Michaeline: Could This Be the Age of the Novella?

Seven short years ago, I worried a lot because I write short – my NaNos are almost never more than 40,000 words, which makes a decent novella (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America defines a novella up for the Nebula Award as 17,500 to 39,999 words). But I hadn’t read many romance novellas, or even seen them promoted.

This year, they seem to be leaping up to be noticed. Romance author Stacey Shannon tweeted that she loves writing novellas in reply to former Carina Press executive editor Angela James’ tweet about loving to edit novellas.

Book Riot has a 2019 post recommending 28 romance novellas. If you look carefully at the covers, you’ll see a lot of them lack a publisher’s mark – I know at least some of these are self-published, while others have found homes with traditional publishers. Notice all the big names here, including some of my favorites like Courtney Milan and Jackie Lau. Continue reading

Michaeline: Pre-suasion, Priming and New Beginnings

A lady gathering green branches in a snowy landscape that still has flowers.

December is a great time to gather your thoughts in the odd moments during your many tasks. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

This week, something odd popped up on my Google Calendar for Saturday. “Huh. I thought this weekend was free.”

It turned out to be a reminder from One-Year-Ago-Me, saying, “I really liked the pre-resolutions. Do it again this year?” Our Justine also talked about early resolutions in 2015.

Now, I know. This time of year is really busy for all of us. I’m preparing for New Year’s guests – cooking, getting the pantry stocked, buying new sheets and trying to un-dig myself out of mountains of clutter from the past year. I feel like this year was a particularly slow slog, although I started getting my mojo back in September. I’ve made a few in-roads on the housekeeping pre-resolutions, but now I’ve got to ask: “What about writing?”

I’m reading a book now called Continue reading

Michaeline: Mental Space, Flow and Writing

A picture of many colors denoting evolution from ape to man to robot. Butterflies, corals, jungle, houses, cities

Creative flow makes random ideas feel like they have a connection and a progression. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, Kay talked about Virginia Woolf’s famous essay about how writers find a dedicated physical space and an emotional space for writing very useful – and how women writers often didn’t/don’t have that privilege.

I mentioned that I find it easy to find physical space, but mental space is much more difficult for me to carve out. I got to wondering, what exactly do I mean by that?

For me, I don’t really craft my writing until I go into edit mode. Writing just happens to me; sometimes I feel like a fountain, sometimes I feel like a conduit. I get in that state called “flow”.

And I often fall into flow – when I’m reading an interesting book or article on the internet, when I’m listening to music with a good beat, when I’m making a worksheet for school. Time and space lose their meaning, and I’m riding a mental wave that is going to take me somewhere – I’m not always sure Continue reading

Michaeline: Enjoying the Process for NaNoWriMo

Just a quickie today, but I saw a good video (10:47) last week on YouTube that really rang a bell with me. It’s called “How I Tricked My Brain to Like Doing Hard Things”, and it’s not about writing, but rather getting to the gym. But a metaphor is a metaphor, and I think his points apply well to writing.

Enjoy the process was the biggest thing. What do you love about actually writing? I love it when the writing gods drop a fantastic idea down in the middle of my process – a cool character, or just the right word in a very good sentence. I feel a physical “click” when that happens, and it really is awesome!

Take a look. Point after point could be applied to writing, or any creative endeavor – whether it’s creating a story, or creating a better body.

Michaeline: A Tarot Spread for a NaNo Writing Prompt

Nine card spread of tarot cards, explained in text

This is the Smith-Waite Tarot Deck (Centennial Edition) in a tin. It’s a very traditional deck full of tarot symbols. (Image by E.M. Duskova)

I created a tarot spread to help spark a new story for National Novel Writing Month, and I thought I’d share it with you. The spread is quite simple. The left side represents my protagonist, the right side my antagonist, and the bottom concerns the plot point.

Layout:

2    5

1    4

3    6

7 8 9

1. This is the heroine of my story. The seven of cups suggest many choices. The Waite-Smith Little White Book contains the keywords of: fairy favors, imagination, through a looking glass. Also, with that many cups, I thought my heroine might be a bartender. And because my imagination is a little perverse, I thought a tee-total bartender would be a lot of fun to write.
2. This card represents her goal, or the overlying theme of her existence. Bad news, censure or conflict are the key words for the eight of swords. She’s bound by a lot of different ties. (To be honest, this is a difficult card to work with in the position of “goalz!” It suggests a heroine with no agency – which is a constant problem with my work!)
3. This card represents her motivations, or the underlying theme of her existence. The wheel of fortune’s key words are Continue reading

Michaeline: FKA twigs Inspires Me to Write Gorgeously

You’ve gotta see this! FKA twigs performs on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, and the performance is so layered and wonderful – stay for the dancing at the end.

Everything works for me in this video. You have a stark setting, but one where every component has a use and meaning – the long piano that leads to the pole, the bare stage for three performers with minimal light. You have tone – echoed in the lighting, in her voice, and in the tone of the instruments. You have a gorgeous costume that strips down to reveal not a beautiful butterfly, but rather the chrysalis that was hiding inside. And you have the dancing – ethereal and effortless (but any kid who has done a pull-up on the monkey bars knows how much muscle control must go into that “effortless” look).

All of it serves to reinforce the story: a person has loved, and has just lost (and hasn’t quite accepted it yet, or is gathering strength to try again).

It’s National Novel Writing Month, and even if you aren’t playing along, maybe you can spare a little time to add some layering into your work. If you are doing NaNo, then it’s all good – every experiment is word-count! As writers, we work with words, and can’t depend on fancy camera angles or pretty pictures. But the magic of words does mean we can create setting, tone, costumes and anything in the realm of our imaginations. So, take a risk when writing today – let your writing take on a tinge of poetry, or the color of the characters’ feelings.

Have fun!

Michaeline: Halloween Crows

A cloudy scene as dusk with hundreds of crows on the power lines at a stoplight

Halloween: The nights grow longer and the stories grow stranger! (Photo by E.M. Duskova)

Here it is, almost Halloween – one of the best nights of the year for storytelling and yarns. Usually, I have more Halloween content on my blog Saturdays, but this year, Halloween kind of snuck up on me.

The weather has been unseasonably warm, and we’ve gotten a lot of rain. We did get a frost, and the leaves have turned those gorgeous reds and yellows that signal the end of a season of productivity, so I can’t say I didn’t have any warning. But here we are, five days from Halloween, and you haven’t heard boo from me about it.

So, here’s a short meditation on crows. Maybe crows do it all year around, but I notice it more in October: they gather at dusk on power lines (sometimes hundreds of them), and then all of a sudden whirl off through the sky on whatever errand crows have on a Friday evening. What are they doing?

I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic The Birds many years ago, and it instilled a certain wariness – a frustrating suspicion that the birds were out to get me. It doesn’t help that crows are territorial. They have good memories (especially for such small brains) and they remember people who have been unkind to them, or so I’m told. The crows around City Hall this year started swooping down on people heading into the government building. I was lucky and was never attacked (although a few crows were definitely giving me the side eye – to be fair, they can ONLY give the side eye), but signs were up.

They are protecting their children, I guess. That Continue reading