Leopard Seals, Shiny Things, and Three Poems

I was using twitter for a while to keep track of all the videos and articles I wanted to refer back to or keep as reference material. That hasn’t really worked so I’m going to try posting stuff here. I don’t know if I want to call it a “weekly roundup” or make a “favorite things” list.

This might turn into a weekly thing…or a biweekly thing…or a one off thing. Hopefully not, I don’t know.

Firstly, anyone needing any kind of photograph or artwork for ANY REASON AT ALL needs to check out Unsplash. A writer friend turned me on to it and all I can say is THANK YOU! This site is the best!

Secondly, Leopard Seals are the shit. Leopard Seals are my new favorite.

Just in case you haven’t seen this yet: Wolf Totem by The Hu (Mongolian Folk Metal).

If you’re a writer and you love jewelry you need to check out LionessElise on Etsy. I have four of her pendants and I absolutely love her work.

I make jewelry and shiny things that make people want to write.–Lioness

Three Poems

Arsenal 4 by Cedar Sigo.

1915: The Trenches by Conrad Aiken.

Central Visayan Mountain Range, Philippines 1945 by Angela Peñaredondo.

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Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

A Few Things I Know For Sure (Part 1)

I want a drink. I want to drink until I die. (Not for dying’s sake but because drinking is the only thing I want to do. The. Only. Thing.) 10 bottles of bourbon lined up in a neat little row, a hotel room with a balcony that overlooks the river. In another version of reality I jump. In this one I don’t. And I have to live with that. The wanting and the not having.

The sun is a giant ball of fire that will kill us all if we don’t destroy ourselves (or something else happens) first. I’m okay with the sun. The sun and I are friends but not in a weird way (I don’t want to marry the sun).

Something (you don’t have to believe in god) out there has a plan for you. See, you’re not dead yet.

I love the ocean. The ocean is also terrifying.

Gravity works. For now.

Every morning my cats demand to be fed. Every morning their demands are met.

I know for sure that it might rain.

I know for sure that there are people out there who love you (even if you haven’t met them yet).

Things go. Whether or not they go the way you want them to is debatable.

Telling stories is the best thing in the world.

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This came out of watching Anne Lamott’s TED Talk, 12 truths I learned from life and writing, July 13, 2017.

Photo by Sime Basioli 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

Writing On A Schedule

So my plan was to make fiction. One novella and three novels. Follow the recipe. Eat the cake.

All sweetness. The sweetest ever.

Well, the writing had other plans.

Instead of coming up with one novella and three novels I had two novels and two separate collections of short stories.

And I also had this SCHEDULE I was trying to keep because I had goals/delusions of professionalism.

Well, I threw the holy schedule away.

Because the creative process does not stop. It is a flood. And the flood said, “You will come with me or else.”

Throughout the course of writing The Slaughter Chronicles I have learned so much about how to write a continuing story line and a lot about myself as a writer. My character Regina came into my head in 2014 and in 2016 I put her on the page for the first time. It’s 2019 now and even though YOU only have one tiny novella about her, I have all the stories, and putting them on paper has been a challenge and a joy.

So now instead of one novella and three novels and instead of two novels and two short story collections, I have two novellas, one novel, and two short story collections.

This is what happens when I try to write. I make a thing (novel no. 1) and I let it sit. And then I find the plot holes and fill them.

And then the writing tells me, “No, I want to be something else.” And when I try to fix it and can’t, I don’t write for 10 days and feel bad about myself.

But then I have an idea. And then another idea. And then the story finally becomes something I like (not that I didn’t like it before, it just wasn’t enough).

The novel I wrote was fine. But that was all. It was competent. But there was something about it that bored me. So I tried to change it. But that didn’t work.

I tried again, that also didn’t work.

Third time’s the charm in this case.

Never settle with your writing. Never, ever think just because your final draft is ‘done’ that you have to keep it when your gut tells you something is wrong or something needs to be added/taken away.

I am very lucky, I don’t need to publish books to pay my bills. I am only accountable to myself. I haven’t sold my work to anyone and no one is waiting to buy it. I can change my deadlines whenever I want.

And I have. Again.

So what does that mean?

How do I write?

What is the plan for the writing?

Firstly, there will be no more Slaughter Chronicles publications until next year. This is not a bad thing. I’m going to give you a better product than what I had planned, I promise.

Secondly, since I want a Halloween book baby so badly, I am going to publish a collection of short stories on October 31 this year. And next year. And the year after that. Check out the info on this project here :)

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Photo by Guillaume Bolduc on Unsplash

Go To Your Setting

when it’s reasonable, of course.

GO TO THE PLACE YOUR BOOK IS SET!

…okay if you’re in the US and your book is set in Paris and you have no money, don’t go bankrupt for it…watch as many documentaries and street walk about on YouTube as you can.

This piece of writing advice has a personal anecdote.

This past Monday I drove down to the Mena, Arkansas area and planned to spend the morning hiking at Queen Whilamena State Park and the afternoon exploring the little, teeny-tiny towns surrounding the state park.

The drive down was really pleasant. But then it started raining. Thankfully, by the time I got to the Queen Whilamena Lodge and Restaurant the rain had stopped BUT there was fog EVERYWHERE!

I had not checked the weather app on my phone. I didn’t even think about the possibility of anything but clear skies and humid air (summer in Arkansas, y’all). But that is not what I got.

There was a fleeting moment where my heart sank and I thought, “I drove all this way and now I have to go home…”

But then I took another look at the fog, which was literally getting thicker by the minute and I thought, “HOLY SHIT THIS IS PERFECT WEATHER FOR A HORROR NOVEL!”

I mean look at that! That’s amazing!

If I’d gone on a “normal” day I’d have hiked, got some nice pictures of trees and buildings, and gone home with nice things to think about but this–the fog, the rain–gave my setting character. Or my setting looked at me and said, “Acknowledge that I am a force of nature!” while slapping me in the face.

And there was this really nifty fungus on the trail that was all glistening and fleshy. I almost walked face first into a MASSIVE spider webs trying to photograph it.

A new beginning to one of my books bloomed in my mind. I got to make rough stage blocking for an action scene and took pictures of this one specific outcropping from multiple angles for reference later. I was so inspired IT WASN’T EVEN FUNNY!

So the moral of this story here is think about what your setting is like in bad weather. You never know what will happen. But also, it’s important to visit, if you can, where your book is set because you’ll get to think about concrete details you may not have considered from your chair at your writing desk.

And I learned that my main character’s favorite food is not pizza like I thought it was, but fried green beans.

You never know what’s going to happen when you go out on location.

Good luck and happy writing!