That Darn Query

Like all other authors looking to get published I have had to attempt to tackle the query.  There are great sites that give great advice on writing queries from authors and agents out there.   There are hoards of people who talk about the agony of trying to write the great query that will get them a submission request.

It is counter-intuitive that I can sit down and pump out a quality piece of fiction the length of a novel, yet seem to not have mastered the 250 word or less query.  Big, fat sigh.  The funny thing is that I always have had a knack at being able to express a complex idea creatively in few words.  Apparently, all that went to hell when faced with this query.

Now, I tell myself it is the pressure.  I have to have a smashingly stunning query to compete with the billion other authors trying to get at least a partial requested by an agent.  If I would just relax, I could just whoosh, query.

I have written and sent out quite a few different takes on my query.  Chirp.  Chirp.  Chirp.

Its a great book.  I suck at queries.

I will forge ahead.  This weekend, I shall attempt a synopsis. 

I’ll keep you posted.

[Ideas and feedback welcome–you are all way too quiet out there.]

What Makes a Character Real?

Isn’t it the quirks and idiosyncrasies that make a character real in our fiction?  Their behavior patterns, their neuroses, their fears, their fetishes?  Actually, isn’t that what makes us real?

What moments happen that make them who they are?  How can we as writers make the reader feel those moments so that the reader can become that character while they are immersed in your novel?  The common thread we all share is emotion.  If we can evoke or trigger an emotion in our reader that corresponds to the emotion of the character, we have hit a home run.  The reader can then empathise and experience the character in their own psyche. 

What I find a fun challenge is to immerse the reader in a character that they might not expect they can relate to.  To create a link between the psyche of the reader and a character whom they at first feel averse to can give the reader a new and unique experience in your book, and perhaps even impact the reader on a more permanent basis.

To do this we need to become students of human nature, human experience, and the human mind and emotions.  Dissecting and discerning the differences between animal instincts, cultural influences, religious imprinting, sexual imprinting, and parental and peer imprinting can be a great place to start.  What makes a person what they are, and how does their unique perspective impact the world around them. 

How do people love?  How do they manipulate?  How do they seek attention?  How do they manifest their emotions through their behavior?  One of the best places to start learning to read these aspects of people is within yourself.  Especially the sides of ourselves that we might not like, or might be embarrassed about, or might not want to see.  Unraveling our own shadows can lead to amazing discoveries about what makes human beings human.

Tomorrow’s Yesterday

A mother is a daughter,
An answer and a question,
Sometimes a statement of fact
or feelings never spoken.
History repeats itself?
In veiled form, for those looking.
Why do we keep forgetting?
We don’t want to remember.
But you have all those pictures
and other little clues boxed
and put away under beds.
Shh–that is for just in case
or a very rainy day
or a cold, long, sleepless night.
Well, wouldn’t it be better
to spend the time together
long before it is too late?
Is my hand too old to hold?
Not for me, sweet, not your hand.
Aren’t hands made for holding on?
Your were always very smart.
I’m just like you, just like you.

A Morning Moment

The water smokes in the cool dawn,

Burning with my desire, my longing,

It reaches out a lapping hand

A cold whisper caressing my toes.

The sand molds to my stark essence,

A million tiny memories joined,

I am standing on history

And didn’t even know it.  Thinking,

I say to the water, Listen,

We are the same, you and I, really.

You flow with your secrets: promise.

I flow with my promise, secretly.

The water answers, shimmer words.

We smile at each other–private friends

Infusing Yourself in your Fiction

I don’t know about other writers but I can’t seem to help spilling into my writing.  Sometimes it is just a hint or bit of flavor, and often I find myself in my male characters as much or more than my females.  I tend to write more from a male point of view, now that I think about it.

I would be interested to know if that is common with other writers.   I highly recommend it, though some might consider me a bit of an exhibitionist for it.  I think part of the fun is that no one knows which parts are me, and which parts are pure fiction.  It is kind of like streaking, actually.  I blur by and no one really know if they saw me or not.

Since this blog is called Mine Weep, I shall offer a few of the random thoughts and observations I have had in the past few days.  I’ll try not to get you wet.

*There is one universal truth for women who are in the illusive process of losing weight:  The first place the weight comes off is the tits.  Every time.  I quit smoking, have been eating amazingly (except a couple cookies), have been riding the bike 30-60 minutes a day for 6 weeks (haven’t missed a day), been lifting weights, and blam.  Shirts are looser guess where?  Sigh.

*I am letting my grey hair stay.  I have colored my hair for years, and since I am trying to eliminate as many chemicals from my life as possible, I have stopped coloring.  Wow.  I am actually excited.  I have a very young looking face, am getting super fit and sexy (see above), and have very long hair–soon to be partially white.  I have always liked contradictions.  Here is my rationale:  the current trend in a lot of porn being MILFs and Hot Wives–I got something no twenty-something has–you can’t fake grey hair.  There is no dye for that.  Hey–I can look hot, and older/wiser/sophisticated/knowledgeable[wink].  What’s not to love?  What kind of cougar would that make me if I were such an animal?  A Snow leopard?  White tiger?  Take that, botox.  I am determined to make it sexy for women to have character in their faces and white in their hair, just like all those sexy, older, distinguished men.  Sweet.

*I am discovering that the book publishing business and the querying process is appealing to my competitive side.  I tend to not be competitive with other people as much as I am with myself and with difficult odds.  That’s right.  You heard me, Universe.  Stack the odds against me, and I’m going to find a way in.  I’m going to find a way to become that shining star.   I love being challenged to be better than I was yesterday.  That is the thing that juices my engine.

*I’m going to say it again–the 40’s are the best years of my life (so far.)

*When all else fails it’s probably peri-menopause.  What else could it be?

Now I’ve seen that people have been coming by here, so someone has to be the first.  Say something.  I don’t bite unless you like me to.

Erotica

I don’t think I could write an adult fiction work and not have some sort of study or inclusion of sexuality in my characters.  I think the core nature of people is expressed through their sexuality, or lack thereof.  The deepest parts of us, our deepest secrets, our deepest passions, our deepest desires all coil around the pillar of how we express ourselves through sex.  If a person is repressed and non-expressive sexually, that can also be a gateway to a deep, emotional inner world.

Sexuality touches everyone, whether they want to admit it or not.  Somewhere, even if it is in their private thoughts that are never spoken, everyone thinks about sex.  To see a glimpse of someone’s sexuality is to see a glimpse into a person’s nature.  How can we not include the sexuality of our characters in our work?  How can anyone really know them or feel them or experience them without it?

In Blood From Heaven I explore sexuality through my three main characters.  Samone Fisher is a young woman who is in her mid-twenties.  She is bisexual, very free and open with her sexuality, very demonstrative and affectionate with those whom she loves.  She is unrestrained in her love-making, often playful and aggressive.

Liner and Paterson are the two men in her lives.  Two?  Yes–the three of them live in a polyamorous relationship.  Paterson is a bisexual man, and Liner is a heterosexual man.  I chose to have two bisexual characters because while there has been an increase in homosexual fiction, I have not heard of any bisexual main characters, and I felt there was a need to have their feelings, issues, and views expressed.  Perhaps my own bisexuality influenced that decision.

In the novel, Liner explores his sexuality.  What does it mean to have affection for another man–to love a man if you are a man?  He has to grapple with the issue and question of whether or not he can be bisexual.  Where does he fall on the sexuality spectrum?  A lot of people think sexuality is an either/or thing, but most people actually fall somewhere along a wide path or spectrum between heterosexual and homosexual.  I have met a lot of people who are largely heterosexual who have explored a bisexual side.  There are a lot of people who experiment.  What happens between Liner and Paterson?  You’ll have to wait for the book.

What is it like when three people love each other?  I am sure everyone can imagine jealousy cropping up, or possessivness, or competitiveness.  Many people are not aware that there is a sub-culture in our country that is polyamorous or “poly.”  Many people are not aware that often the relationship is between one woman and multiple men, assuming instead that it would be between one man and many women.  This is another dynamic I explore in Blood From Heaven.  Polyamory is not unusual in the neo-Pagan/Heathen culture.

It is interesting to me that many people do not consider the ramifications of a very sexual woman and her appetites, and the directions that she can take herself in her sexuality.  Female sexuality in general is still rather taboo thanks to the tenor of the  Judeo/Christian Religions.  Women are capable of having multiple orgasms, and can remain aroused for long periods of time.  It should not be surprising, therefore, that women can have a capacity for multiple sexual partners at one time.  It is, in fact, part of the Natural World, and that is a world that Paganism is particulary clued into.  If one considers the evolution of the human animal, one can recognize the advantage in reproduction for a woman to have multiple partners if a pregnancy is going to occur.  Of course, one very active partner can also produce good results.

The main thing I am concerned with in my writing is expressing the very natural and beautiful truth of sexuality, and that is that everyone is unique, and that sex is not a dirty or shameful thing, but the most beautiful expression of our inner selves.  I am saddened by the shame that still plagues our culture in regards to sex.  It is my hope that by openly exploring sexuality through my characters, I can give people a character that they can relate to and open up to. 

It is important to me to explore sexual diversity through my characters in the current climate of repression, prejudice, and condemnation in our world.  The GLB community is in the crux of a vital civil rights movement in America–trying to obtain the basic right of legal marriage, because for some reason the threat of two people in love is just too much for some people.

I would suggest as a writing exercise for you to write out a secret sexual fantasy.  Explore it, delve into it, become enraptured with it through two characters.  You might be surprised where it leads.  I would also like to invite you to discuss a related writing topic on Worlds Apart, and would love to hear your views.  Please stop by!

To Write

How can one explain what moves an artist to create?  The need to create is a drive that becomes an entity in its own right; an entity that lives within us.  For some of us we become the vehicle for this being, and when it calls we answer. 

When I write a book, I become engaged with the reader, almost like a lover.  The exchange becomes a dance, a song, an opportunity to become entangled, and when it is over we go our separate ways.  When we can meet again,  the reader opens his mind and heart to my words, my passions, my visions, and I cherish his willingness to explore with me.  Again, we embrace.  I come into you, and you see into me, and together, I hope, we are both changed.

To write is to conduct a great orchestra, weaving the intricate sounds into haunting laments and arching passions.  Hushing and coaxing and building such sweet,  sonic tension. 

To write is to wrestle and fight and pound–whisper and seduce;  To write is to bleed a soul onto paper, or paint a dream in another’s imagination.  To write is to retrieve the voices of lost souls from the wind and allow them to live again.  To write is to become something different than we were before.

To write is to give birth and nurture and release.  To write is to weep words so that the sea may carry them to a new land, so that they may flourish far away from home.

To write is to remember, and to write is to forget.