Saturday, December 21, 2013
Monday, December 16, 2013
(1) Authors Pay To Get Published
This one makes me want to hurt people. Readers pay publishers and publishers pay authors. If the author pays the publisher, nobody needs readers, so they don't get them. If some jerkwad wants you to pay to be published, go to any library or bookstore and try to find any of their books. You won't. Not even one. They can piss off.
(2) The Time You Spend On Facebook Makes You Write Better
No, you're not getting inspiration from Facebook and Twitter. You're goofing off. Acceptable and even recommended in small doses. It's a marathon not a sprint, and you need short breaks. I find Solitaire more relaxing - only one game, win or lose, then get back to work.
(3) You Too Can Be A Happy Member of the "Writing Culture"
Oh yeah, read all the books and magazines and spend hours getting drunk with your fellow authors in restaurants. That's not writing, folks. Writing is something you do alone. If that's a problem, you're not a writer, no matter how black your beret and cigarettes.
(4) Novelists Are Rich
Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha.
(5) Novelists Can Sleep As Late As They Want
Not entirely mythical, but the whole "lazy undisciplined lifestyle" is mythical. If you're sleeping late, you'd better be working late. While you are free to make your own schedule, it must consist largely of parking your butt in a chair and writing. However, the full-time author with no other source of income is rarer than you think, so you've probably got to get up early anyway, to go to your paying job. Writing novels is how you stop the pressures of that paying job from making you kill yourself.
(6) Just Steal From Your Friends' Lives and Your Novels Will All But Write Themselves
Well, the truth is you can steal from anybody. If you find it interesting, steal it and rework it and make it your own. Family, friends, your inner self, strangers on the bus, movies, TV, magazines, newspapers, other novels, whatever. But that freedom to steal doesn't mean you're not doing about 95% of the work.
(7) Drugs and Alcohol Make You Write Better
They don't make you a better plumber, engineer, teacher, juggler, or bus driver. What counter-intuitive self-deception makes you think they improve your writing? You know that's not right, even if you're telling yourself it is. Listen to your gut on this one, just like you listen to your gut about what is and isn't good writing.
If I feel the need to go find some of that magic mythical magic that some call inspiration, I get it from a bike ride. Notepad and pen in pocket, always. You might find it somewhere else. But I can guarantee you it won't be from the needle, the pipe, the spoon, the bottle, or the tinny. Sorry to bear the bad tidings.
(8) You Don't Need Pants
That one's true. Yay!
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Friday, December 13, 2013
For the remainder of December, anyone who purchases one of the two books below has the opportunity to get a free book. That's right - totally free! By purchasing one of our Mocha Memoirs holiday titles (they're both cheap! $2.99 or less!) you become eligible for a free copy of our little self-published project. It's a little book (at something like 300 pages!) Selah and I co-authored, and we call it Lost in the Shadows. It's a collection of over 40 short stories that span the speculative fiction spectrum, from fantasy to urban fantasy to horror and back.
STEP 1. Purchase at least one of these two books:
Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation. In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways. Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.
Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Friday, December 6, 2013
I've only had time to read the first story in the collection so far: Kierce Sevren's deliciously spooky short "The Skin Thief." Without giving away too much, it's the story of a single mom and her two kids on a dark night in a typical suburban home. There may or may not be someone or something lurking in the front yard. The little girl may or may not be imagining things when she thinks she sees a face at the window. Good, suspenseful moments in the dark, with which we can all identify. It reminded me a lot of the "Paranormal" movie series. The best kind of horror is the kind that starts in a familiar setting with ominous calm and builds. What's hiding in the familiar darkness of your quiet house at night? (You're home; no place to retreat to. It's coming for you as you sleep.)
The monster Kierce uses is one that's becoming increasingly visible and popular in horror tales and monster lore: the skin-walker. In native American (particularly Navaho) folklore, skin-walkers were powerful and evil witches who had the power to take animal forms. Most cultures have their own version of the concept. Werewolves, shape-shifters. Based on what little research I've done on the subject, skin-walkers are supposed to have started out as the most powerful and holy of witches, like high priests, or whatever the correct term is. But, they turn to the evil path by killing, eating human flesh or doing something equally horrible. Basically, they're people who want to do evil.
All similar human-like mythological monsters, skin-walkers, shifters, ghouls, vampires, etc. are, I guess, just splinters of the same primal fear: Fear of the evil within all of us. A hunger to do evil, or at least an animal hunger for something more natural, absent any barrier of empathy or civilization to hold it in check. People in every culture, from the aboriginal camp 'round the fire to medieval Christendom sheltering behind its slightly safer castle walls, through the centuries have feared that hungry howl in the night by the chill light of the moon. Even we, who (God knows) have plenty to fear from tangible enemies both foreign and domestic, continue to feel the nagging fear of the unseen thing lurking in that dark, cluttered closet or in the cellar, or on the lower floor, or rustling in the trees at the edge of the yard. The ancient fears show no sign of abating. Quite the opposite. Maybe that's why our entertainment-- books, movies and TV-- seems to turn increasingly to stories of witches, monsters and demons.
Maybe because deep down, we know we can't lock out all the evil. Some of it is always there, inside us.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
This is a vital part of the process of being a writer. Never stop researching--and seeking out inspirational media, reading in your genre, and learning more about some aspect of your world are all research. Pay attention to everything, because you never know what will become important later on. Some examples: there was a train explosion and derailment in an episode of Hell on Wheels. Since a great deal of the travel in my Steampunk world is by steam train, now I know where to go if I want to see how it is done and use some of that detail. I recently took my first train ride. If I had taken it before I wrote the book, I would have been able to add more verisimilitude. It isn't easy to walk on a train...
Reading what other people are writing in your genre can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you get a feel for what is out there...on the other, you can feel way out of your league. I am reading two books I highly recommend: A Midsummer Night's Steampunk by Scott Tarbet, and Ministry Protocol: Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, an anthology set in the world of Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine's Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. These books have both shown me how much I have to learn about Steampunk while at the same time, giving me fresh inspiration.
Anything can turn out to be inspirational or research. Keep your eyes and ears open and paying attention to the world around you. A bit of overheard cell conversation the other day became the basis for my latest short story. Carry your notebook everywhere. Jot down anything that tweaks your imagination.
And if anyone chides you for wasting time you could be working...tell them it's research. ;)