To what extent is your fiction autobiographical? We asked authors -- here's what they said:

Autobiographical

Last week, we asked female authors "to what extent is your fiction autobiographical?" 

Here's what they had to say:

Kerri Davidson

With a lead up like that, we had to hear everything!

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Go here to find out more about The Chronicles of Henny

 

Most authors said that every character held a bit of themselves.

TGTerry Gibson writes at my story | our story

 

VashtiVashti Quiroz-Vega (website) is the author of the Fantasy Angels Series -- The Fall of Lilith and Son of the Serpent (due out late 2018)

 

RobinlRobin Lyons (website) writes mysteries and thrillers including the School Marshalls series -- Unknown Threat, Unknown Alliance, and the prequel MAC

 

ShearerTracey Shearer is a new author. With the help of her writing group, we hope to hear about her new book very soon!

 

How much of your fiction is autobiographical?


What do you do when you have the writing blues? Here's what women authors said:


What do you do when you have the writing blues?

Last week, we asked female authors on social media:

"What do you do when you have the writing blues?" 

Here's what they had to say!

On Twitter at WomenandFiction:

Bethany Crandell @BethanyCrandall said, "Read some of my own work."

BethanyCrandell-writingblues

Tracey Shearer @TraceyLShearer said, "I get together with writing buddies (in person for the 'great energy'.) Helping them with their work always helps to get me back on the inspiration track." 

Traceyshearer-writingblues

On Facebook at Women and Fiction

 

Amy Spitzfaden Both (website), author of The Fingerprinted Hearts said: "I like to read more lighthearted things, because normally the writing blues come from the regular blues, so I love me some chick lit to relax! Baths and candles are also perfect. For brainstorming I like to go to my mom and sisters, all of whom are also writers."

Bambi Harris (website) (Amazon) most recently the author of the Man in the Morgue (Coma Mysteries) said: "I don't read (I know, there's something wrong with me haha) i don't get stuck often but when i do i let it happen. forcing something is depleting and not productive. When I'm at work or out and about i generally never think about what I'm going to write, so if i sit down to the computer and nothing happens, especially if my energy is low, I let myself have a break watch a documentary or create a cover for my next book (seriously, i find this relaxing haha) I don't try to force a writing idea so i do something other than writing and I've done enough books to know that works for me."

Eve Langlais (website) (Amazon) most recently the author of The Wolf's Secret Vegas Wife: Howl's Romance said: " I start over from the beginning and tighten the story which in turn makes things clearer and I push past that nasty middle."

J.M. Maurer (website) (Amazon) most recently the author of As Right As Rain: "Cry. I cry and tell myself how much I suck at putting even two simple words together. True story. I have learned to be kind to myself.  A whole lot of weight lifted when I let myself believe it was okay that I could not pump out books." 

Tracy Ostwald Koswald (website) said: "I often read in the topic area or genre that I'm struggling to write. It reminds me of what good quality writing looks like, which is encouraging when I open up the laptop and get started again."

What do you do when you have the writing blues?

 

 


Season 2 -- Episode 4 -- Beverly Jenkins about historic fiction, race, and storytelling

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USA Today bestselling author, Beverly Jenkins, writes historic fiction including romance fiction and romantic suspense. Her work brings life and voice to an often forgotten time in US history -- the 1900s when small African American communities thrived. Her work is rooted in American history. She has traditionally published 38 books through a traditional publisher. In this interview, we begin talking about publishing and writing before diving deep into issues of race and storytelling.

Beverly Jenkin's book Deadly Sexy is being made into a film by an independent filmmaker. You can help by donating to the GoFund Me. Her book, Second Time Sweeter, Book 9 of the Blessings Series, will be released in August. You can connect with Beverly Jenkins at Twitter, Facebook, or on her website.

 

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Season 2 -- Episode 3 -- Aliette de Bodards about writing award winning speculative fiction in a time of tension and change.

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Aliette de Bodard writes award winning speculative fiction while raising two children and working full time as a systems engineer. She joined us from her home in Paris, France. We had a wide ranging conversation about life, writing, and gender norms. We picked up a slight echo in our recording of this interview which you may notice in places.

Aliette de Bodard is the author of the BSFA award winning novel, The House of Shattered Wings and it's sequel, The House of Binding Thorns. She has also written the Obsidian and Blood series -- Servant of the Underworld, Harbinger of the Storm, and Master of House of Darts. Her short stories have won two Nebula Awards, another BSFA award, and a Locus award.

 

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Season 2 -- Episode 2 -- MD Martin - Triple Threat - Southern, Female, Horror author

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Season 2 of Women and Fiction continues with MD Martin, the pseudonym of Misty Martin. Misty writes something she calls "Southern Gothic Horror." She joins us to discuss her life as a female, Southern, horror author.

Misty is currently working on a new series called Mariner's Cove. Her horror series, Williams Point, originally published in 1995 was republished in 2016. She has written an anthology of the Legends of Williams Point. Her quirky, fun series, Lola Avocado, including XTC and An Avocado in Vegas, are available at Amazon. Her writing series called "Writers High Tea" is available on YouTube. She can be found at Twitter, Facebook, and her Amazon page.

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Season 2 -- Episode 1 -- Melissa Westemeier - a new kind of author unhindered by publisher or genre or a busy life

Women and Fiction returns!

Women and Fiction returns with Season 2 of our podcast.

We begin the season with Melissa Westemeire. Melissa's first book, Whipped, Not Beaten, is what she calls "chick lit" and was published by Cornerstone Press.  By the time the book came out, Melissa had finished her second book. After lunch with a friend, she decided to publish her second book, Kick like a Girl, also "chick lit", herself. Her third book, Across the River, is a more serious look at change in a small town. It is published by Bridle Path Press.  

Melissa represents a new kind of author. One who is unhindered by her publisher or strict rules about staying in her genre. 

Melissa is a mother, a wife, a full-time high school teacher, who fits writing in to her life.

Melissa Westemeier joins Women and Fiction for the first Episode of Season 2.

 

 

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New Episode of Women and Fiction -- Deborah Smith

 

Author Deborah Smith
Deborah Smith discusses her personal experiences -- good and bad -- with publishing and why she ended up opening her own publishing company, Bell Bridge Books. Deborah is a best selling author of over 35 romance and women's fiction. Her latest book, Kitchen Charmer, was released in September. Her next book Tomato Moon will be out by the end of the year.

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Wednesday Writing Skill -- 3 ways to manage stress for greater creativity

Stressed out? Too anxious to write?

Listen, uncertainty is coming at us from all sides. From the "what the f*** is it now" sideshow in Washington DC or the simple economic realities of your home town, we are dealing with more and more stressful and uncertain times. If your a writer, you're managing all of the societal stress as well as the never-ending struggle of making a living, selling books, dealing with reviews, and communicating like a human being with your readers. That's stress on steroids!

Stress will kill your creativity.

In, How Stress Assassinates your Creativity, Robbie Blair gives an overview of the reasons stress might give you writer's block,  and will certainly zap your creative energy.  

"Whenever we're stressed, the brain reallocates resources to the primitive parts of the brain, prioritizing primal emotions over abstract thinking and motor control over creativity. When we get behind the barrier of stress, we're locked out of the creative part of the brain at a basic neurological level."

In the article, he goes through the theoretical construct of "evolutionary" brains -- reptilian, neo-mammalian, mammalian -- as well as the research science behind the reduction of creativity due to stress.

Basically, our modern life stress convinces our brains that we are in a life and death struggle. We loose access to the higher levels of our brain (neo-mammalian, mammalian) and thus lose our creativity. If we have early life stressors (basically the shitty early life of most writers), we're more likely to fall through to the reptilian brain in no time flat.

What's a writer to do?

Let's face it, historically, most writers eased their stress through the use of substances such as alcohol or drugs. Hemmingway was a well know alcoholic. James Joyce was, as well. We know that Jack Kerouac took off across the country on a benzedrine fuel trip. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Burroughs were opium addicts. Jack London was a pothead. Of course, we all know about Stephen King's struggle with alcohol and cocaine.

And the women? -- what women used drugs and/or alcohol for their stress? Sylvia Plath had terrible, blinding migraines which she took a variety of medications for including the antidepressants credited for her suicidal ideation. Elizabeth Barrett Brown was an opium addiction, specifically Laudanum. Ayn Rand was addicted to meth amphetamines. Carson Mc Cullers and Dorothy Parker's alcohol dependence cut short their lives short.

The truth is that we don't know a lot about the substance use of women authors because, like everything female and writerly, the media focuses on men.

The bottom line is that substance abuse is not the answer. Drugs and alcohol steal creativity and cut short your life. They are no answer to dealing with your stress.

3 ways to manage stress for greater creativity

  1. Start each writing session with a few minutes of meditation: The best way to keep stress from invading your creativity is to create a practice in which you take a few minutes to meditate before each writing session. The easiest way to do that is by using a free meditation app such as Calm.com (not an affiliate link)When I was first writing, I would get very anxious just writing. I wrote entire books with the Calm.com ocean beach playing in the background. It helped keep me calm and creative. I often leave my journal out when I'm meditating to capture any stray thoughts that may be running around in my head. 

    I think of meditating before writing as simply "good writing hygiene." It helps you make the transition from the world to your writing life. It can set you up to be ready to get the work done when you have time.

    Would I still meditate if I had only an hour to write? Yes. It's worth it.

  2. Set a timer for 90 minutes. We now know that more than sitting more than 90 minutes at a time is as deadly as smoking cigarettes. Set a timer on your watch, phone, or computer for 90 minutes. When the timer goes off, get up and move around. Do a few jumping jacks. Press out five squats. The 7 minute workout is awesome. Pull up bar, push ups, run the stairs -- just get moving.

    You're thinking: "90 minutes? I'm just getting started! This will make me more stressed out." It does take some getting used to.

    What we know is that by sitting around, the stress builds up in our bodies. A five minute break every hour and a half helps siphon off some of that stress. Practice this for a week. You may just find that your overall stress level reduces. You might even drop a size in your favorite jeans

  3. Stay in your lane. I get it. We're called to show up in so many areas of life now. As authors, we have a broader perspective on the world. For those of us who write international intrigue, the newspapers and social media are literally our research materials. We cannot shut down the world so that we can get some work done.

    You did not come to writing by accident. Most authors feel as if they were born to write. This is particularly true for women because there are so many barriers to our writing careers. 


    If we scatter our energy toward every email we receive asking for help, we will spend all of our time and energy doing everything else but writing.


    We are writers because we were born to do this work. Your greatest impact will always be where from your writing. If you feel called to make a difference, do it through your writing. Try being more honest. Include characters who represent different ethnicities or abilities. Write about situations only you know about. Get real with yourself and your story. 


    Here are three easy ways to cut down on distractions:
    a. Write on a computer that is not connected to the Internet. Yes, it sounds extreme, but you can do research on  your phone. This is also a great way to keep those who hack out of your unpublished work and personal information. 
    b. Use a browser extension that blocks websites. My favorites are the one from Calm.com (this ones brand new) and Block Site. The apps are free tools which block websites where you tend to waste time. You set it up so that you can block out what you need, while keeping the sites you don't need. 
    c. Headphones, baby. Life is noisy. Get yourself a pair of noise-blocking headphones. You can listen to music for focus (search "focus" on your favorite music streaming site) or simply listen to the quiet. People are less likely to interrupt you if you have on headphones. They assume you're on a call or can't hear them. 

With a little bit of prevention and stress release, you will continue a high level of creative work! Good luck!

--Claudia Hall Christian 10/11/2017