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Friday, May 1, 2015

May 2015 Update

Thanks to an early Spring, missed blog posts have resumed early! My only excuse is that when you live in a place where winter lasts nine months, you have every right to drop everything and try to enjoy nice weather every chance you get!

Of course, enjoying the nice weather means not only the blog suffers, but my writing in general. I'm STILL working on the same stories I was in March (my killer bee story, my "unwanted guest" story that made it to first draft and not much further). I did accomplish some revisions on older stories and get a few reprints sent out, but haven't progressed much in the "new writing" department.

In spite of that, two of my stories have been published recently:

"Sympathy for the Devil" is available in Hysterical Realms (Alternate Hilarities 3);

"Inhuman Resources" is available in Black Chaos II: More Tales of the Zombie;

Both are comedies. In "Sympathy for the Devil," Satan has to learn to use social media like Facebook. In "Inhuman Resources," the world's largest retailer hires its first zombie employee.

Be sure to pick up your copies today!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 2015 Update


I found out on the blastr site that '70s Superhero series Electra Woman and Dyna Girl is getting a revival.

I don’t remember Electra Woman, but it got me thinking about some of the old superhero and science fiction shows I used to love.

 
Yes, it was as cheesy as the screenshots look, but for some reason, I liked it far more than Wonder Woman.

 
I didn’t watch a lot of tv or movies when I was young, so I think Automan was my first “movie star” crush. Figures, my first crush would be on a hologram.
 

This show, remade, would probably go over VERY well today given the popularity of shapeshifter romance. Just sayin’.
 


and


Both of which were fascinating for their “what kind of mess will the characters get themselves into this week” storylines.


Not sure why I like this one, since Aquaman sucks. ;)
 
 
And let’s not forget
In search of…

It’s a tv series that investigates unsolved mysteries (like UFOs and Bigfoot) and was narrated by Leonard Nimoy. You can buy the complete series at Amazon, and here’s the IMDB page: In Search of

~ ~ ~ 

Currently Writing:

I’m currently working on polishing and updating a couple of reprints to send back out into the world, and I’ve made some progress on the first draft of my killer bee story.

 
I finished the first draft of the other story I was working on (working title: Unwanted Guest). It came in at 7845 words, which means I need to cut it down a lot to make it more marketable. Five thousand words is the sweet spot for most markets, though a lot of markets won’t take anything over two thousand. There’s no way in hell I’m going to be able to cut this story that short and still retain the suspense/creep factor. In my first cut pass, I was able to cut 600 words…only 2500 left to go!

 

Currently Reading:



I finished The Plague of the Undead. The book had some really great new ideas in a genre where a lot of the books are “the same old, same old.”

 
Now I’m reading The Best Horror of the Year Volume One, edited by Ellen Datlow.



I’ve only read a couple of stories so far, but they seem very familiar, so I’m beginning to think I’ve read the book before (I lose track of what I have/haven’t read very easily).

And I’m still working on All that is Solid. It’s a very slow-moving book, so I read it in small chunks.

~ ~ ~

See you next month!



Sunday, February 1, 2015

February 2015 Update

I was planning a longer post on "genre blind spots," but that will have to wait until next month. I'm a little swamped right now, working on:

a brand new horror short (untitled);

edits for "Sympathy for the Devil," publishing soon in Alternate Hilarities 3: Hysterical Realms;

and contemplating--only CONTEMPLATING, mind you--a novel I finished the rough draft on a few years ago. New ideas and angles for the story have been popping into my head, and I'm feeling that "work on the novel" itch again. Maybe if I ignore it, it will go away. ;)

I'm currently reading:



and



Life's too short to read one book at a time!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

January 2015 Update

One of the most common questions asked of writers is:
Where do you come up with your ideas?

I'd love to be able to answer that question, but unfortunately, I have no idea! I use writing prompts quite a bit, especially when I'm suffering from writer's block (as I have lately), but most of my best ideas just seem to fall out of the sky!

Okay, maybe they don't really fall out of the sky. It's more like my mind goes on some kind weird, random-association train ride. Did you ever see the episode of Big Bang Theory where Sheldon tells everyone “what’s on his mind”?

"I've been thinking about Dr.Green's efforts to make science palatable for the masses...Now I'm thinking about fractal equations. Now I'm thinking about the origin of the phrase 'train of thought.' Now I'm thinking about trains."

That's usually how I come up with my ideas!

I see something, hear something, or think about something, and then some other input happens to cross-pollinate with whatever I'm thinking/hearing/seeing, and a story is born!
For example, I happened to be flicking through the channels and saw a report on the “running of the brides.” One of the brides they were interviewing had thick bushy eyebrows and a large, squashed nose, and she spoke into the microphone through a snaggletooth smile. Not to be mean, but she kind of looked the troll from under the bridge in the illustrated fairy tales I read to my kids. That got me to thinking, “Wouldn’t it be funny if she really WAS a troll, and she was getting married and needed a wedding gown, so she shaved and tried to disguise herself as human so she could get a bargain gown, too. Moments later, the report flicked to a shot of brides fighting over a gown, and I thought, “Whew. I feel sorry for any gal who decided to get into a fight with troll-bride.” And "Monique's Bridal Boo-tique" was born (though in the final version, the brides are a werewolf and a vampire).

Or, A few days after waxing nostalgic with someone about the ads that used to be at the back of comic books (trick cigarettes, finger trap gum, fake dog poo, and Amazing Sea Monkeys), I saw a picture on the Internet of a nasty little sea creature that hitched a ride on a submersible brought to the surface.  The image of that ugly little sea critter clicked with a visual in my mind of the text “Amazing Sea Monkeys” and "Incredible Sea Mongrels" was born.

After working a Black Friday at a major retailer, I had a desire to write something about the complete chaos of the experience, but I didn’t know what angle to take on it: nonfiction or fiction, comedy or horror, etc. While I was letting the idea percolate, a customer happened to say to me one evening, “The night shift must be rough. You guys all look like a bunch of zombies.” And bam! “Inhuman Resources” was born.

“Revelations” came from a religious flyer. For whatever reason, the words struck me as more ominous than inspirational: “He came the first time to die. He is coming again to raise the dead.” Imagine that text with a Damien/The Omen-style soundtrack in a movie trailer!

"Lard-Ass Larson" came from a CNN report about the obesity epidemic in America and a rerun of a South Park episode where Cartman had a V-chip embedded (he received a dog collar-like shock every time he swore).

“The Piper” came (sort of) from a family game we used to play on trips. In the game, we replace titles of songs, movies, books, etc. with the word “Yam” in them somewhere (The Yams of Wrath, Yam Wars, Gone With the Yam). Sometimes I just like to stick zombies into everything. And obviously, this is a very popular idea, what with Pride & Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, etc.

While the reality is that we really don't know where the ideas come from, the thing you should take-away from this is: stories are everywhere, all around you…

or…

writers have really warped, twisted minds.
Take your pick.




Monday, December 1, 2014

December 2014 Update: Auld Lang Syne

It's that time of the year again, the time when we look back, ponder the course our lives took for the last 365 days, and either celebrate our accomplishments or lament our failures.

If you're anything like me, the flip of the page to December has left you wailing, "Where the hell did the time go!?!" Especially since my writing life seemed to completely veer off course, jump the guardrail, and crash and burn.

The past year (year-and-a-half, really) has been my least productive writing time ever. I've continued to resubmit rejected stories & even started a few new ones, but nothing at the pace I used to work at.

Now, the first excuse that pops to mind is, "Well, you did take on a full time job." True, but it's only partly to blame.

The real blame lies with change of any kind. Most humans resist change but eventually adapt. Most humans. Not me. Change completely throws me off, no matter how hard I try to embrace it or even if I'm the one who initiated the change. It throws me off my game & gives me writer's block.

For those of you who aren’t creative types, I’ll let you in on a little secret: us creative-types are Chihuahuas. The slightest little change in routine/life causes us to quake so bad that we shake the muse right out of us. It’s been a year of changes for me: kids moving in, kids moving out, hubby switching jobs, I switched to a full-time job, hubby switched back to his old job… shiver, shiver, shiver. It all really threw me out of my groove.

A lot of "creatives" are the same, a little introverted, a little quirky, a lot resistant to change. It's just a personality "creatives" share. And I bet you find your productivity/creativity slip every time there's a change in your life. Even if it's a small change.

It's nothing to be ashamed of...

It's something to be aware of so you are better prepared to fix it and not let it eat away at your creativity for a year or more.

And now, like Meryl Streep in SheDevil, I’m taking my damn life back...my writerly life.

I’m drawing a line in the sand. 2015 is going to be my best writing year yet. Will I get a novel done? I doubt it. I’m not sure if I’m ever going to make that goal. But I am going to dedicate a few hours every day writing/editing, and I”m going to spend a good chunk of the weekends working on it. I'm going back to my old policy of having "office hours." Granted, they won't be as long as they used to be, I can't spend all day writing anymore, but I am going to make them a priority.

I'm also bringing the "fun back," with writing as play: lots of working on prompts, lots of freewriting, no pressure to take anything to completion. Of course, that can’t last forever (or else it’s the same as not writing at all. Eventually ya gotta finish something), but right now, I’m trying to get in the habit of starting something, so bringing the fun back helps. 

This past year, I think I finished ONE new short story, and I bet I only started three or four new short stories. In years passed, I would have started AT LEAST a dozen new short stories, and finished four to six. So in 2015, I’d like to finish four short stories, at a minimum. And by finish, I mean written/polished/sent out into the world.

While actually sitting down and writing is the main part of getting my writerly life back, the other part involves taking care of my Internet presence. Though there are times when I want to throw up my hands and say, “Why the frick am I building my brand on social media when, if I don’t get some writing done, there’s no brand to build!” I have managed to keep up a minimum online presence (outdated website, fair amount of Twitter/FB, abandoned blog, a million little social sites where I’m not active), but it’s time to get that updated, too.

So that's my review of 2014 and plan for 2015: 
2014 was my worst writing year ever; 2015 is going to be the best ever.

I already have some great projects coming up in 2015, including a story in a zombie anthology from Big Pulp and a humor story in Alternate Hilarities (release dates TBA).

And speaking of catching up...

ZNation...anybody seen it? How was it? I tried like crazy to fit it into my schedule & only ended up catching two episodes: the pilot, and the one with the crazy preacher. I enjoyed what little I saw, but I just wasn't sure how the whole series was going to pan out (I love you Syfy, but your shows/movies can be like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get...and sometimes it's cheesy.

I guess I'll have to wait until they have a marathon and try and catch up on it...as long as it doesn't interfere with my new writing plan.  ;)




Sunday, February 9, 2014

February 2014 Update

Of course I'm busy getting ready for the return of The Walking Dead tonight, but I wanted to take a minute to post an update on my latest stories.

Tell Me a Fable is now available at Amazon.com and includes my story, "The Piper."

If you are a subscribe to Daily Science Fiction, you'll receive my story, "Revelations," in your inbox on February 11th. If you are not a subscriber (WHY? Why aren't you!?!), then you'll be able to read my story for free on the Daily Science Fiction website on February 18th. And while you're there reading my story, why don't you go ahead and subscribe. It's free and stories are delivered straight to your inbox. Revel in the joy of short stories delivered daily!

That's it for now. I'm still busy scribbling away, so expect more stories soon!





Monday, October 7, 2013

October 2013 Update

 

Welcome to October, my favorite month of the year! This week I'm working on workshops at the Muse Online Writers Conference, but I wanted to take a break from the action and send out an update.

If you're looking for a free read, my story, Global Swarming is available in Silverthought Online.

My story, "The Piper," will be in the Bete Noire Tell Me a Fable anthology, release date TBA. The story is a new spin on the Pied Piper story, but instead of dealing with rats, he's dealing with a plague of zombies.

On the Work-in-Progress front, I'm trying to work on a story that is set in North Dakota in winter, and it's really hard to capture it adequately. In the fall, the long prairie grass turns an amazing silver, and it gets really bristly, and it catches the moonlight and seems to glow from within, so the fields look like the back of some great, glowing, bristly beast half hidden in the earth. And that's just fall! In winter, the wind blows the snow into bizarre shapes, and the -30 temperatures freeze it solid, so it's like being in some white, alien-planet landscape. So it definitely all lends itself well to the horror genre, but it's the problem of trying to adequately capture the spookiness of it.

And, last but not least, I'm anxiously awaiting the return of The Walking Dead on Sunday! My youngest daughter bought me the amazing T-shirt you see above. Go Team Daryl!

See you next month!