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You Live, Only Once

I've been thinking a lot about the path I've had to forge on my own. With anxiety. Bullying. Quitting school at sixteen. Fighting to make the world understand that my disability is real. I can't really say that I've truly been "living" these past fourteen years. But one thing I have persisted with through all of these struggles is writing.

I'm having to accept now that my path with writing is not a well-worn one, either. Yes, there are so many authors who have come before me. Who've inspired me with their stories. But I've found that my process is pretty different than most writers. I don't write every day. I don't follow rules and guidelines. I don't read craft books or take classes. I don't use templates for outlining. I spend the majority of my time on the first draft. I don't often force myself to write. I "wait" for inspiration.

Maybe I'm lucky that I'm able to do it this way. I don't have deadlines. I don't *have* to force myself. I also couldn't. My anxiety is just too bad to force myself to write every day, or even on a regular schedule. I have to do it when I feel up to it. When I'm inspired. Not only is that the only way to keep myself from getting too sick to do anything, but it results in better work.

You have to live your own best life. My process isn't for everyone; that's for sure. I'm not in any way trying to imply that my process is better than anyone else's. But what I do want to say - what I've been fighting to say every time I see rules and guidelines brought up in the writing community - is that there is not one right way to write. I don't care how common a piece of advice is... it is not absolute.

You can write any way you want to. You can live your life any way you want to. As long as you're putting your heart and soul and compassion into the life you're living, you are doing it the right way. Your own right way. You have to trust your intuition over the voice of the crowd. Over your own fear voice. It is by no means the easy path. But in the end, as far as I know, you only live once. Don't you want that life to be your own?

Making Your Own Path

So, update on Book One re-editing. It’s going well, but slowly. I’m mostly making really small changes on things I missed or things that always bothered me, and I’m continuing to enjoy my own story. Which is nice. Sometimes, I actually find myself grinning at how much I love these characters.

I am starting to feel anxious about releasing Book Two again, though. Part of it is just the same reasons as before. That people won’t “get” the story, or they will misunderstand my characters. Another part of it is the not new, but finally accepted feeling of not fitting into the writing community. My process is too different. I don’t follow the same rules. I don’t agree with the generally accepted advice. I disagree with the norm. I cause waves.

I’m weird. I always have been. Magic Inc. is weird, too. It would have to be, seeing as it is my heart and soul poured into book form. Sometimes, I wonder what I’m doing releasing these stories into the world. Jane is me. Her experiences are mine. It’s all too real and too vulnerable. What if they hate it? What if they hate me?

I’ve had it implied that I’m not serious about writing because I don’t write everyday. Because I don’t (and can’t) treat it like a job. My anxiety is just too overwhelming. And to be honest, I just don’t agree that forcing yourself to write creates the best work. Not for me, anyhow. Every writer is different.

Writing is my life, and it has been since I was eleven. Writing is my art; I cut myself open and pour my heart and soul into it. I am a very serious person, on all fronts, but my writing… it’s basically sacred to me. It’s my spiritual therapy. It’s my vocation. It’s all I have to give to the world.

And that’s the thing. I could stop publishing. I could write just for myself and hide away from the online world the same way that I usually hide from the “real” world. But then I would have absolutely nothing to contribute. It would feel like I didn’t exist. (It already feels like that, sometimes.)

I used to believe that there would be some people out there who could benefit from my stories. I still hope that’s true. But it can be hard to believe in. To believe in yourself. Especially when your formative years were filled with bullying. And in some ways, it’s easier than ever to lash out when you don’t like or agree with someone. (Even I’ve done it, occasionally.)

I fear that Jane and her journey will be just as misunderstood as I was growing up. And believe me, I wasn’t perfect, either. I judged other kids; I did stupid things. But I never fit in anywhere. Something that has continued fully into my adult life. I’ve always been forced to make my own path. I guess that’s just the way it is. I will do what is best for the story. I will do what is best for my writing process. If that makes me an outsider forever, then so be it.

But it’s lonely making your own path.

20 Questions Book Tag

What? I stole another question tag because I never get tagged in anything? Yeah, I guess I did. I got this tag from Paper Fury, a new blog that I started following recently. So, enjoy me talking about books again. But often veering into talk about writing instead, because I guess I can't help myself.

1. How many books are too many for a series?
I don't think there's ever a set amount that is "just right" for every series. It's just about what feels right for the story in question. Some stories are just naturally longer than others. Right now, my plan for Magic Inc. is 12 books. That might seem like a lot, but it's actually down from 15/16. Haha. But I've known from the beginning that it was meant to be a long story. A slow-burn, if you will. Some stories are just meant to be that way. Other stories are just naturally shorter. They might be faster paced, or just taking place over a shorter period of time.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?
I'm really into cliffhangers. Or at least, I'm into endings that really leave you impacted. I try to end every chapter in a meaningful way. And I often write the last lines of the book long before I get to the ending. But I see a lot of people complain in reviews about cliffhangers, and I don't understand it. Don't you want to feel invested in reading the next part of the story? Sure, there are probably some cliffhangers that come off feeling cheap. But in general, I like a book to leave with me a lot to think about after I finish the final page. I like the anticipation and theorizing between books and will often give myself time between books in a series, even if they are already released.

3. Hardcover or paperback?
Definitely hardcovers. I've always preferred hardcovers. That's not to say that I don't own my fair share of paperbacks. But I find they get damaged much easier than hardcovers, and since most of my unread books are now in storage bins that get moved up and down from the basement a lot, I find myself gravitating towards hardcovers even more than before.

4. Favourite book?
The Harry Potter books will probably always be my favorites. I change my mind often about which book in the series is my favorite, but I tend to prefer the odd-numbered ones to the even ones for some reason. You can see more of my favorite books here. Or read my list of 7 Most Influential Books here, with commentary.

5. Least favourite book?
I don't know that I have a least favorite book. I'm inclined to see the good in stories over the bad, and I'm often pretty good at picking books out for myself. Even books I have to drag myself through usually have one or two good points. But if you want to know a book that really disappointed me... it was Cursed Child.

6. Love triangles, yes or no?
So, in general, no. I prefer romance to focus on building between two characters who get closer and closer over the course of the story. Characters who have an instant spark, but also take the time to have long conversations and bonding moments. It's hard to do this when there's a love competition at the center of the story and the focus is split. However, I find myself often writing very uneven love triangles in my own work. I hesitate to even call them love triangles, simply because it's never two people in love with someone who can't choose between them. There's always an element of unrequited love in there. And yeah, it's usually quite obvious (to me, anyhow) who the real soulmates are. But that's the point. I'm not trying to trick anyone into thinking it might go either way. I'm just trying to represent how confusing and complicated forming bonds with others can be.

7. The most recent book you couldn’t finish?
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. I got this book as a Valentine's Day "blind date" in 2017. It wasn't a great date. The book was just too immature for me. (It read more like Middle Grade than YA and made a lot of poop references.) Also, there was something about animals being used as machines? It just wasn't the right book for me at all. Which is too bad because I did mostly enjoy the Uglies series, even if there were parts of that I didn't love, either.

8. A book you’re currently reading?
I am super close to finishing City of Fallen Angels. Which I've been reading for over a month. It's honestly not the book's fault. I'm loving The Mortal Instruments series as much now as I had when I read the first three books a couple of years ago. I am still very invested in these characters. But I've been re-editing Magic Inc. Book One. And I often find myself uninterested in reading when I'm in the process of editing, since that requires a lot of reading. Also, Kingdom Hearts has been taking so much of my attention this year.

9. Last book you recommended to someone?
...I can't remember. I really don't recommend books very often because I'm always terrified someone will hate what I've recommended. This leaks into all media, honestly. I am very nervous about being judged for the things I love. And I don't necessarily have many friends who enjoy similar things. Or many friends, period. But hey, I have a few. Sort of.

10. Oldest book you’ve read by publication date?
Anything I read for school. Which was ages ago now. I don't know that I count that. Just for enjoyment? Maybe Peter Pan or The Secret Garden? I don't read a lot of classics. Sometimes I feel bad about that. I wish I enjoyed them more, because I'm sure there are some I would benefit from reading. But I can't even drag myself through most modern Adult Fiction.

11. Newest book you’ve read by publication date?
I read (and reviewed) Nyxia last year. It was fairly new. Also, The Crimes of Grindelwald in script form. But that's about it. I'm always behind on EVERYTHING.

12. Favourite author?
I mean, J.K. Rowling. Still. But in terms of authors whose books I always buy (even if I don't actually read them for ages), Sarah Dessen or John Green. All my favorite Fantasy authors have too many books in the series I haven't read yet. Behind on EVERYTHING.

13. Buying books or borrowing books?
I've always preferred buying my own books. I'm a hoarder collector. Plus, I don't like the time pressure of getting a book read and returned. But once in a while, I'll donate books I don't see myself rereading to the library my Mom works at. If they don't end up on the shelves, they end up in the twice-annual book sale that supports the library. And provides a great way to buy cheap books!

14. A book you dislike that everyone seems to love?
Maybe Game of Thrones? I mean, I didn't hate it. I just struggle with reading long descriptions and keeping up with a vast fantasy world. I thought the characters were interesting. (The ones I could actually keep track off, anyhow.) I liked some of the lore. But I just prefer fantasy to be set in modern times. And also to be more focused on the characters than world-building. I like bonding with a character deeply. Feeling what they are feeling. I feel like that often gets lost in the long, impersonal descriptions in books like these. I doubt I'd ever continue the book series, but I might continue watching the show... at some point. But there's so much blood and nudity.

15. Bookmarks or dog ears?
BOOKMARKS. Please don't hurt my books if you borrow from me.

16. A book you can always re-read?
Harry Potter. Though these days, I do my rereading mostly by audio books. I have way too many books I've never read to spend much reading time rereading, but I can listen to audio books while in the shower every morning. And I love it!

17. Can you read while listening to music?
I can't stand silence, so I definitely listen to music while reading. But I do find lyrics distracting. Not while writing, for some reason. But while reading, lyric-less music is key.

18. One POV or multiple?
Ideally, only one or two. Because I feel that lets you get closer to the characters. But I've definitely enjoyed books that jump around more than that. (The Mortal Instruments, for instance.) So, it's not an absolute rule. I used to write fanfiction that jumped around until I started writing almost exclusively in first person. And while I LOVE first person, I do miss getting to tell stories from different angles in the same book.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
I haven't read a novel in one sitting since Deathly Hallows. And that was only because of necessity. I'm a fairly slow reader, and I like to take my time.

20. Who do you tag?
Anyone who needs blog content. Haha.

Returning to Book One

Been working on some slight re-edits for Book One before I release it with the improved formatting. Nothing about the story is changing. No worries! Mostly just fixing mistakes I missed the first time. (Oops!) And a few small wording changes. And of course, the formatting to match Book Two.

But I have to say, it is hard to go back to old writing, even when it's work you're really proud of overall. I still think I did the best I could with introducing the characters and story I wanted to tell. (To me, that's not even close to the most interesting part.) But I can see where some writing improvements could be made.

I'm really trying to rein in my editing impulses to keep the changes to only the essential or unnoticeable. And like I said, nothing to do with the story will be changing. (Unless I find some huge plot hole!) I guess being able to see the flaws now just means my writing has improved.

I may also be finally letting go of my need to spell "colour" the British way. I don't really spell anything else that way. (Fantasy terms, aside.) But I've held on to this from my Neopets days. It's kind of sad to let it go. But it doesn't really match, so it looks incorrect. Best to do it all one way or the other, I suppose.

~

Did some more editing today, and I'm enjoying it much more than I did yesterday. I think part of it was my mood, but also, I'm past the introductions. Now, Jane can actually get to know the other characters. And have deep conversations. Which is my favorite part of any story!

"I could still feel the warmth of him all around me. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, and the air picked up more than before. My long hair flew around my shoulders. I sighed, peacefully. I felt strong, powerful, and almost... beautiful." Still one of my favorite moments.

Little Right Moments

I promised myself a real writing session this weekend if I got snowed in and was allowed to cancel plans. It's Sunday. The day I typically choose for planned writing sessions. I was nervous. I had only worked on outlining and pieces of far future scenes since Christmas.

The chapter took longer than expected to finish. What I thought would take a page at the most ended up taking two and a half pages and most of the day to write. The scene morphed in interesting ways, and the lines I had been struggling to find a transition for found their way in naturally this time.

There's a lot of talk about forcing yourself to write, but I'm glad I waited until I was ready to come back to it. Yes, it was still scary. I can get anxious about basically anything. But I knew it was the right time. I knew I was well rested. I was ready.

There's nothing wrong with waiting for the right moment. As long as you are able to recognize it when it comes. I wish you a lot of right moments. ❤

Resisting the Rush/Accepting Yourself

I've been observing people's posts since the beginning of the new year. So many of my author acquaintances have been heading into the new year with so much momentum. I can't help but be a bit jealous. I wish I could say I was heading into the new year strong, ready to start pursuing those goals. But I am a socially anxious person who is still recovering from the holidays. December was a cycle of, "Do a social thing, then become so exhausted that it takes a week to recover from the resulting depression, then do another social thing." Not much time to nurture my creativity. So, in January, I've been resting. Turning to my natural de-stress sources, like The Sims 2 and YouTube. I've also been spending a lot of my time trying to finish playing all of the Kingdom Hearts remasters before Kingdom Hearts 3 comes out on the 29th. I'm on Dream Drop Distance, which I never finished on the 3DS, and I'm enjoying it so much more this time around. (I've been posting pictures of my Dream Eaters on Twitter and Instagram, if you're interested in that.) I haven't even truly started on my new Goodreads goal of 40 books, because sometimes even reading feels like work, and I want to read when I feel like I can love it. Much like with writing.

I have written once in January so far, though. I was watching an ASMR video with rain and thunder. And I felt a small tug. I wrote an newly conceived, emotional scene about rain from a much later Magic Inc. book. Not for some goal. Not because I was trying to push myself to my limits. I wrote it for me. For my therapeutic good. Because it felt right.

I've noticed in the last year or so a lot of ambitious writers having life or burnout slow them down. And it seems to really throw them off. Makes them question themselves. Whether they are really writers when they are not actively writing. And I just want to tell them taking breaks is okay! Taking it slow is okay! Having very productive periods, then not so productive periods is okay! I hear a lot of writers online promoting and talking about huge goals and writing every day, especially in the new year. And that's totally fine if it works for you! But burnout is real, the effects of anxiety and depression are real, and sometimes outside life has to come first. We are still so very early in the year. We have a lot of time to reach our goals, whatever they may be. No need to rush.

In the mess of December, I did also (briefly) return to Dreaming in Shadow for the first time in about eight months. Christmas Eve was the fifteenth anniversary of the dream that inspired Dreaming in Shadow, so maybe it was only natural. But I've been avoiding Dreaming in Shadow like it was cursed. I may have been able to rationalize putting it away well enough. I wanted to finish Magic Inc. Book Two, and that was my priority through all of 2018. And I do think that was the right choice at the time. But I've been struggling with this story for longer than that. Our world has become a dark and dangerous place, and Dreaming in Shadow feels too real now. I felt guilty for dreaming it up. For putting so much of myself into it for so many years. I've feared the shame I might get for putting this story out into the world now. I've shamed myself for loving it. I've (figuratively) thrown it away. I've shunned my own darkness.

When I dropped out of school in 2005, I was in a very bad place for years. I am not proud of that part of my life. But after suffering through lonely years of being subjected to an endless attack of my own thoughts and not finding many good outlets for my pain, I began writing regularly again. It was a struggle at first. But I made it part of my therapy, bringing in my week's work to Jill, even if it was only a page. Even if it was less than a page. I also began (slowly) to find a better balance in my relationship with myself. With my own darkness. I still went through yearly emotional crashes that sometimes took months to recover from. But in between, I had found peace with my darkness. I acknowledged it, and it didn't control me anymore. I think part of that peace was found in writing darker stories like Dreaming in Shadow and Miss Masquerade.

When I found the right medication, things got even better. Especially when my psychiatrist upped my dosage in 2014. Though social things were still completely difficult and draining, I could do more without having a panic attack right in the moment. Even my recovery time got better, though it was still far slower than the average person. There were still so many things I struggled with, but I was probably in the best place I had ever been in, objectively speaking. I was still deeply unhappy, but I could distract myself better, and I had an outlet for my emotions. Writing. My long-time friend. The longest sustained friendship I had ever had. Which was, in a way, primarily a relationship with myself. You know what they say about your only lifelong relationship being with yourself?

And then, the fear came back. I watched online communities ripping books apart. Ripping authors apart. Sometimes it seemed to be with good reason. But that didn't change how it made me feel. I was terrified. With one wrong move, I could be a target again. The years of bullying resurfaced. Blocked out memories of my worst years did, too. I was not getting attacked, online or otherwise. But I started attacking myself again. Shaming myself for every piece of my own darkness. For past mistakes, both tiny and huge. I hated myself again. And I tried to repress. Both the worst parts of me... and the best: my stories. Because I was confusing the two. I didn't think I deserved to tell my stories because I was too damaged.

I fought a close to two year battle with my self-doubt (which is far too mild a word for what this really was; self-shame, self-guilt, self-hatred), and I finished Magic Inc. Book Two. I even found my way back to loving writing by beginning Book Three. But I had pushed Dreaming in Shadow back into the dark recesses of my mind, like it was part of the worst of me. I still felt ashamed of it. The short bursts of feeling tempted to go back to it were always quickly broken. But I think it was different this time. (Though maybe I'm just kidding myself.) I read the last section I had been revising. I had written an almost completely new scene back in April. And it was good. And I realized how much I missed the story. How much I missed my broken children. I messaged Mallory, "I sometimes think Jodi and Jeremy are part my own shadow. Like Vanessa. And by turning away from their story, I'm rejecting my own darkness."

I spent some time writing just a bit to add to that chapter. I explored Jodi's thoughts of Shadow being a frightened little boy who had been taught that only violence could free him from his nightmares. And then I too quickly ran out of ground to cover because I had reached a section that I had never decided how to change from the first draft. And I didn't want to force it. So, I just let it sit. I talked about it in therapy. And I decided that when I figured out how to fix that scene, it would be a sign that I should return. I wasn't quite ready yet, but I could see that time approaching just off in the horizon.

It's okay to take your time. With anything. They say if you wait to be ready, that time will never come. But I think that's a lie. I think there is such a thing as being ready. I think our culture is obsessed with making outward progress. Something we can use to prove our worth on social media. Or at family holiday parties. We're all trying so hard to prove our worth that we've decided we are only worth something if we're achieving. And that's not true. There is worth in just being a human. There is worth in accepting yourself as you are.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to achieve things in 2019. It's noble to want to improve yourself and your life. But balance is important, too. Remembering why your goals and priorities are what they are. How you want to feel about yourself. Instead of just pushing your limits. Instead of rushing and burning out. The start of a new year can be a great catalyst for goals and dreams. It can be a great motivator. But we need to be able to make changes when the time is right for us. If, like me, you need some recovery time before you start achieving those goals, that's okay! And remember to take some breaks in between, as well. Many people give up on goals and resolutions because they push themselves to the point of burnout. Pace yourself. Rest and reevaluate when necessary. Reassess what's working and not working. We have a whole year. And I believe in you.

2018/2019

Feeling emotional about the end of this year because the last two years were so hard. So full of self-doubt. And anxieties, both personal and global. I had to fight to get my words onto the screen. Fight to make Book Two happen. And in the end, it was a quiet victory. I wasn't able to get Book Two out in 2018, and I am sorry about that. A cover is finally in the works, and I hope that 2019 will be a year of healing and progress. Of balance. Of focusing on what feels right. And what feels worth the struggle. I may not have published a new book in 2018, but I did finish one. And after that fight ended, I found my way back to writing for the love of it. I hope I can hold onto that through all of 2019, and by this time next year, be well on the way to telling you another story.

Book Two Moodboards

I made these moodboards a few weeks ago. It's my first time trying my hand at it. I've already posted these in various places, but I thought I'd archive them here as well. First, we have our main character, Jane Roberts. Next is an older version of Jane. Hmm. I wonder if that's relevant? Underneath, is Jenny Parker, Jane's best friend. And lastly, but never least, Chaz Parker, Jane's leading man. I'm sure you can see some repeating elements, things connecting the different characters. Hopefully, once you've read Book Two, you'll be able to figure out all of the references. Just a note that most of these images do not belong to me.








The Weight Has Lifted

So, Book Three is going really well. I’m actually excited about writing again. With the weight of my Book Two worries lifted, I think I’m finally fully connected to writing for myself again. For the love of it. Which I’ve been struggling to do for over a year.

I really lost myself during Book Two. And I love that book; I truly do. I poured my heart and soul into it. Turned all of my childhood pain into words. But I put so much pressure on myself to get everything perfect. I was scared of messing something up. Of not representing my thoughts well enough. Or people not liking what I had to say.

And the book still isn’t out, so I don’t really know if I did well in the eyes of the readers. But I do feel like I did well by my own self. Both my younger and older self. I said what I needed to in that book. I represented my true self. And from what feedback I have gotten so far, it seems like that came across well. I’m sure I’ll panic again when the book is actually released, but for now, I feel at peace with Book Two. I’ve moved on.

It’s weird. With the cover delayed by having to switch to a new artist, I’ve had to start Book Three before Book Two is even out. I want to talk about how Book Three is a new arc in Jane’s story. But there is only so much I can say about why that is. I want to talk about important new characters and seeing old characters in different lights, stronger roles. But again, that gives something away.

I guess all I can say is that I’m relieved. I’m riding the wind of inspiration, jumping between different chapters and scenes. I don’t expect this rush of excitement and confidence to last through all of Book Three. I’m sure I’ll run into issues and frustrations. I’ll have new battles with self-doubt. But maybe, just maybe, I can hold onto my passion for telling stories - and not let the fear take it away this time.

Maybe.

Writer Questions

Another set of questions from Tumblr. Answering those questions about Jane from Magic Inc. In other news, I had an event on Saturday. Which was scary (as always) and disappointing in that Book Two could not be done in time. But I got to see some friends and fellow authors. And of course, my favorite local book store owner, Leana.

1. What was the first element of your OC that you remember considering?

Since Jane is based on me, it’s hard to remember what exactly began to distinguish her as a character apart from me. The best I can figure is when I decided on her powers. I became fascinated with elemental magic from the faeries on Neopets. (This is also why I spell faerie this way.) I felt drawn to Air powers. Jane’s powers deepened and expanded when I began writing her into my first Harry Potter fanfiction series (as Val).

2. Did you design them with any other characters from their universe in mind?

No, Jane was the beginning. But as I remember it, Jenny’s character was the next to really develop. Strangely enough, Chaz’s character was one of the last Parkers to come into being. If I had followed the progression exactly to my original daydreams, Jane wouldn’t have met Chaz until almost the very end of Book One. But this made no sense to me when I was planning out the series as actual novels.

I suppose he could’ve already been in college. And then, Jane certainly would’ve been in love with Dominic the whole book. Which is closer to my original idea/my reality. This was one of the few big changes I made to my original imaginings of this world. I just couldn’t leave Chaz out of the first book. And that really wouldn’t have made sense with things I figured out about the story later on.

3. How did you choose their name?

The name Jane came to me from two different places. One, is the name of Wendy’s daughter in Peter Pan. The other, was Hermione Granger’s original middle name. (I’m not sure if J.K. Rowling changed her mind or if the original interview just made a typo of Jean.) I first gave Jane her name during her cameo in Hate You, Hate Me - my Draco/Hermione fanfiction. When I wrote Jane in fanfiction, she was always Hermione’s little sister.

4. In developing their backstory, what elements of the world they live in played the most influential parts?

Jane is basically living in my childhood reality with a twist. The main structure of her story (both before and after the novels begin) comes from my past. (The one difference is her family’s history. Though Christine became more like my own mother than I expected as I wrote her.) Her environment is the county I grew up in, and everyone’s environment has some amount of effect on their childhood. That’s no different with Jane. Her school. The church. The local park. They all play a role in the novels. In terms of the greater world/universe, there were definitely things that I discovered/decided on in some of my other novels that I had to link with Magic Inc. when I began writing. But it’s hard to explain where crossovers and references occur without spoiling anything.

5. Is there any significance behind their hair color?

Jane’s hair is brown like mine. Nothing more complicated than that.

6. Is their any significance behind their eye color?

Again, Jane’s eyes are blue, like mine. However there are some important reasons why certain characters have certain eye colours in my universe. And I’ll leave it at that.

7. Is there any significance behind their height?

I don’t talk about height much in my writing, unless it is especially remarkable one way or the other. One thing I decided on with my original artist was that Jenny was a little bit taller than Jane. I could tell you this had some deep meaning in the way that Jane admires/”looks up to” Jenny. But that’s not true. It just worked out that way. I honestly don’t think about most of my characters' appearances beyond eyes/hair/skin colour. I struggle to describe physical attributes or even see the details of a character’s face in my head.

8. What (if anything) do you relate about their character/story?

Everything.

9. Are they based on you in some way?

I think I’ve answered this enough already! But I’ll just add… Jane is completely me. Her life is a mixture of the things I went through at her age and the things I daydreamed about. Jane loves deeply, feels deeply, and is easily hurt. She is anxious and obsessive. She feels like an outsider and just wants to feel loved and accepted. Our experiences are not exactly the same, but Jane and I are the same at our core. She is me. And that’s what is scary about sharing her with the world.

10. Did you know what the OC’s sexuality would be at the time of their creation?

I knew very little about different sexualities at nine-years-old, attending Catholic school. I just knew I was always falling in love with boys. At this point in my life, I look at sexuality as more of a spectrum. But since this series is based on my childhood/adolescence, and I didn’t really think about this stuff until my 20s, there will probably be little reference to Jane’s sexuality. Some of the other characters will definitely have defined sexualities eventually.

11. What have you found to be most difficult about creating art for your OC?

I don’t really create art for my characters unless you count sims and a couple of recent moodboards. I’m really not artistic. I worked with a great artist for my first cover, and I had a specific idea for what I wanted, but it was very hard to communicate my ideas with my struggle to describe physical things. I was very scared it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but the cover turned out amazing. I’ve had to change artists for my second book, but I’m hoping Book Two’s cover will turn out lovely as well and still feel cohesive with the first book. I did find another wonderful artist, so cross your fingers for me!

12. How far past canon events have you extended their story, if at all?

This is a series, and I have so much planned for the rest of it. Not just books following Jane’s journey, but also lots of side stories. And of course, the Timeline Universe spreads out into so many other stories. I’ll probably never get to write everything I know about this world and the characters, but I consider all of it canon, whether it makes it into book form or not.

13. If you had to narrow it down to 2 things you MUST keep in mind while working with your OC, what would those things be?

Her passion/compassion. And her anxiety.

14. What is something about your OC that can make you laugh?

I’m not sure child!Jane is all that funny, but she does make some cheesy video game jokes/references occasionally.

15. What is something about your OC that can make you cry?

She’s just so vulnerable and easily hurt. And a lot of what happens to her at school is very close to the bullying and isolation I experienced at her age. She loves so deeply and is desperate to feel the return of that love in the same intensity. Which is something i still struggle with all these years later.

16. What is the most recent thing you’ve discovered about your OC?

It’s difficult for me to “discover” more about Jane, since she is my past and I’ve already lived her life. You always learn more about yourself as a person, though. And there are some things I think about differently than I did at Jane’s age. I occasionally go back and forth between making Jane more the me of then or the me of now. But when it comes down to it, I haven’t changed that much over the years. Yeah, there are definitely things I have a better perspective on as an adult. (Thank goodness.) And some things I’m (sadly) more cynical about. But I’m still very much that scared, passionate little girl, looking for love and acceptance.

17. What is your favorite fact about your OC?

I love that Jane still believes in everything. Even though she’s been hurt a lot, she trusts much better than I do now. She reaches out to Chaz because she trusts him completely. And that’s something I’m scared I’ll never be able to do with a romantic interest/partner.