Monday, April 22, 2013

Reading Horror

(not my photo, let me know to take it down if it's yours!)
Lately I’ve noticed that I’m on a horror-reading kick. I shouldn’t be surprised because I grew up reading Stephen King but I had backed off the genre for a while. Having a young child to worry about sort of dampened my enthusiasm for opening my mind to wretched creatures preying on innocent people. It’s just like disaster movies. I used to love them, loved anything with earthquakes or plane crashes or disease outbreaks and now when I watch them I think about little children being caught up in it and I start to cry. So no more disaster movies. There’s no accounting for the fact that I am a huge fan of the Walking Dead,  I can manage to watch that without all the mommy hormones flooding my body.

But reading horror seems to be creeping back into my comfort zone, so to speak. Creeping like a stealthy zombie, that is. Here are a few that I have/am reading that I have enjoyed.

Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman. Oh my goodness, this was GOOOD. Very well-written, not over the top gross, and was set during the Great Depression which was unique (and commenting as a historian, the setting and period rang very true so kudos author Buehlman). A very good spin on the were-beast mythos. This is a debut book so I’ll be hoping for more from this author.

Horns by Joe Hill. Not quite done with this one yet but I am enjoying it so far.  Enough that I plan on reading more of his work. He writes this story from several POVs and despite my misgivings at being in the head of a terrible person, he handled it so well that I kept reading. I’m not sure how it’s going to end and that’s a good thing.

Juggernaut by Adam Baker. Almost done with this one too. The premise is great; Three Kings meets The Walking Dead. That’s all you need to know, if that sounds good, you’re going to like this one. More suspense than horror, at least to my mind, but there’s enough creepy gross out to satisfy. I really like this author’s choices in choosing POVs as well.

Despite my renewed interest in horror fiction, I won’t be writing any of it. My brain just can’t conjure up the necessary plots and the idea of sustaining my creativity through all the awful blood and guts is frightening. I’d hate to think what I’d be like to live with if I was trying to write horror. At least with romance there is an inherent optimism and knowledge that good things await, not matter how dire the situation I’m writing.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Here We Go Again

Isn't that a great picture? I took it last fall on my way to Chichen Itza.  Those are ceramic wall plaques on the most fantastic orange wall. I loved the contrasting colors and repetition.  It reminds me of all the colorful bits and pieces you need when readying something for a submission to a publisher.  Writing the story is one thing, making it fit for an editor to read is quite another.

Look at that, it’s been a  week since I posted.  There’s a reason for that; I’ve been hard at work on my new MS for the April Camp NaNo and revising another manuscript in the hopes of being able to submit it.  I had a pitch with an editor yesterday and she asked to see the whole thing so hopefully all those hours of editing, re-writing, blank stares, sore back, and despair are worth it. And if she isn’t interested, I do understand.  My book isn’t easy to categorize.  It’s a small town sci-fi romance with no space battles or aliens.  My heroine works as a trash recycler. It’s not dystopian or shiny perfect future. People on my world work and get dirty and don’t have many places to shop because the settlement exists to grow food and ship it away to more populated worlds. Definitely not something I could pitch as fitting very neatly into one of their lines. But I’m grateful she’ll at least take a look at it.
So I spent my writing time today doing a massive re-write of the ending (always the most difficult part for me to write), running that spell check AGAIN, and fixing everything on my knock list. Once I did that, I did a little happy dance around the room, drank a cup of tea, and returned to the computer to write up the dreaded synopsis.  Once I completed that, I started in on this blog post because I am done done done until I hit send tomorrow morning.  Or heck, maybe I’ll send it out tonight with a glad heart and return to my current WIP with a clear conscience.  And speaking of quirky Sci-Fi, the story I am writing now takes place on a world made of peat moss, animal-like trees, and a special epiphyte that makes the human brain VERY happy. I love it there and can’t wait to return to it.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

From the Caribbean to Deep Space

So that’s a picture of a fan palm.  At least I think it’s a fan palm.  I took that picture last fall on a trip in the Caribbean because I love palms of all sorts. But this palm inspired a biological plot twist in my April Camp NaNoWriMo novel.  For those confused by the acronym, NaNoWriMo refers to National Novel Writing Month which is November.  But for those of us insane enough to want a novel in a month more than once a year, there are mini-celebrations in April and July.  I wrote a pretty decent novel last November that just needs some polishing so I decided to take the plunge again this month.
Because I’ve been doing so much ‘business’ over the last few months (editing, promoting, blogging, etc.), I was starved for something purely creative.  As the germs of my work in progress started to grow in my head and I began to make notes in a composition book which is what I do for every novel I’ve written.  I outline the story, make character studies, and diagram scenes in there.  Sometimes I’ll even write dialogue longhand to get a feel for the characters.  My last contemporary/paranormal buzzed to a halt because both of my main characters were just too, well, repressed, so I decided to indulge myself with a sci-fi effort.
When I write sci-fi, I am able to let go of so much that realism that I think is important when you write contemporary.  With sci-fi I can make up names and places and plants and devices to my heart’s content.  Plus I don’t have to abide by current societal norms.  Just an example of how wild my imagination can get; I am creating a world filled with symbiotic trees that have all sorts of epiphytes living on them.  Intrepid scientists have recently discovered that one of these epiphytes produces a compound that does something magical to human blood chemistry (one guess what that is) and now the race is on for people looking to get rich quick.  It’s sort of like the California gold rush except on a soggy planet very far away.
And this fan palm was the inspiration for the organism that hosts the epiphyte in question.  The waving of the fronds is an important part of the life cycle of the epiphyte.  The sad thing is that I have written pages of notes about the biology of these creatures and I know that hardly any of it will appear in the book.  But it’s my world and it’s safe in my imagination.