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Not An Exit: An Annual Short Fiction Project

I like writing short stories. And flash fiction.

I like writing speculative bits and pieces of terrifying nonsense.

I like writing the trials and tribulations of the human condition masquerading as fantasy.

I like writing random apocalyptic and dystopian one-offs.

I like challenging you, dear reader, and giving you strange things to think about.

At first I was just going to keep these stories in a file on my iPad and let them exist in the dark ether. But I really wanted people to read them.

Then I thought about publishing them individually, as I wrote and polished them. And while that was extremely satisfying, I didn’t feel like the publishing model I was using for my other fiction fit with these stories.

What I am going to do is this:

Every year, on Halloween, I am going to publish a short story collection. These collections will include all the random, stand alone short fiction I have written in the previous year.

In case you didn’t know already, all the poetry that I have self-published is free. The books in my paranormal werewolf series, The Slaughter Chronicles, are free. The books in my urban fantasy faerie series (when they come out) will be free.

But I’d like to charge 0.99 for these short story collections because, while The Slaughter Chronicles and The Heart of the Forest Cycle might not be your cup of tea, if you like speculative fiction there’s a good chance you’ll like these stories.

It’s not that they’re more “accessible” or “mainstream” than my other work, but they are the words that cast the widest net. They’re not as specialized–for lack of a better word–than my other fiction and thusly, I feel, more marketable.

So if you like short story collections and want a quick and quirky/slightly dark read, my stories are for you and if you end up liking them, please give my other fiction a try.

If you already like my werewolf series and my poetry and would like to give me some support, please consider purchasing my short story collection(s).

The project is going to be titled “NOT AN EXIT” and every year a new volume will come out. Each volume will be available for sale on every ebook publishing platform, including Amazon Kindle.

As the publication date comes closer I will release the contents list and samples for your enjoyment. As well as some behind the scenes writing shenanigans.

Thank you so much for reading my work and following me on this self-publishing journey.

And since you’re curious, here’s the cover for the first volume…

Writing Advice #16

When you’re editing your manuscript, read it though, at least once, as if you know NOTHING about your story.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own heads when we write, especially during the first draft. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you want to catch errors and inconsistencies you have to not only get critical, you have to suspend your own imagination and forget–temporarily–everything you know about your own story.

Crazy talk, I know.

But doing that changes your perspective and can give you insights you might not otherwise have.

But one of the hardest lessons I learned in my college poetry classes was not to make internal references or “inside jokes.” I might get the reference but someone who doesn’t know me sure as shit won’t.

The same thing applies to fiction. Readers can’t read minds. You might write something that makes total sense to you either because you get the joke or you know what’s going to happen three chapters or three books down the road.

Your readers don’t know these things. They might get confused. They might stop reading.

It also shows you things that you might take for granted. For example: does everyone know werewolves are bothered by silver? Does everyone know what necromancy is?

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to spell out every little detail, dumb your writing down, or waste pages with info dumps but it is important to be mindful of what expectations you are putting on your reader and if those expectations help or hinder your story.

Looking at your manuscript this way doesn’t just help fill plot holes. It can show you ways to enhance your narrative structure.

Here’s an example from my own experiences:

I love prologues.

I know AuthorTubers and many a podcast host tell you to avoid prologues like the plague. But I’m one of those weird people who love reading prologues so I thought, “Fuck it, I’m gonna write a prologue and it’s going to be my MC, Regina, reporting on the death of another character. And it’s going to be awesome.”

Well, I gave the manuscript to one of my beta readers and she didn’t like it. She has no idea who was talking and no idea who these characters were. Because there was no context. I knew what was going on because I have the WHOLE STORY in my head. She didn’t. And it didn’t work for her.

Then another beta reader said the same thing. And I was sad…because I made the thing and would have to change the thing.

If one beta reader has an opinion you can take it with a pinch of salt. But if more than one person has the same problem, the problem doesn’t come from their interpretations or expectations, it comes from your writing.

And I thought, “Well, what if I make it an INTERLUDE instead?”

And that works so much better because by the time this character needs to die you, the reader, know a little bit more about the world and can follow along with the MC and learn the WHY and HOW without getting confused.

So now, whenever I’m editing I always make a plan to read through whatever I’m working on as if I have no idea what’s going on. This helps me get into the mind of a reader and I can think about what kinds of things I, as a reader, would want to know.

I recommend that at least once you read through your manuscript and pretend you have no idea what’s going on. See what happens.

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Photo by Adrien Olichon on Unsplash

Drinking Music

guitar eyes

drunk on that

music

scream low

smug eyelashes

take bastards

into heaven

hot lights

red clay

a little piece of

that July highway

a little relief

from god

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Found Poem: pages 45-72 of Trash by Dorothy Allison.

This poem was first published in my collection Lupercalia.

Photo by Mariana Vusiatytska on Unsplash

Reading The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton

I don’t do a lot of traditional book reviews and this isn’t going to be one of them, I guess, more like thoughts on the book while explaining why I think it’s so great. Maybe that is a traditional review. Whatever. It’s morning and I’m not awake yet.

So I’m re-reading the ENTIRE Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series from book one to infinity because I last stopped reading the series at book 13 (or something, can’t remember) and got into other things and then Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series.

By the time I wanted to pick the Anita books up again I’d forgotten half of what happened and knew I needed to start from the very beginning to get the full immersive experience.

I picked up Guilty Pleasures back in January and I was going to try to finish all of them by the end of this year. Seeing as it’s already August and I’ve just started book 4, I probably won’t.

But I wanted to talk about what I’ve read so far, specifically in the context of how art imitates life and how I connected with the second book in the Anita Blake series, The Laughing Corpse.

Trigger warning: Don’t read below the cut if you don’t want spoilers or expositions on violence, gore, and rape in literature.

Continue reading Reading The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton

In the Voice of My Poetry

My poetry is about finding lost things.

If drinking makes you sick, don’t drink.

Find a clean puddle and dip your cup in that; drink the moon on the water.

My grandmother never wanted my grandfather to leave (he was an alcoholic). She had one sister who thought she was prettier than everyone else. Her grave has dead plants on it. And pink marble.

My poetry is about falling across the road as a bloody smear and making a new boundary, a new border.

My poetry is about an imaginary map.

I was born alone.

Wild roses are my favorite.

My poetry is about rotting and returning to the earth.

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This post is inspired by Bhanu Kapil’s Blog

Photo by Felipe Santana on Unsplash

Hotel Magic

pelvic bone

demolition

painkiller hotel

and hunger

cold coffee the

shattered lover

intoxicated

vertebrae

tangled

in the

Delta

transformation

night

sky-

dive

THE MAJESTIC HOTEL

BURNED FOR NEARLY

48 HOURS

Big Dipper

spiraling

catastrophe

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Found poem. Source: The New York Times, April 2014.

This poem was first published on my old blog Chewing Wormwood and then republished in my collection Lupercalia. (I can’t believe I remembered my old blog’s name!)

Photo by Ph B on Unsplash