The socially awkward social media wallflower

I’m socially awkward, but I’m a writer so it’s okay. I live in my head so it’s almost guaranteed I’m barely mentally present for a conversation anyway. For me, the social awkward problem extends to social media. Again, I live in my head. I can’t help it. This creates a problem when it’s time for me to share something on Twitter, Facebook, [insert social media name here]. There are rules…oh so many rules about what you are should and shouldn’t do when promoting yourself and your work. Frankly it seems a little deceptive. In order for me, Kelsey Jordan, to live authentically, I have to talk about what matters to me and that means I have to go to where the stories come from…

writer_brain2

That brain is a relatively accurate representation of me. It’s missing a portion where I think about family, work, and school, but other than that yeah, it’s pretty spot on. I live in my head. I can’t help it. The oddest things spark inspiration and I can’t help but write, be it mentally or actually putting the words on the page.

And before you think I waste my time with mental writing, for me, I remember plot lines and character backstory better than I remember how long I’ve been married. Does that make me a terrible wife? lol Not in my marriage. I married an artist (painter), so he gets it. Still, for me my process works. I am heavily invested in all things writing. If I start a conversation, it is almost guaranteed that it will lead to my writing at some point. I am also more than likely thinking about writing as we are talking.

That’s not to say I don’t and can’t talk about other stuff. I play video games, I read, and sometimes I pay attention to the news long enough to get depressed, but most of that gets shoved aside when it comes to social media. Those interests are not really relevant to me when it comes to my “author persona”. No one cares what video game I just played or how many hours I seemed to uselessly waste playing them. I don’t always have nice things to say about the books I read, so I stay quiet out of general author courtesy. I think I learned that little rule somewhere. Trust me I hate it. I feel like a liar every time I don’t review a book because I have a negative opinion. I also have Fibromyalgia, but trust me when I say no one wants to hear me moan about the issues that keep me from writing days at a time. So where does that leave me?

Talking about writing, more specifically, my writing. I don’t like talking about the craft of writing. Authors with more credibility than me have already said the advice I can and would toss out. My tips aren’t guaranteed to work for the next person. Hell, sometimes they don’t work consistently for me.  So I talk about things like what’s going on in Gardas, what character is doing what, which character is being a little shit that day, or plot trouble I may be having. Those things interest me and are most likely at the forefront of my thoughts.

For instance, I might mention on [social media site] that I’ve mentally written the same book twice over the last two days. “Mental writing” is part of my creative process. I’ve put down the rough outline already, but the book itself has been mentally written twice so far. Today, I had an alternate twist come to light that remade the hero into someone even more vivid than I initially imagined him to be. I sat for 4+ hours having an emotional session with a character. I laughed, cried (real tears, the horrible, ugly kind) and came to an odd feeling of tranquility once my character reached his own sense of peace and resolution with his fate. This is how I spent my day before I could move on to working on my website. Notice I said before I could. I’m that invested in my process that I don’t feel in control of my mental faculties. My mind has been hijacked more than once.

Those are the things I talk about. That’s what’s important to me as an author to share. Not the food I ate, the nameless store I rarely shop at, but scenes from stories that randomly popped into my head or how a song inspires a character to wake up and tell me a tale. But according to certain rules I shouldn’t share this information too often. People want to know me. Well…that is me. I live in my head. My characters, my worlds and all that I create are an extension of me. I am talking about me, just indirectly.

But supposedly I’m not supposed to talk that much about that kind of stuff. It just makes me wonder, for me, the socially awkward social media wallflower: What the hell am I supposed to talk about?

Who’s that girl?

Recently a friend and former crit group member ask me to do a five part interview in which each part would be featured on five different blogs. It’s called the Blog Ring of Power. Cool right? Want to follow along as I talk about everything from The Lycan Hunter to my thoughts on writing? Here’s the list of stops. Head over, check it out and feel free to leave a comment.

Part 1: Terri Bruce, author of Hereafter

Part 2: T.W. Fendley, author of Zero Time

Part 3: Emily LaBronte, speculative fiction author

Part 4: Sandra Ulbrich Almazan,science fiction author of the Catalyst Chronicles

Part 5: Vicki Lemp Weavil, author of young adult and adult fantasy and science fiction

Gardinian Ceremony: Kesuetah

Kesuetah is a  yearly ceremony which falls on January 31. Those in the Gardinian universe spend this day in honor of Goddess Ire, goddess of health.

Ceremony

The ceremony takes place in place of the morning rituals, before breakfast.

Attire/Appearance:

All attendees are to be freshly bathes and free of any perfumes and customary body paints. Customary jewelry may be worn as long as it has been thoroughly cleaned. The attendees are to wear white linens with purple threading along any visible seams.

Ceremonial Space:

The altar space should be prepared (usually performed after daily services) with the Rite of Cleansing. In the center of the altar should be a replica of the Tree of Liflasir (World Tree).  Small urns burn sage near the Liflasir replica and at even intervals along the rear of the altar. A purple pillar candle (roughly a foot tall) sits on top of a gold leafed pillar stand at the center of the altar, just in front of the replica.

Ritual:

The Saireceane will light the candle after the following words.

On this holiest of days 

we honor you.

May you honor us with your blessing.

Attendees will enter the altar room, taking a white taper candle as they enter. The Saireceane will step forward and motion everyone into prayer stance before leading everyone with the following prayer:

Goddess find me

in my moments of pain.

Goddess heal me

for my body is weak.

Goddess bless me

for my soul knows agony.

You are my solace

when my body knows pain 

and my soul grows weary.

I seek your blessing, Goddess.

May you keep my household in good health.

Should any fall ill,

may they be swift to regain your favor.

Forever we honor your good name,

Our Lady, the Merciful Cure.

Presentation: 

Starting with the eldest member in attendance, the attendees bring their unlit candle to the Siareceane. The Siareceane  takes anointing oil and draws Ire’s symbol on the attendee’s inner right wrist before he or she takes the candle and touches it to the flame of the pillar candle. The Siareceane returns the candle after saying:

May you be blessed with good health and your body and soul be both healthy and potent.

Once all attendees have received their candle, the Siareceane says:

Goddess finds us well;

our health in her good hands.

May our Lady Cure honor us with blessings anew.

In her honor, we give unto her our life’s breath.

Together the attendees blow out their candles.

The purple pillar candle is re-lit at the start of each subsequent prayer service, but the ritual is only performed in the morning.

Feast:

All meals consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, eaten in their raw, uncooked state. All meat is wither smoked or naturally cured. Food may be seasoned, but all things should be in it’s purest form.

Emblem of Goddess Ire, goddess of health
Emblem of Goddess Ire, goddess of health

*Author Note*

All Ceremonies and Celebrations posts are meant to give readers an inside scoop to what my characters live with everyday. If you have any further concerns about my intent, check this out.

The human experience

When I am asked why I self-published (a fact that has recently changed. You can read about it here), my immediate answer is generally my desire for control. I want my books to be a true representation of my vision and not a giant publishing house deciding everything beyond the words on the page. Who am I kidding? Sometimes they decide those too. No this isn’t a post about how big, bad and evil the Big 5 is. I don’t think that. I just know that it wasn’t for me. There are real reasons I chose to not even try to go the traditional publishing route. Yeah, that’s right. I didn’t even try.

Control was the first reason. Truthfully, the second reason had me wary of traditional publishing from the start. A recent post by Jenny Trout revitalized the reason why I was leery to look for an agent and eventually a publishing contract within the folds of the Big 5.

decorative-lines-17_large2“The fact that there are so few celebrated authors of color in YA is also a sign of Green’s privilege as a white male author; his books, no matter how groundbreaking or well-written, would not have received the support or acclaim they received if they had been written by a person of color. It’s very likely that they would never have been published, but dismissed as “ethnic” or “urban” and therefore deemed an unacceptable financial risk by traditional publishing. Through self-publishing, more authors of color have been able to find a voice and a market for their stories.” -Jenny Trout, Why our exclusionary attitudes toward self-publishing must change.

decorative-lines-17_large2Race. Yes, my race was the secondary reason I avoided even looking into traditional publishing. Sad right? I am black (African-American if that offends your sensibilities less) and yes, I write. That in no way means I am an African-American author, nor does it mean that I subscribe to the idea that I belong to a group of writers who write African-American fiction or Black Speculative Fiction(BSF), which is more inline with the fantasy element of my stories.

decorative-lines-17_large2“Labels are mentally lazy ways by which people assert they know you without knowing you.”

-Dr. Neil de Grasse Tysondecorative-lines-17_large2

Until I attended a conference last year, I honestly hadn’t heard of BSF. A cool African-American BSF author said she thought I might want to consider my work as BSF. When I said I that I write paranormal romance, she countered with the notion that my experiences “color” the interactions of my characters. Let’s just say that I couldn’t disagree more.

The heroine of my debut novel is a female with terrible parents and I do mean terrible. As a result of a highly dysfunctional relationship with her parents, Alexis James is emotionally closed off. It’s up to my hero to help her experience all the emotions she has denied herself just so that she could have some sort of sanity.

Crappy parents aren’t exclusive to my race. Finding someone to love you through the pain is a human experience. I write human experiences even if I don’t necessarily write humans. Also, I make an effort to write my characters racially ambiguous, because to me, race doesn’t matter.

That’s my belief and I’m sticking to it.

My books do not speak on a so-called “black experience”. Truthfully I don’t even know what that means, because beyond my skin tone, what about me denotes me as “black”? I’ve had one experience in my life where I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person I was dealing with regarded me as less than based solely on my race. With the exception of that experience and any time I fill out an application, the words I use to describe myself aren’t based on my race. I’m more than that. I’m Kelsey, author, mom, wife, gamer…There are so many other interesting descriptions that I can use to describe myself beyond the color of my skin.

Still I find myself wondering: What is the “black experience”? Mistreatment, oppression, slavery, etc are not solely “black” experiences. I can’t claim ownership to a history of injustice as if I (based on the color of my skin) and those who share my racial background are the only ones who have suffered injustice. If someone treats me as less than because of my race, what I take away from that is not the racial component, but the understanding that another being is trying to make me feel small or somehow insignificant. Yes, my initial experience may derive from that individual’s arbitrary idea that my skin color is the defining factor of my character, but the intent-the notion of trying to make me feel insignificant-is an experience that just about anyone can empathize, or at the very least, sympathize with.

Injustice has no borders. In a world made smaller by the internet and the increased capabilities of technology, restricting my scope of understanding to my limited experience fails to do what I believe fiction should do. Fiction should be able to reach everyone. It should stroke emotion in anyone, even if a person that has yet or will never have that experience. Books should make you feel, make you care, even if only for a moment in time. My goal as a writer is to create empathy for the human experience.

When I look at my characters I never see race. I see the traits that make them up. Those traits may derive from experiences that they have gone through on their journey to my muse, but I don’t use race as a defining factor of those experiences. Even if race was the catalyst of my character’s experiences, it is the intent, or the lingering feeling of the experience that matters to me.

If I was to be forced to determine what kind of experiences trigger my character interactions and general story line, I’d say that I write human experiences. A vast majority of my characters–if I were to classify them as having a race–are Caucasian or of some European descent. This is not an intentional thing, as in, I didn’t set out to write only “white” characters with some misguided attempt at ensuring I avoided being shoved into a particular genre. My characters are who they are. I don’t get to  mentally color them in. And as an added note, yes there are other “races” in my world, just as there are other species.

Fiction should be able to stretch across racial boundaries. I shouldn’t be limited by some so-called belief that my life experiences are viewed through race-tinted glasses.  When I look at my life, my experiences have allowed me to meet and have meaningful relationships with people. Yes, simply, people. I’m a military brat. My exposure to a variety of people is where I get my inspiration.

The worlds of the Gardinian universe have wars on just about every planet. If anything, humans seem to always be fighting for or against something. In that regard, the creatures of my worlds are no different. They fight oppression, they fight for land, and for the love of family and country. Gardas and all its inhabitants are a written expression of my view of a world that is far beyond the limitations of my own experiences.

I’m an author and I write about mythological gods and beasts. Beyond that I am only worried about telling tales of love and lust, destruction and creation, and the experiences that unite a universe. This is the reason I decided to forgo traditional publishing. I get to tell the stories I want to tell with no hidden agenda beyond making my readers feel something, if only for a brief moment in time.