Writer’s Rite on Wednesday

by Brenda on October 29, 2014

Today I’m speaking with Ashantay Peterswriters rite_ashantay peters

 

Ashantay, thanks for meeting me here in my virtual café. Welcome. Let’s have some fun. You’re a romance and mystery writer with a hint of humor. I read the review about Death Stretch, and had to laugh aloud. Killing the yoga instructor who is far too flexible is priceless. I’ve had a dark thought or three about my instructor. So now I have to ask, what would your Google search history reveal about you? Murder, mystery, romance?

Thanks for the invitation to meet you here. The atmosphere is perfect for writers, and the coffee – yum! Google? Well, the first thing that would come up with a search-I hope-is my web site. You may also get directed to one of my three other mysteries, all featuring intrepid heroines.

Writing about writing and reading about other writer’s processes is fascinating to me. I was in a writer’s group a long time ago and one of the writers was only able to write on a collapsible card table. If she went on a writing retreat, she’d take the table with her. I don’t know if that’s extreme are not, but it sparked my interest and my sick fascination with the writer’s rite. Do you have a card table? Tell us about your space?

Ashantay's DeskI don’t have a card table, but gee, that sounds like a great idea! I have a small glass-topped PC desk and a set of bookshelves in the corner of my living room. I live alone, so that set-up works for me.

I hear you’re afraid of heights, yet you live in the mountains of North Carolina. Are you a real life thrill seeker or only the page?

Interesting question! I’m a little of both. I believe that allowing my fears to dictate my responses to situations is not how I want to live, so periodically I’ll challenge myself. I’ve gone paragliding and zip lining to combat my fear of heights, but still don’t like to climb onto my home’s roof. Guess I still have a way to go with overcoming fear of heights. Maybe I’m really more afraid of falling!

What would your words say about you?

Intriguing question, and I’ll ask one in return. Which words – the ones I write or the ones I verbalize? Because I don’t always say what I’m thinking. I refer to that reticence as self-preservation.  You know, holding back from telling the testosterone-pumped guy he’s a terrible driver. (grin) The words I write belong to my characters, or at least I try to stay out of their way when I’m transcribing for them.

One question I am always curious about is the writer’s rite. For some writers their process is as structured as the yoga practitioner working through the sun salutation—dot-to-dot.  How do your approach the blank page?

Geez, I hate blank pages. Scary stuff. When I’m stuck in a blank spot – often the fault of my brain and not the computer – I’ll use sprints to fill up the space. Other times, I sit my behind in the chair and start typing with no goal in mind. My latest WIP is tripping lightly from my fingers, and I began the work after getting the beginning in a dream.

I take photos to remind me of a moment I want to capture on the page later and scribble in a journal. Do you follow a structure journaling schedule? Keep notes and take photos while you’re writing a novel? If not to all, how do you keep track of your ideas?

I take notes on whatever blank (or not so blank) paper available to me. Sometimes I use envelopes from bills.  I also have notebooks and a small digital recorder for ideas. Journaling doesn’t work for me, but that’s what makes the writing process fun – to each their own.

Steven King noted in his book, On Writing—the bible for many writers—to follow your heart and to write what gives you pleasure and joy, and not to give way to popular demands, which is challenging for writers today since writing has become the new black. Has your desire for fame and fortune influenced what you write?

I began writing because I wanted to read stories about people like myself and alternative life styles. I knew going in that fame and fortune are difficult to find in the arts.

Tell me more about what you write.

Ah, great segue! I write about yoga instructors gone bad, massage therapists who find dead bodies on their table, caterers discovering victims hanging under mistletoe, and people who put together toxic mixes of holiday decorations to kill off control freaks (also gone bad). My work is snarky and irreverent, fast moving, and illustrates that humor can help when times are bad.

Since you’re being difficult and can’t pick one song that is a favorite, how about you recommend a half dozen, or less songs every writer should keep on a playlist for inspiration.  Oh gosh, where do I start? I don’t write with music playing, but if I’m stuck on writing sex scenes, I’ll listen to Led Zepplin or Def Leppard–don’t ask. Eric Clapton’s Bad Love and Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean helped me work out plot points in a happy accident sort of way. Carlos Santana always cranks my mood.

Have you made a play list for Death Stretch?

No, sorry, I haven’t. Don’t want to be difficult, but music and movies are not usually part of my writing process.

Do you have a favorite character in your book? Why? And your favorite character in a favorite book, who and why is your favorite?

Katie Sheridan, who appears in most of my books as the heroine or as a secondary character, is my favorite. She peddles the snark and isn’t ashamed to admit she doesn’t have all the answers. I love Amanda Quick’s (Jayne Ann Krentz) heroine, Lavinia Lake. She’s a Victorian heroine who packs a punch.

Until the Blog explosion and all the other social media outlets the world wasn’t privy to the inner sanctum on the writer’s neurosis. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to assume a majority of the artistic community has an affliction or three, which some confess without reservation. What would you say about your virtual persona? Veiled or do you wear your madness proud? And the added question for aspiring writers, what practice advice would you add about self-marketing?

Because I write humor, I tend to post stuff that has a comic bent. Unfortunately, I’m a terrible self-marketer who is working to improve. I do suggest new writers only use the social mediums that are comfortable for them. If you dislike Twitter or blogging, your posts will reflect that unease.

Now give us the dirt. Where do you harvest your ideas? Is everything in your life up for grabs?

Everything is pretty much up for grabs, but I do ask people if I can use whatever it is they said or did that attracted me. A woman at the Mighty Dollar asked me to use her first name in a book, so I will.

As far as I can tell every writer has had an ah-ha moment, the 3AM epiphany, where he or she realized their calling to write is stronger than their will. Me, I stumbled into it. What about you? Do you see your destiny in the stars on a starlit night at age nine?

Hmm…I remember spinning angst-filled stories about my paper cut-out dolls. Several of them died in tragic car accidents, and another in a house fire. How I started writing humor after that start in life is beyond me!

Thanks for sharing some of you inner writer-self with me today.  It was a pleasure hearing from you and learning a little about your dark wit.

Ashantay promises not to stalk you if you contract her.  Give her some FB love and support us authors, indy writers,  big and small. Read more books!

 

Please contact me – I promise not to stalk you!

FB – https://www.facebook.com/ashantay.peters

e-mail – ashantay.peters@gmail.com

web site – www.ashantay.com

Published works – Death Stretch, Death Under the Mistletoe, Death Rub, Dickens of a Death (Christmas 2014).

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The Writer’s Rite of Passage

by Brenda on October 25, 2014

writers riteDeciding to pursue a creative passion—such as writing—for some is the most difficult decision they’ll ever make. For some it’s a calling thus eliminating the stress of selection. Yet for others it’s a folly, a spring fling, only played with until the next fancy delights and promises a momentary diversion. For the tormented artist there is only the passion and the decision they’ve made to chase the dream wherever it leads. There is no flirting or false commitment.

The road travelled to create is fraught with extremes–successes, failures, personal growth, and in some cases, lifestyle revamping. The peaks and valleys can rock, and in some cases even crack the foundation of the most dedicated and passionate artist. Ideally there would be an even keel in the creative process, with no explosions of energy or the draught of inactivity that is typically followed by wallowing and critical introspection of ability.

There are starts and stops, endless questioning of craft and sanity, and the dreaded, but expected failure, which accompanies the successes. Doubt becomes a constant companion, and can be intensely destructive if given free reign. However, if the writer (any artist, really) stays on top of his/her emotional swings, uncertainty can be turned on it’s head and used to push through the personal crisis allowing the writer to carry on until the darkness has passed.

All paths walked in the quest to understand and define a unique expressive technique, on through to the never-ending pursuit of mastering the craft, are the rites of passage that lead to a writer to becoming a word-wizard and master storyteller. As each stage of the learning process–through the trials and tribulations, achievements and grounding ah-ha moments—are overcome, knowledge and prowess accumulate, which inadvertently alters, and in many cases, redefines, the topography of a person, now writer.

Finally the writer is comfortable enough in their skin to proclaim to the world their passion and the commitment to write. The writer, now shiny and new, is eager to share her/his know-how, the shortcuts and secrets, and the hard won wisdoms, with the world. The right to write about the writer’s rite of passage for some is the reward for slogging through the muck and darkness, and not throwing in the towel. Yet for others it’s the desire to pay forward and share the benefit of their strife in the hope of saving another writer from the arduous and steep learning curve (honorable but this isn’t truly possible). And then there are those writers, of which I am one, who write about writing the sake of the their sanity.

Writing is the subject tackled by every writer, either in an essay or blog post, and in due course, the author interview. All writers are prone to dissecting their method in hopes of understanding the magic. A large percentage of what happens is good old mojo and will never be unraveled, at least not entirely. Not everything is definable nor can it be broken down into perfectly defined measurements and a dot-to-dot how-to. Writing, the verb, the noun, the art, and the practice, is a mystery, and to some extent as allusive as love. The desire and burning need to debunk the magic of something we can’t quite explain is human nature. It’s a folly for sure but it doesn’t stop us from trying.

To some extent I’ve accepted the daily rite at face value. It’s my daily call to action to spend as much available time alone with the page. I purge. I mess around. I create, and sometimes I get it right and make a little magic. I am intrigued by my voice, where it came from, why I write, and what motivates me to crawl inside the nucleus of an emotion. I question my ability constantly. I wallow in the tepid pool of tears if a rejection letter—regardless of how thoughtful it is—awaits me in my in box. But as intrigued as I am about my fragile eco system, I am more interested in hearing other writer’s stories. We learn from one another. We live vicariously through others. We are excited for our peer’s wins as well feel their pain when they lose. We’re a nerdy bunch. We have no excuses for our behavior and hope our families don’t move us out to the garage. We can’t help ourselves.

rite

In the coming weeks I am hosting a variety of talented writers in a mixture of mediums. If you’re a writer with an adventurous spirit and willing to share your POV with The Writer’s Rite, on Wednesdays, email me at brenda.moguez@gmail.com.

What advice would you offer a novice or a person teetering on the edge of commitment?

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Ten Tantalizing Tips to LIVING a Charmed Life

by Brenda on October 15, 2014

LIVE LIKE A WRITER

 

Hug LifeONE: Be AUTHENTICALLY you
Anything else wouldn’t be worth the breath you are breathing, after all.

2. Kiss often. Where and when applicable give love freely, accepting love is not a currency and that there are no refunds, nor is there a promise or repayment for what is gifted and expended. Love was designed to be simple and spent freely. Don’t make it more complicated than it was designed to be.

ThReE: Fun, have it. Lots. OF. It. Laugh when tears would be more appropriate. Cry only after laughing too hard.

4. Accept what cannot be explained at face value. Once in a great while, life will make an investment in you or gift something too spectacular to understand. Regardless of how much you look for the meaning, sleuth for reasons, or dissect your life down to the bone, for a reasonable explanation, none will be found. Tis a gift to be embraced, embrace it.

FIVE: Mind your own business. Don’t covet what is not yours. Live YOUR life exclusively. Don’t grant envy full rein. Destiny isn’t designed to custom fit the skin you are in. It’s configurable if you’re inclined to roll up your sleeves and work to alter the trajectory of the course you are walking. Remember this: if you are coveting someone else life how do you know that same someone isn’t wishing for yours? It’s all about perspective. Keep yours focused.

siX. Sleep late, cook what you’re craving, take a walk on the wild side, wear plaid with stripes, make time for detours, and if you must plan, prepare for the best but hope for the worst. Don’t fret over the unexpected. Time is finite and the one currency that cannot be hoarded. Spend it as freely as you do love. Live in the moment.

Lucky 7: Kick back, bark if you must, but never in anger. Make or take a stand to protect your authentic self, and if/when necessary walk away remembering that there is usually no one around to hear the last word, anyway. Standing tall in silence communicates a powerful and memorable message.

No woman or man, regardless of their size, 2 or 24, is happy with body she/he is slipping into a pair of jeans. Be presently perfect and accepting of your foibles, even the flaws, which no doubt could fill a book if you were so inclined to broadcast. Perfection is defined and redesigned every season by someone who lives in a tower atop a mountain with no window into your soul. Write your own charter, remembering your authentic self.

niNe. Say what you feel. Even if the words never break the sound barrier, find a safe harbor for your emotions in a journal. Say or write it. Let go. Purge the hurt. Trapped emotions hinder personal expansion, and generally skew perspective and can damage a relationship irrevocably.

TEN: Respect yourself, and every persona you harbor within. Take care of you, all of your flavors.

10.5:  HUG LIFE with all your might

Finally look at the world as a writer does: with a microscopic lens. Take notice of the world you walk through, see the people around you, and listen with your ears, but fine tune with your heart. Be compassionate in your assessment, with your word choices, and if you are so inclined, imagine a less tragic ending to another’s story.

…And every so often share a story from your life with someone who matters. Leave a behind a legacy in words for your children, a lover, and/or a loved one. Show, not tell, them how you lived your life. Better yet, keep a living journal.

What is your secret to living a charmed life?

 

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Ten Tips to Recharge Your Creativity Batteries

October 8, 2014

Stop making to-do lists that confine and measure achievement. Instead, grant yourself 15 minutes every day to unplug from the demands of life and all of your gadgets—now appendages—and imagine yourself floating in a multi-colored hot air balloon free of restraints. The only objective is to declutter your mind and allow it to soar without […]

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10 Steps to Becoming A Damn Good Writer

September 30, 2014

Write Write often Writing well will follow one and two Don’t follow the rules, if you know the them, break ‘em–take a chance Be original – what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander Stay focused Don’t wallow in self-pity if your words are rejected Wallow in the edits, and then cut, cut, […]

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