Saturday, July 18, 2009

Multiple Personalities

Nothing too important is going on in my world these days. Mercedes sent me a note, in the comments of my last post, checking up on me. I was very touched that someone I had never officially met was waiting to "hear" from me.

What can I say? She's a doll.

Anyway, I've been adjusting to 10 hour days; trying to mow my grass before it reaches jungle proportions; disposing of the skunks (yes, that's plural) that my dogs have been warring with; chasing a toddler through mosquito infested jungle-grass; and like always, click-clacking away at the computer.

I finally finished my latest story. It took a long time, mostly due to life, but I kept at it and I'm happy with the finished result. It is titled MY PATIENT GRAVE and weighs in at about 8,700 words.

Jamie is particularly good at flash fiction, but I stink at it. I've done a few, but they're not that great. There is nothing wrong with longer works, it's just that I find them harder to place. Most paying markets now a days want something a bit more streamlined. Just my own observation there.

As I put the finishing touches on MY PATIENT GRAVE, I started having one of those identity crises I've been reading so much about.

What I mean is, I mostly consider myself a horror writer. I'm an affiliate member of the HWA. I don't really like the tag, but it seems a necessary evil. But MPG isn't really a horror story. It's dark. It's a little sad. It even has my trademark weirdness to it. But it's not horror. To be honest, I don't know what it is. Dark Fiction, I guess.

And now I'm rolling my next novel around. The characters, the setting, the skeleton of plot is all there. But what I can't decide is if this will be an adult novel or a young adult novel. Most of my work is dark, twisted and not for children -- which is kind of funny seeing as how I'm a Sunday school teacher (whoops, I let the cat out of the bag).

Here is how I see it. Stephen King is one of the greats. Even if you don't like his work, you have to at least give me that he was built to write. So, what raises him above other horror writers?

I think it's because he's not really a horror writer. I think he writes literary novels (whatever that means) that are infused with the fantastic. Every story of his that I've ever read were never about the "creature". It was about people living and breathing in strange times.

I'll give one example -- there are many to choose from.

Let's look at his novel CELL. When you break it down to its most basic, it's not about the strange signal coming through the cell phones. It's about a man trying to find and protect his son during a dangerous time. This is pretty much the theme of Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD. It just so happens that Stephen King's CELL is filled with crazy telekinetic zombies.

My point is that at the heart of King's stories it's more about people coping with tragedy than with the monsters.

This is just my opinion. I am far from a die-hard King fan and I don't claim to have read all of his work. This is just based on the things I HAVE read. I think the same could be said of all the great genre writers, though.

This is the type of story I want to write. If you strip away the horrific and fantastic, the magic and monsters, at the heart you still have a pretty good story.

This is what I'm hoping an agent then publisher then reader will find in my novel GUARDING THE HEALER. Sure it's full of angels and demons, killers and healers, but really, it's about a man trying to deal with a great tragedy, find his place in a world he doesn't understand, and help redeem a friend going down the wrong path.

Jamie touches on this same thought here. I swear I didn't read his post until after I'd written mine (I'm not above stealing topics, though). Great minds and all, but I think his is more coherent. He IS a college grad . . . not that I'm jealous or anything.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Good Liars Make Great Writers

Oh, man. I tell you what. I must be getting a lesson in patience. Just when I get this 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift down, they go and change it on me. I was just getting used to writing in the morning, too. Now I'm doing 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. four days a week. It sounds good on the surface, but it's hard with the kids to get much writing done on the weekends and writing that extra day off during the week isn't going to get me very far. I may have to start night-writing again. Hey! I could be the Night Writer. I like that. Maybe my computer could have a light that flashes back and forth and talk to me in a droll voice.

Sorry. Went off on a tangent there.

Anyway, Mercedes, bless her to pieces, must have realized I needed another distraction so she tagged me and I'm bound by blogger-code to obey. So on with the lies.

“Sometimes you can learn more about a person by what they don’t tell you. Sometimes you can learn a lot from the things they just make up. If you are tagged with this Meme, lie to me. Then tag 7 other folks (one for each deadly sin) and hope they can lie.”

Pride: What is your biggest contribution to the world?
Killing off the dinosaurs so that they'd stop using us for entrees.

Envy: What do your coworkers wish they had which is yours?
It's either my tall, well toned body or my long, curly locks of hair.

Gluttony: What did you eat last night?
Some left-over T-rex (see pride).

Lust: What really lights your fire?
I always liked that sorceress chick from the Thundar the Barbarian cartoon.

Anger: What is the last thing that really pissed you off?
Not being able to get all my hundreds in my wallet.

Greed: Name something you keep from others.
I never share my underwear. Sorry, no matter how much you beg, those babies are mine.

Sloth: What’s the laziest thing you’ve ever done?
Once, when I was walking with Big Foot, he made his business and I just left it. Sorry, my baggies weren't big enough.

Now, I guess I should tag someone. I choose, in no certain order:
Jennifer Brozek, Joshua Reynolds, Cheryl Reif, Jim Cooney . . . uhm, sorry, that's all I got. Everyone else has either done it or is an agent and I'm not going there.