Kelly Haworth

LGBT Scifi and Fantasy Author

January 3, 2015
by Kelly
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Embracing a New Year

I will be brief today. With the holidays and family and travelling I have been busy, and I am sure you all have been as well.

But now it’s January, and come Monday the grind will resume its daily habit as we all get swept through another year.

I look back at 2014 and am so happy to say it has been an amazing year. My son is at the brink of speech, my family moved to a house, I have improved my health tremendously through exercise. I started a new novel, and completely revised an old one. I’ve had wonderful moments with friends and family all year long. There are some things that challenged us, especially when my husband broke his ankle. But we rose to the challenge and he has fully healed, and I now know what strength we both possess.

Some of you may recall last January I posted about starting a graphic novel. That project went on the backburner as I helped my husband heal and then as we moved, and then as I focused primarily on writing. I still would like to do a graphic novel one day, but for now I will continue to focus on my writing. I am anxious to keep working on my current project, the urban fantasy gay romance, and write more short stories on the side.

As I look to 2015, I am excited. I plan to keep moving my writing career forward. I plan to keep exercising and get stronger. But I don’t want to claim anything as a resolution, except for this: I want to continue to spend time with my friends and family, even through we have moved farther away. We will celebrate two weddings this year, and I can’t wait to be a part of them.

Happy New Year, all.

December 8, 2014
by Kelly
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Welcome Oblivion

To me, music is a love affair. And it has been as long as I can remember.

My family used to go on 4 hour drives up north every holiday and summer, so I spent a lot of time in the car. Every minute of that time I listened to music. Before I had my own cassette player, I was at the mercy of my parent’s funk and rock (and wouldn’t admit at the time that I loved it all). My first cassette was Janet Jackson’s Design of a Decade. My first CD, only a few years later, was Madonna’s Ray of Light.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Nine Inch Nail’s “Into The Void”. I was barely 13 years old and listening to the radio when this haunting melody and these disturbing lyrics left me shocked and amazed as I gazed up into a starry night from the back seat of a Ford station wagon. It was two years before I figured out who had done the song, and I worked up the nerve to tackle the entire The Fragile album, as in the interim I had evolved from the boy band hormone rush to Linkin Park and Korn. I couldn’t handle The Fragile at first. It was weird and dissonant and sometimes downright disturbing (I was 15, give me a break). But I was inexplicably drawn to it. I listened to it again, and again, and rode the emotional hurricane every single time. I told my later-husband when we were 17, “Give it a chance. Listen to it again, even after you decide you don’t like it.”

He did. And we both became hopelessly obsessed.

I’ll admit it: I have some obsessive tendencies. One of those is listening to an album start to finish. Apparently a lot of people don’t do this? I do. I prefer it to hitting shuffle. If a song is a snapshot of an emotional state, an album is a movie. And I like to watch that movie from start to finish, scene by scene, emotion by emotion. Because of this I get a kick out of concept albums, like The Mars Volta’s Frances The Mute, or NIN’s own The Downward Spiral. I like following the character through their journey, and trying to make sense of it all in the end.

Due to this tendency to listen to albums the whole way through, I form a bit of a relationship with the album. At first it’s new an exciting, then I’m taking in all its nuances and working on remembering all the details. Then it either becomes an old favorite, or slowly moves to the backburner of iTunes. Of course, my favorite part of this relationship journey is the honeymoon period. When the album is still new to me, I’m still getting used to it, and I just can’t get enough of it.

As I said, music is a love affair. And right now, I’m courting Welcome Oblivion by How to Destroy Angels. Sometimes, like with The Fragile, you listen to an album and you just aren’t sold on it at first. And others you know from the first listen that they’re something special. This is in the latter category. Welcome Oblivion is the first full-length album of Trent Reznor and his wife Mariqueen Maandig. Their first album, a self-titled EP, had one amazing song (“The Space In Between”) and a lot of songs that weren’t fully realized. I could feel the potential in the combination of Mariqueen’s beautiful voice and Trent’s unmistakable sound. And Welcome Oblivion completely delivers. It’s everything I could have wanted from “a NIN band with a female singer”. It may just be the movie playing in my head, but the whole thing has a bit of a “post apocalyptic” feel. Of course, the video for “How Long?” helps that a bit. And lines like “The more we change / Everything stays the same” from “Too Late, All Gone” take me to the rebuilt cities of my own post apoc novel and I get those warm fussy feelings. Except to me, they feel like that aching loss of something you can’t quite place.

Music is a love affair, and what I’m in love with is that feeling music gives me, especially the majority of Trent’s work, this feeling of despair or anger or loss or madness. This tearing ache, this hollow chasm in my soul, this insatiable hunger. I channel the feelings and get lost in them. Yes they’re negative, depressing. I don’t care, because to me, it feels like bliss. I surface at the end of an album emotionally shredded, and deeply satisfied. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

How about you all? What albums are you dating? What albums will always be good friends?

Thanks for reading <3

November 23, 2014
by Kelly
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Happily Ever After

There’s a time and a place for an easy, happy read. A book that keeps you smiling and laughing the whole time, a book that you breeze through cover to cover with no worries, no issues, and no doubting. That time is not mine, and that place is not my bookshelf. I want to feel sick to my stomach as much as I want to laugh. I want to feel depressed as much as I want to feel overjoyed. And I want to read from cover to cover having no idea at all how things are going to turn out in the end.

I wasn’t aware this was a hot topic for people until I started looking around and noticed some people advertising the fact that their novels were HEA.  So you’ll know, without a doubt, that the characters are going to be alive and happy in the end. Now don’t get me wrong, HEA is a wonderful thing. It makes you feel good, you close the book with a smile on your face. What’s not to love about that? But it defeats the whole point if you know from the moment you crack open the cover that the characters are going to be happy in the end. Because as you’re reading the book, and the characters are in danger or it looks like they’ll never share that kiss, you still KNOW that they’ll make it in the end.

So I ask you this. What’s the motivation to keep reading? Where’s the tension that I’m supposed to feel when I turn the pages? I already know what’s going to happen! I already know that everything is going to turn out okay! So why should I care?

The irony in my sentiment on this is that most of my stories have their own versions of HEA. And the stories I have planned to write next also have (mostly) HEA endings. But I don’t want the readers to know that. I’d rather they have their hearts in their throats as they read the last few chapters. I can definitely acknowledge that not everyone agrees with me. I’ve read the arguments that people like knowing that a book is going to have a HEA because they don’t want to feel that doubt, or they don’t want the disappointment of a sad ending. I can get that. And just because I don’t want that guarantee doesn’t mean it’s in any way wrong to want it.

Regardless of what you want out of your stories, regardless of how they make you feel, keep reading, keep feeling. In the end, that’s the real point.

Thanks all. And Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans.

November 10, 2014
by Kelly
1 Comment

NaNoWriMo

I don’t know about you guys, but Nanowrimo is sort of the bane of my existence. It’s such a cool concept that I have completely failed to succeed in. Part of the reason is the horrible month that was chosen for this novel-writing endeavor. Who has enough time the week of thanksgiving to write 1667 words a day? Almost any other month besides December would probably be better. Oh and not January because you’re too busy in December to do all your prep work.

Of course, many people finish nano every year because they have better organizational skills or better discipline or just plain better luck. Or none of the above. It doesn’t make you less of a writer if you can’t write 50,000 words in a month. It doesn’t make you more of a writer if you can. It just is, and I find the whole concept of nanowrimo very interesting.

Two years ago I attempted nano and got 25k in 15 days. So I know I have it in me. Of course I stopped there, but that’s because of life. This time around I am not even shooting for such a lofty word count. I just want to write. Every day if possible, or as much as I can manage. We’re 9 days in and I’ve written 7 of them, at least 250 words. I’m happy with that. I’m making progress. And there’s been lovely people on twitter that have such kind, encouraging words every day for those participating in nano (and just for writers in general) that I have loved reading to keep me motivated.

Whatever writing goal you have set for yourself this month or any other time of the year, I’m rooting for you. Getting words on the page is a glorious accomplishment in itself, and for those of you who have finished a novel, you have succeeded in something amazing. That we can manipulate language to share part of our minds with others is an incredible thing.  If you read something of mine and it’s made you feel something, I’ve done my job. That’s all I can ever hope to do as a writer. Teach people to empathize. Share a piece of myself. Hope someone understands.

Happy writing, everyone.

October 24, 2014
by Kelly
2 Comments

Writing Styles

I want to talk a bit about writing styles.  Specifically, pantsing.  Now, I used this verb two blogs ago, and my hubby pointed out that he had no idea what it was.  I doubt I made up the term, but it’s essentially a verb for “writing by the seat of your pants” or more simply, not outlining.

I don’t think anyone, even those who “pants”, has no idea at all where their story is going.  You have to have some level of direction or there will be zero cohesion in your plot.  So this blog is about all the gray areas in between outlining and pantsing.

To be completely honest, I have no idea what a complete outline looks like.  I have never written a story, not even a short story, like that.  Does it have an entry for every chapter?  Every scene?  Does it have topics for each conversation?  Does it detail what kind of character growth occurs in that particular chapter/scene?  I can’t personally imagine trying to write a story after drafting up something that detailed. There would be absolutely no fun in it for me.  I love discovering as my character discovers, as my reader discovers.  The journey is the purpose of storytelling, right?  Why would I want to know every stop of the journey before I get started?

However, I don’t go into writing a first draft completely unguided.  I usually have the paragraph-length summary of the plot good to go. what’s my setting, who are my main characters, what do they want, what is the “climax” of the plot.  That’s usually all I have besides any world-building and research I need to do before starting.  However, once I put fingers to the keyboard, scenes start forming in my head.  Maybe just the scene I’m about to write, maybe the next few, maybe random scenes most of the way through the book.  And I take these moments of clarity and jot them down in my planning document.  But even if these little bubbles of plot and “more detailed outlining” manifest themselves, you’re still going to have gaps between them that you must fill through pantsing.

Those gaps can be very difficult to fill.  They lead to conversations that may need to be trimmed down later, but may also lead to valuable character development that you may not have otherwise thought of.  I consider this the characters teaching me about themselves organically, instead of the outliner’s meticulous planning of their characters (or so I think).

That’s not to say that outlining is bad.  I’d assume that it vastly cuts down on editing time.  When a pantser finishes a first draft, they now have a meandering story that may need some shortcuts, or some restructuring.  And that’s just part of the writing process.

Right now, I’m 12k into my new novel.  I’m about to hit the first major plot point – a valuable piece of information will be revealed that drives the remainder of the plot.  The kind of stuff that book jackets are made of, you know the deal.  I’ve already had to meander my way between plot bubbles, and I’ve had a hell of a time doing it.  But I want to trust my characters to guide me through.  I want them to tell me about themselves so their voices will come through clearly by the end.  I don’t mind having to clean up the first half of a manuscript if it means the manuscript’s completed.

So my question for you writers:  Do you outline?  Do you pants?  If you pants, how do you get from one plot bubble to the next?

Thanks for reading <3

October 7, 2014
by Kelly
0 comments

Get Strong.

I want to talk about something that makes a few people uncomfortable.  And I don’t care that it’s been said before, because it’s a great message that deserves to be said over and over until it’s the new social norm.  We live in a country (At least, I think this is worse in America?) where women (and men) go to extreme lengths to “starve themselves into beauty”, and even worse than that, where they don’t and hate every inch of their “not perfectly thin” selves.

I’ve known people who hated how skinny they were, and how fat they were, how flat chested or potbellied or whatever flavor of self-hatred of the month it happened to be.  I am first and foremost going to tell you, FUCK that.   I firmly believe that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and levels of confidence.  And I also firmly believe it is so much harder than it looks to practice what you preach.

I have battled my weight ever since I was 12 years old and stepped on a scale.  I spent my high school years envying my thin, beautiful girlfriends and telling myself I was a plain, fat girl that no one cared about.  Reality check: I was THIN.  I look back at pictures from 10th grade and my jaw hits the floor.  So why did I think I was so “fat”?  Because that’s what teenagers (note I’m not naming a gender here) tell each other and tell themselves.  Who tells them?  Media?  Parents?  That’s not what I’m here to talk about, but I know that it’s a problem.   And we carry these horrendous insecurities inside ourselves and then spend the rest of our lives trying to overcome them, or succumbing to them.

I am fighting tooth and nail to overcome.

And in that fight, I have experienced a wonderful truth that we need to teach our children as well as ourselves.

Don’t lose weight.  Get strong.

I started going to the gym three months ago because I was on a mission to lose the baby weight.  Here I am, now able to run faster than I ever have before, lift heavier weights than I ever have before.  And the scale has hardly changed.  I’ve lost a whopping 3 pounds in 3 months.  But you know what?  I’ve gone down 2 pant sizes, and friends and family are starting to notice.

“You’ve lost weight!” they say excitedly.  And I correct them every time.

“No I haven’t, actually.  I’ve gained muscle.”

And I am very pleased to say that I like this result much, much more.  I have more energy, I’m keeping up with my toddler, I’m fitting in to all my pre-pregnancy clothes again.  I’m so excited to keep it up.  The increased energy alone is its own motivator to keep going.

There was a post floating around facebook the other day that said, “if you could go back in time 10 years what would you tell yourself in two words?”  Well, how about three?  “Join a sport!” “Don’t quit gym!” Okay, here’s two.  “Keep exercising!” I think these sentiments are incredibly valuable to instill in the younger generation.  So many people (adults included) are not moving enough, and there’s so much value that can be gained in keeping your body healthy.  Don’t worry about getting thin.  Don’t worry about what number is on the scale.  Focus on becoming strong, at whatever size your body is happy being, and I think we all can find peace in that.

Thanks for reading.

October 1, 2014
by Kelly
1 Comment

When the Visions Come…

…write them down!

This past week I was struck by clear images. Conversations, appearances and emotions for a short story. I know when to listen to my muse so listen I did, and I wrote the first draft in two nights’ work. It felt so good to do this. My past two WIPs have been more “concept” driven, so I haven’t had that insatiable fire burning inside me to writewritewrite since I did my most recent draft of Y Negative last summer. And that’s fine. I’ve still gotten work done, and I think that is excellent practice for the craft (as I have talked about in previous blogposts like Habit).

So I wanted to talk a little bit about how ideas come to you and how you handle them. For me, I used to have two very physical jobs that allowed me large amounts of time to think about my stories while I worked. This is how I wrote both Claudia’s Gift and Y Negative back to back. I was able to remain so ingrained in the book world that the ideas just kept flowing. I would go through whole conversations in my head, with all the physical movements mapped out, before I wrote them down. I had the opportunity to practice the dialogue, try out different wording to see what invoked the right emotions. And then of course when I wrote it down it came out differently but it’s the practice that counted. That’s how I wrote those novels so fast (at least when one has a full time job) and that’s how I really honed my ability to write dialogue.

There really is a lot of merit when people say you have to get in the zone to write. At those jobs I was able to just stay in the zone all day so when I got home the scenes would just pour off my fingertips. Now, I spend all day analyzing data and talking to clients and my “zone time” is reduced considerably. So to get myself in the zone, I read through the previous scene (or two or three) to summon all those thoughts and emotions so I can continue. Sometimes, it doesn’t work so well, but other times you’ll be able to just slide right back in and pick up where you left off.

That’s how it goes for full novels. You spend so much energy weaving the plot that “zone time” becomes a factor. But with short stories, the whole piece can be written in one dazed sitting.

In the case of the piece I wrote last week, I was walking to the break room and the visions just filled me. The man’s voice, his eyes, his struggle, grabbed me and almost didn’t let me get back to work. I had to jot some of it down on my lunch break to get enough satisfaction to be able to focus for the remainder of the day. I live for those moments. I feel flustered and desperate and frustrated and I love every second of it. It’s why I do what I do, for those moments of inspiration. For those crystal clear visions.

How do ideas come to you? And how do you get in the zone?

September 17, 2014
by Kelly
1 Comment

Yaoicon!

This past weekend I attended Yaoicon in Burlingame. It was my second time going, though would have been more if they hadn’t hosted it in Socal the past few years, and it was a blast. Some of you may have seen my (semi-mediocre) Hatsuharu cosplay, and my friend went as Kyo.

It’s so much fun to cosplay with other people. At the last yaoicon I attended, we went as the Hitachiin twins, and about two years ago one of my other friends and I went as Zuko and Sokka to Sacanime. You feel like you’re a part of something special, or at least I do. Cosplay combines many different elements of creativity, and cosplaying with others brings a level of camaraderie that elevates the entire convention experience.

I really enjoy pretending to be someone else, even if I’m more looking the part than really trying to act it. I enjoy the compliments and people asking to take pictures (who wouldn’t?) and I especially enjoy being surrounded with like-minded people also dressed up. Seriously, what’s not to love about a convention?

I spent a considerable amount of time in the dealer hall, and talked to many of the small publishers and independent artists. There were Dreamspinner Press and Blind Eye Books to name a few, the latter of which I picked up the novel Turnskin by Nicole Kimberling. I haven’t read it yet but am rather excited to. Anything that involves shapeshifters that use their magic for entertainment gets major credit in my eyes. I’ll post a review of that book when I’m done with it!

I learned a lot about graphic novels as well, and got some great advice about starting out. One of the graphic novels I picked up was the first chapter of Starfighter, which has a nice gritty art style that is similar to what I hope to achieve with my own art. And it was super cool seeing a whole troop of people cosplaying as characters from the series, to the extreme delight of the creator. It is incredibly inspiring to imagine someone loving my work enough some day to cosplay it themselves.

Every time I go to a convention, I am reminded why I love going. I love the people, I love the artists, I love the costumes. You’ll see me there again for sure. Maybe one day behind a booth rather than in front of it? Who knows.

So how about you guys? Do any of you have any favorite convention or cosplay stories?

August 30, 2014
by Kelly
4 Comments

Habit

We can all admit it, creating a habit takes work. And by work, I mean convincing yourself to not sit around browsing facebook when you have that spare half an hour you can spend writing. I’ll admit I struggled with this even before I became a parent, though back then it was stuff like World of Warcraft keeping me away from the manuscripts. For a while I was convinced that I only had enough time to either go to the gym OR write, which I know now is complete and utter bullshit.

Some of the guys at the gym last week said that you need to do something for 21 days straight for your body to consider it a habit, and grow to expect it. I don’t know how much science is behind this statement, but it does bring up a fun mental challenge. They lamented how difficult it is to go to the gym every day, especially on weekends. I can definitely agree to that. But I think it’s difficult to do anything above and beyond your basic necessities every day. Writing included.

I’m about a month in, and almost 5000 words deep, into my new novel. I really want to form some sort of writing habit so I can consistently move forward. I can’t quite do what I used to do, which was write a few hundred words here and there in the evenings but then slam out 4-10k on Saturdays when I had the house to myself. So what works?

A lot of writing advice blogs/websites/etc say to write something every day. Easy, right? Even if it’s just a sentence? Yeah, I don’t like that. I like sitting down, popping out a whole scene, and moving on with my day. But I just don’t always have that kind of time. So here’s my suggestion. If you know you won’t have time to write on a particular day, spend some of your downtime (in the car, in the shower, wherever) thinking up some new aspect of your plot or world-building or characters.

But Kelly! I hear you crying. You don’t think about your novels all the time?

Honestly? No. I don’t. I have a mentally demanding job during the day and then a mentally demanding kid in the evenings. I’ll have those inspiration days (like the day before yesterday, oh jeez) where I can’t think about anything else. But it just doesn’t happen all the time.

So that’s my goal. If I can’t write every day, I’ll spend enough mental time to discover something new about my novel on the rest of the days. No word count goals, not yet. Once I’m all the way back into things, I’ll talk to myself about word count goals. Anyway, if I get sucked into the story enough, word count goals won’t matter because it’ll write itself.

Here’s to staying consistent, here’s to forming a habit.

What are your goals?

August 16, 2014
by Kelly
0 comments

An Analogy

To update on my last entry, I started that novel. I’m really excited already with how it’s going. But my hesitation coupled with another hobby I have renewed lend themselves to an interesting comparison.

A few years back, I went gym crazy. I worked out an hour a day 6 days a week (which to any gym regular probably seems piddly but to me who never previously had done any exercise more than one day in a row, it really meant something.) running and weight lifting. I fell in love. I worked myself up to doing full pushups, running 2 miles. I lost some fat and gained muscle definition. I felt confident and alive in ways I never had before. And then, after about 5 months (stop laughing that’s a long time for me) I fell off the horse. I struggled to get back into it over the next few months but it just didn’t happen.

When Nate hit a year old and I had hardly tried to get a normal routine going again, I knew something was going to break eventually. And finally, I am back into it. 15 days in a row and feeling bloody fantastic. I can’t wait to get back to where I was and then push through to even stronger heights.

So one of the best things I learned in my gymcapades was when I was weight lifting: when you get stronger, the weights don’t feel lighter. Seriously, I had to wrap my head around this concept. I thought when I was strong enough, lifting the 20 pound weight would feel like how difficult the 10 pound weight used to be. But no. It’s twice as fucking heavy and it is still twice as hard to lift. But you simply become capable of handling it.

This concept was revolutionary for me, and I’ve found you can apply it to many different situations. For example, writing. In my last entry, I expressed contempt at how difficult it still is to start a new novel. Of course, it’s just as difficult as it has always been. But I have definitely become more capable of handling it. I can think back to writing certain scenes in my first novel, my second, my third. There were some scenes, especially any that involved the death of a main character, that were monstrously difficult to write. But I pushed through them and emerged on the other side a writer with a few more tools in her writerly toolbox. And each time I had to push through, it was just as hard, but through my experience, I could more efficiently think of different ways to make the scene work and get through it.

I guess I’m advocating the practice makes perfect idiom. If you keep working you’ll see results. But be patient, figure out a routine that works for you, and when it seems difficult, remind yourself that you’ve grown strong enough to handle it.

I hope to emerge on the other side of this all a healthier person with another novel under my belt. And who knows what’s next? Performing a pull-up? What? Why are you laughing so hard?

Have a great weekend, everyone!