Brida Anderson

Urban Fantasy

Category: Creativity (page 1 of 2)

Character Agency and what else to learn from Dragon Age as a writer

If you love games and fantasy books, read Chuck Wendig’s post:  “Dragon Age Inquisition. A writer’s perspective”.

Screenshot Dragon Age Chuck Wendig

 

Chuck’s current (or maybe all-time) bone to pick is character agency. In this and follow-up posts, he had a lot of very interesting things to say about agency which aren’t just interesting to writers.

Also interesting how he takes apart a whole game from a writer’s and a player’s perspective.

Also check out his other recent post on character agency, looking at female characters, HOW “STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS” STILL END UP WEAK AND POWERLESS (OR, “DO THEY PASS THE ACTION FIGURE TEST?”).

It’s especially great to read if you like to read (or write!) kick-ass heroines with a lot of oomph.

Over to you. What do you think? How come so many “strong” heroines end up weak when it counts?

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I’d love to talk to you. Due to an avalanche of spam, I had to close comments on the blog. If you’d like to comment on this blogpost, please talk to me on Facebook or on Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

After NaNoWriMo is before NaNoWriMo … or is that Christmas?

My loves,  what’s been going on here? Beside life in this little desert town that has been as chaotic as ever ;-)

50.000 words — one of them must be right

I’ve written a novel for NaNoWriMo that wasn’t planned at all. I switched it at the last minute because the short story I wrote for Witches in Fiction 2014 just wouldn’t leave my thoughts. So I dove into world building, character building and motivation for a week for “Witches of Riverdale” , then set out. Ended up writing 60.000 words in 3 weeks in November. I’m still stunned by that. My highest wordcount in the shortest time so far. And some days of writing more than 6.000 words in one day — that hasn’t happened ever since I became a mom.  :-D *happy dance*

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NaNoWriMo is always a great teacher, to any novel writer. What I take away this year? That it’s possible at all to write so much for a novel in such a short time. That I can create about 10-15 pages per day, even with kids. What helped me immensely was Reverse NaNo WriMo. (Here’s a suggestion how that goes.) I didn’t do it by the letter, but I started out using their wordcount goals. Then kept going with the high goals until our visitors arrived. Didn’t write at all for a few days. Visitors left — I picked up using the 1st week of Reverse NaNo WriMo once more. Caught up, then kept going to write a padding for the next 4 days of visitors.

If you do NaNoWriMo, give the Reverse idea a try. :-)

Elves or witches? Tough call

For December, I’m at the crossroads of two projects I love very much. Should I use December to turn the Zero Draft of NaNoWriMo into a real first draft? Or sit down to complete the 1st draft of Rule of Thorns, book 2? Gah, choices.

 

Adventures of the Fae Cat

On the non-writing side, we had our kitten spayed. There were complications and I spent a lot of November in and out of the vet’s with her. She kept taking off her cone, worried at the wound and they had to redo surgery. Poor cat.  :-( Now things are looking up; hopefully we can remove the cone in four days so she can go back to her normal slinky, playful life.

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Before the cat surgery we also had visitors here in Qatar. It was huge fun to see the country from a tourist’s point of view and to take tours we hadn’t because as an expat you get so caught up in managing the move, then the day-to-day.

I’ve also started (a few months ago, actually) to volunteer for an hour per week in the German school. In German the work’s called “Lesepatin”. Sort of like a “reading fairy” or “reading godmother”. Someone unrelated to the kids and not a teacher coming in once per week to practise reading with the children who can’t do that at home. Because their parents don’t speak German, or because the parents don’t have time or can’t be bothered. Can’t say a lot of moms get into it, maybe because you can’t phantasize yourself as this great storyteller who reads to the kids but instead  you keep very much in the background, just listening to the kid struggle through the text, only gently correcting when the right word doesn’t come fourth, even after several attempts. It takes a lot of focus — you have to imagine someone who needs ten minutes for half a page of text. But it’s very rewarding to see the children improve — and their joy, when with the improvement, they start to enjoy reading. And hey, what better use of my time than to create future readers? ;-)
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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Escape to Faerie with these photos … or into your dreams

I’m in love ;-)

Look at the photos in this Flickr photostream. In case Rosie Ann’s style changes, I captured a screenshot.
I find the dystopian photos also intriguing, but my favorites are the ones that remind me of Faerie.

Go and have a look at Rosie Anne’s page … to dream.

rosie_anne_photos_brida_anderson
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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Mom-bloggers and mom-writers unite!

Wow, it’s been crazy here, trying to write on deadline while the kids are on school/nursery vacation.

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It’s the first year of school for our oldest son, so I’m used to a maximum of 3 weeks vacation from his kindergarten days back in Germany. Here in Qatar, he has almost 9 weeks of summer vacation. 9 weeks!

We enrolled our youngest (3) in summer camp at his nursery. Which whittled his 8 weeks of vacation down to 4 weeks …

Whatever possessed me to agree to a deadline for a project that falls into my boys’ vacation? Well. I had planned to be done with the book before vacation even started. While moving thousands of miles abroad … Cough. Still, I almost managed. But that last sprint to the finish line kept eluding me.

So, here we are. 4 weeks of trying to write a nonfiction book and blogposts alongside a constantly prattling 3-year old. Who, of course, has just he entered into the infamous “Why?”-phase.

“Why’s that?”

“But why?”

“And why’s that?”

“Why don’t you know?

“Why …?”

… on and on  ;-) (Do you know the Louis CK sketch about the WHY?)

I’m also entering the last corrections into my Western-Aetherpunk short story … or I would be, if we hadn’t left for vacation. Where we promptly caught a stomach-bug and took turns being sick. (“Why are you holding your stomach, mom?” “Why do you need this bucket?” … LOL)

The crux is: We’re back in Qatar now. Here, it’s too hot, humid and sunny during the day to do anything outside. Even swimming is out of the question. Sunshade over the pool or the playground? That’s for sissies, apparently.

You’d think that the Qataris would have long caught on and built pleasure domes for families. Every bigger city in Germany has those artificial rec spaces, usually with indoor swimming pools, sauna, kid activities. But also with aquariums, Lego Centres, you name it. Here, everything is out under the sun, except for the malls. Weird. No, don’t get me started on the cramped indoor playgrounds in Qatar … I dubbed them Las Vegas for kids. = :-/

So life outside starts at sunset. Going swimming. Going to the playground. (The lights at the playground have been broken for a while. “Don’t hworry mamsir, we fix it.”)

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Playground after dark in Doha, Qatar

And I write during the kids’ afternoon siesta. Or I try to. A day of “why? why? waaaah! want X, want Y! Moooom!” isn’t exactly helping to write with a fresh mind.

It’s been a week only since we got back but we’re running out of indoor-activities that can hold a 3-year-olds attention. It wouldn’t be hard to entertain my 7-year old indoors. He’s fallen in love with crafting, he loves playing boardgames and painting. But the day is loooooooong when matched against a 3-year-old’s attention span and you can’t take him outside.

I tried my NanoWriMo routine of getting up before the kids but that only worked while we were on vacation. In Qatar, our youngest has started waking again in the night repeatedly – from nightmares, the air-condition or the crushing heat. So he ends up staying with us — and gets up with me. “Why are you sneaking off to your computer?”

(On the other hand – who can resist this little guy? :-)

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

What the heck to actually tell your email list as a writer?

Yesterday, a link floated around Twitter to an article about how to set up emails to your list. The headline leads you to expect tips on composing emails to your list that are a pleasure for your readers. Unfortunately, the post only gives the tech side, how to set up a list with Mailchimp etc.

Again? Yawn!

Thankfully, today another article flew into my inbox, this time from Kimberley at the Writer Platform. She’s a fellow mom and Canadian. Hey, gotta share it, if it’s from a Canadian ;-)

Ideas and Tips on What to Send to Your Subscribers

It’s part of Kimberley’s series on List-building for writers and well worth to check out.

I’m still experimenting with what I talk to you about in the blog. I come from nonfiction blogging and that rears its head every couple of days. I still feel the need to provide you with some instructables, printables … But printable hunk-elves have not been invented yet (more’s the pity), so we might have to settle for vacations of the mind and exploring Faerie instead of cold hard print-outs. ;-)

Painting self-acceptance and self-love

Here’s a treat I wanted to share with you:

As you may know or not, I’m a raving fan of Tamara Laporte. I can’t draw or paint but taking Tam’s online classes has been such a soothing, healing treat every time and I love the artwork I create in them. (Bonus: I learned a lot of techniques that I now use when creating with my kids.)

Today, Tam announced she’s part of the line-up for the “Radiant Faces 2014” class. It’s organized by Effi Wild; 9 weeks of class/9 lessons, with Effi acting as the host that walks you through each week’s tutorial. That one of the other teachers is Jane Davenport, with the topic “Nymph”, also makes me squee. :-)

Radiant Faces painting workshop 2014

It’s not just about learning about painting portraits.

Each artist will focus on creating a different character including the Nymph, Mystic, Child, Girly Girl, Goddess, Artist, Dreamer, Stranger, & Watcher. These concepts will be explained in more detail in the class, but essentially, each face will represent a part of your self that you might want to get to know better and each lesson will be an opportunity to learn how to create a face that expresses that aspect of your inner life.

The theme of this class, along with portraiture, is self-love. Musings on how to connect with and love each aspect of your self will be included with your face tutorials, but if you’re just here for the art, that’s totally fine, too!

Thought you might like. :-)

Some of the teachers give away 1 place in the class, e.g. Jane Davenport.

Working through grief with art

Grief is a bizarre state of being. Unpredictable, changing from day to day, driving others away by its numbness and intensity.

Not enough that we go through our days like robots prone to crying jags. Grief also dries up our creativity. Our creative outlet, whether that’s writing, painting or crafting – would be the natural place to go in moments of crisis. To vent, to work through emotions, to heal, to find a little joy. But grief skews our art, turning it into something almost unrecognizable to us, a twisted version of what it used to be.

Stone lion in white with climbing hortensia Brida Anderson

There are surrealist photographs traveling around Facebook and the internet at the moment. They caught my eye because at first glance they look elfish or fae-ish. When I read one of the articles about the photographer, the memories that rose up instantly were like a punch to the gut.

When her mother died of brain cancer in 2008, photography became Mitchell’s only shelter from the pain of her loss.
“Photography became my only escape when I could no longer talk about how I felt. It became an utter fantasy that blocked out the real world, and a place where I could return to my memories of her, far away from those hospitals walls,” she writes on her website.
(Source: www.boredpanda.com/surreal-photography-kirsty-mitchell)

I lost my mother to cancer several years ago. It was her third cancer. She had survived two, but this one was of a very aggressive sort.

My father and I spent two days at her side in the IC unit until she passed. For weeks, even months, after her death, my thoughts and dreams were filled with her, with those days at the ICU, the SOUNDS. I heard her wheezy breathing, the machinery whenever I closed my eyes or tried to take a breath. It was driving me slowly mad. Or at least it felt that way at the time.

The outside keeps smiling, for the sake of the child

The day of my mom’s burial. Her photo on the mirror opposite the entrance. Trying to keep smiling not to scare my child.

The only way I could work through it, was giving it time – and by writing.

Allowing your pain, your loss, your grief to find expression in your craft feels scary, especially at the beginning. I was trying to write a light romantic fantasy. What poured out instead had darkness pressing in on every edge. I cried while I wrote. But to allow the darkness to pour out instead of trying to hold it in, was so very healing.

Endure that your art is different while you grieve. Accept it in its raw form. Just dive into the process itself. Let it calm your soul, clear your brain, at least a little. Returning to making art while you’re mourning is so healing, whether your art is writing, painting, photographing, modeling …
Take a look at Christy’s photographs (here’s the link to the galleries on Christy’s website) and let me know what you think.

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Ways to work fast / write fast

Just came across two interesting info-graphics from Funders and Founders.

Not sure about the picture-rights, so I’ll link to them instead of reposting them here:

How to work fast — a lot of what I found out works for me during the 31-Day-Procrastination Challenge

Why don’t People do? Thoughts that get in the way of creating — especially important if you’re battling with a strong inner censor/inner critic

 

So many lovely things to do – on battling the Procrastination troll

How’s your battle with Procrastination going, in the 35-Day-Procrastination Challenge?

I am at that point where I got so much done on the projects on my list (thanks to writing in the flow) that my brain served up glorious ideas of WHAT ELSE I could all accomplish in that time. “You know, if it’s going so well, why don’t you do this and this and that?”

Troll Head Lost Garden's of Heligan, Cornwall by Webheathcloseup / Flickr

Is that my procrastination troll? — Troll Head Lost Garden’s of Heligan, Cornwall by Webheathcloseup / Flickr (Creative Commons)

The project-ideas actually made sense – to finally take the time to create a nonfiction backlist from my previously published books. They were published by publishing houses, edited, proofread, I have the final PDF  — so all that’s missing is “just”  formatting them as ebooks, add a cover, upload.

Then I read a post from a friend on Facebook. She did long overdue work on her blog and happily so, working in the flow for hours. Only in the evening did she realize, that it “had been the Procrastination troll whispering in her ear”. He has a knack of making distractions sound utterly important and meaningful.

... or isn't he rather looking like this? :-) -- "Internet Troll?" by Eiik Solheim

… or isn’t he rather looking like this? :-) — “Internet Troll?” by Eiik Solheim (flickr / Creative Commons)

For now, I’ve decided to stick to the Procrastination Challenge but change my list of projects, pushing the second book in the Rule of Thorns-series further back and working on two non-fiction projects, one for a publishing house (deadline in August), one for my backlist.

Being sticky – being brave in what you create / write

Kristen Lamb tells writers to “be sticky” if they want people to notice them and their books. Even though “being sticky” comes very naturally to me as a mom of two young children ;- ), in my writing, that’s something else.
There are three areas Kristen urges you to be sticky if you want to succeed at social media (and, alas, a mom-writer’s clothes and hair are not among the three. Rats! ;-).
Two of them are internet-related, the third is our writing itself.

While I dropped my youngest off in kindergarten, I mulled over what I had read in Kristen’s book Rise of the Machines. And realized that this isn’t just something about writers. It applied to the people I ran into as well.
How often do we really stick out our neck? And how often do we take the safe road and blend in? At the cost of being “non-sticky” or almost invisible. Non-memorable.

How about you? When did you learn that talking freely about what you felt was your truth (in any given situation) wasn’t safe? That it got you in hot waters with your teachers, your parents, your first boy-friend, perhaps?

 

Inner warrior Brida Anderson

Your inner warrior is wise and wild / She knows the true shape and names of things / … and just how strong you really are

Before our move abroad, I was talking to a friend I had rediscovered on Facebook. He had last seen me when I was 16, just embarking on a relationship that later turned out to be abusive. When I told him about moving to Qatar for three years, he urged me to not start a one-woman-revolution there. I thought: “What is he talking about? Me? Why should I?”
He remembered me as I had been, at 12-13-14 years old. Running around in my hometown with a bright red cap, dispensing flyers on a busy Saturday about women’s rights. (Pathologically shy me!) Even pressing one into the mayor’s hand with an acidic comment when he came by by chance (I was camped out near the city hall). Sending my poetry to magazines and competitions, totally convinced that it was superb and much-needed. And even getting it published at the tender age of 14. It seemed only natural to me at the time — today, I shake my head how confident I was, how sure that I’d be published.
Then … stuff happened. Life. Boys who punish you for being “all brain” or who seek to hurt you, verbally, physically, when you seem to be too self-confident. After uni, it carried over into my nonfiction writing through my work. (University had taken care of the fiction writing already.) If you talk to other editors and agents all day, get trainings every few months on how to write the perfect fluffy nonfiction book that appeals to everyone and offends no one, it rubs off on you.Now with Kristen’s advice on “writing sticky books” in my ear, I have been quietly exploring for months, how true to my ideas and convictions I dare to be in my nonfiction.
If you write like anybody else and what anyone else could have contributed to a topic, then a reader won’t see that this is you writing to them. And they won’t hear your voice.
Time to put on the red cap and stand up. Become sticky!
((reblogged from my old blog-address at Weebly, hence the wonky formatting))
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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

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