Does Spring Make Me Write More?

I'm not much for seasons, times of day, or anything else for when I write. I don't have set times for writing. I write whenever I want to or need to write. The need could relate to completing a project on a deadline or be the release valve on an emotional explosion that needs to be defused. I've tried to write in a consistent manner all at the same time or about the things that I know best, but none of that matters much to me either. I write what strikes my fancy.

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Why Complex Female Characters Make For Good Literature

All good stories have strong characters that are the driving force in the narrative. Without well-rounded characters who possess their own agendas, a story lacks the gravitational pull that pulls the reader in for more. My beta-readers for Dark Paradise all comment on the powerful, independent nature of the book’s female characters. Some men seem intimidated by women with intelligence and purpose, but I find that drive makes a character, male or female, all the more intriguing. Driven characters are the ones you want to see engage in a moral battle and come away victorious. In Dark Paradise, the primary female character, Dana, pushes the story and the main character forward. She is the leader with connections on the island that Boise leans on. Dana’s profound and painful history shapes her into a tough, driving reporter. She is the one who pushes Boise to be something more. Powerful women do that. They encourage those around them to rise higher. If Boise doesn't rise, Dana will rocket away, leaving him behind. Dana is inspired by several women I know, including my beautiful wife.

I've always sought out strong women as companions, colleagues, and friends. But more often than not, the strong women we come to know first in our lives are our mothers. In Dark Paradise, Auntie Glor possesses a maternal nature that is tainted by the loss of her grandson and her husband. Despite living through hardships, she endures and holds on to her faith in Jesus, believing that he helps those who walk the path. A different book that stands out to me as revealing what constraints society puts on women and the difficulties they must face is The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. I read it many years ago, but Edna's need to be a separate person from her husband, society, and children, struck me to the core. I wanted Dana and the other women in my novel to possess that same burning desire to be their own person. To realize their own purpose. To find their own place in the world.

On this International Women’s Day, I’m looking forward to engaging with authors in my community to talk about the importance of creating independent, complex, and well-rounded female characters that reflect real women in our society. I know that as a writer, I will continue to use my voice to have these characters shine through in my own writing. I hope that others will make the pledge to do the very same.

How Do I Celebrate Achieving a Writing Goal?

I share my success with the people who make it possible, especially my wife and my daughter. They are constantly inspiring me. They give me the room to be a writer and the things I learn from both of them come out in everything I write. I know it sounds cheesy, but getting the affirmation they give is the best part of achieving my successes. Anything after that is gravy, but they are the gist of my celebration. We might go for a nice meal and talk more about my writing, my wife may embarrass me, but also make me proud by bragging to friends and family about what I've achieved. Perhaps, I should come up with something else, but really there is nothing more I look forward to more than that first look and the hug of recognition they give. Nothing.

3 Favorite Reads of 2017

After some reflection, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite reads in 2017 and why I enjoyed them. Comment below if you’ve read these books, or with suggestions of your own favorite reads last year.

The Highway Kind: Tales of Fast Cars, Desperate Drivers, and Dark RoadsI love this anthology of short stories about crimes and cars by great writers like C.J. Box and Michael Connelly. Each story has its own feel and was written specifically for this anthology.

Tales of Falling and Flying by Ben Loory: This quirky writer caught my attention after doing a reading at the 2017 LA Lit Crawl and hearing his story about a man who swallows a rock then begins to love said rock. I know, it sounds mad. But perhaps that's what makes you want to read more. We all go a little mad sometimes. His stories remind me that madness can also make you laugh and see the world in a different way. Good for Kafka lovers!

The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost: You have got to love the backstory of Twin Peaks. I learned about the history of the fictional town, which fascinates me in its American normalness. I also learned some real American history, such as the history of traitorous James Wilkinson, who may have killed Meriwether Lewis and conspired to bring down a young U.S. government.

Honorable Mention:

The Guards by Ken Bruen: Short sentences, toss the pronouns in the trash. This Irish writer has a pithy style with many chapters shorter than a page. Ken Bruen depicts compelling characters and portrays what it is to be alcoholic and Irish.