Sunday, September 22, 2013

Con(viction) --- Anthology of the Con #2

Good news!  Gothic City Press, the publishers of the anthology, "Con(viction) -- Anthology of the Con #1" are at it again with a 2nd installment!  In case you are unfamiliar, the original anthology included fiction with a darker slant for people who attend cons by people who attend cons and included my story, "Decisions, Decisions."  The second installment, "Con(viction) -- Anthology of the Con #2" will include a follow up to "Decisions, Decisions" titled "Consequences."  Mark your calendars!  The the official release date of "Con(viction) -- Anthology of the Con #2" will be October 18th, 2013!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kwik Krimes Anthology Available Today!

Do you like short stories?  How about stories of crime, mystery and intrigue?  Well, if you answered yes to either of these, have I got good news for you!  Kwik Krimes is available today on Amazon!  This anthology, compiled by author and editor Otto Penzler, features more than 80 crime stories   including "Death By Sobriety" by yours truly. So click on over (link below), and check it out.  Available in paperback, Kindle and audio formats.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Confessions of a Former English Major

I have always had a fascination with language.  Always.

From checking out foreign language books from the elementary school library to, as my husband likes to say, majoring in a language I already speak, language usage is something that I find interesting.  I'm that person --the one who silently corrects you in their head when you use the wrong tense or wrong word.  I also re-write my Facebook statuses, tweets and emails multiple times until I'm sure they say exactly what I'm trying to say.  In fact, you don't want to know how many times I've re-written this paragraph. I'm a geek. I know.

An advertising executive gave a speech my senior year of high school in which he suggested majoring in English if a career in advertising interested you.  A job where I get to play with words all day? Yes please!  I enrolled in college, set my major and plodded along, just waiting to graduate and start my new exciting career.  A few quarters in I began looking at starting salaries in advertising.  Realizing the pay was minimal and my college debt was not, I abandoned course and picked up a paying internship in recruiting.  Despite changing gears, I stayed with my major, set my focus on business writing and began studying the ins and outs of language.  Grammar classes, linguistic classes, history of language classes -- by the time I graduated, I felt I was one hell of a writer.  I knew all the rules and could write like the dickens when it came to a well thought out, dry and information packed business letter, email or directive.  Ok, time for the confession -- I'm not sure I can do that anymore.

I left the recruiting world, had a family and began writing fiction.  I couldn't be happier.  I sit on my couch and write whatever comes to mind.  Edit.  Rewrite.  Edit again. Submit.  I still get to play with words, but I don't have to follow rules.  I write what I want.  My characters generally aren't English majors.  They swear.  They stutter.  They use inappropriate grammar.  It's awesome.  And when I'm not writing dialogue?  I write however I need to in order to express a feeling.  It may be a fragment. It might be a run-on. The beauty of it is that it just doesn't matter as long as its well done and flows. 

When I began writing fiction, it was so hard for me to break the rules.  Each and every character sounded the same and had my passion for correct grammar.  It was horrible.  I actually had to concentrate on not being so stuffy.  I can't even tell you how long it took me to feel comfortable using contractions.  But once I broke free, there was no turning back. The freedom went straight to my head.

I didn't realize this was a problem until a few weeks ago.  I started looking at the Praxis prep books, just to see how much brushing up I needed to do before I test.  The math was of course a nightmare.  I can't tell you the last time I even thought about sine and cosine and I haven't taken the square root of a damn thing since high school.  I expected the math portion to be rough and was actually pleased that it wasn't quite as bad as I expected.  And then came the language portion.

Let me start of by saying it wasn't horrible.  As a writer, I know what sounds right and what doesn't. I can still pick out the correctly written passage or tell which part of the sentence is written incorrectly.  What I wasn't prepared for was how unsure of myself I'd be. Thinking it would be a breeze, I cockily sailed through the first few questions, never once thinking I'd be stumped.  Guess what -- I was stumped a few times.  Once I saw the reason behind the correct answers, it jogged my memory, but that didn't make me feel better.  It gave me yet another thing to worry about -- how will I do come test time?

The good news is that the second part of the language section went fine.  I'm sure part of problem was the fact that the last multiple choice test I took was over a decade ago.  And maybe all it took was a few reminders of some of the more persnickety rules of the language to kick my brain into gear.  Regardless of the reason, I'm thinking a few grammar books from the library may not be a bad idea -- once I return the geometry and algebra books of course.

In the meantime, I will continue writing my characters as they want to be written -- even if they refuse to use the correct verb tense or abide by subject/verb agreement.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chapter 3 of Neverwell Falls Now Available!

Chapter 3 of Neverwell Falls, "Schenks and Pomeroy Plan a Party" is now available on JukePop Serials!  Click on over and give it a read (and a +vote).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Where Has All the Stationery Gone?

Want to write a letter on pretty paper to an out of town friend?  Let me save you some time -- don't bother looking for stationery at any of your local stores.  You'll not find any.

For Valentine's Day this year, I decided that instead of buying a card for my husband and kids, that I would write them each a little note.  I'm a writer for goodness sakes! I should be able to formulate some type of passable letter describing my feelings for them. Plus, it seemed like a good idea to expand my horizons and use my words to create beauty instead of just describing insanity or conflict.  So, I set off in search of beautiful stationery on which to scrawl my feelings of love and devotion to my loved ones. I came away empty handed.

After a trip to four stores (one "big-box" store, one office supply store, one greeting card store and a craft store), I found that the only items sold that were considered to be stationery were invitations and thank you cards.  And even the supply of those items weren't large.  I know there are actual "stationery stores", but thinking I'd have no problem at the local stores, I didn't leave myself enough time to go in search of one. But the lack of easy access is my point.

Now you might be asking yourself, why does it matter? Why would I be spending time on a predominately "writing" related blog, waxing philosophical about the demise of stationery? I can say that the difficulty in locating what I would call traditional stationery isn't at the crux of the problem.  It is merely symptom of a much larger disease.

Written language is dying.  It's imminent death isn't because of an aggressive disease, attacking words without warning and wiping it out in a matter of years.  It is a slow disease.  One that lies dormant before slowly feeding on the ways in which we communicate. And the disease is being perpetrated on the human race because of a need for expediency in order to live at the speed modern life requires.  As writers and readers, we should all be concerned.  The degradation of language as we know it hits everyone one of us where we live -- on each and every page.

Why write a letter when you can email?  Why send an email when you can text?  As the years progress, the words we send to one another shorten, even to the point of not being words at all.  Even sadder, these abbreviated forms of words then become spoken. Where is the beauty in "BRB ILY?"  Shakespeare is probably rolling over in his grave.

The problem is when we begin to see this impatience in our literature.  Look at classic texts versus modern ones. Authors used to be able to spend time formulating beautiful sentences in order to make the reader feel something. Modern authors are forced to focus on pacing, even at times, to the detriment of the story. We consume information so quickly these days that we expect the same from our literature.

I am not speaking to you as a fire and brimstone preacher, warning you to repent and change your ways.  I'm giving this diatribe as a fellow sinner, addicted to Facebook, Twitter, email and the like. I'm certainly not suggesting that we give up these conveniences or abandon all modern technology. The world keeps turning, changing and moving forward.  We can't expect it to spin backwards, nor should we want it to. But we also shouldn't abandon our past in order to live at the speed of light.

What I'm proposing is a renaissance of sorts.  I believe the two movements can coexist, it just takes a little work.  Our daily lives require our easy and speedy technology.  Email your co-workers. Text your husband to tell him you love him.  It's these modern advancements that have helped us interact with each other on a different, efficient level.

But maybe, once and a while, write something down, by hand and, dare I suggest, in cursive?  I type most of my stories because my brain works faster than I can write, but when I'm having trouble trying to make something sound or feel a certain way, I take out the good ol' pen and paper and have at it.  I think it makes my brain slow down and forces me focus on the words instead of the idea.  It's the same with a letter versus an email.  The pen to paper, at least for me, makes the process feel more artistic, as I focus on the language.

So, what I'm asking is, maybe instead of sending a text once in a while, send an email.  And possibly, instead of sending and email, on occasion, write a letter.  Perhaps, if we all do this, our children's children won't end up speaking and writing a language that resembles an eye chart.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chapter 2 of Neverwell Falls Now Available!

Chapter 2 of my serial, "Neverwell Falls," is now available on JukePop! "Monsters and Antique Armoires Don't Mix" pits Annie and Dave against their portal-rific basement and has them wondering just what to do about their possible monster "problem".

If you haven't been on JukePop before, the process is fast, easy and free. Simply register your email address to have access to some of the best serial fiction available today across a wide range of genres. While you're there, be sure to give "Neverwell Falls", chapters 1 and 2 a +vote!

Access "Neverwell Falls" Chapter 2 here:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Neverwell Falls

So, I've entered the world of serial story writing...and I am ridiculously excited about it!  In the same way that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle delivered the stories of Sherlock Holmes, I will be uncovering the secrets of Neverwell Falls.  The good folks over at JukePop Serials have published the first chapter of the Neverwell Falls saga, "What Happens in the Basement".  Click on over, if you'd be so kind, and give it a vote.  And stay tuned -- more things are guaranteed to go awry in Neverwell Falls.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Conviction: Anthology of the Con - #1 (Volume 1)

My short story, "Decisions, Decisions," is now available in the anthology "Conviction: Anthology of the Con" through Gothic City Press.  Check it out on Amazon

A New Year

Happy New Year!

Everyone knows the drill. Somewhere between opening presents on Christmas and eating our pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day we get it in our heads that we need to make a change in our lives.  Whether it's the fact that we have to start writing a new two digits on the year (which I'll be used to sometime around July or August, I'm sure) or the fact that we have some time off where we are able to contemplate life, about the time we sing "Auld Lang Syne,"we start to take stock in where we are and where we'd like to be.  Sometimes our resolutions are small, like wanting to read more or take some time for ourselves.  Other times, our resolutions are huge, like weight loss or job change.  Regardless the size of the resolution, through self-reflection we can all come up with something we think we should do better.

Writers do the same thing.

Sure, I have other resolutions -- lose weight, worry less, have more patience.  But the first thing I began to reflect on when the urge to take inventory struck was my writing career, such as it is.  Where did I want to go from here?  Where did I feel 'here' was?  What was I doing well?  What could I do better?  Here's what I came up with: Write more.

Seems obvious, doesn't it? If I want to be a successful writer, I need to devote more time to it.  Practice makes perfect of course.  It's something that probably every writer says every year.  Heck, it's probably something that most writers say daily.  The "what" however, isn't my focus.  The 'how' is where my struggle lies.

There are all sorts of tricks and suggestions out there to help writers sit down at the computer and write.  To the non-writer, this may seem silly.  What the non-writer doesn't understand is that there are certain "traits" that seem indicative of most writers.  One of those traits is procrastination.  While the story is right there in your head, ripe for the picking, sitting down at the computer, blocking the world out and letting it all flow is one of the hardest things to do.  Most of all, it can be downright frustrating.  I cannot tell you how many times I find myself so excited to sit and write something I've been working out in my head all day, only to set the computer down in frustration when the story on the paper pales in comparison to the vision in my head.  This leads to another trait -- self-loathing.  The self-loathing then combines with the procrastination and, before you know it, you're on your second glass of wine, belting out "Hero" on Rock Band 3.  It's a vicious cycle and one that I am trying to overcome this year.  But how?

Well, folks, I can only see one way to accomplish it --the Nike way.  In other words -- Just do it.  In my case, I need to schedule it in like laundry, bills and the grocery store.  So, my resolution for the following year is this -- Block out two to three hours in the morning between getting kids on the bus and lunch and write. That's it.  The beauty is in its simplicity.  Instead of fitting it in where I can (which has not been working), I'm going to make it a priority like the other important things in my life and schedule it in.  Wish me luck.

Let's just hope it goes better than the weight loss resolution I've already screwed up.