Monday, November 13, 2017

A Curmudgeon on Caffeine

Here in the trenches of NaNoWriMo, I'm a little busy trying to figure out a couple of things, like why a secondary character has suddenly decided she'd like to be the antagonist (I mean, seriously?!) and how many cups of coffee can I drink before I start acting like Kramer from Seinfeld.




So, as you can see, my mind is not very focused on marketing or social media at the moment. But when I saw this quote in Writer's Digest (Nov/Dec 2017), I chuckled - okay, so it was more like caffeine-tinged-maniacal laughter - because not only is it an excellent strategy for social media but also for life in general.


"EVEN IF YOU ARE A NATURALLY CRANKY,
SNARKY, SOUR-TEMPERED PAIN IN THE ASS,
FOR GOD'S SAKE,  SHARE THAT 
WITH YOUR THERAPIST OR PRIEST. 

WHEN YOU GO ONLINE TO PROMOTE YOURSELF
AND THEREFORE YOUR PRODUCTS,
TRY NOT TO ACTUALLY SCARE
PEOPLE OFF YOUR LAWN."
(Jonathan Maberry)


As someone who, in real life, straddles the line between pleasantly polite yet keeps-to-herself and curmudgeonly crazy lady who peers through the blinds absolutely certain those kids on tricycles are up to no good, I really hope I'm at least keeping my digital lawn welcoming and well-tended.

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Are you running on caffeine right about now? Is your digital lawn full of weeds? How about your real lawn? Do you chase kids off your property or do you join them in a rousing game of hide-n-seek?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Maybe More Than a Little

Last week, a local theater ran the original Psycho. In honor of Halloween and the start of another NaNoWriMo, my husband and I went. We'd seen Psycho before but not on a big screen, not in a roomful of people with their own reasons for going. Soon, we were all lost in another time, another place. 

That's pretty much what happens to me during November - I get lost in a world of my own making. I look up from my keyboard and have to blink a few times to situate myself. I walk out of my office and catch a glimpse of a character running down the hall, darting into another room. I have to ask my poor husband to repeat his question a third time because I'm busy trying to figure out how - or if! - my protagonist will manage to kill the creature lurking in the shadows.

I am not easy to live with during the best of times, but November brings its own special kind of Hell for my long-suffering, patient husband. So, while we were watching Psycho, a particular scene made me laugh out loud because I'm pretty sure it sums up what my husband thinks of me during NaNoWriMo. (Okay, maybe he feels this way all the time, but he's too nice to say it.) 

"IT'S NOT LIKE [SHE'S] A MANIAC 
OR A RAVING THING.
SHE JUST GOES A LITTLE MAD SOMETIMES.
WE ALL GO A LITTLE MAD SOMETIMES.
HAVEN'T YOU?"
(Norman Bates)

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Do you wig out (pun intended!) during NaNoWriMo? Or when you're deep into a creative project? How does your spouse/significant other/support team handle you? Do you do anything to thank them when - if?! - sanity returns?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

The following quote hangs on the bulletin board in my office  -  

MY MIND IS A BAD NEIGHBORHOOD
I TRY NOT TO GO INTO ALONE.
(Anne Lamott)

Well, since I've basically moved in there already, easier said than done. Right now my neighbors are a creature I've only caught a glimpse of (and that was more than enough to induce nightmares, thank you very much) and an old man with a nice smile and a well-tended lawn who might be a really bad dude. I hope the little girl across the way has a better weapon than that manatee keychain because otherwise we are all in big trouble.    

Yes, it's NaNoWriMo time! 

And since I'm hunkering down and hiding from what I suspect is a truly hideous Welcome Wagon, I'm going to miss November's IWSG. I still plan on posting here and visiting you all throughout the month . . . unless my neighbors have other ideas . . . . Gulp.

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Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, what are you working on? Do you like scary stories? Want to recommend a favorite horror novel or author?  

Monday, October 23, 2017

Goodbye, Sleep!

In celebration of Halloween month and all things that go bump in the night, I've got a few treats - no tricks! - for you:

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My flash fiction collection, Garden of Lost Souls, is FREE this week (Monday - Friday.) Think of these creepy tiny tales like those miniature candy bars - some are full of nuts, none are particularly good for you, yet they're so small, so yummy, they keep you coming back for just . . . one . . . more.

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I've opened up the Ask the Author feature on Goodreads, so if you're a member over there and have questions about my stories, my writing or how I sleep at night with all those creepy-crawlies lurking in my imagination, please stop by. I'll keep my eyes peeled for your questions. (Peeled eyes. Sleep? What sleep?) 


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And so I won't be the only one around here not sleeping . . . . Back in September, I entered one of lit agent Janet Reid's flash fiction contests. (Some of the rules include keeping the word count to 100 or fewer and using the required words, which in this case were - snap, gator, ask, tie, iron.) My story didn't win or place, but it did receive one of my favorite mentions ever by the Shark herself -


Mwahahaha! Enjoy!

***

Beneath a sky the color of iron, through air as heavy, Lily paddles her kayak. Spanish moss, gray and tangled, hangs like the hair of bent old women.

The river is blocked. Gnarled fingers of branches reach, twine across the water.

Gators watch with hooded eyes. Their silence ties her nerves in knots. Lily focuses on one task – leaving.

No breeze caresses Lily's skin yet the Spanish moss shivers. A rattling rips through the silence. She looks up. Hanging bones judder, collide. Lily's sanity snaps. She screams as a creature older, deeper than the dark, creeps down toward her. 

***

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bingo and Birthdays and Books! Oh, My!

I've got a birthday coming up soon. Sometimes this makes me cranky, but this year I came across a cartoon that made me smile (and okay, a little teary) for a few reasons. 

It reminds me of my maternal grandmother. The woman loved a good Bingo game. Whether it was at the church hall or at an Atlantic City casino, she was ready to play. 

It reminds me of my godmother. Sometimes for my birthday, she took me into Manhattan to what felt like a giant Barnes and Noble store and let me pick out lots of books. And she never questioned or censored my choices. 

It reminds me that I am not alone in my love of all things books and reading. 



(Check out the Introvert Doodles website and the book - which I own and love! - available a number of places, including Barnes and Noble.)

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How do you feel about birthdays? Any big ones coming up? Any favorite birthday memories? How do you celebrate? (For me, just let me loose in Barnes and Noble with a gift card in one hand and a chocolate cupcake in the other and I'm good. I am soooooo good!)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Trust The Talent


TRUST THE TALENT.

WHAT THAT MEANS TO ME IS,
WHEN YOU'RE AT YOUR DARKEST MOMENTS 
AND YOU THINK YOU'RE WRITING 
THE WORST THING THAT'S EVER BEEN WRITTEN, 
AND IT'S GOING TO BE A FAILURE,
YOU JUST WANT TO GIVE UP AND GO TO MADRID,
THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO IS SIMPLY 
GIVE YOURSELF OVER TO YOUR INSTINCTS.
(Robert Crais)

I hate to admit it, but I don't trust my instincts enough. I second guess my writing choices fifty-two times (or would that be "fifty-second guess my choices"? Ugh, too much math!) First person or third person POV? Present or past tense? My protagonist can't say that . . . or can he? My antagonist can't do that . . . or can she? This idea is too creepy/too weird/too out-of-the box . . . or is it?

But usually, if instead of agonizing, I just stop and listen, I hear the answer, I feel the moment. It's like when two puzzle pieces fit together - on the front, a picture starts taking shape while on the back, the seams all line up. When that happens over and over - snap, click, snap, click - I end up with a 500 piece puzzle, a 1000 piece puzzle, a story connected and constructed by a writer's instinct and trust.

As many of us gear up for NaNo next month and some of us begin to plan writing goals for the new year (overachievers!), please remember to trust your storytelling instincts, trust your talent. Trust yourself. You've got this! 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IWSG: Bending vs Breaking


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When does pushing yourself, challenging yourself, turn into something else? When we beat ourselves up instead of cheering ourselves on? When we thrash and sink instead of swim with a strong, steady stroke?

I'm tired of not accomplishing what I set out to do. Some of it is not in my control - and I'm okay with that - but a lot is. I decided to do something about it. In addition to the usual things life throws at us, including a physical and a date with the scale I am so not looking forward to, I'm working on time management, decluttering, prioritizing. I'm in the middle of a number of writing projects, including prepping for NaNo. I'm stretching my social muscles by actually going out into the world. (Gasp!) I'm going to Sisters in Crime meetings, taking some art and exercise classes, trying some new activities.

And I want to crawl back inside my shell and hide.

The writing part is hard for many reasons. (I don't have to tell you all that!) The social part is hard for other reasons. (Anxiety, anyone?) But if I want to do better and be better, be the best me I can be, then I have to strive. I don't mind bending. I just don't want to break.

Where do you draw the line for yourself? When is enough, enough? How do you know when to take a break, take a breath?