The Power of Color

 

 

The coat in question (with special guest appearance by Oliver the Cutie Pie.

The coat in question (with special guest appearance by Oliver the Cutie Pie.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed something strange. At the grocery store, the gas station, and even walking into restaurants, people who would usually never acknowledge me were smiling, nodding, even drumming up conversations.

I’m by nature a very introverted person, but won’t rebuff a friendly interchange, a nod, or smile. But oddly, it seemed the amount of these encounters had tripled. I couldn’t figure out what the difference was. Had I done my hair different? Was I projecting an outgoing personality? The attention was weird, but not unwelcome. I just wanted to understand why.

The winter weather in Michigan is usually a bit wacky, zero one day and forty the next. On a warm (warmer than zero anyway) day, I had to exchange my artic wear for a lighter jacket, and the extra attention stopped. Just like that. Like a faucet being turned off.

My super warm coat is a stunning shade of pink, not fuchsia, but a nice, bright pastel. Most of my outerwear is normal earthy tones, tan, gray, and brown, so this was a huge change. I fell in love with it because of the feeling I got when I saw it, happy, warm, friendly feelings.

It got me thinking of the power of color in everyday life. How appearances influence us subconsciously.

I did some Googling and found color psychology is a thing!

First, I stumbled on Bourn Creative, which defined pink as a color of universal love of oneself and of others, friendship, affection, harmony, inner peace, and approachability.

I researched on and found a slew of marketing information. There are reasons why the Golden Arches are golden and the Target bullseye is red. Red encourages excitement, and yellow/gold symbolizes warmth and optimism. Green for John Deere tractors to tie it to growing things.

Now, according to the website, The Psychology of Color, personal preference plays a role. So, if you grew up being forced to wear olive green every day, and you HATE green because of it, then you may not feel the same instant attraction to the color, even if you are a farmer or someone who adore plants.

Men tend to prefer primary shades, and blue is the universal favorite across genders. Some colors are touted to help you get dates, study, or have more energy. Orange and teal are great for non-fiction book covers, while if you are trying to attract men don’t choose purple.

I don’t think any of these are axioms that work every time, but it’s interesting to speculate that your choice of outfit could influence your creativity, your feelings of wellbeing, chances on a job, or even a date.

I still love my coat and now that I understand The Pink Coat Effect, I may wear it more often or forsake it for my old brown backup on days I just want to blend.

How does color effect you? Do you have a favorite that inspires you? What about a signature shade? Comment below!

The Anxiety of Poor Timing

Getting a book series ready to self-publish has brought out a lot of anxiety for me. Am I doing the right thing? Am I making the right choices on how to launch it? What if this decision or that decision ruins an opportunity later on down the road?

I feel like I’ve suffered from bad timing with most of my career and financial moves (career and financial are tied in some way, right?). When I started college, job prospects looked promising. I had no reason to assume that things would drastically change by the time it was my turn to job hunt.

Except they did. During my senior year of college, 9-11 happened and then following that horrible event a recession. The next three years I attended graduate school and watched as each year became more and more grim. Graduates from my program had more and more difficulty finding full time work locally. Prospects were not only slim, the market turned hostile. Also, cue No Child Left Behind, which brought some much needed standardization across states, but had a lot of flaws that left Special Ed services in flux.

It wasn’t the best time to enter the field. Yet, I managed it anyway. Despite my professors telling me I’d have done better in another decade, I managed to cut out a career for myself, but it was not without struggles. I was budget cut from two jobs, and although they did what they could to keep me in some capacity it was still hard. Ultimately, and unrealistically I blame myself. Like I could have controlled the economy?? Part of me wondered if it was just an excuse (the government and union employment standard of first-hired, first-to-go or be lowered to part-time) and if I’d been more stellar in some way they would have kept me.

And always hearing the mantra of “If this was a different time you would be that employee we’d have been excited to have hired and looked forward to years of working with you, but alas, this is not that decade.”

My husband and I bought our house at the peak of the housing market, right before the crash. So we paid an inflated price for it. Everyone loves to talk about their amazing deal on their zillion square foot home and we have a very modest and lovely house that I’m happy to own, but we definitely over paid. Except it was what houses were going for in the market at that time. We had no idea of the impending housing crash or we would have waited a few years.

(Although we did get a fixed mortgage, so we didn’t have to deal with the lending fiasco that so many of our friends did who had other types of loans).

I worry that this will be the case with my writing career. That is was not a good time for *me* to become a writer. Maybe perfect for someone else with different qualifications, but not me. 

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, but if I were it would be to be a little braver and not worry so much about timing. Just do. I can’t control economics, or the stock market. I can’t control buyer’s preferences. But I can control me and my decisions. If they were poorly timed, then at least I tried and one day that risk will pay out. I’m one of those people who believes luck is hard work meets opportunity.

I can’t help but to be superstitious about it though and it’s the Year of the Monkey, and I’m a Monkey. Not in real life mind you. I was talking about the Chinese Zodiac. Not in a “nobody knows you’re a monkey on the internet kind of way.” Anyway, year of monkey for a monkey–I thought it might mean something good and when I looked it up, it does! This is supposed to be my year for a major career risk that works in my favor. My horoscope says the same thing. Heck, I even asked the Magic 8 Ball online and it says “It is decidedly so.”

So, maybe for once my career timing is finally in tune.

Endings

logo_finishline-1

I have been working on a sequel to my book Frozen Hearts. I started… *flips over to Excel tracking to check the date* …in July of this year. Sometimes when I’m writing it feels like I’m flying, like I’m in the zone, like I’m immersed in the world and characters and everything is ok.

This was NOT one of those times. The book has been hard to write.

First, I had a massive editing project to do which took a major chunk out of the beginning of the year. Second, I picked up an additional job, so my writing time has been compromised. My word count schedule is still at an extremely regimented level. I have a minimum daily word count I must reach or make up the next day.

No fun stuff, no internet, no tv before writing time, but my word counts are lower so this story has been a slow go.

I also went into it blind, pantsing it’s called in the writerly world, basically writing by the seat of my pants without a detailed outline. I did scratch out my overall plot points so I would have some direction, but the majority of it had to be snatched out of the air as it flew by.

Writing in short burst on a story that I had to wing has made this a grueling experience. There has been magnificent moments of discovery, of learning the characters motivation, of finding out what the real theme of the story is, but it felt like digging through sun baked sand rather than freshly tilled earth.

At this point, I’ve figured out a good idea of how and where the story will end. As I’m barreling at the speed of a sprinting snail at the conclusion, I often think of quitting. I get these horrible imaginings that this is the worst writing in the world and no one will like it, the story doesn’t make sense, and the characters are flat.

I usually feel this way at the end of EVERY project. Usually, I breeze past the self-flagellation. But because I’m keeping such a slow pace, my doubts are gaining more mass, speed, bulk, like a Hulk bent on smashing my writing dreams.

Again, I’m reminded of running (writing and running are inexorably tied for me).  At the end of a run when my knees are getting twingey, my playlist has run out of good song, my nose is running, and the cold is cutting into my lungs, I think—no one would know if I stopped.  No one would care if I stopped. The world would not shame me for stopping . I could just walk home. Then I hear that click that says, I would know. And I could not give up on my running, my project, or myself.

So here I am, the finish line is close but the doubts nag me, tug at me, slow me down. It really doesn’t matter because I know, even if I do have to walk home, I will cross the finish line.

What about you guys?  Ever tempted to abandon a project?

12/31/15 EDIT—I have finished the book. It still feels like a horrible unreadable mess, but I finished, and now I can edit the mass of glob until it’s a prettier more readable glob.   Happy New Year!

A Secret. A Confession. And A Reveal.

I have a confession. I’ve been wanting to do a series. Short novels that are just written for fun—taking all the things I love about writing SF/F and adding a few pinches of romance, a dash of humor, and a smidge or two of mystery. I have no intention of sending them around to publishers. I’m going to produce them myself.

It all started over last summer (2014). I wrote a short story for an anthology and it was in the anthology then it was out of the anthology. Just one little quirk about the business nobody talks about. Three professional NAME writers turned in stories waayyy over the word limit for the anthology guidelines and they needed to take one story out. That was my story. The editors were very nice and in a difficult position themselves. They explained how much they loved the story and wouldn’t be surprised if it found another home right away.

It did. Another editor offered to buy it right away after hearing about it becoming available, but I said “No.” Why?? Why would I say no?

Well this story very nearly broke me. I used every trick I had to make it a great story, an awesome story. But it doesn’t have any literary appeal. It’s simply a fun mystery story, but it was also Urban Fantasy. It’s really difficult to break into the Urban Fantasy market (at least at the time it was, I hear editors are starting to consider it again). Short story markets are few and far between that will take Urban Fantasy, as most specify in the guidelines “NO URBAN FANTASY.” It makes me feel dirty for loving a genre that offers just about everything in a modern package.

So, I put my all into the story and found out that it was not going to get used in the anthology where it was supposed to go and a few days after I found out my parents house burned down and my best friend was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. I didn’t want to ever look at that story again.

The secret is that a year later over the summer (2015) I decided that I didn’t want that story to end. I didn’t want this to be the story I’d lock away just because it came along at the wrong time in my life. I kept thinking of the characters and the cool ideas I had for more mysteries set in that world. In the middle of writing a third novel to send around on submission I emailed my agent to tell her my idea. She said to go for it. I’d been looking for something to self publish and do on my own and this was the perfect project for something like that.

Now I have two books completed and that abandoned story has become the beginning of book three. And I have an editor lined up and a cover:

HOLY FREAKIN' -- I'M GOING TO PUBLISH THIS. *strokes the beautiful cover*

HOLY FREAKIN’ — I’M GOING TO PUBLISH THIS. *strokes the beautiful cover*

(Cover art by Christian Bentulan of Covers by Christian)

And huge thanks to Stewart Baker who meshed together a few ideas I had for a front cover blurb to come up with something even more perfect.

This is the book description:

There are three kinds of lies.

Lies the fates spin as half truths.

Lies of destined love.

And statistics.

As a fateless, Kate Hale is immune to the first two, but the third kind of lie is her profession. After spending years as an actuary for the Traffic Department, Kate is promoted to Accidental Death Predictions. It’s all she’s worked toward, and her career is finally on track. But when an oracle delivers an impossible death prediction and insists on her help to solve the case, she might lose any chance of impressing the brass.

Her only hope comes in the form of the police liaison assigned to her department, latent werewolf Ian Becker. Becker can grant her the clearance to find answers, but he’s a wild card with a shady past who doesn’t play well with others.

Every prediction has a loophole, but if Kate can’t solve the case before the crime is fated to occur she won’t just lose her job–she’ll have the blood of an oracle on her hands.

Welp—that makes it real. I’ve put a lot of time in between other projects to make these the best books they can be. It’s going to happen, uh, soonish. I don’t have a firm date, but things are happening around here. Just thought you should know what I’ve been up to 😉

WWLD?

1e34d5253cf1b222cc8572caecd34636

I can blame my first exposure to science fiction and fantasy on my dad. On snowy weekends when I was a kid, my brother and I would dog pile onto the floor (and each other) using my dad as a backrest and watch all sorts of movies and shows. From Westerns to Andy Hardy movies, we loved them all. But one of my favorites, and introduction to science fiction, was Star Trek.

This interest in science fiction was a mild flame and segued into the time of Star Wars. No elementary-aged kid missed the science fiction epic, and my family joined the masses to see it one summer night at a drive-in, and my young life was transformed. The movie had the quick-draw appeal of a Western, the swashbuckling of a pirate movie, and the adventure of any of my Saturday cartoons.

But better, it had a Princess that was a force to be reckoned with. Pistol in hand, she ordered the boys around, led missions, and hardly needed any saving at all. (The crushes on Luke then Han would come later—my first love was Leia) I still have my Leia action figure stowed away in a box under the stairs.

Then there was the Terminator with the unparalleled Sarah Connor morphing from victim to freedom fighter, taking her future in her own hands.  (Plus she could do a hard-core-full-on pull up by T2.) Who wasn’t inspired by her physical and mental toughness?

The list continues with Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman, Xena, and Buffy. All main characters leading their own shows giving me the idea that a woman could be strong, powerful, and just as interesting as the boys.

Let’s not forget other non-main characters such as Zoe, River, and Kaylee from Firefly and most of the companions on Doctor Who: Rose, Amy, Sarah Jane, Martha, Donna, and Clara.

Another recent source of inspiration has been Game of Thrones. All Martin’s characters are gray and compelling, but his most moving examples of toughness, intelligence, and power are Arya and Daenerys. They lose everything that matters to them, yet they keep going, they keep striving, they keep surviving.

When I feel overwhelmed, lonely, broken, at the bottom of my will, I still think what would Princess Leia or Xena do?  What about Diana Prince or Sarah Connor or Buffy? Buffy literally died twice and kept going.

They wouldn’t give up or in. They would fight. And from all those years of watching these characters fight, I am pushed to dig a little deeper and  try harder. They may not be real, but the feelings they inspire are.

I think one of the reasons I’m drawn to both fantasy and science fiction is that it consistently provides wonderful examples of strong and intelligent women, and I only see that continuing with Katniss from the Hunger Games and Tris from Divergent. I’m proud to be a sci-fi/fantasy nerd and will continue to be inspired by and (create in my own) kick-butt females.

I am excited about the new Star Wars movie and hope the franchise continues to provide the next generation (and me!) some fascinating, powerful, and take-no-crap heroines.

What about you? Did you have a fave sci-fi/fantasy hero or heroine that gave you inspiration? Or just drop down below and say hello. Thanks for stopping by!