Saturday, September 21, 2013

It's the monster mash!!

This is going to be a short post as I'm on my way to partake in a day of bacchanalian extravaganza while wine tasting with friends. I of course have a great deal to celebrate as my collection of spooktacular shorts has been completed! Life is life and found a way to grind down my capacity to achieve my 31 stories but I would not be thwarted, and completed 13 instead. I'm quite excited by my collection and ever hopeful that next year I'll get back to 31, but in the meantime I'm still able to give treats to you lovely tricksters!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ask not for whom the cursor flashes: or times up day! if tomorrow never comes

·                  *Peeks around the corner, scopes out the room, steps on the stage and makes way center front.  Shields eyes from the glare and asks the stage manager to dim the foot lights and bring up the spot light.  House lights drop and music begins softly.*
Today is national Times up day.  The day when we’re supposed to think of all the things we would do and say if it were our last day.   I had intended to blog on time. I even wrote one, but decided it just wasn’t what I really wanted to say.  Then today …today so many things came together that made me think about what I’d do or say if I knew that today was the last day I’d have in this life… in this realm. If tomorrow I didn’t wake up. Or I woke up  in another …space.

Actually, my little brother started the ball rolling by asking several days ago. “what would you do if you knew today was your last 24 hours.”   I answered. Live… just live, and tell people I loved them. I wouldn’t rush about as if I were lost and trying to get things in. As much as I’d like to do certain things…if I knew for sure I was dieing I wouldn’t waste a moment trying to do crazy things. I’d simply slow down and enjoy what is here and now. I’d say a lot of I love yous and I’m sorries. And I’d laugh. I wouldn’t tell people I was leaving. I’d just soak it all up.”
But three days past after I answered and I thought more about the things I want to do…say before I leave this earth.  Here in the living I hold my tongue ( oh hush y’all know I don’t say EVERYTHING that spings in my head) a lot.  I understand that even the sharing that I’ve done in the past makes some people uncomfortable.  As much as I  “tell” there is so much more that I don’t. I learned early on that if I share “enough” I don’t have to share the rest. What I share is designed and strategic. 
But if today were the very last day on this earth for me…in this life there is so much more I’d like to share…to say.
There are people that I’d write lengthly letters to. There are books and books and books of stories I’d tell. Words, never spoken…would be written.  I’d let the alphabet flow from the ends of my fingers and on to the page up until the very last second in the last minute. Like the mighty, flooding Mississippi…the words would fill the pages, breeching levies and washing away dams.  Tearing down walls and  carving through the scar tissue of emotional wounds. Dark and murky and dangerous and unrelenting they would crash like waves against the shores.

I’d tell secrets in the form or an anecdote. I’d clean closets and air laundry all with a smile through salty tears that blinded me from seeing the pain on the page.

I’d rage…rage rage rage like worst storm ever  and then as I struggled to slow my self….savor those last breaths, I’d be still again. Listening only to the beat of my heart and click of the keys and the rasp of air leaving lungs..never to return again.

I’d select all then hit delete… and just as I’ve lived this life…I’d take away all that hurt, anger and pain. I’d tuck it right back into that little box and store it away.  I’d shore up the river and protect those living on its banks with a soft smile.

I’d watch the cursor blinking against the blank page.  Once … twice… three times. Flashing like a quite metronome reading the beat. Waiting for the song of words to join in tempo.

I’d watch, tasting last breaths so sweet. And  shuddering through tears I’d say…In my life… I LOVED YOU MORE….

And when they lower me in the ground…body in repose and spirit free, you yes you would know that seven words spoke volumes, sang songs, told tales.
Some where in a hidden library in a locked away vault all those things never said….never written…knock like a tell tale heart….waiting for me to expound and let them free…

But the cursor will only flash.  And you will know, it flashes for thee.

*tears flow freely unchecked over a wavering light clicks of, heels click softly, fading into the distance, house lights come up and butter flies swarm the the theater... stage manager announces  " Miss Riley, Will return next month...fashionably late...unless you know..we can convince her to be on time*

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Writing In Another Universe

I'm in the middle of preparing to write a short story for a submission call related to Clive Barker's "Cabal". Authors are invited with Barker's blessing to write a continuation of what happens to the remaining residents of Midian after the city collapses. In other words, we're to begin where the book leaves off. I've always loved Clive Barker and "Cabal" is one of my favorites. I also enjoyed the movie "Nightbreed", which I own. In  case you are not a real horror fan, "Nightbreed" is the movie version of "Cabal". So here I am, preparing to write in another writer's universe. Again.

I've written in other universes, most notably Lovecraft's universes and the worlds in the TV show "Once Upon A Time". I wrote Rumbelle romances. In case you aren't aware of what Rumbelle is, those are romances between the characters Belle and Rumpelstiltskin. I wrote three stories and then called it quits. I had a blast doing it, though!

Writing in someone else's universe is done all the time. You've probably seen it in fan fiction. The most notorious is Kirk/Spock slash erotic stories. I've read some atrocious Harry Potter fan fiction where the writers - often teenaged girls or recent high school graduates - have created romances between Professor Snape and a "new" girl or professor who is nothing more than a Mary Sue based on the author herself. You've seen the type. The character is beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, the best in her class, and wonderful at all she does. And of course the hero falls in love with her. These stories are nothing more than wish fulfillment and fantasy the author projects onto her fictional character who is really herself in disguise. There are books written in the "Star Trek", "Star Wars", and "The X Files" universes that are much better written and reputable. There is also not a Mary Sue in sight. Authors like Ann Crispin, Timothy Zahn, and Kevin J. Anderson have written such books.

Why write in someone else's universe rather than create one of your own? Here are a few reasons.

1) You do it for the love of the original.

2) You do it to stretch your writing chops.

3) You do it for the money, since if you're offered such a contract you're bound to be successful. The fan base is already built in.

Have you ever written in someone else's universe? If you have, which universes have you revisited?


Elizabeth Black writes erotic romance, dark fiction, and horror. Her dark romance "Alicia" is one of Mocha Memoirs Press's Dark Mocha Bites.

Alicia (Dark Mocha Bites)

Release Date: October 6, 2012

Buy links: 


When the love of his life, Alicia, calls him in the middle of the night to report she had been raped, Eric drops everything to come to her rescue. She takes him on an eerie ride through turbulent hours he can't quite comprehend. Alicia may need his help, but her situation is not what it seems.


Eric stepped out of the shower and a foul stench—mingled with the crisp peppermint of his shampoo—smacked him in the face and left a coppery taste in the back of his throat. His stomach heaved. Confused, he looked around the room to figure out where the smell came from, but he couldn't pinpoint it. Dread clung to him, dark and sticky, ruining his relaxed mood. The light bulbs over the sink hummed, casting harsh yellow light about the room. He shaded his eyes against the glare, trying to see.

Why were those lights so bright? Something was terribly wrong in his peaceful world, and not knowing what it was frightened him.

His wife Alicia brushed her teeth as if nothing was unusual, while the stink of rot lurked beneath the cool mint of his shampoo. Why didn't she notice the smell?

He leaned towards her to place his hand on her shoulder, and she turned her face towards his for a kiss on the cheek. Ugly, purple bruises darkened her eyes. He pulled away, repulsed and alarmed, not quite sure what he was seeing. One side of her face had swelled to a dark mask, not unlike a pumpkin that had been left outside in the damp earth to rot. An angry red welt encircled her throat like a bloody ribbon wrapped around her neck. Frightened, he reached out one hand but he couldn't bring himself to touch her swollen face. Touching her would make the vision real and it couldn't be real.

Alicia spat in the sink. Two of her teeth bounced against the porcelain. Blood tainted the paste.

"The girls are running late again." Alicia's bloodied mouth leaked crimson and white toothpaste. Why did she act as if nothing strange was going on? He gaped at her, not understanding what was happening. The safety of his home evaporated as she spoke with her raw, torn mouth. "Make them wolf down their cereal, and toss them out of the house before they miss the bus."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

10x10 Genre Change

This month, I’m doing something completely different. No 10x10, however that may come into to play again next month or the month after.

I did something completely different this month. I haven’t done anything drastic like throwing my laptop through a window, breaking every pen or burning notebooks full of stories. Sometimes, though, to readers, what I’ve done is a capital crime.

I changed genres.

The short story I wrote is as far away from Dragon’s Champion as it could possibly be. If you bought Dragon’s Champion (and a great big THANK YOU! If you did), and you bought what I just wrote based on that experience… You might want to hunt me down.

It’s not fantasy. It does not feature a bravely sassy girl setting out to save herself. There is bravery in the story, but… I’m not sure whether to call it dark fantasy or horror. I have 2 Beta Readers (those lovely people who read our work before we send it out to tell us if it sucked or not), and I’ve only heard back from one.

The one who has gotten back to me took it too personally. She knew that it is essentially a “Wyndie’s working something out and this is what happened.” She also knew the situation that caused it. What she forgot though, is that I am a fiction writer. When I work something out in my fiction, I take it, twist it away from myself and then set it free. At some point, it stops being about me and becomes completely the story. Of course, her reaction tells me something about the story as well.

I love this story.

I think it has power and grace, but then again… I don’t read enough dark fantasy or horror to be a good  judge. My other Beta Reader, she not only reads it she writes it.  If she thinks along the same lines as I do, it will go out for submissions.

Until then, I’m working on several other things. I’m coming to realize that I just might be an eclectic writer. That’s ok, many writers are. The trick is to balance it out so that the readers don’t expect one thing and get another.

What do you think? Does it annoy you when your favorite authors switch to a genre you don’t like? Or are you game to follow them no matter what? If you write, in what genres do you write?

(Just noticed in an odd coincidence, this post is 10 paragraphs!)

You can find me at where I blog books, writing and parenting

You can catch my debut story,
Dragon's Champion ,at Mocha Memoirs Press

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fifty years and counting...

One of the most important parts of fiction writing is character development; how a character grows in reaction to the events that shape him or her.  Sometimes, a character is a living reflection of a time or a changing society.  Such is the case with Forest Whitaker's artful portrayal of Eugene Allen in the film "The Butler."  An excellent and moving film which couldn't be better timed as our nation commemorates the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, its meaning and its legacy.

The real-life Eugene Allen was an African American who served as a butler in the White House for thirty years, serving eight successive U.S. presidents, truly a witness to history.  He lived just long enough to see the election of America's first black president.

Whitaker's portrayal is beautiful to behold as his Eugene seems to age on screen before us, a young survivor evolving through America's racial turmoil, a grim wisdom chiseled into his aging features by one national tragedy after another.  The man he's destined to become is there inside the younger Eugene, just waiting to be carved out of him.

The film takes liberties, and is generous with dramatic license.  The dramatic and agonizing opening of the film shows Eugene as a young boy watching his mother raped and his father coldly butchered by a plantation owner.  The event was purely fictional.  But, as emotionally effective as the sight of Eugene as a homeless teenager sheltering in a drainage pipe in the pouring rain on a dark night, starkly symbolizing the alienation of the black man in a white supremacist society.  Sometimes fiction can be a more potent instrument for telling the truth than any accurate biography in the life of any one person.

As Eugene grows up and looks for his niche in the white man's world, he learns that the black man in white America must wear two faces; one for his own and one for the man.  In reaching the White House, he finds himself a witness at a crossroads of history.  From the safety of the White House's ivory tower, he tries to let history play out around him, like an island in a rapidly rushing stream.  But, he is reminded again and again that there is no escape from history.  As it inevitably dawns on him that black staff in the White House are underpaid and never promoted, he finds he must speak out, only to be told by the lily-white representative of the system:  "Don't be ridiculous.  Don't buy into that Martin Luther King junk."  There is also no escape from the widening split between Eugene and his son.  The boy starts out following Dr. King's path of non-violent resistance.  We see him learning to sit passively at an all-white lunch counter while he and his friends are subjected to cruel, sub-human taunting and physical abuse.  As Eugene watches his son evolve from Freedom Rider to Black Panther to politician, he is helpless to bridge the gulf between his own long-held survival strategy and his son's desperation to show his true face to a world that doesn't want to see it.  It's as if father and son embody the "two faces" of the African American.  And, they cannot coexist.

The film is a merciless and much-needed kick in America's collective conscience.  We see John F. Kennedy looking on with outrage and disgust at televised coverage of black protesters attacked with water canons and police dogs.  "What country is this?" he asks.  Eugene walks through the fires and the riots, trying not to let the course of history touch him.  As he tries to comfort Jackie as she sits numbly, still covered in her martyred husband's blood.  As he serves as moral sounding board to a pathetically crumbling Richard Nixon.  Eugene's decisive moment comes during the Reagan administration.  Nancy invites him as an honored guest to a White House function.  He sits with the "ruling class" at their table, but it rings hollow in his heart.  "I just wish it was for real," he later tells his wife. "Not just for show."  The face he shows the world seems to hang heavier and heavier as the world changes around him.  The final nail in the coffin of the old Eugene comes when Reagan turns a cold shoulder to the moral outcry against the brutalities of South African apartheid, vowing to veto any move Congress makes to oppose the racist regime.

Confronted by Eugene's resignation, Reagan confides to him, as though to his own conscience:  "I sometimes feel I'm on the wrong side of this civil rights question.  I'm afraid I'm just wrong."

Eugene answers with a confession of his own: "I've been afraid to admit what it really meant," he says.  With the President's personal backing, Eugene finally wins his decades-long battle for equal pay and promotion for the black staff.  Towards the end of the film, when we see an aged, but far stronger and wiser Eugene reconcile with his son and join him in an act of civil disobedience, it's as if a long and arduous journey has been completed.  A Eugene aged in strength and dignity, returning to the White House an honored guest (this time very much for real) and walking the familiar path to the oval office to meet Barack Obama brings the odyssey to a close.

However much real or fictionalized, the development of the character embodies our national soul.  It reminds us of how far we've come.  And, how far we have yet to go.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

You Gotta Have Goals

So, with the year three-fourths gone, I thought I should update the 300 Rejection Challenge. I have slacked off submitting a bit, so I probably won't make "Achievement Unlocked." On the other hand, I have 107 rejections -- and more importantly, from my perspective, if not my challenger's -- 34 acceptances of various sorts this year. Rejections no longer cause me more than a moment's "Ah, well. What's next?" That was the immersion therapy goal in the first place. So, in that sense, rousing victory. I highly recommend a year with a goal of this sort. If for no other reason than you have a large body of work to submit again if it is rejected.

However, now that I have gotten to the point where rejections no longer phase me, I need a new goal. And, as with all goals, it is good to stretch yourself. I was wondering what that new goal would be, until I attended the Hugos last weekend. The Hugos, for anyone who doesn't know, are the Science Fiction and Fantasy world's version of the Oscars -- as the Stokers are for Horror, or the RITAs or Golden Hearts are for Romance. Seeing the winners take the stage, many of whom I have met at conventions, ignited a fire in my soul to join them. Striving for the pinnacle of your genre is always a good thing. So my goal for next year is to submit to the markets that might get noticed and nominated.

This year, I went for quantity; next year, I aim for quality. :)

What do you want to accomplish as a writer or reader? Write five short stories a month? Finish a novel? Read one hundred books in the year? Anything is possible, but only if you try. Set your sights on that goal and never look back!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Be Authentic...Write

picture courtesy of

*Note – I really wanted the title of this post to read “Be Authentic, Write Authentic.” However, the grammarian in me just couldn't deal with the lack of an adverb.  Write is a verb after all, no matter how many minute I may sit in front of a blank screen.
I may not know a lot of things, but I do know this – if as a writer you’re asking too many questions about your characters or about your writing, then you need to put down the pen or get up from the computer and go out and get another job because you’ll never be a successful writer.
Successful writer (def) –one who enjoys the process of writing, enjoys what they written. (note, not necessarily a commercial success)
I do a LOT of skimming forums, blogs and groups.  I am a nosy so and so, really I am.  I’ve seen these questions about characters “Should my character do XYZ?  Should s/he be ABC?  Do you think…do you think…doyouthink DO YOUTHINK?”
I'm not talking about structure or events.  It's natural to ask "should I jump into the action or give a bit of the 'ordinary world' first so readers can get an idea of 'what had been'" This, is a totally understandable questions.
But the questions that I've seen, "do you think she should kiss him first?"
I had one writer person ask me "what do you think she should do to turn off her boyfriend and make him break up with her?" 
In the role of trying to be helpful, I asked, naturally, "What is the thing that he dislikes about her?  What sets him off?"
Apparently, I set THEM off with that question because I was told how much research they had done in the characters, how they had pictures of their characters, their astrology sign, their Chinese horoscope and their Myers-Briggs profile.
The natural next question that came out of my mouth was "if  you have all that information, then you should be able to figure it out for yourself."
Note:  I am a short-tempered person, yes, I admit to that.  But seriously, if you know so damn much, then you should know what will set another character off.  I know exactly what to do to tick my husband off.  If you know a character THAT WELL, then you should too
Stop asking people what they think. Focus on what you think. Better yet, focus on your character and what they think.  They're the ones in the story.
Story Break: I had a reader read my story who then told me not what she thought about the story itself but that she didn't like the characters NAME.  She thought it should be something else.  Additionally, she didn't think that my male character should be sexually inexperienced.  And she didn't like his profession either. 
Suffice to say, I didn’t give a sh*t what she thought about the characters.  They were who they were and that’s how they sprang from my head.  Okay, yes, my female character is a pot smoker who’s deathly afraid of the dark and talks too much on the phone with her mother.  By the way? There’s no cell/phone service and her mother’s dead.  Overblown?  Maybe.  But who cares?  Isn't fiction supposed to be larger than life?  Plus, why write if you're not having fun doing it.
Now, if I had been a different person, I might have said “okay, so, I should change her name, move her to another state and make her a barista in a cafeteria in a car factory?  Done!”
Um, no.  If you have a character driven story….that changes the whole story, does it not?
Point is, you’ve got to be true to yourself.  If your story “tanks” so be it.  Don’t write for the masses.  Don’t jump on the hot new “thing” in whatever genre.  You like writing steampunk romance?  Do it.  You like writing about an overly made-up female hairdresser finding love with her shampoo gal?  Write it.
Because if you start writing for others, you cease writing for yourself.  I bet that’s a quotation, isn’t it? Let me go find it…
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.–  Cyril Connolly
Enjoy your writing.  Write what YOU like to write.  It’s the only way that your authentic voice will shine through.

Final note:  Please check out Yes, Lioness.  I "ran into" her on tumblr and am taken by her illustrations.  Give another artist a look.