Posted in characters, Creative Writing, creativity, Dragons, Editing, fiction, Fiction Writing Courses, Paranormal

Writing – Paranormal and Fantasy Fiction

soul seeker 1A couple of weeks ago a new character came into my imagination. I knew what she looked like and I had a good sense of who she was. It was like being visited by a the soul of a real person.

I grabbed my iPad, opened a new Scrivener project and jotted down everything I’d seen, heard, smelled and tasted in that first meeting. It got me excited because I loved this character immediately and I wanted to know more, to learn more and experience more of her paranormal/normal life. I wanted to learn more about the conflicts she has over her abilities and how her paranormal abilities complicate her career, her love life, her sense of self.

On and off since the first time she showed up, I’ve had visits from her and each time I learn a little more about who she is as a ‘real person’ in my imagination.

Then last night an antagonist walked out of the mist of my imagination and I saw exactly what he was wearing, the gate of his stride, the tilt of his fine boned face.

So once again, I opened my scrivener file and jotted what I’d experienced down. I don’t have his name yet but I’ve got the essence of who he is and the darkness that emanates from him in a seductive manner. And I know he is the opposing force to my female protagonist.

I love it when this type of thing happens. For me this is part of magic of writing fiction. I’m always learning and growing as a writer and story teller, and when a character comes forward and wants to be put down on the page, I get excited. It’s almost as if the character is whispering in my inner ear and I am writing their story from their perspective.

So, now I am a bit over three weeks away from my trip to the UK and I now have two stories growing inside my mind. After a period of feeling creatively fallow, these ideas are a delight.

One of my stories is a paranormal romance, which is probably my absolute favourite genre to write, and if this story goes the way I am plotting it, then it will be my third paranormal story with romance beats. I’m excited to write this story.

The second story is my fantasy novel which features dragons and a few humans that can use magic. I’m enjoying learning how to put an epic fantasy story together. I’m not yet sure how this story will go. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I don’t have all the puzzle pieces and other times I feel inspired by the ideas I have. Most of the time I am considering: How can I take this idea beyond cliche?

So far I have discovered writing a fantasy world is an in-depth adventure in itself. There is so much for me to think about, to brainstorm and to create. My thinking includes:

  • Characters – who is my protagonist, my antagonist and other roles
  • Conflicts – the major conflict and smaller conflicts for all characters and how they will play out
  • World building – there is so much involved in this part, sometimes I feel overwhelmed
  • Plotting how it will all pan out
  • Themes I want to touch on
  • Treatment – do I want to write this story from first person point of view or third person point of view?

So I am going to really enjoy my Fantasy Fiction writing course with David Farland in Oxford, and I am very much looking forward to learning about all the layers and nuances I need to consider to bring my ideas to life and create a believable fantasy fiction world that readers will want to experience via my characters.

When I return from the UK, I hope to finish writing these stories and to work on editing Tuppence Weatherstorm and The Living Death of Toddy James so that I can move them toward publication. It would be good move my writing to the next level, even if being published is a scary step.


Posted in Creative Writing

‘Pause’ … Writer’s little helper

Miss Poppy helping me with the business of writing
Miss Poppy helping me with the business of writing

Tonight, on my way home from my day job, I fell into Kikki.K and purchased a gorgeous new writing pen and this fabulous ‘Pause’ 3 minute hourglass.  You can see them in the photo above with my new journal, and Miss Poppy, my sweet nine month old ragdoll kitten.  She’s inspecting them all for quality purposes, I’m sure.

Yes, she’s huge for nine months old.  But that’s a ragdoll for you!

Everything got a good sniffing and despite the mint sand running through the hourglass, her fascination fell to the pen.  They’re fun to swipe at and she loves to see them scuttle across the table or floor after her paw has lashed out at them.

Anyway, I felt inspired by the ‘Pause’ hourglass because it is a reminder that as a writer I need to take a breather from what I am doing in the day and become mindful of my own body and where I am in the world.  Especially when I have been in the thick of writing for sometime.  I’ve noticed that I can become utterly brain fogged and there is nothing more grounding than taking time to breathe into my belly and feel my feet flat on the floor.

Three minutes.  That’s it.  Just breathing.

I’m starting this as a new practice in my writing.

I guess I could call it, ‘The Zen of Writing.’

Personally, I suffer from anxiety that can flare up terribly, and at times that painful mental torture extends to my creative writing.  That’s when I get stuck in my ‘monkey mind’ as my psychologist terms it.  It’s an analogy she uses to explain the critical left brain and why it’s doing such crazy stuff, like trying to convince me that I’m not safe.

I like to imagine I actually have a tiny weeny little monkey inside my head who tries to tell me stories that aren’t necessarily true but certainly feel true at the time.  The monkey gets louder when my anxiety is playing up and the stories about all the awful things that are going to happen pound around inside my head like a brass band playing off key.

People have told me to just focus on something else, but when that monkey is so loud and insistent, like a two year old demanding attention, it is nigh on impossible not to listen.

I sound crazy don’t I!

I’m not crazy, I’m just dealing with fears that nibble at the internal fabric of my existence.  Threads are pulled out by my monkey mind and painful memories surface.  Visceral emotions take hold of my nervous system and my adrenal glands go into hyperdrive.  I’m on high altert even when there is no danger around.

So I turn to my writing.  I turn to my art.  And I turn to my animal companions for the relief and care that I need.  These things bring a calmness into my life, but not always.  It’s a process.

What writing, reflective writing does, however, is show me the patterns of thoughts travelling through my mind and the stories that my monkey mind has been spinning.  It gives me an opportunity to question their validity and to gain control by defusing the power of the anxiety triggers deep inside.

Taking time to breathe helps.  It really truly helps.

So, when I take a moment to just sit and breathe, I now watch the tiny grains of mint sand fall through the hourglass, and I focus on pressing my feet in to the floor.  I focus on  breathing down through my body and out through the souls of my feet as if the air is actually travelling through my body and passing into the earth itself.

I focus on expanding my belly my lower ribcage on the inhale and contracting that same part of my belly on the exhale.

I’ve been working on breathing deeply for about six months now.  My psychologist has been a blessing.  At first I really didn’t want to learn how to breathe. Oh no, none of that.  No, I just wanted relief from the internal pain and grating fears that had rubbed my nerves raw.  But she just smiled and taught me the technique.  Bless her (now).

And let me be the first to say that it may have been natural for me to breathe from my belly as a baby but as an adult who has been conditioned by all sorts of experiences, it is not easy to do.

But the need for mental and emotional relief drove me to practice.  Lying flat on the floor, one hand on my lower rib cage and the other on my heart.  In I’d breathe, and my lower rib cage would expand.  Out I’d breathe and my belly would contract.

The hardest thing I had to learn about breathing like this was not to allow my chest to rise up as I filled my lungs with air.  The hand on my heart sat there as a reminder:  don’t breath shallow.

So, when I saw this gorgeous little treasure in Kikki.K, meaning the ‘Pause’ hourglass, I knew it was coming home with me to remind me to take deep breaths during my day, during my writing and especially during stressful times.

Watching the mint sand mesmerises me.  The mint grains sparkle as they flow through the hourglass and pile up in the bottom half, and I find my shoulders relaxing just a little more the longer I gaze at its beauty.

And three minutes really isn’t that long, believe me I’ve just found out.

Watching the grains fall brings me back into the now.

And the now is really all we have.  This moment, right now is our precious time.  It’s our life taking shape.  This is the moment that we are making changes or staying the same.  I love that about coming back to the now.

Then to have my beautiful ragdoll cat join me for a moment during my writing practice … well it’s hard to describe, except to acknowledge that my animal companions bring me peace and happiness and personal love beyond any words I can speak.

Right now, I’m sitting cross legged at the table writing this blog post with Rocket, my black toy poodle curled up on top of me.  He’s warm and snugglely on my legs.  I can feel his heart beating and the calm trusting nature he has.  That’s a blessing and one I am treasuring in this moment as the tiny mint grains fall through the hourglass.

So, if you come across a ‘Pause’ hourglass and you’re a writer or someone who suffers from anxiety or even depression, maybe think about taking those three minutes to stop, gaze and breathe.  Gaze at the sand falling through the hourglass and feel your feet on the ground.  Expand your belly and breathe in and out.

Now is a precious time to appreciate.