Archive for June, 2014

Freedom

grate-sadness-hope_13361404I often feel guilty when I’m not writing.

There was a time when I didn’t feel too guilty for reading, because I told myself it would improve my writing, but I’ve begun to feel guilty even when I read.

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg has something to say about this: “We’re always thinking we should be writing no matter what else we might be doing,” she says. “It’s not fun. The life of an artist isn’t easy. You’re never free unless you are doing your art.”

This is true. I always feel like I should be writing. Even when I’m writing I feel like I should be writing more or better. Do you know what I mean? But there are worse things to be doing. I could drink, which is a very bad idea for me, or I could stuff my face with sweets.

So even the worst part of this, feeling guilty for not writing, isn’t too bad.

But then there’s that last sentence: “You’re never free unless you are doing your art.” And then what seems like a pretty rough situation turns glorious, indescribably wonderful.

We’re never free unless doing our art. That is a powerful recognition. Think about what that means for a moment. Let the realization sink deep down inside until you become one with it.

Freedom doesn’t depend on externals, because you can write just about anywhere. That is truly amazing. Your inner freedom doesn’t depend on your circumstances. It depends on whether or not you are practicing your art.

This is good news for everyone, especially the institutionalized. There are artists in hospitals, detoxes, homeless shelters, rehabs, and prisons. We ourselves are often in prisons of our own making. But we have the power to escape simply by practicing our art. We are very lucky indeed, for some people never achieve freedom.

Do you feel free when you write?

Keep writing,

Matt

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 30, 2014 at 7:02 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , ,

Writing: It’s What’s for Dinner

lafayette-college-80476_640I have a rather bookish approach to life.

I’d rather read than do most anything and I spend a large proportion of my awake time reading.

I guess you could call me a bibliophile.

Now, since I also write, this is not necessarily a bad thing. As Stephen King and countless others have observed, reading is crucial to writing. If you don’t have time to read, so the saying goes, then you have no business writing. According to this line of thinking, we learn to write by reading. And to some, maybe even to a large extent, this is true.

But there is another point, that I think is equally valid. This is that the best way to learn how to write is to write. Let me explain.

When I’m embarking on a new activity my first thought is to read about it.

In fact, for me, reading about it often takes precedence over doing it.

For example, if I become interested in gardening, my first task is to read about gardening, and I mean read A LOT about gardening. This reading takes the place of actually going into my backyard, examining the soil, playing with different ideas as to what types of plots might fit well given the space available, etc. Can anyone relate to this?

I’m not saying that reading about gardening is a bad thing. But, eventually, in order to learn how to garden I am going to have to, well, garden. Only then will I truly know what I am up against, what specific things I need to do with regard to my particular piece of land in order to grow the best basil or the prettiest roses. The same is true of learning how to play a musical instrument, going on a diet, running, etc.

And I would argue that this is true about reading and writing. That, yes, it is important to read in order to be able to write well, but perhaps the best way to learn how to write is by writing.

I am calling myself out here, because oftentimes I think I suffer from the illusion that if only I read just one more research book, or just one more book on writing, I can then craft the perfect scene. Reading, oftentimes about writing, takes the place of writing itself.

I was reminded of all this when I read the following passage from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones: “[P]eople often begin writing from a poverty mentality. They are empty and they run to teachers and classes [and, we might add, books] to learn about writing. We learn writing by doing it. That simple. We don’t learn by going outside ourselves to authorities we think know about it.”

Wow, I thought, that’s pretty powerful stuff. It helps remind me that the best way to learn how to write is to write, and not to look outside myself for answers.

Keep writing,

Matt

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 26, 2014 at 7:13 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , ,

My Interview with Kyla LoPresti

Please welcome KYLA LOPRESTI, author of FLASHBACK, REALITY, AND AWAKENED

Kyla

I know it is never polite to inquire or report a woman’s age, but in this case, I’m going to make an exception. Kyla is fifteen years old. She started writing her first novel at the ripe old age of eleven.

I don’t know about you, but the phrase, “I’m an underachiever” is floating through my consciousness.

Anyway, enough of my insecurities. Let’s turn our attention to Kyla:

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you or currently working on or promoting.

I have always loved reading and writing.  In sixth grade I started working on my first book, Flashback, and many people encouraged me to publish it, so I self-published on Amazon.  Last year I published the second book in the series, Reality.  I am currently working on book three to the Flashback Series, which is entitled Rewind.  I have also just published my third book, Awakened, and promoting that.

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

The genre I write in is Paranormal Romance.  It’s mixed in with a little bit of Mystery.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

The biggest thing that sets me a part from other authors is the fact that I am a teenager.  Most authors who write about fantasy, vampires and teens are adults.  Adults write how they think a teenager sounds.  I write how my friends and I talk and act.  I pay a lot of attention to the kids, teens and adults around me so that I can use some of the things they do in my books.

 

What are your three favorite books?

My three favorite books are City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Fallen by Lauren Kate, and City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare.

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

Cassandra Clare is my favorite author because I love getting sucked into her world.  Her writing style to me is perfect and it engages the reader the whole way through.  She inspires me to write and she was one of the reasons I wanted to publish a book.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

Often writing makes me crazy.  Sometimes I can write chapters in one day and others I can’t even get a single word on a page.  My friends keep me sane.  If I get stuck and can’t think of something I bounce ideas off my friends and let them read what I have written.

 

If you can be any character in literature, who would you choose to be?

I would be Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments Series.  Not only is she my favorite character, but also I would love to experience all the exciting things she does throughout the books.

 

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

There are many obstacles that I have encountered with writing all of my books.  Creating different personalities for all of my characters was somewhat challenging.  Every other chapter of my book is based in the 1800’s and it was difficult to always word things the right way for that time period.  Also, my third book is from a male’s perspective because it is a spinoff to the Flashback series and in the main character’s boyfriend’s perspective.  It was pretty hard trying not to sound like a girl.

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

I like delving into my characters’ minds the best.  I feel like each one of them has a little piece of me in them and I like to let the story guide me instead of me guiding the story.  As I write I discover more and more about my characters and love that.  I like editing the least.  Of course, I want to make my work perfect, but it can sometimes be very tedious.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

I would tell them never to get discouraged even if someone tells them that their work isn’t good enough.  There’s always going to be someone out there who doesn’t like your work.  You just have to turn the negativity into something good and improve your writing skills.  You’re never going to please everyone, so as long as you love what you’re doing go for it!

 

What question didn’t I ask that you wish I had?

I wish you had asked how my journey in writing began.  I had a dream about a girl who was murdered and reincarnated to the present day when I was in the sixth grade.  I woke up and wrote down my thoughts.  Then, by the next day at school, I had finished up to five chapters.  There were notebooks and notebooks filled with the story.  Finally, my mother went in my bag and found what I had written.  She then encouraged me to write more and later it was published.

 

Social media links:

To learn more about Kyla’s characters please visit http://flashbackseries.com

Follow Kyla on Twitter at http://twitter.com/flashbackseries

For Kyla’s Amazon page: http://amzn.to/1itkHkG

 

Thank you KYLA LOPRESTI for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about you in the very near future.

 

AwakenedFinalCover

 

Excerpt:

Chapter One

 London, England, 1847

 

 

Shattered, my heart was completely and utterly shattered.  No, it was dying.  I was dying.  I could hear my heart slowly stopping, the venom taking over until my human self ceased to exist, and a monster replaced it.  A searing pain shot straight through my heart like an arrow piercing it.  I cried out in anguish as I threw myself against the stone wall beside me and doubled over.  I wanted to tear my heart out of my chest; I wanted to die.  I held my head tightly; the pounding in it would not stop.  My body shook with rage at what Caleb had done to me.  How could I have ever wished this fate upon myself?  What kind of sick being was I to have wanted this?  Maverick was right to have left when he did.

“End it!”  I roared like a madman.  I wanted the agony to be over.  “End my misery, end my pain.  Just end it all!”

“Do not fight it, you coward!  You are the one who wanted this; you wanted something more than the pathetic little life you once knew.”  Caleb spat in my face.  “You must feed to be awakened; then all the pain will stop.  Now get up.”  The moonlight reflected off his golden curls, and his black sinister eyes scrutinized my every move.

The pain was more excruciating than any I had ever experienced.  I did not know if I was strong enough anymore to handle the torment.  I did not have enough will to complete the transition.

“I cannot.” I gasped, trying to find my feet, but slammed against the cold cobblestone in the alleyway instead.  By the light of the moon, I could see trickles of blood splattered against the ground.  The scent of it overwhelmed me, and I suddenly felt the urge to feed.  I got up dizzily, clutching my head, now matted with the warm liquid.

“Erik, you feed or you die, do you understand me, my little protégé?  Show no mercy to your victims.”  He flung my arm over his shoulders, supporting me as I walked through the back door of the tavern we were behind.

I waited as Caleb scanned the crowd of civilians, searching for our prey.  I hoped not many people would notice my disheveled appearance.

His eyes stopped at a petite redhead. “See that woman over there?  Make her swoon, and then finish her off.”

As I sat in the chair next to her, I felt a searing pain run up my back.  “Hello, love.”  I flashed a smile at her, attempting not to make my condition more noticeable.

“He…hello,” she said, flustered, and fidgeted in her seat.

“There is no need to be nervous.”  I caressed her cheek, moving her silky red hair out of her face, revealing her smooth, pale neck.  I resisted the temptation to kill her in front of everyone.

“I am Grace, and your name?”  She seemed to relax and gave me a playful smile.  I did not understand how the moment I told her to not be nervous her mood instantly changed.  I would have to ask Caleb about this newfound control over humans another time.

“Erik, Erik Witte.”  I winced, still in agonizing pain, but covered it up with a smile that matched hers.  I did not know why I still used that surname; it died with me when I turned.  It died when my cousin, Maverick, left me.  That part of me was gone.

“What a pleasure to meet you, Erik.”  She licked her rosy lips.

“The pleasure is all mine.”  I wanted to take her back into the alley and devour every last drop of blood that she had in her.  I could hear her heart beating rapidly, the fast stream coursing through her veins.  “What is an innocent girl like you doing at a tavern so late at night?”

“I am not as innocent as you may think.”  She laughed at my question.

It all became clear to me then.

“Would you like to join me for a stroll?”  I whispered in her ear.

She nodded eagerly and bit her lip.  “I would love to.”   I held my hand out to her and she grasped it tightly as I led her back into the alley.  I could feel Caleb’s eyes boring into my back as I exited.  I took a deep breath; I would succeed in my mission.

“Erik!”  She gasped as I pushed her against the wall.  “I thought we were going for a stroll.”  She giggled.  I ran my hand up her skirt as my lips trailed down her neck.

I looked into her eyes one last time before I killed her.  “What is wrong, Erik?  Why did you stop?”  She pouted.

“I am sorry,” I whispered.  I did not want to kill her; she was an innocent human.  She did not deserve to die.  But I had to if I were to survive.  Caleb’s words echoed in my head: Show no mercy.

“Erik!”  Her eyes widened in fear as my eyes darkened and I sank my teeth into her neck.  Her scream pierced my ears, but soon died down as I gulped each ounce of her blood.

She moaned in pleasure; her blood was like nothing I had ever tasted before.  It was pure, and I did not want to stop.  I dropped her to the ground as the light faded out of her eyes.  She lay there still.  What had I done?  What was happening to me?

I spun around as Caleb stepped out of the shadows.  “Well done, mate.”  He slapped me on the back as if what I had done was a marvelous thing.  “How did it feel?”

“I am not your mate!”  I cried.  “What have you done to me?  What have you done?  I loathe you.”  I growled, slamming him against the wall.  It cracked on impact.

He chuckled.  “Loathe?  Now that is such a strong word.  Did you see what you just did, Erik?  What you are capable of doing?  Look at the world around you?  What do you see, what do you hear?”

I released him from my hold and took in my surroundings.  Dozens of people’s thoughts raced through my head; it was overwhelming.  I wanted to turn it off.  I could hear stagecoaches rolling down the streets miles away; I could see a man strolling alongside his wife from two streets over.  It was all so new, so exciting.

“How does it feel, Erik?”  He asked through clenched teeth, breaking me out of my daze.

“It all feels so invigorating, damn it!  I have never felt so alive!”  I admitted reluctantly.  I loved this new me, even though I despised it all the same.

“I can show you a real time.”  He smiled wickedly.

My eyes darkened again; I knew he wanted to hunt.  I knew I should not trust him, but the beast inside me was not sated; it commanded me to kill more.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 25, 2014 at 7:19 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , ,

Giving Yourself Permission to Write

machine-369520_640I have a confession to make.

When I first started writing, I thought it was going to be easy. And I thought I’d be great at it right off the bat.

Some of you may be chuckling, because you can relate… or because you’ve read my writing 🙂

When I began trying to write fiction, about nine years ago, I set out to write The Great American Novel. No, actually, let me be totally honest. I set out to write The Great American Trilogy—because anybody could write one great novel.

Part of my hubris came from being an academic. You see, many academics suffer from a serious flaw that you won’t hear many of them admit to: often they think that whatever they are studying, writing, and teaching about is the most important thing on the planet. They lack perspective, for lack of a better word.

I, too, lacked perspective, among other things. I thought my ability to write academic papers would smoothly transfer to writing high-quality fiction.

Okay, now you really must be laughing.

The result, when I set out to write The Great American Novel/Trilogy, was nil: the empty set, for those you who are mathematically inclined.

Then, while rereading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg this morning, I came across this passage, and a moment of clarity ensued.

When you write, don’t say, “I’m going to write a poem.” That attitude will freeze you right away. Sit down with the least expectation of yourself; say, “I am free to write the worst junk in the world.” You have to give yourself the space to write a lot without a destination. I’ve had students who said they were going to write the great American novel and haven’t written a line since. If every time you sat down, you expected something great, writing would always be a great disappointment. Plus that expectation would also keep you from writing.

I still kept writing after I knew the The Great American Novel/Trilogy wasn’t forthcoming, which means one of two things: 1) I’m terribly persistent; or 2) I’m incredibly stupid. You take your pick.

But without giving myself permission to write, I never would have written anything worth salvaging. And it was only by lowering my expectations and giving myself permission to write junk that any of it became possible. Today, I set out to write a certain minimum number of words and it’s all right if they are not the stuff of which great novels are made, because I have come to realize a truth that appears to me self-evident: That writing something is a whole lot better than writing nothing.

Have you given yourself permission to write today?

I’m interested to hear the thoughts that go through your mind before you write, what you do to counteract the negative ones and capitalize on the positive ones.

 

Keep writing,

Matt

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 23, 2014 at 7:25 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , ,

A Look at Dual Diagnosis

dual diagnosisToday I’d like to share from and add to what I posted on Laura Zera’s website earlier this week—namely, my thoughts and experiences concerning dual diagnosis. I offer the following insights and suggestions as someone who has dealt with and suffered the consequences of dual diagnosis for years, not from the perspective of a medical doctor, of which I am not.

 

What is dual diagnosis?

There are some variations in definitions of dual diagnosis, but the term generally describes a person who has a mood disorder and some form of chemical dependency.  For example, I have depression (Major Depressive Disorder) and I’m an alcoholic.

Is it estimated that 6 out of 100 Americans suffer with a dual diagnosis. It is estimated that 29% of those who suffer emotional/mental disorders have abused substances and that 53% of substance abusers have had a psychiatric problem. Famous individuals among the dual diagnosed include Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, and Sigmund Freud.[1]

Having a dual diagnosis differs, in terms of recovery, in that it is not just about refraining from alcohol, or taking anti-depressants. It is a synergistic condition where one illness exacerbates the other.

Major bouts of depression, for example, are often accompanied by the desire to self-medicate. It might sound counter-intuitive to want to drink alcohol, which is a depressant, when you are depressed, but the mind and brain chemistry of the alcoholic differ from that of the non-alcoholic. Drinking may actually alleviate depression in the short-term, lifting your spirits, so to speak, and quickly, too. That makes drinking very enticing to a person going through a depressive episode: the solution to feeling bad seems just an arm’s length away. Of course, what happens is that you might feel better after taking a few drinks, but when the effect wears off you are at a lower mood baseline than before you drank.

I drank regularly by the time I was thirteen. I sought help at a local substance abuse clinic when I was fifteen.  Despite being dual diagnosed from an early age, the diagnosis didn’t stick. Over the years, as I made my way through countless detoxes and rehabs, and a few psychiatric wards, the standard course of treatment was to deal with one disorder without addressing the other, or the combined effect of both. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence.

 

Why is treating dual diagnosis so difficult?

Part of the reason is that the use of certain drugs can mimic psychological symptoms associated with some mental disorders. Alternately, people who suffer from psychiatric conditions often self-medicate to feel better. A professional treating someone with both disorders may tell a patient that he/she must first address one issue (e.g., stop drinking) before the other (e.g., depression) can be treated. Unfortunately, this leaves open the possibility that the underlying depression will never get treated because a person may be unable to stop drinking without dealing with the depression.

 

What can be done?

Again, I am not a medical doctor, and these are just my suggestions for ameliorating the difficulties of treating the dual diagnosed. In the presence of one of these conditions an aggressive effort should be made to determine if the other is present. Both alcoholism and mental disorders are genetically-based. So if a person presents symptoms for one, a professional should ascertain whether the other condition is exhibited in the patient’s family history. If both conditions are identified, an effort should be made to address them concurrently. In cases in which there is no family history of either mental illness or addiction, it should be ascertained whether the mental disorder preceded the addiction problem or whether both developed at the same time. If the former, then both conditions should be treated simultaneously. If the latter, then the addiction problem should be the initial focus of treatment to see if the mental symptoms subside with the cessation of the use of addictive substances. Of course, it is imperative that the patient be completely honest in reporting the use of addictive substances.

 

Is there hope?

Yes. The most effective treatment program I have found is the cognitive behavioral therapy approach used by places such as ASAP (Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. During my last hospitalization for depression and alcohol-related matters, my aftercare plan included attending ASAP. ASAP takes a comprehensive approach to substance abuse that involves education and group therapy as well as one-on-one sessions with therapists. Crucially, there is a strong psychiatric component built into the program because of the recognition that mental illness and substance abuse are often comorbid. I would encourage anyone who suffers from dual diagnosis, including the families of the dual diagnosed, to check out the treatment options available through places such as ASAP.

Fortunately, dual diagnosis has not gotten in the way of achieving my goals, though it did play a large part in how things have played out in my life. But right now I couldn’t be happier. Though I dropped out of high school, I went on to get my B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. I taught college for a while, but now I write full-time and have a couple of books due out this year.  The first, Conversations Among Ruins, is a literary novel with a main character that is dual-diagnosed. His struggles are similar to mine in a way, but different in other important respects. The book is forthcoming through All Things That Matter Press. The second, The Brothers’ Keepers, is a religious thriller in which the protagonist, a maverick Jesuit, is an alcoholic. That is scheduled for release through MuseItUp Publishing on August 1.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and especially any experiences you may have had with dual diagnosis-related issues.

 

[1] Information in this paragraph is taken from Dennis C. Ortman, The Dual Diagnosis Recovery Sourcebook: A Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Approach to Addiction with an Emotional Disorder (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 2001).

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 20, 2014 at 7:05 am

Categories: Dual Diagnosis   Tags: , ,

My Interview with Anelis Scirco

Please welcome ANELIS SCIRCO, author of LUMI-NATION

an

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

Hello, I’m Anelis and the author of the “Lumi-Nation” project. I’m a graduate of the Law School and I live in Warsaw. I love writing about the individuals who make a difference and change the course of history. My passion is all about envisaging things. Challenges inspire me.

 

What genre(s) do you write in? 

I write in the science fiction and fantasy genres.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

I’m devoted to writing about things that are our close future, almost tangible.

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I’m self-published. I’d like to work with a traditional publisher, but the path of self-publishing challenged me and propelled me to a new level of personal growth. Now, I know that every piece of our path is a separate creation to take care of.

 

How many revisions do you make to something before it sees the light of day? 

Lots of revisions. With “Lumi-Nation,” I cooperated with two people with very creative minds who made me work very hard before everything seemed to fit. Yes, I shed many tears.

 

Who or what inspires you to write? 

Things come out of the blue. The wind of imagination carries them.

 

Do you have a set of writing goals that you try to accomplish each day?

When I work on the project I try to write every day, but it’s more the glow than the number of words.

 

Do you outline your stories or are you a non-outline person?

I’m a non-outline person. I go with the flow.

 

What is one thing about you that you’d like your readers to know?

I was a child when I knew that writing was my destiny.

 

What are your three favorite books? 

I have many favorite books. Herman Hesse’s “Demian”, Stanislav Lem’s “Solaris”, Ursula K. LeGuin “Earthsea”…

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

Again, I have many favorite authors. I love Haruki Murakami; his style and metaphors astonish and enchant me.

 

What are you currently working on?

It’s another sci-fi novel about AI and human-robots relations.

 

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

I’d like to talk to the AI from the future.

 

Who are you currently reading?

A Polish sci-fi writer: Jacek Dukaj.

 

What makes good writing?

Good skills and a potent imagination.

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

Yes, definitely. It’s a new approach to AI. We wanted to create a fresh paradigm based on a non-conflict idea; a separate consciousness and intelligence that might inspire humans and lead them to some new levels of understanding and perception.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

Writing keeps me sane. 😉

 

If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose to be?

Someone who studies at Hogwarts. That might be an adventure!

 

Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

Carl Gustav Jung’s psychology of depth changed my life. I learned a lot about my psyche from him.

 

Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

Time, money, energy, but these one are not sacrifices. They are investments, really!

 

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

Turning my own “impossibles” into “possibles”.

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

I love everything about writing, really. For me, it’s an infinite ocean I swim across at ease and with joy.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

I know it seems to be a cliché. But, really, never give up.

 

What is one question you wish I asked, but didn’t?

Is there any character in “Lumi-Nation” who really exists or existed? Yes. My doggy “Viento” is absolutely real. Two months after I finished writing “Lumi-Nation,” he passed away.

 

Please share your social links with us:

Lumi-Nation space: www.lumi-nation.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LUMI__NATION

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lumi-Nation/247909768713414

Medium:  https://medium.com/@lumi__nation

 

Thank you ANELIS SCIRCO for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.

2_KINDLE_768x1024-72-dpi

Summary:

In the future biolight is everything. It defines the society, its warm glow suffuses the Centre and the happy people living there, people who try not to think about mysterious Grey Zone. Kaya is a young but talented Net creator, one of the elite few, who admin, coordinate and model the virtual system of the city from the silver Orb, a building hovering in the air like a spaceship.
One day she comes across a mysterious journal written by a now-forgotten creator. Soon Net Security Agents are after her, a brooding man stalks her and all around the Net and biolight show signs of impeding catastrophe. Ultimately this cascade of events leads to.. something new. A secret that might change the City forever.

 

Excerpt:

“The initial perception through the mind of a Neton was like being embraced by the winged Morpheus, who – freed from shackles of gravity – let the ground go and travelled with the creator across the space above, which slowly transformed into the dominium of water, with a multitude of solar rays punching their way through the surface. This is what it felt like according to many creators. As the merging process progressed new blinding flashes appeared to eventually flood the creator’s perception, which then underwent the creofluidization process to acquire a new quality: it ceased to exist for the world cut into solid objects and woke up to become one with pressing liquid fluctuation, which by then would change into nebular nets and information fields weaved from a full range of colours, unquenchable, unsaturated pulses and fluorescence so dynamic that the Net’s landscape was constantly changing, forever creating mosaics of new connections, whole chains of glittering motes as if they were miniature suns doggedly rolled over the virtual horizon by Egyptian scarabs. Sometimes smaller or bigger torrents would form, a kind of inner tunnels where the creator’s perception could drift freely onto deeper levels of the bottomless Net. Information flows left multicoloured streaks, spreading spots and tumultuous halos that went past one another like nebulas filled not with gases or cosmic dust but with pure data; dynamic quantum fields absorbed by Netons whose each agitated infoelement resonated with them. Unique colour patterns carried encoded meanings that Netons read as manifestations of order or chaos. Specific colour plasmas attracted their perception – each Neton had their own, individual preferences. Sometimes they would be drawn by amaranth information knots or fluctuating aquamarine chains, others would rather drift on fuchsia and violet formations. In the Net the City was unlike a creation of metal, stone and plastic, but rather a dynamic composition of multicoloured, quantum fjords flooded by constantly coming waves of information. The creation process might seem like a strange dream or hallucination, but in reality it was a gigantic effort for the human mind to sneak a peek into the depths of information space.”

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 18, 2014 at 7:55 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , ,

Writing as Therapy

writing-336370_640I have Major Depressive Disorder and fighting depression is part of my daily regimen. I use writing as a coping mechanism for combatting depression, and it is that which I wish to write about today

I’ve never met a therapist who condemned writing, especially a journal of one’s thoughts and feelings. On the contrary, it has been encouraged by every therapist I have ever worked with.

Why is that the case?

I think I know part of the answer. Putting your feelings into words is an important thing to do. If you can name the fact that you feel angry or sad, you have gone a long way toward feeling better, because now you at least know what you are feeling.

Seeing your feelings in black and white can be a rather eye-opening experience. Naming your emotions often takes the power out of them, and allows you to view them more objectively than if the feelings/thoughts remained unexpressed. Seeing your feelings on paper lets you take more responsibility for them, for you see them as part of you.

Once you are able to express how you feel on paper (and of course this holds true for expressing your feelings with a trusted individual, like a therapist), you have unburdened yourself of some of the pain. And pain shared is pain lessened.

As a writer, the act of writing down my thoughts and feelings also helps in an incomparable way with regard to the attitude I bring to writing. Seeing writing as therapy helps me to realize that writing, for lack of a better term, is good. It is not something to be dreaded or gone about begrudgingly; it is to be cherished and seen as something to look forward to. This perspective helps in my writing novels—that is, even when the writing is not strictly about me.

Have you ever used writing as therapy? Has it worked for you? What are some of the benefits you’ve derived from it?

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 18, 2014 at 6:44 am

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Guest Post on Dual Diagnosis

serene-boy_19-101542Today I am sharing my experiences with dual diagnosis on Laura Zera’s* blog. As Laura says:

“The comorbid existence of a mental illness and a substance abuse problem is called “dual diagnosis.” Until recently, I hadn’t read or heard too much about it, beyond its basic definition, but was interested to learn that the condition brings about its own set of treatment considerations. Today, Matthew Peters is here to share his personal experience and insights with regard to dual diagnosis. I’m grateful for both his courage and willingness, because sharing our stories is the fastest path to reducing stigma and shame. I hope you’ll join in the conversation by leaving a comment below.”

Please click here to read more and to join the conversation on dual diagnosis.

*Laura Zera is a freelance writer who has traveled to almost 60 countries and lived and worked in Cameroon, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States. She’s a contributor toGoodFood World and Cheapflights.ca and is currently working on her second book, a memoir about being raised by a mother with schizophrenia. Laura’s first book (written as Laura Enridge), 2004’s Tro-tros and Potholes, chronicles her solo adventures through five countries in West Africa. Her work can also be found in the anthology Write for the Fight: A Collection of Seasonal Essays, released in 2012 by Booktrope Publishing.

Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Laura now lives in Seattle, Washington. She is married to photographer Francis Zera.

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 16, 2014 at 6:38 am

Categories: Dual Diagnosis   Tags: , ,

My New Novel: The Brothers’ Keepers

I have been away from the blog for the past few days readying things for the publication of my new e-novel The Brothers’ Keepers. It will be released on August 1 through MuseItUp Publishing.

thebrotherskeepers333x500 (1)

Here is the back cover:

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.

Here is an excerpt:

The man lit another cigar. “As hard as I try not to smoke these things, I just can’t seem to help myself. The treasure must have something to do with the Roman Catholic Church’s claim as God’s sole representative on earth. Nothing else makes sense. So, it has to be something that threatens their claim to such authority, and taking into account the involvement of secular powers, I think whatever it is threatens Judeo-Christian civilization as a whole.”

“How could anything bring down the dominant civilization?” Branson had thought of this often since his session with Rawlings.

“Among the world’s religions, Christianity is uniquely susceptible to having its underpinnings knocked out. Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism all developed slowly, along the lines of indigenous cultures. Without Mohammed, Islam would still live, as would Buddhism without Gautama. Christianity rests on one thing, the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, Christianity becomes a mere set of moral maxims, at best a good way to live one’s life, perhaps even a precursor to secular humanism. But if Jesus died and was raised from the dead, then Christianity has what other faiths only promise, the guarantee of eternal life in paradise.” Albert puffed on his cigar until it glowed fiercely. “And so, Doctor, another question. Is there proof of Jesus’ resurrection?”

Branson was on familiar ground now. “The Gospels give us eyewitness accounts. Mary Magdalene sees Jesus in the garden near his tomb. His disciples see him again in the Upper Room and elsewhere.”

Albert knocked his cigar ashes into the fireplace and smiled. “Let me ask you this: which Gospel is the oldest?”

“Mark, written around 70 AD. The next oldest is Matthew, followed by Luke, and finally John.”

“How does Mark, the earliest of the Gospels, end?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Tell me how Mark ends his story.”

Jessica joined in. “Three women go to Jesus’ tomb and find it empty. They meet a young man dressed in white who tells them that Jesus is risen. Then, not long after, he appears to the apostles.”

“Does she have it right, Dr. Branson?”

“Well, she’s pretty close. The three women go to the tomb, find it empty, and are told by the white-robed stranger that Jesus has risen. But…”

“Yes?” Albert pressed.

“The fact is the original version of Mark’s Gospel ends there. The material about Jesus appearing to the apostles, his ascent into heaven, was added later. But in the original, Mark makes no mention of any appearance of the resurrected Jesus.”

“Is an empty tomb proof of resurrection?” Albert asked. “Is hearing about the resurrection from a stranger proof? A rather shaky foundation to build a world religion on, n’est-ce pas? What about the testimony of the Roman guards? Of course they agreed with the resurrection story. If they’d admitted to falling asleep, or leaving their posts, or getting drunk, they would have lost more than their jobs. Just an empty tomb does not a resurrection make.”

“No, but that doesn’t mean the resurrection and appearance to the apostles didn’t happen.” Branson sounded more defensive than he’d intended. He didn’t feel himself to be in a strong position to serve as apologist for the Church, not here and now.

Jessica cleared her throat. “So, let’s ask a different question. What would constitute proof that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?”

Branson let the objective scholar within take over from the Catholic believer. Under the circumstances, he was certainly glad he had the ability to do so. “Well, off the top of my head, I’d say finding his bones.”

“Very good,” Albert said, puffing away on his cigar. “But is that really the case? Old bones in some ossuary. How would you prove they’re the bones of Jesus Christ? Highly unlikely. So proving Jesus died is probably not the threat.”

“Isn’t there anything else that might challenge the foundation of Christianity?” Jessica asked.

Branson thought for a moment. “I suppose something that brought into doubt the virgin birth or the crucifixion.”

“Very good, Dr. Branson,” Albert said in between puffs of his cigar.

“Also very unlikely,” Branson admitted. “How can you prove the virgin birth? It’s not like Mary went around town saying, ‘Look at me, I’m the Virgin Mary.’ That title was bestowed upon her by the Church hundreds of years after her death. Unless you could find the equivalent of a two thousand year old birth certificate, or a paternity test from Joseph you’d be hard pressed to disprove it. And even if we allow for the fact that Jesus had siblings, as he clearly did from what the Gospels tell us, there is nothing to say that he wasn’t the eldest, and thus Mary could still have been a virgin at his birth, while the other children were conceived by Joseph.”

“What of the crucifixion?” Albert said.

“How can that be proved?”

“Well, I suppose you could find the cross upon which Jesus was crucified, or the nails used to affix him to the cross, or the crown of thorns he wore. However, proving any of that is next to impossible. The Romans crucified thousands and there is no way to tell from the remnants of wood who was crucified on a particular cross, the nails that were used, or the crown that was worn.” Branson thought for a moment. “So what do you think the Cathar treasure is, and where is it?”

Albert blew smoke rings into the cabin’s stale air. “Those are exactly the questions we hope you can help us answer, Dr. Branson. Will you join us in our efforts?”  

———————————————————————————————————————————

Thanks to all who have made this possible!

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 14, 2014 at 10:30 am

Categories: Writing   Tags:

Removing the Oughts

jugglingI don’t know about you, but I have a hard time keeping all the balls up in the air when I write: characterization, plot, pacing, etc. I know there are things I probably shouldn’t do and things I probably should.

The only problem is there are no hard and fast rules for writing fiction.  

As Somerset Maugham said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Other great writers, such as George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut, have spelled out guidelines to help us in the quest. And yet, theirs are only suggestions.

Still, I love reading other writers’ thoughts on writing. Recently, I came across this by Brenda Ueland, in her book If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit:

“Yes, you must feel when you write, free. You must disentangle all oughts. You must disconnect all shackles, weights, obligations, all duties. You can write as badly as you want to…Just so that you write it with honesty and gusto, and do not try to make somebody believe that you are smarter than you are…As you write, never let a lot of ‘oughts’ block you: I ought to be more humorous, more Leftist, more like Ernest Hemingway, more bitingly satirical. Then it shows. That spoils it. It will not be alive, but dead.”

A caveat here: Ueland is referring to first drafts.

After reading this, I started to reflect on the benefits of writing the first draft without oughts. And this is what I came up with:

1.   You quell the perfectionist inside—How many times has the perfectionist or internal editor kept         you from writing? If you are anything like me, the answer is “a lot.” Writing free of oughts allows         you to silence the critic inside. What this does is to help make the process of writing fun again,             like it was when we first started. You “should feel free when writing, not like Lord Byron on a               mountain top,” Ueland reminds us, “but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten—happy,                 absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.”

2.   You get words on the page—Writing free from oughts allows you to get words on the page.               Rules often strangle creativity, and in the first draft, at least, it’s all about being creative. Having         one page of written material is better than having a full novel completed in your head. With the           former, you have something to work with; the latter only gives you a stuffed head.

3.   You get honesty in your writing—Have you ever felt as if the PC police were looking over your           shoulder when you write, or maybe your church? Check that stuff at the door if you want a free           writing experience. Besides, the characters we create will often surprise us at how different they         are from ourselves, and that is as it should be, for it takes all kinds to populate a story world.

4.   You eventually develop your own style—Style is something that develops naturally over time,           and should be a byproduct of a good deal of writing. Writing without oughts frees you up enough       to develop your own style.

5.   You let the work develop organically—The first draft is just that: the first draft. Treat it as such.         This doesn’t mean it has to be awful or even pretty darn good. The only thing it really needs to do       is to lay out the story. It helps me to think of writing as similar to painting. The first draft is like             choosing a canvas on which to paint. You choose the perimeters and start playing around with             colors and form. It is only over time that you add layers of greater complexity.

Do you write your first draft free from oughts? Are there any advantages to doing so that I haven’t listed? How about the flipside? Does it ever pay to abide by oughts in your first draft? I’m interested in hearing what you think.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 9, 2014 at 6:40 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , , , ,

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