Learning to Disengage

Learning to Disengage

A Cyberstalking Story

It’s been an interesting year so far (in the sense of the supposed Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times”). As I’ve said in a previous post, my family was affected by the Manchester Arena bombing, which led me to withdraw from most of my writing-relating activities to focus on the process of grieving. But I’d actually withdrawn from social media before the bombing, and that’s because of a Series of Unfortunate Events, as I’ve come to think of it (sadly, not the the Lemony Snicket book).

I’m not going to get into the details of what happened, but I’ll sum it up by saying that I became the target of a stalker who initially contacted me online, then by “snail mail.” The contact began with a discussion of my writing, then devolved into personal questions about me, then became threatening (and disgusting). I found the Series of Unfortunate Events initially bizarre, then upsetting and finally quite frightening. Logging into my social media accounts, reading my email and eventually opening my post became a trial and a source of dread.

The stalking has stopped, and the stalker (I think) has realized the error of his ways and offered an apology for his behavior. Although scary, this has been (as with all things), an educational experience for me, and I’ve come up with the following learning points:

  1. Don’t take the stalking personally. We live in a culture that still blames the victim, and I’d internalized this more than I realized. I thought I’d done something to cause the stalking: over-shared, over-engaged, whatever. Talking with both my husband and others who have experienced cyberstalking reminded me that I engage with thousands of people who treat me kindly and respect my boundaries, but only one person who didn’t. The problem was not me; it was him.blame-the-victim
  2. Don’t suffer in silence. I made this mistake for a long time. I thought the stalker would go away if I ignored him (he didn’t; the behavior escalated). So I didn’t reach out to anyone in my support network: my family, friends, other authors, about what was going on. In fact, I only “admitted” it when my husband opened (and read) a letter from the stalker. His horror and fury when I showed him the comments and emails I’d received gave me much-needed validation and made me realize that ignoring the behavior and hoping the stalker would go away was not the answer.
  3. Don’t give in. Several people advised me to simply withdraw, particularly from social media. If I wasn’t online, if I didn’t read my emails, then I wouldn’t be upset by what the stalker was posting and sending me. I followed this advice for a while, particularly while I lined up the cavalry (see next point), but then I rallied. Social media is the primary way I promote my books, get feedback on my writing and engage with my readers. Why should I let him drive me away? And I am so glad that I didn’t. When I came back to Facebook (which I hadn’t been on for three months), I found the most lovely engagement from a reader waiting for me. That kind of engagement is why I publish, and one nutter should not be able to take that away from me.
  4. Use the privacy tools available. Most online platforms have features that allow the user to block content or other users. Blocking the user initially worked for me, but then the stalker set up new accounts by which to contact me. I kept blocking each account and complaining to the service provider and over time, Gmail and Facebook got wise to his tricks. I’m not clear if they did this by way of blocking an IP address (which I understand is the most effective way), or some other method, but they eventually shut him down. (Twitter was not involved in my cyberstalking and I understand they may be the worst at blocking abusive users.)
  5. Escalate if you need to. I didn’t end up bringing a criminal complaint against my stalker, but I did get advice from the fraud squad of my local police force, who assured me that they take cyberstalking extremely seriously, it is a crime, and they would assist me if I decided to bring a complaint. Because I was successful in getting the online platforms to shut the stalker down, and a very sharply worded letter from a lawyer-friend stopped the postal contact and elicited a pretty abject apology, I decided not to go down this route, but I felt much better knowing it was available to me.
  6. Lift yourself back up. The thing that bothered me the most about the Series of Unfortunate Events was that it sucked all the delight out of an avenue of engagement that I’d formerly enjoyed. I got lucky in that, on my return, there was that fabulous engagement from a reader waiting for me, which made me feel my effort had been worthwhile. But even if that hadn’t been the case, I have a bunch of techniques for lifting myself back up that I could have employed which I’ve talked about here.

So that’s my stalking story, which has a happy ending in that I’m back online and feeling positive again. Also, perhaps bizarrely, these months have been extremely productive in a writing sense: over 200,000 words in a Regency romance I can’t publish, but I’ve had a great deal of fun writing and which was really cathartic during the worst of the stalking and the aftermath of the bombing.

I wouldn’t wish my particular “interesting times” on anyone. Cyberstalking is no fun, even if you’re someone who doesn’t give a shit what other people think of you (and I’m not). But it doesn’t have to grind you down, drive you away, or make you a victim. Illegitimi non carborundum!

The Politics of Rage

The Politics of Rage

(Image used under Creative Commons Licence.)

I’ve been offline for a while. My family was affected by the Manchester Arena bombing, and it’s taken me a while to emerge from the pall that cast over our lives. I’m not ready to talk about that yet, and I’m not up to writing a political post. But I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation and rage, really since the UK vote to leave the European Union. Some of that thinking has coalesced into this post, which is actually about fictional worldbuilding.

For me, worldbuilding starts with geography. I draw maps, name places, and then work my way into the economics and politics of those locales. Settings are characters in themselves for me. I want them to have a life and vibrancy of their own. I also want them to feel realistic, whether it’s the fae Court of the Oak King in Burning Bones or a distant planet colonized by cyborgs in The Stars Avail. Realism starts with historical precedents, which makes me a student of history by necessity.

I don’t know how other students of history will view Brexit and the recent US Presidential Election, but my, perhaps simplistic, read of them is that both were driven by rage. Particularly after Brexit, I spent a lot of time listening to people who voted to leave the EU explain their vote. Some of this was on the mainstream media, but a lot of it was just speaking with business associates, neighbors and folks down the pub. With rare exception, “leavers” admitted that they didn’t really understand what leaving the EU would mean, on a national, or personal, level. The PM resigning, the pound plummeting, the loss of EU funding for agricultural and industrial interests – they hadn’t understood any of it. They’d voted to leave because they were angry. The phrase I heard most often was that they’d “had enough.” Had enough of what? I asked. I got a wide variety of answers – immigrants, austerity, government corruption. But very little had to do with the UK’s membership in the EU. What the leavers were really saying (and what I think the American people have said in electing Donald Trump), is that they have “had enough” of the loss of prosperity and stability that they considered their birthright as Britons and Americans.

This was more than nostalgia for the “American Dream.” It was more than fear of “the Other.” It was fury at deprivation and loss.

I didn’t understand that fury (and neither did the pollsters). Not until I spent some time listening to the “leavers.” Sitting across from the fellow in the pub, watching his face turn purple as he talked about having to wait for two months for a doctor’s appointment because “those immigrants” are monopolizing the NHS’s resources, I began to understand. Watching the YouTube footage of a man frothing at the mouth as he confronts a woman in a burka, telling her to “go home,” even after she explains she was born in the UK, brought the point home a little more. This is not rational. This rage defies analysis. I have to feel it, before I can appreciate why these groups of people acted against their own self-interest.

I have always known that the oppressed will revolt eventually. The sheep look up. What I didn’t understand is that oppression is a matter of degree. The relatively well-off can still feel oppressed if they are deprived of those things to which they feel entitled. That sense of oppression, of loss, of helpless anger, drives people to do things that are not logical. They’re not even intuitive. They make no sense, because they’re driven by pure emotion. The emotions of despair and loss and rage.

I still feel very uncomfortable listening the to the angry “Leaver” down the pub, or watching that YouTube video. But turning my eyes aside is the wrong reaction. In order to appreciate this emotion – and how it might feed into my worldbuilding – I have to let myself feel it. It’s not comfortable. It’s not safe. But it is the sign of our times. The politics of rage.

Hidden Misogyny in “Sicario”

Hidden Misogyny in “Sicario”

Or, Give Me Ripley Over Macer Any Day

(Warning: spoilers for Sicario and Training Day.)

I finally got to Dennis Villeneuve’s Sicario in my Netflix queue last week. I’d heard good things about it and I like the lead actors, so I was excited to watch it. The first half of the movie didn’t disappoint. What a taut thriller! I was quite literally on the edge of my seat during the highway confrontation. I wholly sympathized with Emily Blunt’s Kate Macer character. She’s cool and competent in the face of the film’s opening horrors, but not as hardened by the war on drugs as Benicio del Toro’s chilly veteran, Alejandro Gillick. She wants payback for what she’s seen, but not at any cost. When she sees Gillick and the CIA bad-guy setting up an assassination rather than a prosecution, she tries to stop it by going over their heads to her supervisor. That the film gives her idealism short-shrift is understandable. If there’s a moral message to the film it’s that America is losing the war on drugs not because of what we’re doing, but because of what we’re not willing to do.

But the second half of the movie repulsed me. Not because of Macer’s complicity in the assassination of the Mexican drug lords, or the way her own agency and the CIA turn on her. She’s a whistleblower, and a woman. I wholly believed the “old boys” closing ranks on her. What disgusted me was the way the film portrayed her as increasingly incompetent. The woman who sent her queasy (male) partner outside for air while she unflinchingly showed her superiors around the Chandler house of horrors is reduced over and over. First she has to be rescued from her hook-up turned hitman. Then she has her gun shot out of her hands in the tunnel incursion and is reduced to watching her partner’s “six.” She ends the movie in trembling paralysis, unable to stop Gillick even after he’s destroyed her career and threatened her life. What happened to the competent kidnap-response team commander?

If the point in eroding Macer’s competence this way was to show what happens to American soldiers in guerrilla warfare, then I just don’t buy it. With the exception of the seduction-turned-assassination attempt, her male partner is exposed to pretty much the same circumstances, and he doesn’t fall apart. Is the hidden point that women can’t hack it in war? Or that a woman’s sexuality makes her incapable of being an effective soldier? What is the film saying in having the (male) character that Macer looks to for guidance and approval being the one who destroys her career? Is it telling that the moment Macer quite literally lets her hair down, dresses and behaves like a woman, she’s attacked and nearly killed before Gillick rescues her?

The final scenes of the movie reduce Macer beyond incompetence, to the point of childishness. Gillick makes this abundantly clear when he threatens her and then tells her she looks like his lost daughter when she’s frightened. She’s tiny, barefoot and weaponless as she confronts him. Teary and helpless as he forces her into complicity with the CIA’s very dark political agenda. In one of the film’s most beautiful lines, Gillick tells her to run away to a small town where the rule of law still exists because she’s not a wolf, “and this is a land of wolves now.” Gorgeous language, but what does it say? Women are lambs? Women must be relegated to small-town America where they can be protected? The language may be beautiful but the message is not.

Would Macer’s character have been so reduced if she was a man? Maybe, but comparing Sicario to another thriller that had a similar message, I think not. That movie is Training Day, and although the message is the same, the treatment of the point-of-view rookie character is very different. Ethan Hawke’s character Jake Hoyt suffers a similar erosion of his high moral stance: taking drugs and participating (even if unwillingly) in the murder of a drug dealer. But Hoyt isn’t reduced to trembling inaction. He outwits Denzel Washington’s corrupt veteran and leaves him to a much-deserved fate. That’s a sharp contrast to Macer, outmaneuvered and left stranded Juliette-like on her apartment balcony while the titular hitman (who has now stolen everything from her, including her movie) turns his back on her and walks away.

I’m not asking for every female action hero to be Ellen Ripley. And I don’t mind morally murky films. I’m fine with an ending that shows we’re not winning whatever war we’re fighting: we’re just creating more and more victims. What I mind is making the female action hero one of them.

Tied Up With A Bow

Tied Up With A Bow

I find great pleasure in “rediscovering” books I read years ago. I rarely get rid of books I’ve enjoyed and keep many boxes of books in my attic. This weekend, while putting away luggage from a recent trip, I dug through one of those boxes and “rediscovered” several paperbacks I haven’t read in decades.

One of them was a historical romance (I’m not going to name it because I’m going to tank on it). I remember enjoying the atypical heroine and the realistic depictions of life on the American frontier. So it was with relish that I cracked it open, and I enjoyed it just as much as I remembered.

Until I reached the end.

When I closed the book, I felt unsatisfied, and a little disgruntled. The ending was a let-down. It was a typical HEA (“happily ever after”) ending, but it fell flat. There was no emotional punch. I’d shed some tears in the middle of the book, as the heroine realizes her own self-worth, but nothing towards the end. Why?

I re-read the ending several times, trying to figure out what went wrong. What was missing? I was invested in the main characters. I wanted them to have their HEA. Why wasn’t I satisfied when they got it?

Part of the problem, I’ve decided, is that, in the final scenes, the characters act in ways contrary to their characterization throughout the novel. The heroine, who has been extremely steadfast, runs away from an emotional confrontation. The hero, who has spent the entire novel doing the “right thing,” commits a small betrayal to test his feelings for the heroine. I appreciate that love makes people do crazy things, but these actions were not consistent with the characters developed through the previous 200+ pages. That left a sour taste in my mouth.

But the bigger problem was that the ending was too pat. It wasn’t just happy-happy for the heroine and hero, every conflict was resolved. Even minor subplots were tied up with a bow. Maybe I’ve gotten used to modern series where each book contains some unresolved threads that carry on into the next book, but I found such a pat resolution unconvincing and unsatisfying. Life doesn’t work that way. I understand the difference between reality and literature, but where the novel has worked hard to build a realistic and convincing world, to have everything resolved so neatly, so tightly, undermined that realism. It broke my willing suspension of disbelief.

Literary trends change over time. This book was published nearly twenty years ago; it was never intended to be part of a series. So maybe the author was following convention and fulfilling reader expectation with such a tightly-tied ending. But reading it two decades later, I find it flawed. Keeping the lessons I’ve learned from this book in mind as I re-write Throwing Fire, I need to stay true to my characters, but I also need to stay true to the realism of the world I’ve built, and not try to tie everything up too neatly in a bow.

In Medias, Huh?

In Medias, Huh?

 

When Beginning in the Middle Doesn’t Work

In medias res. That’s the fancy Latin term I was taught in my English Lit courses for stories that start in the middle of things – in the action, rather than before it starts. The technique isn’t new. Homer used it in The Odyssey. It seems to come in and out of fashion, however.

Probably because of my love of adventure tales, I’m attracted to stories that begin in medias res. I want to be sucked right into the action. Tell me about how magic broke into our world or Faerie reappeared or mankind fell to the A.I.s in a chapter or two when I’m deeply invested in the main characters. Show me the characters’ initial peril now.

But there are some times when in medias res beginnings don’t work. I read a fairly short (200+ pages) modern romance recently. I’m not going to name the book, because I’m going to tank on it. But in thinking over why I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it, particularly the beginning, I realized it was because the story started in the wrong place.

The story was a pretty classic girl meets boy, girl and boy fall in love, girl and boy overcome social obstacles to being together, girl and boy live happily ever after story. I liked the male main character (I’ll call him Boy) well enough to keep reading, but I didn’t like the female narrator (I’ll call her Girl), and it took me a while to figure out why.

Girl had issues, as female narrators in modern romances often do. She’d been done wrong, done a little time, and was trying to get back on her feet while protecting her very bruised heart. She wasn’t witty or snarky (unlike Marvel’s Jessica Jones, a similar character in some respects but I who found much more immediately engaging). She’d erected some very large barriers to other characters, particularly Boy, which kept them at a distance.

The story began by plunging Girl immediately into a situation of peril, in which she and her best bud (BFF) are threatened by some baddies to whom the BFF owes money. The resolution of this problem was the major plot hook for the rest of the story, so Girl couldn’t shine in resolving it there and then. In fact, she came across as weak and somewhat desperate. I don’t mind weak characters who evolve in the course of the story, but it can be hard to initially sympathize with them. The baddies (who turn out to be not very bad) were more interesting than either Girl or the BFF, so it was annoying when they then disappeared for twenty chapters. I’d have happily read more about them than Girl. Moreover, the BFF had done A Bad Thing in stealing from the baddies, so why would I sympathize with the BFF? Throwing a weak, emotionally-remote narrator and a morally-compromised secondary character into peril and expecting the reader to immediately care about them is a tricky proposition, and this story did not make it work.

Then the author committed the cardinal sin of following the unresolved initial peril with several pages of info-dump. The info-dump was all backstory – how Girl’s heart was broken, how she ended up in jail, how the BFF was the only person there for her after she pushed everyone else away. Because I wasn’t much liking Girl at this point (she hadn’t done anything to engage me), I’ll admit I skimmed the backstory. I went back and read it later, when Girl’s incarceration became relevant to the action, but I skimmed it on a first read because at this point, I wasn’t engaged. Fortunately, the author then introduced Boy, who was interesting enough on his own to keep me reading. That saved a book I might otherwise have put down.

Because I generally love in medias res beginnings, and because most of my own stories begin that way, I’ve been mulling why this modern romance didn’t work for me, and what I can take away from it. I’ve also re-read one of my favorite in medias res beginnings, Kate Griffin’s fabulous The Midnight Mayor, which starts memorably with:

The telephone rang.
I answered.
After that . . . it’s complicated

The Midnight Mayor then launches into an attack on the sorcerer-narrator by some of the scariest baddies I’ve read this side of the Nazgul. If you haven’t read Kate Griffin’s Matthew Swift series, you should – time very well spent.

So, mulling these two very different in medias res openings, I’ve come up with five learning points (in no particular order):

  1. Engage. If you’re going to start in medias res, you have to have your reader engage with the story’s protagonist from the outset. Readers naturally empathize with the narrator, particularly if they’re in trouble and even more particularly if the author is working in first person point of view. So this shouldn’t be too hard. But the reader can be alienated by a narrator who seems dumb, dull or weak. Why should the reader bother? The narrator doesn’t have to be superwoman at the outset, but they have to shine somehow, even if only in their brilliant internal monologue. They have to be a character the reader wants to keep reading about.
  2. Show. I’m always a proponent of showing rather than telling, but it’s really, really important in these sorts of openings. The reader needs to get a crystal-clear picture of what the narrator is hearing, seeing, thinking, smelling and tasting in the initial scenes so the reader connects with the narrator. This is particularly critical if the narrator is going to make some questionable decisions (which Boy does several chapters later when he strikes a deal with the baddies, but by that point I knew enough about both Boy and the baddies to care and keep reading). That doesn’t preclude exposition entirely, but keep it snappy. The in medias res opening is all about action – the narrator better be doing something rather than describing a tree for three pages.
  3. Choose wisely, grasshopper. Pick the characters for that initial scene or scenes of peril carefully. Introducing fascinating baddies who then disappear for twenty chapters antagonizes your reader. (Kate Griffin uses the demon hoodies several times through The Midnight Mayor and each time we see them, the more terrifying they become since the protagonist can’t seem to decisively defeat them.) Use characters the reader can glom on to, and who are going to feature in the rest of the story.
  4. Have a resolution, even if it is only temporary. This is what really distinguished Griffin’s brilliant opening in The Midnight Mayor from the modern romance. The narrator-protagonist of The Midnight Mayor captures one of the baddies with the most amazing binding spell ever created (talk about the power of words!). The rest of the story spins off why the baddies attacked him and what has attracted them to him. From a plot perspective, the baddies attack in The Midnight Mayor and the threat by the baddies in the modern romance serve the same function: they set up the overarching conflict for the rest of the story. But what’s so satisfying in The Midnight Mayor ‘s opening is watching the protagonist shine as he binds the demon hoodie. It’s a temporary resolution, of course, since we know there’s a Bigger, Badder Baddie waiting in the wings. But it’s still very satisfying. By not having any resolution of the initial peril, the author of the modern romance denies the reader that satisfaction and makes the modern romance an unfulfilling read.
  5. Avoid the subsequent info-dump. What was so frustrating about the post-peril info-dump in the modern romance was that I could see it coming a mile away. The baddies tromp off, Girl makes sure the BFF is okay, and then, as Girl drives back to her apartment, she tells us her entire life story. It’s not just dull to read, it’s also unrealistic. People don’t review their entire lives while driving home after (what should have been) a perilous confrontation. They’re pumped up on adrenaline. They turn the confrontation over and over in their minds. They wish they’d acted differently or come up with a wittier retort. They consider the consequences. They don’t have a ten-page flashback to their childhood, high school romance, betrayal by their One True Love, incarceration and release. Sorry, no. Maybe, maybe, they consider the peril in light of their personal history – if it’s related somehow. But definitely not the entire character’s backstory, and definitely not in one chunk.

I’m still in love with the in medias res opening. I’ll still use it in my own stories, but I will think carefully about whether the technique enhances my story, and my readers’ crucial initial connection with my narrator, or detracts from it.

Any thoughts on in medias res openings and when they don’t work? I’d love to hear them!

(Featured image: copyright Ry Young, used under Freeimages.com licence)

Publishing Timeline

Publishing Timeline

Following an exchange with @Mansplanation on Twitter, I thought I’d post the timeline I use for the launch of my books.This is in clunky table format because I’m not cool enough to know how to translate my calendar into WordPress.

  Manuscript Legal Marketing
T -6 Engage editor

Manuscript to editor

Buy ISBN Compile newsletter mailing list
T -5 Write back blurb

Write character interviews

Write blog posts

T -4 Edits from editor – rewrite and final line edits

Engage cover artist

Engage formatter

Set up pre-launch page

Assemble street team

 

T -3 Give final page count to cover artist

Finished MS and cover art to formatter

Finished MS to US copyright office Post sample chapter on blog

ARC copies to street team and book reviewers

T -2 Formatted versions back from formatter (book final)

 

Set up pre-orders on Amazon

Newsletter announcement

Swag (biz cards, bookmarks)

T -1 Upload book final to Amazon

Street team cover reveal

Twitter and FB pre-launch ads

Launch FB launch party

Street team blog tour

I hope the elements of the table are pretty self-explanatory, but a few words of explanation might be helpful:

  • This timeline is actually a month longer than the one I used for Neon Blue. I learned my lesson. I didn’t give my editor enough time and I got really crunched in months T-3 and T-2. In future, I will give myself six months and the editor at least a month, six weeks if possible.
  • Not every author uses a professional editor, cover artist or book formatter. I have no issue with folks who don’t, but I think it’s good to know your limitations. Writing novels does not make me an editor. Sketching occasionally (or playing around with Photoshop) does not make me a cover artist. Having a rudimentary knowledge of Calibre does not make me a book designer. Had I done those things myself, I would have saved some money, but my books would have been poorer for it.
  • I buy ISBNs. I know this is a divisive issue among self-published authors. You do not need to buy ISBNs in order to publish your ebook. If you do a paperback version through Amazon, Amazon will assign an ISBN to your book for free (although you’re only supposed to use it on Amazon for the paperback version). But, hey, I’m a lawyer and having an ISBN means my books are included in the market research cool people like Kris Rusch do on the ebook market. I also think, although I have no proof, that having an ISBN is why a couple of libraries have bought my books (or librarians love me, either way, still cool).
  • You do not have to send your book to the US copyright office in order to copyright it, but, again, lawyer.
  • Some authors have street teams; some don’t. I haven’t seen any stats on sales via street teams, but I’ll say that having a street team on Snowburn made my first publishing experience so much easier. There were several published authors on my street team who generously gave me the benefit of their experience. They also formed the core of the book’s early reviewers, which helped drive initial sales. (Critical for a first book.) I didn’t know what a street team was when I published Snowburn, mind, nor did I call the kind folks who supported me a “street team” but they were and I will always be very grateful to them.

This timeline doesn’t take into account anything other than the run-up to the launch of the book itself. It doesn’t address “building your author platform” or reviewing other people’s books or solving world hunger. All of those things are important, too, but too much for this timeline (or this blog post). I hope you find this helpful, @Mansplanation, and anyone else who reads this!

Dealing With Mid Story Writer’s Block With Cynthia Sax

I’m delighted to welcome the wonderful Cynthia Sax to my blog today!

***

I found EJ’s post on techniques she’s using to finish Throwing Fire so interesting. I thought I’d share my own tricks for defeating mid story writer’s block.

This is a common problem for ALL writers. If we’re fortunate to have long writing careers, we will all experience what I like to call word constipation. It’s always great to have a toolbox full of techniques to try when this affliction strikes. I usually keep trying techniques until there’s a break-through and the words flow once again.

The number one reason why words stop flowing for me is because I’ve made a wrong decision for a character somewhere in the story. I’ve forced a character to do something he or she wouldn’t do. When this happens, I move backwards in the story, reviewing every key decision from the point of blockage to, if I have to, the start of the story. Often changing one wrong (for the character) decision is the solution.

If the blockage isn’t a story issue but rather a “my brain is dead and I can’t revive it” issue, I’ll change things until my muse is kick-started. I might write long hand in a notebook for a few pages. If that doesn’t work, I’ll change the ink colors of my pens (colors stimulate different parts of the brain).

I might change the music I listen to (again, different types of music stimulate different parts of the brain) or not listen to music at all. I might change the physical location of where I’m writing. Sometimes my muse is waiting at a bus stop bench. (I think this has to do with my brain associating the bench with change, with travel, with leaving.)

Flash fiction also helps, especially with an issue like “Oh lord. I’m washed up as a writer. I’ll never finish a story again.” I will pick a photo at random and write a 100 word ‘story’ based on that prompt. This proves to my brain that I CAN finish stories. I have the ability.

Usually one of these techniques will work for me.

What techniques work for you?

***

Want to see Cynthia’s techniques in practice? Take a look at Releasing Rage!

Releasing Rage_Compressed

Half Man. Half Machine. All Hers.

 Rage, the Humanoid Alliance’s most primitive cyborg, has two goals–kill all of the humans on his battle station and escape to the Homeland. The warrior has seen the darkness in others and in himself. He believes that’s all he’s been programmed to experience.

 Until he meets Joan.

 Joan, the battle station’s first female engineer, has one goal–survive long enough to help the big sexy cyborg plotting to kill her. Rage might not trust her but he wants her. She sees the passion in his eyes, the caring in his battle-worn hands, the gruff emotion in his voice.

 When Joan survives the unthinkable, Rage’s priorities are tested. Is there enough room in this cyborg’s heart for both love and revenge?

Releasing Rage is available now!

On Amazon US

On Amazon UK

On ARe

On B&N

About Cynthia Sax
USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists.
Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled release day newsletter and visit her on the web at http://www.CynthiaSax.com.

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