Monday’s Musing on Margot Kinberg’s latest post, “I Am the Observer” and writing back-story…

Hey all,

So Monday’s Musing on Author Margot Kinberg’s latest blog post, “I Am the Observer Who is Observing* —at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist https://margotkinberg.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/

Much like the spectacular Eurasion Owl pictured above, Kinberg’s post got me thinking about how the observer characters in crime-fiction can help us write better back-story into our novels. In her post, she likens writers to those people in life who tend to be natural observers, hanging back and taking it all in. Nothing escapes these people. And as Kinberg points out, if you ever read Agatha Christie, you know her main man Poirot is always looking to interview the observers in the room, and that these types are ultimately the best source for detectives and cops looking to solve crimes.

Or, likewise, if you watch FX’s Criminal Minds or any of BBC’s Masterpiece mystery shows, you know that observers are often more help than any actual physical evidence found on the scene since they can point the crime solvers in the right direction, when little else can:

“Observers often have a very interesting perspective, because they stand back and notice everything… Observers can give valuable information on what they’ve seen. And their perspectives can give the detective a sense of what a group of people is like So, it’s little wonder that we see them so often in crime fiction.” Kinberg

Observer
pic by pam Evans

 What intrigued me the most in Kinberg’s post was her mention of author Louise Penny’s book, Still Life. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list now. According to Kinberg, the victim, Jane Neal, seems to be the observer, albeit from after the grave. She helps the cops by letting them know she’d known things, a lot of things, that other people in town just may have wished she hadn’t! And that very fact, helped seal her doom!

Since I’m writing up a novel where the victim chimes in after the deadly deed too, this intrigues me. Especially as a way of dealing with a character’s back-story. Back-story is so challenging to write. It engrosses us as we create our characters, and it can be all consuming if we let it. But, we all want to avoid the dreaded ‘dumping’ sceanario where  the reader becomes barraged with info. overload all in one fell swoop! Or, as renowned crime fiction author Les Edgerton like to call it, doing “The Rubber Ducky” (http://lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com/rubber-ducky.):

“The “Rubber Ducky” is Paddy Chayevsky’s term for when the hero or villain, at a lull in the action, explains that he is the way he is because his mother took away his rubber ducky when he was three…Always a nice scene… And totally unnecessary … It usually comes from not trusting the reader’s or viewer’s intelligence to “get it”….

Rubber Ducky

…if all you’re trying to do is give your hero more emotional depth, for the sake of emotional depth, without integrating his back-story into your story, you run the risk of awakening the dread Ducky.”  Edgerton

 

I don’t know how my attempt will turn out, but it seems like going back in time and letting the victim tell some of the tale from an observer standpoint seems like a great way to deal in her back-story, and without awakening the dreaded RD. 

I’m giving it my best shot anyway. Could make my tale so much more present for the reader, involving them intimately in the life of my vic by hearing her own voice relay the rough-ride. Much better her than me! As author, I so want to get out of my character’s way, and let them do the heavy lifting!

What do you all think?

Drop your comments below, and let’s talk back-story!

Ciao for now,

Lisa

 

 

Today’s feature: Author Chris Roy’s latest….

Hey kids...Today we’re checking in with a mid-week blog tour highlighting extraordinary author Chris Roy’s latest addition, “Her Name is Mercie.”   

Author Chris Roy

Author: Chris Roy

A dark collection of grist and gore for the late-night thrill-seeker in us all, “Mercie’s” tales combine revenge, cop chases, car crashes, horror, and even a good old-fashioned ghost-story highlighting Roy’s Southern Mississippi roots with glimpses of marshlands and bayous at Roy’s story-telling finest.

But beware…read these stories late at night at your own peril…my lights were down low when I started but burning bright by midnight. Of course, a little good old-fashioned horror fiction never really hurt anyone….right? 

 

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To start, I really enjoyed the title story, “Her name is Mercie.”
Mercie is one chick I could get behind! She’s a stand-alone girl in
a world gone crazy, having had both her parents and everything she knows taken away from her in one small moment! A fatal car crash, a girl gone mad, a stolen car and a bank robbery at gun point are just some of the highlights!

And you know you’re in for a good ride when Mercie, after seeing the coroner push the tables with her parent’s bodies back into the freezer, “grinds her teeth, looking at the Grim Reaper’s Lunchable cooler” then punches Chief Perez as hard as she can in response to him asking “are you ok?”

Personally, I really liked Roy’s stab at a bit of dark humor throughout, especially when our girl stops at none other than ”Sears” to buy the weapon of choice. And when her new-found Asian friend Kermit (yes, like the frog,) names their next ride ‘‘Miss Piggy’’… also very endearing.

“Libby’s Hands” was also a stand-out:her-name-is-mercie-received_10216173315868194-e1527158533876.jpeg

A good old-fashioned ghost story set on Halloween night with creepy goblins and ghouls roaming the streets set amidst Roy’s Mississippi background bayou stomping ground:

“She knew. Somehow she knew it was connected. She ran. Light from the back porch glistened on the wet grass, shoes soaked by the time she reached the pond. The tree was on the other side. A huge sycamore with low hanging branches, thick black tangled mass with the moon behind it. “Ah!” Dina slipped on the path next to the water, nearly splashing in. Dirt on her hands, grass on her knees, wrinkled her nose. Shoving to her feet she marched along the path, wary of the waterline and the tall grass she knew harbored snakes.”

In this tale, our girl Libby seems to be brought back from the 70’s as a super-natural force to be reckoned with in the present, trying any way she can to steal back the hands that were never given to her in the first place. We watch the horror and tension mount, as first a boy from the neighborhood trick or treat patrol gets his hand bound and mutilated, then Dina, Libby’s cousin and the storie’s protagonist suffers the same fate.  Creepy to the hilt, it wont be leaving your gut any time soon! Libby will keep you up tossing and turning late, if you dare! 

Also, a shout out also to “Marsh Madness.” Again, lots of hints of Chris’s Mississippi upbringing here. Makes you feel like you’ve taken a tumble right into the marsh along with the alligator and the very unfortunate pup. But the real question is, Is he trying to appease his greater need for the kill by killing off a helpless animal instead of humans? Not really sure, can only wonder… Or, maybe he takes out all in the end, grandma and the boy, just teasing them first…

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Kat Jayne; Pexels.com

My ARC ran short here, so I’ll never know. But the thought will keep me guessing, for sure!

 

Universal Purchase Link:  http://bookgoodies.com

Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLv2jjpJJxQ&feature=youtu.be

Other books by Chris

Purchase Links:   

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Roy

Website | Facebook | Amazon

Chris Roy was raised in South Mississippi, in the midst of ugly Gulf Coast beaches and spectacular muddy bayous. Chris lived comfortably with the criminal ventures of his youth until a fist fight in 1999 ended tragically. Since January, 2000, he’s been serving a life sentence in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Nowadays he lives his life crime vicariously, through the edgy, fast-paced stories he pens, hoping to entertain readers. When he isn’t writing, he’s reading, drawing or looking for prospects to train in boxing.

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Friday’s Focus: The Writing Wins…

Happy Friday all….

Today’s inspiration came from one of my fave blog spots, Writersinthestorm.com, and guest blogger Christina Delay’s post, Living for the Writing Wins;http://writersinthestormblog.com.

Oh man, can I relate!

Ms. Delay reminds us that if we only focus on the highs, the wins when they come, and get too swept away by the euphoria of it all, we could just as easily come crashing down on the other side. And boy is she right!

In April, I experienced this all too real. You may already know, but I hit the big time, scoring huge when two of my short stories were picked up and published on two different, and long-time coveted, crime fiction sites. I’ve been wanting to add them both to my bio. for a while now and finally nailed that goal! (http://www.close2thebone.co.uk, and http://www.outofthegutteronline.com)

What a month it’s been; congrats coming out of the woodworks, smiles for days and an overall pumped up mood in my core that hasn’t been there for a while….I’ve been like a jack-rabbit on steroids! But the crash came all too soon!

Ms. Delay described the writing journey like a roller coaster with its crazy ups and downs, and she’s right! My moment in the sun faded all too fast as I realized it was just that – and settled back into the daily grind, cranking out more stories, entering more contests, and facing that uncertain future my writing life is.

Most days, I wish I had a crystal ball that would just tell me if I was on the right path or not, but that’s just not how a writer’s life goes!

So, I’ve decided – it’s the journey, the road ahead that matters most. I’ll celebrate those wins, the published moments like crazy! Champagne and caviar if you will! But keep my eyes focused on the road under my feet too, lest I trip and not get back up!

Like Rocky Balboa, I’ll take those punches, but keep on moving!

That’s my plan anyway!

Ciao for Now,

Lisa

Monday’s Musing on writing for free…

Hey all, today we’re musing on an important writers quandary: writing for pay vs. writing for free…

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Do you think your writing career, past, present, and future, feels a lot like this photo...grim, grey, and oh so foggy, with the road ahead looking dim and no clear-cut path to success?

I’m willing to bet my hard-earned weekend’s track winnings there are more than a lot of us out there, all wanting to pen our way on to the NY Times Bestseller list and having to do all sorts of crazy things to get there.

By the way, this topic was inspired by way of my girl Michelle over at The Green Study.com and Jamison, another blogger at Jamison Writes.com. (If you don’t know either, check em’ out now,) as well as my recent short story publishing successes (see my last couple posts for more on that score.)  All the above have me musing on this dilemma….should writers work for free, or should they work for hire only…

Like interning or freelance writing with no contract or financial agreement in place beyond maybe a few bucks, guest blogging to help out other authors and hoping to gain a few readers, blog tours where again, you read and review to help out other authors, and yes, even blogging, all of it is done for free with little to no compensation and no guarantee it will further your writerly aspirations in the long run. I’m no expert, but after having tried out all these to some extent both now and during my recent grad school affair, I can say one thing: all of it can make you feel like an elephant treading water….eventually, you feel like you’re losing the battle!

For those of you still with me, you probably already know. It takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and drive to write a carefully researched, thoughtful and engaging commentary, review, blog or guest post, and then to have nothing to show for it, well. It’s not all roses and candy canes! But, it depends on your goals.

As writers, of course we want readers and recognition, but to get there, something you put out has to keep the lights on too or there’s no internet left to post your scribblings on. So, what’s an ambitious writer to do??

This is where I’d luv to hear your commentary, thoughts, and considerations. Jump on in, the water’s warm! I haven’t quite yet turned into that drowning mammal, and I’m still hoping to tread lightly and make it to the other side. And I hope you make it there with me!

Ciao for now, 

Lisa

Monday’s Musing: Published again…

Hi all…we’re happy dancin’ yet again…

So that week went by real fast and to show for it, got another noir, crime fiction flash story picked up and published!! The picture above, courtesy of my photographer pal, Heidi Horvath, serves to remind that the sun both rises and sets in all its gorgeous splendor, and life goes forward whether we’re reaching our goals or not. And for me, twice up now on two different major crime fiction sites, is definitely reaching and getting out there!

I have to say, it feels damn good to see your babies’ getting picked up, published, and read, and if I had to count all the congrats that have rolled in, well, I probably couldn’t. Not to toot my own horn, but yeah, maybe a little!

Oh, and a huge shout out to Michelle over at https://thegreenstudy.com for  featuring me  on her “Fearless Fridays” column! Her blog is just terrific, and a must see for anyone wanting thoughtful, well intentioned commentary on life in the ongoing writer’s lane of this vast space we call blog-land!

Here’s where you can find my most recent flash fiction, and mad luv to the fab folks over at Out of the Gutter who took it!  http://www.outofthegutteronline.com/2018/04/karmic-catastrophe.html 

Also,  if you haven’t yet read my last week’s flash put up at Near to the Knuckle, it’s here if you’re so inclined!  http://www.close2thebone.co.uk/wp/?p=4034

In the meantime, it’s back to the story board! Got two big writing contests I’m entering soon, one in May, and one in September. Banging on the keyboard’s at all hours, cranking em’ out! Hope to have more good news and fiction fun coming your way soon!

Ciao for Now,

Lisa

Pump up the blood in your prose…

Hey All…

So, we’re a day late on Monday’s Muse, but here it is, nonetheless! Sometimes, it’s just a matter of seeing something to inspire, like these couple posts, one by Paul D. Marks at Sleuthsayers.org http://www.sleuthsayers.org, and  No Wasted Ink Writers Links to Kill Zone’s post, https://killzoneblog.com/2018/02/get-some-blood-pumping-in-your-prose.html

All the above got my wheels spinning on pumping up the blood volume, especially in a drowning scene I’m working on. Mr. Mark’s film noir post at Slethslayers crushed it, with old school black and white photos from classic film noir pics. I dare you to scroll through the list and not feel the rush of blood ramping up through your veins as your write!

And Kill-Zone’s post is the bomb too. I mean, who doesn’t want more blood and action in their scenes??

That’s the good stuff…it’s what keeps readers comin’ back for more, turnin’ pages late into the night! Action, action, and more action. somebody’s gotta die?? Don’t just talk about it. DO IT! Right there on your page! Make it happen, blood, guts, guns, and grief!

Let the dogs out people….un-chain em’, and go for it!

Ciao for now,

LIsa

Monday’s Musing on the “Pat-Down”…

Hi All,

So this was basically me this weekend. Some of you may already know, but Saturday I took a little trip to the teaching credential test center to find out if my wits were a match for the credential ‘gods that be,’ and their lofty yet legal, expectations. And not only did I pay bank ($) for the privilege, but I was also treated to their full on, pre-prison ‘Pat-Down’ experience in the process!

Upon checking in to test, I was told to place my palm on the electronic monitor to scan it not once, not twice, but 8 times! Up, down, and over again. Apparently, my palm was  un-cooperative! Then came the photos; 3 sides, front, right and left, smiles definitely discouraged. Next, an escorted walk down a long narrow hallway, where another cop-like eagle-eyed guard stood watching multiple video camera angles from all sides of the unlucky slugs already inside testing. Then the grand finale, a metal detector wand passed all around. Finally, before being allowed in to take my place in the tiny computer cubicles where I’d spend the next three hours cranking out timed, impromptu essays, I was ordered to empty and turn out all my pockets and show them the inside of the back of my hoodie…(not sure what exactly they thought I’d be hiding in there.) Then, last and not least, the hands-on, physical “Pat-Down,” top to bottom, on all sides. Kind of like getting pulled over for a DUI (just sayin) or getting booked for a night in the local slammer. Jail never loomed so large!

Perhaps, this was a pre-cursor of things to come. To be frank, the thought of spending a night in jail almost seems like a more appealing option than teaching full-time. This I know from being a Sub, probably the worlds worst job ever! I’ve had kids do unspeakable, horrific, awful things! Things like jump out a second story window while my back was turned writing lessons on the board. And posting social media pics pretending to smoke rolled up joints inside my classroom, which they made out of paper, usually reserved for airplanes. I’ve been called to the carpet in the Principals office and had to “go to the mattresses” Godfather style, to defend myself against their onslaughts. And truth be told, most days that blessed 3:00 bell just couldn’t ring fast enough! So why you might ask, did I bother testing at all?

Honestly, I can’t really say.  But after finishing up my MFA last year it’s been all job hunting, writing, (write, submit, rinse, respeat,) both of which have been a steady, slow grind getting off the ground. But in the meantime, a girl’s gotta keep the lights on!

The test itself was difficult too. Not I imagine, like a doctor’s medical boards or a law-student’s LSAT. But questions specifically tailored and just crafty enough to easily crap-out on if you don’t give them exactly what they want to hear, exactly how they want to hear it. So, we’ll see. Not too sure I even want to pass! If I do, it’s back to the bottom of the ant-hill school-wise, looking up at yet another whole semester of student-teaching this fall to freak out on! But if not, I guess it just means, more time to write! More crime fiction shorts, finish that novel, and get my stuff out there! As if that’s a bad thing!

Don’t know about you, but the latter sure sounds like more fun!

Keep u posted…Oh, and I’ve got a crime fiction flash piece that was just accepted by a major online mag., so I’m psyched on that score. Let u all know when it’s up. Progress rides in on small waves!

Ciao for Now!

Lisa

 

 

 

Friday came fast, but fighting’s faster…

It’s my Favorite day of the week again, and I’ve got a good share here for you. Ever hear of Piper Bayard of Bayard and Holmes?

I hadn’t either. until this week, courtesy of her guest-blog post at http://writersinthestormblog.com/2018/03/33471t 

Bayard and Holmes: SPYCRAFT

But, if you’re trying to write a kick-ass fight scene, you gotta check her out. Her and her husband write crime thrillers, and have the resume to get the job done right.

Word is, she’s an ex-attorney, and he’s a forty-year veteran of both the armed services and intelligence communities. HMMMM….Me thinks I smell a spy! And in fact, they have a soon to be released non-fiction how-to, called  SPYCRAFT: Essentials for Writers, which sounds like a whole lot of fun. And super helpful too. You know, for when you want your main gal to be able to kick some serious ass while dodging bullets in a foreign underground makeshift prison, all the while phoning the 4-11 in to the CIA back home. Yeah….have fun spinning your wheels on that prompt, kiddies!

In her blog post, she covers  basics on how to imagine everyday items as weapons. Now I just so happened to be camped out at the local slop shop reading her post when my brain kicked into gear and spit out this little nugget:

Sitting in the local slop shop reading this and it’s making me wanna do things. Things I shouldn’t, but wanna do anyway. Things like take out the string-bean waiter with my fork, grab the chandelier and smack the nappy haired busboy over the head, then use the shards to smash open the pie case and grab up a few before dining ‘n’ dashing….

Just sayin!

What’s your take?? Dyin’ to hear!

 

Ciao for now,

Lisa

Aloha Kiddies, and Happy Friday…

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https://www.freepik.com

So, it’s our favorite day of the week again, and a big cheers to Chris Rhatigan for putting out the deliciously decadent read, “Squeeze.”

 

 

As I sit here at my daily, the 9-5 subbing gig, getting ready to head into the storm of teenage rebellion, I have to say I’d so much rather be doing what Rhatigan’s main character Lionel Kaspar does, making up stories for a journalism job he so craftily passes his way into!

What a lark! I mean, who among us hasn’t contemplated ditching the dreaded daily slug for a wild ride into writing chaos. And Kaspar gets all that and more with his shenanigans. Scouts honor, your Friday would be much better off with this number crossed off your reading list! Talk about no rules, no boundaries! Squeeze will take you there, and then some!

And now, off to the salt-mines, where a room full of 15 and 16 year olds await my meager presence, and where I’ll be watching Clint Eastwood’s “The good, The Bad and The Ugly” for the sixth time this week!

Truly a classic, and at least “Film Analysis” class never gets boring! But let’s just hope today  no one jumps out the window and into the quad to escape! Oh, but wait… that was last week’s episode, where I was subbing basic English to feisty and furious 9th graders who are always good for a laugh!

Working with kids, you just never know. It’s an adventure in and of itself, and my days stories are always some crazy combination of magical mischief and reality mayhem. Not so fantastical as Kaspar’s, but likely just as entertaining! Maybe someday, I’ll write “The Sub diaries – rockin’ and rollin’ with the punches.” In the mean time, keep your ears here for more tidbits.

Gotta luv that daily slug! At least it’s keeping my local brewery bustling! Which is where I’ll be headed today after the little hand hits the three and the big guy’s on twelve. Bartender, keep my seat warm!

Ciao for now!

Lisa

 

Also check out the recommendation via Paul Brazill, at https://pauldbrazill.com/2015/06/09/recommended-read-wake-up-time-to-die-by-chris-rhatigan/

 

Monday’s Muse, and Poe…

What’s your Monday Muse?

Mine is whatever I’m reading that inspires, or catches my fancy in a big way. Could be a book review, author interview, a simple inspiring quote, or a picture that resonates dark.

Like this below, from the creep master himself, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe.

 

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Thank You, Robin’s Real Life.com,  for this great pic of Poe’s House.

THE RAVEN:

courtesy of Project Gutenberg,  EBook of The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe

 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“‘Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door—
Darkness there and nothing more….

 

What’s your Monday Muse???

Comments, welcome!

 

Hi all… Been out on blogging hiatus but I’m back…

Well it’s 2018, and hi there all…

snoopy1

Snoopy’s musing..

Been out on blogging hiatus but I’m back! And in desperate need of a blogging fix!

So, it’s March 2018, and my focus is on why blog, why do we break, and why, oh why do we ever return? I think it’s basically destiny. If you’re born to write, you write. No matter what. Even if it means shaking off those long dreary months of writing/critiquing/rejection/re-writing/rinse….repeat….etc…

Or, it could be your finances, or lack thereof, that took you down that street of dreams into job fantasy-land for a while, into whatever 9 – 5 situation was offered up thinking hey, at least you’re keeping the light on, eh??

But if any of you have seen that new show “Corporate” on network TV, the office stretch ain’t exactly what you might think, as I so recently found out. The show mimics the original hilarious, all time laugh out loud funny sitcom, “The Office” with Steve Carrell, and John Krasinsky, and puts you in a similar place of mind where the expected is ludicrously ridiculous and yet, oh so imaginable! And of course, when you’re doing the office-corporate gig or even a teaching stint like I was, (which, you’ll be hearing more about soon, ) your wrting will probably take a serious back seat. In my case, more like the trunk of my falling apart 2000 Camry in desperate need of retirement. Hence, the job! Which is all to say, why you haven’t seen me here in a while.

But excuses be dammed! And never one for quitting, I’m back. And so, I move forward. With promises of more writing to come, and getting back to our main squeeze, deliciously dark, desperately delectable, sinful, fiction noir, and all things writing.

In the meantime, I leave you with a link to fellow blogger Michelle, at The Green Study via https://thegreenstudy.com.

Michelle has some great thoughts here on micro-resolutions, especially helpful for the new year. Check out her “writing” section, where she says she gave herself a “writing” map, and will travel with it as long as she can. Words to live by, fellow readers! And in that vein, so will I. My map into the new year includes posting here whenever the inspiration strikes. No more strict deadlines to meet, but Monday’s Muse will continue. And Friday’s flash fiction too. But on inspiration, not on demand. So keep an eye out!

And as always, Ciao for now.

Lisa

 

Yo, all “Pulp Metal” zine fans… I’m up…

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As of this morning, my short story The Abyss  is up at Pulp Metal Magazine! 

Couldn’t be more thrilled!

Much gratitude to Jason Michel for taking it!

It’s here,  at https://pulpmetalmagazine.com/2016/12/09/the-abyss-by-lisa-ciarfella/

As always, your thoughts are more than welcome!

 

Fun Flash Friday, beyond the Zone…

 

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Hey there kiddies, and happy belated Hallow’s Eve to all!

 

Don’t know if you dressed up and went around the neighborhood hijacking candy, but the combination of the holiday, plus the sky getting darker way too early has me in a Friday Flash funk kind of mood, so here you go:

Inspired by Charli Mills weekly 99 words, no more no less flash-fiction challenge over at Carrotranch.com, monkeys are flying!

Enjoy! 

Beyond the Zone!

 

 Hector cursed them; damn financial aid forms!

Jumping through hoops, that’s what this is. How the hell did they expect him to get all this filled out by Friday, with three papers, two exams and a final to suffer this week? Like monkeys flying bat-shit all over campus, it just wasn’t gonna happen!

What he needed was cash. Lots of it. And now!

The line grew longer by the second, and sensing his out, he took it! The grey gun-metal felt cold to his touch in his pack as he raised it, passing the point of no return…

Friday’s Flash… Hey it’s getting dark down here…

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Lurking in the dark dusty 7th floor corridor, the grad student stared down rows of empty, after hours office doors. Sensing the incoming bomb drop, he’d tried to prepare but hadn’t been able.

Nearly 10 pm now and he knew; his pompous thesis advisor, over an hour late, wasn’t coming. Shuffling his final thesis signature pages, he sighed; no signature, no candidacy! No candidacy, no diploma! Digging into the bottom of his backpack, his fingers found the scissors, sharp and slick, nearly nicking off his pinky in the process. His advisor liked the campus bar, frequented after classes.

His cell phone glowed out  10:45 now;  just enough time, before they called last call…

 

What’s chomping at your grey matter this funky Friday??Tell me all about it. The darker, the better!

 

Location, location, location…

Stans drive-in

Stans coffee shop, 1958;  Hollywood!

So kids and kidettes, Monday’s nearly here again and we’re musing on this…

 

A thoughtful  post on where we actually do the deed from fellow scrivener Sarah Brentyn at sarahbrentyn.wordpress.com.

Being guilty of clicking away in a coffee shop as we speak, I’m notorious for frequenting the joints. Much like this old black and white from Holly-weird yesteryear, hanging out in a space filled with the aroma of freshly ground grounds and all kinds of humanity prowling around near me is enticing.

Yet, does any work really ever get done?? Honestly, no! Too many sticky fingers grabbing too many sticky buns and too much caffeine never really helped my writing. Sure, the brain gets fired up and emails get answered. But actually novel chapters in a setting so noisy I can’t hear myself think?

NO! Never happens!

For that, I gotta go bury in a cubicle ten feet deep in the bottom racks of the school library, where the only people around are busy typing as fast as I am and in just as much mental misery as I am in some shape or form!

So. My question of the week is out there! I really want to know! Where are you when your characters do the dastardly deeds and you spicy pages germinate best???

Tell me all about it!

 

 

 

 

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: libraries and labor day…

Happy and peaceful Labor Day folks, 

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While you’re all out there waving the red, white and blue, and firing up those BBQ’s, don’t forget to take off your hat and give a wave to your local libraries and librarians who toil away for the sake of you, your kids, and your family’s insatiable reading prowess at large! By day and by night, these institutions and folks are the cornerstone of the American word, free speech, and our steadfast right to enjoy both!

As an MFA grad student, writer and prolific reader, I’ve probably spent over half my life in these places. Filled with gifted, educated, and wonderfully decent people attempting to spread the word, they are still the best free deal in town! Or, as David Nilsen tells us in this recent post from fourthandsycamore.com in On Neil Gaiman and Libraries,

“I’m going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I’m going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.”

What’s your take??? Salute me back with your thoughts…

 

Source: On Neil Gaiman and Libraries

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.

the-perfect-storm

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

Masterful madness and mayhem…

 

Happy Friday Kiddees and Kiddettes!

Here’s a little something for you to gnaw on, if you’re like me, and am pondering the bridge to the depths of despair when it comes time for axing off your characters! 

If it seems like a tough choice, just ask yourself the eternal question of the master, “To be, or not to be!” Hahahaha….if you write anything at all like yours truly, you’ll know the answer in a flash! A friday, fun flash, that is!

And now, some words from our sponsor, master of the deathly muse himself, Shakespeare…

(Thanks for sharing this on twitter, Mr. Moon! (@Mr.Moonunity) https://twitter.com/MrMoonUnity?cn=Zm9sbG93ZXI%3D&refsrc=email

 

Shakespearess methods of madness

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…

 

 

Fridays Flash, and Orange Groovy’s…

Orange Groovy’s

Orange-Julius-Strawberry-Banana-Smoothie

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….

NO_WHINING_ZONE_1_500

google images

 

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…

BW church

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

Mondays Muse, and Multiple POVs…

Hi there kids and kidettes, 

 

It’s Monday Musing time again, and todays topic just happens to be inspired by a recent guest post from Aimie K. Runyan on multiple POV’s, from one of my all time favorite writer sites, Writers In the Storm, at:  (http://writersinthestormblog.com/2016/01/10-tips-to-writing-from-multiple-povs/).  

Ms. Runyan’s post caught my eye because my novel in progress indeed falls into this complicated, yet fulfilling category, with multiple characters telling the story and moving the plot forward with their own unique quips and quirks, and hopefully, keeping the reader engaged invested in turning the pages far past their alloted bed times.

Case in point: just check out this Scooby pic:

Don’t know about you, but the one thing I recall is that each and every one of them wanted to uncover and take credit for figuring out the “who” in the “who done it” part of the game. Sure, they started every show as a collective we. Loaded up in the Scooby van driving to wherever their mystery of the day might take them. But once there, they always split up, no? Giving us scenes, from you guessed it, multiple Pov’s.

Case in point: 

First, we’d usually get serious Fred, all orange Ascot and arms crossed Rambo style in front of his chest, scowling as he deduced the nature of the crime (single pov). And most of the times he’d be accompanied by Daphne, the ginger haired Barbie, and off hot on the trail of the bad guys. (another separate pov chapter). That is, when Daphne wasn’t busy playing damsel in distress, getting kidnapped, tied up or gagged, (a whole separate pov) in which case usually Scooby and Shaggy (yet another pov scene) would fly in to the rescue from some other scene where snacks of all conceivable shapes and sizes preoccupied the moment. Or sometimes it was Fred, who’d swoosh in to save the day hot off a solo scene from tracking down villains or ghosts (main detective pov). And of course, we can’t forget about Thelma, intelligent, reporter girl Thelma, interviewing potential suspects and witnesses, usually solo (yet again, another reporter, cop pov.)

Thanks for indulging my digression into retro cartoon mania. But, there’s a point to it all (hint: multiple points – haha).

And as Ms. Runyan points out in her post, beauty can be achieved in the magic of cohesion, as long as it’s pulled off well. Right now I’m writing my first go at a multiple pov novel, and it makes my Scooby example but a paltry simplified version of the real thing and of Ms. Runyan’s musings. And since I couldn’t begin to state it better myself, here are the main highlights from her “10 Tips to writing multiple POV’s”: 

 (her original full post can be found at: http://writersinthestormblog.com/2016/01/10-tips-to-writing-from-multiple-povs/):

“These are some of the methods I used to weave three separate narratives into one cohesive story:

  • Start with archetypes. “The person obsessed with solving problems is going to address issues differently than the person combing the world for inspiration for their next poem. You want to make sure your POV characters have a different enough world view to make it worth the hassle of writing from more than one POV.
  • Diverge from those archetypes. There is no person so simplistic that you can simply write them off as a two word personality type. Your character has likes, dislikes, needs, wants, and a past that shapes how they deal with reality. Making a rich character will make it easier for your reader to parse who is speaking.
  • Make sure each chapter or section advances the plot. Telling the same scene over again simply to get another character’s take is tedious…forward motion is key. Choosing one character to focus on and begin the story…then giving the other characters’ ‘pivotal moments’ in bite-sized chunks of back story… for a much more compelling read.
  • Make sure each main POV character gets enough “screen time” to make us care… It shouldn’t feel lopsided. We also shouldn’t go so long away from any one main POV character that we’ve lost track of where they are… I made several passes through my manuscript to ensure each main character was at least mentioned if they were ‘offscreen’ for a whole chapter, and tallied up their word counts to make sure there wasn’t a huge disparity…
  • In addition to strong characters, your voice for each must be on point. Pet expressions, gestures, vocabulary limitations, and more are key in keeping your POV characters distinct. … This is important, even when not dealing with multiple POV, but absolutely essential when you are. ..
  • In most cases, it’s great to show one main POV character from the eyes of another… Let the other characters show us another angle on the truth. I loved showing my insecure character through the eyes of her friends. She was much more capable than she ever recognized.
  • If you are travelling between different time periods in a dual narrative, make sure the language, setting, props, and more all fit the eras so as to keep the narratives separate. It’s easy to slip…
  • Make sure that if you have a large number of main POV characters that you achieve a satisfying story arc for all of them in addition to an overreaching story arc. Each main character deserves a fully fleshed-out storyline, and for this reason, multiple POV books tend to be longer…
  • Make sure you make transitions from POV character to POV character smoothly. Titling a chapter heading with the POV character’s name is very common. You can also shift from scene to scene in a chapter if you are very distinct with your voice, but this does not mean “head-hopping” willy-nilly within a scene. Stick with one character for a logical chunk of the story.
  • The golden rule: Do not use multiple POVs for the sake of using multiple POVs. If you can tell your story without the shifts, do so.

So, that’s it for today folks. But I leave you with a question:

What are you working on? Does it have multiple POV’s? And how’s it working out for you?

Luv to hear your thoughts!

Ciao for now, and darkly yours,

Lisa

 

(much thanks to Aimie K. Runyan and Writers in the Storm; and the post,  10 Tips to Writing from Multiple POVs | Writers In The Storm.)

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

Thirty Dog Thursday, anyone???

30 dogs mugging for the camera

Thanks to spectacular photo for this.

OK, who hid the bones?

And just where might you fit in??

Sweet, sour, sexy, or salty? These guys got it all covered!

Not sure which is me, but I’m considering the little one in the front, all the way  to the right – Black and white, with small ears and a big smile. Or maybe, the black poodle-doodle in the third row right – with the curly hair and white chest markings!

 

What’s got you barking today??

Any way you slice it…Gotta luv a good dog face! 

 

The Perfect Storm…

What’s your perfect storm like for writing?
Is it a a white-out, snow driven, stephen king-ish type day where the wind’s whistling at 20 below and the only respite is found bundled up inside the 4 walls of the house hiding underneath the drifts?
Or is it the opposite; a sunny, shore drenched cove, where the kids are bopping and the waves are rolling and margaritas flowing…

Personally, I prefer days like below  – cold, crisp, and clear…with my pup curled up by my feet, and the world shut out tight, with only the keyboard to contend with on my lap.

Would luv to hear your thoughts on the matter…
the perfect storm...

Mondays Muse

Hi all, and happy 2016!

So, to kick off today’s Mondays Muse, I just thought I’d tell you all about Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man,” which I just finished reading. And what a great read it was! If you’ve never read it, or haven’t read it recently, it is a super fun must do to add to your 2016 GoodReads list.

Mr. Hammett penned a couple of terrific characters here; a polite, upscale, charming, and engaging couple who live in a fancy New York hotel with a miniature dog and who dine on duck legs and chicken livers in between martini happy hours and solving mysteries. <br>Nick Charles as the retired but easily swayed private detective gets caught back up in a murder mystery when long time friends daughter Dorothy shows up on his doorstep wondering what happened to her father. Of course, he can’t turn down her request for his help, and the story is off and running.

Hammett’s characters are quirky and fun, like Nora, Nick’s boozy but glamorous wife, as is Asta her miniature dog with spirit who pounces her paws ferociously on all who dare enter. And Mimi is a super charged femme fatale, lying and scheming her way to the money, and throwing herself to whoever she can to get what she wants. <br>Hammett hides the thin man incredibly well, right up to the end, keeping us guessing as to his whereabouts. A masterful arrangement of buring the lead, if ever there was! Kept me reading on into the night. Too bad Hammet only wrote the one book with these guys. I would have loved to see more of them!

Check out my Goodreads list for more great reviews, which will be posted here as well as I go through them. My 2016 goal? To get through all the classic noir and crime fiction works I can from the masters past, who definitely have a thing or three to teach us about the craft. Hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I do!
<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/44321941-lisa-ciarfella”>View all my reviews</a>

 

Friday Fun – Your Writer’s Wisdom Council

So a post on “Live to Write, Write to Live” by Deborah Lee Luskin caught my eye this morning about forming your own “Writing Wisdom Council.” In it she asks an interesting question. If you could form your own “Writing Wisdom Council” with any combination of favorite authors (dead or alive), favorite characters, and or both, what would yours look like, and why? And I thought, why not start the debate here. Since we all have our own faves, it ought to be an interesting list. So, I’ll kick it off for us.

My writing council would be of course populated by the great Raymond Chandler; his iconic predecessor Dashiell Hammett; fifties master of the noir, Jim Thompson, and his current doppelgänger, Hollywood’s one and only, Paul D. Marks.

Just who might be on your list, and why? I can’t wait to hear your responses.

(Original post here – Friday Fun – Your Writer’s Wisdom Council)

 

 

 

Live to Write - Write to Live

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Welcome to the New Year! Another 365 days of your journey as a writer. Huzzah! Let’s imagine that to help you with all your New Year’s intentions, goals, and plans, that you can assemble a  “Writer’s Wisdom Council” to advise and guide you. And let’s imagine that you can populate this council with a) characters from your favorite books, b) authors (living or dead), or c) a combination of both characters and authors. Who would you choose to sit on your council and why?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson: What a great set of questions for the new year! At first glance I can’t think of any helpful characters that could help guide me other…

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