The Underground Truth

Writers are often asked about their inspiration. It’s a surprisingly tough discussion.

Many times, the origins of a story are like little seeds strewn around. One or two catch the attention, and the others are tough to find, hidden under blades of grass. It’s an apt metaphor: at first, there’s delight in the discovery. (Look! A shiny idea!) And then there’s the agony. (But where is the rest of the story?)

I found an article (proof that not all internet searching is a waste of time!) that reminded me exactly of why I started my Mermaid Underground series, and I thought it’d be a good time to talk about my own inspiration. For this story, anyway.

This is an article about a photographer who swims around underneath the ground in Florida, taking pictures of the cool stuff she sees, and of the state of the ecology via algae and other plant growth. If you’re at all familiar with Florida, you might think of the miles of beaches. You might even know there are swamps and ponds and lakes.

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But you might not realize there are thousands of interconnected aquifers under the land. The water is crystal clear (unless terribly polluted) and it’s fascinating.

When I was a little girl, growing up in Pasco County (that’s where Tampa is), we would go to swim in some of the crystal-clear, cold rivers that welled up from these amazing springs. I never strapped on scuba gear to explore further, where the sun doesn’t reach, but it always captured my imagination that underneath us, who lived on dry land, was actually a world of water.

What if mermaids lived there?

If you’d like to see where the story goes from here, please check out the book links to the right of the screen. Book 3 in the series is on its way!

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Two Big Truths of Life (According to a Writer)

Today, I’ve decided to publish a two-parter on life philosophy (cue the angels singing.) Occasionally I’m struck with truths so important that I must remark upon them, and, having remarked upon them, my husband often points out that these truths would make good blog posts. So you, dear reader of my blog, are about to benefit from some truth. Read on!

Part I: The First Truth

You know, in a discussion with my partner-in-misbegotten-life-choices, we both realized how very underrated this particular personality philosophy is: Don’t be an A-hole.

Just … don’t be an A-hole.

Honestly, it covers all manner of social situations. Do you know someone who’s having a rough day? Don’t be an A-hole to them. Perhaps even say or do something supportive. At the very least, remain neutral and quietly back away from the sad person. Just don’t make things worse.

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Is this really necessary in the workplace?

It’s amazing to me—no, really, actually amazement-inducing—how many people completely lose the subtle talent of not being an A-hole at work. For example, the job I’m in now was very recently occupied by a young woman who was much more interested in winning arguments than she was in actually doing her job. (Which was writing, by the way.) She’d been placeholding my position for three months before she traipsed off to pursue her art (which, you know, more power to her! I’m all about the pursuit of art!) and she had not written much at all to show for her time there. Instead, she’d spent her days—you guessed it—being pretty much an A-hole. Blustering and trying to be sparkly instead of sitting down at her computer to write. Which is what she’d been hired to do.

Honestly, I’m not complaining about her, because her A-holeness landed me a job. And just by being generally nice and working on my projects, I’m already looking pretty rosy in comparison, so really: “Thanks, girl who held onto my job until I could come and get it!”

Part II: The Second Truth

If you want to be a writer, you must write.

No, seriously.

People seem to be graduating from some program of study out there that says writing is all about dropping amazing idea bombs and then letting minions pound away on the keyboard to flesh it all out. But guess what?

Writers actually do the keyboard pounding. Writers research their topics, double-check their facts, put one word down in front of the other until the work is done. Then comes the editing. Lots and lots of editing. And the suggestions and requests from managers (in my case) or outside editors (also in my case.) All of which begets more editing.

Writing is difficult.

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Think that’s a lot of books? Imagine; each one was written and rewritten. And rewritten.

Writing is looking at the same passages so many times they stop making sense, and then putting them aside to rest, and then reading over them once more. If you’re lucky, with some talent, you’ll notice that when you revisit your published works much, much later, you find (much to your delight) that your work is actually readable.

But if you don’t think that writing is hard work, really, actually hard work, then you’re not a writer. That’s a fact. And I’m not being an A-hole by saying that.

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By the way, I’m still working on that last Mermaid Underground novella. I thought I had finished my latest revision, but then I realized I needed to do something about Sparrow. So I’m working on that.