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Weekly Update – Finding Callida

I’m in the middle of writing Heir of Vengeance, and that means I have to start working on a new character: Callida Serus, Malina’s older sister.

When I first started planning The Ripple Affair over a decade ago, Callida didn’t exist. In fact, though Malina mentioned having a sister, she was never supposed to appear, remaining a blurb in a sentence for the entire series.

But you know how writing goes. Plans get thrown out the window and characters tend to surprise you.

Callida came about as I was writing the ending for Heart of Deceit. And now that she’s arrived, that means I have to figure out her character – her motivations, her wants, her strengths and weakness, her future. Let me tell you…that’s not easy when the character didn’t even exist until the fourth book was finished.

So this week (as I’ve been recovering from another flu bug), I’ve been spending some time figuring her out. I can’t say I completely know her as well as I do Edward, Bernie, or Malina yet, but she is getting there, and she’s already proving to be a nice contrast to her younger sister. I’m excited for you all to meet her when Heir of Vengeance is complete!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers! Have a great week! ūüôā

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Weekly Update – The Ripple Affair Series Hashtag Game

Have you ever seen trending hashtags on Twitter?  They can be awfully fun to read sometimes.  Recently, a hashtag called #MovieSynopsisIn5Words had been trending, and many took to their phones to Tweet funny phrases describing movies using only five words.  

Well, book characters can do that too!  Only this time, they’ll be talking about what they know best – The Ripple Affair Series!

Listed below are what some of my book characters have written for their own hashtag game: #RippleAffairSynopsisIn5Words.

Edward, on The Ripple Affair…

Romance novel becomes soap opera.

Waffles on Reign of Change… 

Apples contain lots of fiber. 

Emmerich on When Dreams Break…

Nice guy finally gets girl.

Bernie on Heart of Deceit…

Bernie/Marcus becomes the new ship.

King Arden on Reign of Change…

Good king makes bad dad.

Queen Maria on When Dreams Break…

Dinner party fails despite plans.

Aldaric on When Dreams Break…

Ex holds grudge for decades.

Malum on Heart of Deceit…

Boss must do everything himself.

Bohden on When Dreams Break…

Mysterious prophet covers plot holes.

Sir Rikert on The Ripple Affair…

Wise guy ignored like always.

Stay tuned for next week where the characters for The Adventures of Captain Patty do the same!

Also, thoughts and prayers for everyone affected in Las Vegas today!

The Evolution of Character

When I was little, I was bound and determined to be a meteorologist.

I’d watch¬†The Weather Channel on a daily basis. ¬†I’d study cloud patterns to¬†try and predict rain by looking up at the sky. ¬†When a storm came up, I’d watch the radar with keen eyes, studying the wind¬†direction.

And then I saw Jurassic Park.  My dreams of meteorology were thrown out the window and I soon dreamed of flying to far away lands, digging up dinosaur bones and hopefully one day genetically growing my own brontosaurus.

Of course, that dream changed when I saw Apollo 13. ¬†I then vowed to become an astronaut to study the stars and visit planets and asteroids. ¬†I read every biography, studied every space program. ¬†I even started studying flight because I heard “Pitch, Roll and Yaw” was a popular read for astronauts (not sure how true that is, but as a kid I thought it best to study it anyways.)

By the time I got to college my mind had changed considerably on what I could do with my life. ¬†I wanted to be a preacher. ¬†I wanted to be a singer. ¬†I wanted to be a chemist. ¬†I wanted to be a teacher. ¬†I didn’t¬†look at writing as a serious career until I was in my mid-twenties.

Over the years (I’ve noticed), change has been my constant companion. ¬†I’m not the same person I was ten or even five years ago. ¬†I’ve grown, matured, and learned things along the way. ¬†And five¬†years from now, I’m sure I’ll change some more.

As I’ve been working on Book 2 and Book 3 of “The Ripple Affair” series, I can’t help but look back at how much my characters have changed. ¬†These stories have been a work in progress for ten years and going, and though some characters have remained untouched, many characters have gone through drastic changes as the story has progressed and grown.

Take (for example) Emmerich. ¬†(Slight spoilers ahead, if you’re looking…)

We first meet Emmerich in Book 1. ¬†At first we can see he is a quiet individual-bookish, shy, and full of manners. ¬†As we get to know him throughout the story, however, we see other traits pop up. ¬†He holds grudges when he’s wronged. ¬†He’s a passionate individual. ¬†He loves¬†deeply. ¬†And as we get into Book 2, we’ll find that he has many more traits as well (and I’ll admit they’re pretty humorous.)

But when I first started writing Emmerich’s character, he was anything but the person he is in the story now.

Ten years ago, he had a small cameo. ¬†He was “the queen’s adventurous and brave nephew”, called upon when someone needed a daring task to be done or something to be hunted. ¬†He never had a scene with his cousin Edward and was a close friend of Marcus Peterson.

Five years ago, his story grew.  He was no longer limited to just being the brave hunter.  Connections to other characters began to form and a history began to appear.  He was an only child.  How would that effect his relationships with his family?  He soon had some scenes with Edward.  Were they friends?  Were they enemies?  Did they even see each other living so far away?

One¬†year ago, his story began to take shape. ¬†As other characters’ stories came forth and changed, Emmerich’s soon had to adapt. ¬†Edward had a strained relationship with his family members, and that would include Emmerich. ¬†But why did they not get along? ¬†Were they too different, or was it something else? Emmerich’s father (who had not existed a year ago) was created and given the job of being an ambassador to Edeland. ¬†Edward’s wife-to-be is from Edeland, so did Emmerich know her? ¬†It turns out he did.

The character (and story) evolved from there. ¬†Like time and experience had changed me when¬†growing up, so had it changed Emmerich. ¬†Time passed and experience happened. ¬†The story grew and Emmerich had to adapt. ¬†Though he could’ve stayed as the brave hunter, his role in the story would have been limited or non-existent and he wouldn’t have been able to grow. ¬†Changed allowed him to adapt. ¬†Experience and time made him into the character he is today.

I admit I don’t like change. ¬†It takes me out of my comfort zone and I can’t predict what the outcome of that change will be. ¬†But I also can’t prevent it sometimes, and perhaps that’s a good thing. ¬†Without change, I’d still be a kid. ¬†Without change, I¬†would never have learned how much I enjoy studying dinosaurs and space. ¬†Without change, I would’ve never taken the chance to write. ¬†And without change, Emmerich would have just remained¬†a name on a page with no contribution to the story. ¬†Time passes and experience grows. ¬†Just as I’m still changing as I get older, Emmerich will continue to evolve. ¬†Experiences will happen. ¬†Time will (hopefully) make him wiser. ¬†Relationships will come and go. ¬†But Emmerich will grow along with his story, just as I¬†grow along with mine.

Hospital Food, Broken Washer, and a Book Signing

It’s been a hectic¬†month.

It started off with a phone call from my aunt and uncle. ¬†A family friend of ours (my uncle’s mother) had died. ¬†A few days later, I had to have an endoscopy. ¬†A few days after that, I got a phone call in the middle of the night that my grandfather had a heart attack. ¬†We were in the hospital for a week. ¬†Then, after my grandfather came home, we had another emergency in the middle of the night last night. ¬†Our washing machine decided to flood part of the basement, the laundry room, two closets, and part of the kitchen. ¬†Not only that, but a large shipment of books I ordered for today’s book signing got delayed¬†in the northeast because of all the snow that hit New York.

And worst of all, I RAN OUT OF MAKEUP BEFORE MY BOOK SIGNING.

I can’t tell you how horrific that is for me. ¬†I didn’t even have time to stop at the grocery store to pick up more…(*cries*).

All of this within a week and a half.

Needless to say there was not enough caffeine¬†in the universe to keep me wide awake and alert. ¬†Between funeral preparations, caregiving for both my grandfather and grandmother, cleaning up the mess my washer made, searching high and low for any extra copies of “The Ripple Affair” I could get my hands on, and praying to the good Lord to find a¬†pinch of foundation and cover stick to hide my zits, it seemed like¬†fate was out to get me and I was having a stroke of bad luck.

It was frustrating to say the least. ¬†I was tired, cranky, impatient, and feeling terrible. ¬†I didn’t understand why so many bad things happened all at once. ¬†Was this supposed to be some sort of sign that I shouldn’t have wrote a book? ¬†Was this fate’s way of telling me taking a chance on being a writer was a terrible decision that I should’ve never made?

I arrived at my book signing this afternoon dreading it. ¬†I was waiting for some other emergency to happen. ¬†Books would probably fall in the snow puddles outside and be ruined. ¬†The chocolate cake we ordered would probably be dropped and smushed. ¬†Guests would undoubtedly skip the party and enjoy the first “warm” day we’ve had in days (it was above freezing today-that’s tropical weather where I’m at.)

I didn’t expect it to be a good party. ¬†After so much bad, why would something good finally happen?

After the first guests started to arrive, though, I noticed that the party wasn’t going as bad as I thought. ¬†We had enough books for the guests. ¬†The cake and food were a hit with some guests going up for seconds. ¬†And people showed up! ¬†Friends and family arrived and had a great time socializing, discussing writing, and meeting new people.

By the end of the party, I found it to be one of the best get-together’s I’ve ever been to. ¬†Any discouragement I had before was removed by the love and support of my family, friends, and guests who took time out of their day to spend a few hours supporting my dream. ¬†I was so thankful for the people who were there and I will never forget the wonderful time I had with them today. ¬†They made it so special! ¬†I also got to meet some wonderful new people who were so kind to offer their support for “The Ripple Affair”.

Today¬†taught me a valuable lesson; not about writing, but about life. ¬†So many times we come across bumps in the roller coaster that’s life and we get bombarded with bad things. ¬†A poor diagnosis. ¬†A lost job. ¬†The loss of someone we love. ¬†Not getting a break. ¬†Sometimes these events happen so close together that’s it’s easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged, thinking that somehow we’re cursed or have bad luck and it’s never going to get better.

But life is like a roller coaster.  Just like how we can fall on our knees, we can also rise back up again.

After the night comes the day. ¬†After winter comes spring. ¬†After a storm comes a rainbow. ¬†We all go through difficulties and hard times, but no matter what we go through, the bad times don’t last forever. ¬†It may take a lot of prayer, patience, and chocolate, but the good moments in life will always step in to overtake the bad.

Also, a special note!

I’m now on Goodreads (under Erin Cruey). ¬†Feel free to review my book or find me in the group chats and say hello. ¬†ūüôā

Damaged Pearls

Last year my mother came across a huge sale that was every shopper’s dream. ¬†Jewelry-specifically pearl necklace and earring sets-were marked down over 70% off. ¬†The clearance price was so cheap you’d literally think you were getting those little plastic costume pearls in the local store. ¬†The bargain was a steal, and like any good shopper, my mom decided to take advantage of the rare price drop and buy pearl sets for me, my grandmother, and herself for Christmas.

We picked them up at the store and opened the box for inspection.  To our dismay, the majority of pearls on the necklace were of poor quality.  Many were dented in.  Some were misshapen.  A few had an off-color about them.

Because the price was so good, we decided to keep them and at least try them out before returning. ¬†We took them home and brought my grandmother’s set to her house, but because the pearls were of poor quality, she had us take her set¬†back for a refund.

When we returned home, my mom was debating on whether to take¬†ours back or not. ¬†But after examining the pearls, we came to the realization that just because they had a few flaws didn’t mean they weren’t beautiful. ¬†From a distance, you couldn’t tell the pearls were damaged¬†and they looked like any other necklace. ¬†And even when you looked closely upon them, seeing the dents and awkward shapes and sizes, it became clear that the flaws and awkward parts of the pearls were what made them unique, and in many ways, beautiful.

Sometimes when we look at ourselves, we only see our “flaws”. ¬†Maybe we think we’re¬†too big or too small. ¬†Maybe we think our face is full of acne or our hair is too frizzy. ¬†Maybe our bodies just don’t look like the way we want them to. ¬†But like the “damaged” pearls, we can still be beautiful¬†despite our flaws. ¬†Flaws are something we all have (regardless of what Hollywood culture seems to portray), and for many, those flaws are only noticeable when we look for them. ¬†Sometimes the flaws are noticeable (I know no matter how much makeup I wear, the acne can still show!), but despite that, we are still beautiful. ¬†And like my “damaged” pearls, sometimes our flaws may not be flaws at all, but something that adds a unique beauty to us. ¬†Depending on how we see it, our flaws can¬†also¬†give us a mighty strength to do something great or help others in similar situations.

I’ve had my pearls for a year now, and even though they aren’t “perfect” or “flawless”, they have become my favorite piece of jewelry. ¬†I’m not much of a jewelry person, but any time I have a special occasion, I wear my pearls. ¬†And despite what they look like, others have loved them, too. ¬†Because when I wear my pearls, most people don’t look at the dents or the color or the sizes. ¬†They just see a pearl necklace and a smiling person who’s wearing it. ¬†Some may say my pearls are flawed, but to me…

They’re fabulous.

A couple of notes before I end this post:

  • If you could keep my grandfather in your thoughts and prayers, I would appreciate it. ¬†He had a heart attack this morning, and though he is in good spirits and is being treated by doctors, we still are unsure of what’s ahead in recovery or whether open heart surgery will be needed.
  • I’d also like to give a big thank you to everyone who has bought my book, “The Ripple Affair”. ¬†I welcome reviews on my book and would love to see some more reviews on Amazon! ¬†Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of my first novel’s release. ¬†The second book, “Reign of Change”, will be published *very* soon, so you won’t be stuck with the cliffhanger ending on “The Ripple Affair” for long. ¬†ūüėČ

Thanks, everyone, and have a wonderful weekend!

Confidence and the Writer

It’s interesting to see what advice professional writers give to aspiring authors on how to make their¬†writing great.

Write everyday.  Practice word sprints.  Daydream.  Research marketing and business.  Network with other authors.  The pieces of advice given have helped many people strengthen their art and craft and we can certainly learn from the wisdom of our fellow writers who have more experience than we do.

But the thing I’ve noticed after publishing is that even after doing all these things (all great pieces of advice), I still find myself having days where I feel inadequate or unprepared. ¬†When sales slow instead of speed up, when creativity is more of a trickle instead of a fountain, when the project you hoped would be done in a month is only half-way finished three months in. ¬†There are just some days where no matter how much advice you’re given, stagnant sales remain stagnant and an empty page remains empty.

Going on eleven years since I started writing¬†The Ripple Affair, I remember hitting a slump that literally took¬†years to get out of. ¬†Typically when writer’s block hits, it lasts a few days or weeks. ¬†If it’s really bad, it’ll last a few months. ¬†Mine lasted about four years. ¬†What began as a dream that took up my nights and weekends with pages of productivity suddenly became hours of standing in front of the computer screen watching the cursor blink in a steady rhythm, all the while feeling the frustration build. ¬†I’d try to write a page only to get a sentence. ¬†I’d try to come up with an idea only to repeat the same, boring scene. ¬†It became so persistent that I eventually gave up writing all together, only bothering to write a chapter when the creativity hit.

In those four years, hardly anything was created.  And no piece of advice or practice could bring me out of it, save one.

Confidence.

As a writer, self-confidence was something I was never really taught much about in school. ¬†When I learned to write, it was all about¬†talent and¬†knowledge and remembering where the comma goes or what conjunction works best. ¬†Writing became like singing-either you had it or you didn’t-and there was this idea that I developed, thinking that if the talent didn’t flow easily and I struggled to find something to write, then I wasn’t a writer.

So when my writer’s block hit after five years of productivity, I felt like whatever talent I had was suddenly thrown out the window.

I’m thankful that I can say I have a mother who sat me down and encouraged me to not give up on my dream, even though it seemed like it gave up on me. ¬†“Believe in yourself. ¬†Don’t give up,” she encouraged. ¬†And even though I didn’t want to believe her, I forced myself to listen. ¬†“Ideas will come in time. ¬†You just have to be patient.” ¬†It was the last thing I wanted to hear, but in the end, she was right. ¬†Ideas eventually came. ¬†Patience proved fruitful.

I can now look back at those four years as the most transforming time in my writing career.  Yes, it was frustrating.  Yes, it was long.  Yes, it made me feel like the worst writer in the world.  But it taught me perseverance.  It taught me that there is strength in believing in yourself.

When I talk with other people about writing, I usually get this response: “I want to write, but…” ¬†What follows is a list of excuses. ¬†“I’m not that good at it.” ¬†“I don’t know what to write.” ¬†“My grammar is terrible.” ¬†“People say I’m not good at writing.” ¬†Their insecurity stops them, paralyzing whatever dream they had and keeping it from coming forth. ¬†And this doesn’t just apply to writing. ¬†I’ve seen many talented people-singers, preachers, teachers, actors, businessmen/businesswomen-not even take a chance because they didn’t think they could do it. ¬†How many van Gogh’s no longer paint? ¬†How many Beethoven’s no longer compose? ¬†How many Shakespeare’s no longer write? ¬†Lack of talent isn’t the killer¬†of creativity. ¬†Insecurity is.

We all have a dream.  We all have a desire within us to do something meaningful with our lives.  But too often life gets in the way and tries to stifle that dream.  Too often people speak defeat into our talents when they should be speaking victory.  But whether our dream has a chance to become reality is left to us.  We are the ones who take the first step.  We are the ones who take the leap of faith and persist through all the struggles and doubts.  We are the ones who determine whether our dreams remain in our hearts or become a part of our lives.

All it takes is a little self-confidence to see it through.

A few little announcements before I end this post:

  • I’m now on Twitter! ¬†Feel free to follow me @erincruey and stay up to date on book announcements or general attempts at comedy. ¬†My Twitter page is also on my blog so you can see it from the Home Page, too.
  • Reign of Change, also known as Book Two in¬†The Ripple Affair Series, is in the final editing stages and will be available very soon! ¬†You can check out the cover on my¬†Books page (just click on the Books tab on my website).

That’s all for now. ¬†Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!