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of looking at it that I personally kind of like, is that ADHD isn’t exactly a flaw in brain function; it’s more of an outdated feature.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.

IMG_20170807_085858_408
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.

IMG_20170809_162015_839
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? 

cropped-img_20170409_220012_299.jpg

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.

I’ve Been Basically Useless All Week

SoftSomnolenceBanner2

So, that’s fun. I made this nifty banner, though. I’m fairly proud of those roses and I plan to put them everywhere. The castle kinda looks like a birthday cake to me, although my sister pointed out that maybe I’m looking at it wrong – maybe birthday cakes just look like castles.

I’ve had the most intense urge to play Minecraft the past few days, because my brain is just refusing to kick into gear. I know that that way lies literal mountains and caverns of wasted time, but it’s so tempting. This is the reason I haven’t installed it on my semi-new laptop yet. It would be so very bad. (But so good.)

Building games are totally my favorite, which is weird because I was never that into legos. Playing with physical toys seemed like a lot of effort to very lethargic young me. I did like Age of Empires, though. That shit was the best. I would herd all the deer and boar into pens and get annoyed if my clueless peasants ever shot them for food. Their lives were a sacrifice I was willing to make in order to build a tiny menagerie in the middle of a frozen wasteland with actual hordes of enemies on all sides. I graduated from this to ZooTycoon, which was also an excellent building game. Strangely, I never got into The Sims. They could’ve hooked me if they’d had more Thompson’s gazelles and velociraptors, I think.

I’d like to think all this means I was a creative kid, but I think it mostly means I liked to play god. In fact, now that I think about it, I also loved that game where you play an actual god with a giant monster pet that occasionally stomps your hapless villagers to death.

I dunno. Clearly writing is the career for me, since it is the ultimate license to build anything I can imagine and control all the little characters. Maybe my stories just need more popcorn kiosks and escaped lions.

Oh, I’ll be visiting my family next week, so that’ll be fun. I actually tend to get decent work done on trips, too, so that’s something to look forward to. There’s not much else to do for hours and hours but think, so I always get good ideas on the road. Who knows, maybe next week’s blog post will be on time and have actual content of some sort.

I Was Really Struggling to Write Today

So, I thought I’d pull out my tablet and fiddle with drawing characters to see if that sparked some inspiration. It kinda worked, but it led to like eight solid hours of drawing, which wasn’t really the plan. I forgot to eat. I also forgot to put up a blog post, because I’m a bad person. Anyway, this is Orane, the main character in Somnolence. She likes hunting, so I gave her a nice woodsy background.

Image001 copy

 

A Photoshoot and a Selfie

So, I had a professional photoshoot today, which is a really weird thing for me to say. The last time I had a photographer take my picture, I was getting married, but I’m gonna need some better quality pictures for various book purposes than I can take myself, so that’s what I did today. It was actually pretty fun, and the photographer was very nice and helpful. As were the people in the friendly neighborhood Starbucks, because it turned out that the library in my building that I had planned to use as our location has been closed for remodeling. Fortunately, I buy an obscene amount of chai from them, so they let us take some pictures in a comfy corner.

I’ll post some of the results when I’ve got them back, but here’s a selfie for now. I actually went outside properly for the first time this week, yaaay… My dogs were very happy about this. According to them, I am super boring when I work, although I seem to make an acceptable pillow.

IMG_20170616_185424_243
(I got a haircut today, too, but you totally can’t tell unless you know how ragged the ends were before.)