Wednesday, August 5, 2020

IWSG: Unplanned Writing Genre

Hello all;

August is here - oh my oh my! And boy, its hot in my area. Made even hotter and more uncomfortable while working with the face covering requirements. Uck. But, we are all suffering - unless you are working from your home, in which case I have no sympathy for you. Envy abounds though.

This post might be a bit of a mess cuz I'm writing from my Samsung tablet and not used to the small screen and one finger tapping. How do people live without full screen, a mouse and external keyboard. 



Since I'm not working from home, I'm picking up slack from all the in-store workers who are at home due to Corona-virus lay-offs, and not getting any writing time. So, I have no writing insecurities - except perhaps that I'm still struggling with considering myself a "writer" since I haven't written much even before the pandemic. I'll try to answer this months question. Its quite unusual, that's for sure.
August 5 question - Quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

I think most of my writing sort of "found me." I don't think I knew much about genres and story classification before writing my first real novel. A short story that begged to be longer and became a book. I thought I was writing something in fiction that Nobody ever wrote outside of nonfiction/biography. 

It wasn't poetry, mystery, romance, horror, historical, sci-fi, or fantasy. Definitely not porn, children's or Christian.  So it had to be new, never seen before. I was a creative genius! The next Great American Novelist. After submitting to several publishers and getting my first vanity agent, I figured out my genre was Women's Fiction,  still haven't entirely settled into a subgenre, and the field is overflowing with aspiring authors just like me.

On the plus side I discovered a new realm of books to read and authors to envy, emulate, and treasure.

With the discovery of blogging (recommended through an offline writing group) I was introduced to even more writing forms and genres.  I credit blogging, and several writers groups both on and offline,  with the majority of my knowledge and experience.

"Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be." This quote truly summarizes my writing experiences since I started blogging (2007?2009?). I get story ideas, usually a specific character thumps on my forehead with a specific scene, setting, or issue, and I just write it. The characters choose which form or genre the storyline follows, and I don't worry about pigeonholing such minor details until the second rewrite/editing pass.

Gotta know what genre to adher to for submission, even if you are self publishing.

And for a blog post on the busiest Wednesday of the month this is getting rather long. Time to thank our host Alex J Cavanaugh, the IWSG team, and this month's co-hosts: Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes, Chemist Ken, Chrys Fey.

Have a good one y'all; see ya 'round the blogverse.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

IWSG - Industry Changes

Hey Everyone!

Well, its Wednesday July 1, 2020. Time for the monthly first Wednesday of the month IWSG post. I missed last month's post. And I'm late this month. Not doing well at keeping a schedule, lol. This month's co-hosts: Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet, Tyrean Martinson, Sandra Cox.

 The July 1 question is very interesting, but I could not really answer it. There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

I guess I'm too stressed over the state of the world right now to hope for much good change. And I'm thinking my of MY WORLD - meaning in America, California, my employment and family. I have been working through all the "shelter at home" orders, traveling state to state, always in the public. Now everyone is allowed out, but has to wear a face covering (unless you fall into a ton of exceptions). And yes, I'm protesting because breathing my own toxic respiration is NOT keeping me healthy.

Then there is all the rioting, protests against police and demands to de-fund and discontinue police departments, the destruction of monuments and statutes, and people taking over public facilities so they live off handouts from the system they vilifying.

Yep, lots to write about. But that "industry changes" question still haunts me. What types of story will  be acceptable in the near future? Historical and Classic books are already being destroyed or rewritten to reflect today's politically correct society, not the era they were written in. Soon, I can see the criteria for publication being a bean count of diversity, not the description of the story.

Every time I read this post, I'm sure its offensive to someone, or everyone. That is certainly not my intention. I delete and rewrite and rethink what I want to say.  Nothing is making any sense. So I'll stop here before I work myself into an unintended, politically incorrect rant.

Be safe out there everyone. The world has gone insane.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

IWSG: Getting into the Z O N E

Hi Everyone,

The first Wednesday of the month has snuck up on me - so much going on in my world. Sadly, its not writing. And being on-line is just about the last thing on my mind - well except to check my bank account and see how close to the red zone I am.

I'm going to jump right into the IWSG question of the month because its very late, I'm tired, and my brain is fuzzier than the Outer Limits beginning credits.




This month's fabulous co-hosts: Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken.

May 6 question - Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

Like, oh boy do I!!! Not all are productive - I've been known to let the "getting into the zone" become procrastination and distraction.

If I'm creating a new project, I usually do a bit of research on names (name meanings can be a source of personality traits for characters) and location/setting. Sometimes I have to look up a monster, hero, legend, ethnic group and the like to make the story authentic. I have problems with "voice" and tone, so frequently I have to just free-write a while to settle into the world and character. If that fails, I occasionally need to watch movie/TV snippets to get a certain voice in my head, or read some passages from my favorite books.

Its harder to get into the "zone" with a continuing project. At the start of a session I read several pages of previous writing to remind myself where I am, but also to get into the mood of the story. Sometimes I put on music to fit the over all mood or world setting. If I get REALLY stumped on wording, or the next scene, or how to type the video playing in my head into into a word document I will free write a bunch of nonsense, read a thesaurus, talk to myself, or clean house.

Yep, you read that right: clean house, or other mundane, mindless chores that take my mind off the immediate frustration. The tactic actually does help, unless I get too involved with the cleaning project and forget all the insights I gathered before I get the computer turned on and the story so far loaded with blinking curser announcing its all ready get back into the Zone.

Happy Wednesday Y'all. I'll be around to visit your blogs over the weekend mostly; this is my busy week of long driving and almost no time for sleep or anything else. Stay safe out there, and remember to remain six blogs away from where you really want to be to practice social media distancing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

IWSG: How are things in your world?

This month's Insecure Writers Support Group meeting is on April 1 - April Fools Day. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling like I'm not getting the joke. Sad, sad times all over the world. And I appreciate the IWSG crew for acknowledging that sentiment in this months optional question.



April 1 question - The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

Well, as much as I hate to admit it to those out there suffering, I'm doing pretty much the same as before. I still have my job, my home, my paycheck, and me and all my family are fine. Wish I could work from home!

Anybody out there working from home on decent COVID-19 apocalypse stories?

Happy April Fools Day - just kidding :)

Friday, March 13, 2020

Warrior Muse Blog Hop for BRUISED SOULS release

Friday the 13th! Pretty cool, yeah? A great day for a horror writer to have a blog tour for her Indi published Short Story collection. Shannon Lawrence at Warrior Muse is celebrating the release of her second Short Story compiliation BRUISED SOULS with a blog hop.

For this Blog Hop, Shannon requests we post one of the following, followed by her book info:
1. Your favorite urban legend
2. Your favorite old wives' tale
3. Something scary that occurred in real life and taught you an important lesson

I don't know much about old wives tales - they usually have some moral lesson involved (boring); and I've had lots of scary situations that did not result in a learned life lesson. Unless that life lesson is "I'm lucky, I survived!) But I do have a favorite urban legend.

Since childhood, anything about Sasquatch interests me - but not in a scary way. I live in Northern California, in the mountains and forests. Recently I moved to the actual foothills, outside the populated urban areas, and so my chances of seeing a Big Foot should have increased from less-than-nil to a-definite-possibility.

According to this historical article, The California version of the Bigfoot Legend has its origins in 1958, with a letter sent to Andrew Genzoli of the Humboldt Times, from several Redding CA loggers who discovered " mysteriously large footprints." The article states "Genzoli said that he’d simply thought the mysterious footprints “made a good Sunday morning story.” But it caught the interest of locals, then the National Media, and finally Hollywood. Ever seen the 1987 movie HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS?

Well, my quasi-belief in the huge, shaggy, Wild Man is not so environmentally friendly - I do like horror stories after all. I see him (them) as tricksters, vandals, and predators; but not sexual predators. Unless they have a taste for beer or whiskey, I don't see the Sasquatch race being attracted to us puny, hairless humans. Except as food. Even a bear will chase, catch, play with, and eat a human if they are hungry or angry enough. I've scientific articles that state humans are not tasty to eat. I wouldn't know as I've never been hungry enough to eat human flesh. With the Corona Virus, and the potential for pandemic death, and the end of civilization as we know it, the Zombie Apocalypse could change my menu preferences. Ya just never know, ya know?

As recently as July 2014, Zoologist Dan Brown was guest speaker at the Lake Oroville, CA, Visitor's Center, drawing a crowd of 160 locals (source), and claims to have personally witnessed, and collected evidence of a Big Foot sighting in the area. In his speech he says "I have actually spotted the animal outside of Oroville with my own eyes." In his speech he goes on to say; "You know, in 1969 on Table Mountain, 11 people saw Bigfoot," he said. "And off of Black Bart Road also. Some people on the lake had sighting, while they're on the lake, seeing it on the shore." Brown also brought with him alleged castings of the elusive animal's feet.

Well, I'm convinced. My husband is an avid watcher of the program on Discovery or AMC or some such, that deals with Mountain Monsters. The Dudes spent some time in NorCal, Redding and Siskiyou County, and it was fun to watch these guys chasing a Thing they called a Big Foot. They had infrared blips, obscure tree knocking sounds, and blury distance views of a being they considered Sasquatch. They even had an episode (though not in NorCal) of some rednecks that claim they shot, killed, and buried a Big Foot. Sadly, none of them remembered exactly where they buried the evidence of their kill; they were drunk and high on the hunt, and scared shitless they'd be arrested for murder, so nobody can pinpoint exactly where the Boys hid the body.

Big Foot, aka Sasquatch, is not to be confused by the other, older legend of The Dark Watchers known to haunt the Central/Coastal Valley along the Santa Lucia Mountain Range. Sightings of The Dark Watchers date back to "Spanish explorers making their way to the California Coast." (source) The Dark Watchers are described as:
very tall humanoid entities ranging in height from 7 feet tall all the way up to around 15 feet tall, dressed all in black and wearing flowing cloaks and wide brimmed hats, with many sightings also mentioning some sort of staves or sticks in the beings’ hands. Facial features are not typically seen, and they are almost always silent, enigmatic figures usually seen at a distance up on ridges silhouetted against the darkening twilight sky, always at around dusk or dawn, quietly looking over and surveying their domain with unknowable purpose and often vanishing in the blink of an eye, especially if one is to try and draw closer.
 I live in Oroville, under part of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range - a few miles south of South Table Mountain. (Table Mountain, and the cascading Buttes to the south east coast line, were formed by the giant Paul Bunyan sitting down to lunch. He chopped off the top of a mountain to form his table, and his blue ox Babe formed the Sacramento Valley while snuggling out a nitch for a nap.) any local legends and tragedies abound in the local bookstores. I think if I were to write them in an anthology it could look a lot like Stephen King's fictional town of Castle Rock, Main. Someday, maybe . . when I'm not working 60 hours a week. But Big Foot is my favorite; and our plan is to set up a digital camera pointing at the downhill creek area of our property in hopes of catching our own distant, blury, mobile figure of Sasquatch to sell to the tabloids for our 15 seconds of fame.

Don't laugh; it could happen!

Thanks Shannon for giving me this opportunity to expose my favorite Urban Legend in my home town. I wish you luck in your book launch.



Title: Bruised Souls & Other Torments: Short Stories
Author: Shannon Lawrence

Amazon pre-order link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085N7YCZ3


The Kindle e-book will be live Friday. The paperback *should* be. It will hit Smashwords and everywhere they distribute within the next week.

Blurb:

Fear resides in the soul.

A welcoming widow with a twisted appetite; a war-time evil lurking behind the face of a child; a father’s love gone horribly wrong; a deadly government solution; a new job with a demonic pay scale; a woman trapped in a mysterious house with no memory of who she is or how she got there. These are a mere glimpse of the terrors that lie in wait in this collection of horror short stories, sure to grip the psyche and torment the soul.


My website and social media links:
website: www.thewarriormuse.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewarriormuse/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thewarriormuse
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/thewarriormuse/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thewarriormuse/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/shannon-lawrence
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13836289.Shannon_Lawrence
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Shannon-Lawrence/e/B00TDKPOAO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_5

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

IWSG: Customs in stories


 Hey Ya'll; I'm back!!

Yep, I signed up again for the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group; hopefully this commitment is my first step in getting back into blogging and writing. Go to  IWSG sign-up linky, look at the last number on the list (176) and there I am, lol. If you are not already on the linky, do a girl a favor and sign up so I'm not last in line! Thank ya kindly.



Lets get this first Wednesday of the Month started with the optional March 4 question - Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

My answer: Hmm, I'm really not sure. My home as a child was so strictly regular - or regulated - that I could not breathe. As I grew up, moved out, and had my own children, I slowly tossed away all those harsh family traditions. Until one day, I realized I did nothing like how I was raised.

In fact, I don't believe I did anything much the same from year to year, season to season. Maybe Christmas and Thanksgiving, and summer clothing buying. I always had an unwrapped Santa gift for each kid that only arrived on Christmas Eve (after all kids went to bed), and stockings had the most prized gifts. And unlike my childhood home at Thanksgiving, when we starved all day, cooked, and had dinner eaten and cleaned up by 3pm, I had all day snacks and treats and dinner around 5p. And every summer, there was a shopping spree for new "play clothes". I never had a separation for "play" clothes and "school" clothes - except clothes too stained or ripped to wear to school.

Because there has always been such a lack of tradition in my home, I have a tendency to not have set traditions in my stories. This has not been a purposeful oversight; I just forget to write anything typical like: going to church, having a pet (although we've always had a cat at my house), family reunions, and worst of all, not writing friends and social life.

Perhaps this is why my best stories are short stories and flash fiction. And why it is taking me 10 years or so to edit my women's fiction trilogy: I keep adding some true family life into my characters. Practice practice practice.

This was an interesting question to explore - not sure my answer was as interesting. But there it is. I'm pretty busy this week, not gonna have my computer much, so I will do most of my blog hopping this weekend. Don't forget to visit the IWSG founder Alex J Cavanaugh, and the March 4 co-hosts: Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Shannon Lawrence.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

WEP: CAFE TERRACE

Happy Birthday WEP!!

This is the first post of the year for the WEP - aka Write..Edit..Publish. And look, I managed to make this my first real post of the year 2020. Writing progress, lol.

I don't have a lot of time for intro - gotta get to work and make that money. So here's the copy/paste details from the WEP linkz post. Hurry hurry to create your own submission.

1. SUBMIT your name to the list below on publication of your entry. Add DL after your name. (DirectLink) We will no longer add your Direct Link.
2. POST your edited entry, making sure 'WEP' is in the TITLE along with the CAFE TERRACE badge within your entry.
3. STATE feedback preferences and word count at the end of your entry.
4. READ other entries, giving feedback if requested.
5. SHARE THE CHALLENGE on social media. Tweets are ready on the WEP blog.
PLEASE NOTE: ENTRIES CLOSE FEBRUARY 21 (NY Time - check WEP blog clock)
ALL GENRES WELCOME except erotica - 1,000 words maximum




LUCID PAST

Sonia coughed and spit a wad of bloody mucus into a sodden rag. The rag had once been her favorite kerchief, the one Carlos had liked so well. Now it was thread bare, colorless, nothing left to hold onto except the memories of love and life and laughter. Sonia missed his laughter more than anything.

She was a large dirty bundle tucked into a deep doorway, though she was thin, scraggly woman of 70 years. Everything she owned was piled under and around her; keeping her warm and well hidden. More than the foggy night creeped in the dark alleys of the abandoned old city center. Her tattered scarf itched and moved, and she dusted a fevered and mittened hand against the knitting, hoping it was wind and not bugs burrowing into her thin hair.

This doorway had been her permanent night home for more years than she could remember. Across the street was a long wooden porch that had seen better years, but somehow had not fallen completely apart. She thought it once must have been home to an outdoor market, and reminded her of the Café she and Carlos met at. Before the war, and death, and so many failures left her just as abandoned and bereft as the city she streets she haunted. Not the same city, not even the same country.

Between the remnants of the farmers market, and the old school like building down the street that resembled the orphanage where she initially made her simple vows. Sonia’s hand fell limply to her side, her breathing slowed, and her mind slipped into a memory of the day she met Carlos. The clatter of broken glass shifting in the wind became the sighing tink of a tambourine.

Carlos was known as The Gypsy Boy, even though everyone knew he was no Gypsy. Tall and lean, in too small, patched breeches and a woolen shirt several sizes to large, Carlos frequently entertained the lost ones and Nuns who ran the orphanage. Sonia’s family just sent her Convent Dowery, assuring another year’s comfortable existence as an initiate, but already the Reverend Mother was expressing doubts about Sonia’s suitability to the religious community. She loved people too much to be effectively cloistered, but the church needed the income, and Sonia had a gift with the children’s education.

“Dance with me pretty Sonia,” Carlos begged, waving his tambourine in front of himself.

The tinkling symbols made her giggle. The warmth of his hand made her heart skip a beat. He took her bread basket and set it on the grass, then bowed.

But no, that wasn’t quite right. Not on that day. That day the Café was just opening, the owner was washing tables and setting out flower vases. Now it was busy with smiling patrons, women and children were dashing across the street to laugh and talk with each other, and Carlos was dressed in the Khaki’s she’d last seen him in. She grinned at him as she had that day, only now trying not to remember he’d been shot as a deserter.
“I don’t think I shall,” she said, now as she had then. “The Reverend Mother is watching.”

He looked around, as he had on that day, and smugly replied, “But we are alone. And the day is fine, and you have inspired a song in my heart.” He danced around her, singing something non-sensical about love and undying devotion.

Her heart leaped with him, and she felt the years of toil and despair fall away. But that was wrong too; she was young, only 17, lush and fully developed beneath her habit. Her tunic was new, her grey veil had been freshly cleaned. She spun around as she watched him circling her, her bare feet relishing the feel warm grass.

“I should be wearing shoes,” she thought. Before her first initiation rites she was the family disappointment, always shucking her expensive shoes and tramping barefoot through the freshly cut grass with the servant’s children. It was hoped life as a Religious Sister would calm her wildness, give her life purpose since she had shunned all the arranged marriage proposals. Unexpectedly, Sonia had agreed to the terms of service with enthusiasm.

Until Carlos. It had taken months of mischievous meetings for her to succumb to his charms. A bouquet of wild flowers appeared in his hand. She took them, inhaled deeply, absorbing the colors and fragrance. He frequently offered her gifts of flowers, bites of pilfered chocolate, pebbles that shinned like crystals, if only in his eyes. Once he wove a ring out of fine twigs and asked her to marry him.

She looked at her left finger, and there was the woven ring. “Not on our first meeting,” she reminded herself, but still smiled at the inaccuracy of her memory.

Except, it didn’t feel like a memory anymore. It felt like a new meeting, in a familiar setting. Everything about their affair was mixed up, but fresh and new. He laughed again, a sound that she loved and craved. More years fell away.

Sonia let them go easily.

“This day will never end,” Carlos promised, pulling the veil from her hair. He’d said that often, and meant it every time.

Stars burst overhead in brilliant rainbow streams, the cloudless day not dampening their brightness. Sonia remembered the New Years celebration before he left to fight a war he didn’t believe in. The promises, the night of romance. She didn’t believe any of it then.

Sonia believed now. She stepped into his arms, swayed with the shimmering tambourine and the sweetness of his voice.

“Yes,” she agreed. Willing it to be THAT day, everyday.


word count: 949

full critique acceptable