Multiple Personality Order

Writers seldom choose as friends those self-contained characters who are never in trouble, never unhappy or ill, never make mistakes, and always count their change when it is handed to them.”

~ CATHERINE DRINKER BOWEN

1976 gave us Sybil, a film starring Sally Field in a tour de force as an unfortunate young woman who played host to thirteen personalities.  She won an Academy Award for best actress for her portrayal of this confused and tragic figure, and it was richly deserved, but of course, I write here about the Craft of writing, and the writers who pursue it.  So, what can we take from this movie, and the disorder it portrayed?

As writers, we have multiple people living in our heads all the time, and far from being a problem for us, they are there by invitation.  As writers, we must be focused on the plot, the story arcs, the presentation of grammar, speech, and setting, and yet as writers, we also have to manipulate the characters.  Characters who come with quirks, foibles, agendas, and complete personalities.  Characters who exist only in our heads.

I am not Patience Hobbs.  I am neither a dirigible pilot, a graduate of finishing school, nor even a woman.  I never lived in the Victorian era, and when watching a show like Downton Abbey, I am constantly astonished by the rules, customs, and mores that these people not only put up with, but wholeheartedly embraced.  They claim to accept these things out of their sense of duty and honor, yet if someone spoke to me the way some of the junior servants are spoken to in this show, I’m afraid duty and honor would require me to punch them in the snout!

Yet I must “live” in this world to write in it, put aside my 20th-21st century sensibilities, and inhabit the lives of multiple Victorian personalities, male and female, because steampunk is at its core Victorian.  I don’t have multiple personality disorder (though I may be a bit bipolar), but I have to act like I do in order to breathe life into them.  And so do you.

How do you manage it?  Of course, character sheets are indispensable if you hope to keep any sort of continuity between a dozen characters or more, but what about the world?  I find Victorian slang and customs creeping into my daily life.  I talk with many people on the internet, and I nearly always address women as “Milady.” Beyond the Rails was set in Kenya, and many of the characters were fluent in Swahili.  I often greet people in person with jambo, and thank them with asante.  That’s the level of immersion I need to achieve to bring life to a world I’m working in.

How about you?  Does your writing bleed into your real life, and in what ways?  Do your friends think you a little “off,” or do they find the weirdness charming?  What impressions do your friends have of a person who goes out of their way to cultivate Multiple Personality Order?  Curious minds want to know!

View from the Blimp

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Now we’re officially into summer, and to welcome it in (though the welcome is nowhere near as warm as San Diego’s back country in the summertime), I thought I’d share a little photo essay.  Our kitchen window overlooks our driveway, and immediately beyond, a dirt hill where we have so far been unable to get anything to grow; it’s like the Romans came through here and salted that little patch of ground.  So our crafty daughter, to improve the view, made this pair of flower baskets and hung them on each side of the window.  The baskets are wire and the flowers are artificial; they’ve been there for years.

But they have been discovered by a dove.  I believe this is the third year now that she has made a nest in the top of one of the baskets and raised her brood there, usually two chicks.  It’s perfect.  Cats, squirrels, snakes, and other assorted villains can’t get up there, people can’t see into it looking up from the ground, and the hawks and crows that patrol the skies can’t see anything but the top of our carport, which also protects her from the direct sunlight.  She’s completely used to us, and while she won’t perch on a finger or anything like that, she doesn’t panic at our approach, and cocks her head to listen when we talk to her through the kitchen window.  To my way of thinking, that’s pretty cool…  About the only cool thing around here this time of year.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Look between the yellow and orange flowers at the top of the basket, and you’ll see two little gray-speckled bodies.  At 10:00 o’clock to the yellow flower, one of their heads can clearly be seen keeping an eye on the suspiciously-acting hairless ape.  Really fun to watch the generations come and go here.

As to writing, I have long been considered a freakishly detailed planner.  Even other planners have tended to look at me with suspicion.  I’m going to touch briefly on a “new” method that I stumbled onto (certainly didn’t invent!) after reading some blogs and experimenting with my Office program.  It involves maximizing the features of the Excel Worksheet.

Since I have come to focus on the writing of themed novellas assembled into a book, I tend to outline them in the form of scenes, and the outlines have shrunk to a couple of sentences.  The worksheets allow me to use a line for a scene, and the columns, as well as holding the one- or two-sentence description of the action, can track who is in the scene, the time and date it takes place, and even the ongoing word count as the story comes together.  You can color-code for whether the viewpoint is hero, villain, or subplot, what scenes are finished, which need more polish, where a detail needs to be researched, which are action and which are passive “reaction” scenes, change scene order with a mouse click, and anything else your busy writer’s mind can think of.

This has been a profound discovery for me, and I plan to discuss it in detail in about two weeks.  That will give me a chance to solidify what is rapidly shaping up to be the most useful organizational tool I have ever encountered, and perhaps most importantly, to learn to post a screenshot of it here.  Believe me, I’ve tried index cards, loose-leaf notebooks, and have worked in spiral notebooks for years, and nothing I’ve ever tried can compare to this!

New Releases

EighthDwarf

The Eighth Dwarf.  Blacksmith Tiberius is dissatisfied with his lot in life.  Convinced he deserves more, he’s become resentful of the other dwarves.  He’s motivated by coin, and to a lesser extent women and power.  A chance encounter with a beautiful and mysterious witch, whose plans include the removal of the current queen, result in an unlikely partnership.  Soon he’s living the life he’d always dreamt of, whoring and drinking to his heart’s content, far away from the cramped cabin he’d shared with the other dwarves.  But after an unexpected connection with a young princess named Snow White, and as the witch’s demands become more extreme, Tiberius questions the strength of their friendship and wonders how far he’s willing to go for titles and riches.   $2.99 on Kindle.

Interesting Reads

BookofSchemes

The Book of Schemes.  Simply defined, a “scheme” is nothing more than a systematic plan of action.  Like snowflakes, no two of them are exactly alike. For example:  A grieving mother seeks revenge upon a family of werewolves.  What if you were getting a truly unique prom speech from a necromancer?  What if there was a college for super villains?  Within this 2nd Edition collection is a bizarre grouping of 25 short stories.  Each of them revolves around a scheme.  Some are brilliant.  Others are stupid.  A special few of them are utterly warped.  So kick back, leave your conscience outside of these pages, and step into the world  of the schemers.  $3.00 on Kindle.

Richard Schulte writes profound ultra-short stories that he loves to share, but doesn’t ask anyone to pay for; he posts them on his blog, Short Stories by Richard.  He posted another tiny masterpiece yesterday titled Skeleton Forgiveness.  It’s a five minute read that will have you thinking all day!

In Other News…

LuxembourgSteampunk

I have a few readers in Europe, and some of them may be interested in this:  Luxembourg is holding a steampunk convention to run September 29 – 30.  Hosted by Minett Park of Fond-de-Gras, it will be held at Industry and Railway Park, 6790 Petange.  There will be concerts, a market, exhibitions of steampunk creations, historic trains, and much more.  Further information may be gleaned here.

The Following Books Have Recently Been Reduced to 99¢ on Kindle:

Beyond the Rails

Bodacious Creed

From an Irradiated Crypt

Here’s the challenge, in this world where everything costs more and more and more every day, and all anyone seems to be interested in is harvesting the contents of your wallet:  Spend a dollar, and see if you don’t get a dollar’s worth of entertainment value in exchange.  Please note that some of these offers are for a limited time, so strike while the iron is hot!

And that’s 30 for today.  Join me next Tuesday when I’ll have a special announcement about my own book catalog, and most likely some more entertaining reading recommendations from other authors of my acquaintance.  Until then, read well, and write better!

Slayer of Darkness

Beyond_the_Rails_III_Cover_for_Kindle

Slayer of Darkness was the third installment of the Beyond the Rails series, and the first to be a full-length novel rather than a collection of stories tied loosely together by an arc.  I had some initial difficulty getting it going, but once I had the right mix of characters in play, it took off like a runaway blimp!  There are two main plots playing off of, and interfering with each other:  First, the young hooligan Jinx Jenkins, first met in Beyond the Rails, returns, and the crew is astonished to discover that she is far from the larrikin she presented herself as in the first book.  Second, Dave Smith’s past finally catches up with him in a most inconvenient manner.  I’ll quote the blurb here:

It’s March of 1883, and the inhabitants of the east African colony of Kenya are preparing for the Long Rain.  The crew of the Kestrel, a small cargo blimp, are no exception, trying to squeeze in the last few paying runs before two months of high winds and constant rain sweep the airships from the sky.

Arriving in their midst is an old acquaintance, an Australian woman of uncertain background who brings an unbelievable story, and asks them to aid her in what seems to be an impossible task.  She offers to pay them well, but can the money she offers be nearly enough to compensate them for the danger she plans to place them in?  And what business could the mysterious team of international bounty hunters be engaged upon?

Join the crew of the Kestrel for their longest journey yet, a thrill-packed, suspenseful ride through a world of shadowy operators that could prove to be their last.”

This is indeed the last book in the series to date.  It is not my intention for it to end here, but right now I’m working on the spinoff, The Darklighters, and it is a fact that I’m leaning hard on 70.  But the fates willing, there will be more.  Right now, you can embark for the whole ride at Amazon.com.

View from the Blimp

In the interest of generating more interest, I have lowered the Kindle price of the original Beyond the Rails volume to 99¢ US.  I would lower the price of the paperback as well, but it’s always been at the minimum allowed.  I’m not trying to get rich off my writing… good thing, huh?!  No, it’s just that after five years, I’ve received enough reviews to know that I write a good story, and I want to share the joy I find in my work with the people who find joy in a rip-snortin’ adventure tale without all the obligatory modern trappings of gratuitous sex and unnecessary violence for their own sake.  I’m asking you to spend a buck, and see if you don’t get a buck’s worth of entertainment!

The perceptive among you will have noticed that I have backed off from a lot of social media where I used to hang out, liking and/or commenting on just about everything that hit the page.  I’m still around, still enjoying your material, but I tend to look at it once a day now, maybe twice, because this stuff is a huge drain on my writing.  The problem is that I write on the computer, so it’s just too easy to get stuck for word or a line, and say, “I need a break.  Wonder what they’re doing on Facebook…”  Time to apply the discipline to get that nonsense off the table!  I leave my email open all the time I’m around the computer, so if you specifically need anything, drop me a line, and I’ll get it fairly quickly.

And that’s 30 for today.  Join me again Saturday, when I’ll be presenting a general post about something or other.  I have a couple of choices to narrow down, but it’ll be good.  See you then!

 

Blimprider Times, No. 14

First of all, Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads aboard.  We’re all at different points in our journeys, and the experience is unique for all of us, and yet we’re bound by the experience.  Here’s hoping it’s the best that it can possibly be!  And now, on with the show.

Featured Site of the Week

LaurieBell

This week I give you Rambles, Writing and Amusing Musings from the wide-ranging pen of Laurie Bell.  In her own words,

I have been writing on and off about all sorts of things for a long time.  Musings, rants, rambles and actual works of fiction are a staple of my blogging life.  I envy those amazingly talented folk who can write poetry or music because I certainly can’t!  This blog is not that.  I just ramble… so I hope you enjoy!

I have many pieces of work here, some in progress, some completed.  I apologize for editing errors which are my own as it is not my strength – my creativity is, however, so enjoy my stories.  Also, any comments I make are entirely my own opinion.  I do not speak for anyone but myself.

Join me on Twitter @Laurienotlori”

Laurie posts interviews, writing prompts, talks about her journey through the Craft, performs reviews of other writers’ work, and offers up razor-sharp flash fiction.  Her latest book, The Butterfly Stone, is available now, and will be discussed in full below.  If you have any interest in writing (and why are you reading this blog if you don’t?), be sure to stop by soon for the full treatment; it’s a very enjoyable experience!

View from the Blimp

DarklightersShield

I still have room for a couple of alpha-readers for The Darklighters.  The pay is a listing on the acknowledgements page with a link to your blog or page.  And, of course, the chance to read a great book before the rest of the world…  Who am I kidding, I can’t even write that with a straight face!  Just join in, and we’ll have some fun.  If that sounds attractive, read the Darklighters sample at the tab above, and if it’s your cup of tea, message me on the Contact form and I’ll give you all the particulars.  I have finished five scenes (first draft), which is 25% of the story.  Probably won’t get any done today, because Father’s Day, but I’ll be back on it with great diligence tomorrow.

Interesting Reads

ButterflyStone

The Butterfly Stone by Laurie Bell.

“DON’T LET THE SHADOW TOUCH YOU.”

Beware!  Something is after Tracey Masters, a Mage-kind teen in a mostly non-magical world—a world where people like Tracey are often feared and oppressed.  Add to this stress a crazy family life, the schizo pressures of school, friends, and bullies, and working a boring job as an assistant at her uncle’s detective agency for magical types, and life isn’t just hard, it’s chaos!  That is, until a mysterious woman walks through the door with a case about a missing necklace known as the Butterfly Stone.  The case seems to be the big break Tracey is looking for to prove herself and her abilities as Mage-kind.  But she unexpectedly finds herself dangerously connected to it when the evidence takes a turn that reveals secrets from Tracey’s past, and places her friends and family in mortal danger.  She also discovers that she’s being hunted by a shadow that senses her magic is the key to unlocking the power it’s after.  The magic within the Butterfly Stone is too powerful to be contained, but if Tracey doesn’t learn how to control it, and escape the threat of the shadow that surrounds it, she could lose everything and everyone she cares about …  beginning with her younger sister, Sarah.  $2.99 on Kindle.

NightShift

A couple of issues back, I gave you Night Shift from the pen of B.K. Bass.  As a little refresher, Night Shift is a futuristic detective novel set in New Angeles, and tells the story of Harold Peterson, a homicide detective who finds himself entangled in a decades-old case that points to corruption at the highest levels of government.  Its author terms this an “episodic novel,” and Episode Six was posted yesterday.  Of considerable interest is the fact that this work is being offered for free.  All you need do is click in and read, so mystery lovers, what are you waiting for?  Free on Wattpad.

And that’s 30 for this issue.  I’ll be back Wednesday with some more promotions, and some chest-thumping (I hope!) about my Father’s Day loot.  See you then!