Friday, March 13, 2015
ROBsessed Interview with Diane Munier (counselor)
ROBsessed: How long have you been writing? Did it start as a hobby or did you study the form?
Diane Munier: It started very young in one form or the other. The movies were such an escape for us from a turbulent home life. I remember being very bad in the theater. I don’t think Mom was paying attention, but finding those heroes on screen and then in reading-- I can almost see that process in my life. I needed heroes to believe in for a fundamental sense of safety. I did this comedic writing in high school (which explains why I still can’t speak French after two years.) And I wrote my first novel in those years and really enjoyed the process of creating a tale, moving the characters around.
Study came later. Lots of it. Writing seminars for years. I watched several people explain methods of putting a story together. Some had elaborate storyboards. Those were the years I thought a more organized method held the secret to good writing. But…nah.
I found many things helpful but nothing substitutes for keeping writing. Actually learning to write is where many writers were camped out so they didn’t have to face writing. So….
The characters in my stories drive the plot. I may know where they are going vaguely, but I’m willing to change all of that if they show me something new. And they do that all of the time. I just start writing. At some point I’ll go back and review the chapters and start an outline. But that’s only for reference. The most helpful thing is that act of writing the outline. I remember this way.
I’ve had some positive validating experiences along the way and worked really hard to claw down to an authentic voice. That was like a digging process—writing honestly. For a lot of years I was so angry at my writing. I’d think—what a bunch of (bleep). But that’s just part of the journey. For me it was. I suspect a lot of writers quit there. Which is a shame.
ROBsessed: The first story I read by you was Turkey Baster. Where did you get the idea for this story and why was it one of your early adventures for Bella and Edward?
Diane Munier: I was lying in bed thinking about someone I knew and loved and they so badly wanted a baby and I was thinking of surrogacy, did I love this person enough to imagine having a child for her, and what could motivate such love and was it even possible, and how was it possible, and that led to a woman who might do such an outrageous act and then who was the man that signed up for this? And I started to laugh because the title hit me (it was probably close to Thanksgiving) and I had read of someone using a turkey baster for artificial insemination (don’t try this at home). But what if you used a person that way—as the baster? So it went like that.
ROBsessed: What was inspiring about Twilight that it was the fanfic road you traveled over other stories/characters?
Diane Munier: For me, Edward was an old-fashioned hero. And I love them. I really was most intrigued at how much Edward had in place. Of course his hundred and five years of life had given him time to be prepared. But I loved how he had this thought-out world. In their family everyone knew their role and performed it perfectly. They worked for each other. And he pulled Bella into that. His family is very old-fashioned and traditional (potential for blood-sucking aside). But think about it. Edward gave us family.
I think that is missing today and that protective Cullen-family-dynamic stirred a deep ache in the readers.
Edward was not only a lover, he was a devoted son and father. He hit all the bases.
Yes he was handsome and romantic and doting, but he protected and sacrificed and provided. The second half of that sentence is what is lacking today in relationships for many women. The cultural message has been to protect, sacrifice and provide for yourself. Bella was doing that. Then along came Edward and we all went wild. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Bella is the lone wolf. She’s had to parent her mother, and then her father. She comes from a fragile place of not being very protected and not developing much of a sense of self-protection. Bella’s family dynamic was very today and now. Edward and his world transcended Bella’s fragmented family structure.
And we loved it.
[Editorial note: *swooooooooning at her answer*]
ROBsessed: One of the many things I love about your work, is that you've kept canon relationships with the coreTwilight characters but can still bring in characters we love as if we've known them all along - your kids especially (Johnny, Charlie, Junie). And your last two works, you practically don't use the names we know, DITHOMespecially. Hello Tonio and Sobe! Those are names that I imagine you get to use in a published version. Has this been a conscious decision? Moving away from the obvious Twilight identifiers? I feel like DITHOM isn't fanfic and publishable material already...except that last name ;)
Diane Munier: I’m never writing with Twilight foremost in mind. I am writing to the ancient themes that are also done very well in Twilight, the biggest one being the devotion of the central characters.
When mama and papa are committed a whole world can be built on top of that (Carlisle and Esme, Bella and Edward). When that kind of covenant is there, it’s like the table under the dishes. There has to be a commitment and B and E have that—it’s unto death! If the commitment isn’t there the dishes fall to the floor (Bella’s family.)
Once that central commitment is there, a family can be built on it, and that includes friends.
SM built a solid traditional family. Women went wild.
I respect those themes and the generous opportunity to write in the Twilight arena with, in my opinion, the best readership ever, and SM’s generosity and technology have allowed this merge of writers and readers. Out of that merge has become a continued evolution of tremendous creativity—some extraordinary creativity. Not only have writers been validated there, but readers have evolved. They have been able to turn into super-readers. By that I mean, what readers (like myself) have only wished they could do (have access to those writing books they love, have a way to show support, watch a story be developed allowing a level of reader involvement and investment on a grand scale here-to-fore unparalleled and unknown) the technology today has brought things to a whole new level.
On the names like Isbe, Sobe, etc., that’s probably for me. It helps me keep them distinct. I’ve been turning out a lot of work and want to honor the workroom of Twilight while maintaining something unique and individual to my characters if possible.
ROBsessed: Why was Me and Mom Fall for Spencer your choice for a debut? Tell me what you loved about developing Sarah, Spencer and Marie.
Diane Munier: I choose this story to debut because it’s middle of the road for me, test the waters. It was well liked but not my most loved. That’s about how deep that decision was. And four of my stories were tied up with my agent. And I’d only pulled MaMfiLwE and HH. So since HH was in New York, that left MaM,etc. That’s about it.
What I loved about developing these characters was their weirdness. Sarah is childlike. She’s made a very good life and she’s tried to be compassionate in her life, but she’s also in a state of arrested development. Like a lot of us. So much time passes while we figure things out. Then when we do we say—wish I’d have figured this out sooner. But there is a process of growth in life that’s hard to control. Even if you determine to live all-out the process still has to move along at its own speed. Once the change comes, you can’t say, “I should have just leapt to this. The process was a waste of time.” On the contrary, the process brought the change. No change without process.
Spencer jars Sarah’s process in a big way. And she challenges his. He’s a runner, but she doesn’t run. And…she can’t. Run. So vicariously everyone is affected and everyone ultimately moves vertically or horizontally.
I had women who felt very passionately about Sarah as a heroine. They related to her quirks. Most of us are Sarah-like in that we are not the standard idea of the leading lady. Sarah was in that gap so she became a vehicle for the under-represented perhaps. People like me.
ROBsessed: I find lovely threads of humor in many of your stories but this story was the first time I read something you specifically noted was part of the humor genre. I love the humor in Me and Mom Fall for Spencer, mainly because of Sarah. Was this a test for you write or is it something that came from the characters naturally?
Diane Munier: It came from them. It flowed out of them. Even hurtful people can be incredibly funny. And hurt people are often the funniest. I didn’t give it a thought really. I just listened and sometimes they were funny.
ROBsessed: You set several stories in the Midwest. Is this a preferred location? What inspires you about a setting when you decide where to place your story? Do you see the characters is certain settings and/or eras first?
Diane Munier: I love the Midwest and we need to get over the stereo-types about it. We have access to the same ivy-league schools, the same books and movies and music. We are no less enlightened. Yes, it is my preferred location. I adore it actually. But I love us sea to sea as well. My roots are Midwestern however.
When it’s locale first I see it and it inspires me to hear and see what might have gone on. So right away I’m seeing the character. If it’s character first I’m immediately drawn to an idea of his or her environment. The kiln where they were forged.
What is the history here? What happened here? When? Who lived here and who died here? On and on.
ROBsessed: Tell me what you hope readers experience when nestling down into their favorite spot to read Me and Mom Fall for Spencer?
Diane Munier: I hope they can suspend judgment long enough to enter and ride in someone else’s skin. I hope they can go that deep in, that I’ve gotten out of the way enough to allow that. I hope they are entertained, yes, but also blessed in some way, reminded of something good, maybe even precious.
I’m writing small stories about real things that may be some of the most important things. That’s my hope anyway.
ROBsessed: I saw Darnay Road is up next - a story that keeps its name and its Easy. That made me smile. Is that still slated for late March?
Diane Munier: Yes. And Finding My Thunder. They are fighting it out right now. I’m kind of pulling for FMT but we’ll see. It mainly relies on manuscript preparation as we get under the wire.
[Editorial note: The cover for Finding My Thunder was shared on Diane's blog! Here's a glimpse of it if you haven't seen it already. It will also be the next book up and Darnay Road will follow.]
ROBsessed: I hope to interview you again for your next release and I can't wait for the day I see My Wounded Soldier in upcoming. We'll get Rob to play the movie version. It must happen. ;) Final question and since we're a ROBsessed blog, what's something about Rob that you believe is worth adoring?
Diane Munier: Thanks so much for all of this. Really. I have always been blown away by your support on Robsessed. I remember the first time it happened, that you mentioned one of my stories, someone told me and I thought it was a mistake. I still do! But I really appreciate it.
On Rob - Due to technology we have been allowed to watch Rob’s story unfold. That has been as captivating as Rob’s role as Edward. What I find most endearing about him is that he is his age, put in this beautiful exterior, and at first he seemed bewildered by the whole thing—all the accolades and he seemed painfully aware it was too much. And it was!
But let’s face it – God made him on a good day. (quote stolen from MWS) And we’ve watched him figure it out as he’s been pulled along on a speeding train. He provokes the young girl inside (sigh) and the mother (no don’t do that! Or I’m so proud!). For me as a writer, he’s downright inspiring. Like Edward, he hits all the bases. I get it. I do.
Well if that wasn't an awesome note to close the interview on, I don't know what is. I get super sappy when folks dish out some sweet-lovin praise for Rob. Diane nailed it. He hits ALL bases. *le sigh*
Interview at the source
Many here know fellow camper JediGirl. She's here to help introduce Counselor's newest book news.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
ADF Adifferentforest.net posted:
Many here know fellow camper JediGirl. She's here to help introduce Counselor's newest book news.
Come on by and chit chat with JediGirl and Counselor. :)
Original article at the source******************************************************
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Counselor / Diane Munier interview on Counselor's Corner Facebook Group
Question: Does the historical time period come first as an idea, or does the character appear full blown, & how hard is it to think & write in the mode of the particular era being written about?
Answer: This really made me think. I usually visit my location. It may not be exactly geographically where I place the story. I am more instinctual, an absorber. I'm looking to feel the place as much as see it. And I'll hear of an incident, or read of one maybe and I'm saying -when did this happen? To whom did it happen? That incident will be the thing that gets me going. In Wounded Soldier, it's an old newspaper story from the Civil War. Two soldiers lying in the field in the aftermath of battle. As they look up a white dove flies over head. One says to the other, "That's a sign. Peace Will Come." The original title to that story is Peace Will Come and I plan to bring that back. Peace Will Come. That incident so moved me. Then my central character showed up. Tom Tanner he was called originally in one of my fifteen versions. Tom shows up and there we go. He's this hardened civil war vet who is basically dead inside and the story starts where he has to deliver a baby. Can I imagine what that is like for him? It's wonderful but painful. Coming back to life is so painful, and much as he wants that, he fights it.
For FF I rewrote that story and Tom became Edward in that he loved like that. The story became renewed and I never looked back at the original when I rewrote it. I hadn't seen the last version for five years. That story was so deep in me and Tom was (no pun). His wound somehow merged with mine (fundamental. I let them go to my own wounds. I don't write around my wounds, I write OUT of them. It's the only way to make your fiction real. It's not just a knowledge of history that makes them real. Oh no. It's being healed enough from your own pain, being unafraid enough of your own pain that you can use it. When that happens, when you are that courageous, you can write REAL and connect with people. Until then you'll just do what everyone else does. You may do it well, with perfect grammar even, but perfect grammar wonderful as it is, is no substitute for writing something so authentic, so full of your own blood where you've spared yourself nothing so others can connect, then your writing Blesses them. You can hire someone to polish your story, but you can never hire someone to put heart in your story. That's got to be you. Whatever you're protecting in yourself will sour your story) but I digressed there.
Back to this inspiring incident: It won't be linear or organized. In other words, that incident may or may not show up in my story. But it will get the whole thing going. Often the persons involved in the incident show up as a voice. They just start talking. He or she is the one to lead me into the story. I may be writing with that incident in mind, but the character is going through this process. I'm developing the story by trying to stay true to the journey this character is on. I'm trying to stay true to how this character reacts to their environment on this journey.
Others show up. I decide how important they are through the eyes of the character. I am willing to cut anything/anyone precious. I have to protect the important part of the story--the central journey. I am constantly amazed at the important place my sub-characters can take.
One more thing on these inciting incidents:
For example, in DiTHoM I heard of an incident. And I thought of the person this might have happened to and it went on from there. Tonio was born. As I'm writing that story, I'm writing towards that incident. It hasn't happened yet. So all the story I've written is a lead-up to this incident. And I was very willing for the incident not to happen at all. It may have started a story it will not even show up in. But it was still key in leading me to the character and then the character leading me to the time period and the journey.
As for the voice or talking in the time period, I look up a lot of stuff, but the voice is very easy for me. Easier than many things others can do easily and I cannot, like math or speaking in front of crowds. Why I got that voice-gift thing I don't know. Writing makes it useful.
Question: Were the Twi characters the impetus to your writing career or did you write before that?
Answer: I wrote way before that. It was very early in me. I had gone through a lot trying to get published. Won some literary awards, got close to publication, got my heart ripped out a few times. Quit. Finally finished college and got a Masters and went to work. But it wouldn't leave me alone. I found FF and what I always said to agents and publishers was 'If I could just get to the readers I know I have an audience out there!" So FF gave me that. And I found you all so point made!
Question: How did she choose her name she will publish under?
Answer: It's very significant, that name. It chose me. It really did. I knew I'd use it someday.
Question: Does she read many fanfic stories?
Answer: At first. Then even the best ones became a distraction from writing. Much as I loved some of those stories, it was the writers I was interested in. FF has some extraordinary writers. If I start to name I will leave some out--what the heck: Pattyrose, Rochelle Allison. There are many, many more. I used to try and look up every writer who reviewed. I would get a sense of her writing. Some writers who haven't broken out yet in FF, small writers are tremendous. I would think--my gosh you're good! So keep going on FF. And some of you are so ready to branch out from SM's studio.
Question: What are her all-time favorite fanfic stories and does she have any current favorites? Answer: Volition was one of my first. Rochelle Allison.Loved the classics - Wide Awake, Clipped Wings. But haven't been able to read much for a couple of years. Because of writing.
Question: Does she have any favorite fanfic authors.
Answer: Sexy Lexi Cullen's mob stuff is great. The ladies I mentioned above. Sheviking. There are many. So many. I honestly believe some of the finest writing going is happening here. That's nothing but appreciation for SM's work. Her success made a place where writers could develop. She didn't just shake up readers, she inspired writers with her generosity. To define what has happened in TwiFF in a closed way is to demean it, I think. It's to put a tight lid on a box of endless possibilities. This has been an open-ended writing workshop for many of us. There is nothing unfair to SM in that. It elevates and continues to elevate her work.
Question: While reading some sections of "Deep in the Heart of Me", I was struck with marvel again at how you are able to express such sacredness for the earth, the soil, the river as sources of nourishment for both body and soul. Very much in flavor with Jim Harrison, Hemingway and Steinbeck. Who are your favorite fiction authors (non fan fiction)?
Answer: Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea was a life-changer in fifth grade. Also the movie, Spencer Tracy my goodness. To Kill a Mockingbird of course. Profound. Book and movie. Jem and Gregory Peck. Gregory was my first Edward.
I was always completely moved by some really great heroes. Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath--I'm a sixth grader just dying over these characters and trying to write them. I'm wondering from that age 11 or so - how do you put such people on paper? If I only had words like that!
Thanks for even putting me in the same sentence with these greats. You're very kind to bless me like that.
Question: How did you choose which of your stories you would publish first? Was it a bit like picking among your children?
Answer: I thought I'd start middle of the road. Now I will tell you this little gem--I have not shared my FF writing life with my fam. I was in writing hiatus, just coming off a degree and all that work when I found FF. I jump back into the fiction writing I'd abandoned for the past five years. I was done with the torture of academic writing (a whole other beast).
But when I pulled HH and MaMFiLWE, it was emotional. I was dismantling my collection there amongst readers I love. That's what kept me there. You guys. And I'm not good at ending things. Not that I'm ending things, but I didn't want to rock that boat. So I went middle of the road and removed those two stories because they were favored, but not thee favorites.
I would have preferred to start with HH which I'm retitling Running With Monkeys, I think. But I shipped it off to the traditional publishing world and I have to get it back. So I wanted to get started and that left MaM, etc. It was like that. Now the next one I publish, that's impossible. Darnay Road probably. Yeah it's like what you said. They are all clamoring.
Question: I'm also curious about what the process was like for moving it from fanfiction to fiction. Did you have someone else edit it or was it still a one-woman endeavor? What parts were the most difficult for you? What advice would you give to others about self publishing?
Answer: My poor daughter. I've got a story here: She's my last kid, my youngest. Flashback: I'm hotly pursuing writing (of course) when I find out I'm pregnant. Again. Are you kidding me? The kid before her (my youngest daughter) is eight so I'm feeling some freedom and I'm writing like crazy. So I'm pregnant. I cry.
What I didn't know--that last minute pregnancy that came out of (ahem) nowhere? She would be the one to publish me. I would have to wait for her to get born, grow up, go through college. An internship. Get married. Have a baby. And then, one day, I would say, I am writing fanfiction. Twilight. I...have a following of wonderful readers and...I am tired of waiting on New York. I am going to self-publish. Can you...figure it out?
What I'm saying is--just stay open to your life. Embrace your life. God is blessing you, but sometimes, like me, you may be fighting it. You're figuring it out, you're planning, but he's blessing you all the while in ways you can't imagine. Don't go blind to that. Open up.
There's my sermon.
And I was writing Peace Will Come (wounded soldier) when I got pregnant with her.
Back to your question: So my daughter has done what I could NEVER have done. She's been so careful, editing my manuscript. So here's what happened. Like it or don't like it this is the truth. Knowing she was going to read it, I took out most of the sex. She had never read me before, so I did a final read over the book and took out all the sex--like a last minute panic thing.
So it would have gone up that way but the cover didn't come through so we got delayed. And the night before it went up I sat up until two in the morning and put the sex back in. That's how the original got published with one "Billy" left in. That was me.
So the next morning I told her what I'd done. I told her the dilemma. See my family and friends do not know what I write. I keep it all secret. No one knows. But now she knows. My youngest.
She's read the sex scenes and says the book was missing something without them. It seemed cut off like I was holding back. She said don't ever do that for me.
I said I wouldn't.
I messed up her edit, but a big thing got settled. I came out to my daughter. Thank God for the cover delay.
Advice for others. Save up around five hundred dollars. You are starting a small business. If you don't already have a tech savvy daughter, or person who will do the technical stuff, local colleges with a design department might be able to help. There could be a student who is looking for some side-work.
For me, the time it would take me to learn is time I can't create. You can do both, and some writer's are doing that so splendidly, but I would rather be writing. I oversee and approve and boss. But like Fran Walsh told me--it is A Lot of work. And we're still learning. We have so much to learn. It's a very big endeavor. But it is full of possibilities. A small business. It is exactly that. Would you rather sell vacuums or your voice? I'd rather have a voice.
Question: Will you be coming out with actual books, not just e-books?
Answer: That is the goal. One way or another I hope to.
Question: What made her decide to publish?
Answer: I was always trying to reach readers and that takes publication. When I connected with readers on FF I got in my comfort zone but some of you kept at me and you were holding a goal in front of me and I thank you for that. I want to reach readers before I'm done on this earth. I've got something to say.
Question: I'm interested in hearing how she first came to the fandom, and how she feels about Twilight/SM. Did she read the books first, or see one of the movies first? What about Twilight made her start writing fanfic? Who's her favorite canon character
Answer: Came through youngest daughter. My publisher. She saw the movie, thought I would like it, we went, like ten times or more. then she loaned me the books. From there I went into my covert Twilight life and she went back to school.
My favorite canon character is Edward. With all of my daddy issues, I've always been drawn to the male hero. I've resonated with him, whoever he is.
I found the fandom through a blog somewhere, just a remark someone made. I went there and wow! I asked my daughter and a few other young people, did you ever hear of FF and they all said, "I read some when I was in Jr. High." Or something like that. See how it has evolved?
With Twilight I went right into the fictive dream. People want to tear up the writing, but let's see them accomplish what she did. SM lit a fire. It swept the world of women. Many women would say, "Not me!" But who grabs every person? SM grabbed the lion's share of them with the hope of being completely, sacrificially, loved by someone god-like. That is a fundamental spiritual need in every human being, even the nay-sayers. It supersedes our daddy issues and goes right to our god-issues.
Hats off to SM. She is complete enough in herself to give a dimension to Edward that rattled the hungry cage inside of womenkind. We have spirits. Why else do we give Edward a pass for his many flaws when judged by human standards? Because he loves to the point of sacrifice. We hunger for that kind of love because we were made to be loved like that. Fundamental.
Question: What are your concerns about making the leap from ff to publishing? What scares you about it? What excites you? Why did you decide to do it?
Fears: More criticism. The viciousness of the internet. Writing words you don't have to own and lobbing them at people who are vulnerable to your attacks.
Exciting to think of sharing my stories with more people. Worth the risk. And sticks and stones....
I'm not getting any younger.
If the main reason I'm not doing something is fear, that's not enough of a reason to NOT do it. That is an honestly I hold myself to.
Question: Do you think the majority of the work you publish from here will be OF, new material, rather than starting as Twi? I ask bc you often seem to post as you go - 500 words here, 2,500 there. How do you think you handle writing OF where you don't have that immediate feedback? Get pre readers? (Sign me up!) or just trust your gut and write as normal, but hold it all until something is complete?
Answer: I will post my work from Twi cause some version of some of those stories are essential in me, essential I not abandon them but push them forward. SM's generosity in letting the Twi inspiration continue also meant it kept evolving. Live things evolve. I came in as it was already evolving. It was moving into every genre, every idea imaginable.
None of us are purists. We are inspired by one another. SM had her inspirations and she was out with them--classical romantic stories. That didn't mean her work wasn't original. It was. It was her interpretation of types she found in classical literature.
She accomplished something few authors ever do--a level of commercial success that resonated. She did that! Then she allowed others to keep it up using her characters and let's face it, her actors. We reimagined her characters and her actors in our roles. That's really where the evolution went because the actors became those beloved characters in our minds. So we were inspired to keep giving them other roles and redeveloping their personalities. And they are classic roles. They are types that go all the way back to ancient writing. SM took what she loved and through her unique self created this incredible studio and allowed us to go in and play and out of it came newly imagined things.
I have a sequel in mind for DiTHoM. It's a big story if I go all the way. Will I write that on FF? I don't know. Can I write without my readers? I did for years and found the isolation the reason I went back to school. That led to my real job. Now I fight to find time to write. But I couldn't handle another year of the isolation and FF takes that away. But I found my audience and I have them (you) and I will come back to you, just in another venue. Will knowing you're out there be enough in my creative process? Well, you sure brighten my days. That's why I've stayed so long. Can I do this? I don't know. I'm a hands-on learner.
Pre-readers, maybe, but there's an old discipline in me I might be able to tap, if it's not dried up. I have to write. I have to. But not having your immediate feedback? Yech, no fun. So I don't know. I'm in transition here. Stay tuned. Please.
Question: What captivated you about the Twilight Saga?
Answer: Edward. SM created an outrageous world and she used standard types and brought them through her unique voice to make something that turned her readers upside down. Throughout her story she brings the classic themes of pure undying love. It's been done a million times because we need this story in all of its forms and variations. She just did it very well. Argue that all you want but jealousy is unbecoming. SM did it very well. Obviously.
Question: If you were to write a Twicanon-based story, what would it be about?
Answer: High school-aged love. Like she and many others have done. It's so pure because you're so open to love. You see love. You embrace it. All of its complications come later. So to tap into that time of purity we all remember is to do something human and beautiful and fundamental.
Answer: High school-aged love. Like she and many others have done. It's so pure because you're so open to love. You see love. You embrace it. All of its complications come later. So to tap into that time of purity we all remember is to do something human and beautiful and fundamental.
Question: Do you still plan on writing counselor fanfic or will you now write as Diane?
Answer: Doing both at the moment. Can't imagine letting go of FF. I don't know. I'm open. I do not plan to abdicate any time soon and right now see myself always doing something there. I'm proud of it, that world, such intelligent readers and fine, fine people and the evolution revolution. I'm blessed there. I can bless there. It's a rich thing.
Thanks for this. Just...thank you.
Original article at the source
Original article at the source
September 9 and 10, 2014
Counselor answered some questions from the members of the Facebook Group "Counselor's Corner"
by: Sunflower Fran
by: Sunflower Fran
1. I'd like to know if she's a Midwesterner - or where's she's from, and how big her family is.
me - Midwest all the way, or the heart and soul of the good old USA, take your pick. Pretty big family. Family extremely important, even the most annoying of them.
2. I am curious to know if some of her historical fics are based on family stories.
me- Yes some of my family stories are in my historical and modern writing, mostly as themes over actual events. For example, my grandmother shot a man through her screen door. That shows up. I've got a bunch of them that show up.
3. I'd like to know what kind of things inspire her to write her stories, especially since some of them are set present day and some are historical. Does an idea just pop into her head? Are they based on someone she knows? Does she have to do a lot of research? She just seems to be so well informed about the time periods she is writing about. It's like if she's lived it. Also how does she come up with the different names/nicknames for the characters, like Tonio and Sobe. Maybe she'll answer one of my many questions.
me- What kinds of things inspire me to write my stories? I've made peace with my past and that brought healing and now I can use it. If I lock it away I can't use it. I can't tell it. I can't comfort you with it because I can't find comfort for myself.
People often have big blocks of their lives they don't want to think about so they start locking up the rooms and dragging the tombstones behind them. I've had the Grace given to me to open those rooms and let in the light and air. I mine my life for knowledge and history. My trials AND my good times are my blessings, my treasure. I try to bring all of the treasure to the table. No locked rooms. It makes me more human to throw all the doors open. I ask God to help me and I ask people to help me, and they have and continue to.
So come on in.
Everything inspires me. Not only in my own life but in yours. I am no longer afraid to listen. Really listen. I got set free this way--by listening and paying attention. I had to learn empathy. I learned to imagine walking in someone else's shoes and maybe their life even if I didn't like them or approve of what they were doing. I realized from listening and listening that anything is possible and anything I can imagine has happened to someone. It changed me to know that. I got free and it gave a new authority to my voice.
I was no longer saying, "Do you think this could happen?" I was saying with authority, "Here's what happened."
I am about 'small.' A 'small, rich life.' It's the kind of life most of us have whether we pay attention or not. I'm about milking my small life for the treasures, the things you can relate to. I want to make you feel. How? You enter my story through your senses. That's how you experience anything, experience all of life. My story should be no different if it's to be authentic. I want you behind my eyeballs so I have to be behind the eyeballs of my characters, I have to know them and be them. I want to take you on a journey. I want to take the most ordinary thing and make you see it and feel it in a fresh new way that connects you with it's disguised familiarity. I want to stretch your perspective because that's what works for me when I read.
I'm always asking, "What did Isbe, Sobe, etc. see, feel? How did she respond. What happened in her body when she thought that? or something like that.
Research is the easy part. Other people have done that work. But if you're interviewing (a human being of course) now you become a listener again. And a listener takes in as much as possible and artfully gives it out through their own unique perspective and voice. That's what we have that sets us apart from one another. That's the unique thing.
The hard part is being honest. But the more authentic my small little rich life is, the more honest I can be, so I've already done the hard part by living authentically. The rest is art.
Here's the thing too, I see a lot of writing imitating someone else's writing. That's okay, I did that too for a while. You're trying to learn. That's how you do learn. But at some point you have to move out of there. I can write looking down on characters like god, or I can get into the characters and let my humanity bleed into theirs and create something, someone real.
The nicknames just fall into my hands. I just say, "Oh yeah, that's who he is. She is." I'm just goofing around there.
4. I just want to know how far do I have to drive for the first book signing and does she plan to write like SR or are we actually going to get to meet her?
me-At some point I hope to raise my crazy head up but my private life does not allow it now.
5. I would love to know how many hours a week she devotes to writing and how much to research? I'd also like to know if she outlines her stories first or if she lets the characters take the story where they will...
I write every single day. I seldom rewrite. I used to--obsessively. But no more. My rewrite, if at all, is quick. It's story that takes some time. I start writing and I may know or not know where the heck I'm going. But every single day I write.
I have been to several of these 'how-to' seminars over the years. I see now how futile this was for me. I tried to pay attention to how authors created elaborate story boards, and gave methods and madness for how to trick yourself into completing a novel in 14 weeks or something. Mostly I concluded their attempt at novel writing had failed so they turned to writing how-to's instead.
I am a total moron when it comes to maps. Did I not know this about myself? It was all Saul's armor to me.
Sometimes I just get this idea and feel this story. I feel it. I feel it so strongly and then someone starts talking out of it. Oh-oh, I'm not afraid to blow an idea up. I'm going this way and I'm saying no, no, so I go the dead opposite way and that's often how I know the next step. Or I think, "What would be the most impossible thing that could happen right now--the thing that would exhaust me to think about it it would be so difficult and time consuming to write? GUESS WHAT--I usually go there. It's just a wild ride. I open this big can of worms and I don't have a clue how I'm going to get out of it.
It starts with an event or it starts with a place, or a character and that voice that takes over. Then I jump in. If I'm not saying --What in the world am I doing? I'm not doing good work.
So no map. Just some ideas. Or one idea. Just a courage to put myself out there in impossible places and write my way out of it. Very vulnerable. Like life.
6. I'd like her to name an author who inspires her or influences her.
Matthew (the apostle). This answer could be obnoxious. It probably is. But that man changed my life. I have been reading the gospel of Matthew for over a year. Again.
As a kid Louisa May Alcott. I cared.
Carolyn Keene. For real. Teacher said in fifth grade fill this little book with reviews by the end of the year. Twenty five Nancy Drew mysteries, no problem. End of the year comes. Kids are cram-reading. Everyone fills the little books. Mine has been filled since January. Teacher says, no grade, just good for you. Kids were furious they'd been duped into reading. I'm not liking the subterfuge, but I decide to forgive her because I loved Nancy Drew.
Ernest Hemmingway. The Old Man and the Sea, Sixth Grade, I was amazed.
Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck--couldn't believe it.
Pearl S. Buck
Harper Lee. Eighth grade. Changed my life.
Zane Grey and some Louie Lamour. I know. But yes.
The book, The God of Small Things. Oh yeah. I said, please God...let me write.
Wanted to be a writer since first grade.
Last five years I hardly touch fiction. I read superfluous material for work, and beyond that all my time is writing. It pours out of me. if I'm reading I'm not writing. I don't recommend
7. she a pet person? I figure she is....based on the stories. Does she have a dog or a cat?
Grew up in an apartment and couldn't have pets. Dad would bring some old dog home and we'd fall in love then he'd have to take him back the next morning and we'd weep and wail. Finally 'moved on up' and got a house and got a dog. It's been one long line of canine love ever since, some excellent fellows and girls that I have loved and been licked by. And cats you bet. One is curled behind my head right now. Yeah I wouldn't know a thing without my pets.
8. Is she religious or spiritual? I've seen a few common themes, especially with Catholicism.
I believe we are all spiritual. We all have a spirit. What fills the spirit is what will give your writing life, substance, depth, truth, value. What is missing in much writing is substance. yes there is excitement and imagination and snappy dialogue and a neat plot that wraps up in twenty-four titillating chapters or whatever, but there's no damn substance! How many movies have I seen where I don't care if the hero dies. Heck, I'd kill him myself just to get out of that movie (fictional murder of course). Or there's a speech in the movie and you wait to hear and...nothing. You want to care. You've paid to care. But eh, you don't care.
Substance comes from inside. It's what you believe. here's a big thing, the core thing, the bible teaches me what love it. 1 Corin. 13. You hear it at every wedding you go to. Love is. That teaches me how to write about love because I have this deep definition of love that I experience, believe and try in all my flawedness, my ineptness, I try to live. Substance. Something of depth underpinning the surface. Much and maybe most of what I read has no substance. I don't care. I am not elevated. Pointless.
I don't need all this deep-ass meaning. I don't mean that. I mean address me in the spirit with some fire and passion based on something I can grab on to.
Am I saying I achieve this as a writer?
For five minutes here and there. I hope. The lack is in me as a person. I hope to get better.
9. I'd like to know if she misses having the one-on-one interaction with her readers that social media provides.
No. I feel sated by your reviews and PM's. I fear the other would take from my writing. I have facebook, but it was set up for me because someone thought I needed it. I'm never on it. I'm writing. Not to say I don't treasure readers. It's always been about that for me. Readers. Nothing else.
I'm delighted and humbled and amazed at the FB page Fran has made and all of the responses. But I keep it in the corner of my eye so I stay focused on writing. For now that works.
10. Does anyone get to see her stories before she posts them? Does she work with anyone as far as betaing, prereading, editing goes? If not, why? Does she feel like it would hurt her "voice" if someone else went over her words before she posts them?
me - Um, no. I know that would make some happier. I used to do that, pay big bucks for that even. But alas no more. No you get it hot off the press. I don't let anyone come between writing and posting. No baloney on this sandwich.
11. I think everything I wanted to ask her has already been asked here! But yes,I too am curious as to her writing so,is there any possibility,however slight,that she would write ff again?I understand a publishing author gets very little time to write anything extra,so yeah.
me- I am writing FF as we speak! I would love to keep developing work through FF. I can't read the future, but I have always written one story at a time with no further plan. You know the first story I wrote on FF I got a mean review like three chapters in and I took the story down. Yes, I did that. But I'm writing FF right now.
12. She mentioned on her ffn page that "nobody" knows that she writes. Publishing will surely change that. I'd like to know what tipped the scale for her in that decision? She can be as general or as specific as her comfort level will allow with the answer, if she picks this question.
me - Let me clarify. Nobody knows what I'm up to with writing. Yes, quite a few know I write. They don't know what I'm writing or that I write for FF, or how often, or how rabidly, or my plans or aspirations. I lead a very public life, a pretty transparent life. I keep two things to myself: I go out of town for my haircuts, and I have this writing life I don't share.
What tipped the scale? It's a big topic and someday I'll tell it all but this just isn't the time. But thanks for caring enough to ask. I in no way disrespect your question. I recognize your question and all of those listed here as very thoughtful and respectful. I am honored to be answering these. Honored. But I want you to know I am not being open with you here. I just can't be. Dang it. If I could be, this would be the most interesting part of the interview. I think.
13. I’d like to know her age
Won't tell it just yet, but PM me and I might give you my social.
(this is me being funny--just to myself, I realize that.)
You're probably guessing about right.
14. Do you anticipate extensive edits, revisions or re-writes with either of these two stories you are publishing?
15. I want to know what she sees as the major themes or important points of her work. For me, I always see faith, love and redemption, hope in them. They make me think of the Corinthians verse. Does she write with those themes in mind - to illustrate a point or a theme - or do the stories just come and then the themes emerge as she goes?
me - The themes definitely are there or they aren't--naturally. This is that substance thing I talked about earlier and what a coincidence you mention 1 Corinthians 13. I didn't read ahead so I didn't see this coming. Earlier I said that was a driving force in my spirit that comes out in the writing and you just proved it. This is the depth writing needs to have, something bigger than itself that shines through, something people need, something that elevates. This has to come out of you, the author. Otherwise you're writing looking down on it and moving people around like chess pieces and your reader will be held out.
I hope this makes sense.
Wow. This was fun! I am so honored. I hope you're not disappointed. I would love to do this again. Thank you for your graciousness toward me, Fran and all who have taken the time to allow me a voice here. Thank you so much.
September 13 and 14, 2014 on ADF
Counselor answered some questions from the members of the Adifferentforest.net "Author Spotlight"
Counselor Interview on ADF
Posted on 9-12-14
by tinie432 / Stel Tinio
by tinie432 / Stel Tinio
Hello Camper's here is our Author in the Spotlight Q&A featuring- Counselor
She has kindly answered the majority of the questions that were submitted and since she was very thoughtful with her responses, her interview will be divided into two parts. Part 1 consists of Getting to Know Her and questions on Twilight FanFiction. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow and consists of her writing process, has she published, tips to writers, and her inspiration.
I've invited Counselor to join our ADF Community and sent her this Interview link to view your comments. So without further ado ~
1. What is the first Twilight fan fiction story you read and what inspired you to write Twi Fanfic.
Counselor- First story? One of them was Volition by Rochelle Allison. Wide Awake.
I was just blown away by how good the stories were. I jumped in and jumped right back out. I didn't know if I had the guts. Then I tried again and just committed. I had struggled for so many years with the middle men. To get to jump right into the hands of readers, it was worth the risk. The middlemen had taught me all I needed to know about rejection. And weathering rejection is the only way to get better. So I just dug in.
2. What was it about Twilight that motivated you to write fan fiction? Favorite Twilight Book?
Counselor- What SM (Stephanie Meyer) achieved in my opinion was the ability to make women feel first love. She went into the ache. She succeeded. Like the writing, don't, this, that or the other. That woman took us into the ache.
Like the first book the best.
3. I am curious if she herself has/had an Edward in her life? (If so, she is sooooo lucky).
Counselor- Um...yes. Love of my life. Just one since I've been sixteen. Love at first sight. For him and the ten before him. (He loves when I say that).
4. a) This may sound silly, but where did her moniker "Counselor" come from.? Is/was she an attorney or did she attend law school?
b.) Will you write under your own name or under a pseudo pen to keep identity secret knowing as you have said that no one knows that you write?
Counselor- Pseudo most likely so I can avoid
c.) If ready to come out of the writing closet how far do I need to drive for the first book signing because I will be there!"
Counselor- You're very kind.
5. How do you relax? Music or Film favorites?
Counselor- I'm very good at relaxing. I schedule in relaxation time. I say, "I can't. I'm busy." I'm busy relaxing. I had to learn this. I don't require do nothing time I require alone time. Feed sanity, starve crazy.
Writing relaxes me.
I am a movie fanatic. Good TV, yeah. Music oh yeah. Write to music half the time. Listen to music from the period I'm writing about so I go all over.
Like off the wall movies and commercial. Currently binging on The Good Wife. I'm in season two. Hooked. The Knick is great.
6. I have always wondered what her background is. Does she write as a profession? Where is she located?
Counselor - Thanks for the interest. It's a normal question you should be able to ask a normal person. I'm just not ready to say. But I'm touched by your interest. Humbled.
7. My questions are a bit more personal. I wonder how many siblings she has, where she grew up, what her religious background is, what university she attended, what her highest level of education is. There is so much to ask. Counselor is such a gifted and wonderful writer.
Counselor- Oh thanks. So kind.
I am able to write in spite of my education. They tried to suck the creativity out of me by making me write reports and research and thesisssssses precious. But I managed to hang onto some little spark of the writing bug and fan it to life.
Actually I had some fantastic teachers who did their part and I'm forever grateful. I still don't know why they made me do math though.
Wrote my first novel length manuscript in study hall, geometry and religion class. It was about a girl, and a boy, and the ocean (which I hadn't seen at that point) and a surf board, and she loved him, and he took her to the dance. And he was cute.
I had to write a continuation of To Kill a Mockingbird in freshman year of high school and the teacher thought it could be right out of the book. (there's a possibility she was lying) I still have that paper with a big red A. I had been working all through grade school to be a writer, writing lots of depressing poems I would force my friends to listen to or at least my mom. That teacher freshman year was the first one to tell me I was a good writer.
Of course many people after her told me why my writing was not good, and sometimes they were right, and sometimes they weren't. I have frustrated a good number of readers, editors, agents and contest judges and fellow writers. "You can't do that. That wouldn't happen. I don't like you. I don't get you."
I just kept going.
My religious background: you show me your faith without works and I'll show you my faith by my works. I love that. Less preaching more doing. Writing from a rich spirit is the key, I think. To acknowledge that you have a spirit is to wrestle with the deeper things. To wrestle with the deeper things is to find the deeper answers, to pierce through the surface and investigate the subsoil. You can go deeper now because you've done the work. There's more to offer.
Layers of discovery. Something to think about and learn from because you've acknowledged wounds and looked for answers and perhaps found a good measure of healing...and hope, and hope makes you unafraid...to talk about...where you've been. And in doing that, giving yourself away like that...you touch someone else who needs what you're giving, the match you've struck in a dark.
8. Please ask her if she'll ever give us another adult B/E (or even original story) set in our times? I loved MEC so hard, but I have serious trouble getting into period stories ( I live in another country and I'm not really familiar with the history and culture of those times).
Counselor- I don't know what I'm going to do one story to the next. I'm open. If it hits me and there's time it's very possible. Glad MEC (My Ex-Con) meant something to you like that. Thanks.
9. In “Bringing Bella Home” did Edward have a wooden stump leg? It was described at times as such, but I didn't read anything definitive.
Counselor- No. A bad leg that he stumped around on. So to look at him, at the way he moved, you'd think he had a wooden leg.
10. When I was reading "Look How You Turned Out " (which I could have kept reading for years btw..) it felt like she was responding to reader reviews and adding chapters for us. Or was I just happily having my mind read?
Counselor- I may have connected a couple of times, I mean many of you were taking that trip with me as I remember. It's on that trip the lovely Sunflower Fran emerged as my FF mentor. I try to not be swayed. sometimes you figure me out though and I just have to go through with it. I get such a kick out of your guesses. But sometimes I think you're going to really love something and you're meh and other times I think they will hate this and you are all hoo-ray. You're complicated! Get out of my head!
11. I remember when she was writing "Love Like a Hurricane" her research/passion brought her to Texas. Have any of her other stories gotten into her bones and compelled her to go and see where they are set?
Counselor- Yes. Getting a feeling for a place is key. But then again I've made some of them up. Like Europe? Heh.
But that story LLaH (Love Like A Hurricane) I wrote as I traveled through Texas. One chapter I wrote down the road from where Jefferson Davis wrote his memoir after the Civil War looking out at the Gulf waters just like he did. That was cool. Wrote much of Hard Hearted in the hospital at my 'Eddie's,' bedside--the man who inspired that character and story (not my husband!).
I envisioned Cade's Cove for Bringing Bella Home, saw Edward taking Bella into that cove. Yes a place is everything cause I have to go there in my mind.
Kentucky inspired Roar Like a Lion. But Tennessee I use often. Sometimes I never decide where I am, I just am.
12. Do you have a favorite character from any of your stories? Was there a character that was hard to leave? Any thoughts of writing a sequel or outtakes?
Counselor - Hard Hearted just breaks my heart. I had felt desperation from that generation first hand and it breaks me. Eddie wrecks me pretty much, the way he puts himself out there. He wants so fiercely.
This is like when my children accuse me of loving one more than another and I always agree. "You're right. I love him more, but if you'll get me that cup of coffee, I'll love you more." That's my brand of parenting.
But favorite character, Bella in Finding My Thunder.
Um, Ex-Con is up there. He had it really rough and required a lot of me. What a mouth that man had!
Bella in Darnay Road.
Edward in MWS (My Wounded Soldier). Ma got me.
Juney in LHYTO (Look How You Turned Out).
No plans for sequels at this time...or possibly any other time. Hah.
Original article at the source
Counselor ADF interview part 2
1. I just love her imagery with words they are so unique -"My sisters are in the window looking like a stack of pumpkins". I suppose my question would be- where does she get the inspiration for her words and how she just nails the era/voice that she write about.
Counselor - I've had interests in so many things, I guess I've been researching for years just for the love of it and also for many attempts at writing about it. History, I've read and visit and try to get a feel for a place or time. Imagery, I think we talk that way in my family, but I've always had an ear for it, for metaphor. My father speaks in the most hilarious metaphors. I just learned to look at things making comparisons. I have always loved a strong voice, a strong narrator's voice has captured me since childhood. I was taught to read with expression in first grade and to hear the sounds words made, it just made an impression. If I'm writing historical I have to think of how the character would see it. I think of the metaphors they might use. What are their familiar everyday objects that they might 'see' in other ways?
The voice is just a listening thing. I'm listening to the character, reading aloud, hearing it in my head. Asking myself would they say it that way? Getting the voice and the cadence or rhythm. How do they finish sentences, or how do their thoughts run. There is a unique pattern in most of us when we speak. Do they overspeak or underspeak or ramble or are they stingy with description.
It just flows eventually. They won't shut-up after a while.
I think it's lively inside of most people. None of us tell everything. We're full of secrets, opinions we never express, fears, prejudice. I'm skimming that stuff in my mind. Like my newest story, Tonio, at this point he thinks he is better than many others. He stands in his own goodness and although a good, solid boy, he's yet to learn true compassion. He's 13. What does he believe about fairness and injustice, how does he see himself in his world? How moral is he, what's his base for right and wrong? What does he fear and where does it come from? How angry is he? What does he control and what can't he conceive of controlling? That kind of stuff.
2. She updates often and quickly, are her fics pre-written? Does she write on the fly? A little of both? When she starts, does she already know the end or does she go where it takes her as she posts?
Counselor- My Wounded Soldier and Finding My Thunder were written many times before and both made tracks into contests or editors' offices but ultimately they didn't go anywhere and I rewrote them without looking back at the originals, the belabored originals and I haven't looked at them to this day, but the rewrites are my favorite versions. (what I've put on FF). All the rest of my stories on here are just shooting from the hip, writing as I go.
Sometimes I have a vague idea of the ending, or a pretty good idea and then it can change. In Darnay Road I knew the ending would be abrupt and hopefully be more dreamlike or surreal compared to the rest of the book. I wanted a less fleshed out happy ending, more like a series of these gold-tinged snapshots. Jury's out if I succeeded. It felt real to me and I was bleeding properly when it was over and I can't touch it now. I'm usually wrecked when a story is over, not good at letting go.
3. Has she written and published any Original Fiction? If so, how can we get it? If no, what is she waiting for?
Counselor - yes. no. I don't know. I'm laughing here. Great question.
4. So often sentiments and scenes and interactions ring true. I feel like I know all these people. How much comes from your own life experiences? An empathetic life observer or blessed with the best imagination.. Maybe it's a little of both!
Counselor - It has to go through the filter of my own life to ring true to me. I am gleaning, but I have been listening and watching and thinking and wondering and having way more questions than answers. If I'm not challenging myself then I'm not writing honestly and I know what that feels like to me. I delete lots of stuff for lack of honesty.
5. What I wonder is how much research does she do? All of her period pieces are steeped in historical reference... the way they talk, words they use, behaviors everything... where does she get all her information? How long does it take to research a story? And who are her pre-readers / editors?
Counselor- I've been interested in writing historical fiction for years and different time periods. You know what I love the most are archived newspapers. Just small stories that break your heart. I love to have my heart broken. It's in a million pieces and it makes me feel alive.
No pre-readers. I write it and post.
6. You mentioned somewhere along the line that you are always writing, even when the people around you don't know you are (paraphrased). How do you do it? Retired? Studying? Job with a lot of travelling time for writing? Big closet?!
Counselor - Having time to write may not be your friend. I write in the nooks and crannies of my life. I used to try to write full time. After a few years I started to go crazy.
I think I would handle it better this time around, but I don't know how much my very crazy demanding work life feeds into my writing energy-wise. Kind of afraid to change the delicate balance. It somehow works.
I have no time to write. But I write. Everywhere, anywhere, always.
My family calls me a hologram. I look like I'm in the room but don't believe it. I'm writing.
7. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Counselor- Someone told me about a speech the Sean Connery character gives Forrester in Finding Forrester (if I remember correctly.) Connery is mentoring Forrester as a potential good writer. He tells him the story about a guy who had one driving passion as a pianist and it was to study under a certain maestro. For years this young prodigy studied and studied to be able to earn an audition with this revered maestro.
Finally he gets his wish. He gets the audition and plays his heart out. When he's finished the maestro says to him, "You don't have it."
He's devastated. This begins a downward spiral that carries all through his life. One day, on the brink of ruin he is walking through a crowded street and he sees the maestro approaching. He confronts the man and accuses him of ruining his life. "You told me I didn't have it!" he yells.
The maestro looks at him and says, "I guess I was right."
8. The question that comes to mind is, where she finds her inspiration. What keeps her going, or fuels her fire, so to speak.
Counselor - No question my people pleasing nature that used to lead to great anxiety and is now in recovery serves me very well in writing in that the readers are my muse. An unpubbed writer can't get to their audience. Traditionally that is. FF has made it possible to go straight to the lifeblood, the audience! My muse! I'm a gladiator in the arena and you are cheering me on. Only difference is I decide whether or not I kill the lions. That's what I have to watch out for, not letting the readers write my story. Then I'd be a non-recovering people pleaser and I'd have to get more therapy.
Life inspires me. For example, a couple of weeks ago I was driving an ancient wonderful relative to the doctor and he said, "So and so used to live up that road and one day they came and got him out of school because..........." (I can't finish because I'll give away a major plot point).
And it was just one sentence like that and Deep in the Heart of Me was born. I have that one idea my relative unwittingly gave me and I said to myself--what would that be like? Well I have no idea but I'll be figuring it out while I write that story.
And I just plain love to write.
Many thanks to Counselor for taking the time to answer our questions.
Original article at the source