Upcoming Publication: Crack the Spine, Issue 88

The ‘Meet the Contributors’ for Issue 88 of Crack the Spine is up, and I’m in it! My story, ‘To Love a Forest Fire’ will be coming out. Feel free to leave comments on it, let me know how you feel about it, both to let me know how I’m doing as an author, and to let the Crack the Spine staff know if you’d want ‘To Love a Forest Fire’ to be included in one of the upcoming ‘Best of’ print anthologies!

Getting Ready for Halloween! And an Update.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays by far- and I have so much to do this week! My costume this year is Casual!90s era Rogue from X-Men- I’ll be posting pictures of that later on this week for everyone. Tonight, I get to go to my English Department’s Annual Halloween party and should be getting plenty of material for that.

Writing-wise, I’ve been a bit on a hiatus (or what I would consider a hiatus- a week or two and I feel like I haven’t written in forever, even when I haven’t dropped things too much). I’ve been still submitting a couple of the short stories/novella pieces I wrote recently, (most notably Katherine’s Shadow and Good Women) so we’ll see where they go- I have an unnamed short story in the works, and The Right Time (a short story about twenty-something relationships in today’s social climate) is halfway through first drafting stages. In response to NaNoWriMo I’ve also begun drafting up the plot for the first book in a trilogy series apart from ‘Once Upon a Reality’, just to stretch my creative juices. We’ll see how far we can get through this book in this month before returning back to work on The Thing About Apples– or if I want to go ahead and take a break from that series to really buckle down on ‘The Wonder Land Chronicles’.

I always like to get the biggest chunks of actual writing out of the way as soon as any kind of inspiration hits me- that way, the bulk of my work is done in fine-tuning, editing, and fleshing out scenes rather than building things as I go. It’s also nice to jump genres for a little while, take a break from the more reality-based stories and flex my mind with a story more in the fantasy vein of things. We will see if I want to formally submit this to NaNoWriMo or if I will just be putting in the work alongside others in my own way- in either case, I’ll be writing in solidarity with all you other writers who are participating! It’s always a great opportunity to get pumped, keep going, and to push yourself into a great spurt of writing work. With my thesis defense coming up this next Monday, I’ll finally be out of the hardest part of this semester and into time where I can write more of what I want, when I want. I can’t wait!

Becoming a Better Writer: Guest Speaking

As I approach a couple of milestones (defending my thesis in November, graduating in December, third story story publication coming up soon, etc.) I’ve been lucky enough to be able to chance my pace a bit and play hooky in the name of speaking to local high school classes about short story writing. A couple of 10th grade English classes at Pomona High School in Arvada, Colorado, read my first published short story, Wanakufaand then had be come in during their class so they could ask me questions before I led them in a creative writing exercise for their own short story writing unit in class.

Beginning the writer's workshop

Beginning the writer’s workshop

These kids were asking me some questions I had prepared for, and some I hadn’t even really thought about. These surprise questions ranged from ‘what’s the tone of this story, do you think’? to ‘why would you risk your life in a foreign country’ and ‘were you scared to die?’. Some of those I really had thought myself prepared to answer (I mean the whole story is about being afraid to die,  for pete’s sake). I’ve learned in this past week, however, that it’s one thing to answer these kinds of questions in your head or to your mirror- and an entirely different thing to answer these questions to a room full of teenagers, a third-of whom are staring at you with relentless interest, another third who are beginning to fall asleep, and a mixture of both in the rest. Part of me wanted them to love everything I said. Another part of me wanted to sneak out the window somehow and forget the whole presentation. But I soldiered through, and I really think that I’m better for it.

Guest speaking on your own writing is a whole different experience. For one, it really made me examine (in a short, pressured amount of time) my own motivations for writing. Again, its one thing to have ‘motivations’ in your own head. It’s another thing to have to articulate that to a group of people who have not yet learned how to be pretentious about writing and are notorious for questioning and challenging authority.  I found that I wasn’t just justifying my writing career to them, but to myself- and I couldn’t just cop out halfway through and give up. I was forced to justify my own choices in authorship in a way that was entirely convincing- which, far from being depressing or overly difficult, towards the end, was extremely uplifting and personally affirming.

Which with this group, I think, had the added difficulty of speaking to an age group that I did not go into this specifically writing for. My writing, both my novels and my short stories, were all written with more of a young adult (twenties and up) to adult audience. I didn’t realize how much I had taken that for granted until I heard some of the questions that these kids were asking me about Wanakufa. Which is not to say that I was sudden inspired to write new Teen and YA genre stories. I still believe that, at least for now, I’m sticking with my chosen audience. It just made me more aware of the real differences between those audiences- as much as I would like to think that there are none. And again, the differences are not huge and it doesn’t mean that I don’t think people can age-level jump like crazy between them. But that difference has to be addressed, at least by me as an author. Which is,  again, fun to have to think about as a twenty-one year old speaking to fifteen year olds. Only six years difference, and look where we are! I wouldn’t have believed it myself only two years ago, to be honest.

Explaining some more of the background information on Wanakufa

Explaining some more of the background information on Wanakufa

The writing workshop was super fun. I really enjoyed hearing some of the things that the kids were saying that they wanted to write about- ranging from the deaths of siblings to twisted ankles and family trips to Vegas that they were turning into comedy, horror and romance short stories. I was really impressed by the range of creativity in these classes, which gave me, in turn, a couple of ideas for my own short-story planning coming up.

Suffice to say, I was very thankful for this experience. At the end of it, I was solicited by another teacher at that school to come back and speak to his classes in a couple of weeks as well. This time, I will be much better prepared, but no less excited. I really do appreciate all of these opportunities to give back to my local community in little ways- and to become a better writer in the process!

Follow-Up Interview

As I prepare for a couple of interesting opportunities in the next couple of weeks (discussing my short stories with local high schools and a radio interview), I was asked back to the Cult of Me blog for a follow up interview. Click here to see what I’ve been up to since I last chatted with author Michael Brookes, what wisdom I’ve learnt since the release of my first novel, and what I’m working on at the moment.

He Who Wrestles With God: Now Available!

My newest short story, He Who Wrestles with Godis now live on the hiRSCHworTH magazine website!

hewhowrestlescover

   This short story is another one of my crisis of faith pieces, again inspired by real-life events. This story is part of an online zine and is free to read, so if you’ve ever wanted to try out the style of my writing, here’s your chance!

The Covers That Almost Were

One of the most fun parts of the authoring process has to be the making of covers for novels/ stories. I tend to do a lot of it in my spare time, just for kicks and giggles. So when I get to the part of publishing where I actually get to banter back and forth with my editors about what kind of cover is going to be used, I get rather excited.

To give you a hint of that- here is a peek at some of the ‘covers that almost were’ for my last publication (from last week), the short story Wanakufa:

samplecover1

samplecover2

face

Pretty neat, huh? Each of the different covers highlighted a different aspect of the story. We went with the one with the jaundiced eye because, well… maybe you should read the story for yourself to find out 😉