I talk often about origin stories (as in, the origins of how I began to write in general, and the origin of certain stories). It can be humbling, figuring out where to start. I just found an old friend’s blog again after finally taking the time and reading the posts of a fellow author/blogger. Well… okay, I found it because I finally checked my non-school email. This author/blogger I’m talking about is a former colleague of my mother’s, when I worked with Queen City Forward in Charlotte, North Carolina for an internship. Tori Karlek is her name, and this is the post I am talking about: Why I Write. She talks about problems with actually sitting down and writing, and I do too, as does every author out there, no matter how big. And sometimes seeing a cliché message is what you need for the day, no matter how often you have seen it, because you see it at the right time. Yesterday I saw her post at the right time.
I have written for nine years of my life; long enough to backspace on my mistakes. I am writing this because if you are serious about writing, even if you never intend to publish, there are certain things you need to understand. Storytelling is a very personal action. We all strive to be proud of something we create, even if we are our own audience. Learn from some of my mistakes and explore what has gone right.
Pop culture has provided us with many snarky heroes, insults, and comebacks. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with a good threat or warning. When I watch Arnold Schwarzenegger threaten a much smaller guy, I start laughing at the ridiculous ways directors and screenwriters have to find to physically harm Arnold. When Liam Neeson threatens to kill his daughter’s kidnapper, his icy exterior and later bloodbath make it terrifying.
Senioritis hit me hard for the Fall 2016 semester but I still made it out of my four classes alright. In three of them I earned a B. The fourth was a C+ (with .5 of a point away from a B). Papers, papers, and more papers. It is draining on the psyche to write so many of them. When I was finally done at the end of the day I don’t want to write. I’m so exhausted I need to let go of my laptop for a while. And I do not want to sit at my desk with a notebook. All I wanted to do was make dinner and watch a movie or TV show. Writing is not compatible with a tired me. It started affecting the pacing of my stories.
I am not here to remind everyone how bad 2016 has been. We all know what happened in the news and a lot of famous people have died. Our election cycle… Hahahaha, no, not getting into that. It has been an exhausting year. A lot has changed in my life in 2016. At the start of the summer I switched majors from Business Administration to Communications (Advertising) with a minor in General Business. Now my semester grades have gone up significantly because I have gone from math and numbers based classes to conceptual classes.
Happy Turkey Day, I hope everyone celebrating has gotten home safe with their loved ones! We take the tradition of saying, “I am thankful…” before dinner seriously. Personally I am thankful the ride home was smooth. I am also thankful for my family’s safety. I am thankful Mom is taking her life in stride and continues to be the moral guardian in my own life. I am thankful my brother is doing well in his classes and enjoying a strong social network. I am thankful my sister is getting the opportunity of a lifetime in Louisiana. I am thankful my grandmother is in good health and continues to be a strong link to family in other states, via stories of her early life in Florida.
In my last edition I discussed Manny. Now I am having problems. These problems are entirely my fault. Back in high school I had one art class and three crafts classes. I was great at doing things with my hands. From sophomore to senior year I went from simple wire jewelry to intricate pots. I even convinced a woman to buy my little blue bowl during a crafts sale on the spot. The pot went for $5.
These classes encouraged abstract ideas. On top of that, we had a strict deadline. Abstract ideas are what my stories used to thrive on. In Crafts II I created a handmade pamphlet with the twenty-one rules of being a Lunar Rider (professional supernatural hunter). In Crafts III I made a story vessel depicting the return of a massive alien dinosaur to his wife. Now that was fun.
In honor of Mother’s Day I want to talk about my mother’s influence on my writing. Without her, a lot of vital aspects in my stories wouldn’t exist.
She has helped me immensely with cleaning up the plot for Ruby Caves. The same goes for Radiation Road, Mutant Cowboy Space Pirate, Vodka Men, and the extended cut of Atrocity (called Wish List).
She lets me know when a scene is too gory and helps tone it down. This primarily goes for Wish List. The Wendigo story was the first (and bloodiest, so far) story I ever wrote. I’m trying to give my readers an adrenaline rush through my writing, not gross them out. She’s helped me find my own limits. Too add to this, she also lets me know when a scene has dragged on for too long.
Dave being Polish. She gave me the idea for his last name (Kaczmarczyk) and from there his life was filled out. It roughly translates to “destroy peace” and some of her ideas on his characters fit that name very well. Dave is not altruistic, he is ruthlessly pragmatic. While his stories aren’t grounded in reality his fighting style sure fits what a human can reasonably achieve. His intrinsic ability to see and speak to the gods for what they are- the reason Death and Nemain (one of the Morrigan sisters) stick with him- was her idea.
Death looking like Humphrey Bogart at the end of Vodka Men. I hadn’t even considered it, but really, would you mind if Mr. Bogart came to you at the end of your life? I sure wouldn’t. Death is usually a skeleton to Dave (there goes the intrinsic vision) but to people he looks like the actor.
Her analytical nature is a major inspiration for Sarah Case’s personality. She is scary good at winning debates. She can more often than not defuse a situation. She has undying loyalty and support to us (me, my brother, and my sister) naturally. However, my mom gave me a critical point about Sarah’s relationship with William that altered the final outcome of the story. It has stuck with me.
She wrote the hilarious scene in Nutmeg Episode Seven: “Monster” where Nutmeg 3/8 is indecisive about eating Harland the thief. She almost wrote the entirety of Episode Eight: “Z” where Agent S almost runs over Travis Garcia. I only came back towards the end of that episode.
Finally, she has inspired me to add a little more humor to my stories. I came to the conclusion myself after she mentioned it to me. I don’t enjoy reading hopelessly bleak stories where there is little to no change in the character. The same goes for movies. Atrocity and Vodka Men are thematically my darkest stories, but they are meant as tragedies. And while I will add humor, it doesn’t mean I’m going to go soft on the drama or terror when it is necessary. A little genre blending never hurt anyone.
Thanks Mom, I love you! And to all the other people out there reading this, thank your mothers. For better or worse, there is no denying a mother's influence on our lives. Now stop reading this and enjoy Mother’s Day!
Ever since I finished Red’s War and presented it to you guys I’ve had burn out with my stories. However, the recent posts about Ruby Caves are related to my work on it. I’ve finally found my voice with that story. Mutant Cowboy Space Pirate and Radiation Road are the same way. I believe I released Red’s War back in… what was it, late December or January? That’s a long time to be writing something. Another problem: my short stories are at least ten pages up now. They used to be shorter. With the exception of Ruby Caves, everything before Mickey in my STORIES menu is less than ten pages. Now that I’m trapped myself in a visual, in depth style and intricate plot lines the stories are a little longer.
You notice a pattern in my stories after Mickey? All of them deal with the supernatural. This is my burnout. My longer novels and novellas are going to take a while regardless. I’m not too worried about them. I’ve stopped making promises to you about when they are going to be released.
I think my problem with shorter supernatural, paranormal stories is world building. Some creatures don’t need explaining. Zombies, ghosts, vampires, and werewolves are so ingrained in popular culture I don’t need to worry about explaining their origins. I do have to explain where they came from within the reference of the story.
Red’s War was a story I had to write for class… Well, the original, far less bloody version anyway. That story was quick out of necessity but the story is still realistic within its own world. There have been rumors of a monster roaming around the French highlands. Jackie, a local hunter, is sent in to eradicate the creature and dispel the fear that it is a werewolf. The hints throughout the story leading up to the conclusion clearly state that something is wrong. I got through most of the world building quickly because the initial story was already written. The wolf attack on his car is an example of something added in after I presented it to class. It took me ten days to complete the story with all the added background information.
The direct reason for my moving away from the paranormal is also the most simple. I have been working in the genre for a long time and it is finally hitting me that I’ve run out of ideas. I’m human. I don’t know what it’s like to face off against a supernatural being. I do know what it’s like to have fears, desires; and what it feels like to reach out to others on a daily basis, stranger, friend, and roommate alike. Shout-out to Marcus, Roshad, and Sully- the three awesome roommates who have to put up with me for two more weeks.
Manny is a story of the human condition. A security guard on the graveyard shift at a cheap mall must make it through his first night. And then the power is knocked out by a storm. The setting alone is a perfect place for the supernatural to happen. However, Manny is a lone man against a quartet of criminals. Nothing supernatural. I’ll have a brief introduction to his situation and immediately move on to the major part of the story. It works on his fear and the natural urge to stay alive. I can relate to Manny. The first paragraph can be found in this post: see what he does? He’s watching a zombie movie. If I’ve seen a particularly horrific movie I stay up most of the night. That doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can have an adverse effect on me.
The Cinnabon food-trucks are having a sale.
P.S.- while looking for the first mall image I came across a cool website that chronicles all the abandoned malls in the US. Check it out here!
I signed into my university late and ended up taking a class called The Art of Storytelling. On top of actually coming up with our own pieces, it was more about public speaking and how to compose yourself in front of others. Some of the lessons from that class was an assignment where I look at a picture of stick figures and write a story about it.
I am an author. I am a fan of horror, thrillers, and comedy.