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Author: S.M. Carrière

When S.M. Carrière isn't brutally killing your favourite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, and cuddling her cats. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, and cuddling furry murderers. Her most recent titles include 'Daughters of Britain' and 'Skylark.' https://www.smcarriere.com/
Three Tips to Writing When You Just Can’t

Three Tips to Writing When You Just Can’t

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Pick a character. I’m the shady ranger on the far left.

Good morning, Readers!

As many creatives these days, it feels like the world is getting harder and harder to create in; so much tragedy, hatred, anger and inhumanity filling up the airwaves. Couple that with an uncertain future for many of us, who have been furloughed from our jobs due to the pandemic. It’s hard to get creative when the stress of trying to ensure we have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies is taking up so damned much of our physical, emotional and mental energy.

For many, what was once difficult — creating — is now almost impossible. I know I’ve been struggling a great deal with it, and based on the chatter I’m hearing from my friends and creative circles, I’m not the only one.

I have good days and terrible days, but I’ve managed to pull myself along in my creative work, and I figured I’d tell you how. Maybe it’ll help you get work done, too.

This, of course, comes with the usual caveat that all advice, especially as it pertains to any creative endeavour, should be taken with the largest possible grain of salt. What works for one person won’t work for everyone, or perhaps anyone else.

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Let’s Get Diverted Together

Let’s Get Diverted Together

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This might work.

Good morning, Readers!

I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking about my writing and my writing skills… or lack thereof depending on who you ask. I fall short in a lot of areas, particularly any story that is supposed to be short. My inability to keep things short has helped me with the whole novel-writing thing I love to do, but I’m slightly miffed at myself for being so inept at something creative. Short stories simply aren’t my forte. I mean, the last time I tried to write one, it became a two volume epic. So, there’s that.

It’s not like I’ve never written anything short. I was the short story champion in high school, and my short story writing ability got me one of the highest QCS (Queensland Core Skills) scores in my class back when I was exiting secondary school. My marks dragged down my eventual exit OP (Overall Position) score, because high school was hell and I didn’t cope.

Anyway, the point is, I stopped writing short stories and now I feel like I have simply lost the knack.

I would like to fix that. But, you know, without the pressure of it counting towards any kind of grade.

And, I’d like for us all to join in for a communal, no pressure, bit of shared creativity.

Let me explain.

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Musing on a Writer’s Ambition

Musing on a Writer’s Ambition

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I’ve always wanted a proper fountain pen. I still don’t have one. I should fix that.

Good morning, Readers!

This blog post is personal to me and my experience with writing and publishing, but I thought a few of you might be able to relate.

I am, despite my better judgement or desire, an ambitious person. I try not to be. Or at least, try not to be so ambitious. I try to find contentment where I am. I struggle to, however.

You see, I don’t think my ambitions are all that great. I don’t want millions of dollars. All I really want is for my writing to reliably sustain me. That it pays my bills, and even gives me a little left over for fun things like travel… and the ability to support my video gaming and artistic hobbies. In publishing, however, that is one hell of an ambition. Even published and celebrated authors are forced to work outside of writing to feed, clothe and house themselves.

There’s not much money in publishing, to be frank.

Sure, some writers hit it big. People looking on, who might not know what it’s like in the trenches, would be forgiven in assuming that writers are doing far better than they are, what with such high profile authors out there. Those authors, however, a rare. The vast majority of us, published or not, languish in the dark, having to work elsewhere in order to support ourselves and our writing.

In my case, I work a full-time job as a receptionist and a side-job as a martial arts instructor.

Or I did. Before the plague.

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The Stories We Tell: Bias in Research and Its Effects on Fiction

The Stories We Tell: Bias in Research and Its Effects on Fiction

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Hadrian’s Wall, from the ruins of a Milecastle. Image from publicdomainpictures.net.

Good morning, Readers!

Last week, I was watching a lecture on Hadrian’s Wall, as you do, hoping to learn something new about the situation in Britain during the Roman occupation. I did not, incidentally, learn anything I had not already known (if money was no object, I would have a doctorate in archaeology, specializing in the British Isles, and probably a few extra degrees in archaeogenetics and archaeolinguistics. I am fascinated by these things). The lecture did, however, serve as a stark reminder of the frustrating presence of bias that permeates even intellectual pursuits. This lecture, in particular, veered hard towards a Roman bias, something that has been so prevalent in the field I am so interested in, that I’ve often shut books and thrown journals across the room.

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Character Trends: The Gentle(r) Man

Character Trends: The Gentle(r) Man

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I’ve always liked this image. I got this from 1001freedownloads.com.

Good morning, Readers!

First, let me preface this by noting that I grew up in the 80s and 90s, where the concept of masculine heroism was, let’s be perfectly honest, pretty damned toxic and one-dimensional, two at most. With the the depictions of male characters from that era falling into two main tropes; the skirt-chasing misogynistic jock hero type; the hyper violent, suffers no consequence for the terrible shite they’ve experienced, whose writers conflated arrogance and misogyny for charm and charisma, or the “nice” nerd (with often the exact same shortcomings as the jock hero type), depending on the story being told, I find myself so often struck by the change I’ve seen in male characters in recent times.

Also, I am wildly aware that the above tropes were not completely universal in the 80s and 90s, but it was prevalent enough that now, when I see how male characters are written now, the difference is absolutely striking.

And I’m here for it.

There are several characters who’ve made it plain that this outdated, toxic perception of masculinity is changing, and I’d like to take the time to celebrate them. I’m drawing a lot from film and video games, as those are the mediums which often lack the time and space to explore characters as fully as they do in books.

Anyway, here I go.

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Writing Advice: Embrace Boredom

Writing Advice: Embrace Boredom

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This image reminds me a lot of a culture I have in an as-yet unfinished
five book series I’m working on. It’s like someone reached into my head
and pulled the image out. I love it. Nabbed it from wallpaperaccess.com.

Good morning, Readers!

I am just beginning my third week of working from home, and I’m getting a little too used to it. Returning to the office is going to be difficult, I think. There is something that I’ve noticed, though, now that I’m not away from the house at work, or at martial arts training, or teaching, as I usually am. I actually got bored yesterday.

I feel we’re all so obsessed over being productive human beings, we fill our days with work; most of it unnecessary or superfluous, pointless or meaningless just to keep boredom at bay. As a writer, however, I have a slightly different view of boredom, and if there is one thing I have to impart on aspiring writers,* it’s this:

Embrace boredom.

*I am published, but so very unknown, so take my advice with a giant helping of salt. Similarly, just because it works for one person, doesn’t mean it’ll work for all people, so take all writing advice with a giant helping of salt, no matter the source. Okay, good. Now let’s continue.

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Creating, or Not, in New Territory

Creating, or Not, in New Territory

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It all feels a bit weird, doesn’t it?

Good morning, readers!

I am writing to you from isolation. Well, I say isolation. I share this house with a flatmate and two cats, so I’m not really all that isolated. I am, however, not at work. It seems my office has finally decided to start taking this pandemic seriously, and has requested that I stay home this week. I’m glad they’re at last taking it seriously. I am also fortunate, because I get to keep my job (thus far), and don’t have to worry too much about my next meal. I also live in Canada, where there is a promised safety net if I do happen to lose my job. It’s not as comprehensive as I would like (I rent ’cause I can’t afford a house, so the mortgage freeze doesn’t apply to me), it’s still a damned sight better than many other places. I’m extremely fortunate.

In fact, all I have to do is make a minor adjustment to my daily life.

Yet, I find that minor adjustment has translated into some pretty major issues. Creation has become all but impossible, or it was last week. Here are some steps I’m taking to combat the anxiety-induced malaise that has overcome me since this pandemic got started. I’m sharing them here just in case someone else is similarly struggling. Perhaps this might help those folks get back on track, with a fairly large caveat.

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Now This is Good News!

Now This is Good News!

Last of Us banner

Good morning, Readers!

I’m deliriously excited at last week’s HBO announcement that The Last of Us will be getting a television series on HBO. I have a deep, abiding love of this story, and this game. Strangely, the news made me far more excited than hesitant. as similar news of other properties I have enjoyed have made me (The Witcher, for example).

Part of why I’m not so hesitant this time around is that the production will be working directly with Neil Druckmann, the game’s creator. That tells me that the show is not likely to go off in crazy directions that utterly negate or disrespect the source material.

This is truly important to me. The story and the characters left such a lasting effect on me.

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Hot Take: Fan Fiction is Great

Hot Take: Fan Fiction is Great

Fantasy Book Clipart

Good day, Readers!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking of late.  Shocking, I know. Anyway, I had been struggling with finishing the second book of a series I’m currently trying to sell, and so decided to move on to another story for a while to give my brain a break and let it figure out the story in the background while I work on other stuff.

This other project, though, is something that I’m not going to be able to sell to anyone. It is, essentially, fan fiction. Sort of. I mean, I’m absolutely using the world and assets of another thing (a video game, if you must know) in order to tell this story.  It’s fan fiction.  But this post isn’t really about the fan fiction I’m writing.  It’s about fan fiction in general, and how wonderful I think it is (with some caveats).

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Let’s Go Questing!

Let’s Go Questing!

The Quest Banner

Good morning, Readers!

I think it’s fairly evident by now, after one year of writing for this eZine, that I am a gigantic dork. I have come to terms with this, accepted it, learnt to love it, even.

So it is entirely without shame that I proclaim how deeply in love with the show The Quest I fell when it aired some five years ago. Four? Hang on, let me check. I was right the first time. Five years ago.  Holy mackerel. Five years ago. When the season ended I was, along with a small, but dedicated group of fans (waves vigorously at The Quest Army (also, despite being a huge fan of the show, I only discovered The Quest Army last year, and I’ve never been happier than knowing that these wonderful folks exist)), eagerly waiting for news of another season. That news never came. And so, we gathered in our small corners of the internet, writing letters, begging for news, hoping against hope.

Well, not three weeks ago, our hoping, writing and begging paid off.

The Quest is finally, five years later, getting its second season.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m fairly sure that at least half of you have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.

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