Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Who Needs Sleep?

I love to read at night. You'll often find me curled up in a chair with a hot cup of tea, the house quiet, the blinds closed against the dark sky and all the slithering shadows. I'm also most likely reading something creepy, dark, scary. And while this absolutely goes against my cowardly, chicken-like nature, it gives me a delicious thrill that I refuse to give up.

So, when I came across this article - 11 Creepy Lines from Horror Books that are Honestly Terrifying - I couldn't read it fast enough. Here are some of my favorites:


"THERE WERE WORSE THINGS THAN CRUCIFIXION.
THERE WERE TEETH."
(The Stand by Stephen King)


"THE LAST MAN ON EARTH SAT ALONE IN A ROOM.
THERE WAS A KNOCK ON THE DOOR . . . "
(Knock by Frederic Brown)


"I HAVE NO MOUTH,  AND I MUST SCREAM."
(I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison)


Go ahead, read the whole article. But maybe wait until daylight. Or when you're not alone. Oh, you are alone? Um . . . then who or what (gulp!) is that creaking across the attic, right above your head . . . ?

*****

Do you enjoy reading at night? Are you a fan of creepy stories? Any favorites - books, TV shows, movies? Can you read/watch them before bed or is that just a nightmare waiting to happen? 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

IWSG: When Life Gives You Lettuce


Join Us!

Waaaaay back in January, I wrote about having two big projects for the year. Well, we're about halfway through 2018 and my progress? Not so much. Why? The reasons are few, the excuses many. I now look at those projects with the same stink eye Larry gives me when he has to eat lettuce instead of strawberries.

I decided to take the summer to hunker inside my shell. It's time to reevaluate everything - from health to writing. I'm not exactly sure what this process looks like yet, other than taking more time away from screens and social media. I'll still be around, but I'll only be posting here at TSR a few times a month instead of every week.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to smuggle some strawberries to the tortoises. What can I say? I'm soft-shelled.

*****

Have you had to reevaluate anything lately - goals, plans, life paths? How do you reset, regroup? What are you doing this summer? Anything you're looking forward to, excited about?

Monday, May 28, 2018

May We Motivate You?

As the month of May draws to a close, we here at TSR would like to offer up some motivation - and a little humor! Let's start the second half of 2018 with a kick in the creative "oomph" and a chuckle or two . . . .


"YOUR INTUITION ALREADY KNOWS
WHAT IT WANTS TO WRITE,
SO GET OUT OF THE WAY."
(Ray Bradbury)


"There are a million talented writers out there
who are unpublished only because
they stop writing when it gets hard.
Don't do that."
(Gillian Flynn)


"UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 
HEALTHY STRIVING AND PERFECTIONISM 
IS CRITICAL 
TO LAYING DOWN THE SHIELD 
AND PICKING UP YOUR LIFE." 
(Dr. Brene Brown)


"My theory on housework is,
if the item doesn't multiply, smell,
catch fire, or block the refrigerator door,
let it be. No one else cares.
Why should you?
(Erma Bombeck)


"IF I WROTE A DR. SEUSS-ESQUE BOOK
ABOUT THE RESEARCH I DO FOR MY NOVELS
IT WOULD BE TITLED
'OH, THE THINGS YOU NOW KNOW.'
IT WOULD BE TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE
FOR CHILDREN."
(Mindy McGinnis)


"MY WISH FOR YOU IS THAT
YOU FEEL NO NEED 
TO CONSTRICT YOURSELF 
TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE
COMFORTABLE."
(Ta-Nehisi Coates)


*****

How was your May? Your first half of 2018? What creative plans and projects do you have coming up? What are you looking forward to this summer - books, movies, TV shows, vacations?

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Happy, Healthy Writer


"One of the reasons we become writers 
is to live a different kind of life, 
a more creative life, more fulfilling 
and hopefully, a healthier life." 
(Joanna Penn)

YES! 

The quote above is from a fantastic post by Joanna Penn called Healthy Writer Tips: Managing Stress, Anxiety and Burnout.  I don't know about you, but I can use all the help I can get dealing with all three of those things. I recommend reading her entire post, so I'll just share some of my takeaways: 

* She talks about NOT separating her work from her life; it's all-encompassing, and how this can be wonderful AND exhausting. For me, writing is a huge part of who I am and always has been. I used to try to separate it, especially since so many people in my "real life" often ignored my writing, thus making me feel ignored and invisible. Now, I'm getting better at being my own person, doing my own thing. 

* Stress can be positive, when it pushes us to try something new, to step outside our comfort zone, whether in writing or in life. I'm working on a novella, trying to break into new-to-me magazines, and getting back into running. (Let the tears - of hysterical laughter and of pain - begin!)

* One of Penn's suggested Action Steps mentions digital fasting and cutting back on social media and news so we don't get overwhelmed by negativity and suffer from comparisonitis. I find this kind of thing helpful in quieting my mind, especially at night. I only check the news twice a day, and I have a cut-off time for myself when it comes to checking emails and texts. 

* In another Action Step, she recommends paying attention to the rhythms of your energy, your life, and allowing for shifts in how you approach everything, including writing projects. I struggle with this, often trying to force a project at that time, in this way. Sometimes it works, usually it doesn't.


"We all need to stop, take a step back and
think about what we want for our lives 
in a holistic sense. 
Burnout happens in the writer community 
when we forget why we're doing this in the first place. 
We bury the joy of creation in all the things
that have to be done . . . . "
(Joanna Penn)


*****

How are you feeling about your writing health? Do you struggle with anxiety, burnout, stress or anything else along those lines? How do you manage it? 

Monday, May 14, 2018

What If? - The Sound of One Dog Yapping

It's been awhile since we had a What if? post, and since recent events sparked an idea, here we go!

The Scenario: Somewhere in the neighborhood lurks a dog with one of those yippy, yappy barks. The first time I heard it, I jumped out of my skin, thinking something was being strangled. Turns out - thankfully! - the only things being hurt were my ears. (And my sanity, such as it is.)

I don't know where this dog lives. I suspect its owner lets it hang out on the screened patio so it can get some fresh air and bark at every single thing that walks, crawls or flies by.

So, in an effort to not run screaming into the streets, I thought I'd let my imagination - and yours, if you'll join me - go screaming onto the paper/screen instead.

What if . . . the dog is trying to tell us all something, like aliens or zombies are on the way?

What if . . . we figure out where the dog lives and go over to talk - nicely! - to its owner, only to find the front door unlocked and no evidence any human lives/lived there at all? We follow the barking through the house, to the patio, only to find it empty, too. Do we just have the wrong house? Or could the place be haunted?

What if . . . we find out it's not a dog barking at all but some mutant creature never seen before? Is it from another planet? Is it the result of some lab accident or a science experiment gone wrong?

What if . . . we are the only ones who hear the barking? When we mention it to other people, they look at us like we're crazy. Are we losing our minds? Do we have super-amazing hearing? Are we hearing sounds from a parallel universe?


*****

Your turn! Chime in on any of the above or come up with your own! Do you have any annoying critters in your neighborhood? How did you handle it?  Did they ever make an appearance in one of your stories or blog posts?

Monday, May 7, 2018

The More Creeped Out You Are

I am socially awkward at the best of times, but I usually manage to come up with a coherent and interesting (hopefully!) answer to the general question about what I write - something along the lines of short fiction, dark fiction, horror. Now, if you ask me specifically what my novel is about, you get this -

"Um...."

Doesn't that just sound deliciously creepy and like something you're dying to read? NOT! Napping tortoises are more interesting than that. (And definitely cuter.)  

Literary agent Janet Reid wrote an excellent post - What's Your Book About? - about her experience at a conference speaking with authors and what happened when she asked them about their work. I absolutely recommend heading over and reading the whole post, but here's the biggest takeaway for me:

"You simply MUST be prepared to tell people, in a compelling way, what your book is about. . . . First thing to remember is start NOW. No matter where you are in the publishing cycle: querying, sold, pubbed, you need to be able to say what your book is about."

I'm working on it!

*****

And speaking of Ms. Reid, I entered her Writing Without Rules Flash Fiction Contest last month, and although my story didn't win, her comments on it (below, in blue) made my entire month.  

Gregory, old and gnarled, slumps on his porch. His lawn, overgrown with weeds and wild things, chokes the once neat path. At the gate, nettles cling, watch deserted streets. He calls out, can only hope for more survivors.

A man and woman appear, dirty, laden with packs.

"Please help! I fell."

They hesitate, the rules different now.

Gregory is desperate. "I have food, water. It's yours."
They nod, start toward him.

He watches the lawn shiver, the monsters within slither out to feed. He listens to the screams.

Gregory is spared. Again. He stands, stretches.
The rules are different now.

Honestly this creeped me out so much I could barely read it the second time.
Thank all deities foreign and domestic that I live in Brooklyn, a place with few lawns.
Of course, the more creeped out you are, the better the writing.

*****

Are you prepared to talk about your novel? Or are you like me, still working on it? Do overgrown lawns creep you out? If you have a lawn, do you know what's lurking in it? 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

IWSG: The Cruelest Month

Well, I'm back from Camp NaNo

My Camp NaNo t-shirt and Minion pajama pants are covered in chocolate and peanut butter and marshmallow. I refused to use those creepy Camp showers so I smell like fear-sweat. And wine. (Oh, come on, of course I didn't use the showers! Where else would a serial killer/giant rat/super-flu lurk?) My huge flashlight has run out of juice and is battered and cracked.

Much like me and my WiP.

I have picked up and put down this story for years. I lugged it to this conference, shoved it at that critique group. I wept bitter, angry tears. I know in my gut the story is alive and breathing, buried somewhere in the muck of pacing problems and point-of-view issues. It's waiting for me to dig deeper, harder.

And I will.

Camp NaNo is over, but the year is not. I've got time - to get this done, to get this right. And so do you. If your creative plans didn't work out last month, don't give up. Let's go into May with a plan and a positive attitude.

My plan positively includes eating more s'mores. And writing, of course. Care to join me?

*****

How was your April? Accomplish a goal? Make progress on a challenge? Have any big creative plans for the summer? Anyone going to Camp NaNo in July?

*****

For more information . . .