This Is How Authors Play Tag.

just hold on cover

I was tagged in a blog post by a fellow author, Anton T. Russell. The challenge is to answer the following questions and then tag other authors. Because we can be quite the ornery sort, this is a vehicle to pull authors away from their imaginations and get them to tell the world about what is going on in their heads.

On one hand, this is one of the more interactive of our author games. On the elementary school playground, we failed at tag. We were the kids that were poked and banished to the “Out” sector of the field…because we’d been too busy daydreaming or writing story ideas on our forearms with the yellow ink of a dandelion. KIDS CAN BE SO MEAN. However, this author tag idea might be a more successful route for play, since it doesn’t involve leaving the house, talking to actual people, or getting out of pajamas. Other fun things we do include: passing puns back and forth, yelling Shakespearean quotes and identifying them (I only do that at Renaissance Festivals) , and shouting at one another through paper cup telephones while hiding in our respective writing caves.

Now, the other hand is usually backwards, if you know what I mean. I avoid that type of discourse as if it is the plague. Why we compete against one another is beyond my ability to understand. Readers read and they’re constantly searching for the next great imaginative escape. If your book ain’t the one for them, write another. In the time between, give them a recommendation to hold them until you can have that next one ready. It’s as simple as that. No real reason to bust someone else’s a … imagination because it doesn’t fit your own. (this paragraph stolen from Anton T. Russell, JUST BECAUSE I CAN.)

Honestly though, we shouldn’t knock one another’s vision of art. Another’s vision of art may not be yours, and that’s okay. Really, it is. You don’t have to like it. But respect for the vision, for the work, the time, the sleepless nights, the crying, the laughing…..respect for these things is appropriate. Just say, “Well done.” Just say, “Nice job.” Be nice. It’s nice to be nice. And it sets the right example for the next generation. Don’t we want them to be nice? Yes. Yes we do.

Anyway, here is my Q&A:

What are you working on right now?

Currently, I’m working on a short story, “M80s and Cherry Bombs”, and a collection of pieces I’ve been writing as I have learned (well, tried to learn) about struggling to move forward after losing my sister (and best friend) last summer.

How do your stories differ from others in its genre?

What sort of question is this? And how can I answer it when I barely have a grasp on the genre I’m writing? My book has been called women’s fiction, drama fiction, chick-lit, romance (not really my intention)…..and my creative non-fiction just tends to make people cry. Why can’t I just call my genre “life”? Life genre….now see, that, well, that’s something I could converse about.

Why do I write what I do?

I like to disassemble those little moments that make up life, those bits and pieces of the everyday. I want to stretch them out like the Silly Putty my children played with when they were little; that virus of stickiness that, when found ground into my carpet or glued to my furniture, made me curse beneath my breath. These moments, they pass us by or cause mild irritation or fluttering hearts or shattered pride and in the end, they were the bits of time that colored the great mural we were living in. And so I pull them apart and turn them inside out; I flick them and tickle them and stare at them under a magnifying glass; I write them and I love them and I’m terrified by them and sometimes, they make me curse beneath my breath.

How does the writing process work?

How does my writing process work? Hmmn. Sometimes, I see a moment in a movie or in a song or on a sidewalk in the little village I reside in, and I feel struck. My breath is caught for just a split second, and it begins; or I live through something heartbreaking or joyous or just plain ordinary and it strikes me the same way. Then the movie scene rolls to life in my mind; the characters begin as a blur and slowly separate – they come with names (which I sometimes dislike, but am helpless to change), looks and personalities of their own; backstories and entanglements and quirks that make them into people that seem so real to me, I sometimes have conversations with them out loud. And that’s just the fiction….but when I write creative non-fiction pieces, it happens much the same way. The difference, of course, being I am writing from my own perspective, my own experience. My own Silly Putty moments.

I have found that when my life is most upside-down, when grief covers me like a heavy blanket and I feel like I may suffocate; or when I’m overwhelmed with emotion, good or bad; when I’m filled to spilling over with feelings: anxiety, depression, contentedness, joy, relief – that is when I write the most, and the best, and I call that overflowing feeling “word vomit”. I spew and spew and spew and when it finally settles down to a slow heave, I can catch my breath and begin to edit and sometimes even sleep. I like sleep. I used to be good friends with it, and we would, you know, hang out all night. Chill. Eat nachos. You know. It was good times, man.

But then I became a writer.

I am tagging three of my favorites, and I can hardly wait to see their answers:

Teri Cross Chetwood, author of “The Girl in the Impossible Bottle”, which can be found here:

Mary Luce Aiello, author of “Vigilante Justice: A Marty Wilson Mystery”, which can be found here:

Christian Fennell, author of “Urram Hill”, which can be found…..can be found…….Oh my God, Christian! Where can it be found? Crap. I think I’ve lost it. Please don’t kill me.


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