Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Does “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” Fit into the Hero’s Journey?

image from a google search

Notes: I’m using Vogler’s 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey and there will be some spoilers for my novel in this post.  As both Campbell and Vogler state that not every step on the journey needs to happen in every story, it's hard to judge if one’s story is a hero’s journey.  For this post I’m looking for my book “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” to have 7 of the 12 steps or over half.  

1. The Ordinary World—a snapshot of the world our characters live/work in day to day.  It establishes a status quo before something comes and tears it to pieces.  First chapter of “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” is an establishing shot, but it’s not an idyllic world I’m trying to start the book off kilter with something already wrong out and about in the world.  And readers don’t meet my hero they meet the villain. 0 points.

2. The Call to Adventure—this is about pushing the hero out of their comfort zone.  Could be a quest or an attack or something else.  The definition is so vague, I think all books have something we could identify as the “call.”  “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” has 2 “calls to adventure”, one for my hero and the other for my villain.  The first call happens to Gerry in chapter 3 where he thinks, “If she noticed him once, how hard will it be to get the right kind of attention a second time?”  Gerry’s entire year focuses on capturing Roxi.  For Roxi her “call” happens in Chapter 4 and is less quotable, but she’s given a message from her god.  1 point.  

3. Refusal of the Call—where the main character denies the invite and attempts to stay in their safe, ordinary world.  This is a re-occurring and boring trope.  As readers we already know the hero will go do the thing, let’s just skip the pouty whining and get into it shall we?  Neither protagonist nor antagonist in “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” fight their mission.  0 points.

4. Meeting the Mentor—The hero agrees to the journey, but they lack the skills or resources to succeed.  Enter the mentor could be a person or item (like a map or a powerful sword).  I don’t like fetch quests and I think the whole “mysterious old man” is played out.  In my head whenever I hear the term mentor I think of Phil, the centaur from Disney’s Hercules and yeah that guy won’t be in any of my stories.  No special items or advisors in my story! 0 points.

5. Crossing the Threshold—This is the part where the adventure kicks off, where we see our hero go forth with commitment to their new goal.  Gerry works to his new goal in Chapter 6, though we only learn about his involvement in chapter 9.  He tries again in chapters 11 and chapters 20 with mounting tension.  Roxi’s goal is more nebulous and harder to achieve, but she strikes out on her path in chapter 7.  1 point.  

6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies—Here the hero gets acclimated with their new world, goes through tests, and gains friends/assets for their final showdown.  Since Roxi’s entire mission within “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” is to gain friends/allies, she technically does this.  The series of social interactions that bond her to the girls and Roxi’s eventual lover aren’t battle hardened action pieces, but they show Roxi floundering, fighting with herself, and doing something she considered scary.  Gerry sets up trials until he realizes what he’s doing wrong and moves to alter it.  Not sure either do what this step intends so 1/2 point?

7. Approach the Inner Most Cave—Where the hero reaches the most dangerous part of their journey “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” has this, it’s when Roxi and Gerry have their face-to-face meeting. 1 point.  

8. Ordeal—The hero faces a test.  Roxi and Gerry make a wager and it sends Roxi on a dangerous quest to reclaim her friends before time runs out.  1 point.

9. Reward—The end is in sight and the hero can see everything they’ve worked for coming together.  Roxi enjoys a moment of this in chapter 28 and so does Gerry.  1 point.  

10. The Road Back—So the hero has the prize and must return the ordinary world.  The journey should be harrowing.  Um, “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” goes way off the rails here.  Both for Gerry and Roxi.  Neither achieves what they want.  Roxi creates a plan to get some of what she wants, and there is a literal flight from faeryworld, but it just doesn’t seem to match this phase to me… besides which all of this happens in pages not a 3rd act.  0 points.  

11. Resurrection—Where the villain gets one last chance to conquer the hero.  The hero may get to use the reward at this point in the story to defeat the villain.  Roxi and Gerry have a final face off. 1 point.

12. Return with the Elixir— Hero returns home older and wiser.  They may have gained knowledge or an item.  Roxi does returns to her home, and she is changed by her journey through faeryworld.  While Roxi’s return is not complete, I believe her goal to reconnect with the world around her and to become more social and connected with her feeling is a success.  1 point.

Out of 12 points, I have 7and 1/2.  I am surprised to say that “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” happens align with the hero’s journey.  I feel like I forced a few plot points to fit these descriptions, and I don’t think calling my book a hero’s journey tells readers much about the content.  Still, this was an interesting exercise.  

Talk to me!  Does your story also follow this sequence?  What do you think of the twelve steps? Are you like me and despise some suggested stops, or do you think each is crucial?   

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Is The Hero's Journey Problematic? My Thoughts

The short answer is yes, I find Joseph Campbell and his work to be littered with problems.  Some that strike me off the top of my head include: 

-The idea of a monomyth implies that there is only one plot or story structure to explore.  This IS NOT true.  The hero's journey is one of may ways to structure characters and plot and while it's interesting, sometime presenters get overzealous and promote is as a singular lens to view all literature.

-A nonhistoric and nonliterary approach to mythology seems like nonsense or an excuse to distort the intended meaning or the current applicable meaning of the work.  I had a very hard time reading his theories because if we aren’t exploring a myth in the historic period and the literary devices of the time or comparing the work to modern work—then just what are we doing?  There were several times I took offense and had to stop reading and think about what I felt, why I felt it and how to articulate those issues.  

-Freud and Jung’s work may be the foundations of modern psychology but a lot has changed.  The theories used to craft the hero’s journey have a shaky foundation.

-While religions and their myths hold similarities, reducing them down to just these common elements often is overlooking their core meanings and messages.  The end goals of these faiths are different and their ways of showing compassion, honor, ect is different.  For more deconstructing the concept of monomyths and how it hurts our society today, I recommend “God Is Not One” by Stephen Prothero.  His work is clear, and it was very easy to read. 

-Campbell was raised Catholic, and when reviewing his interpretations of myths and structures some of his Christian bias shows.  Though to be fair, I’ve also read where he seems to have misrepresented the Christian point of view too, so maybe he is deliberately obtuse.

-The same way Campbell reduces religions down into one meaningless mass so he can conclude “all is one,” I’ve watched readers and writers hack and chop at a story so it will fit the hero’s journey structure.  All does not have to be one and sometimes reducing something down too far eliminates subtle flavors and notes that made a dish worthwhile. 

-Campbell believes the only heros in ancient texts are male and that only men go through this journey and there is some other gender specific journey women go on.  He expounds on this in his book “Goddesses” which is a rage inducing read.

So if Joseph Campbell isn't for you, I understand.  However, I do think he's a crucial place to start exploring plot and character from because his work has deeply influenced writers for years.  If we don't explore what is good and bad within his work, it will hard to incorporate the good or avoid the bad.   

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Joseph Campbell: A Writer's Introduction

Joseph Campbell available via google search

Who is Joseph Campbell? 

Joseph Campbell was born on March 26th 1904 and died on October 30th, 1987.  He was born Roman Catholic but fascinated by Native American myth and culture.  Over his life, this interest in one culture’s stories and way of life extended to other ancient societies.  Campbell was struck by how similar the myths of unique cultures were.  He held a belief that there was a singular origin for all religions, beliefs, and stories.  Today we know his theory as the “monomyth.”

What is the Monomyth?  

The monomyth is a nonhistoric, nonliterary interpretation of ancient cultures (and “modern” Christian) myths and legends that asserts all the stories are the same sort and all the key players are the same being.

Campbell builds on Freud and Jung’s phycological work to help build a case of his large-scale interpretation of religion and myth.  He asserted that these stories told us something core about what it means to be human, and if we understood this relationship, we could be happy/more at peace/health.

This monomyth is exemplified in “the hero’s journey.”  Campbell goes int detail in his most famous book: “Hero With A Thousand Faces.”

Why Does Any of this Matter to Writers?  

While the hero’s journey was created by Campbell in 1949 as an archetype that all men (yes specifically men, Campbell has a whole separate series for women based on goddesses) experienced over the course of their life, it is currently used as a storytelling device that many writers use today.  

Christopher Vogler brought the 17 steps down to 12 steps and suggested that all stories have at least some of these elements (see his book for details).  The hero’s journey is a device taught and used often in creative writing workshops.  While a writer does not have to agree with the concept of the monomyth or that all stories are the hero’s journey, we can still examine this model as one way to form both a character and plot.  The biggest reason to study the hero’s journey is because it interweaves character and plot when often creative writing courses don’t adequately explore how these two elements of a story need to interact if a writer wants to make a compelling story.  

It can be a great place to develop an idea for a story and for understanding how all the pieces would work together.

Did you want to explore the hero's Journey on your own?

Thanks for following me through this "lesson" and set up and stay tuned for more personal thoughts on the hero's journey and Campbell's works as they relate to literature.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

If You Like "The Forbidden Game" You Might like My Novel (minor spoilers for both works...though nothing that gives the stories away)

The original Forbidden Game book cover I picked up over a decade ago found via google.


Follow Me: Tattered Veils wide image art work created by Jake @ J Caleb Designs

The Forbidden Game: A series by L. J. Smith about a highschool girl Jenny who's gained the attention of an immortal being, Julian.  After many years of watching over and protecting Jenny, Julian lures her and her friends into his world through a board game.  The group needs to make it to a tower before dawn to escape his clutches, but to do so they will have to each face their own worst nightmares.  

What does this series and Follow Me: Tattered Veils share? 

Gerry, like Julian has an obsession for the protagonist, Roxi and Roxi, like Jenny, is unaware of Gerry’s obsession until he enacts his plan to capture her.  Both stories have a friend group whom the protagonist must save.  Both characters romp through a supernatural world that doesn’t seem to follow any hard and fast rules.

The better question might be why two separate books for what feels like very similar ideas?  It's hard to spell out the difference without spoiling each individual story, but I will try to hit some larger points.

Julian is portrayed in the first two books as an all powerful being.  He is far more powerful the the human protagonists.  However book three reveals Julian to be a young and far weaker member of his race.  Book three also shows that Julian, who is portrayed as lacking empathy or emotion actually has more than he revealed and is an emo kid compared to the elders of his race.  

Meanwhile, Gerry is the king of the fae.  He is the most powerful of his people and expects praise, worship, and deference as his due.  Gerry shows emotion often, it isn't alway in sync with how a human would react to a situation but he shows joy, amusement, boredom, anger, and frustration to mention a full range of emotions.  There is no emotional moment where are tearful Roxi says something like "you don't care at all do you?" and Gerry smiles and shrugs, though Julian and Jenny get this moment multiple times in their work.

Jenny and Roxi are very different characters.  Jenny's popular, has a long term boyfriend, and still in high school.  Roxi is isolated and resents the society she lives in.  Jenny is used to people and systems that work for her while Roxi is more used to fighting for things.  This creates a harder protagonists vs one who can fall weepy at times.  

Roxi is older than Jenny too.  At twenty-three she stands in the "adult" camp, though her actions indicate she has some emotionally stunted growth related to an unrevealed past.  Roxi sometimes acts with a younger character's immaturity but she never hesitates to take advantage of all the rights and privileges adulthood bestows.  She doesn't answer to parents or any other authority structure.

Jenny is attracted and repelled by Julian at the same time.  There is no romantic subplot between Roxi and Gerry.    Some of this may be a when it was written and who the works were written for situation.  There was a period in the 90s when a boy/ immortal being stalking you was considered very romantic, especially when written a certain way.  I never agreed, so I'm thankful that now we call this kind of story out for promoting unhealthy creepy behavior.

The Forbidden Game is a young adult series, a good one adults may also enjoy, but the story beats, the scares, and so on are geared for a fourteen to seventeen audience.  Follow Me: Tattered Veils is geared for a new adult audience.  The situations, scares, and story beats are all for a more mature audience.  I think if you like one series, you'll like the other too.  And I'd love to do a more detailed post comparing and contrasting all the little tidbits, but I don't want to spoil a novel I haven't released yet!  

Did you love The Forbidden Game?  Were any of these elements you loved?  If so consider picking up Follow Me: Tattered Veils when it releases in February.  Check out my website jessicadonegan.com for more details.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Writing Prompts for The Feast of the Charities

I don’t want to be tone deaf.  I know right now some people have to work and feel unsafe (are unsafe).  And I know others need to work and can’t.  And still others are cooped up at home and may receive pay without working or be struggling with the reality of working from home and all the other distractions that come with that.  

A lot of us want to remain productive or on an even keel.  I’m making these writing prompts for folks who find a creative project distracting and helpful but might need a suggestion to get started.  If writing isn’t healthy for you right now or if you can’t write, it’s ok.  Please don’t take this as a condemnation.  We’re all coping differently and do what’s best for you.  The last 3 prompts incorporates pandemic themes as part of the prompt.  If you’re struggling, that may be one to skip.


This series has a simple goal: provide basic history on a holiday/event and use that history to spring board potential writing prompts and themes. For some, the history on its own will be enough.  For others, I’ll suggest prompts I thought of.  

Happy writing and please share a snippet or link to your inspired works ^_^ I’d love to read them.

Feast of the Charities: 

There isn’t a lot of information on the Feast of the Charities. The day of this holiday vary but one suggested date is April 18-19, and the holiday itself is so little known that neither Wikipedia nor Encyclopedia Britanica.  I found these dates in Shirley Twofeather’s pagan calendar and she sources  Llewellyn… which isn’t encouraging for historic accuracy.   The only creditable resource I could find on the day itself is ancient.eu and they write: 

The Graces were the subject of cult worship across the Greek world, but especially southern Greece and Asia Minor. They were particularly important at Orchomenus in Arcadia where they had an annual festival, the Charitesia, held in their honour.

But ancient.eu doesn’t give any dates or times for the Charitesia.  They expound on Charities cult worship and imply that different charities were integrated into local celebrations. 

The “charities” also known as “graces” were Aglaica (splendor), Euphrosyne (joy), and Thalia (mirth).  They are minor goddesses or nymphs descended from Zeus and the Oceanid, Eurynome (nymph of water ways and clouds).  They attended Aphrodite and Hera.  Their major relationship with mortals was to inspire attraction to wisdom, love, culture and social interaction.  The three are most often depicted dancing naked.  They have associations with spring flowers and are the youthful embodiment of beauty from physical to intellectual, artistic, and moral. 

It’s worth noting the Feast of Charities seems to celebrate these three charities, but there are at least nine different Graces/Charities.

Llewellyn suggests orange as a predominate color and sage as the preferred incense.  Given what I could discover about the charities, I’d think offering any spring flowers/scents would be more appropriate.  A drawing or free write dedicated to the charities ideas could also be a fun way to pass the day.

Llewellyn writes, "Get some friends together and dress up. Arrange each other’s hair. Dance and sing, or perform some sacred theatre. Visit an art gallery or walk through a street fair. Alternatively, do something nice for the less fortunate. Bundle up old clothes you never wear anymore to recycle for the less fortunate, or hold a food drive and donate the results to a local charity."

Other days for The Feast of the Charities include: January 17-18, January 30-31, May 26, July 9-10, or October 13. 

I like a holiday which inspires creativity and kindness.  Its floating date is a positive because you or your character could celebrate/honor/acknowledge the Charities multiple times a year or whenever it’s relevant. 


Writing Prompts:

1. What are some Spring blooms in your area?  Do they have any associations?  Mash up those local correspondences with The Graces.  How would splendor, joy, and mirth impact these flowers, are they inherent with blooms?  

2. Write a scene with your characters embodying one of these three characteristics (splendor, joy and mirth).—Can I suggest the villain interact with these elements?

3.  Have one of your characters meet one or all three Graces.  

4. Depict your characters performing an act of kindness or charity.  

5. Create a scene where an early act of kindness/charity is rewarded.  

6. Create a scene where an early act of kindness/charity is punished.  How does your character react?  Does this diminish their desire to do good?

7. Create a scene where your main character (or villain) receives charity from a stranger.

8. It seems like the Feast of the Charities was a time to bring people together for a meal and performance.  We’re in a time of social isolation where we can’t get together in sizeable groups.  How else could one honor the ideals of the Charities (using a video chat or virtual Meetup/play is cheating, come up with something wacky or wild for you or your characters!). 

9.  What in our current world embodies the Charities’ virtues?  What doesn’t? 

10. During this pandemic, many of us are being asked to act not for our own health but to safeguard the health of others.  How does this play into the virtues of the Charities? Are these themes you could bring into your writing?  

Looking for more prompts?  Check out April's full moon,  Mid-summer prompt or Matralia

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Writing Prompts For April's Full Moon


This series has a simple goal: provide basic history on a holiday/event and use that history to spring board potential writing prompts and themes. For some, the history on its own will be enough.  For others, I’ll suggest prompts I thought of.  

Happy writing and please share a snippet or link to your inspired works ^_^ I’d love to read them.

April’s Full Moon: 

Names include: the Wind Moon, the Seed Moon, the Hare Moon, the Growing Moon, the Pink Moon, and the Egg Moon.

April’s moon has obvious associations with growth (seed moon or growing moon).  In the Northern Hemisphere we’re experiencing differing phases of spring.  Euro-centric countries enjoy early blooming flowers like daffodils and tulips steal the gardening show.  April can be a wonderful to celebrate early progress on a goal, to start new goals if current efforts haven’t yielded results, or to continue to nurture past commitments.

Old folklore suggests the full moon until the last quarter is the best time to kill weeds, thin or prune a garden, mow the lawn, cut timber, and to plant below ground crops.  If you’re looking for more lunar-based gardening information, check out alamanac.com.

Some claim April is the Pink Moon because creeping phlox is in full bloom this time of year (and it’s a pink flower).  Others claim April became the “Pink Moon” because pink is Venus’ color and she is the governor of the house of Taurus (The horoscope sign we’re about to enter).  The connection to Venus, Goddess of love, can make April a delightful time to work on relationship magic, whether it’s a plutonic or romantic relationship.

While we portray March as a stormy month, April is the windy one—hence “Wind Moon.”  It’s suggested one meditate on seeds carried or pollinated by the wind.  Allergy season intensifies around this time.   Patti Wigington suggests this moon can be an excellent time to meditate on the power of the air element and how winds from different directions have varying associations and energies one can use.  

This moon happens after Ostara (spring equinox), why some may call it Egg Moon and it is the last moon before Beltane (May day).  Often people reflect on the building fertility/growing energy during this time.  They either wind down their Spring Equinox celebrations or they charge and prep for Beltane.

This year April’s moon will be the biggest super moon of 2020, so if you have a clear sky, it might be worth a gander.  April’s moon falls in the house of Libra this year, so it’s an agreeable time to check in and seek to rebalance any element in one’s life.   


Writing Prompts:

1. Stare at the moon, free write and associate with whatever suits.  

2. What aspect of this moon lore would your character most identify with?  

3. Is what your character identifies with the same as what they most need?  

4. Use any of the elements of the April moon to write a quick scene with one of your characters.

5. Create a character who embodies any of the April moon’s energies.

6. Write a full moon induced romance scene.  

7. Write about something that grew under the light of the April moon.  

8. Write a scene where your character reacts to what’s carried on the wind (a smell, a conversation, a note or seed, ect).  

9. Write a story where the moon actually appears pink—why—what happens, does anyone even notice?

Looking for more prompts?  Check out the Mid-summer prompt or Matralia

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The $$ Cost of Self Publishing

As a highschool and even college student, I thought self-publishing was free.  Sure, I’d have to pre-order books and there would be a cost to the physical copies (Amazon was not a thing), but it would be a tiny investment.  

And I wondered why people went the traditional publishing route where you’d need an agent and publisher.  It could take years of work shouting “notice me” before anyone picked up your novel… if anyone would pick up the novel.  Then,you’d have to share the money, and you’d share rights to your story.  These people, who don’t know it or love it like I do, might demand changes they don’t understand the implications of based on what they think readers want… do they know the readers or the trends… can they predict what will trend by the time my book prints?  

With self publishing superior in every way, I didn’t understand why traditional publishing even still existed.  But here’s part of the truth: self-publishing costs more time and money.  Believe it or not, those large publishing houses DO something, and today I wanted to talk about the dollar cost to self-publishing.  

1. Editing.  So some writers get around this cost by not editing.  I read a lot of Kindle Unlimited books and as a reader I CAN TELL when someone doesn’t edit, and it takes away from my enjoyment.  I DON’T want to diminish anyone’s story experience, so I edit.  

This was my first book, and I didn’t have a bottomless budget.  I skipped the substantial edit (justified this by saying my betas, my writers’ group, and my major in creative writing had enabled me to skip this step) and just did a copy edit.  This saved me $1,000-$1,500.  But it was a $1,000 investment right off the bat.  My editor, Kristy Gilbert was amazing.  After getting a copy edit from her, I could see the value for a substantial edit and I want to budget in the substantial edit for future books. 

A little insight into the editor’s pricing.  They charge by length of the work you want edited and how much work they believe it will be to bring your book up to par.  The more self editing you do (at least on the sample you send them) the lower your price point will be.  This is one of many reasons people suggest aggressive self editing BEFORE this point. 

2. Cover Art.  Again there’s debate on whether cover art is valuable.  Some writers make their own with stock images to varying degrees of success.  There is research that indicated a strong cover will help generate interest.  It’s like dating, you might learn someone is kind and funny through talking to them, but there’s something in their appearance that compels you to talk to them.  

Plus, a strong cover can make its money back in other ways.  T-shirts, book marks, mugs.  Slap that artwork on all over the place and sell it (assuming you own the rights to the art which most designers will arrange for you).

While I’m not selling any merch, my cover art is all over my social media and posts.  It’s quality and versatility has helped me edit Roxi into pics and otherwise promote my book.  

The art work can cost as little as $20 and as much as $2,000.  Check out Rocking Book Covers post on the price ranges for covers and what to expect to get for those price points. It helped me figure out where I wanted to go with pricing.   

For me, I chose a $500 “mid-range” option and I love the cover.  I think I will always want to work with J. Caleb Designs. He was amazing.

3. A copyright for your work.  Again, some people opt out but I recommend it because you can’t get your book in the Library of Congress (or any other library) without it and that was a major goal for me.  It’s $80 and a couple months of waiting.  

4. A website.  The overall cost varies I ended up with a $100-ish dollar option.  My team bought, set it up, and maintains it so I haven’t had to look at this.  

There was someone who offered to set up a website and take author photos for me and they priced it at about $700, so this element can be a big chunk of budget.

5. Author photos.  The professional picture that goes on your book jacket, website, or author profile.  While this can cost money to get professionally done. I have a Nikon D5600 (photography is a hobby of mine and fun fact: my Flickr account is the 3rd thing that comes up if you google my name) and a very cooperative husband.  For me this element was free, but it could run an author between $100-$500.

6. A social media management software.  I haven’t bought into a plan yet.  But it seems to be between $25-$120 a month depending on what you need and what you want to do.  I’m considering it, but I haven’t bought in yet.

7. Advertising the book. On Amazon, Facebook, or Twitter.  

8. A team to help promote your book.  I did some research on HOW to promote a self-published book and I’m blessed enough to have amazing friends and family who are helping me work through all the promotional stuff.  For me this has been free, but this could be a major budget consumer.  

9. Publishing the book.  I went the Amazon route, so I’ve only paid for proofs, but some people use an independent publisher where they have to pre-order the books and that can be $3,000 investment depending on how many books one orders and what the company charges.  

For me: I need to make $1,600 in sales before I break even.  At the current pricing model, it’s about 478 books to break even.  It’s more realistic for me to believe I published at a loss than to think I could sell 478 books.  Opening weekend I made about $40 and that felt like a lot of money to see back.  

Self-publishing is an uncertain investment into the future. I have decades to make back the original investment, but I needed to save up the original lump sum— which was enough to make a good down payment on car—so I could publish anything and start this journey.  So when you see that independently published book and think "man they went the easy route," remember there was a lot of effort and money that went to bringing their book to market and they must love what they do to take such a risk.

Talk to me.  Did you know about all these costs to publishing a book?  Are all these steps required?  Do you prefer traditional or self publishing?  Did I miss any steps?  What are the most important steps to publishing in your experience?

Check out my book Follow Me: Tattered Veils and if you're inclined please leave a review.  Every review really helps me.

Looking for more book goodness?  I launched a Youtube channel filled with recipes and excerpts from Follow Me: Tattered Veils.  Watching, liking and subscribing to this channel is a great free way to show support for my writing ^_^. 

I also have an ongoing podcast digging deeper into different elements of Follow Me: Tattered Veils.  Listening to and sharing these insights also helps me find an audience who's most interested in my book.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

If You Like "The Jujene Institute" You Might like My Novel (spoilers for the game—not my novel)

The Institute Cover art for the documentary


Follow Me: Tattered Veils wide image art work created by Jake @ J Caleb Designs

The Jujene Institute: An alternate game that sprung up in San Francisco in 2008.  The 2013 documentary “The Institute” (youtube trailer) provides some details.  

What did this experience share with Follow Me: Tattered Veils share? 

The past three weeks I've posted childhood stories that show I have experience creating fantastic narratives others find creditable.  While I love high magic with spells, curses and fantastic beasts, I love it even more when I think all of it could be hiding just around the corner.

The experience created by the Jujene Institute encouraged those participating to question the nature of reality.  The game created a realistic modern cult.  People started "playing" by visiting an indoctrination station in an office building.  People probably weren't certain if they'd just joined a cult or started playing a game.  The Institute left clues in other real world locations, had a radio station releasing the "truth" about the Jujene Institute (otherwise known as a faction that opposed the institute), and had a missing person subplot.  The missing person is a real person and we don’t know what happened to that person.  I bow to the superiority of this art installation.  

Follow Me: Tattered Veils attempts to do something similar on a smaller scale.  By using real locations, referencing traditional myths, and creating a seasonal sense of time, I hope to create a small pocket of reality where Follow Me: Tattered Veils can co-exist with the mundane world.  In Jess’ infinite budget, there’s an alternate reality game for Follow Me: Tattered Veils, one I can’t share with audiences without spoiling the book and its planned sequel.  Trust me, it’s epic. 

As the player’s in The Jejune Institute seek the truth. the missing woman, or enlightenment (depending on the player), Roxi seeks the same ambiguous something more for herself.  Like the game has multiple aims, Roxi’s goal shifts and changes throughout the book.  Hopefully readers enjoy the chase and conclusion.   

Have you ever heard of The Jujene Institute?  Is it a game/experience you would want to play?     If so consider picking up Follow Me: Tattered Veils when it releases in February.  Check out my website jessicadonegan.com for more details.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Head Hopping as Lazy

This post continues a discussion we began at the NAWG blog regarding 1st person and limited 3rd person narratives where the character narrating changes through out the book.  Feel free to check out that post or just start here!

Yes, head hopping, like any story telling device can be lazy.  Answer unlocked we can all go home now.  

But lazy how and to whom and what metrics can we use to verify? 

In my novel Follow Me: Tattered Veils, I have 3 chapters that are told from minor character’s perspectives.  Each of those chapters are HUGE moments in the book.  They may be my 3 favorite chapters.  

Still, in a 29 chapter book where all the other chapters are told from my protagonist’s or my antagonist’s view points, I had to ask myself “Are these 3 chapters lazy?  Are their other ways I could give the readers this information?” Or conversely “Should I add more split perspectives from minor characters to make these three chapters blend more?”

Since these chapters remain in the final book, it’s clear what my conclusions were, but I believe there’s a valid argument one could make for why these chapters were lazy.

  1. I could have told all 3 of these chapters from either Roxi or Gerry’s perspective.  
  • “Snares” wouldn’t have been as much of a gut punch, but it’s almost unchanged if I split the perspective between Roxi and Gerry.
  • “Waiting, Waiting, and More Waiting” COULD be more tense with a split perspective between Roxi and Gerry.  On one side we’d have Roxi idle chit chat and waiting in line and the other is Gerry watching, waiting for his moment to hit Claire’s Facebook feed and get the group to come his way.  I would have lost the opportunity to redeem Alice or to make her more than a “mean girl” but I may have gained more story continuity.
  • “After the Party” can be told from Roxi’s perspective, though it’s WHOLE POINT in the book would be lost.  The reason that chapter exists is because I want readers to see more of Conor and they get that from his take on the night, not from the events themselves—but people could argue that readers don’t need to know Conor.
  1. OR I could have added more head hopping to make these chapters “fit” better. 
  • The most obvious place to add split perspectives is in faeryworld.  One chapter Roxi’s journey and the next chapter check in on where another character is and how they’re handling their night.—I didn’t do this because I like the flow of Roxi’s journey for place to place without the breaks these chapters would create.  AND I wanted readers to be surprised with Roxi at what she encountered, not spoiled through someone else’s perspective. 
  • I could have created mini-adventures for each character and created more “slice of life” in the middle sections—I was so busy pairing things down in this section, adding anything non-essential seemed terrible.

I stand by my literary decisions.  I love these chapters, but I 100% see where people might argue they are lazy.  

So yeah, even head hopping done well might be lazy.  There might be more interesting, more complex solutions to a story issue and one should explore them, but that’s not the same as choosing it.  I compare head hopping to a showing vs telling issue.  I think there are cases where telling just moves the story on to the good stuff faster and head hopping may do the same.  You don’t know any of that until you do both and see which works best for your story.  

MY BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT AMAZON!!!  Please go look at "Follow Me: Tattered Veils" and see if it might be a story that interests you.

Looking for more posts about the writing and publishing process?  Check out more posts on my novel publication process: Going Through Copy Edits, 1st Daft vs 2nd Draft, Goal Planning: Getting Through the First Draft, My Character Looks Nothing Like My MC, Cover Art: Truth in Advertising, and Post Book Launch: Reflections.  

Want to know more about my novel?  Check out my childhood stories recapping themes in my life I hope prepared me to write this book: Remember the Magic of Santa?, Closet Monsters: Gone too Far?, and Garden Gnomes and other Evils.

OR check out my series where I find similarities between my novel and other popular media.  Hopefully it gives you a better idea whether there are elements in my book you may enjoy. Lost Girl Comparison, American Gods Comparison, and The O.A. Comparison.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Post Book Launch: Reflections

I had a bad cold rolling into the launch of “Follow Me: Tattered Veils.”  It kept me from being as active on social media as I’d planned.  It kept me from feeling either excited or nervous.  Most of me just wanted everything to be over.  It felt like a slow grind towards an inevitable conclusion.  I wasn’t even a little happy, and I don’t feel different now that we launched the book.  

The one bright side to my illness is I also don’t feel let down.  All this time I’ve been pushing for a strong release of “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” and bracing for silence.  It’s been hard to stay so positive and strong while trying to keep expectations low.  Realistically, only my friends, family, and husband’s friends/family will read or buy this book.  And that stings because I’ve gone way out of my comfort zone to promote this book.  I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to be friendly and charming and trying to find the right audience to enjoy my book.  And I love “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” like it’s a living person and part of me feels like I’ve failed her.  I’m like that parent that couldn’t figure out how their kid’s skill set could land them a successful career… or I saw that potential, but I couldn’t steer the kid in the right direction.  

Now that I’m recovering from the cold, I feel like there’s all this lost time to make up for.  I’ve got all these posts on writing and goals I have for 2020, and I haven’t hit most of them.  I have to face it: I won’t meet a lot of my goals (writing and otherwise).  And it’s leaving me feeling desperate to make up for lost time.  

I’m anxious to write, and it’s been so long, the creative writing part of my brain feels rusty and misused.  

So now you want me.  When I was romping and playing in the background, shouting for you to stop and write, you didn’t have time or you felt too sick, but now you want me just to appear on demand.  Well, good luck.  

People talk about “recovering from the book launch” and I’m sitting here and laughing because I am literally recovering from being sick as much as the nerves of the launch and the pressure to be “on”.  But some things I’m trying to keep in mind as I move forward:

1. Be kind to me.  There’s stuff that’s fucked up this book and it’s too late to take it back.  I need to forgive myself for any missteps or things I didn’t do or know to do for this launch.  

2. Don’t linger.  I need to get up and move the fuck on.  I’ve got two major drafts I’m working on.  I have a novella I’d love to find a sensitivity beta reader for and I would love love love love love to self publish it.   I work a full-time job, I have a dog and a husband and I have all this work I want to do.  I can’t wallow in lost time.  And I can’t wait for my creative side to be ready, I might need to force it a little until I find my routine.

3.  The book is out and published.  Same way I didn’t wake up and have a complete novel ready to publish, I can’t expect people just come in to buy it.  It will be a war of attrition to make back the money spent or to get people to read and enjoy the book.  

4. It’s not 100% over.  I have a few more promotional blogs to write/publish.  AND starting March 15th I launch “Roxi’s Podcast” where I do a read along for “Follow Me: Tattered Veils.”  My intentions are to reward early adopters of this story with some further insight into the creation and meaning of the story AND to entice some readers who are on the fence.  My team and I pre-recorded most of the podcasts, but we have at least two or three more to record.

Looking for more posts about the writing and publishing process?  Check out more posts on my novel publication process: Going Through Copy Edits, 1st Daft vs 2nd Draft, Goal Planning: Getting Through the First Draft, My Character Looks Nothing Like My MC, Cover Art: Truth in Advertising, and Post Book Launch: Reflections.  

Want to know more about my novel?  Check out my childhood stories recapping themes in my life I hope prepared me to write this book: Remember the Magic of Santa?, Closet Monsters: Gone too Far?, and Garden Gnomes and other Evils.

OR check out my series where I find similarities between my novel and other popular media.  Hopefully it gives you a better idea whether there are elements in my book you may enjoy. Lost Girl Comparison, American Gods Comparison, and The O.A. Comparison.

MY BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT AMAZON!!!  Please go look at "Follow Me: Tattered Veils" and see if it might be a story that interests you.