Author Archives: S.B. Roberts

#WhyIWrite

Today, NaNoWriMo’s writing prompt was a simple one: why I write. Even though I’m not planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year, it seemed like the perfect topic for today’s post. 

Why do I write?

I write because I have to. Words flow through me, bidden or unbidden. Simple morning walks, people watching, the silence of waiting for students to finish a test — all transform into narration whispered in my mind.

I write to understand what I’m facing. When I’m afraid, struggling, unsure, my characters face those fears along with me, and we work through them together. Sometimes I invite the characters in so we can confide in one another. But many times, they come on their own, knowing when I need them the most. Together, we fight through and find the answers.

I write because I have something to say. My mouth doesn’t always know the right words, but they flow out of the pen effortlessly. It’s as natural as breathing. I don’t always know if they’re words that others need to see too, but they’re the words that I need to express.

I write because I love it. It makes me feel alive. It’s what I was born to do.

Why do you write?

Advertisements

The Strange Case of the Unexpected Tiny House

I’d say that it started as a regular day at school, but it hadn’t. It had been a week since the hurricane, and the aftermath seemed to be the only thing on everyone’s minds. Everyone felt off, but at least we all felt off together.

After class, I turned everything in to the front desk. There, the ladies were giggling. There was a strange new addition to the usual cars parked behind the building. Unable to resist, I headed back there with one of them.

WP_20170921_15_19_18_Pro

There, we found a tiny house on wheels. It definitely wasn’t what I had been expecting. No one really knew where it had come from or why it was there. Perhaps it had been parked there so that the buildings would block most of the wind? Perhaps it blew in from somewhere else, like the catfish people found on their porches?

The tiny house on wheels vanished a few days later. No one knows where it went. I like to think it’s off on a new adventure… that doesn’t involve hurricanes.


That Fantasy Element My Novel Is Missing

Years ago, when I thought my first novel was about done (hahahaha!), I gave it to the boy who would eventually become my brother-in-law. He is an avid reader of fantasy, so he seemed like a natural beta reader choice. What I didn’t realize is that he would eventually change some of my thoughts on my novel — though the major piece didn’t click until a couple weeks ago.

I’ll never forget how confused I was when he returned my manuscript, said it was good, and suggested that I read some of Brandon Sanderson’s work. Or at least hear a little about his philosophy on fantasy. I though to myself that I had learned from Tolkien, the lord of the genre. Why would I look to anyone else?

That Christmas, he introduced me to Brandon Sanderson. After a few reluctant pages, I started to get into it and I started to understand what he was saying. But what I didn’t realize at the time — what I haven’t realized for a few years — is that I was missing one of the things that he was sweetly and subtly trying to tell me: I needed some work on the magic in my world.

If you had asked me before, I would have told you there isn’t really any magic in the novel. There’s a supernatural element, but it’s not really magic. What I hadn’t realized, though, is that that supernatural element had slowly transformed from something that didn’t really affect the plot to a major piece, especially in the climax.

In the process of growing, it had taken on a magical role in the story. Certainly not to the degree of the different things that happen in Brandon Sanderson’s works, but it was very different from where I started.

It didn’t hit me until I was reading something — I can’t remember what now — that discussed Sanderson’s Three Laws of Magic. (Read about those here.) For the first time, I realized that there is a type of magic flowing through my novel’s world, and I had basically used it like a deus ex machina in the climax. Finally, I get what my brother-in-law was trying to tell me all those years ago.

What does that mean for my novel? Well, instead of writing, there’s been a lot of thinking going on. It might mean some adjustments to my world’s history and structure, but I think the end product will be much better than what I have now. Maybe this is the final adjustment that my novel has been waiting for before it really is actually done.

Have you ever found yourself in the same place with writing advice? What’s the best advice you’ve gotten for writing in your genre?


Saying Goodbye to a Piece of My Childhood

Plenty of things come and go, and sometimes you don’t realize that something is still there until it’s on the brink of extinction. That was the case with AOL Instant Messenger.

When I was a kid, I already preferred written communication over talking on the phone. That meant that I spent most of my time talking to friends via instant messaging and e-mail. Dial up was still the norm at the beginning, so conversations had to be scheduled and could only last for so long. And Lord forbid your parents were expecting an important call when your friends were expecting you. But AOL Instant Messenger (better known to us as AIM) was our original favorite instant messenger.

For the first few years, it’s how I had most of my conversations with my husband. We would chat for hours if the phone line was free. It was an amusingly stark contrast to when we were in person and hardly talked at all. There are so many memories tied with AIM of him and of conversations with plenty of other friends too.

After a while, we left AIM by the wayside. MSN Messenger ended up taking the top spot, especially when other forms of Internet access became more prevalent and since it included games like checkers and Othello. Most of our other friends dropped off the instant messaging bandwagon completely, but my husband and I still spent quite a bit of time on it, even once we had taken to actually talking in person and sometimes even on the phone.

It’s many years later now, and I didn’t even realize that AOL Instant Messenger was still around. It’s not that I had forgotten about it. I had just moved on and figured that AOL had gone into extinction already. I didn’t realize that they were both still around until my husband found out that AIM is finally going away this December.

It’s strange to think about. It used to be an important part of my daily life. And even though I haven’t touched it in I don’t know how many years, it’s sad to hear that it’s about to go away forever. It’s truly the end of an era.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, my husband and I still frequently use instant messaging. His phone doesn’t get good reception at work, so guess what replaces texting while he’s there.

Did you used to use AOL Instant Messenger? How did you like to talk to your friends when you were growing up?


How to Make Me Hate a Book in Five Words or Less

Even though my husband and I are adults, we still enjoy bedtime stories. Usually, he picks the book and I read it aloud… though this was the sneaky way that I finally introduced him to The Lord of the Rings in its original form.

Over the years, we’ve read quite a few books. Right now, we’re working on the Myst series, which are all based on the video game world of the same name. He played the part puzzle, part exploration games when he was a kid, and he told me enough about the world while we were growing up that I was familiar with it too.

So far, we’ve finished the first book (The Book of Ti’Anna) and now we’re on to the second (The Book of Atrus). While they’re not the next classics, they have been fun.

That is, until a few nights ago.

Continue reading


Re-Awoken

I love stumbling into places that awaken the imagination. Mine has felt so sleepy lately — caught up in everyday life and planning for the future.

One of those moments happened during a day trip over the weekend.

WP_20170923_11_23_28_Pro

At first, this place felt like it belonged in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. One of the statues should be here, waiting to reward my hard work with another heart or some stamina.

But then I wondered what it would be like in the world I’ve spent most of my life creating. What would those people do in a place that mixes the beauty of nature and architecture, like this?

The dormant itch to work on those stories has re-awoken. It’s about time.

What places have you visited that have inspired your stories or inspired you to restart work on a long-term project?


Happy (Belated) Hobbit Day!

WP_20150922_08_12_00_Pro

Friday came and went faster than expected. While I didn’t get to my annual Hobbit Day post, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t celebrate!

Most years, Hobbit Day (Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday) is filled with everything Hobbit-related that you can imagine. This year was more subdued, thanks to the hurricane. In some ways, though, it felt very much like a typical Hobbit’s day.

I’m currently on a Hobbit’s eating schedule… and sometimes I feel like I have the appetite of one too. I understand why they prefer to spread their calorie intake out over six meals, though. It allows for plenty of variety throughout the day. The only downside: I think I need a bigger lunchbox to take on campus. Oh, and it confuses the cat when I’m home. Sorry, little guy, but you don’t get lunch at 9:30…

I added to my vegetable garden. Since it’s time for fall planting, could there be a more perfect day to spend some time in patches of freshly tilled earth?

Did you celebrate Hobbit Day? If so, what did you do?