Collaborative Writing Challenge

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

Author Spotlight: September 2015 
Cayce Berryman

Every month I like to shine the spotlight on one of our participating writers. This month however, I would like to introduce Cayce Berryman, who is our newest story coordinator. We are very excited that Cayce has joined the team, she has proven to be very organized, compassionate and kind. These are important qualities when it comes to working with so many writers. Cayce is also a talented writer and editor, and somehow manages to juggle everything she has going on with a smile. Learn more about Cayce from the short interview below. 

1. What made you start writing?

The obsession. I wrote short stories when I was young; usually, they were alternate endings to movies or TV shows with me in them, and I would act them out with my brother, later. I have always loved stories, and I've always had a wild imagination.

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

I use my computer. My handwriting is horrid, and I can't write my thoughts fast enough.

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

Incredulous. My grandfather always said I had a knack for story-telling, and when I would start one, I rarely finished it, so he would be disappointed and ask what happened next. My answer, apparently, was that I hadn't thought that far, yet. I thought he was just a grandpa being a grandpa, endorsing my odd enjoyment for writing my feelings onto paper, but I learned otherwise when I turned in my first news article to the college newspaper, and the adviser acknowledged it as impressively well-written. I had also completed a novel by that time, but it wasn't until then that I felt I had heard a credible voice say my words had weight. 

4. What are you currently working on?

I'm working on editing my second novel, Shadows. I've edited it, well, a lot, but I'm currently trying to add to the word-count. 

5. In preparation for becoming a coordinator, you experienced writing a chapter for Ambition that was selected. How did you find it, and was it what you expected?

Kind of. I've been part of collaborative projects before, though this was the first novel I was a part of. It was interesting to write about something I knew so little of, but it was fun to create the next step. I loved the organization of it all, and it was interesting to see how so many people had come together to form something new. It kept the story fresh and alive, which is what readers want in this "era." It was difficult to consider which direction to take it, but it was awesome to know I could take it anywhere I wanted, almost like reading a book and wanting the next chapter to have a certain something; the difference is, I was able to make that happen.

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

I love writing anywhere quiet. I'm so easily distracted since my mind thinks of so much at one time, so noise and movement tend to ruin everything for me. I'd love a comfortable chair I could lounge in, one day, outside in the shade near an outlet, so I wouldn't have to move, ever. Forget food. I'll write it in, somewhere ;).

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

I'm stuck there, really. I have a favorite poem, my first poem, and I have my current work. I wrote my first poem when I was 12 (I think 12), and I couldn't be more proud of it, no matter how... basic... it may be. I'm too proud of my current project, Shadows, not for the writing or the storytelling, but for the idea. I twisted the reality of shadows in a way that makes them real to me, and I can't rid myself of the world I was blessed to create.

8. You have now started coordinating our fourth project: Wytch Born. What do you find challenging about the role, and was it hard to select the second chapter?

To an extent, I knew it would fill my schedule, but I did think it would be easier. I'm an editor, so it's hard not to streamline a book that isn't yet complete. It's like trying to dust off excess in a sand sculpture when you have not yet created the base or formed the structure. It's maddening, but it's different. It's difficult not to edit too much, and it's difficult to organize a story I can't design. As a writer, that's what I do, so having to wait for the story to unfold is torture. 

It was quite difficult to choose the second chapter, and one reason is because, when I'm reading one chapter submission, I read the second, and my mind has to battle with the reminder that the first submission didn't happen. "It's a new idea, dummy. Clean slate." So, when the time comes to choose, all the ideas seem to have happened, and I struggle with the idea of releasing three of them to a nonexistent world.

9. You run a very active Facebook group and manage to work for CWC alongside being an editor and have a day job. How do you manage to keep on top of things and stay creative in your own writing?

That is an excellent question I don't know the answer to. I know I work extraordinarily well under stress, but as a managing editor for a college paper, freelance editor, and employee for a roofing company, time shouldn't exist in the "Free" folder of my life. I set my mind to it, though, and I always get things done. It's truly a rush, and my passions lie with writing and editing, so I know I'll always look forward to it at the end of a ridiculous work day. One thing I do is keep a schedule. If I have an event, that sucker goes on the calendar. If I have something to do, it goes in my memo thing. It took practice because I am the worst at checking calendars and to-do lists, but my group and CWC are important, so I did what I needed to do, and I adapted.

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

Don't stop writing. It doesn't matter if your idea isn't refined or "good" at the time; never give it up. Put it away if you need to, but keep it. Another thought is to learn the alleged "rules" of writing, not to follow them, but to understand why they ever existed, so you can understand why you would break them. As writers, breaking rules is part of the game, but as good writers, breaking the rules is part of the plan.

11. What is your preferred Genre to read and write And what is your favourite book?

I love fantasy because I love new worlds and ideas. My favorite book would have to be Harry Potter. Many people can say they love the Harry Potter series, but the world, to me, is more than just magic and a neat story. It's complete and well thought out. You don't go into the next book with questions, you go in with fresh eyes because you see things you've never seen before; for a writer to be able to do that in an eight-novel series is more than impressive. The reason most sequels don't make it as well is because they aren't original, but every Harry Potter book is. Each installment is an introduction to a new piece of the world created; it's an introduction to new magic, secrets, and creatures.

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

Nick turned the corner ahead of Cara and cut her off. Eyes of stone crawled into her chest like demonic beings creeping into her soul. She waited, but words never left the lips that curled upward in a contemplative grin. 

I messed up, Cara scolded herself as the words tried to leave her mouth. With a standing shudder, she glanced toward a possible retreat behind a window to Marsha's Glamour, but she knew better. She’d never outrun him; she never could. 

Nick pulled his raven-dusted jacket over his chest and leaned toward her with a still glare that would normally lurk through the depths of a black window.

For years, she dreamt about those eyes. His gregarious laughter once followed her home after a morning hidden from friends she didn’t have, chasing her lust for a glance her way or his hand on hers.

At one time, she found herself harboring a jealous hate for the woman on his arm; the girl disappearing in the distance after a long school year. Cara loved the mystery, both in his adventures and in those eyes that she thought to have cherished love for so many. 

For years, she wondered what it would be like to be the reflection in them. Now, she wished she could avoid ever finding out.