The Guy of My Nightmares

Anyone else out there have crazy vivid dreams? Because I do.

Most of the time they’re great fun, and being asleep is like going to the cinema; I really wish there someone would invent technology where I could show someone else what I see. Alas, that remains in the realm of science fiction.

Novel idea? I think yes.

Anyway, nights like last night… they’re not the fun kind. They’re the kind that put all my anxiety out for the rest of me to experience it, two fold. Last night was a dream about rejection, the nasty gangrene kind that keeps me from ever putting myself out there.

In my dream I was helping out with a photoshoot with a group of people for this guy’s album cover. He was killing it (and he was hot), but after seeing the first few concepts started in a grump because it wasn’t doing what he wanted.

So I look at the photos and start making suggestions and adding encouragement that he could absolutely get the kind of cover shot he wanted.

What did the guy say?

“That’s nice, but I’m not interested in you. You’re naturally blonde.” He shrugged and finished by saying, “Sorry, but it’s just the way it is.” And everyone else in the dream continued with the photoshoot without me.

It was an illustration of one of my deeply held beliefs that if I find a guy interesting and attractive, he’s not going to even consider me… well, at all. In fact, I’ll be nothing more than a nuisance.

I’ve been in all kinds of a funk all morning because of it, and it’s making it difficult to get into the heads of my protagonists for the next stage of Oblivion Veil. You know, the romance leads who get married to save their world? That.

Sigh. Anyone know a good way to tell the subconscious to take a hike? Traditionally I dream about action-adventure movies. Those are way more fun.

What deeply held anxieties haunt your dreams?

Moving Anxiety: The Trials of an Introvert

I’m a (wannabe) writer, and one thing that I’ve learned from being around other writers is that we’re a bunch of introverted nuts. I mean, my passion in life is to gossip about imaginary people, and, let’s face it, you have to be just a little bit crazy to find that pastime enjoyable.

But I digress. I’m a horrendous introvert, and I just moved cities. What prompted the move was a work situation that was leaky fishtank bad, a social situation that was closer to a lesson on flying solo, and a general feeling of learned helplessness from being in a place where it was difficult to get anywhere.

Of all of these, the most dangerous was the learned helplessness. With some work I could have found a new job, and with a bit of strategy I could have changed the friend situation; however, being in a situation that encouraged me over time that nothing can be done to improve my outlook … well, that’s not the point of the blog post, but it is the meat behind the move.

So I’m sitting in my new room for the first time completely surrounded by boxes, and my cat is wandering around checking out all potential nap spots and debating whether or not she’s forgiven me enough to cuddle yet. I’m listening to the air conditioner blast on full, and all I can think is…

What the fuck am I doing here???!!!

I feel this way after every big move, so the stomach churning of having made a terrible mistake and the overwhelming voice that said I should have stayed at home, hid under the covers, and talked with internet friends for the rest of my life hasn’t revealed itself to be wrong yet. Then the voice says that maybe it’s a dream and I’ll wake up with my cat on my chest and this boxing and driving was some kind of fever dream. Or that I should have stayed at the old job. I mean, I was miserable, sure. I had no meaningful work left, yes. It had driven me to getting therapy, absolutely, but it was stable and secure and my unhappiness was at least comfortable.

My unhappiness was comfortable.

What kind of life is that supposed to make?

Once that thought crossed my mind I got up and fished in my backpack for a pocket-sized book my best friend gave me after we created a business model for my author platform. The cover of the book reads, “And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was greater than the risk it took to bloom.” ~ Anaiss Nim

In my moment of anxiety I clung tight to this quote. I made this move to get more time to write. I made this move to be with an old friend so we could meet people together. To figure out how to find new friends after college, and hopefully get past both of our hang ups about relationships. It seems less daunting to try when you know you have a friend to go get ice cream with after a bad/awkward/strange/questionable date. As an introvert, finding a way to make my excursions in getting to know others easier makes all the difference in the world.

And, I stress again, more time for writing. I want to make my living writing novels, so I better, you know, write freaking novels!

My anxiety tells me I’m on the cusp of a massive change. All I can hope now is that the change is for the better. If it isn’t, then I call this move a…

…. PLOT TWIST!

Battle Scars

Vivere was wonderful and did her introduction first. Thank you Vivere! I might have suggested this blog, but actually putting down my dating issues onto the general internets is effing scary. Like sitting, baseball flying at your face when you have no bat and are surrounded by angry mother grizzly bears scary.

But hey, I figure if there is any appropriate place to share such hangups (besides with a therapist), then it’s on a blog about writing erotica under a shameless pseudonym.

Right? Right. Here goes, internets.

When I was in high school I played sports, and one of these sports gave me all kinds of bumps, scrapes, and bruises. Specifically the skin on my shins would get torn and bloody frequent enough that I acquired a good number of scars. In this world of photoshopped beauty, I found I loved my torn-up shins; they proved that I could take a hit, come back, and win state and national championships. See these scars? They belong to a girl who didn’t back down from a challenge. These scars belong to a boss-ass bitch who shed literal blood, sweat, and tears to sing “We Are the Champions” with a gold medal around her neck.

They’re my battle scars.

I’d like to say that my attitudes towards my shin scars trickle over to the rest of my life, but in recent years I’ve realized that I’m less of a boss-ass bitch and more of the girl who throws in the towel. Truth be told I’m not sure if that means I’m wiser, tired, or just simply more cowardly, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. You might not be able to physically see those scars when I wear short-shorts, but they’re there.

I don’t have an issue with physical intimacy, but I DO have a very serious issue with emotional intimacy. Funnily enough, this means that I don’t date very often, because with dating comes feelings. Ain’t nobody got time for FEELINGS!

Unlike Vivere, I don’t have the excuse of having incredible mental control over my body and denying my attractions for any reason. I knew I was attracted to men since I was five and rooting for Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, followed by Captain Chang from Mulan, followed by Worf on Star Trek the Next Generation. I love men, manly men. To me there is nothing more erotic than kissing a man with his fingers through my hair or laying on his chest after headboard-rattling sex.

My first boyfriend taught me all of this. He also taught me what it felt like when the man I loved cheated (with at least five different women) while calling me every night to tell me he loved me.

And I’m a rape survivor.

My brain eviscerates me daily by telling me I’m a “fucking idiot, always have been, always will be” and that I have a difficult personality that makes me difficult to be matched with.

My brain’s a jerk, and unfortunately (see above issues with men) there is enough life evidence to give that voice weight.

Long story short, the issue I deal with most in dating is merely accepting the fact that a man could both want to sleep with me AND love me. I can believe that a man wants to sleep with me. I believe that a man can love me.

Can a man do both at the same time? FUCK NO! DANGER! RED ALERT! RUN AWAY!

The cake is a lie!

My previous relations with men have left me bloody and scarred, like my shins. In college I had sex with a guy friend with no intentions of pursuing a relationship. When we had finished he asked me to stay the night, because he enjoyed sleeping with the girl he was sleeping with. (Man that’s confusing.) We’d fallen asleep together before and we’d had sex before, but we’d never done both on the same night.

I agreed, hesitantly, and cuddled with him for perhaps five minutes, trying desperately to keep my breathing under control. My heart was pounding in my ears, and I felt like I wanted to claw my way out of my skin and bolt.

Several years prior I had woken up to the man who raped me touching my hip, looking down at the floor to find my clothes, finding my spare condom gone, and having only a few seconds worth of memory of what happened. The man touching me was someone I had once called friend.

What I hate the most about him was that, years later, he made me so afraid of falling asleep next to someone I really did trust that I couldn’t even rest five minutes with him before saying, “I’m so sorry. I can’t stay.”

It’s a little hard to date when your knee jerk reaction is that male friends will abuse you and lovers will lie about loving you. If that’s the case, what’s the point of even trying?

Not trying to date is a really great way of not getting hurt again.

It’s not so great if you actually WANT a relationship.

I checked myself into a psychology office this past year and asked for both therapy and an antidepressant. I was really lucky to find a wonderful psych (I don’t like either shrink or therapist) that pinpointed my issues of self-talk (remember how my brain is a jerk?), and introduced me to both cognitive and meditative-based therapies. The difference this combination of things makes in my life is phenomenal. Full stop.

After the meds and many long conversations with Vivere, I was listening to some of the women at my work talking about Tinder. Everyone LOVED hearing weird Tinder stories, and two of them talked about why they were even on the app to begin with. Both were divorced, one with kids, and despite horrible stories husbands leaving after five years they were still getting back out into the dating world.

And enjoying it – the weirdos!

I sat back in my chair and was struck by a thought. Other women have had horrible pasts with men, and other women have had much worse to deal with than I have. If these women can still find it in themselves to go out and date despite all their heartaches, maybe it’s time I need to take a lesson from my championship battle scars and reacquaint myself with my inner boss-ass bitch.

Armed with meds, treatment, and a friend to get ice cream with when things go haywire (thanks Vivere!), I want to try dating again.

I see this blog as those office tinder stories, of having a place to sit down and share triumphs and broken hearts alike. My hope is that sharing this emotionally raw journey might help someone else out there feel less alone when dealing with what Vivere and I are tackling. Vivere is the dog-loving lesbian who’s figuring out what attraction really means, and I, Nova, am the cat-loving straight girl who’s convincing herself she can be loved because of her scars, not despite them.

Scars are beautiful. They prove you’re the kind of person that survives.

Welcome to the Dating Diaries.

Kink in Progress: I HAVE A SPOOC!

That title probably needs an explanation.

Scratch that. That title definitely needs an explanation.

I’ve been writing/editing my first novel, Oblivion Veil, and am bound and determined to actually finish it. Earlier I posted that I had finished draft one. (YAY!) Now in the revision process I’ve been using Deborah Chester’s The Fantasy Fiction Formula as a baseline for the editing process.

As a side note, this is not a promotion for the book, I just found it when I was scrolling through Jim Butcher’s Twitter feed. Butcher (author of The Dresden Files, The Codex Alera, and The Cinder Spires) is my idol, and he Tweeted how Chester is the woman who taught him everything he knows and that she wrote a book about writing novels.

Uh. Hi Amazon. Shut up and take my money!

I won’t do a full review of the book, but I’ll talk about the first chapter, which is all about testing the thesis of your novel before you ever start writing. As the proud owner of a bachelors in English, this obviously makes sense. A thesis for any academic writing is the central mast of any paper, so it stands to reason that novels might have a similar framework. Everything in a paper must support the thesis in some way, otherwise it has no purpose. Likewise everything in a novel must support the plot in some way, otherwise it ends up on the cutting room floor.

Ssshhhiii-! I wrote my novel without testing the thesis. No wonder the first draft fell apart!

Chester calls this test a SPOOC (acronym for Structure, Protagonist, Objective, Opponent, and Climax) and when done right it’s the foundations on which you build a great plot. I first read this and thought, “Cool, let me just sit down and write a SPOOC for Oblivion Veil… why isn’t this working?!”

As it turns out, my plot didn’t hold up to the SPOOC test in draft one, and it took me longer than I care to admit to fix that. You see, I was having troubles connecting the Objective and the Climax together in a compelling way. Today, though, was the day I conquered the beast – IE, sat in a Starbucks drinking passion tea (what else for an erotica author?) and staring at my notebook and technicolored pens determined once and for all to either create a viable SPOOC or abandon the project.

Spoiler alert, I connected them and made the SPOOC. VICTORY!

You know what I did wrong?

I didn’t make the love interest in an erotica novel important enough. (Pardon me while I smack myself upside the head.)

Take note of your genre, gentle readers!

Kink in Progress: Oblivion Veil Draft 1

Hey, I did a thing! Draft one for Oblivion Veil is DONE! Like, 100% complete. Done.

And it’s shite.

Okay, not complete shite. Just mostly shite. I knew from the start that my very first completed manuscript wasn’t even going to be fab like emoji poop, so I’m not upsets in the least. I meant Oblivion Veil to be my learning manuscript where I sat down and wrote until the book was done, and then once I finished draft one I had material to edit and reorganize and redo until it was something that wouldn’t make my reader’s quite in five pages. It was as much to write a story as to discover my novel writing process. Oh there was discovery all right.

I discovered I’m NOT a pantser.

For the most part I’ve written predominantly in short stories, and in those I wrote by the seat of my pants, hyped up on coffee, and well into the night. You know, less then 24 hours before the draft was due in my college course.

With short stories it’s easy to pants.

I treated this manuscript like I treated NaNoWriMo in that I sat down and wrote several thousand words no matter if my creative mood was on-point or being dragged along like a cat on a leash that said, “Walk? NOPE!” Pantsing a novel like this was really wonderful for world-building. As someone who likes smashing both the fantasy and erotica genres together, building a magical world for the romantic characters to play in is an integral part of the story. The spontaneity of pantsing offered me the chance to explore the map of my world and discover details that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Hummingbird constructs, creatures breaking through the veil, descriptions of the Veil Core, and a wonderful bedding ceremony for our romantic leads followed by an epic battle to save their city all came out of the first draft.

The first draft was not good for character development. Or story structure.

For draft two I’m sitting down and writing character dossiers and a plot outline. Once that’s done I’m going to be trying this whole thing again. In the meantime the temptation is to print out draft one just so I can throw it over my shoulder and start again is very great. Imagine all of those pages of work blowing around this room. It’s summer so the fan is on full blast. Only that would waste too many trees.

Let’s hope draft 2 is slightly better shite!

Comedy and Tragedy: 3 Reasons to Keep the Funny in Your Writing

Reading in Bookshelves Image

I have a confession to make. I’m not funny.

As in when I tell a joke the room gets quiet, and I’m not even sure you could call me the straight man to someone else’s punch line. (I am a woman after all.)

The trouble is unfunny (is that even a word?) writers like me still need to write humor to keep people engaged in our stories. This struck home as particularly true while I was reading Brandon Sanderson’s Bands of Mourning. Without giving anything away, I was giggling like a kid on a pixie stick during the read. It was in stark contrast to Catherine Asaro’s Undercity that I had read the week before. Undercity was without a doubt a good book, but the main character was so serious and intense that it began to drag. Bands of Mourning on the other hand weaves comedy and drama together like a chef mixing spices. The humor has a brilliant way of doing three things:

1) Humor diffuses tension: There’s a time and a place for the dramatic, but have you ever read books or seen movies that have nothing but intense drama? They’re exhausting to read, and you almost are glad when they’re done so you can breathe normally again. Humor breaks up that tension and gives you a time to recharge before the action gets started again.

Keep your readers with those lol catz!

2) Jokes give your characters personality:  Your characters need character? Say what?!

Who are your favorite people in the world? I bet you that on a list of five favorite people at least three of them are good at making you laugh. We like people that can make us laugh because they understand us enough to know what we find funny. They see reality through a similar lens.

Same goes for characters on a page. When they crack a joke we get a sense of who they are on a deeper level. Is their humor cerebral, crass, offensive, meant to make them feel mighty, whimsical, or inspired by the gallows? When you know as a reader (and as a writer) you’re one step closer to seeing the character as a fully realized human.

3) It makes the story more real: Fiction is the art of telling the truth while lying through your teeth. We fiction authors build worlds, design people, and devise plots more readily than any real world mastermind, and it’s all just ink (or e-ink) on a page. None of it is real.

Really.

But the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. Fiction is where our understanding of people comes together in a story arc, and a lot of my friends have admitted they learned a lot about people through reading novels. And you know what? People like to laugh. It’s good for us. Like hugs.

So it’s time to get my unfunny ass in gear and learn to crack a joke. And like the dutiful millennial I am, I’ll turn to Google.

C’mon Google overlords, don’t fail me now!

Nova

PS: Please follow me on Twitter @moriartynova and Instagram (novamoriarty) for updates on my writing projects, yoga adventures, and articles. Or if you want to see how slow I am on Zombies, Run! Thanks for stopping by.

Kink in Progress: Oblivion Veil is 50% Done

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What do The Lord of the RingsDungeons & Dragons, and The Legend of Zelda all have in common?

They’re all better with sex. Steamy sex to spice up romances as epic as fire slinging wizards and world-saving warriors.

And that’s what I intend to deliver. Here I’ll be posting progress updates on my novels and novellas, and how soon you can expect to feast your eyes without a crystal ball.

Oblivion Veil is officially 50% done

This is novella #1, and I have just reached the halfway point for its first draft. That point was reached in about a week, so it should (note “should’) be ready for beta readers by early to mid February.

And then I’ll keep working my tale off to get Oblivion Veil into your hands.

Meanwhile novel #2 (as of yet unnamed) will be marked as in-progress!

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to go on kinky adventures with you soon.

Nova