Monday, October 29th, 2012
I just signed a contract for my story, “Lucky Clover,” to appear in the Deep Cuts Anthology early next year!
“Lucky Clover” is a psychological thriller/ghost story, and I’m honored that it’s going to included in a book with great horror writers such as Nancy Holder (of Buffy fame, and a five-time Bram Stoker Award™ winner), Mehitobel Wilson (nominated for a Bram Stoker Award™ and awarded Honorable Mention in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Anthology five years in a row!) and Yvonne Navarro (also a winner of the Bram Stoker Award™).
Deep Cuts is edited by Angel Leigh McCoy, E.S. Magill and Chris Marrs: all very talented and capable, and lovers of horror.
(I’ve already had the pleasure of working with Angel, and it’s been fantastic. I’m certain this anthology is going to be terrific.)
You can read more about the anthology (or the players!) at the Deep Cuts Kickstarter page (campaign now closed) or the Deep Cuts Web site.
Friday, October 26th, 2012
I’m currently finishing up a novel and getting ready to start a new one. I’m thinking a lot about beginnings.
The opener, or hook, of a novel — and especially a short story — is the most important part of the tale. It’s what attracts the reader to your story, and — one hopes — is enticing enough to keep them reading.
But this post isn’t about writing good hooks. It’s about using what’s already out there to help us in our own writing. (I’ll get to that.)
Some authors have been so successful in writing good hooks that the first lines of their books have made it into popular vernacular and used even by folks who have not read the book. (And maybe, don’t know what they’re quoting!)
Do you know these famous first lines?
- It was a pleasure to burn. – [Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953]
- Call me Ishmael. – [Moby Dick, Herman Melville, 1851]
- Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. – [Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, 1877]
Here’s Your Prompt:
Choose one of the famous first lines below and start writing where it leaves off. For more creative freedom, you might want to choose a line from a book you’ve never read (or have no assumptions about). Type or write the famous line first, and keep going. When you’re done, delete the famous first line and see what you’ve got!
- It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. – [Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813]
- I am an invisible man. – [The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, 1952]
- It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. – [1984, George Orwell, 1949]
- The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. – [Neuromancer, William Gibson, 1984]
- “I’ve watched through his eyes. I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get. – [Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card, 1994.]
- There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. – [The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin, 1974]
- It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind… – [Paul Clifford, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, 1830]
- It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. – [A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, 1859]
Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Blood Soup is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
In a few weeks (hopefully less) they should be available via iTunes as well.
I’m also working on getting them distributed through Kobo.
When I get the word on iTunes and Kobo, I’ll let you know.
Friday, October 19th, 2012
I’m sitting here sorting through all my boxes of Halloween decorations and watching Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride with my foot propped up.
(Surgery update: My foot looks like a corpse foot. Stitches are out, and it’s blue, green and purple. But it’s on the mend. Yay!)
I’m definitely in the mood for Halloween, my favorite holiday. So, to get you in the mood…
Here Are Some Prompts:
- The clock struck midnight and…
- Write a recipe for a witch’s brew, a mad scientist’s potion, a magic spell or a Halloween treat!
- Write about something possessed, or about being possessed.
- You walk by the abandoned house in your neighborhood and see a light on in the upstairs window…
- You don’t believe in ghosts, but suddenly, you see one.
- You’re sitting home one night when the lights go out, and your dog suddenly starts to whine.
- Before lunch, you get out of bed on the wrong side, break the vanity mirror in the bathroom, walk under a ladder, and have a black cat cross your path. What follows all these ill omens?
- If you journal, try these journaling prompts:
- The thing that scares me the most is…
- The best (or worst) Halloween you ever had.
- Talk about candy you remember getting as a child, but can’t find anymore.
- You won’t believe this story, but I swear it’s true…
- Bobbing for apples.
Sunday, October 14th, 2012
Blood Soup is available again!
It hasn’t worked its way into the Amazon or Barnes & Noble databases yet, but you can find Blood Soup at Smashwords if you’re interested.
Don’t you love the new cover? I think it’s a lot less misleading than the cover from the original publishing company. It is a dark fantasy, but skulls on the cover was a little over the top. (If you don’t remember it, you can see the old cover of Blood Soup here.
I still have a copies of the original paperback if you’re interested. Drop me a line if you want to purchase one.
If you want the current version in paperback, fear not. It’s coming.
I’ll drop a line when the other formats become available.
Friday, October 12th, 2012
A while back, I wrote a post about clichés (and why you should avoid using them when you write). The post is old by web standards, but the information is still timely.
A cliché is a phrase or an expression that has become overly familiar through use. I’ll use my favorite example here. Two cliches should jump right out at you :
The car barreled down the road at breakneck speed.
General criticism states that a writer who uses clichés fails creatively; that he resorts to tired — easy — language rather than struggling to find the right words.
One of the nice things about clichés is that they provide a common reference point for people. In dialogue, clichés are great shortcuts for understanding. When the TV announcer tells you Superman is “faster than a speeding bullet…” you get a really good idea of how fast Superman flies, without having to hear the technical details.
It’s these mental pictures that make clichés such good prompts.
Here’s Your Prompt:
Below is a list of common clichés. Read them over. Stop when your mind creates a mental picture after reading. Write for ten or fifteen minutes about what you see. Don’t use the actual cliché in your prose.
- Slow as molasses.
- A bone of contention.
- Fanning the flames.
- Food for thought.
- Nose to the grindstone.
- The eleventh hour.
- Pissing into the wind.
- Cast pearls before swine.
- Old as dirt.
- Zigged when he should have zagged.
If you need further inspiration, here are two Web sites which have long lists of hackneyed phrases and expressions. They are:
Friday, October 5th, 2012
If you haven’t figured it out, I had surgery earlier this week.
Day 2 was great…but day 3 was worse. I spiked a fever and felt pretty nauseated most of the day. Since I’m a “glass half full” person (most of the time), I got excited about two cool things after leaving the doctor’s office.
First, even though the doc is now worried about infection, he gave me some neato orange pills:
I’ve never had day-glo orange medication before. These are antibiotics, so if I have an infection, they should do the job in neon splendor.
Second cool thing, new purple bandages:
I could have been slapped with plain ol’ white and that horrible sticky tape that picks up lint and sticks to your skin. This stuff is bright and cheerful, and only sticks to itself. And since I’ve got to live with it for the next 12 days, that’s win-win.
So That Brings us to The Prompt
- It’s hard to rhyme orange and purple without trying to hard. And believe me, if you manage it easily, it will still look like you’re trying too hard. So, write a non-rhyming poem using the words orange or purple, or both.
- What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word orange (or purple)? Write about it.
- If you journal (or even if you don’t) – write about a surgery you or someone close to you has had. Avoid the clinical (without avoiding the details) and write about how it made you feel.
- Write about a character that needs to make a medical decision.
- Write about a character who made the decision to have elective surgery – which went terribly wrong.
- Write about someone who “overdosed” on drugs: but benefited from the choice.
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Well, I made it through the surgery okay.
I haven’t taken any of the “heavy duty” pain killers today, so I’m feeling fairly lucid. I’m really tired, though. I wasn’t expecting that.
I’m reluctant to say it was 100% successful, because it’s early days. The bandages aren’t even off yet! And stuff hurts. But I’m still feeling hopeful.
Here’s what my foot looks like right about now:
I’ve got this nifty boot which pumps ice-cold water around my foot and compresses at the same time. It’s supposed to keep the swelling down. I think it’s working, but there’s a severe dearth of ice in the house.
I see the doctor tomorrow and we unwrap the bandages. With luck: no infection. I’ll keep you posted.
Monday, October 1st, 2012
We found a walking stick in the garage yesterday.
Quite exciting! They’re so rare a find.
It had walked all the way across the cement floor and up to the step to enter the house. (You’d think he’d have touched the cement and thought, Hey, this isn’t natural. I should turn back. I haven’t found an insect yet who thinks this way.)
We put it in a jar to show some of the tiny people in the area (who just happen to be studying insects in school these days) and then released it into the wild today.
I couldn’t help thinking what a coincidence it was to find it. Or, how metaphorically correct it was to be sending it back off to the place from whence it came.
Tomorrow, I’m having foot surgery.
And with a little luck (and no complications) I’ll be getting rid of this – the walking stick I’ve been using for the past few months.
I can’t help thinking that this is bug visitation, and subsequent send off, is some kind of omen — or sign from the universe that all will be well.
Someone out there is saying, “Soon, you won’t need that cane anymore.”
(I can’t help it: I’m wired that way. I write fiction, remember?)
So, wish me luck.
I’ll catch up with y’all in a few days.