Hidden room dream: Getting older, getting busy again, getting to know who I am

Yesterday, I had to admit—at long last—that I just can’t see my computer screen as well when I wear contacts. So I pulled out an old pair of reading glasses I once used for a Halloween costume. In spite of myself, I was hoping they wouldn’t work.

They did.

Here’s me seeing my computer screen clearly without squinting. So I’m getting older. Better than the alternative, I always say.

Today I find myself in a quandary in spite of my new ability to see clearly. I want to write again, but I’m unsure what to write. I’ve been in stasis mode for a few weeks, though, you see, so it’s harder than I anticipated jumping back into the pool of work. I usually get anxious if I’m not writing something, but I’m surprisingly calm about it this time. And I think I can attribute that to the hidden room dreams.

If you’ve never had hidden room dreams, let me tell you, they’re a trip. For me, I was always wandering through our extraordinarily cluttered house (it was worse in the dream than in reality) only to find a door I opened to reveal rooms I never knew my house possessed. These rooms were always furnished, as though ready for use, but in my dreams I always realized it would take some work to make them functional.

I had this dream often enough so I looked it up online. Hidden room dreams, I found, were an indication that there’s some talent or ability hidden in our psyche that we aren’t making use of. Interesting, considering I started having these dreams right after my first foray into community theater. If ever there was someone you wouldn’t have thought suitable for the stage, it is probably me. I have a definite fear of public speaking. I remember nearly fainting in high school when I had to give a three-minute speech. Just a few years ago, I attempted to conduct a few writing workshops, and, well, they weren’t bad, but they weren’t what I would call good, either.

But theater is different. You’re somebody else, from the makeup (I never wear eyeliner except onstage) to the clothing (ah, those sumptuous nineteenth century dresses I wore!) to the words (speeches I would never have made on my own). Okay, I’ve only had bit parts so far, but in one play I did have more than a dozen lines!

And now, here I am, having just finished directing (and writing, at least a little bit) my daughter’s talent show, taking singing lessons in preparation for auditioning for another musical—and no longer haunted by hidden room dreams. Is it possible my hidden rooms were theater-related all along? Maybe the “clutter” in my dreams was my desire to tell stories, that I’ve always restricted to the arena of writing. If I move it into theater as well, I’ll have another outlet and more room in both parts of my psyche.

But never fear, I’m not giving up on my writing, either. Jessica Entirely, the first of my middle grade Jessica mysteries, will be ready for publication in June. I’m now working on the polishing of Timeless, the final book of my Synchronicity series. And Magic at Sea, book 7 of Sleight of Hand, should be ready for an October 31 release! Plus, I’ve already started planning Jessica Naturally, which I’m hoping to have out by Christmas.

So even as I explore these hidden rooms and try to dust them off so they’ll be functional, I’m adding to the clutter on the other side of my psyche. Can’t be helped, though. I guess I’ll just have to add more shelves over there!

For the Time Being…

It’s a magical sort of expression, isn’t it? For the time being… Who is that time being? Or what…

Today the second book of my Synchronicity series releases. I’ve worked hard on this one, polishing every word, rethinking every phrase. I’ve done my level best to avoid typos and non sequiturs. I stayed up late, lost a lot of sleep and finally, just a month or so ago, decided it was ready.

Then last week I found another typo.

Such is the life of a writer, and that’s the life I live…for the time being.

You can find my Synchronicity series at your favorite online book retailer, whether that be Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc. “Strange Path”, the short story that details the history of Hunter Drake, who makes his first appearance in Kaelyn and Jack’s timeline in Time Being, is available free on most outlets and here on this blog. And if you missed Out of Time before, never fear…it’s now available for $1.99, so it’s more affordable than ever to join in the adventure!

Stay tuned here and, if you’re on Facebook, check out my Time Being Playlist celebration for news about giveaways all through the day! (I should have one set to go in about an hour…)

Cover Reveal: Time Being

I’m thrilled today to be able to share with you the cover (designed by the fabulous Farah Evers Designs) of my upcoming novel, Time Being, the second book of my Synchronicity series (Out of Time, Book One; Strange Path, A Synchronicity Story). Time Being continues the adventures of Kaelyn and Jack from Out of Time and brings back Hunter Drake from “Strange Path”.  I hope you’ll join me on the journey June 21st:

time-being

Can love survive when time and space are out of sync?
In the aftermath of the Battle of the Portal, Kaelyn and Jack are left to pick up the pieces. But now they face their greatest challenge yet. Locking the portal hasn’t provided the Meti with the safety they’d hoped for. Instead, it has wrenched the worlds of Eladi and Ayeli into worse alignment than before.
With time and space at war with each other, Jack and Kaelyn must endure more devastating loss in their search for answers for both worlds. They turn to Kaelyn’s Elf uncle Hunter Drake. Will his sorcery be the answer to their prayers…or bring more danger into their midst?

Read free: “Strange Path: A Synchronicity Story”

Whether or not you’ve read Out of Time, Book 1 of the Synchronicity Series, you will enjoy a trip to a fantasy land of romance and adventure in “Strange Path”. A prequel to the Synchronicity Series, “Strange Path” explores the adventures of Drake, the Elf who crossed over to Eladi a century before Jack, and Josephine, the Cherokee woman whose family have dedicated their lives to guarding the portal between worlds.

Best of all? It’s free. No charge at all to read the story, and it’s stand-alone, so even if you decide you don’t want to continue your adventures, you won’t be left unsatisfied. So what do you have to lose? Read “Strange Path” here:

strangepath

The genesis of a character

It’s the awkward question every author dreads from their readers… Where do characters come from? Worse even than the very similar “Where do babies come from?” when your toddler asks it. Because while there’s a real, tangible answer to the toddler’s question, there isn’t one to the reader’s.

Obviously they come from my head. So is it like Athena springing fully formed from Zeus’s head? The very thought gives me a migraine. So, no. It takes a while to really get a hold of who a character is. But where do they come from?

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Mountain laurel from NC mountains, because why not? 🙂

I can’t answer for other writers, but my characters are formed by the plot of my story. Of course, I have to have some idea about them in order to get started on the story, but it’s really a very soft-edged, sort of fuzzy idea at first. I always start with a hero and a heroine and fill in the side characters as I go. For instance, when I started Out of Time, I knew I needed a heroine who could start out the story a little clueless and very down-to-earth, but Kaelyn became a highly adaptable leader as fantastic events unfolded around her.

As for my hero Jack, I knew he needed to be serious in the beginning. After all, his role for a hundred years has been as a self-appointed guard against danger. He starts out almost severe, but from the moment he encounters Kaelyn, there’s a spark of something else there. Over the course of the story, he developed a sense of humor I enjoyed writing. Love brought out the best in him, I suppose.

As for what they look like, I did make them sort of opposites on purpose. Kaelyn is blonde, fair, blue-eyed and (of course) beautiful. Tall enough to reach the top shelf on her own…but not too tall. Jack on the other hand is over six feet tall, gorgeous, dark hair and complexion. You can figure out for yourself what the dark complexion means…I’m not totally certain myself, but it felt right to me when Kaelyn thinks about his “dark perfection”.

But are my characters ever based on real people? Not anymore, and never on purpose. I did it by accident once with a minor character. I hadn’t even realized how I felt about the person I based the character on until the reviews started coming in, and everybody disliked the character in question, who I thought was a positive to the story…and then I started to make the connection.

I still hope the real person doesn’t realize what I did.

I’m very careful about that now. I don’t dislike anyone enough to subject them to the unforgiving permanence of the written word. (Even my written word, which is read by literally dozens of people and may not really be that permanent at all.) I try never to use any names of people I know, though I think they sneak in from time to time. And if I base the appearance of a character on anyone, it’s on someone I don’t actually know. I mean, you only have so many different natural hair and eye colors, and romance characters are almost always slim and/or well-built. It’s escapism, after all.

So, I guess in a very real way, my characters grow existentially. I pluck their little stick figures from my head, put them in a story and they take form and flesh from their surroundings, turning into real imaginary people.

It really doesn’t have anything to do with birds and bees.

Do you have any favorite fictional characters? Let me know in the comments.

 

Time is not your friend.

PSM_V05_D144_Mountain_laurel

Immortality and everlasting love are two of the meanings of mountain laurel.

This morning I taught my nine-year-old how to make waffles because it’s summer, everybody’s getting up at a different time…and, well, she’s nine. It’s time to start doing some basic stuff for yourself like making your own breakfast. But as soon as I thought that, I realized something.

 

She’s nine years old. How did that happen?

Time isn’t our friend, is it? It rushes us along, always on its schedule, never paying attention to the moments we want to stand still and enjoy like our vacations and celebrations. Time only takes a breather when we’re standing in line at the DMV or going to an unpleasant doctor’s appointment. Then Time says, “Hold up there, what’s your rush?” And the seconds slowly become minutes and seem like hours.

I’ve been fascinated by the concept of time for most of my life, I think. I remember my mother telling me once how long it would take for the Jello she’d just put into the refrigerator to jell. An hour.

How long is an hour? I said.

She probably rolled her eyes and sighed, but I remember her laughing a little. “Sixty minutes.”

Sixty minutes? How could I possibly live that long? I wanted the Jello now. And yet, when I ran along and played with my Barbie dolls, all of sudden, an hour had passed. And I was enjoying a plateful of jiggly green Jello that I could poke with my fork to see it wobble and not get fussed at for playing with my food.

My obsession with time has continued through the years. Don’t rush it, people say when you’re trying your best to get through one stage of your life—high school, college, the first years of married life, the first stage of child-rearing, the lean years during your first jobs when you’re not making much money…

And they’re right. Because all of a sudden you’re teaching your nine-year-old baby who’s sprouted ridiculously long legs to make waffles. Or reaching up to give your 12-year-old a hug. Or teaching your 16-year-old to drive. All because it’s time. And you were never allowed to stand still for those moments in time that you’ll always treasure but can never go back to.

And all of this is to say that on Wednesday, my book Out of Time, which explores some of my thoughts about time, will mark another point in my timeline. And this time, I’ll be enjoying that moment with you right here on my blog. I’ll be posting throughout the day about Out of Time and what it means in my personal quest to understand the rush of time. Please stop by with any questions about my writing, thoughts about time, comments about the weather…whatever. And at high noon, the pinnacle of the hours of the day…I’ll have a special guest here. Then at 7 p.m. (Eastern), as the hours of the day draw to a close, I’ll choose one commenter from a random drawing to receive the grand prize of a Kindle Fire!

So take a few moments from your day and stop by. Help me make the most of the day…before we’re out of time.