realize immediately that it is Orly narrating the book. I drop a hint at it in the very first chapter when she interrupts her storytelling to say that she wished that she looked like Yelena. Because of that, a reviewer criticized me of switching from third person to first person, even though it was first person all along. 

Anyhow, Candy will be narrating the story of a man named Burrows, but similarly it is all in her voice. It should be more clear from the get go this time. Who knows, maybe this style will become my thing. 

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I’m back to writing every day. I think it’s important that I write every day so that I stay present in my work and also because with writing on my mind all day, I’m generally happier and feel less despair working a day job. This idea to start writing every day again came out of a recent session with my psychologist. For the past three years or so, I’ve only been writing on weekends, because I had been feeling so overworked at my day job because of some projects I was involved with. My psychologist at the time and I decided it would be best for my stress level to stop writing every day. It helped with the stress certainly, but it was ultimately a detriment to my happiness and my feeling of having a purpose. Those projects are over now. I don’t know why I didn’t think of going back to writing every day on my own, and needed a therapy session to come up with the idea, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter.

Needless to say, I am thrilled to be writing every day again. I feel so much more alive. True, I only set a goal to write for thirty minutes a day. But I set an easy goal as a strategy. It’s easy to find thirty minutes in a day. It’s easy to have enough motivation to sit down for only thirty minutes. But the truth is, it never ends after thirty minutes. I become so consumed with what I’m working on that it can go on for hours. And during that time and the hours following, I feel inspired and excited. 

This week I’ve been writing and rewriting a prologue for a novel version of Forever Candy. (It was originally a screenplay.) Though I’m not nearly satisfied with the writing (I don’t think I found the right voice or style for the book), I feel exhilarated just working on it. I do feel bad though that I’m not working on the fifth book for the Me and My Friend Maddie Gothic Book Series, as I had made some posts on social media stating that that was what I was working on, and those posts received such positive responses. But the story I had planned to write hit a major brick wall and it seems I will need to devise an entirely new story altogether.

 

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This week I read all four books of the Me and My Friend Maddie Gothic Book Series, just to get back in touch with them as it has been four years since I’ve written one of those books. I was apprehensive about getting to Book Four, The Dead Girl I Like Heart and Stuff because of criticism I received stating that the book was offensive to the trans community. Gothic Beauty Magazine even refused to review the book after overwhelmingly positive reviews on the three preceding books. At the time I took that as a favor, thinking it was better to receive no review than a bad review. But now I don’t feel that way. 

Of course it was not my aim to offend or disparage people of the trans community. I have trans and nonbinary friends who are very dear to me and I would never think of hurting them or anyone else. 

When I set out to write that book, my goal from the beginning was to write a book where Maddie was flawed and would learn something from her BFF, rather than him always learning from her. Upon rereading it this week, I don’t know if I accomplished that. I felt like she understood what her BFF was trying to convey to her, but that her mentality was far more complex than the simple flashcard solution he presented could appease. Though it is unclear, even to me, whether Maddie learned from her BFF, it is certainly clear that she is flawed, and that’s how I want all of my characters to be. That’s what makes them human. During these rereads, I was reminded that Maddie was already portrayed as not perfect in the third book as she self-identified as a former cutter and then succumbed to the temptation to cut again.

One of the reviews I received considered the end of The Dead Girl I Like Heart and Stuff to be a cliffhanger of an ending. I never considered it as such. I walked away from that book thinking it clear that Maddie and Jackie Jinxed would be together, but I guess that was not as clear as I thought. Perhaps I felt it was clear because in my mind I always knew they would be together in the fifth book. 

I’ve talked to readers who didn’t find Maddie’s reaction to discovering her boyfriend was born biologically female as unreasonable. They told me they too would have been surprised to make such a discovery. Some said they would feel unsure of what they would do. Some even said they would have felt lied to. Though those expressions gave me some assurance that Maddie’s reaction was within the realm of plausible reactions, it was not much consolation, for I still knew my book was seen as offensive to a community I am strongly supportive of. 

Be that as it may, I am concerned that the fifth book will come across as an apology for the fourth book, as Maddie will admit to Jackie that she was wrong and that she is not perfect. But that was always the plan. Perhaps I should have let that scene play out and end the fourth book instead of where it ended. But at the time I didn’t know that I would spend the next four years writing the first two books of the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy. I thought the fifth book would have come out soon after the fourth.

I don’t want the fifth book to read as an apology. Because I make no apology for my characters being flawed. Still, I hate thinking that The Dead Girl I Like Heart and Stuff gives the impression that I am prejudiced against the trans community, as I know I am not. And I feel that that sentiment smears a series that I have loved writing and know many have loved reading. 

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