Good Morning Everyone and happy Friday
Welcome to Inside A Beautiful Mind.
For those of you who have been here before, go grab your coffee, tea or beverage of choice and come sit with me as we get comfy and have a most enchanting chat with my friend Crystal MM Burton.
Good Morning Crystal, thank you for hanging out with me this morning and being a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind.
So let’s get right to it, can you tell me a little bit about yourself.
Thank you for having me today! My name is Crystal, and I write under my real name, Crystal MM Burton. I live in the small, rural town of Lott, Texas, with my husband, our three children, and my Yorkie. If you were to ask anyone about me, they’d probably tell you I’m a fangirl. I find it very easy to slip into fictional worlds and I often lose myself wishing they were real. I don’t have the time or space to list them all, but my main fandom is Doctor Who. It stands to reason that I was destined to create my own fictional worlds, too. I’ve self-published a children’s book (Mommy, What Is the Moon?) and I’ve been published in multiple anthologies and collaborative novels, but my first solo novel is in the works now.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
I’m one of those authors who has a whole folder dedicated to project ideas and starter chapters. But my main project, The World Soul, is a high fantasy series following a forest-dwelling exile on her quest to find the four elemental heartsouls and replenish the life energy of the world. My series is full of two unique breeds of mermaids, stone giants, a winged race, forest-dwellers, and of course, humans.
How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
Harder than it should have been, to be honest. I don’t usually have an issue with sitting down and at least knocking out a rough draft. But with my novel series, my passion held me back. I was so worried about writing it wrong that I spent more time fussing over the outline than actually writing the story. I wanted it to be perfect. That still holds me back sometimes.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
Both, depending on the story. If I’m using a writing prompt, I just get a base idea in my head and let the prompt guide me. It’s a creative exercise for me. But if I have a real, solid idea for a story, I’ll sit down and do an eight-point plot outline to make sure my story has all the dramatic arcs and emotional elements it needs.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
I’m much more open with my thoughts. More confident in my ideas. When I first started writing, I was terrified of what people would think and how they would judge me. Nowadays, I take pride in my ideas and the way I portray them. This is my future and my legacy. I don’t want to lead readers around their own back yards, I want to lead them through jungles and under the oceans and to new, exciting places that only exist in my books.
What is the most important thing about a book, in your opinion?
Being relatable. When I read a book, I want to know that if I took the place of the main character, a lot of the events in the story wouldn’t change, because I’d do the same things, make the same mistakes, fall in love with the same people. I want secondary characters that I love to hate because I can understand them. Characters I’d want to be friends with. Characters I’d want to strangle because they remind me of someone I know. When we as readers can compare our lives to a book in some way, no matter how small, it gives us a connection. That’s so important.
Do your novels carry a message?
They do. Many messages, though not all of them are obvious.
Never lose hope; it’s the greatest motivator of all time. Be yourself. Find your balance and your world will have meaning. Dedicate your life to something greater than yourself. And never judge someone without knowing their side of the story.
How much of yourself do you put into your books?
All of me. Each character has something in common with me, even if it’s just a quirk or habit or hobby. A shared opinion or belief. A lot of authors do this without realizing it; I do it on purpose. It all goes back to relatability.
How realistic are your books?
They’re not as realistic as other genres (I do write about mermaids and stone giants, after all). However, I’m a firm believer that if something exists in a fantasy world, it should at least follow the same laws of physics that our world adheres to. If it’s too “out there,” it loses a big part of what keeps the reader comfortable. Yes, they want to escape, but they also want a world they can make sense of.
What is that one thing you think readers generally don’t know about your specific genre?
I don’t think many fantasy readers realize just how similar their fantasy worlds are to our own. I’ve mentioned before that readers tend toward fantasy to escape the real world, but nearly every successful fantasy story still has human elements and traits. Realistic notions and events. Political drama, domestic drama, rivalries, hopelessness. We escape it at home only to dive into it in a book, just because it’s not ours. It’s sugar-coated in magical creatures, spells, and far-off lands, but it’s the same thing.
How liberal are you in term of expressing ideas in your books?
If my characters require it, I’ll write it. There are many differing ideals, opinions, personalities, and cultures in my books. I have no problem writing any of them because they aren’t “me.” I would hope that anyone who knows of me would be able to differentiate between my personal ideals and those of my fictional characters.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Getting it right. For some reason, I always seem to forget that I can always go back and add things in and rearrange. I get so caught up in not forgetting to include anything and in finding the right words that I get stuck. It’s part of my OCD, I think. Being a perfectionist is a huge challenge as a writer.
Writers are often believed to have a muse; what are your thoughts on that?
I think we all call it something different. Some people call it a muse, some call it their dreams, others just call it what it is: their imagination. The thing is, no one really knows where our ideas come from, so it’s almost comforting to imagine a magical deity whispering in our ears. I often make comments about my muse, treating her like a close friend. Many of my ideas stem from my dreams, so I tend to call my muse “the girl of my dreams.” Do I honestly believe there’s an otherworldy being feeding me all my ideas? No. Does it help me to personify the creative side of my brain? Definitely.
What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
I have, actually. Quite often. The first collaborative work I participated in was a zombie fiction novel called Bit. I worked alongside five other authors, and that story turned out fantastically science-fiction-y. It will be published next year (2018).
I’ve also participated in what is called the Collaborative Writing Challenge, a program that brings masses of writers together under the guide of a story coordinator to collaborate on a novel. I’ve had chapters selected for four CWC projects to date, each one a different genre: sci-fi, drama/mystery, fantasy, and steampunk.
I think all authors should try at least once to collaborate on a writing project. The point of it doesn’t have to be something publishable, nor does it even need to be entirely coherent. Ultimately, it just makes a great writing exercise and helps you grow as a writer. The challenge to it is that you don’t have full control. Your characters take on a life of their own, because they’re being manipulated by multiple writers. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without my experience in collaborative writing.
Do you plan on owning a publishing house?
Yes and no. I am the creator and co-founder of Imagine House, an indie publishing imprint. I teamed up with my friend and fellow author Jae Dawn to create this company, but we’re not a traditional publisher. As we like to say, we’re more of a club. We can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and our website, imaginehouse.co. We focus on fantasy, but we encourage reading and writing in all genres. If you can dream it, you can write it. It’s like I always say… “As I imagine, so shall it be.”
Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?
For the past eight years, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom. I have three kids—two boys and a girl—and raising them is a full-time job in itself. However, being a mother is not a career path. Which is why, in August 2016, I officially became a freelance fiction editor, and I love it. I had spent seven months as the Editing Director for a small press, so I had the skill and experience, and working for myself gives me the ability to set my own hours. The only downside I can think of is that I spend more time working on other people’s stories than my own, but that’s still pretty great.
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
For each of my stories, I first write it, revise it, pass it to beta readers, revise it once more, then toss it to a professional editor for the final pass. Even though I’m an editor myself, my work always needs to go to someone else for edits. No matter how great you think you might be, everyone needs an editor. As the creators, we’re just too close to our own work. We’ll miss things. I know editors can be expensive, but I strongly urge all writers to save up for a real editor. Trust me—self-publishing has the sad reputation it does because of self-publishers who thought they could do it themselves.
What do you do in your free time?
Ha! Free time! You’re funny. Everyone knows that’s just a myth.
If I did have any free time, though, I’d be tending to my garden, spending time with the animals, crocheting, having endless Netflix binges, gaming, or learning. I’m always learning. If it could be said that I have a single passion, it’s for knowledge.
What is the dream goal you want to achieve before you die?
My dream goal is to be published by one of the Big Five. I want to be a household name, like Tolkien, Rowling, Martin, or Jordan; I want people to hear “Burton” or “World Soul” and know that it’s me. I have a very strong feeling—hope, I think—that the Big Five can get me there. I’ve had my eye on Tor Fantasy since the day I decided to be a writer.
What advice would you like to pass on to young writers of today that is unconventional but true?
The best rule of writing is that there are no real rules. Yes, you will always have grammar rules. You can’t get around those. But most writing “rules” are just guidelines for beginners. Things like “no prologues,” or “don’t open with a dream,” or “don’t kill the dog.” They’re not hard laws, just strong suggestions. The trick is to figure out why someone says not to kill the dog, then determine if you have a solid reason for doing it. Anything can work in a story if done well. So, learn all the “rules” and why they exist before determining which rules you want to break.
How about sharing some of your book with us? Maybe a passage that will give us a glimpse into the world you built.
I’m still in a heavy outlining stage, and I’ve only written a few small sections that aren’t ready for the world just yet. But I’d love to tell you more about my books.
My series is based on one idea: the eyes are the windows to the soul. Except, that window doesn’t always lead to your own. Tarenya is an exile whose eyes lead directly to the world soul itself. When the stars begin to go out, she is set on a quest to find the heartsouls of the elements and restore the life energy of the world. Her traveling companions throughout the story include a dashing human pirate, First Mate Tennison, a young stone giant, Mmrmr, and the Salcean princess, Breann.
There are seven races in my world. The first one you’ll meet is the forest-dwelling Avendii. They are a bit shorter than the average human, have emerald-green eyes, and have a cat-like resemblance and antlers. They guard the Heart of Forest.
The second is the Elvik. They live in the mountains and their dark skin is as tough as diamond. They have fiery orange eyes and are said to have descended from the stone giants themselves. They guard the Heart of Stone.
The stone giants, the third race, are born of the mountain and named for the sounds rocks make when they collide. The only three still known to exist are young brothers, Mmrmr, Tktk, and Drrg. The landmass of the world was rumored to have been created when the great stone father died.
The fourth is the Salceans—the merfolk. They are nothing like traditional mermaids, though; they aren’t part fish. Their lower halves are similar to a dugong, and their upper halves resemble thick humans with golden hair and deep blue eyes. They were bred as a cross between humans and the deadly Zimwahar, the original merfolk (the fifth race). We see the Zimwahar in book two, but they’re not pretty. Their teeth alone would give you nightmares. The Salceans are said to guard the Heart of Sea.
The sixth race is the Tl’ys. These exotic, birdlike people are thin and pale with wide feathered wings and light-purple eyes. Their hair is either pure white or the deepest black, with no other shades between. They used to guard the Heart of Wind until the queen depleted its energy to maintain her and her son’s immortality. The Dark Prince is the ultimate antagonist in my story, hunting down the other heartsouls to keep himself alive.
The seventh is, of course, the humans. They couldn’t be trusted to guard a heartsoul, and for good reason. They are spread across the land, each village unique unto itself, and not all of them placing their belief in the world soul’s existence. They don’t even all believe in magic. The fate of the world soul depends on them, though, because it was a human witch who set everything in motion over two hundred years ago.
Anyway, that’s a crash-course on the worldbuilding of The World Soul. I wish I could give you a planned release date, but to be honest, when the first book is finished, I’ll be submitting it to agents and publishers in my quest for Tor.
But if you’d like to stay updated on my progress and my journey as a writer, you can follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/crystalmmburton and subscribe to my website at crystalmmburton.com.
Thank you so much for having me today!
Alright folks, it is that time again but I would like to say a heart felt thank you to Crystal MM Burton for sharing with us and spend some time in her world today. Keep your eyes on her.
Also, I would like to say a big thank you to the lovely readers out there for joining in and taking a moment to support your Authors.
If you or any of you know of someone who would like to be a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind, please send me a message.
Enjoy your Friday folks, you are awesome and please remember to be kind to your Authors, leave a review. See you in a couple of weeks, Peace.