On Giving Myself Writer’s Block

Hidden_Nether_FullSizeI’m going to say up front that I don’t believe in writer’s block as some mystical, unexplainable force that just sets upon guileless authors, holding their words captive until it is appeased via blood or tears, or maybe both.

No. Writer’s block is just a name for a bunch of other common, everyday shit. Procrastination. Boredom. Insecurity.

Fear.

And that’s the one that got me. Fear. Fear that I would wrap up Hidden, and my readers, those lovely, amazing, gorgeous people who have followed Molly and company through five books and two novellas (at the time the series ends) will be left shaking their heads.

Fear that I’ll let them down.

Fear that I won’t do these characters justice.

When it comes down to it, fear that I’m just goddamned not good enough to pull it off the way I want to.

I had an outline. And then another outline. And another. Notes scrawled in notebooks, on Post-Its. I screwed around, writing anything but Nether, not because I don’t want to, not because I don’t love writing these characters more than anything I’ve ever written.

But because I totally psyched myself out. This book is the LAST ONE. It must be PERFECT. It must be the jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, “holy shit!” climax that I want it to be.

Uh. No wonder writing was impossible. Way to set the bar impossibly high, eh?

So I made myself take a few steps back. I thought about what my readers love about these books, and, maybe more importantly, I made myself remember what it is that I love about them:

  • Endless action
  • Strong personalities
  • Emotional insanity
  • Love and sexytimes
  • Heartbreak and loss
  • Molly, Nain, Brennan, etc.

That’s what I love about the series. Those are the things that have brought the series to just under half a million words (I’m guessing) by the time Nether is published.

People say things like “I needed to get back to my roots” when they’re talking about creativity, and I found that I had to do the same thing so I could move forward with Nether. I know that my readers’ expectations for the book are pretty high. Believe me when I say that mine are even higher. But nothing is going to get written if I freeze under expectations.

I write because it’s fun. When I feel myself getting crazy, numb with fear and insecurity, I need to try to remind myself of that: this should be fun. At its best, it is so much fun it almost feels criminal.

The good news is: writing Nether is fun again, and it’s moving forward nicely. Next time I feel myself slipping into the mindset I’ve had the last couple of weeks, I’ll try to remember to tell myself to have fun. That’s what it’s all about. :)

On Reading

I was thinking a while back, trying to remember what the initial inspiration for Hidden was, after my mother-in-law asked me how I came up with it.

It wasn’t any one thing. I can point to definite influences:

The action-packed, emotional, angst-ridden feel that Marjorie Liu attained in her run writing Marvel’s X-23.

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The bleakness and sense of foreboding, as well as the passion, in Wuthering Heights.

My home city of Detroit. You can’t spend 36 years of your life in a place and not have it impact your worldview, your creativity.

Wonder Woman’s goodness, kindness, and take-no-bullshit brand of badassery.

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Greek mythology. Obviously.

So it was partially inspired by all of these, and I think readers who are familiar with any of the above can probably see how they have influenced my work.

But it’s not just those things. Those are the more obvious, outward manifestations of what inspired me: mood, personality, tone.

The more I thought about it, the more determined I became to figure out what tied it all together, what thing it was in my past that made me come up with Molly and the crew.

And finally, it came to me.

Jane Eyre.

It didn’t hit me until yesterday, but I owe a ton to Charlotte Bronte. Stay with me here.

  • Young woman raised in really crappy circumstances, who learns that she can only rely on herself? Check.
  • Young woman grows to be caring, responsible, and kind, despite that crappy childhood? Check.
  • Woman grows up and is determined to make her own way, to live by her own terms as much as she possibly can in her situation? Check.
  • Woman finds love in an extremely unexpected place, with a man who seems wrong for her? Check.
  • Man fucks up majorly, losing the woman? Check.
  • Woman moves on from heartbreak, and learns how strong she truly is? Oh, hell yes.

I didn’t do this on purpose, and, as I said above, I didn’t even realize Jane Eyre (though it’s one of my favorite books) had an influence on the series at all, other than Molly mentioning that it was one of her favorite books in Strife. This is just the unexpected, almost-magical way creativity works. This is why any writer who knows anything will tell aspiring writers (and established ones, as well) that they must be readers, that they need to fill their minds with stories, characters, tropes, and settings. Not to copy them. Not to be a second-rate anybody — but to provide a wealth of amazing things that come together with your own unique experiences and viewpoint to make something totally new. Something no one else would come up with. Two people could live in the same area, read the same books, and still create amazingly different work.

Stephen King said it best:

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You just never know what is going to end up inspiring you. And the things you learn about language and the amazing things it can do just can’t be learned any other way.

With that, I’m going to go read for a while. Have a great day, all!

 

Week in Review, 6/1 – 6/8

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Last week was a busy one! I feel like I’m getting my feet back under me after the release of Strife. Book releases are emotional for me. I’m excited, nervous, relieved, and just generally happy. I get knocked off of my routine a little, but the past week, I’ve been getting back to normal.

Writing

I’ve finally got my plot tangles sorted out for Nether, which is a huge relief. This is the third version of the outline, and I finally feel like I’ve got it right. I’ve been back to work on it, in fits and starts, and it feels right. Now, to just get it written! :)

Heph’s book hasn’t been progressing much, but I’m not overly worried about that. I worked on Shanti’s book when I felt like it, and that worked out pretty well. The first installment is ready to come out on Friday, and I have no doubt that as I get into flow with writing Nether, the same will happen with Heph’s book.

I’ve also started a new, not Hidden-related project. Right now, I’m just having fun with it, and we’ll see if it turns into anything.

Reading

I am on a Nora Roberts kick lately. Mostly, I’m in awe of her. The woman has written over 200 books, and her knack for describing people and settings is amazing. I started out reading Dark Witch, which is the first book in her Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy (and I loved it — definitely recommended!) and then I followed it up with her “Night” series, all of which are also really good. I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense, but I should. It’s a nice change of pace, even if it does feel weird to be reading something without sexy shifters or demons in it. :)

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Other than that, I’ve just been enjoying the warm weather and time with my family. It’s looking like we’ll have a good gardening year (sometimes, you can just tell.) I have daisies, salvia, catmint, irises, and poppies blooming now, and the vegetable and herb garden are starting to produce as well.

We went to a Detroit Tigers game on Thursday, and that was a lot of fun, even if Toronto did end up winning.

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This week, I’m looking forward to lots of writing and getting myself back on track with a few things. I hope you all have a great week!

Guest Author on Prisoners of Print Today!

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Happy Friday all!

The lovely ladies over at Prisoners of Print on Facebook are hosting me today. I’m sharing random facts about me and how they tie into the books. I hope you’ll stop by and chat and give them a like. They’ve been really nice, and I appreciate the time they’ve already put into hosting me. They share a lot of fun information about authors and books. And, if you have any questions for me today, I’m happy to answer them over on their page.

Have a great weekend!

Interview with I Read Indie

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I’ve had my first interview as a novelist (yay!) with the lovely Mandy of I Read Indie! Want to know which writers I fangirl over, or what I consider to be my “guilty pleasure?”

It was a lot of fun, and thanks so much to Mandy for running a fun interview. Hers was one of the first indie blogs I ever read, so it is a real honor to be interviewed over there. Want to read it? Check it out here!

Work continues on Hidden, Book Five, as well as an unrelated project that just kind of popped up out of nowhere. Hopefully, I’ll have more news about that later!

Have a great day!

Thank you!

Hello, lovelies!

Before I scurry back into the writing cave to continue working on the fifth Hidden book (as well as the next Hidden novella, which newsletter subscribers will start receiving installments of on Friday, June 13th!) I just wanted to say thank you.

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Strife’s release day was by far my biggest release day so far. The book went live, and within hours it was on the Amazon bestseller lists for its primary categories. By the end of the day, it had reached #1 in superhero fiction and #20 in urban fantasy. I’ve had my books make it up there before, but never, ever on the first day like that. So thank you so much!! I hope you are enjoying it. Please let me know what you think!

Reviews on GoodReads and Amazon are always helpful, but if you’d rather share your thoughts about the book in a comment here on the blog, or via email (mine is email@colleenvanderlinden.com) please feel free to do so. I love hearing from you guys!

The writing on book five has stalled a bit. I know the ending, obviously, and I had a really awesome, detailed outline all written out. But… sometimes you start actually writing something, and those plans you made just don’t come together. So I’m back to the brainstorming/staring into space/muttering to myself phase of the writing process. It’ll pass. It always does. It’s just frustrating as hell, especially when I was sure I had it all worked out!

Other than that, things are good. I’m reading some of the backlog of books on my Kindle, which is always a good thing. We’re coming off of almost two days straight of rain, and it seems weird to see the sun shining through my window this morning. Today calls for writing and then gardening, hopefully.

Have a great day!

 

 

Strife: The Playlist

Music is almost as integral to my writing process as coffee.

Almost.

I mean, let’s not go crazy here.

Anyway. I’ve mentioned before that every book has a playlist. Part of my pre-writing process for a book is putting a playlist together. These help me not only with the overall mood of the book, but also by providing yet another cue that it’s time to write. I sit down, drink some coffee, check my email and stats, and then I start up my playlist and I know it’s time to focus.

Here are ten of the top songs I listened to during the writing of Strife. There are a few others, but they’re kind of spoilery, so I left them out. It should also probably be noted that there is some potty-mouth language in this playlist. (It is a list inspired by Molly and company, after all!) Just a warning for anyone checking it out at work or with little kids around. :)

Playlist: Strife: Hidden, Book Four

1. Paramore: Renegade

2. Florence + The Machine: Shake It Out

3. Garbage: Run Baby Run

4. Garbage: Why Do You Love Me?

5. Imagine Dragons: Demons

6. Pink ft. Lily Allen: True Love

7. Eminem: Survival

8. Eminem ft. Rihanna: The Monster

9. Rihanna: What Now

10. Katy Perry: Unconditionally

If you want to listen to the full playlist (which includes a few songs that I also listened to, but didn’t make the top ten) you can check it out here on YouTube. Oh, and by the way… Strife, Hidden Book Four is out TODAY! Yippee!!

Release Day! “Strife: Hidden, Book Four”

Hidden_Strife_SeriesCover_200It’s finally here! The fourth Hidden book, Strife, is out today!

What do you do when your most dangerous foe is the one living inside you?

When Molly Brooks fought her way back to Detroit after her trials in the Nether, she came back changed. The life she thought she had, the one thing that helped keep her sane, was gone. She feels wrong in her own skin, scared. And her powers… well. They’re just not working the way they’re supposed to.

She doesn’t have a whole lot of time to wallow, though. With two angry spirit daemons hell-bent on punishing her and the city she loves for her deeds, as well as war brewing between Detroit’s supernaturals, and certain members of the pantheon looking for revenge, Molly has her hands full.

But what she’s forced to face is nothing compared to the evil that lurks inside of her.

As her world starts to spiral out of control, as war rages, Molly finds comfort in the last place she ever thought she would. And she comes to learn, after a life spent alone, what family really means.

And how much she’s willing to risk to protect it.

You can grab your copy of Strife on Amazon. Please let me know what you think. As always, reviews on Amazon and GoodReads are very much appreciated!

OUT TODAY! Forever Night: A Hidden Novella

Hidden_ForeverNight_200If you’ve been missing your fix of the group of misfits and badasses from Hidden, you might want to check out the spinoff novella, Forever Night, which is free (today only!) on Amazon.

Forever Night takes place between books three and four and focuses on Molly’s awesome vampire sidekick, Shanti. While Hidden, in general, leans more urban fantasy with some paranormal romance, I think Forever Night is a little more paranormal romance with a bit of urban fantasy. :)

So, what’s it about? Here’s the blurb:

 

Each death she caused, each life she saved, was its own kind of prayer.

Shanti Williams has been saved by the Angel (as Molly Brooks has been called by the citizens of Detroit) twice in her life: once at sixteen when the Angel rescued her from a life that would have been a living nightmare, and again when Shanti, as a new vampire, came to her begging for death.

Instead, Shanti gained a home, a new family, and purpose.

With the Angel gone, and no one knowing when she’ll be back, Shanti is adrift again, but this time, she’s determined to make a life for herself. A good one. A life to be proud of.

Detroit’s supernatural community is at a crossroads, chaotic after the departure of the Angel. Amid the chaos, a few vampires are determined to do their part to keep the world safe. And they want Shanti to help.

Torn between loyalty to her current team and the desire to learn more about herself, Shanti has to decide how best to use her talents.

And her life only gets more complicated the night she saves a gorgeous mortal from certain death at the hands of a vampire. A mortal she can’t get out of her mind, no matter how hard she tries.If only she could use all of her renowned courage to let herself take a chance on happiness.

FOREVER NIGHT is a paranormal romance novella set in the HIDDEN world. It takes place after the events of Home: Hidden Book Three.

This is the story that my newsletter subscribers were reading along with as I wrote it over the past few months. I hope you enjoy it!

Also: reviews are hugely appreciated, as always. They are a big factor in helping others find my books, and I am grateful for every single one of them.

Have a great weekend!