To me writing, writing horror, is  all about emotion. Usually the heavier, darker ones, things that make me uncomfortable. Grief, loss, hurt. Sometimes I get into things I regret, mistakes I made, what I’m ashamed of.

And I write about what scares me, gets me riled or upset, or is just plain gross. Not all my stories end up being horror stories. Some are scifi, some dark fantasy, weird, magic-realism, even a little literary. But they all dig around in that tickle trunk of my dark side.

Here are some of the things that freak me out:

Big Brother, group think, cultish behaviour of any kind, parasites, paralysis, pile worms (come on, they puke out their guts and suck ’em back in instead of wriggling), shit-crazy hillbillies, censorship, genocide, killing someone by accident, being swarmed by rabbits, being stuck deep underground, did I say hillbillies?, kids with soft creepy voices, people all dressed the same and acting the same (and pod people), oompa loompa’s, living without love, raw meat, killing someone on purpose, not being able to breath, pregnant women (sorry … only sometimes. One day I saw six or seven in a row and I got a little creeped out), rampage killers, guns, dictators, mob mentality, being massively burned, being taken over and knowing it and watching the ‘new me’ live my life … especially if they do a better job than me or go psychotic, hurting someone I love and not being able to make it better, the word phlegm (but only when type it, not when I say it), that when I am old I will look back and regret my entire life, when someone’s eyes turn totally black, things coming in too close to my eyes (especially sharp things), when my finger gets stuck in a wee teacup handle (will it ever come out? will I break the teacup trying to get it to let go?).

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s a start.

What scares/upsets/disturbs/gives you the heebies?

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The Bass

February 27, 2013

Went out guitar shopping with my partner today.

He bought one, with an amp and a ‘how to’ book. Maybe I’ll get more writing time out of this!

HPL

February 23, 2013

Whenever I read Lovecraft a strange thing happens. My internal monologue starts funny-talking.

There’s this market I want to write something for, Whispers from the Abyss.  Flash fiction a la Lovecraft. I have a few ideas, but for inspiration I’ve been reading and re-reading some HPL, and some stories from anthologies inspired by him.

Whenever I hit the Lovecraft the same thing happens … that voice that narrates my life, that observes my surroundings and stows away interesting tidbits, takes on a new accent. It’s a creepy, eldritch voice that dwells on the cracks and bubbles in the plaster wall, obsesses about that cut on my finger keeps breaking open like a sucking mouth. In fact the whole finger is rather sinister the way it crooks at the end with an oddly bulging knuckle from an old basketball-stuffing injury.

Man does HPL seep into your head and twist it all up!

My Happy Dance

February 19, 2013

Apparently my happy dance is weird.

Like a steam powered penguin doing the Harlem Shuffle and squealing ‘eeeeeeeee’.

But hey, when you submit a story and a few hours later an email comes in with three sweet words, what else can you do.

Those words: Wonderful. And sold.

Eeeeeeeeee!

This year is set to be great. 3 stories coming out. Working with a fabulous mentor. The World Horror Conference in New Orleans. Submissions gone or going to some of the markets I’m most keen to submit to. And it’s only February.

My critique partner, Usman, predicted 20 acceptances for me this year. Better get busy!

The Hypnagogic State

December 31, 2012

It’s real.

It is!

It is one of the coolest and most interesting tools I use as a writer. ‘Use’ isn’t the right way to put it, though.

When I started writing short stories I had a wickedly regular schedule. I could sit down for a couple of hours every day at the same time, same desk and write. It was working really well. I had tons of ideas and motivation. But with my third story I couldn’t quite figure out how to end it. I knew the final final scene, but I had no idea how to get the story there. So I lay in bed that night, thinking about my story…and it came to me, in it’s entirety—like a scene from a movie, somewhere between being awake and falling asleep. Pop. In my head.

For some reason I didn’t get up and write it down, I took a gamble and went to sleep. When I woke up the story was still with me. I made my coffee, ate some brekkie, and when I did sit down to write it just spewed out.

So I’d say ‘access’ is better than ‘use’ to describe what happens. It happens a fair bit, too.

I didn’t know what it was until I read an article by J N Williamson in Mort Castle’s book, On Writing Horror.

I do it all the time, now. It gives me something to do as I’m falling asleep, too. Better than working myself into a panic attack about money and all that real-life bullshit.

Here are some other resources that are pretty useful:

Shun’s manuscript format: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

James Gardners workshop for writers: http://www.thinkage.ca/~jim/prose/toc.htm

What I’ve learned (so far)

December 29, 2012

This blog thing, I’m hoping, will take a direction, become what it wants to become. Until then here are some of the tips and realities that have made my writing better and my life easier.

  • Hold down function alt while you type m j i j on your keyboard if you have a notebook like me. This gets you a properly formatted emdash. I use a lot of emdashes. I thank Angel Leigh McCoy for that tip.
  • Start every story in the correct manuscript format.
  • Adverbs are, in many cases, bad. I already knew this, but if you didn’t, Google it. Decide for yourself.
  • Beware of filtering. It is also bad. (thank you Sarah Cassidy)
  • Micro tension. Make sure each section of your story begins and ends with something compelling and propelling. Even each paragraph, each sentence. Don’t ‘close’ a scene. Leave it open and the reader wondering. (thank you Usman Malik)
  • Ask yourself ‘what are the stakes’. Are they compelling enough? (thank you Joseph Nassise) I forgot this important issue in one of my stories, fell in love with the creature and ignored the story. Joe pushed me back on track.
  • Make as many connections as you can in your writing community. Help people out, be friendly, volunteer, get involved. It can be a solitary life for a writer, but there are others out there. Support each other, encourage and commend. It can inspire you and motivate like you wouldn’t believe!
  • Too many adjectives, also bad.
  • Don’t be too clever and cute, and then fall in love with the cleverness in your writing. Cut it. Hit delete. It’s annoying. Just write the story. I want to go back to the stories I wrote in high school and see what atrocities I committed.
  • Submit. You won’t know until you do.
  • Editors are great people who want to put out great publications.

Accepted II

December 25, 2012

I’ve just received my second acceptance.

So psyched.

I never intended to write a zombie story. Didn’t think I had anything to add, except that I find zombies kind of sad … until I read something on Open Call about zombies in history, the editor was specifically looking for zombies BC.

The story came to me in its entirety. It flowed so easily. And it was something the editor was looking for.

It was really interesting to talk with the editor on the phone. He requested some edits, and more words. I’d never expected to be asked for more words. I figured it would typically go the other way. I’m so thrilled to be engaged in this process. His suggestions and feedback were encouraging and inspiring.

I’ve been looking forward to getting to this point with a story, looking at it with someone who also wants to see it be its best and can give me an outside perspective. I’m learning so much.

And I’m so happy.

PS … I am never going to write a story about psychotic hill-folk. I guess the novel will be coming to me soon.

Accepted!

December 15, 2012

December has been a fantastic month.

Not only did I sell my first story … to [Nameless] Magazine, a fantastic magazine put out by some fantastic people, but I also have a mentor now!

I am so happy I joined the HWA (Horror Writer’s Association). I’ve got my newsletter column, a number of great new friends, my critique partner, Usman. It’s been the best investment in writing I’ve made.

Added to last month’s news that my non-fiction piece will be used in the Deep Cuts anthology … I’m feeling pretty chuffed.

YES

Waiting

October 15, 2012

All you can do when waiting on a submission is write another story and send it out.

This has become my policy. Instead of chomping at the bit for months (and months) waiting on one story, I’ve been trying to get as many out there as possible. Shrink the wait.

Then, fueled by rejection letters (no, I don’t burn them, I read them, learn from them, save them in a special file), I get back to it.

Today, however, I know that a decision has been made on my story. It was shortlisted and their Facebook page says they’ve made their choices. Now I count the days/hours/minutes/seconds for them to let me know my fate. How many times in a day can I refresh my email?

UPDATE: Another one for my ‘rejection’ email file. Can’t wait to send this one back out!

UPDATE: Same story got a personal rejection letter from John Joseph Adams. Best rejection to date.

No News

October 3, 2012

Is no news good news?