Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG: The Dark Side


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I'm getting ready to release my second collection of short fiction, Garden of Lost Souls, and the nerves are jangling.

One reason is that it hasn't been all that long since I've truly and publicly (yeh, new blog header!) acknowledged my penchant for writing dark fiction and horror. Even though I've been writing it for awhile, I've always treated it as an acquaintance - one you shake hands with, not one you happily embrace. 

Sure, the previous collection is not all sunshine and unicorns but this one is decidedly darker. I wonder if I will lose readers who prefer some of my "lighter" stories? Will I gain others? Will readers familiar with horror stories mock my attempt to join the big boys and girls of the genre? 

I admit, I'm kind of scared. 

Ironic, isn't it?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Motivational Monday


THERE'S NEVER ENOUGH TIME
TO DO ALL THE NOTHING YOU WANT.
(Bill Watterson)

Isn't that the truth?!

Let's make sure we take some time this summer to do at least some "nothing." That sounds sooooo good to me. 

How about you all? What does "nothing" look like for you?   

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Shopping and Smoking: What If . . . ?

SCENARIO: A very pregnant woman, mid-twenties, stops on the sidewalk outside a strip mall and struggles to light a cigarette. After a couple of tries, she's successful and continues on her way.

What if . . . an old woman accosts her, scolding her about smoking while pregnant? What if the pregnant woman pushes past the old woman, knocks her to the ground where she cries out in pain? Was it an accident? Was it on purpose? 

What if . . . a homeless man tries to bum a cigarette off her? What if she gives him one because something about him reminds her of her father? What if she gives him the whole pack? Why?

What if . . . she's not even aware she's pregnant? What if she's suffering from a mental or physical condition that keeps her from recognizing reality? 

What if . . . this is an alternate reality where smoking while pregnant is actually good for unborn babies? What if it's a sign you're taking care of yourself or a symbol of your wealth and status in this society? 

What would you do with this scenario? Does it trigger an idea for an essay, a blog post, a flash fiction story? Could this woman become a character in your novel? Who is she and why is she doing what she's doing? Let's think outside the box!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Motivational Monday


IF YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME FRETTING 
ABOUT DOING THE RIGHT THING,
YOU'RE GOING TO MISS OUT.
BE BOLD.
QUERY LIKE YOU HAVE THE ANSWER
TO MY PRAYERS.
(Janet Reid)

One of the things I love about Ms. Reid's blog and her attitude is that it reminds me that people want to read our stories. 

I tend to be "apologetic" about my writing. I downplay everything. When meeting new people who ask what I write, where I've been published, I might mention my story collection, but I don't say it proudly. I brush it off, like it's no big thing - "It's only an ebook. I just published it myself." 

A lot of this attitude comes from being raised not to brag or to boast. Some comes from having previous news and excitement about writing accomplishments fall on deaf ears. (It's rather demoralizing to hear nothing but the chirping of crickets from people who used to be supportive and encouraging.) And all the rejection I've received over the years? It's taken a toll. My skin is both tougher and more sensitive than it used to be.   

But here's the thing: I don't want any of us to "miss out" anymore. I want all of us to "be bold." People do want to read our stories. They do want to be a witness to our creativity. Our audiences are out there. Believe that. Trust that. 

Now, let's go find them. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hey, Watch It!

Well, Game of Thrones is over for the season and the new Fear the Walking Dead (the TWD spin-off/prequel) doesn't start until later this summer, so I'm in a TV-watching rut. 

I do watch less TV now that my husband and I no longer have traditional cable. We have Hulu+ and HBO Now, and we occasionally buy some episodes from iTunes. I've also been doing more binge watching. 

But I'm still on the lookout for some new stuff to grab me and not let go. What are you watching and loving right now? Why? Is it the characters/actors? Does it have great, snappy lines of dialogue? Is it funny/heartwarming/creepy? Is it "trash" TV that's perfect for vegging out in front of? I'm open to all kinds of stuff so please, share away!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Motivational Monday


NEVER GO TO A DOCTOR
WHOSE PLANTS HAVE DIED.
(Erma Bombeck)

Okay, I know this isn't a particularly motivational quote, but it made me laugh and sometimes a good chuckle is all that's needed to get on the right track. 

Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Inside the Box

I love a good flash fiction contest. Give me a limited word count, words that must be included and a short timeframe to enter, and I am there. Sometimes creating inside the box is more challenging and more fun! 

Awhile back, I did a guest post - "How Flash Fiction Unfurls" - over at Debi O'Neille's blog about how one of my flash fiction pieces came about, and I thought I'd do something similar here, this time for a contest entry. 

The rules - create a story in 100 words or fewer and include the following words/form of the words: stage, actor, crane, chorus, ghost.

One of the words usually strikes me. Here, it was the word stage. But I wanted to use it in a slightly different context than in the usual theater production sense. I came up with:

(It) occurs in the backstage of his mind, behind the scenes where no one can see.

At this point, I still don't know what "it" is or who "he" is, but I liked the creepy feeling this gave me. Then I played with the word actor. Again, I wanted a more unusual form or use of the word: 

Charlie's father was the exactor of the rules, of the reward and of the punishment.

I toyed with the word ghost next:

Charlie's mother is a ghost - here but not here - her body brittle bone and bruised skin, her nerves ragged and plucked.

Hmm, interesting but not quite there yet. I set the story aside for awhile - but not too long since there was only a short window to enter! My imagination tumbled the words around, shook up the images, while I did other stuff. I realized what spoke to me the most had nothing to do with the father, the mother or Charlie. It was the ghost. 

I started thinking about the ghost, asking myself questions like: What if the ghost is the exactor of the rules, etc? How terrifying would that be? Ah-ha!

Even though my entry didn't win or place in the contest, I definitely enjoyed the challenge of writing it and was pleased with the result:

**********

HOUSE ARREST

Sara skitters through the house. The ghost, an exactor of rules, of reward and of punishment, enjoys toying with her. Her nerves are ragged, plucked. Her body little more than brittle bone covered in bruised skin.

She cranes her neck, peers down the hallway. The front door stands open, the ghost setting the stage for more terror. Still, she scurries toward hope, freedom.

A chorus of thumps chases her, pounding footsteps shudder the walls, her soul. The door slams shut on her hands. Sara screams.

The ghost rips her away, leaving her fingers behind.

**********

What word would you have started with? Do you enjoy writing inside the box or do you like less limits, more freedom? Was this post interesting and/or helpful for your own writing? Would you like to see more posts like this?