Mardi Gras and Southern Gothic

It’s that time of year, again. Mardi Gras. The day (season) of indulgence. Last January, I blogged about it on a personal level–check it out here. Today, I’d like to take a minute to tie Mardi Gras with my Southern Gothic series.

I found this explanation of Southern Gothic Literature online last year on a visual image, so I don’t know who to credit for it:

The South’s reputation for sultry decadence lives on in a literature that meshes the moody romanticism of Gothic novels with the American South’s sensibility of tragedy and doom.

Brilliant, right? When I read it I said “Yes! That’s what The Possession Chronicles is all about.” Tragic events and doomed choices, all layered within romantic ideals that don’t always hold up in the humidity.

Mardi Gras is prominent in Perilous Confessions, the first book in the series, and there isn’t much in life more decadent than those masquerades. My tagline for the book is “Their love brought scandal and demons.” You can’t get much more doomed than demons. Add in the backdrop of carnival season with the juxtapose of life and death symbolized in much of Mobile, Alabama’s Mardi Gras history looming in the background–not to mention Catholic guilt–it creates a greater sense of urgency to the characters’ choices. A “play with Folly all you like, but come Lent it needs to stop” attitude that might be easier said than done when you dive into addiction and other psychological issues.

 

How do the characters hold up? Read to find out.
And I’m always happy to discuss.

 

It Happened, Again

Writing is tough. I spend hours writing a page or two, which will have to be edited and reworded in the future.

Writing is exhilarating. The feeling of freedom when my hands are almost moving as quick as my brain is fleeting, but so worth working toward.

The “fast draft” that I completed last month was a compilation of many of both types of moments. (Reminder: fast for me is six months, from conception to finished first draft. I’ve tried NaNoWriMo many times, but it’s not for me.) Upon beginning my edits, I notice I’m still making a lot of the same mistakes that have plagued me for decades.

Prime example: My main character is flat, and suffering from perfection syndrome, while my secondary characters are multi-faceted and promote more emotional attachment from early readers. The initial analysis for doing this is that I think of myself as a secondary character in life and relate better to those not in the spotlight, so I naturally attach myself as a writer to those on the sidelines. From a craft standpoint, I’m wondering if I have the story wrong. Maybe I need to switch my point-of-view (POV) character.

This happened with CORRODED. My main character, Mary, didn’t evoke a connection to many beta readers (and was even annoying to some) while every reader loved her sidekick Ben. (Yes, there’s a group of “Team Ben” readers out there.) What resulted, during something like the twentieth draft, CORRODED became a dual POV story, with alternating Ben and Mary chapters. And I have a sneaking suspicion that if I look at the manuscript again, it might become all about Ben. (Go ahead and squeal, ladies!)

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Rather than freezing while I berate myself for fouling up yet another story, I remind myself of this quote by William Faulkner, “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” So, back to the drawing board with THE UNRAVELING THREADS OF KYNDRA FIELDS.

In the meantime, do you think character POV issues are more often emotional or craft related?

Profiling Characters

I finished another round of revisions on FORTITUDE. Yes, I thought I was done last fall, but nope, still had room to improve—and still do, I’m sure! Each time I edit, I get a clearer picture of the characters: who they are, what they stand for, what roll to they play to each other.100_2566 Even though I begin writing with character files and notebooks, nothing takes the place of hours upon hours with a character. A lot of who I thought a person was has changed by the sixth rewrite. Now that I’m doubly past that, I’m thinking “whoa, and I thought ______ was just a ____,” or something like that. The characters in FORTITUDE are deeper than I ever imagined.

A lot can be said for real life people, too. In an age when we tend to make snap judgments based on a person’s social media activity, living situation, etc., I say nothing takes the place of spending quality time with each other. Don’t be so quick to shove someone into a box based on what they wear, their education, or what they might repost. People are deeper than their outward expressions. There’s a lot going on inside on any given day. Take the time to discover what it is before you dismiss someone’s opinion, or their value as a character.

Speak Loudly

When I asked for ideas for a hundredth blog post, a friend thought I should have my hundredth on New Year’s Day. Sounds like a good plan, even though it means seriously kicking up my blogging habits. After all, I’ve been at it four years this month and only have ninety-three—now ninety-four—to my name.

But, as my previous post mentions, now is a time of reflection.

One of the changes in me this year has been vocalizing my opinions. This could be seen as good or bad, depending on your own ideals, but for me it has been freeing. If I merely listen to or read other people’s thoughts, I tend to obsess over the situation. But if I share my side, I am able to move on. It’s not about converting others to my way of thinking—the act of giving voice is empowering in itself. I’m shy and have held my tongue for most of my life but this year I found my strength. What I have to say is important—even if just to me. The people around me don’t have to agree, nor I agree with them, but each of our opinions is valid.

I’d like to apologize if I’ve come across as rude over any given topic, in person or in writing. I’m the first to admit my social graces are lacking, so please forgive me because I never mean offense. Discussion is open, so please tread respectfully. After all, differences make the world what it is—varied and beautiful.

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Mommies and Politics

 

 

It appears there’s been a flare-up in the war between SAHM and working moms.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/ann-romney-calls-stay-home-mom-controversy-early/story?id=16150121

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/post/ann-romney-stay-at-home-mom-debate-mormons-react/2012/04/13/gIQAJIBmFT_blog.html

And my favorite out of the recent stories:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-ann-romney-20120413,0,7757482.story

I’ve been a working mom but more often a stay-at-home mom. I now consider myself a work-from-home mommy, though I haven’t sold/published anything for more than a year (because I’m focusing on my novels.)

I could list facts about all the work devoted mothers do from their homes—both for their children, spouse, and others—but it’s all been said before. Or I could mention the documentation that’s been done showing that SAHMs are worth over $112000 a year for the work they do. Wouldn’t that be nice, especially since I homeschool there’d be probably be even more compensation.

 

But it seems like the attacks on Ann Romney are more of the “class warfare” that’s spreading like a disease the past several years. So-and-so paid less taxes than those working below them. Don’t up the tax percentage based on income—make taxes the same percentage for all so the people making a million will be paying more than the people who make thirty thousand. The tax codes are broken so please don’t begrudge those who have been successful—look at the motives behind those who wish to tell others what to do with what they have.