Category Archives: Life Reflections

Onward into 2018

It’s late morning the first day of 2018 and there are a thousand things I should be doing other than this. But, I really love my yearly wrap-ups.

The past two years have been so hard, but also very lovely in their own way. 2017 had its share of ups and downs. For a year when the downs always seemed to follow an up, or stand in the way of progress, I’m really proud of what I did accomplish and very much looking forward to 2018.

This time last year, I was still recovering from an ulcer and digestive issues were a problem for half of 2017. Thankfully those seemed to have improved. Though, I did have some additional health issues in the fall. In October, I managed to cut off a tiny piece of my finger while cooking. (I recommend not adding that to your 2018 resolutions. Trust me.) November was full of mostly the wrong type of excitement. A deer ran into the side of our 4Runner while my husband was driving us to the gym. I ended up with some tooth/face injuries and the 4Runner was totaled. Unexpected car shopping is always great fun, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas. After a long search, we’re now the happy owners of a Subaru Outback. RIP 4Runner. Long live the Outback!

I also struggled with repetitive stress injuries in both hands forcing me to switch from typing to dictation. Learning an entirely new way to to process the story and push it into words had been both interesting and challenging.

But, even with all of that, I wrote:

Flash Fiction Words: 6,319

Short Story Words: 53,381

Novel Words: 202,300

For a grand total of 262,000 words!

Those were hard words. They were words to fix things I did while very sick in the second half of 2016. They were words that came from learning new writing methods. They were words that happened around pain, fatigue, and days when my best seemed far from good enough.

However, because of the work I put in throughout 2017, I have five books in progress. Earth Born is going through edits right now. Earth Born 2 is being written, as are two other books, and Earth Born 3 is slowly getting a plot. Plus, I have more short stories waiting to be published.

Today, I look at my 2018 to-do list and feel behind. The holidays have a way of making everything pile into January. So, for the next few weeks I’ll be digging deep to see several projects into their next stage. After that, I’ll be doing my very best to make 2018 a fabulous year for writing and publishing. And, with a lot of hard work, and a little luck, I’d like to break 350,000 words written in 2018.

~N

2016 in Review

Getting up this morning I knew it was time for me to write my yearly wrap-up, but I didn’t have a lot of motivation. On Christmas Eve my car stopped starting in a parking lot and had to be towed home. Getting it towed to a mechanic and repaired will be today’s problem. The day after Christmas I managed to sprain my big toe. I’ll spare you the grizzly details, but I dearly hope none of you ever do something similar. The pain is completely disproportionate to the injury, and every step is a painful reminder that toes are important and do something.

Thankfully, the lovely Andi and I had been talking about writing, life, and 2017. The exact inspiration I needed was sitting in my e-mail.

 

Looking back at 2016, what did you accomplish as a writer? Of what are you most proud? What didn’t go as well as you’d hoped? 

Earlier this year I started keeping a list of work accomplishments. It’s something I plan on continuing because it gives me perspective. With how long so many “tasks” (like writing a book) take and how they tend to flow into one another (from writing to rewriting, to editing), it can be easy to forget what I’ve done and this reminds me.

2016 Accomplishments

  • Heavily edited Fey Hearted
  • Published Fey Hearted
  • Wrote Michelle’s Case Files
  • Rewrote Michelle’s Case Files
  • Edited Michelle’s Case Files
  • Published Michelle’s Case Files
  • Finished writing A Witch’s Rite (this book was started in 2015)
  • Rewrote A Witch’s Rite
  • Edited A Witch’s Rite
  • Published A Witch’s Rite
  • Wrote Draft Zero of the Fey Hearted Prequel Novella
  • Wrote Draft Zero of a science fiction short story
  • Reorganize NEConneely.com and created book landing pages
  • Rebuilt my desk to be ergonomic (Big thanks to my husband for helping!)
  • Formatted Fey Hearted and A Witch’s Rite for trade paperback
  • Reformatted Witch for Hire, A Witch’s Path, A Witch’s Trial, A Witch’s Concern for trade paperback
  • Reformatted  Witch for Hire, A Witch’s Path, A Witch’s Trial, A Witch’s Concern, A Witch’s Rite, Fey Hearted, and Michelle’s Case Files Kindle files to look prettier and be cohesive inside the series.
  • Formatted Fey Hearted, Michelle’s Case Files, Witch for Hire, A Witch’s Path, A Witch’s Trial, A Witch’s Concern, and  A Witch’s Rite for iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and other retailers
  • Published Fey Hearted, Michelle’s Case Files, Witch for Hire, and A Witch’s Path to iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and other retailers

I’m really proud of that list. Several of those things took weeks or months. Others required learning new skills and programs. I did all of that in between moving, getting married, visiting family, having a honeymoon, and being plagued with an ulcer. Everything I’ve just typed is important. They’re the things I need to remember when I wonder where 2016 went.

However, I didn’t do as much pure writing as I’d hoped. That’s the one thing I’d really like to improve upon in 2017.

 

Looking forward to 2017, what would you like to accomplish as a writer? What might need to stay in place for those things to happen? What might need to change? 

In 2017  I want to write 1,000,000 words. It’s a big goal, one I may not make, but everything I write gets me closer to some of my smaller goals (like completing individual books). And the process of trying will be a reward of its own as I get back to the writing and stories I love.

To write a million words in 2017, I need to hold onto my determination and drive while I work on my time management and daily flow. I need to learn when to take breaks and when to look at the a blank page and feel an upwelling of  “I Can!” I need to walk forward boldly and with conviction, remembering to prioritize my goals because it’s easy for them to get lost and that’s unacceptable. I need to be a better me and a better writer.

North Georgia is Burning

North Georgia is burning. The Rough Ridge Fire is destroying the Cohutta Wilderness area. If you read my Witch’s Path books you may recognize that name. That’s where the majority of A Witch’s Rite takes place. I have good memories of the area, and it’s very dear to so many of my friends and family.

Every day the numbers go up, but more than 21,000 acres are involved. The Cohutta Wilderness is only 37,000 acres. With no measurable rain in recent weeks, and none on the forecast, odds are the entire Cohutta will be consumed. I know when I go back it won’t look the same.

Even where I live, miles and miles away, smoke has settled over the city, making the sky hazy and breathing difficult. There’s been so much smoke around the greater Atlanta area that fire departments here have been fielding calls. The news picked up the story to inform citizens that they weren’t smelling a fire, but smoke from Rough Ridge that had settled here.

In the news it’s a fire, a bad one, uncommon in this area, and the result of a very dry summer and fall. To those of us who’ve lived in those mountains and love those mountains it’s so much more. We’re losing something beautiful, unique, and precious.

http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5078

Photos from the Rough Ridge Fire in Georgia

The Damage of Rape in Literature

Rape has been talked about a lot lately, and it’s slowly fading from the front page of every news source. I know a lot of you are tired of the topic and I wish I could move on, but I can’t because I’ve long had strong views on how rape is used in stories. Or to be more accurate, the lack of impact it has on so many stories after it’s happened to one or more characters in the book.

Let me back up. I think the first time I read a rape scene was in Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Price. Now, I think it’s overall great book, and I have so much respect for her as an author (I own something like 30 of her books and have read another 15), but I never liked the way it was done or felt that it was consistent with the story* in Magic’s Price. In large part because I felt that the main character was raped near the end of the book to show 1) How evil the bad guys were, and 2) How much the hero had to overcome to defeat the evil. What I didn’t see was the enough enough time spent of the horrible things rape does to its victims.

Since reading Magic’s Price I’ve read a lot of books with rape in them. Over time I noticed that rape was often used as a cheap plot device. Need something horrible an unspeakable to happen to a character? Rape, sodomy, torture – to the page!

What I almost never saw in these books were scenes where the rape survivor had any lingering effects from the rape. In fact in one book the main character was brutally raped and then went about her life the next day like nothing had happened. I never read other book by that author. If she couldn’t give something as serious as rape the page time it deserved it shouldn’t have been in the book.

Off-hand I can only name three authors (I think?) who have given any attention to what happens after the rape. One of these authors wrote a character that not only suffered depression and isolation immediately after, but later experienced flashbacks, trouble being touched, and trouble being intimate after the rape. These issues cropped up from time to time in subsequent books. That seems a lot more realistic than getting up the next day and saving the world.

Rape, sodomy, torture, or anything related should not be used lightly in literature. Books are often an escape for people; some of which have survived those very experiences. Before any author writes rape into a book they need to really think about what they’re doing. That character must deal with that incident for the rest of its life. Anything less is doing a disservice to the people who have survived rape and trivializing a horrible life-altering experience that never goes away. And that’s true if it happens to the character on the page, off the page, or in their “tragic past.”

If what I just said isn’t enough of a reason to really think about using rape, sodomy, or torture casually, let me give you a couple more. Books communicate knowledge and morals. Even books intended for adults end up being read by children, small people still developing their moral center. Reading is a way they learn, and they need to learn that rape isn’t trivial. It’s a giant, horrible, terrible thing that destroys lives.

As an author, having a character that bounces back from rape or any other horrible thing like it never happened indicates that you made the wrong choice. To me, someone who is both an author and a reader, it feels like you needed some type of action that would thrill the reader and fill pages but not impact the rest of the story. Rape was the wrong choice. Any type of sexual assault is the wrong choice.

I want to see changes in the way rape, sodomy, and torture are handled in books. While the hero of any story is often asked to do the extraordinary, that shouldn’t include a truly unbelievable recovery from one of those things. A hero is often the character the readers relate to, or see themselves as, when they read the book. That means that what happens to that character needs to be relatable and meaningful to the overall arc of the story. Rape that only serves to fill a chapter or two and nothing more is none of those things.

There are millions of people reading our books and every time we use rape that way we lose their trust. Every time we skip over what happens after the rape we send a message to all the people that have lived through those horrors that it isn’t worth handling as a serious topic. We tell them they aren’t important, that their experiences don’t matter, and that they should stay quiet because no one wants to hear about that part of their lives. We tell them rape is so normal, so common, that it’s unremarkable. We show them how little we think of their pain and how little we understand.

As authors we can do better.

We need to do better.

There are millions of people of every gender, orientation, race, and walk of life that need us to do better. They need us to handle rape as a serious topic or leave it alone. They need to know that we see how devastating rape is to a person. They need us to create characters that have relatable post-rape experiences.

As authors we have a plethora of choices as to how things happen in our books and we owe it to every person who’s been a victim to do our best to handle serious issues as serious issues.

Do Better. Rape isn’t entertaining.

 

 

 

*If you’ve read Magic’s Price, maybe you agree with me, and maybe you don’t (to be fair, the main character died so quickly he didn’t have much time to deal with the post-rape trauma). Either way is fine, and we could talk about that book at length, but that book isn’t the problem. It’s how common the issues are in literature.