My Creative Space and What Inspires Me

When I write, I like to feel as zen as possible. Today, it’s raining. There is something about the dim light and soft patter of a rainy day that triggers the ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian responsein me. It helps me to relax. From my writing desk, I can watch the rain splash and trickle against the leaves of the dogwood tree in my front yard. It’s only 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) today, but I have the windows open and a cool breeze flows through my bedroom, carrying the scent of dirt, rain, and atmosphere.

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I also have a small hummingbird feeder hanging just outside my window. There’s something about hearing the hum of their wings and the sweet chirps of excitement they make that always gives me a little thrill. My cats, of course, love the occasional visit as well. They are always alert when they hear that familiar buzz, and usually, run to the window to watch with wide eyes and wiggling butts.

I write in my bedroom, in a cozy little corner in the large space. I have a window right beside me, and a bookshelf on the other side of me. On my desk, I have a collection of items that inspire me and help me on my creative journey.

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When it’s time to sit down to work, I have a routine. This may change for later works, but for The Daffodil Witch, I have specific sources of inspiration; a routine. I boot up my trusty old laptop, open up Scrivener, then settle into my seat.

I light incense while I write. I love incense, Sandalwood being my favorite. Sometimes, I’ll burn scented candles instead. I turn on my elephant lamp, and the glow of the fairy lights over my bed and the soft light of the lamp is just enough to make me feel secluded like I’m alone in the world and have all the time I need to let inspiration flow.

I listen to music, as well. I can’t listen to anything with -lyrics, or it will distract me. I like to find 1 to 10-hour videos on YouTube with some kind of spa, or relaxing Celtic music. My favorite for writing The Daffodil Witch has been a beautiful Celtic melody created by the talented musician Peder B. Helland. He has tons of different options on his YouTube page, Soothing Relaxation. The one that I go to most is the three-hour melody here:

This is how I create my perfect zen zone to write in, how I enter another world where I can experience magic and intrigue from the safety of my bedroom (usually with one or more cat vying for my attention in my lap). If I find myself suffering from writer’s block, I spend my time doing research, re-reading, editing and planning. There is never a shortage of things to work on.

So, what do I keep on my desk to help inspire me? (Aside from a lot of elephants, that is…) I’ll show you! 🙂 Everything I keep on my desk has a purpose. The second monitor and phone are entirely work-related. I am fortunate enough to work from home certain days of the week, and I do it here at my writing desk.

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Here is my daffodil! I can’t keep real daffodils in the house since they’re very poisonous and my cats are very curious. I found this adorable little silk plant shopping once at JoAnn Fabric’s and had to buy it. It sat in my kitchen until I purchased this desk.  I keep my jewelry holder here because I hate to type with my rings on, but would hate even more to lose them. I think the plaque should speak for itself. 😉

34416305_10101875806540796_3225951387724546048_n (1)My map! My map should be obvious as well. This was drawn for me by the fantastically talented Felix Avenier. She is doing all the artwork for The Daffodil Witch. You’ll see me posting about her and her artwork a lot on here. I’ll definitely be making a blog post each time she sends m a finished piece! At the moment, she is working on Victorian-style color portraits of Oliver and the Wizard Beaumont. Definitely go check out her website. (NSFW!)

What writer’s desk would be complete without a collection of books? Now, I have quite a few bookshelves in my house. In my living room, I have a six-foot-tall bookcase on either side of my entertainment center filled with books. In my bedroom, just beside my desk, I have another shelf stuffed to the brim with books, graphic novels, light novels, magazines, art books and audiobooks from before Audible existed!

On my desk, I keep a special selection of books. These are books that specifically inspire me as a writer, or specifically inspire The Daffodil Witch.

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So, why these books? Here’s why:

  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
    Dickens was a popular novelist in the Victorian era. His books are referenced frequently in The Daffodil Witch and it is suggested by the wizard that Oliver likely got his name from this popular title. Finley is also a fan of Dickens in the book and is often seen reading the Pickwick Papers in Oliver’s room while he studies.
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones
    This book was the original source that inspired me to write The Daffodil Witch. The idea originally came from a conversation with my friend Juli. How cool would it be to see a queer version of Howl’s Moving Castle? We both love the Ghibli version of the movie, and I am an avid fan of the book itself. It’s a frequent re-read for me. Then, the conversation turned into a back and forth of ideas. I had forgotten about the conversation, to be honest. It was a few years ago–two or three, I believe? One day, I got the sudden urge to write and this was the idea that came pouring out of me.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    Jane Austen is the ultimate inspiration for me and always has been. I have been obsessed with her, her novels, and her wit since I was a child. Pride and Prejudice, naturally, is my favorite of her books. In a way, the romance between Oliver and the Wizard Beaumont are very similar to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s relationship–the push and pull, the immediate rejection of one another, the series of misunderstandings. It’s my dream to be considered somewhat of a modern version of Austen.
  • It Was the Best of Sentences, It was the Worst of Sentences by June Casagrande
    This book was recommended to me by my friend Marcus, who I had mentioned before in my Happy Pride Month post. I had mentioned that I was having trouble with passive voice, as this book has been my first visit back to the writing world in more than eight years. I was slipping and my usually precise grammar was weaker than it had been. He recommended this book to me, and I have found it very helpful!
  • September Moon by Candice Proctor
    This book was my first ever romance novel. My dear friend Hillary found it on her mother’s bookshelf when we were about eleven, I believe. She read it, told me all about it and then loaned it to me. I have re-read it a few times as an adult and still enjoy it every time!
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
    This is here for much the same reason Pride and Prejudice is. It is another of my very early books and early favorites. Heathcliff has always been a favorite character of mine. With this book, I fell in love with the trope of the tortured soul.
  • Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon
    31948855_10101851880284206_7898404987162591232_nLet me preface this by saying that Josh Lanyon is an author I only discovered around Christmas time 2017–about six or seven months ago. When I discovered her books through the Romance Package on Audible after reading up all of the available books by K.J. Charles (another favorite author of mine!) I quickly became hooked. It surprised me. I had never been a huge fan of contemporary books (as evident by my collection here and my Goodreads account!) but something about her writing made me fall utterly in love with every book she wrote. I started out with the Adrien English Mystery Series (please go read these, they are absolutely fantastic!) and quickly snowballed. Not only did I fall in love with her and Charles’ books, but reading them made me realize that there was a market for what I wanted to write, and inspired me to finally sit down and do what I had always wanted to do–write a book. In April, I had the opportunity to send Josh my first three chapters for her to read and offer feedback. This opportunity, for me, was huge. Murder Takes the High Road came out a few weeks before she sent back her (very encouraging and very helpful, thank you Josh!!) feedback. I remember waking up at 6:00 AM on a trip to Disney World with my family to find the audiobook had been released. Naturally, I downloaded it immediately and enjoyed it thoroughly while on my trip. Shortly after I got home, I found this book and another of hers in my mailbox (as a Patron of hers on Patreon, I get signed copies of newly released books!) This book arrived with a special note inside along with her autograph.
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
    This one really needs no explanation. Tolkien remains a source of inspiration for all fantasy writers, but this book, in particular, was one of my favorites as a child. It was my first venture into true High Fantasy and I have always felt a strong connection to Bilbo Baggins–in many ways.

And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed your little journey into my world and my creative process. I hope this wasn’t a boring post. What’s your creative process? Do you listen to music? Do you have recommendations for me for books to read, music to listen to?  Let me know!

Happy Pride Month!

It’s June–and you know what that means!? Pride Month!!

I already made an introduction post, but to commemorate the beginning of Pride Month, I am going to tell you a little story about how it took me 25 years to understand my sexuality.

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Let’s start with elementary school. I think I was about nine years old the first time my mom had a “sex” talk with me. Of course, I already knew what sex was by then (thanks to my slightly older cousin who found out through a dirty magazine and shared the details with me) and mostly how it worked, but not EVERYTHING about it. Just the general idea.  He also graciously taught me about “gays and lesbians.”

Anyway–my mother sat me down sometime in the summer, I was still in a damp bathing suit from playing in the sprinklers, and said to me:

Katie, I just want you to understand that your father and I won’t love you any less if you like girls the same as boy. You can feel comfortable and tell us.

Thanks, mom! No, but really–thank you.

I don’t really know what prompted her to tell me that. I think she must have seen me and my friends playing ‘prince and princess’ or something. (I always played the prince, because Aladdin was my favorite. Shout out to Aladdin!)

It wasn’t until like four years later that an actual curiosity or interest in boys, girls, and romance even started to occur to me. However, not even a year later, when I finally entered the dreaded puberty, I distinctly remember my mother telling me that it meant my body was ready to make a baby if I had sex with a boy. I also distinctly remember jerking away from her loving embrace and saying something along the lines of:

Gross. That will never happen.

Typical kid stuff maybe, but I never once wavered from that point of view.

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As I grew older, and everyone around me started humming about love and sex, I started telling my friends things like:

I don’t have time for that crap. I want to be a successful business woman. I want to be a famous writer.

and, later:

Maybe someday I’ll marry someone. But he would have to be gay. And live in his own house, or at least  his own room. He could have a secret boyfriend and just never touch me but people would totally think we were in love.

Eventually, I grew out of that idea. It had logistical problems, of course! Anyway, by high school, I finally conceded to try dating. I realized pretty quickly that I found guys attractive, but I also found girls attractive. For a while, I considered myself bi. Then I started talking to someone online who lived about an hour from me. My dad would bring me occasionally to meet up with her in person. Eventually, we started dating.

It wasn’t long after we started dating that my girlfriend-at-the-time came out as trans. I didn’t bat an eyelash at it. I accepted it, and my girlfriend briefly became my boyfriend–but then we broke up–though with no hard feelings and we still talk to this day! He’s still a super hottie, living on the other side of the country, and happily married!

This was when I started to consider myself pansexual. I realized that it wasn’t men or women I was attracted to, it was people. I didn’t care if they were male or female–in fact, my aesthetic seemed to mostly be androgynous and genderfluid people.

Still, I dated a couple more boys and found that once they started wanting to kiss and cuddle, I quickly felt threatened and pushed them away, ending things. I did not want physical contact–I didn’t even like being mushy or romantic. I tried to pretend, but sex was always something that I had zero interest in trying.

A friend–now ex-friend–told me once:

No guy is going to want to marry a virgin. You have to have sex with someone so you can practice.

Of course, he was talking about himself. Gross, no thank you.

That was when I met Marcus. Wonderful, intelligent, and understanding Marcus. I met him during a live stream of his and his partner, Felix’s webcomic. I started out as a fangirl of their webcomic Spectre, (NSFW) but somehow ended up becoming fast friends with both of them. (In fact, Felix is the one doing the artwork for my novel in progress, The Daffodil Witch!)

Marcus was the first one to mention the term asexual to me. I was twenty-five, and my entire world changed in that moment. He sent me links and recommended books, articles, and even a documentary. Since pre-pubescence, I had been trying desperately to understand my sexuality, my cool feelings toward sex and dating in general. Now, suddenly, I had found a word that described me. That described me exactly.

I will never forget the relief that came with that label, to be able to put a label on it and understand it.

Friends made fun of it, of course. Asexuals are still often mocked, dismissed and swept under the carpet. We are accused of being broken, or sex-traumatized. We are made to feel inadequate and unwelcome. Not by everyone, but by many. I faced mocking–jokes about how plants and bacteria are asexual, not people. When people realized I wasn’t laughing at those jokes, they stopped making them.

I decided to take pride in my identity. I put a banner up on facebook, I wore pins, I explained it to people openly and with confidence. It helped a lot, and my friends fell in line and accepted it, accepted me. Many of them never questioned it–some came to me in earnest looking for advice because they had never heard the term themselves, and found themselves identifying with it.

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I figured out quickly after that that not only am I asexual. I have no desire to be with someone, physically or otherwise. I love my single status–I am comfortable with it and enjoy it. I hate dating. I hate the pressure of dating, even when sex wasn’t a factor. (I had one boyfriend who I dated for a year and he understood and accepted my aversion to sex, but in the end, it didn’t work out due to complicated circumstances.)

My parents have accepted it, too. My parents have always been totally open and accepting of my identity, even as it changed. I mentioned my mom’s “It’s okay to like girls” talk, but I haven’t mentioned my father’s support. To give you a small taste of it, here is a screenshot from my author page of a story I shared on May 17th:

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Photo by Marilyn Humphries

Once, when my father was helping me move into a new apartment, I remember him looking at my twin-sized bed and saying:

Kate, you need to get a queen or something. What if you have a guy over?

I laughed and informed him that he would be sleeping on the couch like any other overnight guest. Still, he ended up being right–I needed a queen. Not for a lover, but for my cats. Do you have ANY idea how much space cats take up in a bed?? If you’re a cat owner, you definitely know!

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Anyways, my life has been so much better ever since I came to understand my identity. I always knew I was somewhere in the Queer spectrum, but never knew quite where. Now, I know. Of course, I still get comments almost EVERY day from people–almost always men. They ask me out or make some kind of comment and I will explain that I’m not interested, that I’m ace. It never fails, I always get some form of:

I bet if you let me f*ck you, you’d start to like it.

YUP. That happens. A few times a week. It will probably always happen, and every time I make sure to react with disgust to make sure they understand that I’m not amused. Still, it doesn’t matter how many times I get gross comments like this–I am totally and utterly content with my status as asexual, and to anyone else out there who is struggling with their own identity, if you are reading this, I hope it somehow helps you! Never let anyone else make you feel inadequate or broken.

If you are feeling depressed, scared, alone, rejected, inadequate, etc–GET HELP. Ask a friend, ask a family member, ask online, seek professional help. Anywhere you can get it, you are not alone!

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Helpful Links and Phone Numbers:

Asexuality Archive

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Phone Number: 1-800-273-8255
Live Chat Link

LGBT Youth Resources

 

“I lost my will to write.” How this author bounced back and became an award winner

An amazing write-up on me and my story by Timothy Pike of ChapterBuzz.com!

What Inspires Your Writing?

Writers Who Are Making It Happen: Kaitlyn Abdou

Welcome to the first installment of Writers Who Are Making It Happen, where I feature writers who, quite frankly, don’t mess around. These determined novelists aren’t just talking the talk, they’re walking the walk. Anyone can say, “I want to write a novel,” but it takes a certain kind of writer to actually do it. These brave souls are telling fear and self-doubt where to go, receiving valuable feedback on ChapterBuzz, and steadily venturing into the exciting world of writing success. Becoming a published author requires commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm. These are the writers who are making it happen!

(Want to make it happen for yourself? Join us in the Better Writers Club.)

Award-winning author Kaitlyn Abdou This is quite a promising year for Kaitlyn Abdou and the fantasy novel she’s currently in the throes of writing, The Daffodil Witch.

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Once Upon A Time…

Well, here we are–my very first blog post. I would like to preface this entire blog by stating for the record:

I have no idea what I am doing.

I rarely do, to be entirely honest. As a fellow blogger friend of mine said to me this morning (looking at you, Jackie!): “Fake it ’till you make it.” I live my life by that motto. I think that’s what ‘they’ call Adulting.

Anyways, I should probably introduce myself, outside of my little ‘about me’ bio. My name is Kaitlyn, but I like to go by Katie! Why am I not putting ‘Katie’ on everything? Excellent question! I’ll get back to you on that when I have a valid answer.

I’m 29, as far as you’re concerned, and I live in beautiful, historic Massachusetts in a lovely little Victorian cape that I bought last year with my three dragons. Yep, dragons.

 

 

That’s Binx, MacKenzie, and Adso. I know: cute, right? Well, let me disabuse you of that notion real quick. They aren’t cute. They are vicious dragons who make my life the best living hell it could possibly be. Chaos is each of their middle names–which is weird, because I named them, and I don’t remember giving them middle names at all!

Anyway, sure, they’re cute and all…from the outside. 🙂

I’ll share their stories at some point on this blog if people are interested! Each one of them is very unique and have an interesting story to tell. Comment below if you want me to do a mini blog post introducing each of my beasties, and I’ll gladly comply! (See how I did that? I’m already vying for your attention and you might not have noticed the desperate plea were it not for the fact that I am pointing it out to you right now. Leave me comments. I need them to survive.)

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And me? What about me? What makes me so special that I think I can hold your interest as a blogger? Well, nothing (except maybe the purple hair). My life is interesting as hell, though.

I like to do things. I am a doer. I craft, I sew, I impersonate princesses (LOTS of fun stories there). I collect stray animals, apparently, and am the best auntie ever (just ask my niece and nephews). I love to write and read. (No really, I LOVE to read, check out my Goodreads page! I’ll also be doing lots of book reviews on here!) I love to sing. I won’t blog about singing though, I’m not even sure how one would go about doing that. I love makeup and nail polish and vintage fashion. I love interior design and home makeover projects! I love history and science. I’m a feminist, a witch, a liberal. I love to make new friends and chat with people. I love to laugh. I love to make other people laugh and to take care of the people I care about. I’m queer–asexual, to be specific! <sarcams> Yep, I reproduce asexually. </sarcasm>

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No, really. More about that in later blog posts–but I’ll throw you a bone and mention that I am currently in the process of choosing a sperm donor so that I can become a single mother by choice! More about that later, promise! I will be blogging about my experiences and hospital visits a lot!

For now, I will wrap up this little introduction post and pimp myself out a little, cause I think that’s what you are supposed to do on these things, or something!

Follow me on Twitter.
Like my Page on Facebook!
Join my writing group on facebook, Writers of Queer Fiction. You don’t have to be a writer, readers are welcome, too!

Want to read my book? Hey, you can do that too! Just hop over to ChapterBuzz and make an account! (It’s free, don’t worry.)

Anyway, I should probably stop typing now and hop in the car, I promised my friend I would leave the house at 6:30 to meet her for a walk and dinner. Spoiler alert: it’s past 6:30 and I haven’t even changed yet. (Man I hope she doesn’t read this before I can come up with a convoluted excuse for being late.)

Leave a comment below and follow me on all the places I linked, and hear on WordPress! (There is a fancy button in the footer you can click for that!) I pinky-promise to be interesting enough to not be a waste of a click! What do you want to hear about next!? I have no idea yet what the schedule for this blog will be, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out over the course of the next few weeks.

Okay, now I am super late!

Love you guys,
Katie