Collaborative Writing Challenge

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
― Helen Keller

Author Spotlight: 
May 2016 
Crystal M M Burton

Every month I like to shine the spotlight on one of our participating writers. This month I am pleased to introduce Crystal M M Burton, who is also one of CWC's newest Story Coordinators. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get to know Crystal a little better. Learn more about Crystal from the short interview below. 

1. What made you start writing?

My dreams and my emotions. I’ve always had incredible, vivid dreams, and when I was younger I just started writing them out. When I got into high school, my emotions took over and fueled a lot of poetry (though sadly, most of it has long since been lost). Over the past few years, my dreams have returned in full force, and the characters I’ve met in my head demand to be written.

2. Do you use good old-fashioned pen and paper or your computer?

A little bit of both. I use pen and paper to do a lot of my outlining, so I can draw lines and scribbles and connect things. Then the actual writing part is done on the computer, between a desktop and a laptop. I type at least ten times faster than I can write, and I just can’t beat the ease of having a backspace button…or the ability to rearrange with the drag of a mouse.

3. How did you feel when your writing was first acknowledged?

Terrified. Ecstatic. Honestly, I was scared that the praise I was receiving was sugar-coated so as not to hurt my feelings…but after enough people agreed, I started to believe them. Looking back, I think what I felt most was simple validation. Proof that I was good at something.

4. What are you currently working on?

I’m writing a book called Light & Shadow. It’s a tandem novel that pairs with Shadow & Light, a book being written by a friend and fellow author, M.W. King. My novel is about a young woman who has lost her memories and discovers that not only is she the queen of Light, but her kingdom is at war with the Shadow realm. She must relearn her magic and regain her memories to defeat the shadow and maintain the balance between the kingdoms. The tandem novel follows the King of Shadow as he journeys to fight back against the queen of Light. My protagonist is her antagonist, and vice versa. The two novels intertwine, yet can stand alone as two separate fantasy novels. I’m excited for them.

5. How did you find writing a chapter for CWC, was it what you expected?

I was partly prepared, after working on a collaborative novel that followed a similar fashion, but the CWC chapter was much more challenging. Having only been given the chapter previous to my own and only summaries before that, I was afraid I’d mess up something that was already in place. But it turned out to be a lot of fun, and it felt great to know that my ideas helped create such an amazing story. I look forward to future projects and seeing what unique characters and twists the minds of many can create.

6. Where is your favorite place to write, and why?

Anywhere warm, quiet, and comfortable. I tend to write on my laptop, so as long as I can get comfy and have a tall glass of sweet iced tea within reach, I can write. Sometimes I sit outside in my hammock, and sometimes I curl up on the couch or in bed. Even in the truck, if someone else is driving! My happy place is all in my head, so physical location isn’t as much a priority.

7. What do you consider your best work to date? Tell us a little about it.

This is where I get weird… My best work isn’t even written yet. Not entirely, at least. It’s an epic, high fantasy trilogy, called Aspect. It’s about a girl who becomes the next Aspect of Time, learning the ways of the other elemental Aspects and battling to re-imprison Chaos. I consider it to be my best work so far because I do have a few scenes written out, and the excerpts I’ve shared have received critical acclaim among my peers, which means a lot to me.

8. What made you decide to be a CWC Story Coordinator? What are you looking forward to most?

The idea of being a coordinator just sounded like a lot of fun, and like a wonderful challenge. The concept of knowing that I was able to help bring multiple authors together from around the world, and help them form an amazing, unique story, was too good of a notion to turn down. I’m most looking forward to seeing creativity-in-action. Watching these amazing writers bring words to life and create a world and an adventure that would never have existed if they hadn’t worked together.

9. You recently had your novel picked up for publishing. Tell us a little about it. How did it feel to have interest in your work?

I did! I got picked up by Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing Inc. It’s a small, traditional publishing company with no genre restrictions. They have a wonderful ‘mom and pop’ feel, and work closely with their authors and creators. The novel that got picked up was actually Light & Shadow, being published alongside Shadow & Light, that I mentioned earlier. Knowing that someone was interested in my work gave me a huge confidence boost, and reminded me that I’m not too shabby at this writing thing. ;)

10. If you could give just one piece of advice to upcoming writers, what would it be?

I say the same thing every time someone asks me this question. The answer is simple: Write. Just write. Don't be shy; don't be afraid to press buttons. Writers were made to step on toes, cross the line, and dance along the border. Write the intense sex scene. Write the horrific murder. Write the euphoric romance. Write the gods, and the magic, and the fantasies. Use your muses and your demons. Just write. Don't let anything stop you. If you're afraid of what someone will think, then you are telling yourself that you are afraid to incite emotion. Even if you think that emotion will be unease, awkwardness, or skepticism...write it anyway. Don’t be embarrassed. You might also be inciting fear, love, sympathy, joy, sadness, loss, or inspiration. You won't know until you put yourself out there. So cross the line, draw a new one, and cross that one, too. You are a writer—do what you do best. Write.

11. What is your preferred Genre to read and write?

Definitely fantasy. There is something that calls to me to create new worlds, and to escape reality—to bring magic and wonder to life. Whether I’m writing it or reading it, fantasy lets me get away from menial tasks and routine chores. It lets me fly, gives me abilities, introduces me to unique beings and creatures, and takes me to far-off lands that I had only visited in my dreams.

12. Inspiration point: Write 100-300 words of fiction using this randomly generated word—Aroma.

It was so familiar, and yet nothing I had ever known before. I inhaled the gentle aroma of the exotic purple flower, welcoming the memories it recalled—a tinkling of bells as I walked through a doorway, the friendly dust motes that accompanied me down the rows of used books, the cool leather spines of the forgotten tomes as I ran my fingers along them. It was all tinged with the slightest hint of jasmine and wine, reminding me that it was just a memory. This rare, intoxicating orchid would have been an instant favorite back on Earth for the pleasant thoughts it brought about. I considered the vast number of illnesses that could benefit from the mental effects of the flower. If only I had realized the scent for what it truly was: a deadly trap. The fatal touch of the petals was all it took to drift into an eternal sleep. But as I crossed the threshold into that used bookstore once more, greeted by the musky aroma of the aged paper and leather bindings, I smiled. At least the end was pleasant, and tinged with jasmine and wine.

13. What is your favorite book and why?

This is a REALLY hard question. When you love fantasy, you don’t love books…you love series. You love characters. You love worlds. My favorite world so far is that of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. The world he created was all-encompassing. Vast lands, unique cultures, favored traditions, beloved leaders, hated political games. He had strong characters that were easy to fall in love with (or hate), magic with and without limitations—I could go on for ages. “The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.”

14. What other interests do you have aside from writing?

Learning, mostly. I say that as my blanket term for everything I enjoy doing. Crocheting, knitting, cooking, cake decorating, skinning, tanning, reading, putting together puzzles, gaming, movie marathons, gardening, chilling with my animals, playing with my kids, coloring, sleeping… if it exists, I’ve tried it. If I haven’t tried it, I want to. If I don’t want to, it’s probably illegal.