You Might Be An Asshole If…

Fair warning.

I’ve had a bit of the devil juice (sangria–sang, meaning blood. Ria, meaning… something).

I may say a few things SOME people might find offensive.

You aren’t those people. I can tell.

FUCK those people.

See? Warned you.

A while back (I’d link to it, but I’m lazy) I posted a blog about the different kinds of writers. As I’ve been dragged deeper into the publishing world, gotten some good experience (and some bad) under my belt, and infiltrated circles of writers I’d yet to discover, I’ve realized that list needed an update.

A good hacking with the ol’ ax, really.

Hack them all except two.

There are two kinds of writers in this world.

Those who know nothing, and those who KNOW they know nothing.

Those who know nothing are the worst. The mother-fucking, dog-shitting, ape-sucking, jiz-guzzling worst. Their work, their “writing,” their foray into the publishing world is overwrought with bullies. These bullies will go so far as OFFERING ADVICE and CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. How could they? Those who know nothing know EVERYTHING. They may ask for a hint or two… maybe something that would improve their characters or marketing strategy. But really, all they want is a good, long stroke.

The Know Nothings thrust their egos into the already bullshit-soaked social media and beg for a tug. Just a little one to get them through to their next BORING release party.

This group–The Know Nothings–is home to the majority of the writing community. They don’t want to improve. Their projects are God’s gift to the world. Everyone else is wrong.

Thing is, though, everyone else thinks they’re assholes.

And they are. These writers…

God.

I know, as writers, we’re not supposed to shit on our kin. It’s a tough road to sow as a creator and we should be charging forth as companion soldiers in the war.

But, FUCK.

Okay. OKAY.

There’s this other group though, the rest of us, who know that we know nothing.

Literally, nothing.

Sure we can breathe. We can stuff food-shaped things into our mouth hole. We can (usually) find a toilet when we need to piss.

But when it comes to the craft, we know that there is ALWAYS

ALWAYS

ALLLLLWWWAAAYYYYSSSS

Something more to learn. To know. To cram into the brain meat with a shoehorn.

For us, the Know Nothing Assholes grate on our nerves.

On my nerves.

….

And that’s it. I know you were expecting some point or moral here, but all I’ve got is this:

Don’t be that guy.

Don’t be the asshole that thinks his writerly shit doesn’t stink.

Don’t think for even a microsecond that you know enough.

Most of all, don’t encourage those asshats that need coddling. Don’t stroke the ego.

Don’t. Stroke.

The Internal Heckler vs The Internal Editor

Most of you know my policy on advice – too much and it can be overwhelming enough to paralyze your efforts. With that in mind, take this with a grain of salt. It happened to work for me today.

Authors Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowel, Brandon Sanderson, and Howard Taylor discuss the difference between the heckler and the editor competing for your attention. 

http://www.writingexcuses.com/

The 25,000 Word Curse and How I’m Learning to Break It

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I’d share a secret with you non-writer types. If you’ve ever tried to scare a writer through “conventional” means, you soon found out that the writer species is so jaded, so obsessed with the unusual, that monsters and beasties of the dark have no outward effect. 

However…

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If you lean in closely, so close that only they can hear what you say and whisper these words: vast middle, you will see their skin prickle and shivers of terror pulse through their body.

As writers, we all have that point in our WIP’s that we feel the wheels begin to slow, the burst of genius flare less frequently, and the words come in useless couplets. Mine, as you may have guessed, begins at around the 25,000 word point.

It never fails.

With my novel, REAPER, once I hit that cursed word count, it was like the power went out in my head. It’s my head, so I knew where everything was (including that freaky bastard that likes to hide in the darkest corners), but without the light, I fumbled through my thoughts in search of the ones I needed. What started as a sprint out of the gate because a slow, agonizing crawl across upturned thumbtacks. It became so disheartening that I abandoned the project to pursue a new shiny idea (which, of course, led straight into the ground and now sits, molding, in my “NO FUCKING CLUE” folder). It took a month before I was able to swallow my anxiety and dive back in. 

Later, I hit the same wall with a WIP called THE BOOKSELLER. And now, with my current and longest-running perpetual WIP, SACRIFICIAL LAMB CAKE, I find myself at 26,327 words with dry mouth and a broken light bulb. 

If I told you that I wasn’t tempted to walk away from it in favor of plotting my NaNoWriMo project, I’d need an army of sexy lady firefighters to put out my pants. Actually, now that I think about it…

No. No fire ladies. Words. (Dammit).

Unlike THE BOOKSELLER, I haven’t completely hit a wall with this one. I know where it’s going and I can see it taking shape with each few excruciating sentences. I know my characters. I know the story. I know that it’s going to be great – if I could just fucking finish it. I’m a sculptor with a tiny hammer hacking away at a mountain of marble. Each time I get angry enough with it to throw it in a fire, I pep talk myself, using REAPER as an example. I wrote it. I polished it. I sold it. I proved to myself that I’m fully capable of creating something fantastic, so now there are no excuses. Only frustration.

Each day, I do something, change something, in order to try to relieve some of that frustration. Below are 5 things I’ve discovered help me get through the writing day. Maybe they’ll help you, too.

1. Realize that no two writers are created equal and that there is NO RULE that says you have to finish in an allotted amount of time. Get a feel for your own pace and keep with it. It will change every day, and that’s perfectly fucking fine.

2. When writing at night stopped doing it for me, I changed up my routine, opting for mornings at a coffee shop. A change of scenery has a HUGE impact on how the brain works. Now that I’m slowing again, I’m looking for a new writing spot to relight that spark.

3. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t write something that day. Granted, if you’re knee deep in a project, it’s unlikely you’ll go the entire day without at least scrawling a note on the palm of your hand while sitting at a red light. BUT, if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. There’s no reason to punish yourself for it. You know those times when you can’t for the life of you remember the answer to a question that’s been plaguing you all day and then – BAM – it comes to you at three in the morning? That’s because you stopped bashing it to a pulp and let your subconscious sift through the brain cave. Writing works by the same principle. 

4. Work on something else. I don’t mean abandon the project; I mean allow yourself to explore ideas completely unrelated to what you’re primary focus has been. It’ll allow your subconscious to do the sifting AND you don’t have that guilty feeling for being unproductive. For me, my side project has been hashing out my NaNo book. It’s been fun and I’m looking forward to writing it.

5. Blog about it. Or, if that’s too much like writing for your fragile psyche to handle, email or call a writer friend and vent about it. If there’s a particular plot issue making you homicidal, they’ll work through it with you.

There they are. If you have ideas to add, please do. We could ALL use the help. 

 

A Thought on Pride

This is a blog about writing.

This is also a blog about a writer.

I am a gay woman, this is Pride month, and I just watch several hours of a debate on the Texas legislative floor over a woman’s right to speak. To quote a popular Facebook meme: I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

As much as I would love to talk about that history-making, heart-wrenching filibuster, instead I’m going to talk about this thing called gay pride: where it came from, what it means, and why you should speak up.

Gay pride did not manifest out of an aspiration to show off. We don’t shower you with glitter and rainbows because they’re pretty (although they definitely are). Gay pride stemmed from the Stonewall Riots. Don’t know what that was? Google it. Educate yourself. We’ll be here when you get back. Pride is a demonstration of a minority that we are here; we are human; we deserve to be treated as such. Before you wax poetic on how there ought to be a Straight Pride, realize that you ought to be grateful that you don’t need one.

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Last month, I watched hours of debate on the Minnesota Senate floor. It wasn’t about something practical like the state budget or healthcare – it was regarding my right as a lesbian to marry my girlfriend. My life. My future in the hands of a group of people who have never met me. Thankfully, the vote came out in our favor. As of August 1st, I am allowed to marry my girlfriend, my partner, Crystal Saete… but only in this state, and the handful of others with marriage equality legislation. When we visit my family in red Florida, however, my marriage will not be recognized there.

This is 2013. We should not be having these discussions. This should not exist. 

During this Pride season, speak up, even if you’ve never done so before.

Wendy Davis stood 12 hours without relief – no bathroom, no food, no water, no leaning. The people at Stonewall risked their lives and freedom to begin the gay rights movement STILL in action. 

Say something. Do something. Please.

Storytelling Here

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There’s a story my mother likes to tell people when they hear that I’m a writer. It goes something like this:

When Katrina was in kindergarten, her teacher, Mrs. Fowler (silly woman) asked to talk to me after school one day. She sat Katrina down and asked her to read some stupid ‘See Spot Run’ book and was absolutely flabbergasted that she was able to read the entire thing without stumbling. So I said to Mrs. Fowler, “Watch this.” I pulled out my pocket bible and handed it to Katrina. She flipped to a random page and began to read.

 

Now, the only reason I know this story to be true is that I remember that day. The part I remember most vividly is that, to distract me, Mrs. Fowler asked me to start counting while she spoke to my mother. I was an easily bored child. 

I’ve always loved words. I read my mother’s Stephen King and Nora Roberts novels when I was in sixth grade because I was bored with everything in my middle school library. I wanted a challenge.

When I was nine, I wrote my first story. It was called “The Girl and the Elf.” Pretty self explanatory as to what it was about. It wasn’t for school. I just wanted to write. 

I’m telling you this to attempt to explain the beginnings of my passion for STORY. A passion, I think, has begun to dwindle in mainstream fiction. 

I like ALL stories – fictional, historical, anecdotal. There’s magic in story. In the telling of a tale that transports the reader (or listener) to a different plane of existence. It is the ultimate means of escape and the best ones make the reader forget they are holding a book in their hands. 

As I’ve grown older and grown into the Writer pants I slipped into years ago, I’ve begun to notice that it takes longer and more exhaustive searching to find those special novels that really trap you between their pages. Why is that?

There are some GREAT writers out there – seasoned and new, but it’s almost impossible to find their work in the sea of shit that sloshes the shelves of bookstores, now. It’s mind-boggling how books like the Twilight series and Fifty Shades can dominate the coveted front and center tables of even the small bookstores and novels like Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander, Skippy Dies by Paul Murray, and others have to be hunted for.

My generation has the greatest number of tools at their disposal to date, and I’m disappointed in the lack of contribution to literary creations. Where did our imagination go? If you say television and video games, I’m going to surprise the shit out of you and call shenanigans. It’s laze. That’s right. The old fuckers who give us the stink eye are right (in this case). We would rather be told stories than tell our own – and they’d better be easy stories, too. Ones we can process without having to think too much. Oh, and sex. There has to be A LOT of sex.

Gross, isn’t it?

We need to revive a love of story. It’s how we started as a species. We didn’t create language to bitch at each other. We did it to tell stories.

Writers, I encourage you to expect more from yourselves. Don’t sell yourself short. Explore the ways that stories could be told. Be different. Allow yourselves to be a little bit nuts without worrying whether your work is “sellable.” Dig into the stories of others. Read. Listen. Learn.

Non-writers, I encourage you to demand more from your storytellers. We’re listening.  

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS – Asfixia, a short speculative fiction anthology

What if…

That is the question fiction seeks to answer. Speculative fiction goes one step further and attempts to answer what would happen if this world were different. If people were different. If people didn’t exist.

Do you write stories in which you explore an alternate reality and deliver a tale that makes the reader think or feel? Your story might be right for ASFIXIA – a new short fiction anthology to be published early 2014.

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GUIDELINES:

• We’re looking for speculative fiction – sci-fi/horror/fantasy/dystopian/super-hero/alternate history – the stranger, the better.

• Maximum word count is 3,000 but we are more likely to accept stories that blow us away with fewer words. There is no minimum. If you can tell a story in 100 words, we’ll consider it.

• We are especially interested in stories that explore human nature and challenge standard ideas such as “good always defeats evil” and preconceived notions about love.

• We (and when we say “we” we mean Katrina. Henry may convince her otherwise) are NOT interested in stories centralized on artificial intelligence aspiring to be human UNLESS you can present it to us in a way we haven’t seen.

• Stories involving religion, erotic content, LGBT themes, and profanity are acceptable – but stories involving sex and f-bombs for the sake of sex and f-bombs will be set on fire.

No YA, please. NA will be judged on a case by case basis.

• And, please, no sparkly vampires.

TECHINCAL STUFF

Send stories meeting the above criteria to asfixiabook@gmail.com with Submission – Title in the subject line and your story as an attachment. Please include a brief (1-2 lines) bio in the body of the email.

Authors with accepted stories will be paid $3.00 per piece upon acceptance and signed contract returned.

Simultaneous and multiple submissions are accepted, but no more than two per email. We would also appreciate a heads up if your story is accepted elsewhere.