Dreamscapes And Stories

Valentina RemenarHowdy, howdy!  Did everyone have a nice Thanksgiving?  I must admit that I had a lovely day with delicious food and great company.  As for today’s post, I wanted to talk a little about dreams and how they influence my writing.  Why?  Because a couple of friends wanted to know if I remember my dreams and, if so, do they affect my writing in any way.  The short answer is: occasionally.  The dreams I do remember tend to be boring every day type things (usually just conversations with a random person) or terrifying nightmares that I bury deep down inside my mind.  There’s rarely anything between the two.  But, it’s the in between that usually become stories themselves.

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Dreams by Valentina Remenar.

Most of the time, my dreams fade away as quickly as they come.  If I do remember anything, it’s usually unintelligible garbage that I ignore or, if I’m having issues with a particular story and I’m getting desperate, I sift through in the hopes of finding some magical answer.  I’ve never had anything happen that’s as fabulous as the image above, but my dreams can still be pretty cool.  In other words, while dreams are neat and sometimes helpful, they aren’t an integral part of my writing system.

If I’m lucky, I’ll find an answer to a plot problem if I really focus on a certain part of a dream.  The most recent example I have is actually from last night.  I was having one of my stupid conversation dreams (I don’t even remember who I was talking to), and the only topic that stuck out to me was a random mention of Medusa.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to insert some more hints at demons and monsters early on in G&G, but I was stuck at a part in chapter three that I had no clue how to tweak.  A version of Medusa’s powers will actually really help me out there.

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Snakes are fun.

 In extremely rare instances, I’ll come away from a dream with a story idea.  I can actually only think of two off the top of my head.  I even wrote a little synopsis of one to help me remember it:

Dream Idea – Nick has no luck with animals. The one pet he had as a kid died, and his mother refused to give details. He constantly feels like he’s being watched, and has nightmares of nothing but blood. Little does he know that two factions of shifters are after him to be their savior. One wants death and destruction, the other wants peace. Which one will win his allegiance?

This was written after a bigger story started formulating in my head.  The dream itself was actually just a kid playing outside with a puppy that ended really bad with blood and yelping and sadness.  And there were two pairs of glowing eyes in the bushes on either side of the yard.  It was weird and creepy and memorable.  I got distracted by other stories, though, so I haven’t worked on this one.

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I hope not.  My nightmares tend to be recurring.

 So, I guess my dreams influence my writing sometimes, but not as much as other things.  Daydreams, on the other hand, play a huge role in my writing.  But that’s a topic for another time.  What about you?  Do your dreams influence your creative processes?  To what extent?  Leave your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages.

Sweet Tooth: A Top Five List

Hello, hello!  It’s Thanksgiving week!  My favorite holiday ever, as if you didn’t know.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Thursday and gets to spend time with their loved ones and eats tons of goodies.  Also, instead of shopping Thursday night and Friday, I encourage you to stay at home and binge-watch Netflix (Gilmore Girls!) or play games or something fun.  Anyway, in keeping with last week’s light and fun food related post, I thought I would devote this one to desserts.  This has nothing to do with Thanksgiving per se, it’s just my top five favorite desserts, along with an honorable mention.

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That looks delicious.

1. Creme brulee.  If there’s creme brulee on the menu, you can pretty much guess what I’m getting.  There’s just something about the creamy goodness underneath the crackly crunchy coating that speaks to my soul.  It would take something super weird that I’ve never had before (because I like trying new things even more than I like creme brulee) to beckon me away from this particular dish of delish.

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I’m making myself hungry.

2. Tiramisu.  Ladyfingers and chocolate and coffee and creamy marscapone custard deliciousness and (depending on the recipe) booze.  What’s not to love?  The real question, though, is whether I like tiramisu because I like boozy coffee or if it’s the other way around.  I guess we’ll never know.

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I may or may not have just drooled on myself.

3. Flan.  In the process of making this list, I have just realized that I have a weird attraction to custardy desserts.  I have no idea where it came from.  I’m not complaining, nor am I apologizing.  Flan is special, though.  It combines my love of creaminess with my love of caramel sauce, so it gets bonus points for that.

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Blueberry crumble pie?  Don’t mind if I do.

4. Pie.  I admit it.  I like pie more than cake.  The problem is, I can’t pick just one kind.  Blueberry crumble, key lime, peanut butter, chocolate creme, pecan.  The list goes on and on.  There are a few exceptions, like coconut, pumpkin (yeah, I said it), sweet potato, or anything banana, but otherwise, as long as I’m not allergic to it, I will probably like it in a pie.

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It looks so good.

5. Red velvet cake.  If we’re talking regular old cake, I lean more toward red velvet.  Maybe it’s the color, maybe it’s the cream cheese frosting, it’s just so delicious.  I could totally go for a piece right now.

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I couldn’t not include it.

 Honorable Mention.  Cheesecake.  There’s just no way to make a list of favorite desserts without at least thinking of cheesecake.  I’d never turn a slice down even though I may prefer other things.

What about you?  What’re your favorite desserts?  Is there a particular dessert you’re looking forward to on Thanksgiving?  Feel free to share your lists or thoughts here or on my social media pages.  Thank you for reading!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

See you next week for my 100th post.

Our Thanksgiving Menu

Hello, hello!  Since my favorite holiday is right around the corner, I thought I’d share our usual Thanksgiving menu with you.  Dad makes a feast and it’s only fair that I share all of the mouthwatering morsels.  Plus, we need to start making a shopping list and this will help us remember what to add.  Who said a blog couldn’t act as a handy-dandy reminder?  So, in no particular order of deliciousness, our Thanksgiving spread includes:

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1. Turkey, of course.  Dad’s kind of a traditionalist when it comes to the bird.  It’s stuffed and roasted.  When I was a kid and we had 30+ people over, I vaguely remember the occasional backup ham, but we always have the turkey.

2. Stuffing.  I know we’re in Texas and that cornbread stuffing is like the law here, but that’s not what Dad makes.  He does an Italian stuffing with sausage and other things.  I fully admit that it’s my favorite part of the meal.

3. Mashed potatoes.  This has morphed a little over the years from a traditional dish to something more flavorful.  There’s usually garlic and other things involved.  It’s another favorite.

4. Mashed sweet potatoes.  Originally, we had the whole candied yams dish with the marshmallows and all that, but Dad found a recipe a while back for a mashed version with nuts and brown sugar.  I’m not the biggest fan of sweet potatoes, but the mashed version seems to go over well with other people.

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And then you murder them and eat their insides.

 5. Green bean casserole.  Every year, Dad tweaks something or adds something new.  Last year, he went from the old recipe pretty much everyone does to a fresh version we saw on Good Eats.  It was tasty and pretty easy to make.

6. Corn pudding.  This is actually a fairly recent addition (within the last five years).  It replaced the canned corn that we always forgot to put out.  As far as I know, Dad still tweaks this one.

7. Spinach casserole.  We’ve had this one for as long as I can remember, but I only started eating it within the last ten years.  It never seems to change.

8. Stuffed mushrooms.  These are one of our usual appetizers.  Italian sausage stuffing and lots of cheese.  Everyone loves them.

9. Deviled eggs.  The other usual appetizer.  And I just feel the need to point out that Dad always remembers that I’m not big on the paprika sprinkled on top, so he makes half without it.  I’m very loved.

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Looks right to me.

 10. Cranberry chutney.  This seems to change every year.  Last year, Dad found a recipe without apples, so I could eat it.  This is served alongside the jellied cranberry sauce, because why not?

I feel like I’m probably missing something, but I can’t think of anything.  Dessert is left up to our guests.  What does your Thanksgiving feast include?  Are you the chef or a guest?  Do you have any traditions you’d like to share?  Feel free to share it all in a comment on here or on any of my social media pages!

How To Survive The First Few Days After An Election

Hello, hello!  By the time this post gets published, America will have a new president (or at least be in the final stages of deciding).  If you’re anything like me, you didn’t like any of the candidates and you’re beyond tired of hearing about them and seeing their faces splashed all over your social media sites.  But today, and for the foreseeable future, you’ll only have to deal with one of them.  That means for the rest of the week (until something else distracts everyone), your social media will be full of the winner’s supporters bragging and the loser’s supporters complaining (because there’s no such thing as a graceful win or loss in this election).  So, how are we, the ones with nothing important to say on the matter, supposed to survive until the next big thing comes along to distract everyone?  Here are three handy tips to help you keep your sanity.

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That’s what I’ve been struggling with myself.

 1. Snuggle up with Netflix or your DVR/TiVo or a book, etc.  I’m not going to tell you to avoid social media altogether, but make sure you temper your exposure with healthy doses of entertainment.  Netflix has the advantage of avoiding all things annoying simply by clicking play.  Or just read a book if you prefer something besides screen time.  If you want to watch TV or the news, do yourself a favor and record it, that way you can skip through the things you want to avoid while keeping up with everything else.  You can do the same with a newspaper or magazine.  There are ways to stay informed without being over-exposed to certain things.

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Watch another episode!  Don’t be a quitter.

 2. Do all the things!  You know that stuff you’re supposed to be doing when you’re scrolling through Facebook?  Now is the perfect time to do all of it.  Do the laundry.  Clean the kitchen.  Catch up on your NaNo writing.  You can be productive and avoid the post-election uproar all at once.  Truth be told, I’m actually avoiding the last of the pre-election voter smugness (I’m happy you’re happy you voted, don’t get me wrong, but some people take it too far when they think it makes them and their candidate of choice superior) by writing this post.

3. Surround yourself with cute animals.  There’s never a wrong time to look at cute little animals.  If you’re into cat videos, the Internet is rife with them.  Dogs are everywhere too.  You can find bats and birds and even adorable snakes.  It’s all just a search away.  Who can stay annoyed when looking at those kawaii wittle faces.  Even I get happy when faced with the cuteness of doom.

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It’s a Dapper Danger Noodle!
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Look at those big eyes!  Batties are adorable!

 I’m sure there are other ways to maintain your sanity over the next few days, but this is what I will be doing.  Do you have any plans or tips for avoiding the insanity of it all?  I suppose being a recluse is the most helpful thing during these times.  Stay safe and sane.

See you next week.

The Most Common Writing Advice And Why I Disagree

Howdy, howdy!  I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween, and got tons of candy (whether you went trick or treating yourself or stole it from your kids/nieces/nephews/siblings/etc.).  Today, I want to ramble a little bit about some common writing advice that I really disagree with.  If you’re a writer, chances are that you’ve heard this statement at least once (and probably way more than that): write what you know.  On the surface, it sounds like common sense.  If you don’t know about something, how can you write about it?  But so many people take it too literally.

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No one wants to read about that, Calvin.  Unless the guy is transported into each show, then maybe.

 On the one hand, some people argue that the saying refers to emotions.  We’ve all experienced love and hate and happiness and anger, so our characters should too.  I agree with that reading of it to a point.  Characters need to express multiple emotions in order to be well-rounded.  My issue with this explanation is that we all experience and express our emotions differently, so our characters should too.  For instance, when I rage, I stew in my own thoughts and plot revenge.  I don’t really know what people who scream and cuss and break things are thinking or feeling.  Does that mean I should only write characters who stew?  No.  It just means that I have to work a little harder to understand and flesh out my characters who are screamers.

On the other hand, there are the people who think writing what they know means writing about things they’ve done or stuff that’s happened to them.  I actually started writing Garnets and Guardians because people kept telling me to write what I know.  I know about spending your childhood in and out of the hospital.  But honestly, that’s boring, so I threw in demons and references to different mythologies and a protagonist with a disease that’s fairly different from my own.  These are things that I knew little to nothing about.  Hell, my protagonist can walk.  I don’t even remember what walking feels like.  Does any of this mean I shouldn’t write about these things?  No.  It simply means I have to study up on them.  Writers enjoy research (supposedly).  It’s half the fun of writing.

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It’s kind of like that.

 I guess if I were to rewrite the quote, I’d probably go with something like “write what excites you.”  Not in a porny way, though.  What I mean is, if you’re super interested in writing about a guy who has to fight ice giants while climbing Mt. Everest, but you have no idea what mountain climbing entails, go out and learn about it.  Sure, once you learn about it, you know it, and thus the original quote applies, but it’s still up to you to study these things in the first place.  If it drives you to research something, it’s worth writing, even if you have zero experience with it.  So, write what you want.  Learn things.  Don’t limit yourself just because you’re inexperienced with something.

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Because Odin. And election day is soon.

 What’re your thoughts on “write what you know?”  Is there any common writing advice that you disagree with?  As always, feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments or on my social media pages!