Friday, November 19, 2010

What We Do

“I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.”  Baruch Spinoza

My guest is fiction novelist, Ryan O’Reilly.

Ryan is a bit of an adventurer, definitely an observer of life, he’s a businessmen, and freelance writer. I also think his mother has a strong heart to survive watching him go through the many adventures he's had. I’m betting that as with many of us who have pushed the envelope, mom was given a condensed version of many of those adventures.

Ryan has applied many of those experiences and observations in his writing. His article is a very well thought out commentary on the battle of many authors between making a living and answering the need within their soul to put pen to paper.

When I first experienced cacoethia scribendi – the urge to scribble – my immediate consideration was how to fit the art of writing into the business of everyday life. My experience up to that time had been that art and business are non-overlapping fields, and my fear was that I couldn’t make the two harmonize. When I told my parents I wanted to write, that everything else I wanted to do with my life would be in support of that, their response seemed to be mostly misunderstanding. I couldn’t make it clear why someone would want to be a writer. What place, after all, could literature have in a productive society? Why would you want to write?

I don’t think I’m alone in discovering this reaction in others, nor do I think that I am the first writer to have bouts of frustration after years of failing to reconcile the “why” question. After writing columns, articles and three books the friction from that question is still there for me. For a lot of us, there is no “reason” why we do what we do. It isn’t a choice. Writing is simply who we are, and we do it with little thought to money or recognition. For me, for example, I have a bottom desk drawer filled with scraps and fragments that will never see the light of day. At least, hopefully, not while I’m still alive.

One of my greatest joys is the simple act of recording my thoughts and observations; Some I use, and some are relegated to the bottom drawer. But our social evolution seems to frown on energy devoted to anything other than productivity. By many definitions writing is not productive in the sense that it does not result in an advantageous commodity. We who put pen to paper seem to be destined to hold our artistic endeavor at arms length from productive society, simply because the link between them isn’t always clear. We have to justify our art through success by either recognition or monetary compensation.

But that compulsion flirts with ridiculousness.

Those of us who choose to devote a life – or part of a life – to literature and language and learning are in a unique place. We walk between two worlds. Intellectually and emotionally we exist at the intersection of the mythos and the anthropos. The mythos is the ethereal realm of creativity, and the anthropos is the world of strictly human endeavor. Others think of anthropos as “the machine”; the mechanical component of our society. The machine exists as a function of the human mind, and the mythos is our relationship to life as an experience.

It is in the mind of the artist and the writer that the anthropos and the mythos interlock. Writers and artists are, you might say, the stitching that binds them. The artistic output we feel compelled to participate in is the by-product of our position. Art gives meaning to the otherwise banal survival instinct that makes up the business aspect of the world. The position of the artist on the border of the two worlds gives them perspective to see, and that perspective is increasingly important as people seek meaning. The emotional connection people feel in regard to their lives and the world around them depends on the emotion of artistic output. So while there may be no quantifiable justification to write, those who have the ability also have the obligation.

The role of writing in my life is one of substance. A lot of my time is spent doing the things I have to do to survive; work, make logistical decisions, commit to relationships, provide for my family. The rest of the time I spend trying to find meaning and substance in the world.

Spinoza said, “I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.” In my estimation there is no clearer mandate for the writer, poet or artist. Being in possession of this particular gift, and given the perspective that we have, the product of our endeavors must be a truth understandable by others. The components of the stories we tell must be applicable to a greater human experience. We must write about what we know, but write for people we don’t. We write to signify the commonality of all life, and all the stages of life.

That is why we do what we do.

  • What compels you to put pen to paper? 


A HAUNTING RETURN TO A FIERY LOVE TRIANGLE Brian Falk and his best friend, Dabney, share a passion for the beautiful and wealthy Jackie, their childhood playmate and the prize catch of their social set. But, the young men are also drawn to each other a secret, illicit connection that is cut short when Jackie chooses to wed the more moneyed Dabney. Soon after graduation, a devastated Brian flees his hometown and, for ten agonizing years, tries to overcome the anguish that has all but consumed him.

Now he is drawn back to try to answer some of the questions he can no longer ignore: Is he over Jackie? Was what he felt for Dabney really love? Does Jackie still love him? As Brian desperately searches for closure, old wounds are reopened, a new love appears and revelations about his past throw his life into renewed turmoil. Excerpt 
Buy: Amazon


Ryan O’Reilly, grandson of the O’Reilly Auto Parts founder, is also the author of the travel novel Snapshot, and a free-lance contributor to various newspapers and periodicals throughout the country. He studied English Literature at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri and is a member of the National Writers Association and the Writers League of Texas. Ryan's wild, often death-defying, adventures have nearly gotten him killed; they've also earned him travel writer street cred (see his Road Trip Tips for here). O’Reilly divides his time between his business in Austin, Texas and a small farm in Clever, Missouri.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Fun Twists An Turns Of ParaNormal

My guest is the talented para romance author, Alexandra Ivy. I have to admit, I've been looking forward to this particular book in her The Guardians of Eternity series. Tane's one hot hero. Enjoy the excerpt.

I thought Alex's topic very interesting. Para normal has changed over the years and as a reader, I love those changes.

What do you think of those changes?

First I want to thank Sia for inviting me to drop by for a visit. :-)  I enjoy having the opportunity to speak with fellow readers who love the paranormal!! And that’s what I always consider myself…an avid reader who just happens to write!

I’ve been blogging a lot lately about the fun twists and turns the genre seems to be making over the past year or so.

When this wild ride first began it was dominated by dark, brooding vampires. Who could ever have predicted the remake of classic lit with flesh eating zombies? Or the popularity of steampunk? Or the infusion of high fantasy with contemporary romance? I LOVE the fluid nature of the market and the fact that we as readers are willing to take a chance on writing that’s waaaaaay outside the box. :-)

I think it's the very fact that paranormals refuse to be pinned down with the same rules and expectations that makes other genres seem stale is what has kept it so popular. And as it continues to evolve I believe it will only attract new readers and writers.

My own series, The Guardians of Eternity, are a mishmash of genres. I’ve combined my love for horror, fantasy, adventure, and overall, romance into a strange brew…oh, and a fairly large dash of humor (or at least what passes as humor for me :-). It’s been so much fun creating my own world without restrictions, and I hope that comes through in the stories.

  • My question is: What you see for the future of paranormals.
Dust off your crystal balls and give me a hint of what you hope to see more of, or perhaps invent something entirely new!!


Tane is a Charon, sworn to hunt and kill rogue vampires. His new assignment seems like a waste of his talents…until he catches up with the Jinn he's been sent to capture. Half human, half demon, Laylah has a vulnerable streak that strikes right through to Tane's cold heart. He should be furious when she uses her powers to bind them together, preventing him from dragging her before the Commission. Instead he welcomes any reason to stay close enough to touch, to taste, to seduce…

Laylah doesn't know why she was chosen to protect a child who may be the catalyst in a war between good and evil. But the mysteries of her past pale compared to the dangers approaching. Tane is devastatingly strong, breathtakingly sensual. And Laylah will have to trust in every ounce of that strength, because her enemies are drawing near, eager to destroy them both…Excerpt

I began my career in 2000 under the name Debbie Raleigh, writing traditional regencies and now as Deborah Raleigh writing regency historicals.

Moving to paranormals has been a dream since I watched my first episode of Buffy. I hope everyone enjoys the Guardians of Eternity series.

Do stop by Alexandra Ivy's Website. She has all sorts of extras including some facts on her Heros and her books.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Musings: Why NaNoWriMO 2010?

As some may have noticed I’m a bit scarce of late. I have a reason. I’m participating in Nano this month. It’s my first time of doing so officially.

I’ve had to make adjustments to accomplish the goal. Nano certainly cuts into any spare time, like reading the blogs I follow, reading books for reviews—although I’ve been cutting back on those anyway—and other things I enjoy doing. I haven’t removed those things from my life; just modified the time I spend on them, like commenting on or reading links I’d normally enjoy reading. Sometimes I’m a day late, or commenting late night.

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d enjoy Nano as much as I have. I’ve heard the plusses and minuses of doing Nano, but like anything, you get out what you put in and “it” depends largely on what your goals are. If I make the 50k, and I’ll give it my best to do so, fine. If I don’t, I’m not going to beat myself up.

My past year has been hard emotionally. Losing my brother knocked me flat and dealing with the grief seemed to suck the creativity right out of me. All my emotion was involved with my loss and helping my family dealing with the same. I had none left over for much else.

Plus, I had to deal with a major case of ‘who the hell cares’ and a great reluctance to do anything that required too much effort. Especially on an emotional level. For sure, I had lost my writing routine. Early mornings have always been my most productive time. It became hit and miss because I stayed up too late and slept late. I had also lost my joy of daily writing and I must have had a dozen stories started and abandoned. I couldn’t work up any enthusiasm for what I was writing. Somehow, I had become way too wrapped up in being perfect—nothing puts a stop on story flow like perfectionism. It all left me with a feeling of failure and kinda like a part of me had been amputated.

Which brings me to the why of Nano.

It's not a contest for me, a mad dash to see who can get the most words on paper so to speak. While I do like the challenge of being part of a group focusing on writing and reaching a deadline, it’s not at the expense of writing a good story. For me, that would be a waste of time.

My main goals with Nano are,

  • a) regain my daily writing routine and discipline,
  • b) regain my focus and joy of writing, and
  • c) get a story I’ve wanted to write for some time, down on paper. One that I started to research before my brother died.

I really like how focused I am. If I'm not physically writing my mind is writing and thinking about what's next. Nano is helping me not to worry too much about the mechanics of the writing as much as revel in the joy of the story unfurling. Seeing my research ideas transformed into a story that is alive and breathing. Having three-dimensional characters living and interacting in a world I’ve created piece by piece so it’s real. Best of all, there’s real emotion in my writing again. If I can’t feel emotion how can my reader?

Another valuable lesson I see with participating in Nano is a realization that if I'm waiting for the optimum time to write, I'm never going to get it. I'm gonna always have chores, noise, and life to deal with.

Additionally, Nano is good practice for when a person is published. Writing to deadlines and allotting a schedule of writing time to meet those deadlines. I’ve written to deadlines most of my working life and it takes a certain mindset. Certainly it requires a firm grasp on what’s required to achieve the deadline. Few writers can retire from being a spouse, parent, and money earner to write full time. Oh, maybe in a perfect world, lol! Reality is any writing that’s done is merely a task added to the existing routine. Even when you can write full time without an outside job, you still are going to have to deal with mates and kids and all that is involved with day-to-day living. Nano gives you a taste of what it could be like.

All in all, I'm so glad I signed up for Nano.

  • So, who of you are (or have) participating in Nano? Why did you decide to sign up? Any lessons learned you’d like to share?

Up coming guests: Wednesday, Alexandra Ivy, and on Friday I have Ryan O’Reilly (if that last name looks familiar there’s a good reason for that).
So be sure to check back.

Meanwhile, happy writing! I will be.