Through a Poisoned Stream I Flow Published

I am pleased to announce my story, “Through a Poisoned Stream I Flow,” has been published today at Perihelion Science Fiction.

The Grinning Cat Published

I am pleased to announce that my horror story, “The Grinning Cat”, has been published in Verto Publishing’s Gothic Tales of Terror.

Setting the Table: The Perfect Feminist Beginning to Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of the best genre television series of all time, was an undeniable feminist vehicle. It boasted a bunch of strong and interesting female characters, even aside from its namesake, tackled adult feminine themes, and proved to the industry that a genre series can be led by a heroine. Sure, past genre shows had strong leading ladies at the helm, but they were so few and far between as to be negligible. And Whedon opened Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a succinct scene which represented what was to come.

When I began re-watching this series yesterday, I was struck by how simply and perfectly Joss Whedon set the table for this show’s feminist thrust in the opening scene. It’s nighttime, with crickets chirping, a dog barking in the background, and creepy music playing. We get a foreboding external shot of Sunnydale High School in the darkness. You know, standard horror fare. There’s more creepy music as the camera pans around the shadowy school interior, and WHAM! A window in the science lab is busted in. A young man and his date sneak inside.

Now, this is your prototypical horror couple. He’s brash, and she’s sweet. She asks if he’s sure it’s a good idea, and his cocky response is that it’s a great idea. Here Whedon has masterfully set the stereotypes in one short exchange–the bad boy and the good girl.

He tries to lure her to the top of the gym for some hanky panky, but she’s hesitant and doesn’t want to go up there. He assumes she’s too anxious, ready to do it then and there. She’s afraid of getting into trouble–oh, he promises they’ll get into trouble–and he goes in for the kiss.

There’s a noise in the bowels of the school which makes her really nervous. He promises her it’s nothing, then makes a creepy joke that maybe it’s something. The audience is immersed in horror vibes here. This is going to be a show about a vampire slayer, after all. What’s coming? A young couple preparing to engage in sexual promiscuity is a horror taboo. Surely they’re about to become a vampire snack.

Yet the girl’s unsure; she needs more reassurance. The boy tells her there’s nobody there. She asks if he’s sure, and he is. Okay, good, on with the nookie nookie, the audience figures. Right? Wrong. This girl, Darla, is the vampire, and since they’re alone, she slips on her vampire face and chows down on the poor boy, an unnamed character, the first victim of the series.

That’s right, Joss Whedon takes some tried and true horror tropes, stands them on their head, and opens the series off with a woman taking charge and getting stuff done. Granted, it’s a vampire, and she’s sucking a human dry, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

By using horror conventions to lull the audience into a comfort zone of what to expect, Whedon is able to pull a fast one. He sets the table for the audience to expect the unexpected, that this will not only be a new and different type of show, but a feminist show at that. He doesn’t wait to get into it, doesn’t allow it to trickle out to the audience slowly throughout the season. Whedon comes right out and shows the audience that this is how it’s going to be. Deal with it.

Well done, Joss. Well done.

Of Editing and Writing

Sitting down behind your computer, or at your table with a notepad and pencil, you’re ready to bang out a new yarn, as Robert E. Howard would put it. There’s nothing more exciting than taking a fresh idea, wrangling it into words, and forming a new story. The act of creation, bringing words to life, can be an intoxicating high.

And then there’s editing.

Don’t get me wrong. I often love the editing process. Setting aside a story for a time so I can get a fresh look at it, or having colleagues critique the story, often spurs me to new ideas, to either fix problems or to tweak good parts to make them great. Editing in itself isn’t at all a negative for me.

My editing problem has arisen from the fact that I have a significant body of writing, and some stories need editing. And I’m in the middle of a second draft of my first novel. Trying to get the novel draft finished is exhausting editing work. I can’t really justify editing short stories while the novel needs done. If I take any more short stories in to critique groups, I’ll invariably have to go back and do more editing.

Meanwhile, with so much editing work on my plate, when do I get the opportunity to write new words? To feel the excitement of starting (and finishing) that fresh new story? Ah, the pains of being a writer!

Stress and Writing

I’ve recently come face to face with one of the major challenges writers face: overwhelming stress killing the desire to write. I’ve been going through something in my life which has ratcheted up my stress levels quite a bit. It’s messed with my sleep a little even, these last few days. It’s also messed with my writing.

I’m in the middle of the second draft of my first novel. Despite some bumps and big revisions, I was making excellent progress. I’d just about reached the midpoint, a chapter I need to do some real revisions in. I had to set it aside for a few days, of necessity, and…I just haven’t picked it back up. I wanted to, but with all this stress lately, I just haven’t mustered enough motivation to do so. I’ve only managed to squeeze out some short poetry in the past three weeks plus.

Monday is a major end point, I hope, in my current stressful life-altering situation. I should be able to pick up and continue with the second draft shortly thereafter. That shouldn’t be an issue. The real issue is that I can’t let stress stop me from working on my major writing problems. I need to find a way to push through, to sit down behind the keyboard and bang out words on my current yarn. Hopefully I won’t have to face any situations this stressful for a long time, but when I do, I will do better trying to push through it.

Hopefully my ramblings on stress and writing help others who are facing similar challenges.

First Novel Update

The reason I have been lacking in providing updated posts here on my website, good readers, is because I have been working diligently on the second draft of my first novel, “Murky Rivers”. As those of you who have assisted with this story in my writers group will know, bringing this book to fruition has been a long process, made all the more so because I began it well before I should have been trying to write a novel. As such, I’ve gone through a lot of growing pains as a writer in working on this book. I felt my first draft was weak and lacking the oomph it truly needs and deserves.

Well, let me tell you, the second draft is really providing that oomph. I’m so very pleased with this draft thus far. I’m a third of the way through it. Yes, it’s proven to be one heck of a slog at points, because of the necessary rewrites and additional writing. Still, I don’t mind in the least. I’m going to wrap this draft up before too long, get it out to beta readers, and finish this book. And it’ll be a damn fine one, too.

So, this is why I haven’t been giving as many updates as I should. I hope to do better in this arena. Bear with me. Hopefully, before the year is out, this book is not only finished, but on the road to being published.

“The Fourth River” Published at Swords and Sorcery Magazine

Swords and Sorcery Magazine has published my short story “The Fourth River”. I’m pleased to note it is Story 1 in this particular issue.

“An Act of Consequence” Published at Every Day Fiction

My flash fiction piece, “An Act of Consequence”, has been published at Every Day Fiction. This is a story born of a writing exercise at a class at ConCarolinas 2014. I am pleased to see it placed on such a fine site.

Busy Holiday Season

Yesterday marked a welcome return to intensive writing after a fantastic yet frustrating period of writing (or not writing) over the holidays. After a fantastic NaNoWriMo project, the holidays ate my muse. I was often away from home, and writing conditions were constantly less than optimal. A trip to California for several weeks to have Christmas with that side of the family for the first time since I was four years old was wonderful, but it meant I got little quality writing time. I think I’ve managed maybe 4,000 words since Thanksgiving, a shocking figure. Now that I’ve put the holiday season to bed, however, I am back and ready to bang out some words and write some yarns, as Robert E. Howard would say. Let’s get at it!

NaNoWriMo Victory!

After a massive push yesterday, where I went insane banging out many words, I have today claimed victory with my NaNoWriMo project, “Three’s a Crown”. Granted, I exceeded the 50,000 word mark yesterday, but didn’t finish until just a short time ago. My goal from the get-go was a 55,000 word first draft by the end of the month. The official word count comes out to 53,984, a mere 1,116 words shy of my mark, in only three weeks. I’d like to think it’s a fabulously fun yarn too.

Fair play to Jennifer Brozek, who finished before I did. It doesn’t bother me, because she’s one heck of an established professional in the field. Plus, NaNoWriMo isn’t a race or a competition. It does feel good to be in the same company as a Jennifer Brozek, though.

I’m so pleased I decided to take on this project. It was the perfect story at the perfect moment for me. I’d like to thank Eric Jackson for urging me to give NaNoWriMo a try. Good luck to the rest of my NaNoWriMo brethren in their quest to finish!