I haven’t been on my blog in what feels like years. But I’ve been busy. I’m finally signed up for school, and it’s a bit more work than I was hoping for, but so far I’m having fun.

I’m taking an art class, English, humanities, and psychology.

If it weren’t for my waking up to find the pipes frozen an hour ago, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post. Today I planned to get into the school for a couple of lab hours, but it’s going to have to wait until I can take a shower.

Since I’ve been busy, I’ll admit I haven’t written much lately.

(Bad, bad.)

But I’ve got a couple of ideas brewing, though little time to work on them.

So while I’m on here, I figured I’d share with you all a description exercise that I posted on my online English course to help a fellow student.

This technique is largely for those people who really struggle with description and sensory details, and is meant to get your mind working in the right way to pick out sensory words for perfect description.

  • Get to a quiet room, taking a pen and paper with you.
  • Think of an item, one you can use four of your five senses on- all but sight. I chose hot cocoa. =]
  • Close your eyes and visualize the item.
  • Without using the name of the item, think of other related words that could be used to describe it. I came up with: hot, steamy, sweet, creamy, delicious, warm, chocolatey, and belly-warming (the last two are not real words, I know, but this is only an exercise, so hyphenated words are fine).
  • Open your eyes, write down all those words (or you could have been writing them as you thought of them, the eyes closed thing is only to help focus on physical sensations).
  • Use your list of words to create a sentence or two describing an experience with your item. “The cup is warm against my cold fingers. Steam rises tranquilly, twisting and turning through the night air. I lift it to my lips, scalding them as the creamy sweetness passes my tongue and slides down my throat warming my belly.”
  • Note that you should be alluding to what it is, without actually mentioning the item in question.

You can also do a variation of this where you actually have an item before you, looking at the textures, shape, and colors, touching it, lifting it, and using it (if it’s more than a knickknack or something). In this case, you should still be listing words to describe the item without naming it, and then turning it into a sensory detailed sentence or two explaining your experience with the item.

I hope this description exercise helps someone, I know it helped me. I learned this from a teacher in high school. I’d had problems with description before, but after doing the exercise (and after the teacher telling me that my description was perfect), I realized it wasn’t as hard as I thought.

(The pipes are still frozen! When will I ever get my shower?)

My hubby is making breakfast (/lunch), so I suppose I’ll log off so I don’t get syrup all over my lap top.

Hope you are all getting lots of writing in (more than me, I hope). I’m looking forward to when I can adjust to my new schedule and will able to post regularly again. Wishing all my readers the best. =]

 

So, being that I haven’t been blogging a lot lately, I figured I owed my few readers left an explanation.

I’ve just signed up for school!

I’ll be taking two online courses and two in school. First day is Monday, and I do have to say I’m very excited.

While financial aid had been a bit of a pain, and I’ve come to realize just how expensive text books are, I’m oddly optimistic, and feel that the change in pace will do me some good. The only problem I see is making time to write. If it’s an issue, I may just have to cut back on sleeping time (I love sleeping- is it weird that I said that?), which is not ideal, but it can be done.

It’s all in the sacrifices to be made for a higher education (which I’m thinking more and more I need).

Among my classes are of course English, then there’s Psychology (which I thought would help me develop characters in my stories), and Humanities (I was unfamiliar with, but found that the topics -literature, art, and music- may be well suited for me). Oh, and Ceramics as an elective.

I do have to say that taking the Compass test (a placement test to ensure no one is put in a class too hard), made me feel stupid. I hate math, I’m terrible at it, I’ll be the first one to tell you that. So please, don’t anyone ever make me do it. At least I’ll only need one math class. I hope they put me in elementary math. That’s about all I can handle.

Hopefully, being in school alone will be enough to spark my inspiration for new and exciting posts. But be prepared in case it does the opposite. I’ll get on as much as I can, and hope you are all doing well.

 

I am wishing you all a healthy and happy new year. Keep up on those resolutions you’ve made. Here are a couple of mine (yes, I am doing more than one).

  • Save some cash with my hubby
  • Get published (this one I surprisingly have never made to myself before, but this year I plan to send out more stories, more often, to a much wider variety of magazines, and I would like to finish and send out my novel Lashine).
  • Publish an e-book (possibly under a pen name, I’m not positive I’ll do this one though)
  • Fix up the house (we plan to do our bathroom and kitchen by the end of next winter, and I’ve been wanting to paint my office too)
  • Work out regularly (for muscle tone only)

I never seem to be able to keep up with my resolutions. This year I’m writing them down and sticking them up on a wall in my office, that way I have to look at it all the time, and I’m constantly reminded of the promises I’ve made myself.

But now, onto what I really want to discuss here. The Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural (1981). I first heard of this collection of short stories in a Writer’s Digest Genre Series, How To Write Horror Fiction. It was recommended by the author as something every writer in the genre should read. Without doing much research as to whose work was in this collection of short stories, or how much a copy goes for, I asked my Mom to get me a copy for Christmas, if she could find it. Now, I have no idea what she paid for it (though she did say it was pricey, and other copies were going for as much as $500), but she found it, and over the last couple days I’ve been reading some of the exceptional works of horror and supernatural fiction.

I believe The Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural, is no longer in print, which would account for the high prices and high demand. However, I think most libraries would have a copy you can borrow, if you don’t want to purchase one.

Any way, I highly recommend this anthology of short stories. It includes such masterpieces as: Hop Frog– Edgar Allen Poe, Rappaccini’s Daughter– Nathanial Hawthorne, Squire Toby’s Will– J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Sticks– Karl Edward Wagner (which I loved), and Sardonicus– Ray Russel, The Doll– Joyce Carol Oates, The Crate– Stephen King, and so much more. Most of those listed, I’ve read, though the last two I haven’t.

The book itself is divided into two sections: I. Grandmasters, and II. Modern Masters (pretty self-explanatory, I think). I started in the Grandmasters section (skipping Hop Frog, only because I’ve read it before in a collection of Poe’s work, though it is one of my favorites of his work) and read a few before jumping to Modern Masters. I’m nowhere near finishing the entire book though.

I feel that there is a lot to be learned from both the “Grandmasters” and the “Modern Masters”. Though, being that it’s from the early eighties, the “Modern Masters” aren’t so modern anymore, but that’s not to say these stories have lost their luster or grandeur. The writing styles captured in this collection vary, as well as the topics of the macabre and the supernatural, but all are great in their own way.

And now that I’ve made my recommendation, I have work to do on a short story I started just before Christmas. It’s coming along well, and I’m looking forward to finishing and editing it to perfection. I won’t bore you with what it’s about, until my next post, maybe. Now that the holidays are over (though tomorrow is Ty’s birthday), I should be able to resume my normal couple posts a week, and get back on top of my writing.

Looking forward to reading some of your posts before I log off, and to reading some of your comments. I’ve missed you all!

Again, Happy New Years, and I’m wishing you all the best of luck with your own writing.

 

After quite a few obstacles, I’ve finally got my two short story manuscripts printed, enveloped, and stamped. They’re ready to go out to The Georgia Review and The Paris Review.

The last couple weeks have been quite frustrating in many ways. Here’s a few highlights:

  • Went to print my manuscripts and had no ink.
  • Ordered an ink refill kit and waited for it to come in the mail.
  • Attempted to fill the ink cartridge, only for it to all leak back out (futile!).
  • Put up the Christmas tree and decorated the house while watching Home Alone and listening to Christmas music. Loved it. =]
  • Have slowly been working on the same story, for the last month (Why can’t I seem to finish it? Maybe this means I need to work on a novel. Maybe it’s my subconscious mind’s way of letting me know I have more to say than a short story’s worth of words.)
  • Been running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to get shopping done and ready for the holidays.
  • Pulled my cat out of the Christmas tree probably a billion times because he thinks it’s his own personal jungle (and he still does it, even after I soak his ass with a spray bottle. I think we need to implement stronger kitty punishments in my house). Which also means I’ve had to fluff (it’s a fake tree) and adjust and replace ornaments about a billion times as well. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m just sick of doing it. Next year there’ll be no tree, thanks to Tyson The Asshole.
  • Wrapped a few presents.
  • Tried to finish the book I’ve been reading for six months, to no avail.
  • Printed out pictures to send to a close relative in jail for Christmas, and worried about how he’s handling the holidays alone.
  • My car’s broken, so I’ve been trying to help my husband fix it (because he won’t pay the $50 an hour to have it fixed by a mechanic. And the worst part is that neither he nor I know what the fuck we’re doing. I’d rather just pay the money and have it fixed already. It’s been more than a week now and I still don’t have my car.) So as a result we’ve been paying through the nose to keep gas in his oversized pickup just to get to town and around to see our parents.
  • Finally broke down and bought an ink cartridge (I’ve been looking for a cheaper way to print. Ink prices are ridiculous!). Printed my manuscripts.
  • Couldn’t figure out how much postage to put on my manuscripts (since I need to cover there and back), and finally found a postage calculator online. Had to figure out a way to weigh the envelopes, and finally managed that too, only to find that I had nowhere near enough stamps to cover postage.
  • Had been meaning to turn in my accounting hours to the boss man (Ty’s Dad) in order to get paid and have enough cash to finish Christmas shopping, but somehow managed to forget my hour sheet every time we went to Ty’s parents. (Ahhhhhh!)
  • Found out my Mom’s dog (he used to be mine when we first got him, when I was 14), Roger, has a growth/tumor pressing on his lungs and heart. The vets ran a biopsy and found that it wasn’t cancerous, but they can’t remove the entire thing because it lays too close to his carotid and the nerve that regulates the diaphragm. He’ll be alright, after he recovers from the surgery that’s going down tomorrow, but it’s likely the tumor will return in about a year.
  • My grandpa is in a physical therapy/rehab facility in Chicago. He’s recovering from spinal meningitis (he has been in and out of the hospital since the day after my wedding in August), and a surgery to remove cysts from his spine in order to help him to walk and move again. The holidays won’t be the same without him home.
  • And dysfunction of all dysfunctions: my older brother’s girlfriend (who he has the most adorable sweet little girl with) stabbed him with a fork on Sunday, while he was holding the baby. The police were called, and they hauled that bitch off to jail. My brother finally has custody of my niece (since his girlfriend made sure he wasn’t there to sign the birth certificate when the baby was born). The local prosecutor is going after her, from what I hear. CPS has been involved, and won’t allow her or her family to see the baby. (She stabbed my brother!!!)
  • Baked Christmas sugar cookies with Tyler, my Dad and Grandparents, and three of my four brothers. One of them made a Hulk gingerbread man. =]
  • Missed the end of the finale of Survivor (I love that show.), because Ty and I had this awesome idea for Christmas presents for our parents (we had an awesome coupon that was only good till Midnight on Sunday, so we had to get our order in before that, and Survivor kept being pushed back by a football game and the President’s speech). When we got home I didn’t even have time to finish the order, but figured what I had done was enough and that I could do more later without the coupon.  When I went to check out, it turned out that we couldn’t even pick them up in store, and would have had to pay over thirty bucks just for shipping. Scrapped that idea.
  • Finally got paid.
  • And finally got my postage. Ty picked up the stamps yesterday. My manuscripts are FINALLY ready, waiting in the mailbox, two hours and counting until the mail lady gets here.

I think the words “stress” and “frustration” don’t even cover it. Take those feelings and multiply them by a hundred, and you still might not get how I feel.

It’s not just the holidays. It’s my car. It’s that crazy bitch who stabbed my brother. It’s having to worry about money between Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, bills, and having the little extra I need to mail my stories out. It’s the stress of Christmas shopping. It’s my stupid cat’s inability to realize that climbing the Christmas tree is not cute. It’s worrying about my injured, sick, recovering, and incarcerated family members, and the rest of us left reeling and shocked by the past year’s events (And it’s not just this year. Every year I tell myself things will be better, everything will calm down, my family and friends (and myself) will find peace. But that day seems to never come). It’s everything.

I just want to scream!!!!

The only stress relief I have in my foreseeable future is the End of the World Party my Dad wants to throw on Friday. I think it sounds like fun. (It’s not a party because my Dad thinks the world will end, he’s just poking fun at the idea.) I’m looking forward to letting loose and having a good time. Maybe I’ll scrape together a little extra money to pick up something super yummy to drink at the party. It’ll be nice to relax and not think about everything for once.

One of my other brothers wants to throw a party on Thursday too, and then Saturday it’s looking like I’ll be babysitting my niece. Sunday will be Christmas with Ty’s Grandparents (and the whole huge family), and then Monday we’ll do Christmas with Ty’s parents. Christmas Day we’ll be up early to watch the kids open presents at my Dad’s, then off to Ty’s other Grandpa and Grandma’s for noon, and back out to my Grandparents for dinner. The next day we’ll spend celebrating Christmas with my step mom’s parents. Then, on the 29th, Ty and I will have our final Christmas engagement at my Mom’s house.

Then I’ll have New Years and Tyler’s birthday to worry about (yes, he’s a New Year’s Baby, =]). And I have to start thinking about the casino trip we’d been talking about, as well as a present for Ty and gift ideas for both his and my parents, and then there’s the bon fire we had been talking about throwing to celebrate his birthday with our friends. So far it’s looking like a no-go on the fire, since we have no snow, and the brush/trash pile we have is more than half the size of our garage. Don’t want to start a forest fire. But we are supposed to be hit by a blizzard in the next couple days, so maybe we will throw a party and light the heap.

So from the looks of it, things aren’t going to be letting up or getting any easier any time soon. Two weeks of chaos behind me, and yet another waiting in my future.

It’s a wonder I haven’t lost my shit and started wearing underwear on my head or something.

This is the pandemonium that is my life.

I need to start looking at the bright side of things. I still have Ty, and my family is all alive (even if they’re not all healthy), and I have a home, and two (occasionally) sweet pets, and people that love me. I am grateful, I just wish it wasn’t always so hard to see.

In light of everything going on, and the holidays, I hope you all don’t mind I won’t be posting so much. I’ll try to log on whenever I can, but until I do, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, whatever your religion or stance on the holidays. I hope you are all well, healthy, and happy, and I hope your writing and other works are coming along wonderfully.

Writers, artists, and all creative types alike search for a way to induce that oftentimes elusive “creative flow”.

But what is that “flow”?

I believe it’s different for everyone, an indescribable feeling of total “rightness” in what you’re creating. It’s that sense of knowing that what you’re writing or drawing or sculpting or painting or photographing (etc.) is not only “right” but damn near perfect. It’s the driving force behind creating something that you can be proud of, something so beautiful and captivating that once finished it rests near to your heart. It’s creating something that you believe in, something beyond amazing.

I typed into a search engine, “how to induce creativity”. The results were numerous, and range anywhere from music, to viewing colors, writing exercises, yoga, hypnosis, and so much more.

One that stood out to me is called hyponagogia (which you can read about here on a blog). It’s a relatively new concept for me, in which the “artist” or “creator” sits down with the purpose of just starting to fall asleep in order to allow the conscious to observe the thought process of the subconscious (which can often connect ideas and thoughts in ways previously unthought-of by the conscious mind). It’s a little vague, but the blog’s author reports that Mr. Thomas Edison himself used this process to come up with ideas for inventions and theories, as well as a slew of other famous artists and writers (even an idol of mine, Edgar Allen Poe). Now, I can’t vouch for this process much, but I can say that the blog page interested and intrigued me enough to decide to try it. The blog’s author informs readers that it is not dangerous or harmful in any way shape or form, and that with practice it can become much easier to do.

Colors are a little harder subject to tackle when it comes to inducing creativity. Some places say to aim for yellows, others say blues, and still others say green. And beyond that, there are stipulations as to which shades of these colors work best. One website claimed that if a yellow is too dark or contains too much green, it can inspire feelings of fear and sickness. Or, if a blue is too dark, it can become depressing. Most tell you to gauge how you feel after adding these colors to your workspace. If you feel too energized, cut down the yellow, or use slightly less bright colors. I can’t say certain colors have ever helped me with creativity, but I haven’t toyed around with them much. Right now, my office is a cream color, with dark green trim around the doors and window, and faded dingy pink carpet. I wonder if painting the room would help stimulate my creativity…

Music is another common tool used to bring the elusive “muse” out of his/her hiding place. You can check out an hour of music, made to boost creativity, here. I’ve used music before. While writing my short story titled The Dark Place, I listened to “Korn: Greatest Hits Vol. 1”. It’s a dark, depressing, and angry -but sometimes surprisingly energetic- album. It’s somewhat heavy rock, and admittedly not for everyone, but if you’re looking to create something dark or gloomy, it just might be perfect. Generally I try to match the music to the feeling I’m trying to generate within my work. If I want to write something upbeat and bubbly, I listen to some of my favorites from when I was younger. They remind me of happier, more carefree times, when all I had to worry about was whether or not I would have enough money to buy myself a toy. Or I’ll listen to something that just makes me smile. For me, matching mood or tone to music style is key when choosing tunes to create to.

Of course, there is always the drugs and alcohol theory. Now, I debated actually discussing this one, but being that I’ve mentioned it a bit before, I’d like to just express my feelings on it. My main problem is that using drugs and alcohol to induce your creative state can cause a dependence. No, I don’t just mean the physical dependence, though that is a part of it. By “dependence”, I mean that the creator constantly using and drinking will not only experience physical withdraws, but they will feel a stagnant creative state without the drugs and alcohol. I’ll admit that I have felt “that flow” after having a couple of drinks and sitting down to write, but the creator must be conscious of their use of such things, and use these methods sparingly, lest they end up “hooked” in more ways than one. Writing drunk has a strangely ritualistic feel to me, just knowing it has been done for years and years (and yes, it has been done successfully), by greats like Stephen King (who also used coke), Edgar Allen Poe (who also smoked opium), Hemingway (loved mojitos), Oscar Wilde (drank absinthe), and Anne Sexton (dry martinis). There are countless famous and successful authors and writers who were (or are) known to drink heavily. Overall, I think this method should be used sparingly, and with the utmost care, in order to prevent a reliance on an unhealthy substance.

And there are countless other ways to release or induce creativity. Just try searching the web. You’ll pull up loads of intriguing arguments, ideas, tips, exercises, and so much more. Try a few out, play around with it. Eventually you’ll find something that works just right for you (don’t worry, I’m still working on it and I’ve been writing almost five years).

Any comments, suggestions, alternative methods? I would love to hear how you all get your creativity flowing. Maybe your process will help someone else find theirs.

As always, I hope you are all doing well with your own writing and your own projects. I’m looking forward to hearing some of your input on this subject. Have a great day. =]

To make your dialogue as realistic as possible, you do need to include the occasional grunts, sighs, sniffles, and such. The only problem? Noises are hard to put into letters.

Never fear, I’ve compiled a list of dialogue noises I use regularly.

  • “Agh!” – a sound of shock or surprise, also defeat or disgust
  • “Ugh!” – a sound of irritation or disgust, also impatience
  • “Shh!” – (do I really need to explain this one?)
  • “Pft!” – a sound of disbelief or disagreement, usually made in a dignified way
  • “Ahh!” – a sound of surprise, fear, shock, alarm, etc.
  • “Uaah!” – a variation of above (which I use for characters just waking from sleep to find themselves in a strange place/position)
  • “Gah!” – a variation of the above “Agh!” and below “Bah!”,  (also often used by crabby old men to scare children off the front lawn)
  • “Grr…” – an unfinished growl of anger
  • “Duh!” – a sound meaning the obvious has been stated or should be known
  • “Psh!” – a sound of disbelief or disagreement (similar to “Pft!”)
  • “Ah…” – a sound of recognition, as in “Ah, I see…”, or a sound of uncertainty, as in “Ah, I don’t know…”
  • “Er-” – a sound showing the character is uncertain (or occasionally unwilling to say something or wishing to correct something said), generally meaning “Or”
  • “Huh…(?)” – a sound of surprise or recognition, also a question (Huh? What?), generally accompanied by a (?), but not always
  • “Uh huh…” – a sound of agreement or understanding, also recognition and encouragement (like to get someone to keep talking)
  • “Nu uh…” – a sound of disagreement, generally meaning “No”
  • “Bah!” – a sound of disagreement, dismissal, or disbelief (another favorite of old men and scrooges)
  • “Wha-” – the first part of a word, stopped because of shock or disruption in the environment (can be used as nearly any word, not just “What”)

Because dictionary.com is currently down, I wasn’t able to see if any of these are actually in there, and I don’t have a personal dictionary at home (I should though. What kind of writer am I? Jeez.). I could imagine that some are, probably not many. Nonetheless, you can make your own variations of these depending on your location and the speaking and mannerisms of your characters. (Note that the only dialogue noises on the list that my spell check isn’t highlighting are: Ugh, Grr (though my internet explorer spell check highlighted this one), Duh, Ah, Huh, Uh huh, Nu uh, and Bah)

Be sure that the dialogue noises you use match your characters. How many judges have you heard use “Er-” or “Agh!” professionally? Maybe if your judge is a sassy, quirky woman “Psh!” would be appropriate, but for a formal character with authority, dialogue noises rarely fit unless in emotional or trying moments. Professional characters are still supposed to be people though, and off the job, they would be more likely to use dialogue noises.

These sounds give character, and offer the readers a look at the inner thinking or mindset of the character, not just through the words spoken in a conversation. These sounds also do not need to be part of a conversation. Your character could be out shopping, and finally get to her car with a handful of bags, dig in her purse for her keys, and upon finding them in the ignition with the doors locked, “Ugh!”, would suffice. No need for a dialogue like ( “Shit! Locked my keys in the car…”, especially when there are no other characters around) because most people recognize “Ugh” as a sound of disgust or irritation, and are thus given insight to how the character feels about this situation.

It’s rare for me to write even a short story that does not contain at least one dialogue noise. I find they work well for young characters, and those with smaller vocabularies. But when you stop to think about it, most people use these noises daily throughout conversations.

Not my best post, I know. I hope someone somewhere was able to take something away from this… Anyone?

Any way. Comment with your own dialogue noises. Are there any important ones I’m missing? Are there specific ethnic dialogue noises I haven’t included? Know any? Share them. =]

 

We’ve all seen, or read, at least one horror story or movie with a child as a main antagonist, or even the protagonist. There are countless works of fiction that fall into one of these categories. Such as: The Shining-Stephen King, IT-Stephen King, The Omen-David Seltzer, (to the more recent works like the 2011 movie Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark) and so many others.

It’s my (loose) belief, that there is a right and wrong way to use children in horror. This is all a matter of personal opinion, and I’m not going to rule out the greatness of a story just because of my beliefs, but let me outline how I use children in horror.

I try to steer away from a child protagonist. It’s just what I like. I think creepy children in horror should be outlawed (not seriously). It could just be that they scare me so much I avoid them in my stories like they have the plague (and in most cases they really look like they have it), but no matter the reason, I choose to mainly use children as antagonists in my stories. The young antagonist reminds us so of what we were afraid of as children, and is that not where all our modern fears are rooted? To me, the creepy kid is a depthless monster. They often have little motivation, or motivation not easily understood by the audience. When you think about what makes children murder, how many possibilities can you come up with? Abused (or murdered) by parents, bullied at school (or murdered by bullies), and the son/daughter of the devil, are just about all I can think of (off the top of my head). There are only so many ways and times that these concepts can be used (but of course there are always going to be spin-offs and twists on these tried and true child protagonist motivations).

To me, the child protagonist unleashes a largely overdone genre of horror, in which the antagonist is disarmed by worry for a child who is actually out to get them. This is useful, for suspense and surprise, but, I feel it’s often not done “right”. (Do any of you know what I mean by this? I hope so.)

I don’t know exactly why child protagonists bother me, it could be that I feel that youth should be care free, fun, and light, not dark, evil, and murderous.

No matter what side of my debate you fall on, the usefulness of children in horror cannot be ignored. Time and time again, I turn to child antagonists to give my stories a youthful naïve tone, and to (hopefully) remind the adults out there of what they were afraid of as children. The Wish, is one such story of mine, where a young boy finds an old brassy urn buried in the sink hole behind his family’s home. He makes a wish, out of anger, and finds that it comes true. This would never work with an adult, because one of the main factors in this story is the main character’s naivety and inability to stop making wishes in hope that they will turn out alright this time. There’s also: The Dark Place, The Property, Potty Training, The Puddle, and one, currently untitled, about a boy with ear infections who goes to a “Free Clinic” for treatment and ends up worse for wear upon leaving. The boy’s oblivious mother continues to take him to the doctor, believing that her boy will be all better soon.

Just as sure as the sun comes up every day, be sure that horror writers across the world (myself included) will continue to utilize children in horror as an invaluable character, unmatched by their adult counterparts.

When making your antagonist a child (let’s say under the age of 16), it’s important to understand children, how their minds work, their thought process, and basic behavior characteristics. (The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D., is a priceless tool in this regard. In it, she outlines basic behavior patterns and characteristics for different age groups, and also contains adult characteristics as well) One thing I do, is watch children (not in a creepy way, I swear!), pay attention to how they interact with each other and adults. I have two younger brothers (both well under the age of 16), and two nieces (one coming up on two yrs and the other will be one). Watching them (especially with each other) gives me ideas for new stories. Be sure to take note in their mannerisms, the words they use, how they seem to see the world, and how they react to the unknown and fear. As always, I stress RESEARCH. Do more and more and more, until you feel like your brain can’t hold any more information, and when you reach that point, research some more still. You can NEVER gather too much information. Of course using all the information you’ve gathered would be a gross overload, but you’ll be able to pick and choose the right characteristics to create the child character that fits just right.

Now, here’s something else I’ve noticed about my using children in horror: I tend to favor boys. I don’t know why. It could be their seemingly constant willingness to prove themselves, or their mindset that they are a “big kid” and can do anything. Girls, I find a little harder to utilize in horror fiction, but that’s not to say I haven’t used a female child antagonist. The Property is a short story I wrote, about a young girl with a fat pet cat who doesn’t come home for his usual breakfast. Worried, the little girl heads out into the marshy swamp her parents own, across the road, in search of her beloved Snuggles. Little does she know, the cat stayed away for a reason. There is something evil lurking in the eighty acres across the road, its following Snuggles deeper and deeper into the swamp, with the little girl in tow. (I need to re-write it because I lost all but one copy of it when I had computer malfunctions back in August and had to do a system recovery.) I also broke my own rule with this one, turning the little girl into a thing of nightmares in the end, however, this is different because she began as the antagonist and fell victim to the evil. In the story, she is a terrifying “thing” for a matter of just a few paragraphs, and it ends on a “what if?” note.

There is no real right or wrong way to use children in horror fiction. Play around with your characters and try something new. Who knows, you may invent a genre of horror of your own.

Do you write about children, or use them in your stories? How does it work for you? Where do you stand on child antagonist vs. child protagonist? Do you have any favorite horror stories with children as the main characters?

Please, feel free to comment. If you don’t get a reply from me, it’s because I feel your comment warrants no reply. If you would like a reply, be sure to ask a question or something that would require an answer or response. I know little to nothing about the etiquette of blogging/comments, and I do have a life of my own and stories to write, so I don’t always take the time to respond. Sorry!

 

We all know how daunting the writing world can be. With stiff competition and a limited selection of publications, it sometimes seems like the world will end before I’ll get anything published (and at this rate, even if we make it past December 21st, I may still see the apocalypse before I see my work in a magazine).

I’m here to offer some encouragement today. It seems to me that too many of us, as writers, focus on what’s wrong with each other’s writing, rather than congratulating each other on a job well done. I’m guilty of it. I didn’t do it to be mean or spiteful, I only gave the open and completely honest opinion I would have wanted, were it my work. While it’s good to be forthcoming on mistakes and parts of stories that just don’t “feel right”, we need to focus a little more on the good, the things that did “feel right” and the things that captured our imaginations.

Here’s what I suggest. Today, while posting, reading others blogs, or whatever you all do on here, take a few extra minutes to find something you really enjoy on some one else’s blog. Leave them a comment, be specific, tell them exactly what you loved about the post (or story or poem or whatever). If each and every one of us were to do this every other time we logged on here, in a matter of a week, many would receive a serious ego boost.

Too long this field has been fiercely competitive, and sometimes down right mean and spiteful. If you would all take a moment to brighten someone’s day, you may be surprised who will do it for you as well.

I’m aiming to put a smile on everyone’s face. Let’s see if it works.

If you think you can’t write, know that you can. All it takes is a pen, paper, and a vocabulary. You think you need some schooling first? Think again, countless authors have foregone college and made amazing careers for themselves. I can’t say that schooling isn’t important, but if you find that you can’t afford it, know that there are ways for you to increase your vocabulary, learn writing skills, and edit like a pro.

For those of us working on our fist novels (and mine’s admittedly not really my first, but my first in this genre, second total), have patience. I know I’ve had a hard time with that. A novel will not write itself over night. It takes time, and even some of the most proficient writers will take a year and a half to two in order to finish a novel. Be patient with yourself, as well as your story. Think of it as a seedling. Just a tiny sprout, still half in its seed shell, bright green in stark contrast to the rich dark dirt. You must water it, fertilize it, give it enough light, and make sure the temperature is warm enough. Much as a tiny sprout will one day turn into a lush lilac tree, weighed down with gorgeous pink-purple blossoms, your novel idea will one day turn into a voluminous and endearing tale of greatness. There are so many different things to consider and keep track of when writing a novel, it’s no wonder it takes so long, and for the beginning writer, this can take twice as long. Don’t worry about the people nagging you, asking when your book will be done so you can sell it and make the big bucks already (my brother-in-law is extremely guilty of this). None of them truly understand how hard you’ve been working, and how much actually goes into a novel. Most people think writing is easy. They say, “I could write a book in a month, and it’d be good.” If they were to actually sit down and begin planning the novel out, they may begin to get the idea that it’s a lot more work than it looks, but it’s not till you’re about half way, that it feels (for me at least) you’re losing momentum. Tell those people that if they think they can write a book in a month, go right ahead. Don’t let the mountainous work ahead of you get you down. Take your time, break it down into smaller workable pieces, and one day it will be done. Regardless of what you initially planned to do with your novel (so far as publishing), know that it is perfectly fine to write for yourself. Just because you spent all that time and aren’t trying to publish doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or that it was a waste of time. When you finish your novel, look back at it and see how far you’ve come. I swear it’s impossible to write a novel without learning something, anything, about the craft. In fact it’s likely that you’ll learn a LOT.

Writing is a lonely task. We have no encouragement, no cheerleaders, no one there to hold our hand and tell us what has to be done to get where we want. Writers are often lost in the dark, with only a small pen-light (like my pun? :D) to illuminate the way. We must feel around for ourselves, find our path, and when it’s laying before us, beckoning us towards our future, our destiny, we cannot turn away. We must press on, in the face of adversity, in the face of negativity and impatience, we must stay on our trail. If we come to a dead-end, we must blaze the trail from there on out, and one day, we WILL make it. We WILL be everything we dreamed and more.

Keep your head up. Keep reading and writing and exploring both the known world and the uncharted depths of your own imagination.

Who knows, you could be the next great novelist (or poet or essayist or what ever you aim to be).

Comment, please. Or comment on someone else’s post, and put a smile on their face.

Every body knows the unicorn (or should at least). A fabled, mythical creature, so elusive it’s said to be nearly impossible to catch. The horse-like animal, with one long horn protruding from its skull, is also said to take a liking to young women and will cautiously approach them.

I wanna know where my unicorn is.

“The Unicorn Idea” is that elusive, impossible to find idea for the perfect story.

You see, for the last few days, I’ve been feeling that my work has been too commercial, to stereotypical. Every story seems the same, and I can’t  find the factor missing from my literary equations (stories). I’m searching for that eccentric twist, that special “thing” (because I don’t know what it will be) that will make my story stand apart from the others.

What I’m looking for is something new, something groundbreaking, and as of yet, I haven’t found it. I felt that I was close last night, watching the sappy, dramatic, and hormonal “Teen Wolf” series on TV. I had this idea (based loosely off events from the episode) for a story. It was intriguing, but not enough to ignite a fire beneath my pen. While it felt “good”, it just didn’t feel great. I think I’m going to have to shelve the idea for now.

I’m not sure what exactly is driving me to look farther and deeper for ideas that may expand or stray from the known genre of horror, but I think it may come from a subconscious need for a challenge. With my work finally getting back on track (I finished a couple of stories in the last week and am ever nearer to finishing Lashine), and a couple of stories ready to be sent out (the market’s lookin slim right about now, a lot of magazine’s websites I checked out said that they were closed to submissions for the foreseeable future), I’m feeling less stimulated than I had in the past. This is a good thing, meaning I’m becoming more comfortable with the level I’m at with my writing, but at the same time, it’s almost like I’m a sixth grader in second grade English class.

Is this making sense to anyone?

I feel that the ideas I’ve been working on, are, for lack of better word, stale. The cause is almost glaringly obvious; my lack of leaving the house for the last month or so. Generally, we’ve got a little extra cash, and I’m able to go to town twice in a week for groceries and errands, and while I’m out I people watch, listen to conversations, and generally look for inspiration in the public. But Ty’s just been laid off, and money’s tight. I don’t get out as much as I do, and it’s likely that staring at the same four walls, day in and day out, is making my mind stagnant. When I’m cruising on a story, this wouldn’t be a problem, I could stay home all month and not worry about it, so long as I’ve got the inspiration to work on something. But between projects I begin to feel restless.

I suppose this could be some form of writer’s block, but it doesn’t quite feel like writer’s block normally does. Generally, when I’ve got writer’s block, I totally lack of drive to write. It seems I have nothing to say, and that no one would listen any way. This, is different. This is more like the drive to write is there, but the spark is missing. Again, I’m not sure what it is, and the more I write about it the more it’s starting to bother me(yes, I’m ridiculous), like I know “it” is out there, I just have to find it.

Today I think I’ll go for a walk, try to clear my head, and maybe I’ll work on the “Alice In Wonderland” inspired story. I’ve been wanting to write this story for months now, about a young author who goes for a walk to help with writer’s block and finds herself lost in a strange world. She has to fight her way home, narrowly missing an untimely demise at every turn. The writer will finally emerge from the realm, victorious, and return home to her husband, only to find that something doesn’t quite feel right (at which point there will be a realization that she never escaped the other world, and she never made it home). While I’ve got the basic story line plotted out, the details still elude me. It needs that spark, that something different to set it apart from other similar works. Maybe I’ll fall into another world, or at least get an idea as to how it would happen, or what this other world would be like.

All in all, I’m searching for something more, something as of yet unknown, that will add that extra life to my next story, and help it to stand out from the others. Any of you ever have a similar problem? Did any of you ever find your “unicorn idea”?

Comment, like, subscribe, if you want. I love hearing from you guys and hope you are all doing well (especially with the apocalypse nearly upon us; haha).

 

Everyone has heard a legend or two in their day. Probably more, without realizing it. But does anyone realize just how important these stories are for our society?

Besides cautionary tales, legends have been passed down for years to explain the unexplainable, something we as humans are constantly trying to conquer. Before science, before math, and way before technology as we know it, legends were the stories of our origins. When mankind looked up at the stars and wondered at our own importance in this huge, sometimes frightening world of ours, the legends passed down by our ancestors were there to comfort and to give importance to our time spent here.

While legends have become slightly outdated in recent years, due to the ever shrinking world around us, they can still prove useful. I am constantly looking for fresh takes on old legends, and monsters I’ve never heard of.  They prove useful for story ideas.

I’m a big fan of cryptozoology. I follow the Big Foot and Dogman legends through online research, as well as documentaries, TV shows, etc. Once while watching a documentary in which a group of men searched for Big Foot, these men found someone with an extraordinary story. It captivated me, and I paused the show in order to write down the basic story line of what this man claimed happened to himself and his friends.

I kept the outline in my notebook for about half a week, before I’d managed to re-work it into a masterpiece of my own. The ending piece is a story that I feel I can be quite proud of.

While the story might still be barely recognized by its originator, it’s unlikely, being that I changed the characters and some details. I titled it: The Colorado River Beast. Once I print out a manuscript, I’ll be ready to send it out, and I guess we’ll see what the magazine’s fiction editor will think of it.

I’ve also done this with a legend that originated from Lake Erie, of the Great Lakes. There is the story of a black dog that fell overboard during a storm, rather than help their canine friend, the crew made sport of the dog trying to navigate the rough waters. Finally the dog died, and ironically, its corpse ended up stuck in the locks the ship tried passing through, making them stop to remove the body. Later, the dead dog supposedly came back to the ship, leaping on board, running across to the other side where it jumped off into the water. Shortly after the ship sank. It’s said that the dog will appear on board a ship that is going to run into trouble or sink.

I loved this legend, and managed to work it into the story of an old man named Johnny who claimed to have known and befriended the black dog before its death and revenge. The narrator tells the story in his own quirky way as he cooks dinner for a group of hungry fishermen onboard a large fishing boat.

This story turned out wonderfully as well, of course with my own details and changes added in. It’s also just about ready to be sent out. I was thinking about re-working a bit of the end, but I’m still not sure about that yet.

And you all (should) know another legend I have written about. The local, Michigan legend of Dogman. My story, titled (comically) Not Another Dogman Story (Well, it was supposed to be funny any way.),  is much more loosely based on the legends and stories I’ve heard. The structure and storyline of this one was all me. However this one I wasn’t quite content with. I’d written it first on Facebook, wanting to share some of my work with some friends and family. It took me a while to finish it, and in the end I’d written it in three sections. When I transferred the story onto my WordPress account, I made a few slight changes, mostly in spelling and grammar. Not Another Dogman Story was written for instant publication, online that is. I’d never had any intentions of selling this one, since no publication would want to run a story already easily available online.

The reason I’m writing this is because just yesterday I did hours of research on legends, trying to find some inspiration (not that I really need any, I’ve got stories to re-write and edit still, but I’m always on the look out for new ideas and fresh inspiration).

I found a few stories the piqued my interest. Like that of the Mole People, living in the sewers and abandoned subway tunnels beneath Manhattan. They’re not mutant freaks like everyone thinks, just homeless folks and outcasts of society who have come together to create their own communities, far away from the abuse and rapes that often happen in the homeless shelters in a large city like Manhattan.  There was also a true story about a family of about 200 people, all descendants of a prostitute that settled in the New York area after leaving Europe. It was said that due to exposure to syphilis, this woman passed on a deformity that showed in nearly every of her male descendants, fused fingers and toes, giving what has been called a “claw-like” appearance. This entire family was shunned, and after years of this, they banded together and made a pact not to marry or have children, so that they could not pass on their deformity. In short, they chose to exterminate their entire family, and not a single descendant of that family tree is alive now (or so the website told me). Today, something so extreme would never happen, due to advances in surgeries and such, but a period story could be brewing in my future with this one. I found it intriguing. These stories however, while strange, are actually true. I found them on a website about weird but true things in America, I wish I could remember it so I could cite it.

Any way, I just wanted to share with you all how legends are not only important, but invaluable to the horror/fantasy fiction writer.

Know any great legends? Share, please. I’ll try to think of a good one I can remember and post it in the comments. I’d love to hear some new ones though. And who knows, the one you post might end up in a story of mine.