Maybe It Shouldn’t Be Quite this Hard

Last Thursday, I cried in front of a stranger because I couldn’t do algebra with colored squares.

After many years of wondering why I’m so damn useless and lazy, I finally got tested for ADHD.* I’ve had partners with it, read books about it, but I really didn’t think it applied to me. I wondered sometimes, but I thought I was just looking for an easy way out of just getting my shit together, which is frustratingly typical. I have no hyperactivity problems; I can sit still just fine, especially if I’ve got something interesting in front of me. The issue is in my ability to focus on the right stuff at the right time and for long enough to get it done. I’ve heard it described as feeling like you’ve got too many tabs open in your brain-browser. That’s basically it, except to me it also feels like there’s this constant static that makes it hard for any clear action signals to get through. I may know I need to get up and go to an appointment, but instead of getting up, I’ll sit motionless and listen to my brain buzzing until the time to go is long past.

Now, of course, I really wish I’d been diagnosed younger. My academic record is basically just a painful mess, and I can’t help thinking that maybe it didn’t have to be. Women are massively under-diagnosed with ADHD. Because of social conditioning, girls tend to get depressed and hate themselves for struggling rather than scream and break things, so we often don’t get help. Society is really pretty chill with girls being depressed and dysfunctional, so long as we are considerate enough to implode rather than explode.

One way of looking at it that I personally kind of like, is that ADHD isn’t exactly a flaw in brain function; it’s more of an outdated feature. It can have great benefits, especially if you happen to be a hunter-gatherer who needs to watch for lions and venomous snakes without missing any subtle signs of drinkable water and edible tubers. This is one of those things where social context largely determines impact, and what might make me really excellent at some things, makes me absolutely crap at what I want to do with my life and means that I can’t keep up with the lifestyle required by this society.

I would like to function better in my daily life and be able to fully pursue my goals, so I’m starting CBT coaching and I’m also going to look into medication, because science is awesome and this is exactly the kind of thing it is for.

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The moody leaves have nothing to do with anything. I just like them.

*Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder: Apparently ADD is now combined with ADHD even when there’s no hyperactive component and is referred to as inattentive ADHD.

Writing Dirty

Recently, someone in a writing group I follow asked for advice on good words to use when writing a sex scene. They got a lot of answers, many of which could be broken down into two categories: strangely clinical* and childish euphemisms. I feel like it all missed the point, though.

Even beginning writers generally know that they need to develop a distinct voice for each character. Failing this, the characters all sound exactly alike and it won’t be believable. A teenager probably shouldn’t sound the same as a fifty-year-old ex-mercenary. Although, if they do, that could be a pretty distinct character voice right there, provided they’re surrounded by people with contrasting speaking styles.

I think the issue when it comes to writing sexy scenes is that people get nervous and stiffen up. (Heh.) They’re afraid they’ll sound silly, or they’re afraid the subject matter itself will spark a negative response, and they want to word it perfectly. It’s also kind of hard to toe the line between a sexy, romantic scene and straight up porn. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter, but it may not be what the writer is going for. I’m sure a list of suggestions can be very helpful in this situation, but it won’t do to just pick and choose an array of words that sound good to the writer.

The writer is piloting the characters, and the characters still need to sound like themselves. Even if the story is in third person, it’s best to use words that the POV (point of view) character might use. This draws the reader in and makes them feel close to that character. It sets the tone. There are times when distancing the reader is fine, but a romantic or sexy scene really isn’t one of them. That’s exactly when you want that closeness, so the reader is emotionally invested in what’s going on.

In first person, this is even more vital. The writer absolutely has to choose words that suit the character. It makes no sense for them to switch into a different mode as soon as things start to get steamy. The biker can’t go from cursing the air blue to referring to their partner’s genitals as their “tenderness.” It’s just weird. If the character would use terms that make the author uncomfortable, the author is gonna have to deal with that or wind up creating a very inconsistent narrative. The words should also go together well. Switching tone mid-scene is confusing and will push the reader out of immersion.

So, what would the character say? That’s it. Asking around for inspiration is great, but it all has to be filtered through the character in the end.

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I tried to find more suggestive flowers, but this was the best I could do. I apologize.

 

*  Anatomy tip: The vagina is on the inside and the vulva is on the outside. Unless there’s penetration involved, no one is doing anything to the vagina. I was a little concerned by the number of people who suggested penis and vagina as the only terms any writer really needs for a solid sex scene. For a number of reasons.

 

Updated Back Cover Blurb for Somnolence

Seventeen year old Orane has been given a mission by her royal parents: to travel to Castle Destare and convince her reclusive uncle to leave his estate to her family. With only her new lady in waiting for companionship, and steadfast Captain Felix and his men for protection, Orane sets out for the northern mountains.

After a harrowing attack on the road, Castle Destare is a welcome sight, but it is nothing like Orane expected. Her uncle and his caretakers are strange and withdrawn, and the great stronghold itself seems to be slowly surrendering to the elements. Worse, Orane can’t help feeling that the decay is creeping into her mind. With unnatural creatures prowling the woods, escape seems impossible, but it might be just as dangerous to stay.

Will Orane be able to open her heart and uncover the terrible secret that haunts the castle, or is it already too late? 

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Wildly Optimistic Book Goals

I’ve been avoiding committing myself because I’m about as in over my head as I expected to be this year, but here’s what I’m aiming for.

Finish this stage and return manuscript to the editor for line edit – August 8th

Cover reveal – September 15th

Open for preorders – November 15th

Release date – December 1st

I just like this picture I took. Orane’s family crest features thistles, though, so it’s loosely related.

Some Photos From the Shoot

Today was a bit of a wash, but here are some cute pictures from my photoshoot. I think Christine at Entwined Portraits did a great job working with my total awkwardness. She was so nice and professional, and she made the whole experience fun. We even worked the pups in there right at the end because we had extra time, and I’m a ridiculous dog person and insufficiently ashamed of it.

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Gotta have my sugary caffeinated beverage to work.
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Serious author face.
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They are not cooperative beasts.

Imposter Syndrome is a Bitch 

I’ve had all the anxiety lately about… Lots of stuff. I get the self critical brain weasels pretty easily. When I let myself get dragged down by all that, it gets pretty hard to feel creative or inspired about anything. Which makes it worse, because then there’s the added fear that my inner muse is just broken. I can work up a pretty paralyzing downward spiral when I get stuck on those thoughts. It’s lots of fun. 

So, I was going to stay over at my boyfriend’s place just before my road trip. We had a great night and got ready for sleep. I was totally relaxed for the first time in about a week. I even slept for about an hour. Then I woke up, and my brain was clear, and all the ideas came pouring in. I knew how to fix a plot issue that had been bugging the crap out of me, and that led to a handful of other important details that I could change or fix. I started rearranging dialogue in my head, and I didn’t want to lose any of it. 

Normally I would have just written on my phone until it was all down, but that phone had finally given up the ghost after some truly appalling treatment, and I hadn’t been able to replace it yet. I was pretty certain that I would lose things if I just let myself drift back off to sleep. I could stay in the warm cozy bed and take that risk, or I could wake my very tolerant boyfriend up, make my jumbled explanations and rush home to write it down. I did the latter, so it all got saved, but I felt pretty ridiculous about it. 

It’s hard to take myself seriously as a writer. It feels awkward as all hell to me, but I did it, and it was fine. I feel really lucky that I’ve got people in my life who are supportive and who give me the space to be who I am and do what’s important to me. And, in the future, I’m gonna be much nicer to my phones so I don’t have to bail on super inspiring snuggles. 

I got a Pixel right before leaving, so I’ve got that covered now. It’s pretty cool. It takes nice pictures, which is very important on a road trip. We’ve seen some pretty impressive stuff. 

Behold, a really big grindstone! We witnessed this marvel outside a random gas station.
This dinosaur did not trust my intentions. Apparently, I look like a cherry thief.
I rescued this thing as a tiny kitten on Friday the thirteenth, just before midnight, and my friends adopted him. He is for sure a demon.

Road Trip Fun

I’m driving down to Palo Alto to visit my family, and the pups are with me. I love these trips. Driving is exactly the right level of stimulation that gives my brain space to work while also keeping me alert, so I usually get good work done, at least in my head. I still have to pull over occasionally and write things down. We’re stopped at the vista point just inside California at the moment. It’s hot, but so pretty. 

I love the sun, but yikes. It’s very bright out here.
Mount Shasta… I think. Pretty sure.

These weirdos love trips and staying in hotels.
We stopped at a nice little dog park in Medford this morning and made a friend.

Edit: Upon arrival I enjoyed the traditional California greeting meal.