//”It’s just fiction.”

This phrase has troubled me greatly since I was old enough to grasp the lie of it. I recall vividly the first time someone said this – my youth group leader, calling books ‘amoral’ and comparing them to a table.

AMORAL

  • lacking a moral sense; unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something

“You could throw it at someone’s head and that would be bad, but a book is just a book.”

This, said by the same woman who was attempting to teach me that ideas and thoughts could change us and then the world. Without even realizing it, she had stripped herself of all credit in my eyes. She was teaching us from a ‘book,’ but she failed to realize the irony in what she said. I had been frustrated with her before, but I was now incensed. I was only fourteen, and I had only been seriously writing for a little more than a year. Writing – the belief and knowledge that words could plant ideas, could promote hope, could condemn evil, could make people better – that was important to me. It still is. In fact, rather than deterring me from my desire to write, my youth leader fueled that desire.

Books changed my life and continue to do so. Books shaped who I am. There was nothing amoral about the way Middle-Earth taught me about bravery and honor. There was nothing amoral about the way Narnia taught me courage and faith. There was nothing amoral about the way fairy tales and fables and myths taught me to stick to my beliefs, carry on when afraid, and fight back against evil with wit and valor. Books forged my soul, and you cannot tell me ‘it’s just fiction,’ as if fiction were a quick breeze here and gone. “As amoral as a table?” Tell that to Tolkien, Lewis, Chesterton, Augustine, Plato. Tell it to any philosopher.

“It’s just fiction” is an excuse. It’s an excuse made by parents so they don’t feel the need to oversee what their children are embracing. It’s an excuse made by readers who want to read literary trash without guilt, and – worst of all, in my belief – it’s an excuse made by authors to justify their own lack of conviction. Why? Because ‘it’s just fiction’ removes any and all responsibility from the author. If it’s ‘just fiction,’ then there’s no point, nothing to teach or uphold, and they have free reign to write whatever they please, consequences be hanged.

I’m not saying I never feel the urge to write something simply because I want to write it. But I’ve been guilty of many things in twenty-two years, and I’ll be guilty of many more, but may it never be said that I, as a reader but especially as an author, took the easy way out under the banner of ‘it’s just fiction.’

//no homo (?): it’s kind of a rant

“You realize you’ll have readers thinking X character is gay, right?” “They’ll have to really stretch to keep thinking that after a while. Besides, I decided I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to sacrifice intimate non-amorous relationships for the sake of slash-happy shippers.” “YOU SHOULD PUT THAT ON YOUR BLOG.”

That was the summary of a conversation I had with Lauren, when we were discussing my novel The Dying of the Light, and its upcoming sequel. There are several main themes prevalent throughout the series, but one of the largest is brotherhood, pure and simple.

Or rather, it should be pure and simple. Unfortunately, Western culture is often too shallow, too hyper-sexualized, and – frankly – too under-educated to grasp the idea of an intimate, non-amorous relationship between two people. It’s the same culture where two guys don’t feel comfortable hugging each other (unless it’s a manly half-hug – you know the one), and two girls can’t hold hands without people assuming they’re lesbians.

(To clarify: I’m not saying gay people are mythical creatures that don’t actually exist. I’m simply stating that – well, neither are intimate, non-amorous relationships.)

I don’t like using the word ‘platonic’ to describe intimate friendships, and I haven’t since I looked up the actual definition of the word. According to the Oxford Dictionary, there are two meanings of the word.

  • of or associated with the Greek philosopher Plato or his ideas.
  • confined to words, theories, or ideals, and not leading to practical action

 

People usually use it in the second sense – but as anyone can see, that’s the wrong use of the word. A ‘platonic’ friendship, in the true sense of the word, wouldn’t be a friendship at all. It would lack action. It would be stagnant.

We call intimate friendships ‘platonic,’ and sadly – the word fits all-too frequently. We’ve become so sensitive that we’ve even created the phrase ‘no homo’ to explain away any intimacy between two people of the same sex. It’s jarring for me, even as an American, because so much of my time is spent in east-Asian culture, where intimate friendships are the norm. Girlfriends hold hands ‘platonically.’ Guys are physically comfortable with each other in a ‘platonic’ sense. People aren’t afraid of touching another person for fear they might be misunderstood.

Lauren told me she was speaking with a soldier who had been stationed in South Korea for a brief period, and he was astonished (and weirded out, for a while) at how physically comfortable the soldiers were with each other. Arms slung around shoulders, hugging, kisses on the cheek – these are normal. And they should be normal.

Without this part of non-romantic relationships, we’ve lost a huge and vital element in any deep relationship. People point to David and Jonathan and say, “They kissed! They were gay!” in spite of the fact their supposed sexual orientation is never mentioned…except marriage. To wives. Who, according to history, loved their husbands very deeply and had no cause to think they weren’t well-loved in return. It’s a strange and uncomfortable phenomenon, and a relatively new one; this idea of stiff, hands-off, two-dimensional friendships.

When Western culture sees two people who are physically and emotionally intimate with one another, it’s hard for them to believe they aren’t romantically involved. In this day and age, it’s practically unheard of.

And I’m sick of it.

I used to be extremely concerned that my characters would be misconstrued as gay. When I first began to write intimate relationships, I didn’t know how to make them happen without coming across in a way I didn’t intend. About a year ago, I threw in the towel. I was tired of jumping through hoops, of sacrificing potentially incredible character relationships and development just so readers wouldn’t think they were gay.

I decided I’d had enough. I simply wasn’t going to worry about it. I wasn’t going to care what readers somewhere, at some point, may think. They could think whatever they liked, and they could be wrong. Slightly less than a year ago, I began The Dying of the Light – which is now rapidly hurtling toward the end (of book one) – and to date, it’s my favorite novel I’ve ever written. It’s the deepest. It’s the most complex. It has a plethora of intimate same-sex relationships that will only deepen over the course of the second novel – and the only straight-up canonically gay character is the villain. (I know, I know. I’ll probably get told that’s discrimination or false representation at some point, but you know what? That’s how I wrote it. Deal with it or don’t.)

I just don’t care anymore. In fact, I’m learning to care less and less about what people might think when it comes to my writing. If someone finds a Paper novel too fluffy, that’s fine. They are pretty fluffy. If someone thinks a book is too dark? That’s also fine; they can go read a Paper book. There’s a line between listening to feedback and jumping through hoops to accommodate readers. (It’s also important to note that, as a Christian author, a huge part of the reason I write is to put forth ideals and themes that are important to me. I don’t fling a big idea into a novel because ‘it sounds like fun’ (and if I ever do, I have Lauren to tell me to hold up) – I do it because I think it’s important, and it helps further something I strongly feel needs to be furthered in the literary world.)

Readers can slash-ship my characters all they want, if it comes down to it, because it doesn’t change anything. I’m no longer afraid of the idea, because, well – the reader isn’t always right. And sacrificing depth for the sake of a potential readership so saturated in shallow, hyper-sexualized Western culture that they can’t tell a romantic relationship from a non-romantic one is frankly not my problem.

There. I feel better now. As harsh as this particular post may have sounded, it stems from a deep exhaustion. An exhaustion brought on by the lack of intimate friendships in current culture, from real-life relationships to those I read (or don’t read) about in novels. I’m tired of seeing an extremely important dimension removed from relationships that suffer for it. I’d like to see more intimate relationships. I’d like to see more people – and characters – tell each other ‘I love you.’ I’d like to see people be comfortable holding hands. I’d like to see this happen more often – because I have it, and I want other people to have it, too.

And if I can’t make it happen more often in the real world, I can make it happen in some fictional ones.

 

//the care and keeping of INTJs: a definitive guide

“I’m an INTJ.”

— 99% of people who are not.

Everybody wants to rule the world. Hence, everybody wants to be an INTJ – the MBTI type best known as the archetypal Mastermind. Everybody wants to be an intellectual fount of strategy and analytical power – except most INTJs. It’s a point of irritation for me, watching so many people claim the title of INTJ when they so clearly are not. I understand wanting to be one on the outside. There are definite pros to being an INTJ. But first, let me sit you down and tell you a story.

My soul-sister is an INTJ. I don’t mean she’s a relatively smart person who really, really wishes she was one – she is one. She is the physical embodiment of this type, and as a female INTJ, she is in an extreme minority. Read: 0.8% of the population.

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”— Harlan Ellison (or, the most INTJ quote I’ve ever seen)

They possess the following characteristics:

Ni: They will not do anything – and I mean anything – without turning it over, studying it in various shades of light, and using a magnifying glass. Before they take action, they will be sure to take action in a way that gets them the desired result. They do not do things willy-nilly, nor are they pansters. They will have everything planned out, down to the tone of voice they’re going to use when they say ‘hello,’ and what temperature the room will be when they say it. (This is only a very slight exaggeration.)

Te: If something is wrong, they will fix it. They will not do this as a group project. They will take the flaw they find, sit down in the corner, and do it alone because it’s easier, faster, and they can probably do it better than you. (This is not an exaggeration.)

Fi: Or the ‘Feels Box,’ as Arielle and I call it. I have the key to this one. It’s where INTJs store their feelings, emotions, and personal values. This is an important component of an INTJ, but they sometimes overlook it, which is why it’s important to remind them via sticky note or possible 2×4 over the head, that it exists for a reason.

Se: This is a quirky bit, as INTJs are hyper-aware of people’s auras and vibes and will read between lines that aren’t even there, but they can also be so hyper-aware that they boomerang and shut themselves off from the world. This isn’t always a bad thing – they need alone-time, they need to recharge and think. But if an INTJ seems aloof – well, they probably are. (I didn’t say they were perfect.)

If this sounds contradictory, that’s because INTJs are walking paradoxes. They’re brimming with dreams and ideals, but cynicism (because let’s face it: people can be awfully thick) often gets the better of them. This often leads to a ‘I’m the only one I can trust to do anything right’ mentality, and separates them from the rest of the pack as more of a lone wolf. This places them in a leadership position (no INTJ is happy following the herd), but also easily creates an independence bordering on that of a hermit. If you know an INTJ, let them be the leader they are but don’t let them hole up in a cave for thirteen years. Make sure they get some sunlight and food.

RULES, SCHMULES

INTJs hate rules, restrictions, and regulations. This is often because they simply don’t work the way other people do – they need flexibility. They also want what they want when they want it, and find it hard to tolerate situations where they don’t get whatever they want immediately. They can be demanding and impatient, but a healthy INTJ will learn to tolerate mortals – um, humans – and even learn to work with them and speak the language conversationally. Which leads me to the subject of FRIENDSHIP.

An INTJ will have friends, but not many. They take George Washington’s words – be cordial to all, but intimate with a few – to heart, and it’s rare if they’re intimate with more than two or three people (not including family members). Even then, it’s very rare you’re seeing more than the tip of the iceberg. If they allow you to see the seventh level (of seven, not including purgatory) it means you have earned their trust, respect, and love. I’m honored to have reached this level with my resident INTJ, but it was not easy and it was not overnight. Respect their need to take things slow and make sure you’re worthy. It’s worth it.

An INTJ will not care about normal, social constructs of friendship. They will prize loyalty, intelligence, wit, and creativity in a friend, someone with whom they can hold stimulating conversations without feeling as if they’re ‘dumbing themselves down’ to be more accessible. INTJs want to be able to be themselves with someone who actually understands, which is not easy to find. If you don’t understand them at first, keep trying. They’re puzzles, but they’re highly rewarding puzzles and they will make you grow and learn and deepen in ways you didn’t think possible.

INTJs aren’t usually big on physical contact, so if they state they would be fine hugging you or touching you affectionately, congratulations! You’ve unlocked a new level. It means a lot. In fact, an INTJ will say many things that Mean a Lot, and you need to train yourself to be aware of them. They’re designed to be subtle and slip under the radar. Vigilance is recommended.

INTJs are extremely strategic and Machiavellian in the way they go about things. They pride themselves on their minds and work very hard to continue learning new things. They work out mentally – all the time. 24/7/365. Even in their sleep. (I’m not kidding.)

An INTJ will trust their own intuition above all else. If you reach a point in your relationship with an INTJ where they are willing to take your view of things over theirs, that is a Boss Level achievement and is, quite frankly, amazing. (Note: if an INTJ ever tells you ‘I hadn’t thought of that,’ or something else implying you gave them a new thought or may have a better view of something, they have just paid you the highest compliment they can.)

AN UNHEALTHY INTJ will not want to talk to you if you disagree on any point. A HEALTHY INTJ will want to talk to you and find out new angles and new perspectives. If you run into the first kind of INTJ, don’t judge the rest of their kind by that one encounter. INTJs grow and learn and change just like the rest of us, and often they take more time because they analyze every teeny, tiny dust-mote of information to death, and then they have to sign it in triplicate and then re-analyze it to make sure they didn’t miss anything.

COMMON INTJ WEAKNESSES mean that they are often…

Arrogant: INTJs have little tolerance for ‘lesser minds’ and are very confident in their mental abilities, which means they can come across as stuck-up much of the time. Note: though INTJs can be truly arrogant, they are also often mistaken as such simply because they do know more than you and they are probably better-informed and have given any given subject more thought than the average person. Often they don’t mean to come across as arrogant, it’s a by-product.

Judgmental: Imagine trying to hold an argument with Spock when he knows he’s absolutely correct and you know he is, yes, but he’s also missing the Human Element which is kind of important. Spock isn’t quite understanding this, because he has the Facts, and he has Logic on his side, which means his more rational view is by definition Correct. You’re pretty sure Spock thinks you’re stupid. You might be right. Now try and look at this situation from Spock’s point of view, and you’ll see why INTJs can be so judgmental.

Overthinking. E v e r y t h i n g. Some things need overthought. Sometimes this is a blessing, not a curse – but sometimes, your INTJ needs to just let it go, because they’re beating a dead horse that cannot possibly get any deader. This is where you need to intervene, take the stick, and help your INTJ focus on something else. Anything, really. Bury the horse corpse and move on.

Rule-breakers. Granted, ‘well-behaved women rarely make history,’ but say an INTJ sees a fence. And that sign says ‘warning! Electric fence!’ What will the INTJ do? Will they think ‘ah, okay,’ and move around it? No, they’ll wonder ‘but is it really electric? Why is it there? What is the property owner trying to keep out? Are they up to something?’ and they’ll proceed to test the fence, and see if it really is electric, and if so, will it kill them to climb over it?

This pretty much sums up the cons to having an INTJ personality, in a very abbreviated way. Most problems INTJs have can be traced back to one of these four roots. But again, each of these ‘flaws’ can be a strength – given the right situation. IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE: An INTJ is still a human being with emotions and feelings. They aren’t impervious to insecurities and anxieties – if anything, they’re more prone because of their tendency to overanalyze and overthink everything. Be understanding and know that when speaking to an INTJ, you are not speaking to a cold-blooded reptile or a heartless Sphinx. Emotions are somewhat baffling to INTJs and they really aren’t always sure why emotions exist in the first place. Because they don’t really get them as easily as most people, they’ll often act more confident than they really are, providing a shield for the part of themselves they feel least-confident handling.

A FEW MORE TIPS

When dealing with INTJs, an important thing to remember is instinct. INTJs have many instincts, and most of them are not social. When an INTJ is in distress, their first thought is not ‘get help,’ it’s ‘push all help away, I’ll handle it.’ An INTJ’s idea of ‘handling it’ usually means ‘I’m going to pretend I’m fine, while simultaneously eschewing all meaningful human contact. Don’t mind me, I’m just spiraling into the Pit of Despair because I don’t want to appear WEAK.’ The way to work around this? Refuse. Put your foot down. Drag your INTJ into the light kicking and screaming if you have to, but you must sometimes take drastic measures for their own health. They don’t want to talk about what’s bothering them? Pester them until they open up. They say they’re fine when they’re obviously not? Call BS openly and tell them you know they’re lying. They need direct, blunt, up-front honesty. You can’t be subtle. If you try to be subtle and gentle with an INTJ in distress, you will get absolutely nowhere. Only after they’ve opened up and are beginning to handle things better can you ease up on them.

Another important point: INTJs may seem like they have no sense of humor. This is not usually true. They do have a sense of humor, but that sense of humor is buried down beneath several layers of ‘My Humor Is Too Brutal For Most People,’ ‘I’ve Been Told I Sound Mean,’ and ‘I Don’t Know If This Is Actually Funny, Or If It’s Just Me.’ Once you get past all these layers, chances are good you’ll find a delightful sense of humor. Buried treasure, mates. Buried treasure. (In fact, most things about INTJs = buried treasure. You dig, you get rich. Plain and simple.)

My last point is this: all relationships work in stages, but an INTJ has very distinct stages taking you from distant acquaintance up to friendship and beyond. Arielle is not only my soul-sister, she’s the Lewis to my Tolkien, the Peter to my Edmund, the Dae-Young to my Shi-Jin, the Jonathan to my David, and my work-wife. She understands my soul in ways nobody else does, and we are the most unlikely MBTI pairing available (myself being an INFP). We have many nicknames for ourselves, but we often call ourselves yin and yang. You can be friends with an INTJ – you just have to understand how they work.

Step one: the INTJ will talk to you. This doesn’t really mean anything except they’re willing to trade words. They’re feeling you out.

Step two: the INTJ will initiate a conversation with you. This is good. It means they were interested in what they saw, and they’re actively working toward seeing if you’re compatible.

Step three: the INTJ will enjoy talking with you, and will open up a little so you can better exchange ideas and thoughts. Be sure you open up as well – INTJs are excellent at reading people, but they need you to be as honest and open as you can. They do enough mental work already – don’t make yourself a chore.

Step four: you talk all the time. You agree on most things. You have stimulating, intellectual conversations on a regular basis.

Step five: you talk all the time – about personal things. You can go from stimulating, intellectual conversations to dumb jokes, catchy songs, etcetera. Once you realize you can talk about any subject and your INTJ is still interested in you, you are officially friends with the INTJ.

Step six: the INTJ wants to co-rule the world with you. This is a prized position and can only be held by one other individual, so if your INTJ offers you this position, you’d better take it. (Take it. Take it for your own sake and for the sake of preventing total despotism. That’s why I did. Well, that and the riches.)

I’ve seen many people attempt to pass themselves off as an INTJ, but I have sent the entirety of this article to Arielle for proofreading, and the response I received was this – “If I didn’t love or trust you so much, I’d be terrified right now and revolving ways to get rid of you.” This is a seal of INTJ approval, meaning I know what I’m talking about. I know an INTJ when I see one. (And do you know how many INTJs I currently know, out of many, many people? Two.) And I especially know a female INTJ when I see one. (Cleopatra is dead and doesn’t count.)

If you have an INTJ in your life, I hope this was helpful to you. If you do not have an INTJ in your life, I’m sorry and I hope you get one at some point, because they are invaluable and I don’t know where I’d be without mine.

ENJOY RULING THE WORLD.

//in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger,

I leaned my head back and stared at the globe hanging overhead. It swayed back and forth in the breeze from the fan in small, hypnotic circles, casting a shadow twice as big against the ceiling. Earlier that afternoon Arielle and I had been trying to dissect the reasons I’ve been so stressed lately. One of the things I told her was that I didn’t feel like I had the energy to keep up my online presence much right now. Not many people have seemed to notice my lackluster internet appearance lately, which I’m grateful for – in fact, I’ve had several people recently urge me to get Twitter, or Instagram, or a Youtube channel. I don’t even have the wherewithal to toy with the ideas. In fact, I don’t have many ideas at all lately.

After a while Arielle asked if maybe I needed to take something of a hiatus from my social media platforms. I bucked at the thought at first – wasn’t I already doing that?  – when I realized I hadn’t officially said anything about it. I’ve kept thinking tomorrow, I’ll be better. I’ll feel better. I’ll have energy and inspiration again. And each day that passed without those things added another few pounds to the guilt I was feeling over not being My Usual Self.

I was amazed. In fact, I was amazed at every detail as we pulled my current state apart. Since I had the flu several weeks back, I’ve had next to no appetite. I’ve lost ten pounds. I don’t sleep well. I’ve been working on the same chapter for three weeks, and every time I attempt to sketch or begin a commission, I’m unhappy with it. Frankly, I’m a mess. I just didn’t realize how much of a mess until yesterday.

It’s the kind of mess that can be fixed, of course, but I’ve come unraveled and I need to comb out the tangles before I can put myself back together again. I’m going to do something I don’t usually do – I’m going to take a break. I’m going to focus on my inward circle of life – my family, my closest friends, my college daughters, and myself. I’m going to spend more time with God. I’m going to focus on my art and writing as I have the energy and ability. I’m going to watch kdramas that aren’t pertinent to what I’m writing and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. Essentially, I’m going to re-charge.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

I’m not dropping off the face of the earth, but I won’t be as present as usual. I may write a blog post if I feel like it, but they won’t be as regular. I won’t be sending out novel chapters – honestly, I need to get my mojo back. I’ll continue working on art commissions until I’m happy with them. I won’t be as present on Facebook, either. I’ve also let go of my position as a staff writer of The Fangirl Initiative temporarily, and the team is graciously letting me return when I can.

BASICALLY…

I will still be around, but I’ll be much quieter. I’ll be working on breaking this habit – the habit of being a Personality instead of a Person. Sometimes to reconnect with yourself you have to take a step back, which is what I’m doing. However, I’ll repeat: it is only a step. I’m not quitting the internet to go live in a cave. I’m not going radio silent, I’m just turning the volume down. I’m taking a semi-hiatus. Hopefully I won’t need long to recuperate – just a few weeks is my guess, but I can’t be positive. However, one thing I can tell you—

I love you + I’m grateful for you, and I’ll see you around.

I’LL BE BACK.

//latin, space, and sarcasm: the things that survived

When Arielle recently dusted off some of her old writing, I decided to hunt through some of mine. The purpose was kicks and giggles – after all, why not? I uncovered my first foray into NaNoWriMo – a novel titled, ‘Phase,’ written in 2009. It had no discernible plot, but it reads something like ‘if Twilight were Christian, and instead of vampires and werewolves we had shady people versus people with vague powers and moon-markings.’ Adverbs and exclamation marks abound, and everything bears the clunky, unsure signature of a fifteen-year-old attempting to do something new. Technically, I completed NaNoWriMo – the novel fades out at approximately 54,000 words. Realistically, it was a huge failure – no plot is indeed a problem, and the novel had no ending, let alone any kind of structure.

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That being said, it spurred me into doing NaNo the next year, and the year after that, and every year I improved, building on old blocks. Perusing the Phase manuscript (if something this hilariously awful can really be called a manuscript) I was surprised to see how many traits still remain in my writing. Thankfully my craft has improved over the years (one would hope) but there are elements that haven’t changed.

A FASCINATION WITH SPACE THE FINAL FRONTIER

The novel is called Phase for the phases of the moon. The novel involves shimmering moon-tattoos appearing mysteriously on the main character (subtly named ‘Luna’) as well as powers pertaining to each phase of the moon. I even opened the novel with Luna singing ‘Memory’ from Cats – because it mentioned the moon, of course.

VILLAINS SPEAKING LATIN

I love languages, but there’s a timeless elegance to Latin which apparently wasn’t lost on me, even as a fifteen-year-old blundering through her first NaNo novel. The villain (subtly named ‘The Hunter’) is a sadly over-the-top figure, oozing all the villainy of a cartoon caricature. That being said, he can be relatively pithy when he chooses to employ said dead language.

 The Hunter took a sip of his wine and answered “Oderint, dum metuant. Latin. A man named Accius said that. It means ‘let them hate, so long as they fear.’ I find that to fit the situation exactly.”

MOTLEY CREWS

I began by writing unlikely groups of eccentric people, and here I am – still writing unlikely groups of eccentric people. There’s something undeniably fun about the different dynamics and variables available within a group, and I prefer groups to one or two main characters. And they’re all dorks.

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TORTURE

I’d forgotten there was torture in Phase, but…there is torture in Phase. So there’s that.

ALLEGORICAL THEMES

Granted, I hope I’ve become less obvious over the years, but Phase features an over-arching villain even higher than The Hunter. The villain (subtly named ‘Gehenna’) employs humans who relinquished their souls to him, thus becoming Slahbra – servants of evil. Which leads into the next point…

SOULS, MORALITY, AND ETHICS

Souls have always fascinated me, it seems; and the teenaged protagonists of the novel have several discussions revolving around questions like, if the Slahbra have given their souls to Gehenna, is it possible to get them back? Or, if they now serve Gehenna, should they still be treated as humans, or as non-humans? If one kills a Slahbra, is that murder?

I had a lot of questions – and ideas I still like to explore.

SHAPES IN THE WOODS

Once Luna thought she saw something – a shape, in the woods. But when she looked back, nothing was there. She bit her lip and turned away from the window.

CROWS

Crows are my favorite bird. I am allowed to have crows in everything if I want to. Don’t judge me.

PIZZA

I am also allowed to have pizza in everything if I want to.

STRANGE DESCRIPTIONS OF THINGS

“Come in!” said a voice which sounded like gravel being crunched underneath the tires of a cement mixer.

I wasn’t kidding.

PROVING ANYTHING CAN BE A WEAPON

Rian pulled a small, plastic sword-shaped toothpick from his sandwich and held it up to the light while Taylor took a sip of her orange juice.

“What’re you doing?” she asked around the straw in her mouth.

“Studying the advantages a weapon this size would give me,” he replied, moving his hand around with the toothpick-sword in it, as if engaged in combat with an invisible Tom Thumb.

ECCENTRIC MENTOR-TYPES

“Why yes, who else would I be? I always say to be yourself, since there is a dreadful shortage of others to be. But you can call me Ursa.”

Luna blinked, trying to work out what had just been said. “Are you the counselor?”

“No,” smiled Ursa, “I am the school consoler. I do not counsel. I tell the truth and give advice. And occasionally a cup of tea, when it is needed.”

TESTOSTERONE PARTIES

One of the security officers walked up to the principal. “Well, we apprehended the two, sir,” he glanced at Luna. “One of them has a bruised jaw, and raw knuckles, the other has a black eye and a cut on his arm.”

“A cut? Did they have knives?” demanded the principal.

The security officer looked uncomfortable. “No, sir. We found no weapons of any kind on them. Looks like a testosterone party.”

Most of my books these days are just long testosterone parties, really.

GOLDEN EYES

Let’s face it – golden eyes are super attractive and every book should have at least one golden-eyed character. It’s a fact.

TELEPATHY

                Luna looked from Taylor to Rian, who was watching her seriously. “She’s scared.”

“Of course, I’m scared!” Luna exploded. “What did you expect me to be!? This has been the freakiest week of my life, and I’m freaking out! I’ve turned into a freak!”

“Try fitting ‘freak,’ in there one more time,” said Taylor, grinning.

But Rian was looking at her with an intrigued expression. “Why did you say that?” he asked.

Luna looked incredulous. “Because you said I was scared.”

“I didn’t hear you,” said Taylor, glancing at Rian.

Rian’s eyes were still fixed on Luna’s. “That’s because I didn’t say it.”

TELEPATHY IS INCREDIBLY FASCINATING AS A PLOT ELEMENT, OKAY. EVEN FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD ME KNEW THIS.

CRYPTIDS

When I was a kid, I wanted to be three things: a horse-gentler, a magician, and a cryptozoologist. Thus horses, magic, and cryptids (or at the very least ‘paranormal creatures’) have remained steady ingredients in my novels.

HUMOR

While scrolling through Phase post-re-discovery, I told Arielle, “GOOD NEWS. MY SENSE OF HUMOR IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS IT WAS SEVEN YEARS AGO.”

Luna stared at them. For some reason, she had thought they had been Phases much longer than her. “So basically, we’re given a bunch of powers, dumped into the third world to protect it, and we have no allies?”

Rian and Taylor were silent for a moment. Then Rian said “You catch on quick.”


“This conversation is pointless.”

“So are Braille drive-through ATM’s,” said Rian.


“Do not worry, your vision will clear within a matter of moments, as will your speech.”

“It’s already been a matter of moments,” Luna said.


“Since you’re here, what am I going to do about shoes?” she asked.

“Wear them,” Asher advised, nodding wisely.

“No, I mean all I’ve got are these!” Luna held up her sneakers. “And I don’t think they really go with the evening dress. I don’t care whether or not I wear them, but the Hunter might not like the clash.” She wrinkled her nose and her tone took on a sarcastic note as she said that.

Asher grinned. “The shoes are in the wardrobe.”

Luna looked at him from the corner of her eye as she turned and looked into the wardrobe again. In the back was a pair of high-heeled black dress shoes. “Oh, lovely,” she said, still sarcastic as she pulled them out. “What next? A fairy godmother?”

“No, dinner at eight.”

“Don’t be funny.”

 

DEAD BODIES IN DRIVEWAYS

“We’re friends of Luna’s,” said Kristina. She smiled charmingly. “She fell asleep! Dead tired.”

Galvin gave her a sideways glance at the word ‘dead’. What if they had seen the body in the driveway?

It’s self-explanatory.

LOYALTY + BETRAYAL THEMES

Themes of loyalty and betrayal have fascinated me since I was a bobbin, and I doubt the fascination will end any time soon.

MORE DEAD PEOPLE

“Why are we still running away from the cops anyway? It must have been five minutes,” Kristina added a moment later, pushing her hair away from her face.

“Because the police will be chasing us,” said Trey, straightening. “We just killed people.”

ALICE IN WONDERLAND REFERENCES

She felt remarkably like Alice in Wonderland when the Queen of Hearts was chasing her and she could see herself dreaming through the keyhole, but could not wake up.

References are piffle these days. Now I’ve written an entire Alice in Wonderland novel.

SUPPOSEDLY DEAD PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTUALLY ALIVE

Why waste a good plot thread, I say.

SARCASM

Luna looked around her, then, as casually as she could manage, called up “Where are we?”

“Montana,” Asher called down.

“Thanks. I mean, where is this house?”

“It’s in Montana, too,” he replied.

“Thanks.”

THE NOT-SO-BAD BAD GUY

I’m a sucker for antagonists who really aren’t so awful, once you get to know them. Bonus points if they inch reluctantly over into protagonist territory.

LORD OF THE RINGS REFERENCES

After several minutes of sitting in perfect silence, Luna said “I’m bored.”

“Okay.” Asher flipped out his cell phone and blew out a breath.

“Say something.”

Asher did not even look up as he said “Crebain from Dunland.”

“No, something more lucid than that.”

“Duck, they’re coming in through the window,” Asher answered.

SUAVE VILLAINS AND SPUNKY HEROINES

Granted, villains need more characteristics than ‘suave’ and heroines need more characteristics than ‘spunk,’ but they’re still a staple.

“I don’t care for your compliments,” she told him, amazed at her own boldness.

“Nevertheless, you shall have them,” he replied with a gallant bow.

MASKS

Of the literal kind (Phase had a character who wore a ski mask and never removed it) and the figurative kind (because intrigue is so much fun to write).

gambar-naruto-bergerak-gif-kakashi

Going through old writing can be cringe-worthy, but it’s also an interesting look into what makes you tick as a writer. Rather than avoiding old writing (because let’s face it, wading through it isn’t really our first choice as we like to preserve what dignity we have), facing it can be hilarious and even helpful. It can show you how much you’ve improved – and we can always use that encouragement.

DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR WRITING, EVEN IF IT MAKES YOU CRINGE. ONE DAY YOU’LL LOOK BACK ON IT AND LAUGH. And possibly burn it all. (But laugh first.)