My Moon Makes Me Feel Like a Fraud, How About You?

The moon is our emotional nature. It’s what makes us tick and how reactive (or not) we are. Obviously, short of being a sociopath, its impossible to go through life without feeling emotion. And obviously, again, writing is highly emotional. Not only in the sense that we impart emotions onto our characters, but also our attachment to these characters. Not to mention, all the emotions that happen before the writing process, during the writing process, and after the writing process.

I feel like I’ve written about this often, but I know this is a daily reality for most people. Particularly people in creative fields. Our minds get the best of us. And, women are more prone to depression and Imposter Syndrome. How lucky for me. I struggle with both, the latter in particular. It was one of the reasons I went months without writing. All through writing Ascendent, it boggled my mind when people told me that they liked it; because it didn’t seem possible that it could be true. It’s published, and it still seems like it can’t possibly be true.

I know most of these posts end up making me sound like I’m a school guidance counselor from a 90’s teen rom-com (For the record, I’m twenty-four. So, I think that makes me too young?), so I’m going to skip the platitudes this week. But, I like to think even one person could find this and it could break through the horrible headspace our asshole brains love to put us in long enough to realize that you’re not alone. Because we all need support, someone who listens to us. Really listens. I was born with my support system and I like to think it makes me more aware of its importance. I can’t imagine I would be sitting here typing this without her.

I know this was kind of (or majorly) depressing (I think it has something to do with the seemingly neverending teenagers who od. I think if they had just one person who is caring, compassionate, and listens it could prevent so much.), but thank you for reading anyway and tell me what you think in the comments. Bye (an exclamation mark seems inappropriate here, am I the only one?)

To find where your Moon is, get your birth chart here. You will need to know the exact time and place you were born.

Learn more about your Moon here.

The Pros and Cons of Not Planning Your Book

Planning your book. That is the most obvious and, purportedly, the most important first step when you sit down and write a novel. I respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree, though I think JK Rowling can say it better: “I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

This is exactly why I am averse to planning. You get attached to an idea you had or a character you created and have to write around it, even if it no longer makes sense for the story you are telling. Maybe this is just my experience and my opinion, but I feel that the characters who live in my mind and tell me their stories need to lead them. It feels more organic to me and lends me a better sense of who these characters are and who they will become; as opposed to me being the god – like figure who directs their every thought, word, and actions. Even having a general idea of the plot points I need to hit benefits from not planning. In Ascendent, I got to the important plot points in a way I didn’t expect and never would have in the first place if I had sat down and methodically planned every last bit of it.

That’s not to say that an absence of forethought doesn’t come without challenges. Writer’s block (which I think I’ll talk about next) was a prevalent part of my writing experience. There’s something to be said about knowing how to get from one thing to the next, instead of sitting at your computer for hours willing the people in your head to talk. And, when that inevitably doesn’t work, resisting the urge to throw your laptop out the window. Looking over this, I realize this all makes me sound mildly crazy; but I think it’s because Neptune conjuncts my Sun.

Anyway, I’m not trying to say my process is the best way for everyone; but it is the best way for me. If you need to have a million pages documenting the most minute details of the world and characters you created to keep you sane while writing, then you do that. If you need to be downright lackadaisical, then you do that. And if, like me, you need to be somewhere in between, then you do that. You just need to write (which is another topic for another day). As always, thank you for reading and let me know what you think in the comments. Bye!

Image belongs does not belong to me, but rather here.

Top 5 Songs That Inspired Ascendent Part 2

Here’s part two of my top 5 songs, this time for my deuteragonist Elias.

5.) Moon Song by Anthony Green

Same as Work Song, this perfectly illustrates Elias at the beginning of the book.

 

4.) Noticed by MUTEMATH

This is, admittedly, slightly ridiculous; but so is being in love for the first time.

 

3.) Foreigner’s God by Hozier

Just as Sabine has a difficult relationship with her mother, Elias has an equally difficult one with his father.

 

2.) Remain Nameless by Florence + The Machine

This is for one of those moments where it’s meaningful to just be there for someone.

 

1.) To Be Alone by Hozier

I know, another Hozier song. But, if I had to pick just one song, it would be a three-way tie between this one, Foreigner’s God, and Moon Song. It’s a heady feeling to be seen as the person you are.

 

Thank you for reading and let me know what you think in the comments. Bye!

Image belongs to Frends

 

Top 5 Songs That Inspired Ascendent (Plus a Bonus Song!)

The current song count for the Ascendent playlist is 46; though, knowing me, that is likely to increase. However, I’ve decided to narrow that list down to the top 5 that inspired my protagonist Sabine.

5.) Work Song by Fallulah

This actually opens my playlist, and perfectly encapsulates Sabine at the beginning of the book. Life is work sometimes.

 

4.) Stolen Roses by Karen Elson

This song always symbolized the difficult relationship between Sabine and her mother for me.

 

3.) Arms Length by She Keeps Bees

The early stages of Sabine’s feelings for Elias (my top 5 for him is coming next).

 

2.) Make Me Stay by Gold Motel

This is for an ‘oh, fuck’ moment.

 

1.) Mother by Florence + The Machine

This is for the end, she’s mid-step in growing and there isn’t a tidy, clear cut ending.

 

Bonus: I’m On Fire by IO Echo

For my beloved little pyro, Sabine’s sister Fig.

 

Thank you for reading and let me know what you think in the comments. Bye!

Image belongs to Frends

Tarot Basics

Tarot reading plays an important part in the plot of Ascendent. If you are unfamiliar with tarot, here is an extremely basic primer.

The Deck

First, you need a tarot deck. Mine is from The Wild Unknown, and this is the deck I referenced when writing.

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Next, think of the question you want to ask. Make sure it’s an open-ended one, as opposed to a yes or no one.

I find tarot to be meditative, so I tend to do a reading in the middle of the night while listening to The Violet Hour by The Civil Wars on repeat.  But, do whatever works for you.

Now that you’re all set up with your question, hold the deck in your left hand and shuffle with your right while thinking about you question. There’s no rhyme or reason to how long you need to shuffle, I just do it until it feels like it’s time to stop.

Celtic Cross Spread

A Celtic Cross Spread is my preference because it provides a more in-depth answer, and is the spread I used in Ascendent.celtic-cross

This is the time to think about each card you pulled, why you pulled it, and how it pertains to your question. Personally, this is why I prefer tarot over organized religion (raised Catholic and spent a million years in Catholic school). It encourages reflection and self-awareness. To understand the cards, you have to be honest with yourself.

Thank you for reading and tell me what you think in the comments. Bye!

Image at the top belongs to Gypsy Warrior

First image belongs to The Wild Unknown

Second image does not belong to me (I couldn’t find the original owner, if you know please tell me)

Choosing Your Title (Plus a Mini Astrology Lesson!)

I’m not a big fan of following book trends. From content to covers to titles, what will catch a reader’s eye this year will make them wrinkle their nose at the cheesiness next year. The influx of vampire novels around 2008 anyone? You should write about something that holds meaning for you and that you are passionate about. Your title should reflect that, as well as what your story is about.

Not to say that this is an easy task. I went through a whole slew of potential titles, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I am incredibly persnickety. The title had to have meaning to me, make sense with the tone and subject of the book, as well as my lead character’s life, personality, and interests. Trust me, it was a process and a half just to narrow down the subject I would draw from; then another process and a half before I finally landed on a title I love.

Ascendent, part of it, is about that old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. That’s where the mini astrology lesson comes in. Your ascendent sign, also known as your rising sign or your first house cusp, is the part of your personality that you present to the outside world. It’s the first part of you that people see. But, it’s a small part of you as a whole. (Side note: this is an extremely basic definition of your ascendent, and disregards planets in your first house, along with aspects being made to those planets and to the house itself.)

So, if I’ve interested you in astrology, here are some resources:

Birth Chart (you need to know your exact time of birth)

Aries ascendent

Taurus ascendent

Gemini ascendent

Cancer ascendent

Leo ascendent

Virgo ascendent

Libra ascendent

Scorpio ascendent

Sagittarius ascendent

Capricorn ascendent

Aquarius ascendent

Pisces ascendent

Thank you for reading and tell me what you think in the comments. Bye!

Image does not belong to me (I couldn’t find who it belongs to, if you know please tell me)

There’s Nothing Sexy About an Adonis.

DISCLAIMER: I am cis and heterosexual, that is what I am basing my opinion and examples on. If you aren’t, I would love to hear how your opinions differ.

You didn’t think I wouldn’t talk about love interests, did you? Imagine this, you’re reading a YA fantasy and the wonderfully flawed heroine has just met the love interest. She’s instantaneously in love with him because he’s so hot. That’s it. That’s all there is to it, the only way for him to be identified. He’s super fucking hot. Oy.

In the same vein of Is Your Protagonist a Plot Device?, you have to give your love interest human characteristics. Maybe he laughs at inappropriate times and doesn’t think before speaking. Maybe he makes terrible jokes that only he finds funny. Maybe he’s an accountant. There are myriad directions for you to go in, you just have to pick one. Because, if your love interest is hot and nothing more, why would your reader believe the romance?

But, as important as it is to imbue your protagonist’s love interest with fallacies, for the love of all that’s holy don’t make him physically perfect. Unless the character is actually a Greek god, reading about god like perfection is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Maybe he’s short, but incredibly charismatic. Maybe his eyes are too close together and he has a beak like nose. Maybe he has a man bun to hide his male pattern baldness. When describing Elias in Ascendent, I built on the basics, like height and hair color, with imperfections. “…a faint snore… The bump in his nose, the slight upward slant of his mouth, …”. Instead of perfection, he snores, there’s a bump in his nose, and his mouth is crooked.

Thank you for reading and tell me what you think in the comments. Bye!

Image does not belong to me (I couldn’t find who it belongs to, if you know please tell me)

Is Your Protagonist a Plot Device?

When writing YA, particularly YA with a female lead character, one of the biggest and most complained about pitfalls is the Mary Sue. The infallible martyr with inexplicable allure, despite being so dull and plain. You know, the one that makes us roll our eyes until they fall out of our heads. Of course, this also happens with love interests; but I’m going to focus on female driven YA. Seeing as that’s my personal experience.

One thing that always stands out in my mind when thinking about this, is my Creative Writing professor using her pen to illustrate how often YA heroines are black holes that exist solely to move the plot along. Which doesn’t sound all that exciting now that I’ve written it, but was actually hysterical in the moment. The two examples she used was the OG, Bella Swan, and Katniss Everdeen. I’ll pause for a moment for all the Twilight and Hunger Games fans.

The reason for writing about this in the first place is this: You have to ask yourself and you have to be honest. Is your character a plot device? We, as human beings, can be loving, hateful, kind, erratic, hot tempered, vulnerable, delusional, and make appallingly stupid decisions. Just to name a few things. You have to impart this to your characters. Its uninteresting to read and impossible to connect with a character who’s flawless. I’ve always felt that, a reader feeling kindred with your imperfect character is so much more impactful, and makes a longer lasting impact, than a reader wishing to be your perfect character.

On the flip side, I can understand the appeal of writing an implausible character. Presumably, it makes for a significantly less frustrating writing experience. When I was writing Ascendent, there was many a chapter when I wanted Sabine to react how I would. I am notoriously candid; my protagonist is not. Being upfront instead of internalizing everything would have undoubtedly saved her some angst, but that’s not who she is. Not to mention, changing such a big part of her personality would have diminished her growth as a character. By making your character perfect, you are eradicating one of the most satisfying parts of a book to read and to write.

I know what I’ve written hasn’t exactly reinvented the wheel, but it seemed fitting for my first post. I want to thank anyone who took the time to read it. And, if anyone is interested in the book I not so casually mentioned writing, details about the publishing date will be coming soon. Bye!

Image belongs to NASA