Tag Archives: Writer

Guest Post #5 — Erin Kendall Surviving My Muse

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I seem to have met a lot of great writers on the message board of the Author Who Shall Not be Named. Erin is another one I met there. Erin has written a VERY interesting Fae/Vampire novel and she’s also a lovely poet.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that one has a muse.  No, I’m not funny in the head.  I know it’s actually my subconscious, but personifying her (yes, she’s female) helps me handle her.  Especially when she’s being difficult.

It’s funny.  I’ll sit here at my desk staring into space, trying to come up with something that passes for good in my eyes (and I am very hard on myself), and my muse will be quiet.  No whispers, no movement, nothing.  I’ll poke at her a few times to see if she’s awake (maybe she’s dead?) and she’ll just…be…gone.

But when I’m not at my desk and ready for ideas?  Oh boy.  I think she takes a perverse pleasure in watching me flail.

Today at work I was copying down addresses and phone numbers.  The most tedious work ever.  So I’m doing my thing, and my muse finally decides to grace me with her presence (should I do a curtsy?).  She’s like, “hey, we need to do this and this and this with this project” and she starts shooting me scene ideas, complete with dialogue and emotions.  What, can’t I just take dictation?  No?  Suffice to say I had to try to commit everything to memory and hope for the best.  Crazy fucking muse.

So later on I’m washing my hands and she perks up.  “Hey, you know, we should do something with this unfinished Nano thing from 2009.”  Again with the details, scenes, and dialogue.  I’m rolling my eyes because that’s not even on the schedule — for this year or next.  Crazy fucking muse.

Once, she held an intervention because I was having a bout of writer’s block and wasn’t writing.  She gathered my characters and they all made their grievances known.  Did I mention that I was at work at the time?  I was alone which was good, but geez.  Wait till I’m home!

But, needless to say, it broke my block.

Speaking of writer’s block, my muse is funny that way.  She’s pretty much ready to go all the time (except when she’s sleeping or sulking) but occasionally, she gets lost.  She’s sending me ideas and all kinds of good stuff, but when I sit down to write, it’s all gone.  Hit and run.  Hit me with it and fucking disappear.  Ooh, I wish I could strangle her when she does that.

The Greek word for muse is mousai (I know this because that unfinished Nano thing from 2009 was a story about a muse, and I needed something interesting to call her besides “muse.”  This has been your useless factoid of the day).  I find that so interesting because it reminds me of mouse.  There’s no way those are connected; the connection is strictly mine (the Greek word for mouse, if you’re interested, is poondiki (and no, that’s not the correct spelling.  It’s phonetic.  I have a Greek co-worker).  But think of this.  Mice are devious little things, aren’t they?  And we’ve got the expression “quiet as a church mouse.”  But sometimes they can scratch walls and make noise and generally be annoying.  They also can hide — especially when one is trying to get rid of them.  (I had a mouse in my office once.  No one at work believed me.  They said I was imagining things.  Please note that I’m not at all scared of mice and do not get hysterical like some people do.  I was very calm and cool when I mentioned it.  A few hours later, after waiting for it to show up again, I spotted it strutting around the kitchen and told my co-workers.  They finally believed me).  Well, doesn’t this kind of describe muses?  Or, my muse?  You bet it does.

We have an interesting relationship, my muse and I.  She can be wonderful, my best friend and my true inspiration.  But she can also be my greatest enemy because she wants to write everything.  If she had her way, I’d be working on at least 3 projects at the same time and that makes me nervous.  I can do it, just not very efficiently.  That’s the problem.  I need to focus on one thing only.  That way, I’m making the most use out of my time.  Because I work and have a husband, I have limited time.  So every minute has to count.

Now, she can be brilliant for plot twists, character flaws, revelations, and mixing things up.  My current work-in-progress hit me a few weeks ago, with everything just there, from the world to the characters to the plot.  To be honest, the plot was actually from my NanoWriMo novel from 2003 that I’ve been meaning to rework.  She hit me with this like a hammer to the head and I spent about 3 days daydreaming, brainstorming, making notes as fast as I could, and figuring out scenes and situations.  The ending eludes me, but that’s not a problem.  By the time I get there, I’ll know what it is.  That’s another thing — she loves to play when I’m rough drafting it.  She believes that the blank screen is there for her benefit.  She frolics around, sprinkling faerie dust and plots.  Then she’s off in a different direction, shaping things to her whim.  And then she overwrites and veers off several times.  After all that, she throws in pointless meandering and a few red herrings and calls it a day.  Meanwhile, I’m sitting here with a mega-manuscript in the bag and a migraine just trying to put the pieces back together.  She pulled that with one book — it weighed in at 399k.  The other big one is currently in 12 pieces and although I love the story, I have no clue how I’m going to make sense of the chaos she inflicted on me (but, to her credit, I did finish the draft, so I guess I can’t complain.  Much).

But you know what?  Most of that craziness brings me joy.  I know it sounds nuts, but she’s a lot of fun, even when she’s shaking things up and creating mayhem.  She’s actually pretty brilliant.  I just wish she’d get more organized.  But hey, no one’s perfect, right?

At the end of the day, I know this: I’m far better with her than without her.  Even if “she” is just a collection of gray matter.  She’s real to me.  Even when she sucks.

website ~ http://www.erinkendall.com
writing blog ~ http://erinkendall.wordpress.com

Guest Post #4 — October Weeks Talks About Zombies!

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October Weeks is a fellow urban fantasy writer. Her writing is as dark, creepy, and fun as the month she’s named after. Check out this little snippet from her current work-in-progress.

She squirmed on the floor, trying to get closer. Hideous, wet sounds coming from her torn throat. Her lower jaw was gone. The left half of her face was gone as well, nothing but sickly strings and rotting flesh. No eye.

It took just one day for this to happen…

Clothes had been ripped and torn from her body when her brother had gone for the real food. There were several chunks of flesh missing; it looked as if Jaron had gone for the meat of his sister, right up and down each side of her torso and thighs.

It took me several minutes to realize that her breasts had been eaten as well. She had been well-endowed, now there was nothing at her chest except a small amount of rotting fatty tissue and the skin of one side of her left breast. And that piece of skin, though it was rotting, had obviously been licked clean.

Licked clean.

And that, my friends, is what the seventeen year old heroine of my YA Horror novel- my current WIP- has to face in her line of work. See, she’s a zombie slayer, trained by her uncle. She has sworn to help protect the town she lives in from the walking dead. And this is twenty years after the Zombie Apocalypse started to cool down, where humans have a fairly normal routine…albeit a completely different type of normal.

I never expected to write a YA, let alone one about zombies- mainly because I have a love/hate relationship with the walking dead. I love them, but they are the only horror creature that has ever given me nightmares- they still do. I cannot watch anything with zombies in it- save Scooby Doo- without having bad dreams for days afterward. Not even Disney movies wash them out. It just makes for a really messed up bad dream

Seriously. I once made the bad decision to watch Resident Evil while I was sick and had just taken Nyquil. I dreamed in animation- the Disney kind of animation. There were zombie pumpkins, killer vines, headless horsemen, and a psychotic vampire elf.

I should write a story about that one…

Anyhoo this fear of the walking dead doesn’t stop me from watching zombie movies or television (The Walking Dead season two is now on!!!), or reading a good zombie book. As a matter of fact, I think it all makes writing zombies easier for me because my fear is right there in my face. That translates to my heroine fighting without fear while I fear every second of what will happen if she loses- which makes for good action scenes! And I pray that all the dark and gory and vivid details in this zombie world will make those unafraid of the walking dead, afraid

As a writer, I want my readers to feel what my characters are feeling, see what they’re seeing, touch what they’re touching. Even if that means they’re touching a rotting corpse…or killing one. If I scare a reader into nightmares, that’ll make me very happy. As a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to that day. For now, I’ll be content scaring myself as I write about my character and her world. I’d say it was therapeutic but it’s not *shrug* I just keep giving myself bad dreams.

But I’ll tell you this- I have several survival plans for the coming Zombie Apocalypse. One must be flexible. After all, you never know what type of walking dead is in our future 😉

What about all of you? Do you have a zombie survival plan? What monster still scares you?

Guest Post #2 — K.B. Wagers Sick and Twisted

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I’ve only known K.B. for a few months now. We share several mutual friends on LiveJournal who had apparently been meaning to introduce us for a long time, but never did. I ended up introducing myself to K.B. after stalking perusing her journal for a bit. Boy am I ever glad I did that because she is everything I love my friends to be — crazy, opinionated, intelligent, funny, geeky. If you like all of those things as well, I suggest you do as I did and stalk her. She can usually be found haunting the halls of Black Ink, White Paper or LiveJournal.

I am a sick writer. I am a spiteful writer. I am an unattractive writer. I believe my liver is diseased.

*laughs* Okay, not really. (and my apologies to Fydor Dostoyevsky for stealing the opening of Notes from the Underground)

I am, however, a mean writer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my characters, but given half a chance I will destroy them. I will maim them, break them, kill their loved ones, burn down their houses, and run over their puppies. (Okay, I might be lying about the puppies.)

You’d think I write horror the number of times my characters get beaten up, shot, stabbed, killed, brought back to life, and killed again. I’ve broken bones, set characters on fire, and cut their throats. That’s all just the tip of the violence iceberg. Psychologically I’m even more sadistic. To date I’ve killed more than a handful of loved ones, made characters watch their significant other die, forced them to fall in love with their enemies, questioned their ethics, pushed their morals, and turned them into traitors.

It’s so much fun. *grins*

Before you call the authorities, I have a very good reason for this. See, I’m endlessly (some would say obsessively) fascinated with what happens to a person at rock bottom. Where do you turn when there’s nothing left for you? What do you believe in when all your faith is stripped away?

I’m less interested in the mundane, mid-level crises that people can face – lost jobs, break-ups, things like that don’t attract nearly as much interest from me as the endless plummet into a pit of despair.

The good news is that my characters recover (mostly) from their ordeals. It makes them stronger (usually) and gives them the tools they need to overcome whatever challenge happens to be in their way. They’re normally only slightly cracked and broken in the process, though I have progressed in a few cases to exploration of out-right insanity.

I said I was mean. I honestly can’t help it.

If you’re a reader, what’s the worse thing you’ve seen happen to a character? If you’re a writer, what’s the most awful thing you’ve done to your characters?