Sunday, January 25, 2015

ChrisChat Talks Creativity: ...With John B. Rosenman

ChrisChat Talks Creativity: ...With John B. Rosenman

Sunday Musings: January 25 2015

Your emotion?

Hello Musers!

How many of you, well those on Facebook, have noticed a notice implying if there's no emotion in the author there will be no emotion in the reader. I guess that's right. Or maybe I'm not that emotional a writer...fiction-wise. For me, I get excited writing and whatever emotion there is I'm still excited for the whole story. Maybe that's my emotional connection?

As you can guess, this weeks' musing is: How do you write a difficult emotion? Why is that emotion difficult for you?

Let's get musing...

I have the hardest time with fear, perhaps because I don't enjoy being scared. I'm not especially fond of horror movies, I'm wary of giant roller coasters, and I don't read much in the way of horror. I struggle with conveying fear effectively.

Here's a poem of mine where I was attempting to convey the quality of a nightmare:

In Sleep
by Margaret Fieland

Shadows creep up stairs,
whispers echo in a hall,
footsteps slither
under a door.
A floor creaks.
Blood thumps
in my ears, drowns
cries of murmuring wind.
I cross a vacant cafe
where demons dine on ashes,
enter an empty room,
rest on a floor.
Splinters stab my palms.
I'm dragged down to dark.


Shadows creep up stairs,
whispers echo in a hall,
footsteps shuffle round
corners, slither under a door.
A floor creaks, blood thumps
in my ears, drowns
cries of murmuring wind
in trees. In a hotel,
I cross a vacant cafe
where demons dine
on ashes,
enter an empty room,
rest on a floor.
Splinters stab my palms.
I open a door
to nowhere.

When I was first writing my recently published YA novel, After, I had a very difficult time conveying the complex emotions you feel when a loved one is in serious condition in a hospital. I thought I had written what would be a very emotional scene, but when I got back the comments from my critique group all of them said the writing was flat!! How could that be when I was feeling so awful at the time and I basically wrote all of my feelings out? We discussed it and their advice was that maybe I was too close to the material and what I had to do was separate myself from the scene and write it in a way more objective way. So I rewrote these scenes and though it created emotions in me I wasn’t sure it was going to work with other readers. But it did bring back those horrible emotional scenes and though I had to place a wall between the scene and myself to write it, actually acting like I was filming the scene, the emotions were raw and true. I am talking about this very subject on Sara-Jayne Townsend’s blog: Monday’s Friend  If you are interested in seeing more about how I was able to write about the emotions and what these were you can go to the interview.

This really showed me that it is important to distance yourself from an emotional experience before you write about it. Otherwise you can’t convey the emotional strength you need to have to get readers engaged. You want your characters to be emoting and not in a cardboard way.

I don't have a problem with most emotions. I put myself in my characters' minds and let them handle the emotions in their own way.  The only time I failed was when I needed to bring Varn (Star Commandos male protagonist) to the point of consciously willed suicide.  I could achieve desperation, but not that.  I had to abandon the segment entirely and handle the situation differently.


When I first started writing about my experiences growing up with a bipolar father and the murder of my sister Colette, I knew I was missing something.  Sure, the scenes were intense, graphic, and had most of my fellow UCI classmates, including the professor, speechless.  Then I figured it out: I was not showing the raw emotion.  It’s hard to dig deep inside to bring these to the surface.  Case in point, Concha, the mother of Lupe, abandoned her at a young age.  It would have been so easy to just show her as hardcore, unfeeling, and hard.  I dug deep and wrote a scene that had me in tears.  It peeled back her vulnerability or like one of my writing mentor’s says, the character’s ‘wound’.  It was tough to write but I know it shows readers the ‘why’ behind her character. 

 Readers don’t like one dimensional characters.  I know as a reviewer, I want to see the many different sides to characters.  They don’t have to be totally likable but there has to be some type of wound or faulty thinking.  I feel to show this, you have to dig deep and go to those emotions.  Don’t leave anything back.

DAWN KNOX, author

The emotion I dislike writing about most, is grief. Getting inside the head of a character is the only way I know of conveying emotions when I’m writing. But I find it upsetting to try to get into the mindset of a character who is experiencing tragedy.

Mostly, what I write is upbeat and my current work in progress is a light-hearted and absurd story about garden gnomes and elves where there are a range of emotions but so far, no grief. 

Thanks for joining us and see you next week!

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman at

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Musings: January 18 2015

Kicking Back with Muse

Hello, Musers!

I don't know about you, but I read to hide away, to escape away from everything around me. To have some quiet 'me' time. Of course, that means there's a different side to this escape...what authors write. I'm pretty sure I can comment that escape/break is the reason we all read fiction...maybe even non-fiction.

Writers need to write. We have voices in our heads, story ideas, and a bunch of 'what if' scenarios. 

This week we're musing on the world...

How does the world news around you impact your writing? Do you end up writing something to escape it or to incorporate it or to try and explain it or to solve it?


I think the world news and the state of our society creeps into my subconscious and does have an effect on my writing. Without specifically aiming or it, themes of pollution and the energy crisis seeped into my book. I have overt themes on inequality and racism, but the energy crisis really surprised me. It came about organically through writing in the real world and my imagined one.


First time to do a Sunday Musing.  How does world news impact on my writing? Well if I am honest, I don’t let it.  If I did I would write very little that was not depressing and I like to think that readers want to be taken out of the everyday worries and transported to a happier place. So the impact is nil I ignore it and write what I want and what I would like to read.


How can’t the news not impact someone’s writing?  One of my projects deals with cults and what goes on inside.  I researched and used some past news events for this project.  Also another one deals with gun violence and the aftermath for one teen and her family.  This story has been with me for some time now, especially after the murder of my younger sister Colette.  Then the Sandy Hook incident had me become more vocal in not only my writing but online on my stand against gun violence.  I feel it’s important to be aware of what’s out there.  It’s too easy to just shut off the TV and put your head in the sand.  But that’s just me.

The world news has no impact on my work.  I either set my books and stories in the far future on different planets with their own news agendas or in fantasy realms, here or elsewhere, usually also well in the future. The exceptions involve small groups of humans and animals and their individual concerns.

As for the news of the day, one or two doses of depression are more than sufficient.  I wouldn't want to live with it as intensely as would be necessary if it infected my tales

I use some news events as jumping-off points for plot elements, and I'll work in others as color or background details, depending on the details of the event. I look to real events for examples of motivation, both good and bad; my stories have characters acting out of racism or religious bias, but also out of faith, personal integrity, and a sense of social responsibility. I try to learn what I can about other counties and other people, because writing depends on being able to see through another person's eyes.

The world around us is an unending source of ideas, because there's a story behind everything that happens in life.

MEG AMOR, MuseHOT author

Aloha everyone.  

I have little time for the news. Most of it isn't my business. If there's something I need to know about - I generally get the info in some way. Otherwise it's just a morbid diet of 'if it bleeds - it leads.' It doesn't add anything to my life but depression. 

I do include my own things in stories that grind at me. Things that appall me like racism, homophobia or prejudice of any kind. 

I was already including something about transpeople when the very sad Leelah Alcorn death happened. I like hearing about the marriage equality that's happening finally across the States. But again I was already writing about it.

Whether writing in a contemporary setting or historical I like to create an authentic atmosphere for a story, so my background research always includes a look at current affairs of the period. I definitely go for a feel-good approach so I tend to make difficult circumstances have a redemption or positive resolution somehow and the villains usually get their comeuppance, though not necessarily by violent means. Some of the current world news is difficult to stomach and I certainly don’t want to add to the angst by writing anything very dark or controversial, so on the whole my writing is escapist comfort food! But I often include my take on actual scandals of the time and concoct my own explanations and outcomes for them. So a bit of each, I guess.

Since the news has been so awful I try not to think about it much. I used to really care about the news and followed everything very carefully. But after the election I lost interest and now with what is going on in France and the rise of the right wing in many countries I feel worried and scared. So watching the news makes me want to scream. I don’t write about the news either, because it frustrates me so much. Too many people have impressions that are made by only reading or listening to part of a story. This bothers me a lot, so I don’t like to read news stories much and especially not the comments. There is so much anger by people who seem not to understand what they are talking about at all.

Occasionally something will inspire me to write a poem and maybe that will help a little. Really, it seems that you have two choices these days. You can watch the real news and let it make you feel uncomfortable and angry or you can watch the crazy E News where you learn all about the antics of people who are rich and celebrities. Actually the E News is more fun and I would rather see celebrities doing crazy things than see political figures doing crazy things. Either way, I don’t usually write about the news.


We are all so connected to the world around us today that it is impossible to say that you can write without being affected. A writer may think that they write without being affected by current affairs however unless they live in a remote cabin on a mountain with no phone, no television, no internet and no human contact then they are lying to themselves.

My novella, Dark Waters of the Heart, was directly inspired by a random piece on BBC News about the controversial installation of a huge art installation in Falkirk called "The Kelpies." I started thinking about Scottish mythology, what a male Kelpie might look like and suddenly a piece of work was born. The link is direct and conscious. 

What is harder to measure is the indirect links and the unconscious effects. If I take a step back from my recent work I see themes that have seeped into my mind without my knowledge or consent. Conservation, murder, the role of women in the workplace, disease and computer hacking to name but a few. None of these have provided me with the direct lightbulb moment that "The Kelpies" did but they clearly did make an impact. Even those who write in a futuristic or fantasy world cannot say that they are unaffected for surely those worlds too are subject to politics, history and violence?

I am not naive enough to think that I can take on the problems of the whole world in the form of literature. Nevertheless perhaps the satisfaction of having a character solve a small problem goes some way towards dealing with the impotence that I can often feel when faced with the volume and content of current affairs reporting experienced today.

DAWN KNOX, author

The only time that I'm aware of world news having had an impact on my writing was when I wrote a script for a World War One dramatization and then obviously, I used old news reports and firsthand accounts of the war, written by service men. Being immersed in such horror was an emotional and rather painful experience but in trying to put myself in the position of people who experienced the war, I learned an enormous amount.

I much prefer to write fiction, escaping into whatever world I'm creating and I hope that anyone who reads it is entertained and carried along with me too. I am, of course, influenced by what goes on around me but I'm not aware of it having any influence on my fiction writing although I know that I observe people in the news and people around me and incorporate elements of their characteristics and idiosyncrasies in my stories. Watching world events unfold can sometimes be shocking and give rise to feelings of hopelessness, so from time to time, I like to escape in a story - whether I'm writing it or reading it.

J.Q. ROSE, author

The World News affects my blog posts more than my fiction writing because blogs are in real time. I am especially tuned into women and girls who have overcome obstacles, achieved awards, helped others because the Girls Succeed blog holds up role models for girls. I enjoy bringing attention to these fantastic women and for all the good they do for our world e.g. Malala Yousafzai who was shot on her school bus by the Taliban for standing up for education for women, women who are CEO's of companies, authors, politicians, and the young girl who rocked the International Little League Championship with her pitching arm. I hope we can use our writing voices to spotlight the good in our world, but to also make things better for those who are struggling.

Thanks for joining us and see you next week!

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman at