Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hook, line, and sinker...

I like to think of myself as an eclectic writer. The muses that keep me company whisper plots that are varied and at times very complicated. When I sit down to craft a story I like for it to be exciting, for it to have a hook that draws a reader in. Once I've hooked them I need to keep them on the line and in an effort to finish this strange analogy I've chosen, sink them into the very fabric of the story. As dialogue and scenes swirl in my head I try desperately to fit the pieces together so they have some semblance of coherence. It doesn't always work out that way, but I do keep trying, and eventually it all comes together (at least for me).

For 2014 I want to cast that hook out even further in hopes my line will stretch as far as my imagination has yet to reach. I want folks to sink into a story that leaves them with bated breath and the need to flip back to the beginning of the sentence, paragraph or page because they can't believe what they just read is true. I want all of this and more, but what I hope for most is that I never find that wanting is far more pleasing than having.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why Do I Write?

E. A. Black writes horror, dark fiction, and fantasy. She writes erotica and erotic romance under the pen name Elizabeth Black. Ms. Black lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband and four cats. You may find her on Facebook or on her web site.


I received my first royalty notice for 2014 about a week ago. It was a pittance. Granted, I have out only a short story with this publisher, and stand-alone short stories don't sell well. People want to use that money towards a novel or novella. Plus I have a threshold of $100 with this publisher so it's unlikely I'll see any money until Hell freezes over (and if you live in the northern US, that happened earlier this week, LOL). I made fun of my massive royalty statement, saying I made enough to buy a chocolate bar and who wanted to share it with me.

One writer asked a question in comments that got me thinking. He asked, "But we are not in this for money though, right?"

Why do I write? The thing is, I do want good sales. Good sales means people are buying my books and presumably reading them. Poor sales mean very few people are buying for whatever reasons. Some of my stories sell well whilst others have fallen into obscurity. I know that happens to all writers. I don't understand why some stories have appeal and others don't. It's crazy. Your masterpiece you worked on for years to perfect barely moves whilst something you slapped together in a day is a best seller. Go figure.

I write for several reasons. I need to express myself, and writing is my chosen form of expression. I vent in my writing. I express joy in my writing. An idea slams into my head and I must get it down and out of my system - in writing. Yes, I love it when my sales are stellar and I am dismayed when I work hard on a book (which I consider my baby) only to see it languish. It's hard to not take that sort of thing personally. I also write to sell books. Book sales mean readers are interested and are presumably reading what they have bought. In my opinion, I see no point in writing if very few people are interested in what I have to say. I'm not a diarist. I like the fan mail and the praise I see in social media.

The writerly life is not easy. Considering the massive number of rejections, bad or lackluster reviews (or complete lack of reviews), low sales, and writers block, it's a wonder I write at all. That said, the fan mail, unexpected sales spikes, Top Pick reviews, and award nominations keep me going. I have mixed feelings as I'm sure most writers do. I waver between feeling an urgency to write and wishing I could just chuck all of it and go to the tropics and raise bees.

I hope the bees don't win.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wringing yourself out

Ever read a book where the author takes your heart and just wrings it out? You know the kind, you're crying, not knowing *how* the author is going to get the heroine through it all and kind of pissed off because how could she? How? How!!!

Those kind of scenes are hard for the author as well. I know, because I face one of those scenes right now. I've basically stripped my heroine of her support network, and now she's gonna go bat s**t crazy.
I'm a little bit closer to that state of mind than I'd like before diving in, but that's just the way things go.

The thing is this: we as writers love our characters. How could we not? They live inside our heads, our souls, trying to break out and become characters. Sometimes, if you suprise a writer writing... well, they'll answer in character. It's not always pretty, or nice.

Go ahead, try it. You know you want to :)

Just remember to go easy on us. Those scenes that wring you out? They are hell on wheels to write. Maybe bring your favorite writers a cup of coffee? Or chocolate? Please? I need lots and lots of caffeine and sugar to get me through this wringer!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Onward and beyond

****peeks into the auditorium and sighs, greatly in appreciation for the empty seats****

*** strolls to center stage and whispers softly to the stage manager***

** rolls shoulders and takes yet another deep breath**

* clears throat*

Humbly, good brethren I entreat the, forgive please my transgressions.  I meant no disrespect nor deception. I only wanted to find my way.  Find a way to be more than just a mere hanger on. More than just a jester in the court of mighty scribes. Foolhardy, yes.  I have but to look into the last pages and see that I was making a mockery of the gift. Claiming that to which I truly had no rights. I claimed to be an author, a writer, a scribe, when truly I am but a charlatan. An impostor. An actor in stage make up and over-sized clothes. A caterpillar who has yet to transform... wrapped in the cocoon of ... fear. Fear of being found out. Found lacking, found inept. I've been but a criminal on the lam waiting to be caught out.

Sadly you've yet to call me out on my scam so I'm here, turning myself in  *falls on knees and holds hands out awaiting shackles* I beg for thy mercy. For thy anger. Give me some peace in your condemnation. Scold me! Acknowledge my skulduggery and  snake oil selling ... *wicked grin*.

Be aghast, shocked, entertained! Tis for naught if you weren't at least ENTERTAINED. My pain ...*wailing* my pain *crocodile tears* has all been but a show... an act to cover an act. Devised to  snare your attention, draw you deep deep deeper still in to... shadows that masquerade as light. Demons disguised as saviors. Mares of the night riding hard under the cloak of dreams. Be moved! BE SOMETHING!  Be ANYTHING BUT INDIFFERENT!

Read again the blank spaces between each word. FEEL ... me... for thats where I am... where I've always been. Waiting. Wanting. Longing for you to find me. Find me and love me and set me free.

In the white space where words stop.

Find me.

*falls prone on the floor and breaths raggedly*

** shouts up at the stage manager*  "well"
*** gasps for breath waiting***
**** lights go out and the muse feigns a dramatic sigh and yells " it was great drama queen, now can we do what you're supposed to be doing? Can we write about stuff? Can you get off the ghat dayum floor like a kid and do your job.****

***** sits up on elbows and mouths in the darkness*****  " jack ass.. that was award worthy, that was...that was genius!!! I deserve..."

******feels the hot breath of the muse across her neck and wonders how she didn't hear the click clack of his shoes as he crossed the stage floor and wrapped his arms under her breast to lift her roughly from behind and growling darkly, barely more than lips moving, vibrating against her skin.******

"you deserve a to be left here in the dark, and i shall do exactly that if you don't put that ass *feels the sharp sting of a pinch on her denim clad rear* in that chair and write.  Its a new year and i've no tolereance for your shenanigans. and thats Sir Jack Ass, Miss"

Well damn... guess y'all know where I've been...and where i'm going!

Join me and my new cohosts for the new Drea and Milana Show on blog talk... and watch this spot. I might actually be on time this year.

For your entertainment... i humbly submit.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Bow of Artemis

Towards the end of 2013, we've seen the image of formidable science fiction and fantasy heroines grace big screen and small, armed not with flashy high-tech or exotic magical weapons, but with something much more basic and ancient:  the longbow and arrow.

Jennifer Lawrence of course reprised her role as sci-fi heroine Katniss Everdeen in the second and well-received installment of the Hunger Games franchise.  Katniss has become a trendy fantasy role model for teenaged girls in this country, and seems to have sparked a fad among girls to learn archery.  And, in the equally successful second installment of the Hobbit franchise (the first one that didn't put me to sleep, BTW) we see Evangeline Lilly (of Lost fame) playing a character J.R.R. Tolkien never even dreamed of:  another dynamic archer heroine, a deadly elf warrior who acrobatically slays goblins with bow and arrow and stirs the blood of male elf and dwarf alike.  Even Disney animated movies have successfully offered young female viewers a fiery red-haired archer maiden who fights for her right to control her own life.

Why the longbow?  The image of a strong, eagle-eyed young woman expertly wielding a bow is certainly nothing new.  It goes all the way back to ancient Greek mythology, to the legendary Amazon warriors of old, and to the hunter goddess Artemis.   It can certainly take on a sleek and daringly romantic image.  Forget the medieval image of the helpless damsel in distress that forms the basis of familiar western fairy tales; This is something older.  Maybe that's why the evolving popular fairy tale character Snow White has taken up the long bow in the fantasy T.V. series Once Upon a Time.

Of course, the warrior woman takes different forms in classic mythology.  For instance, the armored, sword-wielding warrior maiden of ancient Norse mythology, which we've seen Marvel comics reinvent in comic book and film.  The more modern warrior heroine has taken on darkly captivating images:  Raquel Welch's Hannie Caulder with her six-gun, Sigourney Weaver's Ripley with her flame-thrower, Sarah Conner with her arsenal of automatic fire-arms. But, there just seems to be something about the bow-wielding heroine that seizes the imagination of the modern young western girl.  Perhaps partly because it's easier to take up archery in junior high than to go to a firing range or learn to handle a broad sword.  But, maybe it's something deeper than that.  The discipline, the focus, maybe?  The power?  A physical power that comes from the mind more than the body, and has equalled the strength of a man long before the invention of the gun, or even the crossbow.  Perhaps it's liberating and empowering without necessarily being violent.

A lot of girls seem to take naturally to horses, too.  (My sister did, as a teen.)  The horse.  The bow.  Who knows?  Maybe there's a residue of the Amazon spirit alive in the heart of every young girl.  Whatever the attraction, it certainly makes for some fine and entertaining fiction.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Writer's Bag of Tricks

Dragging myself to the keys (don't you just hate Christmas colds?) to make a suggestion to all my writerly friends.

Every writer needs a few tricks up their sleeves, and when Santa's been generous, or Christmas money is burning a hole in your pocket, I thought I would compile a list of a few things that every writer should own. (In my opinion, of course.)

First of all, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. This book is just amazing. I've only scratched the surface of it myself, but I know it will be a companion on the creative journey for a long, long time.

Second, Story Forge Cards, a plot building deck that helps shake pesky writers block in as much or as little detail as you want. Just got mine for Christmas, and I can't wait to experiment with them.

Third, a really great journal to carry around and jot notes into. This can be anything from a Moleskine notebook to a specialty journal. I got River Song's Deluxe Journal in my stocking, and it's already collecting words...

I carry these things around in my "Bag of Distractions" backpack, but feel free to corral your Muse and her inspirational tricks any way you choose. ;) Now, let's get writing!

[for those keeping track, the final total for 2013 was 145 rejections, 43 acceptances. We are shooting for 200 rejections this year.]

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year for New Adventures

Happy New Year from Mocha Memoirs Press, LLC. The last year, 2013, saw a lot of daring adventures and sizzling stories brimming with love, mystery, and horror. 
Through it all, we could not have done it without you. Our readers are the sugar cookie to our Mocha. Without it, the coffee just isn’t as sweet. So, to that end, we thank you!
Going forward, we have many things in store. Starting with next month’s Women in Horror anthology, The Grotesquerie. Our talented horror editor, Eden Royce, is already reading submissions for yet another hair-raising collection of deliciously frightening stories. If you missed last year’s In The Bloodstream, it’s still available in print and e-book versions.
Our romance writers are actively creating hot, erotic stories of love as we speak. We’re currently looking for witch stories, so if you are a writer, think about submitting something to us. See our submission guidelines for more information. We invite you to join us on our new adventures. This month we’re spotlighting all of our .99 titles. They're a sampling of our science fiction, horror, and romance. Naomi Jones'  Vampire Angels is actually three stories in one.