Write What You Know

TSCDTA-StandingKALINA HUGGED HER pillow even tighter as sunlight invaded the darkness of her room. She buried her face in it to hold onto the peace that had enveloped her before the bright intrusion of the spring morning. The sun’s warm rays streamed through her lace curtains creating psychedelic patterns on her pale blue wall, teasing her to get up and get going. It was Sunday and, as usual, her day was already loaded with activity. She wished she could be like many of her friends who didn’t have to get up and go to church every Sunday.
Above is the first paragraph in my first book, Dreams Thrown Away. It’s a prime example of writing what you know. Not every detail, of course, but what you know is what you can translate into emotional and visual manifestation on a page. Was this me in the first paragraph? Was this me in my first book? Partially, yes. Kalina Denise Harris (Kali) shares some of my characteristics, but let’s not get confused. Kali’s parents were a Baptist minister and a choir director. She had grown up in the church, so had I. My grandparents were my primary caregivers and they were very active in the church. They were so involved I felt that I only lived in one of three places, home, school, and church.
Are you with me on this? How many of you who grew up in a Southern Baptist church and had friends who didn’t have to be in church every Sunday? Call me a heathen, but my hand just shot up, high. As I said, I lived in one of three places and church was a big chunk of my existence. I can recall being in church, literally, all day long. My grandfather was a deacon and custodian at the church. He had to get there early to turn on the heat or the fans, etc. So we were at church before anyone else arrived. After that, Sunday School would start, and it would always run over. Shortly after Sunday School, there was a prayer meeting or a pre-meeting of some sort before regular service. That would last almost an hour and then, then, then there was the service that could run from two to three hours. Whew!!! Some of you can relate, I know.
If that wasn’t enough, there were other reasons to go to church during the week regularly, choir practice, deacon meetings, and custodial duties are what I remember off the top of my head. I am sure there were more, and I have filed them away in my memory. I still have visions of that church and the feeling of begrudgingly walking into it. To make matters worse, I know I shouldn’t complain, but once a year there was the weeklong revival where there were two services and two prayer meetings on the first Sunday of August, then there were prayer meetings and services Monday through Friday. Whew, you couldn’t wait until Saturday, but the next Sunday morning came quickly.
Yes, I lived in the church until I became a teenager and my grandparents got tired of the struggle. Happily, I became one of those friends who didn’t have to get out of bed so early, anyway, on Sunday morning. Not all of it was bad; I did enjoy my friends and the family I made there. Sometimes I miss that familiar feeling, but these days I don’t have to wonder about friends who don’t go to church. I’m not there every Sunday myself, and I am okay with that.
Dilsa Saunders Bailey is an independent author who has not only self-published three novels and a non-fiction book; she has spent most of her medical services career writing policies, bylaws, operations manuals, and more over the last 27 years. Dilsa is now coaching writers through the self-publishing journey and helping them to set up their businesses using their books as a marketing tool to build their platforms. If you want to learn more about how she can help you, contact her at dilsa@simplydilsa.com or join her blog below to keep up to date with her books and seminars.

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Is Ashton Taylor Sperling a Psychopath or a Sociopath? The Answer is…

Slpit_cover_6x (1)Final ApprovalFrontCover
At a book club event, a psychologist announced that Ashton was a sociopath. My mouth dropped. It hadn’t occurred to me that his characteristics were that of a sociopath. Another fan suggested he was a psychopath. Now what? Could either of these monikers describe a man who loves his wife and family as much as Ashton? Do you understand my confusion? Since I am thinking about the direction of number 4 in the series, I decided I needed to do some research to determine if he was either, or maybe one of the characters could be designated that more so. But, as I sit here thinking about my next blog and my next book, I wondered, could either be a family trait? If Ashton is a sociopath, has one of his children inherited the gene? Or, did he inherit the gene from his grandfather? Is it a gene? How does one become a sociopath or a psychopath? Do I really want to know? Of course, I do. I want to make sure my characters are true to life. That’s how they keep haunting people after they have put the book down.
Here is what I found out about those individuals? The sociopath has very similar traits of a psychopath. However, the psychopath’s characteristics are more extreme. And, those traits make neither of them an automatic serial killer. Some of the characters in my book have killed more than once, and the murders were not justified. But, whose killing is justified? Both the sociopath and the psychopath exhibit a lack of guilt or remorse. They don’t feel what the average person feels. For instance, if I hurt someone’s feelings, I feel remorse, and if I did it on purpose, I feel guilty. Not those antisocial personality types, they think nothing. It’s your problem, your fault if your feelings are hurt. Ah, your poor feelings keep getting in your way, not theirs. Though many traits are defining these personality disorders, what struck me most about the Ashton character was that he was very precise, minimizing the risk to himself, at least in the beginning. That trait leaned toward psychopath. However, his twin brother was more reactive and erratic in his behavior making him more of a sociopath, but he was more violent. Was either of them attached to anyone, did they have feelings? The answer was yes, which makes me consider that though they were dangerous men, did they fit the molds of sociopathy or psychopathy. I am still on the fence. Looking at the other traits is what confuses me. Ashton loves his family, he rarely lies outright but does keep a lot of secrets. He is not aggressive, yet is determined to have his way, i.e., possibly manipulative and somewhat intimidating. Most women he encounters find him very charming and sexy, especially his wife. After all, his looks take their breath away. If you are a psychologist or someone who has experienced living with one of these personality disorders, maybe you can help me out. I want to show the world how the dark side has affected his children. If you haven’t read the books, start with Dreams Thrown Away and get to know him better. Most of my readers love him, no matter how often his darkness appears.
Dilsa Saunders Bailey is an independent author who has not only self-published three novels and a non-fiction book; she has spent most of her medical services career writing policies, bylaws, operations manuals, and more over the last 27 years. Dilsa is now coaching writers through the self-publishing journey and helping them to set up their businesses using their books as a marketing tool to build their platforms. If you want to learn more about how she can help you, contact her at dilsa@simplydilsa.com or join her blog below to keep up to date with her books and seminars.

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