Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Guest Blog: Chris Kelly

This is a wonderful post by Chris Kelly. Who is also my first guest blogger! WooHoo!  So sit back, relax, read, and enjoy. Never mind about that noise you heard, it's nothing  I swear

Fear and Inspiration

It’s Hallowe’en at the end of the week. So I’ve been thinking about Hallowe’en stuff; how to make the scariest mask, the scariest costume, the scariest decorations, etc. I’ve been thinking about fear, too.

Why is fear necessary? Because I’ve came to the conclusion that it is necessary, and being a nice type of person, I thought I’d share my conclusion on here.

Fear drives creativity. When our ancestors lived in caves, they feared the unknown (as all humans have always done); in this instance the unknown was everything that lurked in the dark. So they harnessed fire. They had to control fire for light, but they discovered the benefits of heat for warmth and cooking.

Throughout time there has been thousands of instances of this: people find something they are scared of, and in an attempt to conquer this fear, they invent something new. Sometimes this can be a great invention (like harnessed fire), a great procrastination aid (was Facebook invented by someone scared of physical interaction?), and sometimes it’s the kind of thing that brings with it more fear (nuclear bombs).

In the modern world there is little to fear, and thus little inspiration for creativity. That is where writers come in. People need fear, they need the darkness in life or they can’t see the light. Without fear, it isn’t just inspiration that we lose, it’s hope, too.

Write a little darkness into your work. Give your readers something to fear. They need it.
Chris Kelly is the author of Matilda Raleigh: Invictus (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/23917) a steampunk sword and sorcery novel that wasn’t scary enough. He promises some future books will be a lot more terrifying... you can find out more about him at his blog ( http://www.dunscaith-blogspot.com/ ).

Monday, October 25, 2010

Writer first, no matter what path.

I posted in frustration a week ago, in twitter, about this "us vs. them" attitude some writers develop. Indie writers are no go! Traditional writers are sell outs! I was sick of it.

"We are all writers! It doesn't matter how we are paid!"



The main reason I was sick of the fight, was not the stigma that the indie writers get. It was because I have decided to take my minstrel story along the traditional path.

I've been selling a book a week (pretty good since I started this madness in April, and no name recognition, or marketing budget.) I have self published two books already, so why the hell did I decide to take my minstrel story down the other path.

Because this story is different. This particular niche in fantasy is not saturated. Unlike my vampire books. Those of you who have read them, know they are different, but they are still "another vampire book."  AND I think being indie helped me develop survival instincts.

Look what I have developed since April.
  1. A thicker skin - The first person to turn me down for a review, hurt. But now I look at the email and shrug. Then I send out my request to the next one. So the #300 agent that turns me down, will make me want to sent the query to #301.
  2. A platform in place - you're reading my blog, probably came here from Twitter, Facebook, or Google Connect, you are on my platform. With the changes in publishing, this is a necessary step in being an author.
  3. Crash course in marketing. In college I would fall asleep in business classes. I wasn't a business major, so what was the point? But now I have a product to sell, I have had to learn to sell. I have work in retail for a decade, this is different! This is not an hourly wage job, This is something I want to share with the world.
  4. It's a dress rehearsal. My husband is an actor, we have actor friends. As much as they hate rehearsal, you need to practice to get your best work out. The minstrel story is a lot better than the vampire stories. (not just my opinion) But I would not have polished it, without working on the other stories. And learning from my mistakes.


I am not giving up on being indie. I still have two more vampire books in the series that are scheduled to come out. My fans would hurt me if they don't. Those will come out under my author imprint. Steopa's is planned for next year.

I have given myself a year to hook an agent. If this fails, I will publish it myself. But think of the experience I will have! Maybe some writers think that is too short of a time. But if you get a years worth of rejections, I think you have contacted every agent by then.

There are some disappointed people that know about my decision. My husband, he really wants to illustrate the minstrel novel.  A few people I consulted on the book now have to wait longer for the final product. But it will come out, be patient.

I think I hear some snickering. But I am willing to try it. Look at it this way, if I do make it as a traditional published author, I won't be one to look down my nose at the self published authors. I know what torture it's like!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thanks for the Bela Lugosi Love and more...

Yesterday, I hit my Twitter stream hard with Birthday wishes and shout outs to the greatest vampire of all time. Bela Lugosi.  It was a hit, at least I didn't loose any followers over it.
So I got to thinking: What other horror greats need to have their time in the twitter feed too?
I am tired of seeing the same celebrities on the feed over and over again.  Let's give our hats off to some real classic people now.
I compiled a small list, only actors now:

Bela Lugosi     Oct 20
Boris Karloff   Nov 23
Christopher Plummer     Dec 13
Barbara Steele  Dec 29
Lon Chaney, Jr. Feb 10
Lon Chaney, Sr. Apr 01
And the triple strike of horror birthdays 
Peter Cushing   May 26
Christopher Lee May 27
Vincent Price   May 27



I could expand this list in to authors too, Lovecraft, King, Bloch, Poe, Shelly,  etc. Anyone want to join in on this, or at least make suggestions on who else to include.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Glass and Ink Show

Glass and Ink Show*

Thursday, October 28 · 1:00pm - 8:00pm

The Enchanted Bazaar
212 N Franklin St
Syracuse, NY

The Glass and Ink Show is a showcase and fund raiser. The showcase of three different creative people. A glass artist, an illustrator, and writer.

We will also be raising money for the The Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. http://www.findacure.org/

Come on down!

Next to Dinosaur BBQ!

*I had this info on Facebook, but for some reason Facebook is not allowing me to link to the event page.

Killer will be officially launched on this date as well.

NaNoWriMo again!

This will be my 3rd year competing in NaNoWriMo. As a pantser writer it is an interesting experience preparing for the contest.

The first year I joined just in time to find out about the local chapters kick off party. I worked like crazy to get ready. I downloaded ywriter, I plotted every chapter out. I read up on super heroes. It was about a place were super heroes did their job, with corporate sponsorship.
I wrote long hand for half of it, copying what I wrote into the computer at night. My son gave me his alpha writer which lasted until the end of the contest, then died. Anyway, I got the story done, just pass 50,000 words on Thanksgiving. And hated it, the story not the contest.

The second year, I was feverishly finishing up Fledgling to get it ready to edit. I was taking a writing class. I thought about doing an erotica piece, but wasn't sure I even wanted to do it. At the last minute I changed my mind. Changed the story (its a prequel to my vampire series) And wrote like crazy with no plan. I finished that one in 20 days. That one, is waiting to get cleaned up and will be self published.

This year. I will try again. I am working on my Minstrel edits and have other plans going on in November that will make it hard, not impossible, but hard to keep up. I had two story ideas. One idea was shot down by friends of mine. The other I am sticking with. Did I plot? Sort of, I wrote down 10 points that have to be brought out in the story and a quick time line. It all fits on one page.

We'll see how this year goes. Will I win? Who cares. I just want to sit in a room with the rest of the writers in town drinking coffee and writing!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Two creatures to consider.

I came across two creatures, actually one creature and one group of creatures that could and should be used more in horror, or fantasy fiction.

The first is a Weredog:

Not a werewolf. A weredog. A weredog is like a werewolf, but have been domesticated.
Now I know of at least one writer that would argue that most werewolves in fiction are actually weredogs. I tend to agree. Most writers do not have access to wolves. The only canine we interact with are dogs. So it is easy to think that they are the same. But that is like saying your cat, Fluffy is just like the lion in Africa.

How to tell if you have a weredog?
  1. They are very obedient, if the "master" has been kind to them.
  2. They will look for a "master"
  3. Have some of the traits of a dog in human form. Drooling when good food is near, begging.
  4. They can be vicious, but will need a reason to act out. Such as "master" is attacked, they are told to attack.
Why would they be a good fit?
It's different. People would expect a werewolf, and then there would be this creature that could be controlled by a "master". If you don't think that is scary, what if you had a group of them acting like junk yard dogs?



The second are the Shadow People.

These are not exactly ghosts. Maybe they could be a trick of the light, but they can be very scary. They appear as humanoid shadows. Sometimes wearing a hat. They appear in well lighted rooms, half lighted rooms, but not always out of the corner of you eye.

Why are they scary? Most people that say they have seen them, talk about a presence around the shadow. Not evil, but oppressive. I had a friend that had a small group appear to him in his room one night. He sat up in bed (In this case, no sleep paralysis) and watch the group gather around the foot of his bed. They stood there, and did nothing but stand there. He turned on the light, and they were still there. Just not as pronounced.

If that doesn't freak you out....?  Check out these sites for more great stories: http://shadowpeople.org/ or
http://thehatmanproject.com/

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Attention spans and writing.

One of the things that my small group of fans praise me about is that my books are easy and fast to read. Most of them say they like how they can fit it into their busy schedule. Which I think is a good thing.

But on some of the blogs I am starting to hear complaints that no one wants to write thick stories anymore. The complaints range from "not getting enough pages for what you pay" to "but real (insert genre here) is at least 130,000 words". These complainers blame NaNoWriMo, Twitter, anything but the one thing I think they are over looking.

People don't have the time to read a book that you can use to hold up a couch anymore. Blame TV. Blame the movies all you want. But the truth is a lot of people are too busy to read. So any book that makes the stop and take a break deserves credit.

But a personal reason of mine. I don't mind the long books, if the story is engaging enough. I think anyone would agree that they would gladly read a 1000 page book, if it didn't feel like you were reading one. And that is another thing these complainers forget.

The last book I read based on reviews on how good it was, that was a monster to read, was Johnathan Strange. I never finished it. The plot sounded good. But I got to feel as if the author had expanded parts of the story to put words in, to make it longer. As if all adult fiction has to be at least 400 pages. My eyes started to wander. I was no longer interested in the story. I put it down and never returned.

Then there was Under the Dome. I would love to read it, but I put my back out at work lifting a box of them. The box only have seven copies of the hardcover. Really? Is the story that good that you can risk injury? I may try Under the Dome, I heard many people say you don't realize how big it is when you start reading it. Although my back twinges when I look at it.

This may explain why so many adults are reading Young Adult fiction. The stories move faster and usually are shorter. You can pick them up and maybe finish them in a day.

So what are you going to do as a writer?

The trick is not to get bogged down in the number of words. I will admit I added a couple of chapters to Killer, because I thought it was too short. But I made sure those chapters expanded the story, they didn't just fill it. If you realize your story has been told as 45000 words, pat yourself on the back for finishing a novella.

And if that giant story appears. Make sure it MOVES. If you are going to slow down a story, filling it with pages of descriptions of the color blue. Rethink why you are doing it.

I think the trend is moving to fast reading. Not necessary shorter stories. But keep your pace up. You have a lot of things that can distract your reader. You have to keep them coming back.

Monday, October 4, 2010

When life hands you lemons, look for the vodka.

It's amazing what one little thing could do to mess up your time. I won't tell you what that was, but my life is mess up because of it.

And my writing.

This thing got in the way of normal routines. How bad? I didn't know Killer was up on Amazon for sale for almost a week. That's how bad.

This thing has drained me for new writing. My editing is on fire, but nothing new is coming out. That might not be this things fault. It's getting close to NaNoWriMo, my brain might be trying to rest before that craziness starts.

So what now? I have a book/art show to arrange. Actually most of that is set up, I just have to get the promotion materiel out. Which I was going to do last weekend. Damn thing.

There is a positive side. Saturday night, we all were home. Neither of my boys went out with friends. My husband took me to a new wine bar, to help me forget about that thing. We were home before 7pm. A Saturday night, with everyone home has not happened in a long time.

This is a new week. Hopefully, I can catch up on my writing and promotions.