Fear and Dust

I have a tendency to analyze everything when it comes to the way people (including me) act and how they interact. Maybe it’s a writer thing; I don’t know.

I read an article, editorial, opinion piece? I don’t know what it was, exactly. I’m not up on my journalism lingo, but anyway, this author lady was talking about how she has been trying to get one of her books published for the last 10 years.

10. As in a decade. What’s the definition of insanity, again?

So then I started asking myself why anyone would do that. In this day and age, when authors publish their own work every day, why would anyone hold out for that long? Does she have some deep-seated need for validation?

I think the more likely motivation is fear. Even things like rejection can feel like a kind of safe-zone. If no one “accepts” the book, then she doesn’t have to set it loose into the world. She doesn’t have to make it available for the general public to read. She doesn’t have to worry about bad reviews.

I get it; I really do. But life is too short. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to spend so many precious moments of their life begging for approval that probably won’t ever come, at least, not the way she wants. Meanwhile, her book hasn’t done anything but gather dust.

I hope she gets past it.

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Working, Whistling, Cough-Shouting

I’m still alive, I promise. I’ve been getting a lot of work done. Work on my books, work on books by other people. It’s like a work extravaganza! I do have a brief rundown of stuff that should be out and available before the end of this year.

Desmond Winters and the Ghosts of Arbolettis – release date – approximately November, possibly December, possibly near the end of December.

Beneath Oceans of Sky – another middle-grade book – by the end of October or sooner.

Iyrico audiobook – hopefully by the end of September so I can get in on the people looking for ghost stories in October.

Destined for Darkness audiobook – Around the first part of November. I’m not actually doing this one. I have a very talented narrator on ACX working on it.

I’m cutting audio on Iyrico this evening which is one of my FAVORITE tasks (NOT). I found this lovely soundbite in which I was trying to clear my throat and what came out was this strange combination of shout and cough that sounded like a demon briefly invaded my vocal chords. I’ll save your ears, but here’s a picture of the sound levels. Normal speaking voice on the left, demon cough-shout on the right.

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The whistling part of the post title was actually a lie. I can’t whistle…like, at all.

 

In Which I Tried Not To Pick The Obvious Thing

I believe that our culture conditions us to have certain expectations when it comes to stories. Movies, books, spoken word, it doesn’t matter. That’s why people get in an uproar when, say, a YA author kills off the main character in the last book of a trilogy (keeping them nameless to avoid spoilers). People weren’t expecting the author to do that. They were expecting the story to end the way they wanted it to, the way so many other books have.

Sometimes when I write, I reach a certain point in a story, and I feel like what I’m about to write, the next part, is too obvious. It’s almost like autopilot writing propelled by my cultural conditioning. So, when I hit that point, I stop.

I take a step back and wonder what else could happen. I actually brainstorm a little bit, and I jot down several possibilities.

Like this:

Let’s say we’re writing a horror. I love love love horror, but a lot of horrors (movies, books, whatever) sometimes have a tendency to follow a formula.

Let’s say, Jimmy is about to open a door. The audience is all like, “No, Jimmy! Don’t open that door!” Why? Because something bad is going to happen to Jimmy. Duh. It’s happened in a thousand stories before this.

So, we have Jimmy standing in front of the door. Since this is an especially cliché situation, we’re going to use 15 possibilities.

Rapid fire. I don’t think; I just write. And I start with the obvious ones so I get them out of the way. 

  1. Ghost grabs Jimmy and pulls him into the room.
  2. Nothing is there. Empty room.
  3. See something terrifying but doesn’t affect him, like he witnesses a murder that happened a long time ago.
  4. Sees a mirror image of the room behind him, as well as a reflection of himself.
  5. Brick wall like in cartoons.  🙂 
  6. Portal to another dimension.
  7. Ghost inviting him to dinner.
  8. Jimmy doesn’t open the door and walks away. Creepy thing reaches for him.
  9. Door opens to outside of the building. Long way down. More cartoons!
  10. Swirling fog monster.
  11. Opens to his bedroom in his childhood home (or so it would appear)
  12. Dead friend is there, trying to lure him inside.
  13. Soul eating machine.
  14. Opens to a hospital room where he sees himself in a coma and something tries to convince him the haunted house is a dream.
  15. Doesn’t open the door at all, but when he turns, he’s surrounded by a ring of duplicate doors, so he has no choice but to open one.

Okay, some of these are still kind of cliché, but you get the idea.

And now, because I don’t know how to conclude this post in an eloquent manner and because every blog post needs a picture, here are some terrifying bunnies I saw in an antique store.

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How Not to Babysit a Snake, plus an only slightly-related Merlin pic

When I was about 15 or 16 years old, I had a friend who worked in the mall near the apartment complex in which I lived. I can’t remember if she worked at the pet store or the record store, but I do remember that one day, she bought a ball python while she was at the mall working.

Since she still had some hours left in her workday, she asked me to babysit the snake for her. Hang out with a 4-foot ball python? Heck, yeah! So I took the snake home back to my apartment.

I had no knowledge of how to handle snakes. I had no snake accessories, no fish tank in which to keep it, no cage, just a snake.

It was a sweet thing, very well behaved, but I was a teenager with a short attention span and who really wants to actively monitor a snake for hours on end, anyway?

I put the snake in the bathtub. I believe that my thinking was, even if it escapes the tub, where is it going to go? The bathroom door was closed. The room was small, no windows.

Yeah, snake is in the tub. I left it unattended to…I have no idea. I might have been watching Gilligan’s Island. I went through this weird phase in which I watched Gilligan’s Island reruns every day.

I did eventually go back to check on the snake. I was just in time to see its tail ready to disappear into a hole in the bottom of the cabinet under the sink. Apparently, at snakes-eye view, there was an escape route. I don’t spend much time lying on the bathroom floor, so I had no idea it was there.

I tried to grab the tail, and it slipped out of my hand.

I don’t remember if I called the maintenance man or I called my mom and she called the maintenance man, but he did arrive. He had to bust open the floor of the cabinet to get the snake out. I got the snake back, unharmed, and my friend picked up her snake later. I have not been asked to snakesit since.

Now, to make this a fully 100% reptile-themed post, please enjoy this fantastic picture of Merlin on a car ride. Photo credit: the girl.

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Mish Mosh Applsosh

I’ve been listening to the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. I’m actually on book 2.

It’s a lot like The Hunger Games, and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Both stories are YA dystopian fiction. It’s the ruling class versus the lower class. Main character is a spunky female who isn’t satisfied with her situation. Both heroines are thrust into the midst of the ruling class. Both trilogies contain arenas and rebellion. There’s a Peeta-like character and a Gale-like character, a Prim-like character. The list goes on.

It really does.

I don’t have an issue with this. I actually like the books so far, but the similarity reminded me of a podcast I listened to recently. The author on the podcast advised other authors to find books and themes that are popular and mimic those if you want to sell books.

I wonder if that’s what the Red Queen author did, if she took the main plot points and mushed them and tossed in a few extra ingredients.

Is this really what writing has come down to?

I hope not. I have a binder of notes for books and none of those ideas were exactly lifted from popular books, not consciously, at least. I mean, given how many books there are, it’s impossible to come up with an idea that no one before you has ever come up with, but there’s a difference between that and using someone else’s work as a road map.

The idea feels icky to me. Of course, that Aveyard lady is making mountains of cash, so she must be doing something right.

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Audio Schmaudio

I am such a wimp when it comes to audio recording. My makeshift sound booth is HOT and I stand too long and my feet hurt. Both my mouth and my eyes do their best to dry up. Nevertheless, I finished rerecording Iyrico, so yay! This last round was the longest. It was about 45 minutes. The recorded file was only about 36 minutes. All that will probably boil down to about 20 minutes of edited audio, maybe slightly less.

In other audio news, I’m putting up the AnnaBeth trilogy on ACX to take auditions for an audiobook narrator. I do plan to work my way up to recording full-length audiobooks eventually, but I won’t record that particular trilogy myself.

The first couple of those books, especially the first one, came about really early in my writing career. I imagine putting myself through reading every word and then listening to/editing every word would be a bit like staring at my junior high school yearbook photo for hours on end. I’d see nothing but awkwardness and flaws.

So, if someone takes that business on, there will be AnnaBeth audiobooks!

The next book I plan to record myself is one that’s in final edit right now. It’s a kids’ book that’s about 30,000 words. The print version of the book should be finished very soon. I have no idea when the audio version will be out, but I’ll keep y’all posted.

Now, please enjoy these pictures of Bleu in a fashionable tote bag.

 

 

 

 

 

A Couple of Updates, No Stuffed Bee Butts

My son and I were talking about the lootcrate we received today. We weren’t big fans of it, so he started suggesting other subscription boxes. One was foreign foods. He informed me that it was just snack food and there was nothing weird like “stuffed bee butts”.

Stuffed. Bee. Butts. That kid cracks me up. He turned 14 a few days ago, and he’s thisclose to being taller than I am.

I’ve been very bad at blogging lately. I wish I could say it was because I’ve been working diligently 100% of the time, but alas, that is not the case. Work is done on a daily basis, yes, but the pace always feels leisurely to me. I read about other authors’ writing habits, and I feel like a giant slacker.

But today, I did finish a thing. It will be a while before that thing is out. I can’t even tell you where it will land in the editing schedule because I have 2 kids’ books in front of it. I will tell you a couple of things. It takes place in a valley in the Appalachian Mountains. Strange events occur. The book is very short, only about 40,000 words, so it’s more of a novella, I guess.

I plan to offer it free 30 days before the release to the hapless victims who sign up for my email list. Form is below.

Subscribe to my mailing list to receive book release updates and possibly other written shenanigans.

I hear all the cool kids are doing this email thing.

What else is going on? Ah yes. The audiobook. I decided to rerecord the entire thing because I’m a looney bird who can’t let things go in a timely manner. I’ve got the recording part about 2/3 of the way done. I’ve been using my makeshift sound studio, which gets rather warm.

Okay, I need to go edit something. And now, because every blog post needs a picture, please enjoy the fortune from my fortune cookie.
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