Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dreaded words: Writers Block

Writers Block, every writer suffers from it every now and again. Overcoming it is a problem. I've suffered a bit from this dreaded syndrome this past month. Several times, I've sat with my laptop and attempted to focus, to put something on the page, even if it sounds ridiculous. But it just hasn't come. I've even done the one thing I hate...I've written a couple of outlines hoping to jumpstart the process. It produced nothing but frustration especially after reading the paragraphs I'd written. Ugh, it read like CRAP.
Ever wonder if writer's block syndrome is related to the season (winter in particular)? You look outside and see nothing but white. No birds chirping. No flowers. No warm sunny glow seeping through the window to warm your face and uplift the soul. And no matter how many times you wipe the floor, some loving family members trods in tracking clumps of dirty snow without regards to what you've just done. I've gotten to the point, I just keep towels on the floor and swap them out for dry ones. I'm just praying the washer and dryer hold out from towel overload. I can't just blame the hubby and teenagers. I've got three dogs who traipse in and out constantly. Wish I could teach those little buggers to wipe their feet and dislodge all snowballs from their fur outside the door, not in.
Maybe, I'll just have a Guiness and hope that ignites the brainwaves to communicate with the fingers and press the right keys to create an awesome story.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Doing without


Hello from the chilly Northeast! We have gotten our full share of winter in the last month, and I don't think it's going away any time soon. Recently, we had an ice storm and the power flickered on and off all night. We were the lucky ones who didn't lose our electricity, it got me thinking about those who had.

Also recently, I lost my cell phone and was without one for a little over a week. Suddenly, something I had done without for the first 20 years or so of my life seemed impossible to do without.

We've all had days where the internet has gone down at work, the dishwasher has broken, or maybe simply enough, the cable has gone out. Annoying, but not life altering, right?

I'm not so sure about that.

I read and write a lot of science fiction/fantasy and I'm always fascinated by stories of worlds where they've gone from having huge scientific advances to nothing. How do people survive? What coping skills do they have to form to thrive? I'll admit, if I was dropped in the middle of the woods, I would probably die. I have a vague idea of how to start a fire and might remember a little bit about finding north, and in a pinch, I might even be able to create a lean-to that could last if the wind didn't blow too hard, but I'd die of starvation and caffeine deprivation in two days, tops.

Now losing my cell phone isn't the same as surviving in the wilderness, but it makes you think, doesn't it? How long could we go without our computers, cell phones, and GPSs? And now that I have a Kindle, waiting for a book to come in the mail is just barbaric.

In my book SLOAN'S HEART, the two main characters, Sloan and Mary, are two space cruiser personnel who get stranded on a hostile planet and must do without any technology whatsoever. It's definitely a learning experience for them, but an exciting one for sure.

What three things could you never do without?
What three things could you give up without too much angst?

And could you survive if we lost it all?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The End. Just two little words but perhaps the most exhilarating a writer can write. Well I think so anyway. The blog this week is late because I had the very great pleasure of writing those words this week. The third book in my Shifting Magic series is FINALLY done. I spent most of every free day last week sitting glued to my laptop while the words just poured out of me. This book has been my nemesis. I thought this writing thing was supposed to get easier with time? Was it the story? The characters? Or just life getting in the way? I think it was probably a combination of things that made this the hardest thing I've written. Whatever the block was, for some reason it finally cleared on the 4th of January.

The End.

It's been a long time since I wrote those two words and it felt good. There were tears even. I know that there is still work to be done on this book. As the saying goes, this is where the hard work begins. It still feels damned good to write those two little words.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Who am I?

I’m in the closet. Did you know that? Oh, you know Diana. Maybe you’ve even met her at one of the conventions or at a book signing. She’s friendly, enjoys the company of her fellow Scribes and all the readers and loves her Guinness.

But Diana is only one side of this author. You’ve probably figured out “Diana Hunter” is a pen name, a nom de plume, a pseudonym. When I sold my first book to Ellora’s Cave (Secret Submission), my husband wasn’t sure he wanted his family name dragged into the world of porn (oh, how much he’s learned in the past eight years!). Besides, I have a day job as a high school teacher and with the subject matter of my books better suited to 18 year olds and older, life could become difficult if I used my real name.

But then again, life has been sometimes difficult because of the separation of me and me. I have to constantly remember what Diana knows that I don’t. Or that I do and she doesn’t. And that’s another thing. I drive my kids nuts when I speak of myself in the third person (“Diana has a conference this weekend, so I’ll be leaving after school on Friday,” gave my daughter fits this past autumn.) There are times I’d love to come out of this cramped little space and rejoin the two parts of my life.

I can't even use the distintion "real life" vs "other life". BOTH lives are real, both are me, both are embodiements of my own personality. Who you see at the bookfairs and conferences is the same person you'd see if you came to visit me at school. There are things I'd love to discuss with you (readers) that I can't because my hand would tip and people would put two and two together and come up with my given name. So there are several frustrations to using a pen name.

I console myself with the fact that I have lots of company in my closet. Heck, many of our founding fathers wrote under pen names to protect their reputations (can you say “The Federalist Papers”?). Some writers hid their gender (George Elliot), some needed to save the family name (Moliere), and still others slanted their stories toward specific readers and so needed a name suitable for children’s books (Dr. Seuss).

In fact, when one starts looking at lists of pen names, I begin to realize just how crowded my closet is. Perhaps since I’m in such illustrious company, I should just settle in, stop complaining and get comfy. Hey, Saki – pass the pretzels!

PS. Be sure to check out the links above. You'll spend hours at Dr. Seuss's site just playing around and several hours more at Saki's site reading all the free stories! Play safe!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Strap-ons and White Nights

(cross-posted from Diary of a Sex Diva blog)

A few weeks ago I was in Toronto at a “girl’s night out” party with eight other, wild’n crazy women…in an ENORMOUS sports bar full of men. Umm…k…that fact may not be exactly relevant to this blog, but it was sure relevant to us! As it so happened my college-age son was at another party of his own in another section of Toronto. It was all spookily convenient, as I needed some company for my late-night drive home, and he wanted to attend the party, but still wanted to come home for part of the weekend. It all worked out beautifully.

So keeping that in mind that we were both in rather…uh…lubricated situations…at the midway point of the evening, I got the following text from my boy: “The guys here wanna know…if a guy likes taking it in the ass from a strap-on does that make him gay, str8, or what?"

My first reaction was of incredulous hilarity…and of course I immediately shared his text with the class. lol

Our first reaction was looking for some clarification. i.e. who is wearing the strap-on? Is it a man or a woman? Of course a few minutes later we realized how ludicrous that statement was. I mean…why would a guy wear a strap-on? Right? Err…anyway… Our final response was basically that it didn’t matter. That being partial to anal play of any kind had no real bearing on the given person’s sexuality. He might be gay, might be straight, or might be bi. The strap-on thing wasn’t relevant.

But for me, that wasn’t really the point of the incident. The point was that my son was perfectly comfortable asking me that question…and he was comfortable doing so in front of his peers. For me…that was a coup! Of course it was a rather objective question…he wasn’t asking my advice on his own personal and intimate sex life…and I’m not sure I would ever expect that. However the fact that he was comfortable approaching me at all about such a thing, to me says that I have done my job well. That sex is not scary or taboo. It can be discussed openly and frankly, and with humour. And to me…that is a very healthy attitude.

For the record he told me later that one of the girls at his party declared her love for me.

I have that effect on people.

Just as an aside, the night of this party was also the night of Nuit Blanche aka White Nights in Toronto. It’s an outdoor festival of art and light that the city hosts every year…and it’s fascinating. One of these years I’ll actually take the time to experience it properly…instead of rushing past all the exhibits as I run to make the subway in time!