Monday’s Musing on the Mighty Blog…

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let’s make some noise!

Ahoy there mates, and happy Monday  again!

This muse comes courtesy of an inspirational post by Michelle over at the greenstudy.com (thanks much, Michelle). So, let’s make some noise…a blog kind of noise that is!

Much like these cool hands here, the blogger is just like the ultra hip D.J., spinning smooth tunes in some smoke-filled night club, just hoping to raise up those dead rebel-rousers out onto the dance floor. It’s all about making some noise, and knowing at the end of it you’re alive and other people are actually listening to whatever it is you’re putting out there!

Michelle’s post suggests that “At least once a year, if not more, I have to justify my reasons for blogging… Part of the reason is that I’m seeing longtime favorite bloggers close up shop or disappear in the vapors of the ethernet. It begs the question: what do they know that I should be paying attention to? ”

Good question, Michelle. And one that definitely needs the begging. Blogging is such a personal, up close and all, in your face kind of writing. Yes, there’s all kinds of bloggers. Some have more official, business marketing  agendas, and for others the experience is more akin to opening   up a vein and bleeding all over the pages, and hoping like hell noone crashes their after party. Yes, as Bloggers, we all want engagement. But when it becomes unstable, scary, or downright militant, who’d willingly sign up for that?

Michelle says she made a “half-hearted effort to set up Facebook and Twitter accounts, cussing through the entire process and attempting to change settings so that any public contact will be highly unlikely….and that maybe our word reservoirs have a limit, especially if one is an introvert.” Here here Michelle! I couldn’t agree more. I like you, like interaction with the peeps I want to interact with! Just not with the ones I don’t!

And as far a limit to our “silver tongue” well yeah. Kind of think maybe you’re right! Like you, I’m busy cranking out my first novel, and I’ve been given the sage advice by others too…Focus on the task at hand, and all the rest will follow!

So my Monday quest for you all is this…

Why do you blog? And what are you hoping to get out of it all???

Can’t wait to hear all your answers. I really, really, want to know!

 

Talk it out… Monday’s musing again…

Funny how the week goes by so darn quick. But here it is Monday again, and we’re musing on dialogue. That pesky, all-consuming character talk-talk…

 

Snoopy, writing up dialogueOne of my biggest pet peeves as an agent reading slush is unrealistic dialogue. This is a huge indicator of skill for better or for worse. For me, this is a bigger red flag than any grammatical error…” 

(Literary Agent, Carly Watters, on writing good dialogue; Source: 4 Ways To Write Better Dialogue)

Ms. Watters post on the matter got me musing alright! Dialogue, in its best state, is natural. When it flows like water and you can’t turn off the stream if you try, then you know, you’ve got something! When the characters interact and your fingers can’t seem to stop typing, as if they’re on autopilot, that’s when you’ve struck gold! Like that time I sat eavesdropping in an old leather booth at a local diner, jotting down everything the two old birds next to me were saying. One was practically mute while the other carried on the practically the whole conversation by himself, ping-ponging back and forth, asking and answering his own questions, and having a grand old-time doing it. It translated into a short flash, then a longer short-short for me. Nothing like the real thing!

But what about those days when the words feel more forced than anything else and reading it back, you practically choke on the sound it’s so stilted and vague! Don’t know about you but I have those moments. Never easy to write, one of the things I’ve found helpful is to have others read your dialog out loud. And not just in a workshop setting. 

I’m talking about drama. Live, on stage actors, reading the parts. That’s where you’ll know for sure if it’s working or not. And the actors will probably be the first to let you know, in case you haven’t figured it out for yourself yet. If they feel funny saying it, chances are, it’s a pretty funny set of words to be spoken out loud!

What’s your take on the matter???

Luv to hear your thoughts on this one! 

 

 

 

 

Monday’s Musing on Social Media… the good, the bad, and the ugly!

                             

So, Monday’s nearly here again, and I’m musing on this:

It’s Clint Eastwood in “The good, the bad, and Ugly” and Roz Morris’s recent post on Nail your Novel.com about authors and Social Media. And I can’t help but wonder, just how Eastwood and his fans might have seen it?

 

Seems we can’t escape it, whether or not we want to. It’s here, in all its forms, from friending to tweeting to linking and tumbling. And for introverted authors like myself, it can all feel like a terrible plot conspiring against our very sanity to drive us out of our ever-loving minds!

Yet, where would we be without it?? It keeps us connected, keeps us informed, keeps us current and most of all, keeps us writing!

So, tell me, what’s your partial brand of this particular poison?? Chime in and have at it!

(Roz Morris Source: Yes, social media DO work for writers – here’s how)

Friday’s flash and more…

 

“CHOP, CHOP, CHOP” went the knife.

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Thanks to David Duron for this pic!

Down and through the apple, over and over and over. Staring blankly out through the kitchen window, Kevin wondered what would happen if the apple weren’t an apple but instead, a head. Somebody’s head, but not just anybody’s head. It would have to be more wide than circular with orange hued lips and a V-shaped mouth and eyes that slanted slightly to the left when they looked at you. And nostrils the size of extra-big peanuts, sniffing in any hint of aggression coming its way. It would have to be…

Dam it all to hell!!”

Kevin looked down at his hand, now crimson stained and the liquid was leaking to the left and the right and all over the cutting board. The apple that was green a moment ago was now anything but. Stinging like the worst splinter he’d ever recalled, his skin was now splitting like a zipper, only the split was expanding and getting wider.

Grabbing up the lose bit of skin now strewn like oatmeal, Kevin triaged his finger with wet paper towels clamped together so thick that no blood could get through, and cinched the knife with his left hand. 

Needing a  beer more than ever, he turned and pulled hard on the fridge with the free left hand.

“That mother-fucker” he mumbled under his breath, hoping Joe, his roommate couldn’t hear on the other side of the wall. “Why the hell he’d have to go and drink all my beer again. Third time this month.”

He slammed the door shut on seeing nothing in the fridge but an empty Vodka bottle and a half eaten loaf of stale bread. He grabbed up the utensil, and turned toward his roomie’s door. They’d neve really gotten along well anyway. Bigger steps now, blade still glistening, he knocked hard twice, then kicked open the door….

 

Happy near Labor day kiddies!!  

 

Oh, as a bonus for your labor day weekend, here’s a great link to an excellent article on how to build your author brand through UTube and more! Thanks to Wendy Van Kamp and Adam Mulholland at nowastedink.com or this link! 

YouTube offers content creators a way of cross-utilizing mediums to enhance and bridge engagement beyond a book. Authors wanting more presence should leverage this platform to reach a larger audien…Source: How Authors Can Promote On YouTube & Use Patreon by Adam Mulholland

Friday’s Flash: The storm before the calm…

 

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A Spring Friday in New York City brings promise of good things yet to come. But I’m more interested in what came before the calm…what might be buried deep underneath this blissful thaw…

Have we got a jogger perhaps, who tripped and fell during winter in the ice packed snow and being alone and without his cell, couldn’t dig himself out in time? Did he break his ankle and couldn’t move, while the ice, rain then dirt washed away all traces of his being??

Or perhaps, a lone German Shepard wandering loose from her home, got caught up in the freezing cold temps that NY winter can bring and broke through the frozen solid over the now thawed over river in the foreground. Her body only now floating up to the top to be seen by passers by…

Or, contemplate the down and out homeless dude begging on a park bench, waiting for something, anything to fall his way, and finally getting nothing, laid down and gave up, NYPD only now finding his remains in the thaw…

What’s your take? I’d luv to hear. Untwist those brain sparks and contemplate,

The storm Before the calm…

 

 

Are bad things happening on your pages…

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Google images

 

So, today’s muse comes fresh off a Guest Blog post by author James Preston at Writers in The Storm.com called “Is The Music Bad, Mommy? Tips For Doing Bad Things To Your Characters” (http://writersinthestormblog.com.)

Preston’s post hit home for this author, as I am in the midst of creating chaos for my main girl, and have been debating back and forth on just how bad it should be.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being Disney, and ten invoking images of Freddy Cougar doing his worst on those fateful Halloween nights, I started out somewhere in between with a happy medium. In my current novel in progress, my protagonist has been set up with a dismal past that is currently coming back to haunt her. However, that past has been reworked several times now. Ahh, the fun and games here, which you, my fellow scribes, can no doubt relate to. Such is the glory, and guts, of revision!

So first, my girl’s past had all to do with a dodgy ex, who led her like a carrot to a rabbit, down the hole and off to the anticipated, and heavily pre-marketed pot of overflowing gold. Which of course left her dangling, with nothing to hold onto when she finally did get there. It was okay, but it didn’t seem as Preston might put it, quite “bad” enough. So I re-worked it. And Voila, out popped an even more dodgy history with seriously dark and evil secrets lurking in the closets, all of which now are coming out of said closets, and are dangling her angst even more precariously and hopefully, will keep a reader guessing as to which way it will eventually blow, and will she still be standing when it does.

It’s good. Better even. But the question still haunts me. Is it good enough to pass Preston’s “bad music” test? Will it make the readers eyes burn up the pages and their fingers keep turning as they must, absolutely must know, with certainty, that she’ll either be okay, or not! And aren’t’ they all secretly hoping for not, at least for a gripping short-term few chapters? As Preston so aptly put it, with a nod to the true King of super bad himself,

“As writers, we need to be brave, for we must first create characters we like, and then send them into situations where the music is very bad indeed, and watch as they struggle,…as they succeed or fail because that stress is what makes a story work. It is the engine that drives the writing bulldozer that Steven King talks about.”

I like the analogy because, like a bulldozer, our stories must have sufficient dirt to clean up after. Without the dirt, grime, and grit, the scenery is pretty and there’s nothing to doze! Our characters would be flat, pristine, and oh so kind, and very, very boring! Like the wolf in Red Riding Hood, our bad guys would not simply be dressed up in costume with grandma’s clothes, they would actually be grandma and instead of huffing and puffing to blow our houses down they would be in the kitchen, cooking up a batch of chicken soup and spoon-feeding it to our heroine! Not that there’s anything wrong with chicken soup. But that only gets you so far in a story and discerning readers might want to know what happens next, as in maybe the soup is poisoned, or even before, as in where did the chicken’s rubber meet the road, and just how did it wind up in the pot in the first place? At some point, we have to put a little meat on the chicken’s bones, and then let the reader watch as the flesh gets torn off, piece by piece in an intoxicating finale! That is what will keep their eyes super-glued and their mouths hanging open, as they read on into the night and tell all their friends about it the next day.

However, bad for bad sake, is not good. Or, as Preston point out in his number two tip, “Make the horror mean something.” Don’t throw bad stuff in there, just for the sake of being bad. Tie it into your guys or gals back story. Give them a reason for robbing that bank or driving that Bronco down the freeway at 100 mph with 30 cops hot on their tails. Our readers are smart, and action for action sake will be spotted immediately as a device, simply used to move a story forward. And no one likes to be talked down to. Readers want meat, they want substance and grit and they will find it when your characters do too, amidst all their chaos and confusion! Let your characters grow with the dirt and your readers will thank your for it in the end.

And don’t forget to talk to your characters too. Yes, I said talk to them. As Preston mentions, this is a great way to get them to tell you just how bad they should be and exactly how they should go about it. I have a character in my story who did just that and winded up being nasty as the night is long. In short, I think my readers will love to hate him. I know I do. And that my friends, is some bad ass music!

What bad things are your characters doing, and how are they doing it? I’d love to hear. And just what are they telling you to guide their paths?? Stir up the pot and have a conversation, and let me know!

 

           

 

 

 

 

Third Person limited, vs the dreaded Head Hopping…

 

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A couple of posts got me mulling over today’s topic, writing in third person limited vs. random, willy nilly head hopping with no real reason or strategy….

So, here’s my question of the day:

Just how do you widen your  story perspective using third person, and convey other characters pov’s in a strategic and methodical way without randomly shifting heads and risk losing your readers in the process??

 In a post on the craft of perspective over at “Brevity.wordpress.com,” Judithe Hannan writes:

“Unfettered writing, for our ears alone, can open doors, but to get to the doors behind the doors we can’t be Narcissus staring at his own reflection. We need other faces looking back at us, we need craft, and we need to connect our story to a world beyond our small pond.

And I would have to agree. After all, our stories are our stories, and exciting and intriguing they may be, but if we want them to reach other ears, they need to be tuned into full-blown operas! Hannan goes on, describing her attempts in doing just this:

“My lens didn’t only have to be compassionate, it had to be wider. When I first wrote about my daughter’s cancer I wasn’t telling a story about people but about IV’s, scans, chemo drugs, and scars. I created a cloistered world…where no one learned or evolved. So I stepped back. I described the doctors, observed the different ways my daughter and I interacted with them and…found an opportunity to explore our dynamic with each other…When I zoomed out and saw myself against the backdrop of the larger world, I emerged transformed as a mother, wife, and friend.”

Hannan makes some good points here, and as my own novel has evolved, I too found myself stepping back from first, to third and back again before deciding on third person limited to best tell the story, but I am learning to do it in a controlled manner without the dreaded head hopping!

Don’t get me wrong. My first drafts at using third limited have been loaded with many instances of the ugly deed, which thankfully, were pointed out in workshop, and since been corrected. And once I got the hang of it, using third limited can be a breath of fresh air as it gave me, the author, the ability to move around inside the story and command it, taking the characters with me as I go, much like moving chess pieces around on the board. I am still in charge at all times, but my characters now have the chance to speak their minds and that, is what gives depth to a story! I dare say, makes it all that much more fun not only to write, but to read too! After all, if you’re going to entertain, go for it!

Especially if you’re writing crime fiction, like me. Why just describe a bad guy when you can really get into a bad guy’s head, thoughts, motives, and actions! Hell, why just tell or talk about the body being dumped out of the car and into the alley from another characters perspective, when you can show it as it’s happening from inside their head, getting all down and dirty with it??

Which style do you prefer as both a writer and or reader, and why???

As always, your thoughts are welcome!

 

Fridays Flash, and Orange Groovy’s…

Orange Groovy’s

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Tossing her keys to the dude honking his horn in the Range Rover, Summer threw both legs out of her still running Honda and took off full sprint toward the club’s sprawling entry.

“Park it wherever Mac, I gotta class to teach and I’m already almost ten minutes late.”

Mac, whose solid looking guns hung out of the drivers window, flipped her the bird but she knew he’d get over it eventually. She’d done it before to him and most of the others, and they always did somehow. Especially since everyone knew that the instructors had dibs in the lot, and really, what else could they do? Her new Nikes pounded down hard on the pavement taking the brunt of her speed and she could still hear the honking from his horn and his screams as she flew inside.

“What the hell Summer! Just caz you work here don’t mean you can just ditch your ride any old time and leave it to me to figure where to land it.”

Summer turned quick on her heels, giving Mac a quick thumbs up right before sliding inside, and past Ramone at the front desk. She’d buy Mac a power smoothie later to make up for it. His favorite, the “Orange Groovy” concoction the snack stand guy made usually helped pave these things over. Ramone was busy checking in members and scanning their cards, as usual. He was always fighting with someone over something, since most LA Fitness members were mostly muscle heads, and tended to like a good roe now and then. But being late for her class, she couldn’t have cared less. She was more concerned with Ross, the club manager, who she saw waving frantically from behind his desk as he multi-tasked two phones and a waiting client, sitting in the chair in front of him. She could see him mouthing his usual rave, even from half way across the room:

“Summer” he screamed out. “You’re late. There’s a whole room full of people waiting on you back there and I already got Jason calling on a sub. One more time Summer, just once more, and that’s it. You’ll be teaching classes out on the street.”

She smiled and did the only thing she knew how to do, and the only thing that might appease him. She gave him the double thumbs up. But she didn’t have time to stick around to find out if it worked. There were probably over 100 people waiting on her in the aerobics room and she knew they wanted to move fast, and something fierce! So she hightailed it down the long hall and bounded up onto the platform stage, jammed in her music tape and switched on her microphone. Tone Loc’s Funky Cold Medina’s cool sounds filled up the room while the crowd grooved right and grooved left, and before she knew it, the hour was over. Sweat filled her eyes and down the back of her neck. She grabbed her towel, chatted with a few of the newbies who always liked to introduce themselves, and headed on out toward the front. The thought of that smoothie sounded good now, so she headed on over to the snack bar to find Mac, only to see a line of Paramedics carrying stretchers down the hall.

“Jason, what the hell is happening out here? Why are these Fireman here?”

Jason looked up from his desk, covered in LA Fitness water bottles and fliers. A scantily clad girl in a leotard sat in the chair opposite, waiting for him to take her money.

“Jezus Summer, they’re Paramedics, not fireman. And I don’t know. One minute he was serving smoothies, as usual. The next, he was face down on the floor. Just happened like ten minutes before your class finished. Ross called the paramedics in.”

“No way” Summer said. “ Who? The juice guy? You gotta be kidding me? I was just going over to get an Orange Groovy. Wow. But how, I mean, why?”

Jason handed the girl in front of him some cash and a water bottle. She leaned over the table and signed the contract.

“I don’t know man. Like I said, one minute, the guy’s pouring drinks. The next, boom!”

Summer backed up from Jason’s desk and slowly headed toward the commotion. The paramedics were busy loading the snack stand’s man into the stretcher and trying to clear out some space between them and the door. People were gawking all around. She reached up and let out her pony tail, untied her Nikes and slid down the wall to the carpet to make room. She sat there watching as a stretcher with a still body paraded past, and out into the night. Snack stand man was gone, and he wasn’t coming back. She leaned her head back up against the wall, and wondered, if they would they ever get their Orange Groovy’s again.

 

Mondays muse on those pesky writing distractions…

HI all and happy Monday once again!

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So this week a post caught my eye from Michelle, over at The Green Study.com,

(http://thegreenstudy.com/2016/03/06/experiential-avoidance-the-green-study-confessional/comment-page-1/#comment-24057).

Her post is all about those pesky technical distractions we find that get in the way of living our happier and more productive lives, and doing the things that matter the most. And since last week my cell phone died and so I had to go through the time-consuming and loathsome procedure of not only visiting my local AT&T store but also coughing up the big bucks for a new one, this post hit me like a rock to the head!

As Michelle says: “This week, I’ve been practicing stripping away distractions. It’s been made more difficult by a head cold. Silence sounds more like a waterfall rushing through my head. I’ve been making myself do things, one at a time, with no background activity. It’s very hard to do and I find that upsetting.When did I change? When did I become this leg-jittering, humming, antsy person in need of a fix? That I can’t even sit in my own company without checking this device or that – it’s a wake up call. In psychological terms, much of what I do these days would be described as experiential avoidance. I quit my job a few years ago to commit to writing full-time. Thus far, most of what I’ve done is unfinished, unremarkable and uninspiring…canstockphoto3436262

So that takes us back to my phone issue…

Once at the AT&T store, I had a decision to make. And yes, I had insurance! Not that it seems to matter any since it what it comes down to is a pay now, or pay later proposition. That said, not wanting to pay later, I reached deep and did it now. But part of the Faustian deal included having to wait 3-5 days for the new one to arrive. So I did. And I have to say, by day three when I came home to find it on my doorstep I was wishing they had taken the five!

Totally unplugged, footloose and fancy free for a whole 72 hours was nothing short of glorious! I felt more calm, more rested, and more in control of my time than I had in at least a year! Not having the constant buzzing to attend to and the endless stream of both Facebook and Twitter interruptions to deal with (dare I call them annoyances??) meant I was able to do more of what mattered and what was important, like spend time working on my novel, my thesis, and even reading. What a concept that was!

 

So, my big question to you all today is like Michelle’s…

What’s your least helpful distraction? And just what are you avoiding with it???

As always, jump on in. The water’s warm!

Mondays Muse asks: Are you whining your way into gold….

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A recent post by Kathryn Craft  entitled “How Much will You Give Away”  on http://WritersintheStorm.com got me thinking…

As a definite “new kid on the block” at this whole blogging/writing thing, and as a basically broke, blundering, grad school novice slugging it out in the writing trenches with barely a few credits to my name,  and  dog paddling just to keep my head above water, I’ve got my fair share of whining to be heard. But let’s face it: no one wants to hear that stuff all or even most of the time! I mean everyone, even Hemingway and Stephen King had to start somewhere!

But balancing one’s time between school projects, papers, thesis writing and demanding professors with also trying to put out credible regular blog posts and also furiously sending out submissions in hopes of getting published can be more than just a  bit overwhelming. So what’s a poor grad student to do, when on top of all that, requests for things like guest blog posts and even submitting to anthologies for free beckon enticingly at the back door?

Sure we want to get published. In fact, that’s all we really care about. Our days and nights are spent in single-minded pursuit of it, and our dreams are pretty much haunted by it. But like Kathryn Craft asks:

“When such requests catch us off-guard, we are liable to whine, “Why do people keep asking me for more free stuff?”

In my case, I haven’t been asked so much for free stuff, as for my time. Guest posting on someone else’s blog is groovy. And sure, it might get me some more readers. But really, does it serve my higher purpose? Like Ms. Craft tells us in her stellar post, one of the greatest things a new writer ( or any writer for that matter) can do is to “Analyze your career goals and set reasonable boundaries.” Without that much at least down on paper, a simple response to the question ” Will you write a series on our blog for free?” may turn into stressful quandary taking up  a whole lot more time and energy than anticipated. Especially when in fact, as Ms. Craft again so wisely tells us:

 “It takes me at least a half-day to write a cogent, polished blog post. Or, I could draft 2K words on my work-in-progress. You must convince me the exposure is worth it”

Or, as I put it, uh yeah, No!

last time I looked I had at least five professors barking down my door with serious deadlines and a thesis looming larger than Big Foot, and oh yeah, my own novel in the works too, which by the way, should be taking precedence over just about everything. Recently, a respected blogger and author, and kick ass writer coach who shall go nameless here advised me that same sentiment, phrased differently, of course. But the gist of it was simple:

“Focus on the novel and getting it out there. Then everything else will just fall into place.”

That’s not to say that doing said guest posts or spending time organizing our MFA readings at our local book store aren’t great things to do and have on the resume. They are, and will continue to be important elements to my overall writing career. And are great ways to gain exposure and or simply increase ones community circle outreach. And certainly, writing and being involved with other writers on any level is better than not writing or communing at all.

But these days the pecking order has made itself clear:

It’s thesis, novel, my own blog posts here, and then, all that other stuff!

What’s been on your whine list lately?

Don’t be shy, just drop me a line and whine on!

I’m here to listen!

Much thanks to Kathryn Craft and http://www.writersinthestorm.com

Ciao for now, and darkly yours,

Lisa

Fridays Fun Flash Fiction: The Abyss…

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courtesy of Google images 

     Father Trevor’s rolled the rosary beads round in his hand for the twentieth time in the last twelve minutes. He knew how exactly how long it had been, since the hands on the clock overhead were extra noisy as they ticked the down the seconds going round. The digits were painted on bold too, dark green, on a pale cream-colored backdrop, making them hard to miss. Under it sat the calendar with today’s date circled in red, December 31, 1949.

The date was significant for Trevor, since it was one year ago today that he’d been transferred to this stark and quiet parish from his native and decadent Puerto Rico. A move he’d hadn’t wanted, but had resigned himself to. Monsignor had told him it was either that or face expulsion from the order, so he’d sighed and reluctantly agreed. Packed up his things that very night, and was on a plane the next morning. He’d settled down into his new surroundings not ten hours later that evening.

Ohio was certainly not Puerto Rico. There was no escaping the monotony of the strict borders and rules of the priesthood here. No avenues for escape like in San Juan, where the bars he’d found tucked away in the seedier downtown districts had led him to Eduardo. They’d tucked out whenever he could get away, slipping into their nightly rituals just long enough to meet up and shack up. They’d rendezvous in whatever hotel Eduardo had managed to find, usually one of those by the hour places, just long enough to satisfy their urges. Then, once satiated, he’d sneak back to his priestly service, no one being the wiser. But they’d found out, and exiled him, a million miles away from Eduardo and the temptations of his favorite and secretly coveted city.

But he’d found a new hobby, even here, of all places, in Ohio. And he guessed that they knew, once again. He was going to be asked to come clean. Could feel it. His eyes watched the clock as he rolled the beads round and round in his fingers, wondering just what to say.

       Should he tell them everything? Or just barely enough. Or maybe, nothing at all.

Maybe they didn’t really know, maybe they only suspected.

The parish’s newest altar boy was so sweet, so young. So compliant. And Trevor’s passions had got the better of him the very first time he glanced the boy through the bathroom mirrors, while stripping down for their morning showers. They’d exchanged glances but once, and it was done. Ever since then, their midnight meetings in the gardens outside the parish walls had become more frequent, and this last time they’d both felt someone or something watching, and looked up just in time to see a window closing high overhead, in a hurry.

“The Monsignor will see you now Father.”

The tall, lean messenger’s request broke Trevor from his thoughts.

“Yes of course.”

Trevor rose from the pew, straightened his robes with the palm of his hand and tucked the beads down deep into his trouser pocket beneath.

          I’ll tell them nothing, he thought. If they know, they know. And I’ll suffer the consequences. And if they don’t, then it’s on me. My sins are all on my conscience.

          He walked behind the messenger and down the long aisle of the small chapel, where the sun set off the stained glass windows all around, illuminating clearly the things in front of him. Trevor’s eyes took in the round, firm swishing back and forth under the robes of the messenger walking in front of him and something stirred in his pants.

        Lord help me, he thought. My sins are not my own. But, they are, will be, my undoing.

        He swallowed hard and pushed on, into the abyss, unfolding

Monday’s Muse, and Workshop Woes…

 

 

Hi all.

For today’s Mondays Muse, we’re going to back to school.

 

Or rather, as in my case, still there, slugging it out. I like to think of myself as an MFA pawn, deep in the trenches, surviving by gut and instinct, and just trying to dodge all the bullets being thrown my way. 

This month I was blessed enough to have been invited to guest blog on Wendy Van Kamp’s site, nowastedink.com  . You can find my whole piece, Workshop Woes by Lisa Ciarfella there. It gets into the nitty gritty of it all, and hopefully inspires some can do attitude with a much needed dose of positive vibes for those of you who going through it too. And even for those of you who aren’t…us writers are all the same. We all need to feel wrapped in comforting prose from time to time, by people who get it and embrace what we’re trying to create, instead of those at odds with our dreams.

As you will see, most of my last year and a half has been spent trying to figure out where those bullets were coming from, and which direction to duck next. But survive I have and as I sit cranking out what’s left of my thesis under the serious deadline gun, just thought I’d take a quick break and share some of those trials and tribulations with you all.

I fgure, a lot of you out there, can relate!  I mean, MFA or not, who among the writer camp can’t say they havent’ encountered at least a few of these situations along the way…it’s all part of the writers journey. Good, bad, or ugly, writing is like a wash/dry cycle. You wont come out the same way you went in. And over time, that’s probably a good thing!

Back to the thesis now, banging it out, one key at a time.

See you on the boards soon,

Ciao for now, and darkly yours,

Lisa

 

Fun Flash Friday, and the dentist…

 

Frightening Book Cover

So. It’s that time again kids and kiddettes!

Freaking fun, fantastically fabulous Friday. That day where we get to look forward to the few hours of precious time on the weekends to release, relax, and re-energize! Or, as case may have it, go to the f-ing dentist!

Yes fellow fraidy-cats, today was that time again. And seeing as I’d already been putting it off for as long as humanly possible, having canceled and rescheduled at least 3 times in the last 3 months coming up with brilliant but not so real imaginary excuses every single time, I’d figured it was time to bite the bullett, or rather the probing tool, and buck up for my own Little Shop of Horrors first hand experience!

For those of you who’ve seen the film, and for those of you who haven’t: Here’s a cautionary “viewer beware” rating. A movie caught in the middle, between a PG13, “shield your kids eyes from the nasty” film, and an adult only R, that has you shielding your own eyes from the horrors. Only with this film, your never quite sure whether you should be looking, or not! It’s one of those “peek behind the fingers covering my eyes” but in small doses only. And then retreat back again quick when Seymour (Rick Moranis) starts feeding the insatiable plant, with body parts axed up from the what’s left over of the dentist (Steve Martin.) MMM. Getting hungry just thinking bout’ it!

Things really get twisted  when Martin comes riding down the street in his black leather motorcycle get up and singing about how his mom always told him he’d be a success if he’d only become a tooth man. Especially, since he loved to torture and terrorize  small animals and other less bully-inclinced types of kids. All I can say is, Go Mom!

Especially love the scene where Seymour’s in Martin’s office under pretense of needing work done, and instead, whips out a gun wanting to kill off Martin for smacking around the film’s femme fatale, and his girlfriend to be, Audry. But, as fate would have it, Martin’s laughing gas gets the last laugh as it gasses him to death in the corner!

Seymour looks on horrified, or, is he really?? Not only did he not have to use the gun, but evil mouth man has been dealt a lesson, a Karma-strikes back only kind of lesson, where the pain he’s inflicted on who knows how many is coming back to haunt him bad! His final and frightening grand finale!

Take that,  Mr. Mouth Man! It’s come full circle!

 

And now, as I sit in my own personal tooth-trench hell, reclining and staring up at the photos of dental menace and mayhem plastered on the ceiling above me, I can’t help but wonder –  Just where the hell is the gas?

Real world creative non-fiction, or freakin fun, Friday fantasy? You decide.

Ovef and out, from a half crazed, overly anxious patient waiting room, where darkly insane thoughts are running fast, and furious!

 

Oh. And just because:

The cover work you see here is the brilliant anthology, where my very first published short story now lives! Another creepy, crawly, and somewhat demented short story called “Midnight in Alaska” where I ramble on about wolves howling and prowling in the distance, and spooky Santa Clause North Pole happenings all in the dead of the Alaskan night!

If any of you ever check it out, do drop me a line, and let me know. Pretty proud of it, as  I can now call myself officially published! Happy Friday, fiction fans. See you around the campsite soon!

Ciao for now, and darkly yours, 

Lisa 

Mondays Muse…

Stphen King-on writing2

Stphen King-on writing2

SO, here we go with this week’s Mondays Muse, as promised. And take a guess what we’re talking about? Yep, you guessed it, writing fiction! And who better to guide us through the murky, distant, tantalizing, and creepy waters than the master himself, Mr. Stephen King!

All’s I can say is, if you’re a writer and you haven’t read this book, run, don’t walk, to your nearest library and check it out. Or, if you’re unlike moi, that is to say not a broke and struggling grad student, and you actually have two cents to rub together, maybe even consider buying it. Not only does it look great on your shelf, but it contains so many nuggets of writerly wisdom, you’re eyes and ears will consume it faster than you would that chocolate pie or the newest rendition of Marry the night from Lady Gaga. Yes folks, it’s one you wont put down till the last page is done and the corners are dog-eared stiff! And or until the lights go out because the wind is howling so hard outside you’re sure he must be out there somewhere in the dark channeling his particular brand of writer spooked through the rain and into the walls of your dwelling space. 

Either way, my heartfelt advice is to check it out, and soon! It’s nuggets like these, that will catch your eye. I know they did mine, for sure!

” The first story I did actually publish was in a horror fanzine…I was a teenaged Grave-robber…After  a long time spent studying the markets, I sent Happy stamps off to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. It came back three weeks later with a form rejection slip…By the time I was fourteen…the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replace the nail with a spike and went on writing.” (p. 38-41)

Okay peeps…don’t know about you, but that’s all good for me. In fact, if you follow me here and or on FB at all, you know that I recently just got my very first published short story ever up in a horror anthology called Fightening. The story’s called “Midnight in Alaska,” a creepy crawly Stephen King-like tale, and I like to think he’d be proud to know there are those of us who are out here, following in his footsteps. Or, at the very least, dying to try! (wink-nudge-haha.)

Well. That’s all for now folks. Gotta go burn that midnight oil and keep the spooks at bay while I crack open another less, than desirable grad school text-book which is due tomorrow, but took a serious back seat to Mr. King and friends.

See you all on the boards soon, at Friday’s Fun Flash Fiction. Make sure to stay tuned for that, caz. you never know what’s gonna fall out of this brain!

Ciao for now, 

Lisa

It’s 2016, and a real hum-dinger!

Well, well, well. If 2016 didn’t ring in with a bang! A real humdinger, if ever there was.

Especially since as of today, I can officially rank myself among the chosen lucky. You know, that group of published authors whose stories can be both found and bought on Amazon. Yes folks, I rang in this new year with a glass of the bubbly and a little private dance I like to call “the bear” which, I give credit to my big brother for, and which tends to follow my high points where ever and what ever they be. Granted, the groove is a little goofy. But hey. I figure, dancing in my pj’s in my basement with no one but my pup giving me the once over doesn’t exactly make for a Kodak moment. So you wont be seeing the rendition here any time soon. But rest assured, yours truly is feeling pretty pumped!

My short story, “Midnight in Alaska” is now up on Amazon, and part of a 20 tale horror print anthology put out by the terrific team at Sez Publishing at  http://www.amazon.com/Frightening-collective-work-Sez-Publishing/dp/1519590954/ref=sr_1_1?

The story was inspired by an Anchorage to Dinali cruise I took through the great white state a while back. And if you’ve never been, Alaska truly is like the wild west. Its own frontier, just bursting at the seams for story writers, especially creepy crawly Stephen King kind of stories. (Not that I’m comparing myself to the master. I’m not. Never would.) But his writing is seriously inspirational in that respect, and the Alaskan backdrop basically cries out for that kind of a creep. Santa Claus land, as it turns out, doesn’t only inspire sugarplum dreams of candy canes and mistletoe, but seriously flawed fairy tales gone way the heck and yonder off the beaten track and far down some deserted path instead. Really. Go for yourself and you’ll see what I mean!

I was also blessed to enough to have been asked to guest blog this month on Wendy Van Kamp’s site, http://nowastedink.com/category/guest-posts/. It would be great to see all of you there too, so drop on by and leave your thoughts. All in all, a pretty good January, and it’s only the first week!

If you’ve been following my blog here at all, you know that my first writing love in Noir, and crime fiction. And I’ve been busy writing that stuff too. A novel is in the definite works, and I’m in the trenches slogging it out, making good headway. And I have another short story coming out sometime this year in a pretty well-known publication in the crime writing community. But I hesitate to name it quite yet, as I don’t like to jinx things. But that’s all the more reason for you to keep checking back in on me to keep me honest at posting the dirt first hand as it happens.

My blogging goals this year are simple:

Monday’s Muse posting: Here I’ll post my weekly reads and reviews on classic noir, classic crime fiction, and classic detective novels from the masters of the past who have a thing or three to teach on us on honing our craft. Watch for this week’s post, on Dashiell Hammett’s, “The Thin Man.”

Author to Author: Watch for  weekly posts where I highlight my favorite authors and other bloggers who have put out the business, making my ears stand up in the process with great author to author interviews, and their tips and tricks on how to write better fiction.

Also,  watch for Fun Flash Fiction posts, where I put up a new story a week, as the muse inspires, and or as you submit.

Hope to see you around the campsite and I’ll be looking for your comments, so don’t be shy. And, if you have a piece you want me to put up, feel free to send it. I can’t pay. But if it’s mysterious, intriguing, or just plain weird, send it on over and I’ll consider it. The more the merrier, I always say.

 

Here’s to a rockin’ 2016 all!

Ciao for now,

Lisa