Archive for the ‘Author Updates’ Category

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.

I’m stressing myself out. I know it’s my own fault. I start a project, don’t quite get it done, and find inspiration for the next and move on. Then my unfinished work just sits in the dusty depths of my hard drive, waiting for me to pluck it out and cherish it again.

What I currently have on my plate:

  • One nearly finished novel (and I know I call it almost finished all the time, but it’s still almost finished) 129 pages done, God only knows how many more to go.
  • One novel only started, 21 pages done. (I don’t even want to think about how many more to go)
  • Two half-finished short stories, which I can’t seem to figure out the ending for.
  • One finished short story that needs some serious re-working, editing, and re-writing.
  • About four or five finished short stories that need editing and re-writing.
  • Seven ideas, all at different levels of development. Some I’m more excited to work on than others.

There could be more even, but I’m not willing to spend the next hour going through all my projects to see which are finished and which aren’t.

My point being, I need more hours in the day.

(Is that little clear pill from “Limitless” real? The main character was an author, remember?)

You are all probably sick of me going on and on about all the work I’ve made for myself and not finished. Therefore, in the future, I will not log onto here until I’ve written something worth while.

Wish me luck. I’ll need it where I’m going…   Happy Blogging Everyone. =]

After three hours of cleaning Wednesday, and two hours of frustrated screaming at my printer, I’ve finally got my new-used desk put in place, my new(ish) printer set up, and my office clean and ready for maximum efficiency.

It’s freeing to clear out all the clutter and make room for my creativity to flow and grow. There’s still a bunch of stuff that needs to be sorted through and probably thrown out, in my office, but at least my desk and the area around it is organized and clean.

The used desk I bought (for only $26 at the local re-store) is oddly comfortable, already, and I think besides it being probably the best deal I will ever see on such a nice desk, it’s where I will hopefully spend hours and hours typing away and finishing my novel.

What novel? You may ask.

I’ve mentioned it before, in my post about creating monsters. Titled Lashine, I have around a hundred and thirty pages done, and am nearing the end. Yet I find it almost impossible to bring myself to finish it. I started the novel probably close to two years ago. Six to eight months of that time it has been just sitting in the memory on my computer (and a flash drive, remember the importance of backing up?), collecting dust, feeling lonely, and wondering if it will ever be whole.

Recently I’ve been under more pressure to finish Lashine. My Mom asked if I’d written the ending yet, and when I told her I hadn’t, she asked why not. I thought about it, and replied that I don’t know how I want it to end (not that I have a whole lot of control over it because at this point my characters are so strong they are doing things I hadn’t expected, which should make it easier to finish, but for some reason it’s just making it harder for me). Besides that, my brother-in-law, has been asking me every time he comes over if my novel is done yet and when am I going to sell it and get rich and share my wealth with everyone. While I know his expectations are beyond unrealistic (only because he is ignorant to the ways of publication and how hard it is to get a damn manuscript accepted), his (and my Mom’s) point is always clear and the same. “Why haven’t you finished your novel already?”

It’s become something of a nightmare phrase to me. “Why haven’t you finished your novel already?” I hear it all the time now. In my head, mostly, and when I pass a stranger on the street, it seems their eyes scream the same question. I know, it sounds like madness, but rather it’s my sub-conscious mind telling me that I can’t put it off much longer. Everywhere I look, I am reminded of it, of my own constantly preoccupied nature, and my willingness to procrastinate. It’s really starting to get to me, eat at me, and I do stop occasionally to wonder why I am doing this to myself.

I fear I’ve already lost the flow and ambition I once had to write that particular story. But does that mean I cannot finish it? Of course not.

This is largely what my getting organized is rooted in. I feel that now, with less clutter, and more ambition, I can and absolutely will bring myself to finish all my half-done stories, novels, etc. (Well, maybe not all, because looking back, some of them really are crap and should be left in the deep, dark, dusty files of my laptop.)

The funny thing is, I’ve done this before. I may have mentioned a teen novel about a young woman who fights to take control of her own life, and seek revenge, that I’ve written. I’m not particularly happy with. It was my first attempt at writing a novel, and the first large project I started on. I had most of the story written, and as I neared the end, I found myself losing momentum. I didnt’ stop to think why, or how it happened, but looking back, I think I became disheartened to see that soon my work would be over, and I would have the laborious task of beginning a new project (which as some of you know is A LOT of work when it comes to a novel, with research and building characters and chosing settings etc.). There was a period of time when I didn’t write at all. My novel sat, collecting dust, and life went on. Then, during a family crisis, I found I needed an outlet. I chose writing because it just felt so expressive. I wrote one short story and put my whole heart and soul into it (it was just a writing exercise in the beginning, but turned into so much more). Looking back at that short story, I can see through the story line to the root of the feelings that kept me writing it. The hardship I was going through at the time has so many correlations to the story, and the underlying issues in my psyche. Writing that story helped me to voice the feelings I couldn’t comprehend or speak aloud. This would  probablymake a lot more sense if I told you what happened, but I respect privacy too much for that. Suffice to say, it was difficult for everyone involved and everyone close to everyone involved, and I am so grateful we made it through. Any way, back to the point of the novel. The short story got me going on writing again. I wrote more and more short stories, and edited and re-edited them. Finally I went back to my teen novel, and found that I’d developed my writing skills to a point where it would be not only easy but enjoyable to finish the story. And that’s just what I did.

In the time since, I’ve decided not to try selling my first completed novel. While the storyline is decent-ish, I suppose, it took me so long to finish it, that when I read through the whole thing, I can recognize the different tones and voices I’d used trying to get it to feel just right. Therefore, it is all over the place. I’ve gone through and spell checked and done some editing, but none of it seems to help the fact that it’s just all over the place. Maybe one day I’ll pull it out and try re-writing it, but for now, it’s staying as it is, where it is.

Basically, my first attempt at a novel turned out somewhat embarrassing. However, I am re-energized and ready to finish my second novel. For the time being, I have decided I will send out the few short stories that I feel are ready for publication, and work on Lashine.

I’ll let you all know when I finish it. Hopefully this time it will be something I can be proud of, and send out to publishers.

I added a new page to my blog titled “The Dark Thing”. If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning, you may have read my posts on my inspiration for this story. It turned out quite well, and being that I only had one of my works posted, I figured that for Halloween I’d share it with you all.

If you’re curious about shadow people, check out some of my early posts on them. Though I can’t remember how much info I’d included about lore and stories going around about them. I would love to hear about any experiences any of you may have had with shadows or shadow people, since the idea came partly from my own experiences.

Feel free to comment on the story. I’d like some feedback.

Open To Suggestions

Posted: September 29, 2012 in Author Updates, Discussions, On Books
Tags: ,

A reader of my blog mentioned that maybe it would be nice if my readers could suggest stories or books for my weekly discussion. I am very happy to take any suggestion, but as I’d mentioned to the reader, I can’t always get the books or stories. So if you mention something you’d like discussed, please allow me a couple of weeks to procure the literature and read it so we can discuss it.

Also, I’d like to apologize for not keeping up on my blogging lately. I’ve had this terrible cold, and I’ve been extremely lazy because of it. I do plan to get back into the swing of things as of Monday, since generally I post every day Monday through Friday. I look forward to more engaging conversations and discussions with my beloved readers.

I figured I would open a discussion on the topic of a story I am writing. You see, I had this marvelous idea after being scared shitless the other night.

My husband and I were watching TV. He fell asleep on the couch, as usual. It was raining outside, and I had the windows open because I smoke in the house (I know, not a good idea). There was one point during the night, when I paused what I was watching, and got up to get a drink of water. When I returned to my seat, I could have sworn I heard someone outside, coughing like they had the worst lung infection ever. It scared me, but to understand this, you must understand that we live on a dirt road. Not much traffic comes our way, and just recently, our neighbors had moved out of their house. Theirs is the only building even close to ours where people may be hanging around our home. I got up and checked the neighbor’s driveway, and found there were no vehicles there. I then checked my driveway, just to be sure, and it was clear as well. That fear I felt, and the thought that someone who was sick was hanging around my house, coupled with the (quite frankly) crazy idea I had that our neighbors moved out because of a ghost, bore my idea for the short story I am working on that is, so far, titled “The Sick Man”.

It’s about a young couple who live out in the boonies. Their closest neighbor is a good five miles away. One night they sit down to dinner in front of the TV. After eating, the woman opens a window and lights a smoke (I had to stay true to my experience =]). Upon pausing what they were watching, the young woman hears coughing outside. The husband checks the driveway, and the wife checks out the front window. There is a man sitting in the middle of their lawn (and mind you this is late at night, it is cold, and it is raining), hunched over. They can see his whole body shake every time he coughs. The husband goes to investigate, to see if this poor man needs some help, and is in for quite the surprise. I will not tell you how it ends, and I cannot promise I will post it on here, as I like it too much and would love to sell it to a magazine. Sorry.

I would, however, like for you, my readers and fellow bloggers, to comment with any creepy experiences you’ve had, or meetings with apparitions, ghosts, or anything of the kind. I will post one of mine as well, in hopes it will get the ball rolling on one interesting discussion.

Thanks for reading. After this, I’ve got to get back to work on this story though. I’m so excited! =]

Being stuck in a rut, so far as my writing, is horribly irritating. I tell myself I will work on my writing every day, so I sit down to do it and find that I can’t seem to write anything worth reading.

However, this lapse in writing has given me the time to focus on other aspects of my writing, like sharing it. I want people to hear what I have to say, I want them to see me through my work.

So in this light, I’ll search through my archives of short stories, and see if I can find anything worth posting.