Tag Archive | the ripple affair

Post Holiday Stress and Reflection (a.k.a. Why I Binged On Chocolate)

Happy Holidays, one and all!

And if you’re like me, you’re probably thanking the good Lord this season is almost over and a new year is about to begin.

Not that I’m a Scrooge or anything.  I love Christmas.  I dream of the day the first snowflake hits the ground.  The lights and festivities and the food and the presents make this time of year stand apart from all the other days.

But this Christmas, much like last year, has been anything but festive.  In fact, it’s been stressful.

At home, my family and I barely got any Christmas decorations up.  One tree was decorated, but since we’re barely home the lights on it were off most days.  Between care-giving for my grandparents and the busyness of life, present shopping became a last-minute dash to the store on Christmas Eve just so there’d be presents under the tree.  We still haven’t opened them yet and I’m still trying to find time to wrap the gifts I’m giving.  (Bless the person who invented gift bags…)

When Christmas Eve arrived, I was feeling down.  My family was readying to go to our church’s candlelight service.  I was recovering from a stomach flu and wasn’t able to sing with the choir that night.  Frankly, I wanted to do nothing more but stay home and get whatever sleep I could get before spending Christmas Day cooking.  The weather was cold.  It had been raining on and off and fog was filling the air.  We were all stressed and rushing out the door, hoping to find a restaurant open so we could eat dinner.  It was the making of a miserable Christmas.

But as I looked up at the night sky, I realized something.  The stars were shining bright, much brighter than they typically did.  The moon was a blazing crescent that lit up the darkness.  And in those few seconds of quiet, a slight breeze blew by.  It was one of the most peaceful nights I had ever been witness to.

When we got to church, the building was packed with people.  All shapes and sizes.  All colors and races.  All ages, young and old.  We gathered together and sang Christmas carols and the pastor said a few words of encouragement.  And as the lights dimmed and the candles were lit, the true meaning of Christmas came forth.

A woman in a wheelchair didn’t get a chance to get a candle for the service.  A man near her put his candle in her hand so she would have one.  Children who had been squirming and talking during the service suddenly quieted, in awe that they had a chance to hold a candle like other grown-ups.  Strangers who had never spoke to one another soon shook hands and told each other “Merry Christmas.”  A once-dark building suddenly became bright with the light from a thousand candles, all burning simultaneously, together.

Far too often the holidays are a time of stress.  We rush to buy presents.  We hurry to get things done.  We strive for perfection in our decorations and meals.  We hope to make everyone happy.  But like many things in life, things don’t often go as planned.  The stress remains.  Perfection turns into chaos.  The deviled eggs you made fall and are thrown upside down in the back of the van as you make your way in delivering Christmas dinner (yeah, that happened to me…)  Sometimes we can’t prevent the stress and have no control over the craziness that happens.

And yet, despite all of that, there can still be peace.  Like the people in the church service, we can still give.  We can still be kind.  We can still quiet ourselves (even for a few seconds) to be thankful for what we do have instead of complaining of what we don’t.  We can still be a light in a dark world, bringing goodness and joy to troubled hearts.  Even Mary and Joseph had a stressful Christmas when you really think about it, unable to find a hotel room and going through labor in a barn.  And yet what happened after all of the stress?  The Prince of Peace was born.

I’ll admit this holiday season I’m binge-eating a lot of chocolate to help keep the stress down.  But despite all of that, I feel thankful for celebrating another Christmas.  Even though my grandparents are still recovering from health issues, I had another Christmas with them.  I also got to see my aunt and cousin who I had not seen in a long time.  I am also so grateful for the little moments, like the candle light service or the peaceful night sky, that bring my anxious mind calmness.  My hope and prayer is that you are filled with joy and peace this holiday season.  May your New Year be filled with goodness and may you be a light in the hearts of others!

And before I go, I have a (belated) holiday present for you!

“The Ripple Affair” is available for *FREE* on Kindle today and tomorrow (December 27 and 28).  You can download it from the Kindle store by clicking here.  Don’t forget to review on Amazon and Goodreads (or wherever else you want to review, ha ha!)  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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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.  🙂

Apparently Chivalry Isn’t Dead (At Least According to Sir Peterson)?

Typically, favorite characters in a story are easy to spot.

They’re the brave, brilliant hero/heroine like Katniss Everdeen.  They’re the snarky, sassy loud-mouth like Sheldon Cooper.  They’re the sweet and adorable comedian like Bolin.  Sometimes, they’re the crazy and clever villain like Jim Moriarty.  Favorite characters are pretty easy to spot because they’re popular, unique, and bring something important to the overall story they find themselves in.

So when I started hearing feedback from readers regarding my book, “The Ripple Affair”, I thought I had everyone’s favorite characters figured out.  I knew people would love Bernie.  She’s blunt, funny, smart, and real.  I also figured people would love Edward, with his emotional turmoil, and Malina, with her deceptive and clever manipulating skills.

But though I heard readers enjoyed these characters, there was one character who topped the “favorite’s list” above everyone else.

That character was Marcus Peterson.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I *love* Marcus.  He is one of my favorite characters because, frankly, he’s like my dream guy.  He’s brave, kind, loyal, and very chivalrous.  But as I was writing the story, I didn’t think readers would enjoy him that much.  In “The Ripple Affair”, he’s the heroic supporting character without a flaw about him.  If you’re familiar with the term “Mary Sue” (or “Gary Stu”, since Marcus is a guy), I was certain readers would put that label on him.  In Book One, he’s almost too perfect.  No mention of flaws, no great struggles to make him grow as a character, and certainly nothing to make you doubt his success as a knight in the royal guard.  Writing a series, I know Marcus does have flaws (which will come to light in later books), but “The Ripple Affair” doesn’t reveal them.

Confused as to why such a chivalrous and perfect character would be so popular, I decided to ask some readers why Marcus was their favorite.  Their answers were surprising.  “He stands up for what’s right.”  “He’s so chivalrous.”  “He’s not afraid to speak the truth.”  “He’s brave and has no problem going against the wrong.”  “He tells it like it is.”  “He’s so loyal.”

I grew up hearing from culture that “chivalry is dead”, but apparently it isn’t as dead as I once thought.

I learned a valuable lesson from my readers in this regard; not so much on the concept of chivalry and whether it still exists in the world or not, but that some readers still enjoy the brave and loyal hero character, flaws or not.  I wrote Marcus into the story thinking I’d be the only one who liked him, but I was wrong.  I’m not the only one who likes good and chivalrous heroes.  Other people do, too.

I’ll admit this makes me happy as my plans for Marcus in “The Ripple Affair” series were apparently on the right track.  I planned on giving him a bigger role in the story, and now that I know readers like him, it gives me that much more confidence in the stories to come.  I won’t reveal much on what happens later on in the series, but I will reveal that Marcus is going to have a very big role coming up and his past will be revealed in the up and coming Book Two, “Reign of Change.”

Oh!  One more thing.  The Kindle version of “The Ripple Affair” has been uploaded and is available for purchase at $2.99.  Right now, Amazon is in the process of linking the Kindle version and paperback version on their site, so if you type “The Ripple Affair” in the search box, you might not see it (the linking process usually takes 1-3 days.)  A link to the Kindle version of the book can be found here.

Thanks and have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone!