Drew Cross | The Undercover Writer

  Today I welcome Drew Cross into my studio @ Dragonfly Scrolls. I first met Drew through a writing group on Facebook. Then I got to know the writer behind the man when I read and reviewed the book he co-authored called Eternity. This is a man who in his own words is:        “a guy who doesn’t like to give much away, lol! :)”…Drew has also published the first in a gritty crime fiction series called Bitemarks. He is not only a crime writer though. This man of few spoken words but a talent trove of written words also writes YA paranormal romance, MG fantasy, horror, satire, poetry and song lyrics. So join me now in welcoming Drew Cross to the interview couch…
 
Welcome Drew…
 
 
girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself in 6 words. Who is Drew Cross?
Drew:   Thoughtful, confident, driven, capricious, complex, mischievous!
 
girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?
Drew:   A couple of years back I made the decision to return to writing (I stopped when I went out to get a ‘real’ job at 18yrs old and didn’t restart until I was 28-ish); I’d been finding myself writing poetry and fragments of stories with increasing regularity, and the voices in my head needed to get out!

girl with a quill: How long have you been writing for?
Drew:  As long as I can remember, with the exception of the hiatus in the middle; I needed somewhere to escape to when I was young and books were my only friends. It seemed natural to try to write my own one day.

girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?
Drew: I’m pretty much a lone-wolf in almost all aspects of my life, so I don’t have that group or network to fall back on.

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?
Drew: Two answers on this one; for ‘who’, it would have to be some of the greats of poetry past and present. I love Baudelaire’s Fleurs De Mal, as well as Carol Ann Duffy’s Rapture and anything by TS Eliot; they showed me what language can really be when it is both crafted and from the heart. For ‘what’, it would have to be the troubled upbringing and life experiences that shaped my early years. The things that I’ve lived through colour my world view and can make life difficult, but they also gave me a powerful imagination to retreat into and an ability to deal with complex emotional states with sincerity and integrity.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?
Drew: In many respects BiteMarks, my debut crime novel, is my life-story! Lol! As are elements of everything else that I write. I try to incorporate little pieces of me in amongst the fictional aspects; it’s a conceit but also an outlet.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?
Drew:  I dream of one day having ‘a place’ in which I can write! At the moment it’s usually on buses, trains, on the settee with two children bouncing on me, while I’m out walking the dog, at work….pretty much anywhere I can pull out a pad and paper and scribble furiously for a few precious minutes!

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice
interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?
Drew: I find that there’s a continuous internal dialogue that mulls over ideas and problems running behind my everyday thoughts – it refines and obsessively collects ideas, trying to formulate a story out of them. I get the story out by trying to enforce a certain number of words on myself each day; often I’m not completely sure of what’s going to hit the page until I start writing it, but then elements start to become clearer and the novel begins to emerge.

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?
Drew:  I never plot beyond having an idea of a start and a finish (and not always that!); the excitement for me is in seeing where my mind is going to go.

girl with a quill: You have written mainly in the crime fiction genre. Has your past career as a cop influenced this?
Drew:  I’ve actually written more in other genres than in crime, but they’re mainly not yet in the public domain! It just so happened that BiteMarks was the first completed novel and therefore the first full length work to get published. My time as a cop did however become useful from the point of view of getting the detailing right, and in allowing me to show the tensions within that professional environment with the eye of someone who has sat on both sides of the divide.

girl with a quill: What would you say is the secret to a successful crime story?
Drew:  It needs to avoid being formulaic. Undoubtedly there are a lot of lazy works within the genre that still sell well, but I don’t define success exclusively in pounds and pence. For me, successful crime fiction should surprise, shock, challenge, break conventions and ask important questions. Hopefully I’ve managed to achieve some of that in my own work.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?
Drew:  I’ve so far penned work in YA paranormal romance, MG fantasy, crime fiction, horror, satire, poetry and song lyrics…I’m not sure that there are many other genres that I’m in a hurry to branch into, but I am keen to learn the fundamentals of different forms: esp. scriptwriting.

girl with a quill: Can you tell us a bit about the book/s you have published?
Drew:  Okay; so far there’s BiteMarks published through an Indie called Night Publishing, a crime novel that breaks all of the conventions and rules of the genre (ignore the publishers blurb though please – it’s not a ‘vampire’ novel, neither does it feature any supernatural characters). There’s also Eternity, a co-authored paranormal romance novel set in a war-torn pre-human existence heaven (a challenge to write for a non-believer like me); and in the next few days I’m putting out a 10,000 word horror short called ‘Under The Influence’, which is dark and nasty (just designing a cover for it and finishing formatting).

girl with a quill: What is your best sentence you have written?
Drew: There are several; but sticking to one poetic example (and no, my work isn’t entirely navel gazing and literary!): ‘The air is cobalt with scents of clean running water and the zigzag memories of dragonfly wings, the sun, a blazing heaven, dots tan speckles on lithe young limbs.’

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Drew: Sticking to just the full length novels, I’m currently working on three: TrackMarks – the second in the ‘Marks’ crime series, and dealing with more of Shane’s personal demons and the dangerous drugs and vice trade in Nottingham; the second book in ‘The Scarmap’ novels – a middle grade/young adult cross-over fantasy fiction trilogy; and ‘The Girl and Her Ghost’ – a standalone for a YA audience that tells the story of a girl who upon deciding to kill herself meets somebody who already has…

girl with a quill: First drafts are for the writers themselves. Who reads your work after you?
Drew:  The short answer is nobody right now. Anybody offering?!

girl with a quill: Why do you write?
Drew:  To connect and entertain, to stay sane and to exorcise my demons in a constructive fashion.

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?
Drew: That our pasts don’t have to define our futures, and that there is always, always a reason to go on.

girl with a quill: Do you believe in Muses? If you do, who/what is your Muse?
Drew: No muse for me, I’m afraid.

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time
in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?
Drew:  Possibly Eric Draven in the graphic novel ‘The Crow’; I could be entirely safe from harm for a while, while visiting retribution on those who deserve it!

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Drew:  Character every time. If we don’t believe in and care about the character then the story becomes irrelevant.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Drew:  A toss-up between Shane Marks, because he’s morally complex but growing and learning to reconnect with the human race again, which is exhilarating. Or Timit, the feisty runaway teenage girl in my Scarmap novels, because she won’t roll over and give up, no matter what the situation that she’s facing.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Drew:  Hannibal Lecter would have to be up there. He’s fascinating on all levels – as a monster, as a human being, as a symbol. Although the ‘monster’ from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein would run it close for many of the same reasons.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Drew: Stephen Fry and Alan Davies to make me laugh. Thomas Harris and John Connolly so I could figure out what makes them tick and get tips for my own novels. Maynard James Keenan (the frontman for rock bands ‘Tool’ and ‘A Perfect Circle’), because he has a savage intellect that I find interesting, and a singing voice that I could listen to all day.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Drew: Dr Lecter for the culinary skills and epicurean expertise (I’d supply the ingredients though!), Hap Collins and Leonard Pine (from Joe R Lansdale’s supremely funny novels) for the wise-cracks and banter, Nothing from Poppy Z Brite’s ‘Lost Souls’ so I could give him a hug and tell him that he couldn’t help his destiny, and Charlie Parker (from John Connolly’s novels) because he’s just a fascinating study.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Drew:  Don’t fret so much, just about everything in publishing books takes tons of time, so you may as well just concentrate on writing the next one while you wait.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Drew:  Hopefully to stop and enjoy the feeling of success for a while because he earned it!

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Drew:  I want people from all walks of life to get something out of reading my books. It could be a feeling of connection or comfort, it could be them finding themselves transported or moved, or it could simply be entertained for a few hours of their time; just as long as they feel something.

girl with a quill: Where can we find your books for sale?
Drew: Here are links for BiteMarks:

US – Amazon.com

Inspire | Imagine | Illuminate

Fellow Writers’ Blog Hop | Inspiration

(via Gladiator’s Pen)

Click on the image above to visit more great blogs in the Hop or add your own and join in the fun.

This month’s blog hop is all about Inspiration. So here I have posted inspiration vision boards of all the essential elements in life that inspire who I am, how I write and how I see the world.

I have also included one of my poems about poetry because for me poetry is the ultimate inspiration. It is raw, emotional, passionate, free and naked. It holds all of my truths.

~

Inspiration is A snapped twig in the dark

Inspiration is sometimes loud and jarring. But sometimes it is that one snapped twig in the dark forest. There is an eery silence and you believe you are all alone and then very faintly you hear a distinctive snap: someone is walking there. Suddenly you are not alone.

Today I heard the snapped twig in the dark forests of my imagination. It is the foot tread of a story. It moves quickly and quietly through the forest. Is it following me or am I following it? I still my thoughts and listen. The dark silence is almost deafening. Nothing.

Out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimmer of movement. There is a shadow behind the tree. My heart beats violently struggling to maintain its home in my chest.

I feel watched.

Yellow eyes…

~

Places, pursuits, pasttimes and pieces that inspire me 

 Quotations that inspire me

Inspirations of Philosophy

My totem muse – The Dragonfly

My muse is the Dragonfly… the Dragonfly is one of the few creatures comfortable in air,water and land; it is also beautiful and ethereal in a surreal way. To me the Dragonfly is the perfect symbol of an artist of creativity. Like creativity it skims the surface of the deeper waters of the inner soul. It is a symbol of change, power, speed, purity and living life in the moment.

 

 

Soul Wings

If writing words are the Bare Bones of me,

then Poeme` is the ephemeral Soul of me

Bones are formed from dust

flesh out the form of my shadow

Poeme` the intangible core of my being

the breath of life to my shadow

Without the breath divinely inspired

I am but a lost thing having no heart, no core, no soul

My soul is not anchored in my flesh

but soars within the cage of my earthly body

This too is the beautiful tragedy of  Poeme`

Flesh pulls the oxygen from the air

my core pulls divine inspiration into streaming flight

~ the uncaged bird is set free ~

I can no more cage this poeme`

to trap my soul in earthly realms hollows my flesh

Poeme` is life fleshed into my Bones

A place where the intangible is material

A window through which the tears of God

break open the unseen cracks in a heart

A Love divine and Light surreal

is my heart free, my soul uncaged

the Bird of Poeme` soaring into the heavenly realms.

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning

Seek after Inspiration

& drink of its winds,

~ Kim

Goldilocks and the perfect Desk

Nest |nest|

Noun 1 a structure or place made or chosen by a bird for laying eggs and sheltering its young.• a place where an animal or insect breeds or shelters : an ants’ nest.• a person’s snug or secluded retreat or shelter.• a bowl-shaped object likened to a bird’s nest : arrange in nests of lettuce leaves.• .2 a set of similar objects of graduated sizes, made so that each smaller one fits into the next in size for storage : a nest of tables.

Verb [ intrans. ] (of a bird or other animal) use or build a nest : the owls often nest in barns | [as adj. ] ( nesting) do not disturb nesting birds.

DERIVATIVES  nestful |-ˌfoŏl| |ˈnɛs(t)ˈfʊl| noun ( pl. -fuls).nestlike |-ˌlīk| |ˈnɛs(t)ˈlaɪk| adjectiveORIGIN Old English nest, of Germanic origin; related to Latin nidus, from the Indo-European bases of nether (meaning [down] ) and sit .

Nesting is a vital part of both a bird’s, a mother’s and a writer’s life. Nesting is the signal that there is going to be an act of creation. To foster that creation or creativity, birds, mothers and writers all need to be very comfortable in their personal space. There are very vital ingredients that are needed to create the perfect nest. Birds need just the right twigs and grass, mothers need a nursery and baby clothes, writers need a desk and a chair.

I run a weekly interview called Warrior Wednesdays on my Dragonfly Scrolls blog where I talk to writers about their writing. One of the questions I ask all the writers is to describe their writing space for me. Every writer is different. As one would expect. But the one thing that unifies us all is that we all have that very private, personal writing space where we do our own form of nesting. Just like birds have eggs, mothers have babies….writers also create and give birth. Our eggs, our babies are our stories.

Why is a writing space, let me call it a Writer’s nest so important to the creative process? There are the obvious reasons:

  • We need a place to keep all our many books so that they don’t become trip hazards for others.
  • We need a place to hide our secret hoard of stationery – notebooks, journals, sticky notes, pens, highlighters.

But most of all:

  • We need a place that is just our own personal writing space.
  • We need a place that has a door that closes the rest of the world out so that we can focus on the noise from the character chatter in our heads alternating with the “writing” playlists blasting out of our iPods.
  • We need a place where we can hold conversations (behind closed doors) with our muses and our characters.
  • We need a place where we can cry with tears of joy and frustration, bite our nails as we wait to hear the all important news someone loves our book, be entirely one with the weirdness of being a writer without people thinking we are weird.

For me, it is nesting time again. My 5 essential ingredients to making my nest super-comfortable and cozy:

  • My Macbook.
  • My favourite pen: (Oh I have the secret stash of many pens but this one is special.) I was given it for a 21st birthday gift and was told by the giver that this would be the pen that would help me write my stories. It is a 18ct gold Parker ball point with black ink. It has not let me down yet. When I am battling with a story or a character, I pull out this pen and something magical happens…suddenly I come unstuck.)
  • My notebooks: I have an ideas notebook and a WIP notebook. At the start of every WIP, I buy myself a new set of moleskine notebooks. (If I am honest, I will confess to having many beautiful notebooks that I buy, other than my Moleskine, just because I am a notebook/journal junkie.)
  • My chair:  Ah, I love my chair. It is a black leather swivel/rocking chair that is ergonomically designed to fit your spine’s natural sitting posture. I love the ergonomic stuff but the swivel/rocking is what sold me on this one. This chair is priceless to me.
  • A desk: For years, this has changed and been upgraded depending on how much space I had for my writing space. But for years the desk has just been a desk. Nothing special. You see I had not found the one I wanted. I knew what I wanted, searched for it for years but this object remained elusive. I saw ones like the one I wanted but they were always not quite the right size, the right wood grain or way out of my price range.

No matter how lovely the rest of my writing space looked, there was always something missing. Nobody else would have seen anything wrong but I always knew. So I kept on looking and kept on dreaming about my perfect desk. The desk that would make my writing space sing in perfect harmony. I have been Goldilocks. The perfect desk kept on eluding me. Until today. Today I found my perfect desk and amazingly it was in my budget. This one is the perfect size. It is the perfect wood grain. In a few short days when it gets delivered, it will finally be mine. So to bring on ahs and oohs from all my writer friends, who I know totally get the point of this post, I am posting two pictures of my new desk – the one I have been dreaming of for so many years.

Ta-Da!!

mynewdesk2mynewdesk1 

Solid white oak with a dark veneer.

Unlike so much of modern furniture, this is a custom-made piece with dovetailed joinery and not a piece that is glued and nailed.

Isn’t it just gorgeous? This is the desk I have been dreaming of.              

The dream was worth waiting for.

Next week I will be posting pictures of my new writers nest. I am busy moving house and will soon have a cozy writing space of my own again. New season, new house, new writing space and most important just like Goldilocks…finally the perfect desk, the one meant for this writer….all just in time for the creation of the new WIP.

The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn’t go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him.
Roald Dahl

Now I have THE desk to go to. Some people dream of fast cars, others of big houses but mine was the perfect Oak Rolltop Desk. Each to their own, as the saying goes.

MyWritingDesk

What 5 essential ingredients do you need for your perfect Writer’s nest?

Kim

Puzzled by Plotting? | #1

Free Stock Photos - Final Piece© Photographer: Dana Rothstein | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Writers tend to belong to one of two main story structure camps:

Plotting vs Pantsing

There are of course those writers who are hybrids and use the best of both worlds. For myself, I am for the most part, Pantsing is the camp I align myself to. But there are benefits of plotting. Sometimes when you get to a midway point, pantsing can simply run out of steam.

At the beginning of the year I signed up to a class offered by Savvy Authors. I found it incredibly useful for that midway point in a WIP when my pantsing just runs out of steam. The class offered a number of questions that basically help you flesh out a synopsis/plot line.

So if you are more of a panster but sometimes could use some form of plotting, this may help you. These 12 questions really helped solidify my story line for me and helped me flesh out a synopsis. Try it out. Afterall, you have nothing to lose. You may just find those elusive last pieces of your WIP puzzle.

  • What’s my idea?

Without an idea, there is no foundation, and the idea has to have some solidity to it.

  • Where does my story take place?

This sets the tone and mood of the story, an old dilapidated Victorian mansion gives one connotation while a skyscraper gives another and a space station quite another.

  • When does my story take place?

You need to establish a time period. Is your story contemporary, historical, a few years back, a few years forward, etc.

  • What is the timeline?

If you leave this to chance, you might find yourself a hundred pages into a story and still be on the first day of the story. This is great if that was your plan, but if you’re writing a generational novel, you’re in trrrrrrroooooouubbble!

  • Why is this happening?

There are only so many ideas and stories out there that can be told, you need to know your particular bent or twist that will make your story stand apart from all the others.
Who are my characters?

  • What’s my point of view?

You need to know who will be telling the story. First, decide if it is in first person, third person, objective, or omniscient and then decide if it is multi-perception or told by just one character. Even if told in first person, you can switch POV by placing a character’s name at the beginning of a scene.

  • Who are my characters?

Protagonist – main character(s)
Antagonist – villain(s)
Secondary characters – (all others)
At this point you don’t need to know the fine points of your character, or even their name, but you do need to have a sense of them, male or female, strong or weak, their impact on the story.

  • How will I begin my story?

The beginning Introduces the protagonist/s and tells the reason the story.

  • What is my plot?

This is the basic structure of the story. For example, boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy doesn’t give up, girl begins to respond, her dog bites boy, boy sues, and then falls in love with his lawyer and drops the girl and the lawsuit, girl opens a kennel for wayward dogs, and they all live happily ever after.

  • What is my complication?

The wrench in the story. It is what moves the story along and aids the plot. Like nails in a coffin. The corpse might pop out if ya don’t nail the lid down.

  • What is my climax?

The climax is the point of the story where everything comes together. This is it, the moment when Indiana Jones picks up the Holy Grail while the Gestapo stands by to claim it , when Scarlett realizes she’s in love with Rhett and he already walked out the door, when Dorothy presents the witch’s broom to the Wizard and he says come back later. It’s not the conclusion. It’s not the end. It’s the high point, and the point when the protagonist could lose it all.

  • What is my resolution and anti-climax?

This is when the main character/s solve the problem and the story winds down. It comes quickly after the climax and you must resolve all the issues, untie the knots , bring home the bacon, put away the horse, bring in the hay….

Questions courtesy of Savvy Authors.

Lean on me

leaning

Image by acute_tomato via Flickr

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don’t let show

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

If there is a load you have to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me

So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Lean on me…

~ Bill Withers | 1972

Writing is the best and worst job. Like any job or calling, writing has its pros and cons:

Pros

  • You are doing something you love.
  • It is not just a job.
  • It nurtures your creativity.
  • Your words may just touch someone, may even change them.
  • You can choose to do this “job” alongside a normal 9-5 job.

Cons

  • It is one of the misunderstood job descriptions – most people put it in the “hobby” category.
  • It is an activity that can insulate you from your loved ones and/or a social life.
  • It can be very lonely.
  • It is a world in your head and your characters are often your only colleagues in this work space.

Over the last year I have “met” many writers online in social networks and different writers’ communities. I have learnt a lot from many of these new friendships. I am very fortunate in that I have a family who stands behind me 100% with any of my writing dreams. I know not all writers or creative people have that fortune. But as much as I love my family and their support it is important to have support from people in the same field as you. This support from fellow writers is especially essential if you are just starting out on the writing road. This is where you can gain critique partners, beta readers or even mentors/coaches through these connections.

It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.  ~Sinclair Lewis

But what happens when these fellow writers, people who know what you do and understand what you do because they are in the same boat, turn on you? What happens when you trust a fellow writer and they attack you rather than bolster you? I am not talking constructive criticism. That is after all what we need our fellow writers for. No. I am talking about writers being unsupportive of you.

“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
Somerset Maugham

It is hard enough when your friends and your family don’t support you or maybe don’t “get” your writing and subtly (tongue-in-cheek) point you in another direction. Even if it stings you can write off their disapproval because they don’t write. But when a fellow writer attacks your writing style then it is quite a different story. It stings.

But you have to look at the underlying reasons that a fellow writer may be attacking you. Perhaps they really don’t understand your style of writing because it is different from their’s. Perhaps they are fearful your writing style is actually better than their’s. Perhaps they are nit-picking aspects of your writing to make you doubt yourself or leave your manuscript. Perhaps they have a degree in English Literature and you don’t. Perhaps they are pursuing the Big 6 publishers in NY and you are going the indie route. Do any of these reasons make you less of a writer than they are? No. None of these reasons do.

But this does not stop these sorts of attacks from writers on other writers happening.

A word is not the same with one writer as with another.  One tears it from his guts.  The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.  ~Charles Peguy

That saddens me. After all aren’t we all in the same boat? Aren’t we all chasing the same dream? Did we really start writing purely for publication and competition with other writers? Maybe you did. I cannot talk for every writer. But for the most part, the writers I do know and respect started writing and kept at writing because they love writing. It is something that flows within your veins. Yes you can learn more of the writing craft. You can polish your grammar skills. You can learn all the “publishing” lingo. You can learn more about the publishing industry. But in the end that is all semantics.

To be a writer you need to write. This means you need to follow the path you feel is right for you. I can guarantee you criticism along this path. I can guarantee you judgement. I guarantee that some people are going to hate your writing and others are going to love it. I guarantee you that you will get every piece of advice, solicited and unsolicited, thrown at you from both your writing networks and your social/personal networks. But sometimes you will get asked advice from other writers. Your opinion will be seeked. All I ask you in these times is to be gentle in your wording. Think before you speak. Remember that when a fellow writer trusts you enough to ask you to read/critique their work it is a huge step of trust. They are standing on a fragile precipice at this point.

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.  ~Sylvia Plath

Writing like any other creative pursuit is challenging and difficult enough without suffering the arrows of contention thrown by fellow creatives. As fellow writers we should be each other’s greatest support. At the top of this post I pasted the lyrics to a very well-known song. Keep these lyrics in mind when you are reading/critiquing another’s art, another’s work. It takes courage to write. It takes more courage to keep on writing. It takes even more courage to show someone your writing. Bolster that courage. Be honest but be gentle. Irregardless of whether they are pursuing a different form of publishing than you are, it does not make their endeavours any less worthy. There are more than enough critics in the literary world. There is still room for more support and community.

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” Gloria Steinem 

Most of all, irregardless of the arrows: Keep on Writing. Don’t give up. If this is something you want to do, love to do, need to do: don’t let anyone – in the industry or not – stand in your way. Rejection is par for the course in the creative realm. But courage and persistence is also par for the course. So if you have had bad advice or a bad critique experience, take heed. Take a deep breath. Count to 10. Then continue with the piece you are writing or start something new. But WRITE. At the end of the day everything else is semantics. To be a writer you need to Keep Writing. Write in spite of the arrows of contention. Write because this is your path and nobody can dictate its direction but you.

“You fail only if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury

Kim

Horror & What Scares Us | C.W. LaSart

Today I am interviewing a rising talent in the Horror realm. In this interview we discuss everything from noisy households to the fears that keep us up – and leave the lights on – at night. For any of you who thought that you need to be a little horrific or at the least “strange” to write successful horror stories, C.W. LaSart will prove this untrue. So what makes horror such a thrilling genre, besides the obvious skin crawling Heebie-Jeebies? Curious? Then sit back, make yourself comfortable while I talk to someone who lives,breathes and writes Horror and all things horrific – fictionally speaking.  

Welcome C.W. LaSart 

 

girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is C.W. LaSart?
C.W.: Okay, well, I am a mother of three grade school age children and I live in the Midwest with my kids, my beloved Lou, two dogs, three gerbils and a Norwegian rat named Booger. There’s rarely a quiet moment in my house, so I stay up way too late to get my writing done. I am addicted to coffee and Rockstar energy drinks! I bar-tend three nights a week at an Irish Pub, which leaves the majority of my time free for little league games, trips to the ER (three kids, remember!) and once in a while writing!

girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?
C.W.: I don’t know that it was a conscious decision; I just always have been a writer. I used to make whole books for my mother as soon as I could put two words together on paper. They were dreadful works of plagiarism, but she still has them somewhere!

girl with a quill: How long have you been writing for?
C.W.: I have written in one form or another for most of my life, but I only started getting serious about it maybe a year ago.

girl with a quill: One often hears that you need to face your fears to overcome them and I believe writers often use stories to work through events. Have you ever/Would you create a story with things you fear?
C.W.: Oh, I would say, as a horror writer, almost everything I write deals with personal fears. The fear of death, loss of a child, spiders! EWWWW! It is in my best interest to use my own fears in writing, because if I can’t scare myself, then how could I possibly hope to scare anyone else.

girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?
C.W.: I have several people who serve as my beta group and put up with my writing chatter, but I have also been very lucky to have met some wonderful writers through twitter and groups on Facebook as well. Some of them have become personal friends, and I really value the relationships with people who are at similar points in their careers as I myself am.

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?
C.W.: When I was a child, my Dad used to sit me on his lap and read the stories of Edgar Allen Poe to me. This was a wonderful bonding experience and very precious to me because my Dad rarely reads anything that isn’t a technical manual. My Mom is a fan of horror movies and instilled this into me at an early age as well (we still see them in the theater together). When I was twelve, she let me start reading Stephen King, and there has been no turning back! I have hundreds of horror novels and would like to say that I’ve read nearly every horror author who has published more than one novel, and many who never made it to publishing the second.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?
C.W.: Probably some sort of comedy with a bit of tragedy thrown in. I would have to say that though I’ve had some bizarre things happen in my life, and my fair share of hardships, my own life would make a very boring read!

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?
C.W.: My desk is shoved in one corner of my living room. It’s currently so covered in mail, my daughter’s bottles of nail polish and my son’s toys that I can barely reach the keyboard, but it works for me. There is also one solitary packet of KFC BBQ sauce sitting here, not sure where THAT came from!

girl with a quill: Do you prefer to write in silence and solitude / around people/music?
C.W.: I need noise. I can’t think in silence. Between the kids and the dogs at home, and working in a bar, I NEVER have silence. When the kids are sleeping I turn on the television for background noise.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?
C.W.: This one is hard for me. My ideas always come on their own. One second they aren’t there, and the next they are. They usually start as just a line of dialogue or just one small scene. I tuck them away in the back of my mind where they roll around, sometimes for weeks and sometimes only minutes. When they are ready to be written, they start to bug me, kind of like an itch I can’t scratch. When it gets bad enough that I can’t focus on anything else, I write them. The writing process is usually very fast for me. A short story rarely takes me longer than a few hours and I once wrote a novel in three months. Though it may sound flaky, I really subscribe to the whole muse thing. My ideas rarely feel like my own effort, more like someone poured them into my head.

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?
C.W.: Definitely a pantster! I occasionally take a note or two about a story if I can’t get to it right away, but usually it’s just the title and a few lines in a notebook. My stories come fairly free-form. I’m not even sure that I am capable of writing a clear outline.

girl with a quill: You write mostly horror. What draws you to this genre?
C.W.: EVERYTHING! Horror has been a part of my life since I can remember! I love everything about it. Movies, books, artwork. They all appeal to me on such a basic level that I can’t even begin to explain it. It’s a guilty pleasure for me that I have held since childhood. The thrill of being scared without actually endangering yourself is a powerful thing.

girl with a quill: What is the secret, if there is, to writing horror?
C.W.: I don’t know. I think that to be good at horror, you have to really love it, but I guess that’s true of any genre. Originality is, of course, a must. Like any genre, I think the secret is that you must have a story to tell, and you have to love that story enough to share it. Well, now I just sound weird!

girl with a quill: Writing horror involves delving into darker realms of the imagination. Have any of your stories given you nightmares / haunted you?
C.W.: I don’t think I’ve had any real nightmares about my stories. My nightmares tend to lean towards bad things happening to my family, but I have been bothered by my characters before. Sometimes the actual story will haunt me for a few days after it’s written, but mostly the act of actually writing it seems to purge my demons.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?
C.W.: Probably romance, but more of the fantasy sort. I would enjoy making up worlds and throwing a star-crossed pair into them. I do enjoy the paranormal and fantasy romance genres.

girl with a quill: You have published one short story and are due to publish a few more. Short stories can be more difficult to write than a novel. What about writing short stories do you enjoy?
C.W.: Actually, I have published three short stories now and I have a few more due out in various publications this Fall. I never used to write short stories, then one day, the first one came to me and they have been filling my head ever since. I like the way that you aren’t required to explain everything in short stories. You have a limited amount of space, so you are able to pack it with just the meat and bones, leaving out all of the filler. It’s also more acceptable to leave the reader wondering than it would be in a novel. I like to let the reader come to their own conclusions about some things. I actually find them easier than novels, but I know that most people would disagree with me.

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?
C.W.: Yes, I am currently finishing a few more stories for my first book, Ad Nauseum, being published this Fall by Dark Moon Books. I wrote an extreme horror story for one of their contests and the publisher was so impressed that he offered me a contract off that one story. I currently have 7 of the 13 required stories done, and I have to be finished by August, so this is a very busy time for me! The publisher has also requested 5 flash fiction pieces from me for a charity anthology that he will be publishing at the same time. He has gotten promises from Jack Ketchum and some other horror “heavies” to participate, so this is a huge honor for me!

girl with a quill: Why do you write?
C.W.: Because I have to. Not writing isn’t an option. The stories build up in my head and if I don’t purge them, I become distracted and start making stupid mistakes in my life (like ignoring stop signs and forgetting appointments) and people begin to think I’m crazy! Which I kind of am when it gets bad enough!

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?
C.W.: Good question. I don’t really think that I do. My stories are generally dark, not terribly humorous (but when they are, it’s a terrible humor!) and morbid. I tend toward the extreme. I guess, quite a few of my stories tend to deal with motherhood in one way or another, but that’s where many of my own fears lie.

girl with a quill: The first draft a writer writes for themselves. Who do you give your second draft to?
C.W.: My good friend Kacy. She went to school for English Mass Communications and graduated top of her class before deciding to be a stay at home mom. Nothing I write ever goes out without her edit. She is also a horror fan and much pickier than I am, so I guess she is my ideal reader as well. It’s a great relationship! I pay her in fuzzy winter socks and t-shirts that I think she might like, and she fixes my mistakes!

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?
C.W.: I would probably have to pick someone else’s work, since no one in their right mind would ever want to live through one of mine!

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
C.W.: Wow, tough question! I guess I would have to say story first, since that’s what comes to me, but characters are so important too. You need to care about people to care what happens to them, but often my characters are very ordinary and it’s the extraordinary circumstances around them that make it interesting. Also, my characters are not always that likeable.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
C.W.: The villain/hero in my first short story, Jack and Jill  is my favorite. I still have questions about his motivations and his past that even I don’t know. He is the one that people question me about the most, and I just don’t know the answers.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
C.W.: Hannibal Lecter, definitely! What a classy villain. So smart and dignified, yet such an evil person. Love him!

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
C.W.: Stephen King (duh!), Robert R. McCammon, Morgan Freeman, George Romero, and Robert Englund. Mr. King, Mr. McCammon and Mr. Romero because they are brilliant and have helped make horror what it is today, and Morgan Freeman because I just love his voice! Of course, Robert Englund because it would be fun to listen to him talk like Freddy Krueger all night!

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
C.W.: Simon from Lord of Flies, because he was the most delicately, beautiful child character that I have ever read. Hannibal Lecter, though I wouldn’t want him to cook. Dracula would be a hoot to hang out with, despite the fact that he never drinks….wine. The main character (can’t remember his name) from John Dies at the End, because I like his sarcastic humor, and Van Helsing, in case Dracula gets out of hand!

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
C.W.: I would tell myself to make time for my writing and never give up on my dreams. I have come so far in the last year, that I can only wonder what it would have been like if I hadn’t waited so many years to get serious about it.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
C.W.: I hope that I still take the time to enjoy the process. I don’t ever want to become so jaded that I no longer find the joy in simply telling a story.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
C.W.: Of course, I would like to know that people read and loved my stories. I hope that someday I am able to inspire someone else to follow their dreams and write their stories without fear. And I want to win the Bram Stoker Award someday! Haha!

girl with a quill: Finally where can we find you and your stories on the web?
C.W.: You can find my stories in Dark Moon Digest Issues 1 and 4, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. My website is http://CWLaSart.com and you can find my weekly blog as well as my Facebook page and follow me on twitter from there! I will also post links on my website as other publications and my book, Ad Nauseum, are released.

Meeting Vampires with Mari Miniatt

Join me in welcoming Mari Minatt to the interview seat today. 

I first met Mari on Twitter and since then have grown to define her by vampires, fantasy and all things horror. Mari is the author of two books and works on many short stories too. So let’s give her a warm Warrior welcome.

 

girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Mari Miniatt?

Mari: Originally from Wisconsin, I now live in Central New York.
 I am the youngest of seven. I have alway been interested in horror and
supernatural.
 
girl with a quill: If you wrote yourself a part in one of your stories,
what role would you play and why?
 
Mari: Parts of me have already ended up in characters. But myself as
a character, a recent empty nester that hunts ghosts.
Part of me would love to do that.
 
girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

Mari: I have always wrote. Writing was a hobby for most of my life.

A few years ago, something clicked in my head and started to take
my writing more seriously. A story I had worked on for over ten years
became the first series I wanted to put out.
 
girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space
where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues.
Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?
 
Mari: Other than the writers I talk to on-line. It is at work!
There is a small group of women I get with every two weeks.
We sit at the cafe at work, and go over our writing. I love it.
 
girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer?
and Why?
 
Mari: My father. He wrote everyday. When he was in his 70’s he
self published his memoirs of being a hobo. This was before the
internet and print on demand publishers. So he paid a local printer
to publish the books.
 
girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be
and what would be the story-arc up to this point?
 
Mari: Chick lit. It would be a person that hits their idea of what the 
bottom is and works their way out. With the help of their immediate family.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill
that space with?
 
Mari: In the living room. My netbook on a small table. Along the walls
are some paintings my husband painted for inspiration. Along with maps
and sketches of characters.
 
girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment
when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…
what happens next?
 
Mari: I find that an idea will be bouncing around my head for a while,
then something will click, and I have to write the whole story down.
If the story is really hot, I can knock 4,000 words in a sitting.
 
girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?

Mari: Pantster. It might help to think of my rough draft as a very

detailed outline.
 
girl with a quill: How important a part does the digital world and
an online platform play in your life?
Do you believe that writers now have more control over their own
platform now that we live in an increasingly virtual online world
of social networking/blogging/tumbling/tweeting ect? 
 
Mari: Ten years ago, I would not know what to do with my stories. I posted
some up on my own website. But nothing else. Now, it’s not just the options
you have about where and how you publish your stories, but how you can
reach an audience. A lot of the old style promotions are still valid, such as
book signings. But with Twitter and sites like Goodreads you can reach
around the world. This allows us to develop our own on-line presence.
Its strange but you can tell which people are using an assistant or if they
are posting themselves. People are expecting more interaction. We can finally
give it to them.
 
girl with a quill: What genre do you write in now?

Mari: Horror/ fantasy. My horror has a bit of fantasy and my fantasy

has a bit of horror in it.
 
girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre,
which genre would you choose?
 
Mari: Steampunk. I would love to have a story click in my head for that
genre.
 
girl with a quill: Are you working on any new story now?
Can you tell us a bit about it?
 
Mari: I am wrapping up some short stories right now. But one story
I keep coming back to, that is getting longer and longer is a sort of
buddy cop idea. Except one is a bounty hunter vampire and the other
is a wizard. They ended up hunt down a serial killer that is killing
supernatural creatures. 
 
girl with a quill: If you met a found a golden lamp with a genie and
he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or
that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book,
which option would you choose and why?
 
Mari: I would love to have my vampires be real. Even knowing what is
going to happen in the end, it would be cool to meet them.
 
girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character?
Why?
 
Mari: Characters. The basic plot of your story could be one that
has been used over and over again. Readers will ignore that if your
characters are interesting enough to hold them to the story.
 
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created
and why? 

Mari: Perun. He is a wildman, a real wildman. Called a Leshy in folklore.

What I love about him is that he is almost all ego, but has a large heart
as well. My husband describes him as all male. Which is a good description.
Perun likes to mess with people, especially if they are harming his woods.
But if he considers you a friend, he will defend you. Everything he does
for a reason, even if we can’t understand his logic. Plus it helps he has a
way with women, too. He will be coming out in Patriarch.
 
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?

Mary: Samuel Vimes from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.

He has an amazing character arc, from when we first meet him, laying drunk
in the gutter, to Duke of Anhk-Morpork. Yet, he still stays close to the
lower class he came from. A strong character, that makes mistakes, and
learns to clean up any mess he gets in.
 
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people,
who would they be and why?
Mari: Terry Pratchett, Stephan King, Ray Bradbury, George Takei,
and Jyrki 69, Terry Pratchett, Stephan King, Ray Bradbury because
they are my favorite writers.
George Takei: Because I am a fan of Star Trek, but he is very interesting
person too.
Jyrki 69 is the lead singer of a Finnish band called The 69 Eyes.
He is also an activist against child trafficking and has a chemistry degree.
Very interesting combination.
 
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your
favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Mari: Steopa, from my stories. He would be interesting and of all my
vampires could attend a dinner, as long as it was pirogies and vodka.
The aforementioned Samuel Vimes. When ever he does dinner parties
in the books, it’s a riot.
Arthur Dent. How he holds it together in just a bathrobe…. I will never
know.
Chuck Bartowski from the TV show Chuck. So much like me, except for
the spy stuff.
Thor from the comics, not the one from myth. simple eye candy.
 
girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at
the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Mari: Show it to people!

 

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give

your future self, 10 years from now?
Mari: Take your time editing.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer,

to be?
Mari: I hope people enjoy my books, and like the twists I did to the
myths.
 
girl with a quill: Where can we buy your books?

Mari: Amazon, Smashwords. And if you are in Syracuse,

NY the Enchanted Bazaar and the CNY Artist Store. http://www.facebook.com/l/21ec9FqHuaxfauGCkm_x5li2f8A/amzn.to/bYK32T
 
girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?

Mari: 

http://www.facebook.com/l/21ec95E9uE7i4dls5TaBT4ASMrg/mariminiatt.com

 twitter I am @leapetra and facebook.com/mariminiatt If you want to meet my characters.

@SteopaR and @BiteNice are on twitter.