Yesterday I finished reading Native Son by Richard Wright. It was difficult to read because of the blatant racism depicted on so many levels and I know that the depiction was accurate. I believe America has made progress since the release of that book, but know we still live in a racist society. Worse I know that many people in America today look back at how things were in that book as favorable and as a time they’d like to get back to. I believe those conditions are included for many when they don Make America Great Again caps.

As for the writing of the book, what struck me as profound was that in its four hundred plus pages, there were very few plot points in the book. Very significant things occurred but in terms of plot points, they were limited in a book of this length. And I see that allowed for the genius of the book. The majority of the text related the internal thoughts of the point of view character, Bigger Thomas, and the subtext of the actions that surrounded him.

With Orly Bialek, I try to devote a lot of her narration to her private thoughts, but someday I would like to write something that really plunged so deeply into one’s thoughts (perhaps even my own) that the thoughts themselves become the true story. But that is hard to do. It is not as easy as just sticking to an internal monologue. It has to be understandable, relatable, and still possess the things a story requires—a progression of character, a movement of circumstances, a reckoning, a realization, a change. I referred to this as the genius of Native Son and that is what it is.

Native Son by Richard Wright

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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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AMS

Because I haven’t written since I finished Scribbling The Eternal, I am really itching to start writing again. I think I’ve taken enough time off. I believe the next thing I work on will be a fifth Maddie book. I’ve been slowly developing plot elements in my head, but I have yet to write anything down. 

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and watching tutorials about Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), so I can learn how to promote my books better on Amazon. It’s a lot of work and there is a lot to know, but I’m hoping that if I focus devote time to it, I’ll see positive results. 

I continue to dream of a day when I can stop reporting to an office on weekdays and spend all my days writing. 

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This is the first weekend in a very long time that I did not spend writing. As I said in my previous post, I decided to step away from Scribbling The Eternal for a couple of weeks before giving it my final read. I’ve been spending most of my time seeing friends and reading. Today I finished reading Nausea and now plan to read a book about writing poetry that was co-authored by a poet I greatly admire, Kim Addonizio. My aim isn’t to become a poet, but I’m hoping to make my fiction writing more beautiful to read.  

 

    

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