Friday, March 14, 2014

Sorry, this blog is closed...

from www.hmcoloringpages.com 


Just a note to avoid confusion...for those visiting this blog for the first time, please note that it is no longer in use. Feel free to peruse the content presented here, but for current content including posts, author interviews, guest blogs, and my writing portfolio (including information about my book, The Purple Morrow) please visit my active blog Dropped Pebbles at: www.droppedpebbles.wordpress.com 

Thanks! And happy perusing!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Writers Block: Dyane Forde-Author Interview

I finally figured out how to post this properly. Many thanks again to STEEL Magazine for this incredible opportunity. Enjoy. :)




Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Through the Looking Glass with T.A. Miles: Author Interview

I'm so excited. For my first author interview, the planets have aligned, resulting in the wonderful T.A. Miles accepting to be my first...victim, er...rather, interviewee. In some ways, I've always felt as though I'd found a (writing) kindred spirit in T.A. In chats and discussions, her views on writing and of her writing process always connected with me in a fundamental way so that I always left our chats excited and inspired. So it gives me great pleasure to have her on board with me today, and I hope that you, Reader, come to  know and appreciate her and her work as much as I do.

I invite you to hang around and to slink on down the rabbit hole with us as we explore the marvelous mind of T.A. Miles.

 T.A Miles, author, artist, musician, dreamer

1-   Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

I'm an author, an editor, an illustrator, a dreamer, a crazy person, a partner in a life partnership, a lover of animals, and a devourer of music. I have Alice syndrome, which is curiosity to the Nth degree, which  greatly fuels my imagination, my learning, and my randomness. I'm also a very independent person who likes to promote independence in others, especially regarding emotional freedom and creativity. I like to encourage and support others trying to share one of the most delicate and sensitive, and powerful aspects of themselves, which is their creativity. I think sometimes part of the reason I decided to publish independently was to show others that it can be done without remorse.

Some technical details about myself: I'm from the American Midwest, raised for a bit in California. I'm formally educated in music and history, and independently studied in life and the things in life that pique my interest especially, such as languages, spirituality, and culture. I'm married to my best friend and together we're raising a dachshund and a beagle.

2-   From what I’ve seen, you seem to like to dabble in different forms of expression. Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? How did you get your start and what keeps you motivated/inspired?

I'm someone who likes to try to do everything. I get inspired by something and then I want to pay tribute to the inspiration or express it in every way imaginable; writing, drawing, music...etc… I've been involved in literature, art, and music from a young age. I was frequently brought to the library and checked out books by the stack. I have difficulty sitting still mentally, so I would always have paper with me to draw or write on or I would have a book to read, or something wherever I went.

When I'm reading, my characters are often reading with me or I'm considering how one of my characters might respond to the situation or character I'm reading about. Music really gets my characters going. Visual art pokes and prods along the threshold of my imagination, always stirring something up or inciting reaction from a character. Puzzles and games...video games... Really, it's all about the characters. And they're kept constantly at the front of my mind by everything that catches my interest. In fact, I go so far as to consider that some of the things catching my interest are, in fact, catching theirs and that's why I noticed it at all. Part of keeping motivated and inspired is to literally carry these people with me everywhere. I never stop thinking about them because writing for me isn't a hobby or a career even, it's an all- encompassing passion. It's such an intrinsic part of my emotional being that to not do it, or to not be thinking of it is not like taking time off of work or stepping away from something fun, it's like trying to take some time off from breathing. I wasn't an only child (I have three siblings) and I wasn't lonely, so I'm not quite sure why I developed this sense of spiritual connection to characters...this habit of regarding characters as people I know across some planar divide, who I must write about...but it was something that formed very naturally and automatically. Maybe having a constant chemical imbalance (I'm bipolar), I’ve been seeking a way to explore the various sides of my emotional being, through the emotions of others (those observed in life, through reading and living, and eventually my characters).



3-   What forms of writing (short stories, poetry, novels, etc.) and genres do you prefer and why?

I don't really have a conscious preference. Novels are what usually happen. Typically, I'll meet a character who has something to say, then they start going and intersect with other characters, who also have things to say. Their threads begin weaving and creating this massive tapestry that spreads and spreads until they've covered one hundred thousand to two hundred thousand words. It just never occurs to me to stop them any earlier. That said, I do have some short stories, only they're not really mine. By that I mean, a character wrote them. (~watches everyone back away slowly~ )

Something about my characters being full-dimensional people is that they have whole lives. I think I've written a total of two short stories myself when it was recommended to me that I try to publish via magazines and such. I don't really like either of them and oddly enough the short that was nearly purchased(but turned out to be too long for the magazine) was one of the stories written by my character. What that let me know is that writing with an agenda in mind or for the sake of writing isn't my best form. It has to come directly from the characters.

4-   I’ve read books which annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What is it that makes you want to stop turning pages?

The weird thing about me and books I want to throw is that I love them. If I'm riled up enough to throw it, the author did a good job. Of course, that's only if I'm riled up over things the characters have done. If I'm annoyed with the style or the lack of feeling in a book...the lack of people interacting...I tend to just stop reading it and don't get very worked up about it. Unless I try to make myself finish it, or something continues to bait me into reading further until I just can't take it anymore.

So, for me a page turner is a book where the characters feel like people, and I feel like I'm seeing and feeling people interact and grow. Honestly, books fraught with intentional symbolism and structure, or any element that was put into the story on purpose tend to not impress me. I can be impressed by the ability of the author to do that, but it's not really what I'm looking for in a read. Symbolism also tends to get preachy or heavy-handed if it isn't done just exactly right and typically when an author is thinking about it too deliberately they're not feeling it(in my opinion). The best messages can be delivered incidentally or by way of something else rather than by deliberate intent. We all relate to different things, so to set out to tell a story about one thing specifically runs the risk of escaping or excluding part of your audience. That doesn't mean that the author can't follow the course of things that speak to them the most, but I also believe that the author should learn these things in progress. I believe that characters should be observed and discovered, not made or created. When an author has done the former, I can tell and that's when I love it.

5-   As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

As I sort of said in the prior ramble, I don't believe in 'including' things deliberately. It's just not how I write. For me, doing things too deliberately is orchestrating and constructing. In some cases it can lead to processing and packaging. I try to be more raw and organic. Whatever happens, happens. Whoever tells it, tells it. I think, by that philosophy and practice, my greatest strength is in characters. I believe that many of my readers respond to the characters first and foremost, whether they like them or don't. Even not liking them is positive and precisely what I hope to accomplish; an emotional reaction to the people in the story. Not everyone likes everybody. Successful populations of characters will have people who aren't unanimously liked or disliked, but who garner a variety of responses and receptions from the readers, just as people do one another in life. So, you will never hear me say that 'so and so' was written to be disliked. Even the worst, most destructive antagonist is simply an individual, who happens to be doing destructive and antagonistic things. I'm so sure they have a reason for it. Let's find out through them and through those around them and affected by them. So, to sum it up, I think my strengths are in conveying people and emotion, and in allowing a natural course.

My weaknesses are in planning and in keeping a story at a reasonable length. I’m not worried about planning, since it doesn’t fit with my style. I don’t know if I’m worried about keeping a story at or under 100,000 words, but there are times when I think it limits my audience. They have to stop and consider whether or not they want to invest that much time, which is a lot to ask of anyone.

6-   How often do you write? Do you hold to the idea that a writer must write every single day?

I write every day; a few hundred to a few thousand words. I do not believe that every writer must write every single day. Everyone works differently. I write because I can't not write, so writing every day is just part of daily life for me. There was a time in my life where I wrote for 8 to 12 hours straight every single day. This was when I lived alone and didn't own dogs. People have to develop writing habits that fit their lifestyles and they're not any greater or less an author for doing it their own way, regardless of how long that has them at their desk.


7-   Can you tell us about Raventide? What other projects are you working on?

Raventide is the first novel I decided to publish independently. There was no special reason behind it, except it was written and I needed a sacrifice. We (my partner and I) chose Raventide. After the fact, we decided we should have a label. Raventide seemed like as good a name as any and with it being the debut novel, it seemed appropriate. It quickly grew up into a micro publisher. All that really means is that we publish very selectively and not in mass. For now, I'm the only author on the roster, though we do plan to bring in more authors in the near future(as soon as it becomes viable). We branded ourselves as a genre publisher, specifically fantasy and sci-fi with emphasis on sociological and emotional. What we really want is to create a reputation for introducing readers to people, Four (or full)-dimensional characters, we call them; characters who have a physical presence, a mental presence, an emotional presence, and a spiritual presence. These are the characters who you invest your concern in. When they're upset, you cry with them or want to comfort them, or maybe you want to shake them because they cry too much and you can’t stand to see them being upset all the time. When they laugh, you laugh with them...or you don't think what happened was funny, so you tell them to shut up or you roll your eyes at their terrible jokes that are kind of endearing anyway. Whatever the case, you're right there with them.

Raventide Books is on the lookout for these types of authors. We're also hoping to support other independent artists in whatever ways we can, so Raventide Books will often help promote other authors or musicians, sometimes filmmakers, at random. We're also running a contest through my blog, The Immarcescible Word. The premise behind it is simply to provide another place for writers to showcase their imaginations and also we hope to eventually have other published authors or independent visual artists donate prizes, which also helps gain them attention.

Apart from the development of the publishing as a business, I'm working on several novels at once. Blood Song, the sequel to Blood Lilies, will be out this fall. Dreamdance, the sequel to Darkside, will be out shortly thereafter. We also have a couple of stand-alones to get ready and the next in an epic fantasy series. That means I have a lot of cover arts to get done as well…and trailers to put together, ugh.


8-   What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

The most difficult aspect of writing is time management. The days where I did nothing but write all day long are a thing of the past. Now I have to be involved in life(marriage, hound raising, running a small business...). I have to maximize my time for writing while still getting all of the other things done.

9-   Who are your favourite writers and why?

For a writer to catch my attention as a writer they typically just have to be sincere and humble. If an author is too busy about the 'business' of writing or too self-assured that their work is awesome with a side of sauce, I will probably pass on their books. Oddly enough, with independent publishing being an up and coming option, it's much easier to get an idea of 'who' is behind the book than with traditional publishing. While I want to say that's not important, I can't deny that I have a better feeling about purchasing and reading a book when I can sense the enthusiasm and spirit behind it.

That said, as a child my favorite authors were Lewis Carroll and John Bellairs. They're still among my favorites for the balanced innocence and courage in the young protagonists and the elements within the story; Alice's dealings with nonsense that may have been her own subconscious in the Wonderland stories and the air of mystery and supernatural in the Bellairs books. As an adult, I found a similar spirit to Carroll in Neil Gaiman; Neverwhere in particular. I've also read a lot of Poe, whose writing is interesting to me for its exploration of emotional and mental health. I feel that there's a lot to be read between the lines of Poe as well as stated directly. The only author, other than Bellairs, whose work I've bought simply because they wrote it is Paula Volsky. I'm not even certain what it is exactly, but there's something about her stories and her storytelling style that connects. I feel immersed in her world and involved with her characters.

10-    What advice would you give to new writers?

I've said and will continue to say to new writers, write. Hone your skills. Practice, practice, practice. Put emotion into it. It's the same as learning to play an instrument. Even if you have natural talent, if you don't practice, you'll never bring it to its full potential. And when/if it comes to publishing, choose the path that feels right to you, whether traditional or independent and go at it fearlessly. The worst that will happen is someone will tell you you're writing isn't good. The best that can happen is that you'll defy that person's opinion by continuing to write and ultimately sharing your art however you choose to share it.

11-    How can readers get into contact with you?

Email (tamilessheehan@gmail.com), Twitter (@Jossaryn), Raventide Books directly(raventidebooks.com), G+ (T.A. Miles), pan-dimensional emissary, whatever works. I love to hear from readers, but be warned I'm liable to ramble about characters and you never know when one of the characters might do the talking instead of me.


T.A. thanks so much for sharing with us today! The more you reveal about yourself and your writing, the more I want to find out. I think I’ll have to book you for a Part 2. :) I also hope that new Readers will look into Raventide Books and The Immarcescible Word to see how they can get involved. Best wishes on all your future endeavours!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Amazing! Nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger award!!

inspiringblogger
Imagine my surprise when I got the notice: I'd been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger award by Alana Munro. I mean, I have just started blogging, and when I got the crazy idea in the first place, I wasn't even certain of what I had to offer the world (if anything). But somehow, it appears my ramblings and writings have managed to move and inspire someone whom I consider to be a great writer as well as a fantastic supporter of writers in general. Thank you, Alana, for choosing to include me in your list of incredible bloggers. It is an honour. Readers, I invite you all to check out Alana's book and blog. You surely won't be disappointed. You can learn more about her at: http://alanamunroauthor.com/
Now, my list for this award is very short, in fact it includes the name of one person. Maybe I'm breaking some rule here, I don't know. But I thought long and hard about who to include, and believe me, there are many choices. But this individual has been a friend, a fantastic writing support and encourager, and he always maintains a respectful and courteous online presence. But best of all, despite some very difficult life circumstances, he always strives to look at the bright side of things, to not let circumstances get him down, and he always puts other people's needs before his own. For these reasons, I nominate Justin Michael Schmidt. You can find his poetry blog at http://poetryofchaos.blogspot.ca/. Please drop him a line and chat him up. You'd be encouraging a wonderful person who does so much to encourage others.
So Justin, now you need to grab the award badge and post it to your blog. You also need to write a wee blog post explaining that you have been nominated for this award by me. Be sure to add my blog URL(http://droppedpebbles.wordpress.com/) so your followers can discover who thinks you are so amazing they just had to nominate you.
Congrats, Justin. You deserve it! :)
Dyane

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Musings About Writer's Block

This is an article about Writer's Block. What follows are only my own thoughts and opinions and are not meant to be taken as The Final Word on the matter. In fact, I'd like to invite others to share their POVs, ideas and experiences, tips and suggestions. The video included here is meant to start off the discussion.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rcKtcXbjwD4

I liked this video. There are a lot of differing opinions on what Writer’s Block is or isn’t. I even had someone write in response to an essay I wrote about my experience with it that Writer’s Block doesn’t exist. I think perhaps the issue is that The Block means different things to different people, or more specifically, that our understanding of its causes and effects differ from person to person. For me, the definition is simple: not being able to write due to lack of inspiration for an extended period of time despite our efforts to remove the block.

In the case of this video, I agree with most of what the speaker says, and I think his solution can work for most people if applied right. But--and this is my opinion--I think this solution might work best in this instance, when our self-critic is overstepping its bounds, rendering us immobile. In effect, not being able to ‘shut off’ that nagging, critical voice.

But what if the causes are more complicated than that? I couldn’t write for 10 years. That's right. 10. Long. Years. For someone who’d always escaped into the sanctuary of a story or a poem to express herself, not being able to access that creative force or being able to express it was like living a slow death. Only the problem wasn’t an overactive inner critic. It was Life. Stress. Our family was navigating some very rough waters at the time, and my soul, for lack of a better word, was squeezed so tight that creative expression was impossible. I’m fairly certain I am not the only person to have ever gone through that. But just because the source of the Block is different doesn’t make our experience invalid or unimportant.

So, what if Life’s not the problem? What if we go back to the example of perfectionism and took it a step further? As artists, we are always putting ourselves out there. Our work is exposed to all, which means we open ourselves up to critique both good and bad. When we relinquish our work it means we are risking failure, risking that someone will hate what we have made. Sometimes, we can be so connected to our work that any negative criticism is taken personally, as though we are no good. Basically, I think our relationship with our work and how we interpret other people’s reactions to it can negatively influence the conclusions we make and, if left unchecked, paralyze us. Maybe then, it's not perfectionism but rather performance anxiety. I think we have to give ourselves permission to fail and to be able to accept failure as part of the growth process. We have to be able to see that failure does not mean we are bad people or that our talent sucks. It just means in that particular moment, we might not have been at our best.

So, what then? Then there’s the choice, isn‘t there? Give up? Or do we reassess, get back on the horse and fix it.  Or, if it can’t be fixed, write something else. But don’t stop. Don’t give in to fear. Don’t let how we think other people see us silence our voices. We are each unique. We all have a Voice for a reason, and the best part is, your voice is your own. If you don’t share it, no one else will.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mirror, Mirror: A New Poem

Yesterday, I met with an old friend whom I hadn't seen in about 8 years. We went out for breakfast and talked for 6 hours straight. It was a weird thing; I couldn't stop talking. It was like, finally, for the first time in ages, I felt like I had connected with someone who was so much like me that I couldn't tear myself away. She said things I had thought in the secrets of my mind, expressed feelings I had never spoken of to anyone else. Yesterday, I found myself reflected in someone else and in the process, I realized I had also found myself. This poem is inspired by that meeting as well as the incredible sense of reconnection with myself which resulted. 

Mirror, Mirror


Today
The stalemate ends.
Today
The inner voices
Cease.
The lies,
The numbing disillusionment,
All of it.
No more.
Never again.

For too long
I forced myself
Into a rigid, unforgiving hole.
Too long,
I denied my truest form,
Denying the expression of my heart 
And my soul.

Lost in darkness,
I was blind.
Directionless
Tripping over the leftover
Souvenirs I was able to find. 
Too afraid to pick them up,
Uncertain of those scary little fragments
I'd long ago left behind.

Now, I have seen 
The Light.
I have remembered 
The Truth.


Now, I open my eyes.

There is a mirror.
She is covered in dust
One inch thick.
My hand shakes as I brush 
It away,
Watch as the grey clumps burst as 
They hit the floor.

Sunrays.
Radiance.
All of it reflected back.

I smile.

Hello
Beautiful, 
Lovely 
Me.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A New Writing Challenge-New Short Story-The Place Where All Things End

Yet another writing experiement, or rather, challenge for me. This story was birthed after a short story I recently read filled me with melancholy and longing, but the tone and style were inspired by two other works I also recently read. One of my writing goals is to write someting that could one day be considered literary, so this represents (to me) a step towards that. The challenge, then, came in the form of using a different voice, tone, style and POV than what I am used to, as well as cutting back on story elements itself. This is bare bones story-telling for me. Hope you enjoy it. 
 



The Place Where All Things End

She met me at the tree-line, just as I was entering the wood. A little girl, youthful and delicate; unflinching innocence beamed at me through her eyes.
I was not surprised to see her there, though she was alone and stood half hidden in shadow. I called her forth. She placed rounded, porcelain fingers in my slightly wrinkled hand and squeezed. A hand hug, only. But the first I had felt in a long, long time.
‘Hello,’ she said, the syllables lilting like notes of a flute.
I smiled, glad to have such pleasant company. “Hello.”
“May I walk with you?”
I nodded. “Certainly.” Then I thought to add, “Do you know where I am going?”
She smiled, pink lips curling on china white skin. “To the place where all things end.”
“And you are not afraid?”
“Are you?”
I faced the wood. Twilight had fallen and cast shadows here and there. Tree boughs creaked and sighed in the passing wind while leaves, drying and curling as Fall neared, twisted in its wake. A forest that once lived and breathed, a former haven for forest dwellers, it was now fast falling asleep. Leaves would soon mat the forest floor in a carpet of crackling brown and yellow. Thick trunks would shrivel and split. The grass would wither.
Soon.
“No,” I said at last, “I am not afraid. Shall we?”
We crossed over into the shadow. Here, the sun did not shine.
“Why do petals fall from a flower?” the girl asked.
I shrugged as I parted tree branches to let us pass. “Because the flower needs water to thrive. When it becomes dry, it withers.”
The girl was silent for some time. The tree-line was fast approaching and soon we would begin the climb up the mountain.
As we set foot at the mountain’s base, the girl tugged at my hand.
“Why have you come alone? Where are your friends? Your family?”
“I have you, don’t I?”
She laughed, the sound ringing like struck crystal. “I don’t count.”
“There is no one,” I said, stumbling over the catch in my throat, “they’ve all gone ahead of me. Or they have all just…gone. I like to think that some are waiting for me.”
The mountain was steep and I found myself breathing hard from exertion. The little girl appeared as fresh as when we had first met. Youth, I thought, remembering.
The top of the mountain rose in the distance, a protrusion of grass covered rock poking into a blue sky dotted with swathes of puffy white clouds. Below, a river rushed. Its raging waters were tipped with froth. The rocks, sharp.
I inhaled and exhaled as I embraced the place where all things ended.
We stood together at the cliff. The wind tugged at my hair, plucking at it like harp strings. A last moment in the sun. Then flight. Soaring. A last, beautiful hurrah.
A last miserable facade.
But a fa├žade was what I needed.
“Is this the only way to get what you seek?”
I looked down at her, into those serious brown eyes. Eyes which seemed to understand me, perhaps better even than I did. Youth was innocent. It believed everything we said. Even lies.
“Yes. This is the only way.” I squeezed her hand. “Will you come with me?”
I bent down, picked a pink wildflower from between the blades of grass and stuck the stem behind her ear. Imitating me, the girl repeated the gesture and then climbed into my arms. She weighted nothing, smelled of nothing.
“We are twins,” she whispered.
She is not real.
“No,’’ I said, ‘we are one and the same.”
The water roared from below, intimidating in its fury yet so attractive in its promise of finality.
“Why do all things end?” the girl asked. Her arms wrapped around my neck. Her face was tucked under my chin.

The wind whipped all around, making my shirt and hair flap as we dropped.
The water shocked the breath from my lungs. It was a coffin of freezing water that encapsulated me.
My arms were empty. The girl was gone.

Why do all things end?

Because they must.
D. Forde (June 2013)