My Split Personalities as a Writer

I learned something new about myself today. I’m not as afraid of sharing my written work as I thought I was….That is if it’s something I am writing for someone else – such as an assignment from a teacher for a class. I have to do it. I don’t have a choice. I was told to write about this, so I wrote it. Other people wrote about it too. You can read it. You can proofread it for me. You can give me suggestions without hurting my feelings. It doesn’t mean that much to me. It’s just an assignment. Great. No Problem.

Why is that a big deal? Because I’m terrified of people reading the stuff I write for myself. Not like this little blog where I am just rattling on about my own feelings – heck I love to tell people how I feel, could do that all day long. I mean the stories that I create in my mind, with my own imagination, my own thoughts, my own characters, my own make-believe-world. I’m talking about the books I have started to write and have yet to let anyone read (even a paragraph). I won’t even tell anyone what they are about. Those are personal. They are sacred. They are my creation. They come from my soul. They are my dream. One day I hope to share them with the world and see my name in print and stand up proud and say, “I wrote that. Booyah!” But, at this point they are rough drafts. They are random chapters in my laptop and scribbled notes in the tablet hidden under my bed. They need more details, they need a thesaurus, and they need completed, proofread, added to, edited, and polished before anyone reads them.

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What is my fear anyway? Why can’t I chill out, get over it, don’t worry. Well, because I’m a type A personality who thinks things have to be perfect in order for other people to approve. Fuck what other people think! Great. I wish. Honestly, my fear is that someone, most likely my critical husband, will say something about my writing that will make me feel like I can’t do it and I will turn away from my dream. They’ll say that’s dumb. Or why would you write that? Or it doesn’t sound like Nora Roberts. Or I never knew you had such kinky thoughts. Or something that will make me feel ashamed or inadequate. Then I will be too afraid and I won’t finish. Then I’ll always work for ‘the man’ to get by, paycheck to paycheck at a job that never challenges my intellect or rewards me for it, always feeling incomplete and unfulfilled (like the last twelve years have been).

If my Dad was still on this Earth he would say, “You can do it!” He wouldn’t have a doubt in his mind whether I’d be successful or not. He’d brag to his friends that his daughter was a writer, even if I was never published. He’d be impressed by anything I wrote. But he’s not. And I didn’t marry my Dad – I did the opposite and married someone very different. My husband doesn’t say stuff like that (with a straight face), he says, “That will never work.” He says he’s not critical; he’s just trying to help. He’s just giving another perspective; he’s just trying to help me improve (insinuating I was broken?). Then I usually get mad and say something like “you can help me by keeping your damn mouth shut” and storm into the other room. (Yes, yes I am a spoiled brat who wants my way more than I want the truth.)

My hubby is good at a lot of things, boosting my ego just isn’t one of them. So honey, I’m sorry I close the laptop every time you walk into the room. I swear I’m not watching porn or having an affair on Facebook. (Seriously? You should be more concerned about me shopping online.) Nope, I just want privacy with my thoughts until I feel confident enough to expose anyone else to them. Once I have a complete story and know in my own heart that it feels right then I can share and get suggestions from others. But even if I am a fabulous writer, my husband would still not be the best judge of my work since he never reads fiction, makes fun of vampires, and doesn’t like to watch chick-flicks. Honey, if I ever write a biography on Steve Segal, I promise you’ll be the first one to read it. Otherwise, four friends, two relatives, various potential agents, many potential publishers, a stranger on the street and a partridge in a pear tree will get to read my work before you do. Validation needs to come from someone who knows what they’re talking about, not someone who fusses about the way I load the dishwasher.

Series Review: The Hollows by Kim Harrison

(Dead Witch Walking, The Good the Bad and the Undead, Every Which Way But Dead, A Fist Full of Charms, For A Few Demons More, The Outlaw Demon Wails, White Witch Black Curse, Black Magic Sanction, Pale Demon)

     The Hollows leave you feeling anything but. An action packed Urban Fantasy series by Kim Harrison that has you going from unsure to completely hooked in 1.2 books. This series allows us to get addicted to numerous characters, who despite being witches, demons, elves, vampires and the like, are the most realistic characters in a paranormal series I’ve read to date. It’s the complexities of their personalities, their flaws, their issues, their relationships that make them seem like real people. They bond and have each other’s backs and become a family. After reading all nine books back to back, I’m so attached to these characters I don’t know what to do with myself now.  And lead heroine Rachel Morgan may have just won the title for my favorite kick-ass chick yet! (Or at least a close 2nd to Jeaniene Frost’s Cat Crawford.)

     The Hollows is a nine book series (so far) set in Cincinnati in a world where “Inderlanders” (paranormal/fairytale creatures) openly exist side by side with humans. The back-story of ‘the turn’ (forty years ago a virus in genetically enhanced tomatoes killed off a large chunk of the human population, allowing the paranormal population to dominate and so they stopped pretending and ‘came out of the closet’ as a collective.) So cut to modern day and it’s not that unusual to see a witch, a vampire, and a human sitting together in a coffee shop. I like this explanation; it could happen, right? However, what I wasn’t ready for was the introduction of leprechauns, fairies, pixies and gargoyles. I don’t know why, but it took me a while to wrap my head around that (werewolves, vampires and demons totally believable, sure, but leprechauns – that’s ridiculous!). And yes sarcasm is my best friend.

     The story centers on witch Rachel Morgan, her vampire roommate Ivy, and their pixie partner Jenks who go into a bounty hunter/security business together. Rachel quits her job as a ‘runner’ (bounty hunter) with the I.S. (Inderland Security – like the police for the paranormal types) to go out on her own, dragging sidekick Jenks and I.S. Prodigy Ivy along with her. And thus starts death threat #1 on Rachel’s head, which will be the first of many, as Rachel is continually in the center of trouble. At first I wasn’t sure I completely liked Rachel. I couldn’t tell yet if she was smart enough, tough enough, and hot enough for me to want to relate to.  She was going through such a rough clumsy time keeping herself alive and fumbling along as she sets up a home and business, getting her shit together. But the underdog appeal does make you want to cheer her on and through each experience both Rachel and her magic get stronger. And I saw the potential for some exciting storylines coming up, possibly with the sexy but irritating vamp Kisten, her nemesis Trent Kalamack or the surprising human Nick. I think the reasons it took me awhile to respect Rachel, are probably the same reasons I now feel she was a more realistic and relatable heroine. She wasn’t perfect.

     I apologize ahead of time to Author Kim Harrison, but it took me awhile to get into book 1: Dead Witch Walking. I had no expectations going in, but I honestly almost gave up after chapter one rolling my eyes, thinking it was silly, but I had already bought most of the series and decided to keep with it. SO GLAD I DID! I am telling you; if anyone out there doubts they will get into this book, please keep reading. You will thank me later. And one of my favorite things about books 2-9 is that they flow from one to the next and immediately start into the action.

     I have to mention Jenks, the pixy sidekick. He is the most hilarious, most loveable character of the series. A four-inch tall man with wings, I picture looking like Brad Pitt, that trails different colored pixie dust depending on his mood, lives in a garden with his wife and fifty-four kids (or is it forty-five?), and can disable any security system made. Quite often he is the cautious brain of the operation and yet has the funniest lines, repeatedly using Disney’s famous Tinkerbell as a swear word – “Tink’s pink panties!” And in book 4: A Fist Full of Charms, when Rachel uses a spell to temporarily turn Jenks to full human height, we, and every girl he passes, want even more of him (oh yeah, he’s married remember, darn it). Jenks is smart, protective and loyal to the bone. When the details of a Pixy’s short life span come up I vow to all that is holy that the moment they kill off Jenks is the moment I’ll put the book down forever.

     Ivy is the most complicated character with her constant battle of ‘to be a blood sucking vampire or not to be’, not to mention the very erotic way she looks, moves and wants Rachel for more than just a friend. Ivy has issues with seperating blood-sharing and sex. The problem is, Rachel is straight. Not to mention her independent spirit refuses to become a mindless blood-source or scion. And so let the ‘will they won’t they’ tension begin and drop all preconceived ideas of bi-sexuality, because you may just surprise yourself.

     Trent Kalamack…oh Trent…what to do about you? Throughout the series you will continually go back and forth between loving and hating this man. On the outside, a handsome, rich, City Councilman on the right side of the law. On the inside he’s a selfish, ruthless drug lord, genius illegal bio-drug manufacturer, (SPOILER ALERT) and secretive Elf. Trent and Rachel constantly go the rounds: enemies, friends, frenemies. Just when you start thinking he might actually be a good guy who does bad things for honorable reasons, then BAM! He does something detestable making you hate him all over again. And that is exactly how Rachel feels, always trying to bust this nemesis and bring his crimes to light, but at the same time quietly appreciating the entrancing sound of his silky voice and soft fair hair. Oh fear not though, she’s not a feeble minded woman crushing on the power man. Oh no, it is only the fire of fury Rachel holds for Trent, as they continue to work against each other, and sometimes with each other, aiming for, and then building trust with…you just never know what direction their interactions will go.

     To really add danger to the mix, add one cruel, conniving, wise-ass Old English dressed Demon name Algaliarept (Al for short). Al is one of the main characters throughout the series and a constant thorn in Rachel’s side. Trying to kill her, popping in uninvited, ruining her reputation as a white witch, trying to steal her into the demon world, adding black smut to her golden aura…always bringing the blow up a book store kind of action and the smart-ass remarks. I actually started liking this sneaky demon by about book 6. And if there is going to be a book 10, I can’t wait to find out what happens next with this character.

   Now, as a reader, I love me some sexy time in every book. Do the Hollows go adult romance? Not so much. Does it disappoint me? Only a smidgen. Although love scenes are few and far between, building flirtations, sexual tension and close calls keep it hot and interesting. The few sex scenes in the series are more of a PG-13 nature with a special witch spin. But the language and jokes are adult and very much appreciated. The author does not skip over sex completely like the Twilight Series, but does not use those cheesy Harlequin terms that make you blush either. Tastefully done and still hot enough to get your blood flowing but tame enough to make you wish for more. SPOILER ALERT! Even steamy enough to make me fantasize about riding in an elevator with one hot leather-clad vamp named Kisten.

     So who is Rachel’s main love interest? It’s always a guessing game. Could it be Denon? Trent? Ivy? Nick? Kisten? Marshall? Glenn? David? Quen? Brett? Algaliarept? Minias? Pierce? So many possibilities. In so many paranormal series I’ve read, the characters find their one fated soul mate and end up together forever. Well this is what makes this Urban Fantasy seem more realistic: Rachel is not innocent, she’s unsure about love, she’s ok with Mr. Alright for Now, sometimes she gets her heart broken, sometimes she does the breaking, and there is no one-and-only doting to save her. She takes care of herself and usually saves the city, or at least her friends on a weekly basis, never getting credit for it however, which is the frustrating part. But with no species (or gender) off limits, you never know what might happen. Maybe it’s just that Rachel is so sexy and bad-ass they all fall for her a little, or maybe it’s only mutual respect and kinship. You’ll have to read to find out.

Love of books or OCD? You decide.

Let me start out by saying, I may be a little obsessed, but I LOVE book series. I hadn’t read in years, thanks to the monotony of college text books followed by the baby years. My coworkers practically brow beat me into reading the Twilight Series. I thought “yeah right, like I have time for that”. But I eventually succumbed to peer pressure and BAM! The door on a whole new hobby opened up for me. After staying up well into the night (1 am) to read, getting up at 6am to go to work, can’t wait to put the kids to bed so I can read some more…I got through the 4 GIGANTIC books in about three weeks time (hey, that’s really good for working moms with pesky little kids). So anyhow, when the series was over I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wanted more. I read them all again. I still wanted more. I read just my favorite parts again. Now what? D’uh, you find some new books to read. Enter one good friend with a House of Night book and we’ve got ourselves a book club.

We are the Vamp Tramps! (Partly due to our love of vampire books, partly due to our lust for Damon on Vampire Diaries) We’re six female coworkers ages 30 to 43, half married, half single, with obviously nothing too exciting going on in our lives, sharing novels and the excitement of waiting for the next one.  We don’t hold official club meetings but we do whisper at each other’s cubicles about our frustrations with the stubborn Mac & Barrons relationship. We discuss the insanely steamy sex between Cat & Bones over purple vikings at the corner sports bar. And we rant via email over the evil audacity of that wicked bitch Neferet. We love the paranormal romance with a strong kick-ass female lead, a hot guy (or two) to love her, save-the-world kind of action, a little naughty sexy time, and throw some sarcastic wit on top for good measure. Sixteen months and approximately 113 books later, we’re still finding new series we want to read all the time. It is amazing how huge this genre is right now. (Someone please tell that to our local used book store that only houses three shelves of the stuff. But maybe like me, everyone is keeping their books to read again.) There are so many books. We’ll never get to them all. And there are so many good ones, every time I pick a favorite; it is quickly replaced by another.

So where does my possible OCD come in? I have this thing where I like to own the whole series before I start reading them, I have to read them in order, and I prefer not to interrupt one series with other books if I can help it. (Make the occasional exception for a new release we’ve been waiting for from a previous series. We have to find out what happens next!) And let’s face it, in a series like the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning, there is no way you want to wait a year in between books. You need that next one now! So, I soon discovered used books on eBay and became obsessed with collecting complete series. I have a spreadsheet to keep track of each series, who’s read what & who has which book, correct read order, when new releases come out, and which books we still need to buy. Can you say anal? Yes indeed. But it totally works.

This compulsion has even spilled over into me buying books for my kids. As you can imagine, we have all the Magic Tree House Books and have started on Junie B. Jones. Hello, my name is Katy and I have an addiction.

So where are we at today? My husband says NO MORE buying books until I read all the ones stacked in my office. Haven’t bought any new series for months, I swear…for me anyway…the kids are different. Baseball season has slowed some of the moms’ read speed down as they are busy shuttling kids to and fro. But for me, summer is the best time for reading because there is nothing good on TV and the kids can play outside. (But damn you Netflix on Wii – We’ll talk Spartacus another time).

I am currently finishing up the Hollows Series by Kim Harrison, a third of the way into Pale Demon, and will be reviewing that series for you all shortly. I’ve been hinting, then pushing, now moping for the other gals to start on this series so I have someone to talk to about it. I’m the 2nd in the group to read it, the 1st doesn’t work with us anymore and I’m forced to shoot off random emails LOL’ing about Jenks’ Tink comments and griping about Trent Kalamack. Girls, read the damn books already! They’re worth it!

Till next time – Katy B.

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