Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kid in a Candy Store

When a writer lands on a story idea, it usually happens one of two ways. It's either like being hit by lightening or like watching a seed germinate. Either way, once the story takes root, your head starts to swim in The Sea of Possibilities...

This is good--possibilities always are, but if you're not careful, you start to look like this:

or like this:

and then, eventually like this:

Having a fiction writer's imagination can be both a blessing and a curse. We spin straw into gold but sometimes, we get carried away. Every idea we have is a good one, every plot twist we come up with is absolutely paramount to the outcome of the story (or so we fool ourselves into believing), so we pile it on. We're gluttonous. Greedy. We have what I call Kid-in-a-candy-store-itis.

Before we know it we're working plot points for a paranormal, dystopian, sci-fi western about a half-vampire, half-werewolf who falls in love with a time-traveling mermaid... which, by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with our initial story idea.

Just remember to keep it simple. With roughly 1,100 years between us and the first printed page, an original plot is damn near impossible. Originality comes from our voice. Don't let it become cluttered and bogged down by an over active imagination or you'll end up like this guy:

  And remember: friends don't let friends write paranormal, dystopian, sci-fi,westerns about a half-vampire, half-werewolf who falls in love with a time-traveling mermaid.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book review: Off Season

My introduction to Jack Ketchum’s Off Season (via Facebook message) went a little something like this:

So, blah, blah read this book and it made him nauseous, poop his pant, loose his shit . . . etc - no one will read the book - we thought you might be interested. LOL He says it's short but potent. Ruthless in fact. love ya

Made him poop his pants… how could I not be interested in a book that actually induced bouts of spontaneous defecation?

Needless to say, I was intrigued.

I scurried over to Amazon and paid the price of admission. Within minutes I was immersed in Ketchum’s world… a woman running through the woods, being chased—no, herded—by feral cannibalistic children. Whipped and toyed with to the point that she flings herself off a cliff and into the sea rather than face the fate they had planned for her.

We cut to Carla, a young single woman who rents a remote cabin in Maine for a month—a quiet place to work (she’s an editor) but we also get the impression it’s a bit of an escape. Carla’s personal life is complicated—a depressive, younger sister, a boyfriend she doesn’t love… an ex-boyfriend she does. She invites them all up from New York for the weekend; a quick getaway before she dives into work.

We meet an in-bred family—men and women and children—living in a cave set into the sea cliffs above the Maine shoreline. This is a family of hunters. They hunt people and they eat them.

Carla sees one of these men while waiting for her company to arrive. He’s walking along a river that runs near the cabin and she waves to him. We know almost instantly what fate awaits Carla and company and even though it takes a while to get there, once the ball starts rolling, it doesn’t stop. It keeps rolling, destroying everything and everyone in its path.

I won’t post spoilers because that’s not my style but I will say this…
This book is brutal. Viciously graphic. Unflinchingly grotesque. Unapologetically ruthless…and worth every penny.  In between recipes for man jerky (I swear it's in there) and how-tos for  human barbecue, Ketchum gives us some wonderful prose and a story about a woman who finds herself thrust into an unspeakably heinous situation and how she finds a strength she never knew she possessed.

p.s. DO NOT read this book if you are at all squeamish or sensitive to violence. I’m not kidding. Don’t even think about it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Best / Worst week ever...

This was me last week. 

I was knee deep in final edits for CARVED IN DARKNESS. Knowing that it was the last time I would be able to fix or change anything else in the novel was a bit harder for me to take than I thought it would be...  I've always been a bit possessive of my work--I'm sure that as a writer, the sentiment is not a new one--but knowing that once I hit that send button it would no longer be "mine" made it even harder to wrap my head around.

This is how I feel about my work.

Once I turn it over to my editor, it will literally be set in stone. What I send back to her will be the version people will see and buy... hopefully. I became my own worst critic, nit-picking every little word. I literally had 30 pages of changes I wanted to make. It was insane. 

This is me going insane.

But somehow I managed to rein myself in (it might have had something to do with the fact that my editor told me that I could only make changes that were absolutely necessary). I focused on changes that were really important to the story--and then danced around my computer for a few minutes before I finally forced myself to hit send.

This is me trying to convince myself that it was all going to be okay.

So... I finally hit send. It's done. It's finished... final edits for CARVED IN DARKNESS are complete and currently being laughed at by my editor (I'm kidding. She's not really laughing... God, please don't let her be laughing...).

This is my book. You should buy it. Here's the link:

I'd really like to thank my editors, Terri and Nicole, and my agent, Chip, for putting up with my ridiculous questions and my even more ridiculous quest for perfection. You guys are awesome!