Stranger in My Brain

Enjoy another piece from my Embracing Darkness collection.

There’s a stranger in my brain. She let herself in a while ago. I asked her to leave, but she wouldn’t. Now, she sits there all comfortable with a smug look on her face. She used to stay out of my way, someone in the corner of my eye. Not anymore.

There’s a stranger in my brain. She shouts and screams at me. She beats me and leaves me bleeding on the floor. The abusive little bitch kicks me when I’m down and won’t let me get up. I’ve fought back plenty of times, but she’s strong. 

There’s a stranger in my brain. She locked the door and shut the curtains so I can’t see the light. They block out the world and the people along with it. I found a way to stay in contact for a while, found others who understood and helped me fight her.

There’s a stranger in my brain. She hates my friends. She’s jealous of them and their growing happiness while she and I struggle to find it. She said I didn’t need them, and I only needed her. We were better off alone. The bitch tricked me.

There’s a stranger in my brain. I see her sneer in the mirror, see the vileness in those eyes that used to hold so much shine. They don’t shine anymore. She stole my shine, my perkiness, my cheerfulness. 

There’s a stranger in my brain. She laughs now I have no one. She made me push everyone away, the only people who gave a shit about me. She taunts me and now I’m alone with this stranger in my brain.

Image by MLARANDA from Pixabay 

Planner or Pantser?

There’s this age-old argument over planning and pantsing a novel. Honestly, who cares? What’s more important is that writers find a balance that suits them. I keep saying that writing is your creativity in words. Sometimes, you gotta let the words flow until a story takes shape. 

It’s easy for many writers to say “Plan and outline your novel.” But they’re planners, so it’s obvious to them. I’m NOT saying this is good or bad advice for all new writers. I fully understand why the most common advice out there is to outline before you start writing. What I mean is… there’s a small group that actually work better by sitting down and just writing. Yes, the plot might look and mess, and the character goals might be all over the place, but at least they sat down and fleshed it all out. Then they can work on those issues after. It’s like a really detailed outline. 

This is basically what I did with my first project. It had been a long time since I’d done any real writing, and a long time since I’d studied story structures. I was desperate to get the words down, not thinking too much about structure and fluff and a tight plot. Now, before you ask about the state of that project, I should mention it’s a pentalogy pushing 600k words, so it’s still a WIP in need of serious attention. It looks way better than the first draft, and I’m not sorry I wrote it the way I did. I learned as much about writing as I did about my story as I went along. 

However, my second project was a standalone (now part of a trilogy) that got a rough synopsis before I started writing. It helped a lot, and by the end of act one, my story became more real to me, so I wrote my outline before I got too deep into the story. I changed very little in act one based on where I wanted the story to finish, and certain characters and events were much easier to visualise having written a little of the story already.

These days, I plan as much as I possible before writing. Then I let my growing world help me plan the rest. If I have to rewrite a few chapters, that’s okay. That’s exactly what first drafts are for. My latest WIP had a pretty decent start and is now close to my final draft before I send it out to agents.

While I do recommend writing a synopsis of your story before starting, I don’t think every writer needs a full outline before they get to typing. Set your creative side free, then come back and start structuring it.

Don’t forget about my “Writing Ranting with Others” Discord group for confused writers. Message me at Lovefantasy#0367

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

When Darkness Falls

Enjoy another piece from my Embracing Darkness collection.

There is so much light that it blinds me, burning my skin like the midday sun. It comforts me and wraps me in safety like a blanket of warmth. I grew in this light like evergreens feeding off the sun. Always there to pick me up when I fell, always there to tell stories when I was uninspired. 

A life of such war and peace that I feel my life is worthless. A life I cannot compare to. A life of a family I may never know yet I can feel through her words. A story of love I have not experienced.

Yet the light is a fickle thing and I reject it now my light has been snuffed out. Rapture may reach for me yet it is the darkness I crave. Darkness is real and true. Darkness blackens a soul. 

So unrecognisable that I do not believe the soul is familiar. It is nothing but an empty vessel that I do not want to acknowledge. Life is gone. Darkness has taken it.

Image by Enrique Meseguer at Pixabay 

For My Goddaughter on Her First Birthday

The With Love collection is for the special people in my life.

They say good things come in small packages, but your heart is forever growing.

Your heart can hold immeasurable love and beauty.

Your heart can keep you going when life tires you.

Your heart can light your path when darkness falls.

Your heart can warm you when you are cold.

Don’t let your heart stop growing.

With love,

Your Fairy Godmother.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait!

In writing, waiting can be good or bad depending on what point you’re at.

If you’re waiting for that perfect idea to strike or for the “right” time to start writing that novel you keep talking about, then ask yourself if writing is really your thing. Sure, story ideas don’t magically come to everyone, but as someone who has literally given away ideas because I have too many, I can’t imagine a writer without at least half a dozen story ideas ready to outline and start writing the moment they’re finished with their current WIP. Or even ideas they could come up with given the time.

Let me show you how my imagination works with some quick and rough novel ideas.

  • A career-driven woman in her mid-thirties is on her way to the top of the company when it suddenly closes down. In an unpredictable job market, she’s forced to take an entry level office position where her boss is ten years younger than her. Proving herself is hard when she knows she’s better than the role she’s now stuck in. But once she gets over herself, she finds her junior colleagues help open up a side of her she never got the chance to unleash at their age.
  • A sea captain hunts for a treasure only an entitled few know of. When he reaches the treasure, she is not what he expected. An ancient curse traps an immortal siren in a cavern that’s drying up and constantly suffocating her. Having discovered a much greater treasure than he imagined, the sea captain fights across oceans for the siren’s freedom and the love they both share for one another.
  • A future where wormholes are the norm, and travel to distant worlds is but a blink away. A traveller seeks to learn just how far she can reach and steals a wormhole device to find out. At the edge of the known universe, she discovers the price of the wormhole technology. A desiccated planet holds truths that would curdle most stomachs. But the traveller does not stop until she proves to everyone how they are so blissfully able to bend space and leap from one world to another.
  • Death is only a mild inconvenience when a ghost hunter is sent into limbo. While he uses every trick he knows to keep in contact with his girlfriend, she finds a spell and makes a demonic deal to bring him back to life. But he’s not the only one she brings back. Now, the ghost hunters must battle an ancient demonic power while doing everything they can to send it back to limbo.
  • On her way home from a wild night out, she witnesses a gruesome murder. She stays quiet, thinking nobody will believe her considering her intoxicated state. But when she comes home from work to find her apartment ransacked, her only option is to go to the police. As she thought, they think it’s a coincidence until one of the detectives checks in on her and witnesses an attempted attack on her. Still unable to prove the connection, the detective offers her protection in exchange for her full story, no matter how drunk she was the night of the murder. She soon discovers his motives go beyond finding a killer and ends up in a decade-old feud between the detective and the person he thinks is responsible for his sister’s murder. Is she safer with the detective, or should she run and pretend nothing happened?

That took me ten minutes. Yes, they might be done already, or full of cliches, but… ten minutes. Imagine what I could do in an hour or longer to come up with a novel synopsis that I could later turn into a detailed outline. 

Sometimes, I get an idea and spend five minutes jotting down my initial thoughts. The next time I have a spare five minutes, I jot down more, and more, and more, until it resembles a story. Some stay that way for future projects, but some get more attention as I work on a rough outline, character sheets, world-building. And soon enough, I have enough to start my first chapter. This may change completely once I’m done with the outline, but at least I got some of the story down.

I had a wild dream the other week, and started plotting a novel based on it. Within a few days, I’d built a decent synopsis, started outlining the story, created several character sheets with images, character goals, backgrounds and story input. I’d also come up with the backstory for the main group of characters, which involved various physical characteristics and ability based on their heritage.

Stories start with your imagination. The planning is just putting your imaginative thoughts in order.

But it is okay to wait sometimes. 

You’ve drafted act one. Good job. But you’re still not sold on your own ideas. This is a perfectly good time to wait and let the ideas settle. Don’t wait too long in case you risk losing the story from your head. This length of time is subjective, though. If you write daily, like I mostly do, letting your ideas settle for a few days might be enough. But taking a week or so might suit you better.

You have an outline and part of a draft. Don’t force it beyond that unless your fingers just keep spilling those lovely words. In which case, what are you waiting for?

Another good time to wait is during or just after your WIP is with beta readers. Depending on the format you’re sharing your beta version, you might not get anything back until each reader has read the entire thing. This is a forced break, which you should take advantage of. Let it go for a while. Make notes in a separate document by all means. Never ignore ideas. But don’t touch the story itself until all the feedback is in.

I had the luxury of sharing my beta version in bulks of chapters, so I got feedback on three or four chapters every week/two weeks. This was really helpful since I could read through the feedback for act one together, then two and three together. It all made sense as I took it in, but apart from a new chapter one, I didn’t change anything beyond minor wording to spare the next reader commenting on silly errors. 

I waited, and eventually, I got some amazing results. Yes, I can improve on them, and I will. But my patience paid off. Now I’m in one last revision with the help of some new and speedy crit partners, and I hope to query next month.

If you have even a semblance of a novel idea, don’t wait for anything to get something down and flesh out a chapter or two at least. Otherwise, you’re just a dreamer with no outlet.

A Fantasy in Darkness


Check out more from my Embracing Darkness series.

Darkness consumes me in its obsidian, a welcome relief from the blinding light of day. It wraps me in its coldness, and I let it. A black veil draws closed another day, and here, in my stillness, I have only myself.

I am free, yet Darkness traps me in my own imagination. It follows me like a shadow. Never ceases. Never strays. Never stops. Constant thoughts battle in deafening war of truths and lies. They steal the reality of the light and turn them into what I please.

Fantasies grown from a single seed, and I reap the bounty as if famine had denied my imagination of its sustenance. Vines of lies and illusions twist and entwine, but all I see is life and beauty in this dark place. Why can I not see the lie?

I reach for what I think is real only to grasp at air that chokes me. I lose myself in the toxicity of it. Breaths do not come, only retching and agony. Fallen, I flail, reaching for something sturdy, a hand, a rail, anything that can help me up. But here I stay on the floor in my darkness with the fantasies and lies.

Tell me the truth. Why lie?

Image by Kellepics at pixabay.com.

Writing Ranting with Others!

Join my Discord group and rant about writing with others. @LoveFantasy#0367

Writing is scary. Sharing your writing is scary and confusing and chaotic sometimes. I have a small writing group on Discord called Writing Ranting with Others. It’s not the usual kind of writing group. The main aim of the group is to support and help writers find their way as they embark on their writing journey or if they question the path their on. I’m no expert in writing, but I am an expert in losing my way, including in my writing.

Writing is a tough game. We need thick skin if we want to put our work out there and get published. But we don’t all start that way, and sometimes we might slip back if we’re having a tough time.

Below are just some of the topics I’d like to help writers with.

  • How to deal with advice – I posted about Great Writing Advice last week with some of my favourite sources. It took me a good while to work how where to find advice without overloading my brain, but also how to pick out the right advice for me. 
  • Overcoming stagefright – Sharing is scary, so why not share with the very purpose or having that first critique from people who know the feeling? Honesty doesn’t have to be hard to hear.
  • Taking feedback – Critiques are meant to help writers, but they can also be hard to handle at first. Then there are the conflicting opinions on top. It’s a lot to process when you’re finding your voice.
  • Writer’s block – It’s not always easy to find inspiration when life gets stressful. Sometimes brainstorming for someone else can help wake up your creative side.
  • Using your emotions – Write from the heart and use what you’ve experienced in life to put pen to paper.
  • Indecisiveness – Sometimes you don’t even need advice., You need a second opinion because you’re stuck on a decision. Think aloud with us and get some thoughts back, or maybe you’ll come to your own conclusion by sounding out your options.

I want to help writers deal with the scary and confusing aspects of writing as well as creating a safe place to talk about all kinds of writerly things. Call it group therapy if you like. 

Join my Discord group and rant about writing with others. @LoveFantasy#0367

Image by AndrzejRembowski at pixabay.com

Happy Caturday!

What does this have to do with wiring? I hear you ask. Not much. Just me sharing my sometimes helpful, sometimes unhelpful writing assistants. 

Let’s start with Tiger Lily, my first cat I had on my own. I got her two weeks after I moved into my flat, and the only reason I waited that long was because I’d planned a trip to England and didn’t want to get a kitten just to leave it with my Dad for a week. That’s silly.


Anyway, Tiger Lily likes to lord (or is it lady?) herself over everyone by being on the highest spot. She has a regal air about her, but then acts like a derp when a toy is involved, usually my hair ties. She’s wonderful and loves to sleep on my chest or sit next to me when I’m working at my desk. She’s helpful like that.


Then there’s Tinkerbell. She’s my COVID quarantine kitty from spring 2020. I follow two local animal protection services and saw her in need. Poor thing was terrified and hid under my spare bed for the first few days. She only came out when I had a toy. She let me pet her, but only for a minute or so. But if I slept in the spare room, she snuggled with me. Once she discovered the rest of the flat and met Tiger Lily, she became much friendlier and would sleep on my lap after lunch. Lily liked her, and that was good enough for me.


Cleopatra, Cleo for short, was a similar situation to Tinks. She was abandoned and a bit of a mess. She had a broken paw, which was infected and had cuts and scrapes all over. I was only supposed to be fostering her, but she was so friendly and cuddly. The first few weeks, she never left my side. She was in and out of the vet hospital because of the leg and ear infection, but we got that all fixed. I caught her and Tinks snuggling in my old dog’s bed together. And I knew I’d find it hard to separate them. So I adopted her, too, because I’m a sucker. 


All my girls get on really well together now, and Tiger Lily either plays with the kittens or glares at them as if the say, “Fuck off. I’m not in the mood.” We all snuggle together at night, and they sit near or on me if I’m on the sofa or at my desk. 

So between my three girls, they make sure I get my writing done, but also that I get a break.

Whispers

Check out more from my Embracing Darkness series.

Through the cold abyss, Darkness whispers. 

You’re weak. You don’t deserve friends.

You lie. 

You’re not good enough. You’re nothing.

I cover my ears, hum a happy tune to drown it out. 

They hurt you. Hurt them back.

No. I won’t.  

You’re a vengeful person. Go on, take your revenge.

Shut up!

You can’t silence me. I’m your worst fears, your nightmares, your pain and suffering.

I said, shut up!

Do something crazy. Do something to show them how they can’t get away with this.

Go away.

You can’t fight me. I’m you.

And I’m you. So shut up and do as I say.

Silence. 

Yeah. I thought so.

Image by SuperHerftigGeneral at pixabay.com