Hello 2015…..I’m back!

So between being ridiculously busy personally and professionally (and not even with my own writing) and my website invasion at the end of 2014 (thank you ever so much, Mr. Hacker, for making my online presence a virtual hell), I haven’t been able to post in months. But finally, the technical issues are worked out and I’m back with a  vengeance (and a MUCH stronger internet security package!)

So what have I been doing since my last post pre-2015? Glad you asked. While my own writing has been on the back burner, I’m very excited to announce that I’m now part of the #SanitariumMagazine faculty! I’ve had the amazing good fortune to read and review some of the hundreds of submissions Sanitarium gets each month, and what an experience it’s been.  Writers of all skill levels, writers from every corner of the planet, and some writers who were so geographically close that it’s damned near impossible I didn’t know them before (including #BrookelynneWarra, another faculty member who, it turns out, grew in a very small Pacific Northwest town less than 30 miles up the road from the very small town I grew up in — we have so many connections it’s like that whole Six-Degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon thing, yet we never met). The experience I’ve gained in my short time with the magazine has expanded my horizons immensely and is directly impacting what little writing I’ve had time to do.  And on that topic…

While the fiction writing has been on hiatus for awhile, I have been waxing poetic recently and dabbling in some dark verse. Poetry has never been my strong suit but sometimes a little change-up does a body good….and spanks the muse just hard enough to get her attention. And I think she likes it — my last two conversations have started off with There once was a man from Nantucket…

Thanks to all of you for sticking with me through the hacking craziness, I do appreciate it. I plan to post fresh every Sunday, and occasionally more often. But right now, it’s time to get back to it. I’ve done my reading/editing for the day, and it’s time to get cracking on my own stuff: finishing up those two short stories I posted about back in 2014 (Voodoo You Love and Sirens).  Until next week….

 

 

Oh my aching fingers…

The holidays are coming, NaNoWriMo is giving me callouses on my fingers (not to mention that I’m WAY behind), I have two weeks to repaint my living room for the second time this year, the weather sucks (it’s a balmy 18 degrees out there right now), and I’m sick.  Ugh.  But at least Voodoo You Love is almost done!  Back to the grindstone….

NaNoWriMo 2014!!! AKA My stylist is gonna have to cover a lot more of my gray after November….

Well, D-day has arrived:  November 1st, the start of #NaNoWriMo 2014!  For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  Every November, tens of thousands of authors around the world attack their laptops or notebooks with the goal of writing 50,000 words in just 30 days (1,667 words a day).   Hell, you could hit that in under three hours a day, and that’s writing just ten words a minute!  No big deal, right?  Ha!

I’ve heard the horror stories.  Sure, those first days and even first weeks are filled with excitement and motivation and loads of caffeine-driven creativity powering you through scene after scene, twist after twist, deep into the wee morning hours.  But it’s the last half of the month when your muse says screw this and heads out for parts unknown.  When your coffee maker fizzles out and all that’s left in your cupboard is instant decaf.  When your hard drive decides to crash.  When you start thinking four days without a shower really isn’t that big a deal (imagine how Woodstock smelled), and do you really need to change your underwear every day?  When your brain begins to melt out your ears, your fingertips are wrapped in Band-Aids, and your husband commandeers your laptop to peruse mail-order bride websites because his real wife has been lost to the madness that is writing fiction.

So far, so good:  I’m twelve hours in, and my coffee maker still works, I’m wearing clean underwear, and the ideas are flowing better than they have in a long time.  By the end of the month I hope to have made some major headway on Otherworld, which has been sitting stale for far too long.  I’ll try to post here regularly throughout the month, but no guarantees….by Week 3 I may be in a padded room mumbling about run-on sentences and characters who refuse to cooperate and how someday those damned publishers will understand my creative genius.  Happy writing!

 

***Check out the madness for yourself, if you dare!  www.nanowrimo.org    #NationalNovelWritingMonth   #NaNoWriMo  #30daysofcrazy

 

Voodoo You Love

Woo-wee!  Is there anything better than a day when the writing is on fire?  Yes — how about TWO days of it!  My short story concept Voodoo You Love is coming out of my gray matter faster than my fingers can type and man does it feel good!  A big shout out to #BarrySkelhorn at #Sanitarium Magazine for the terrific writer’s prompt which put the idea into my head and is quickly becoming the most fun short story I’ve worked on in a long, long time.  Here’s an excerpt (please ignore the lack of indentation, WordPress does away with them when I copy/paste text into the blog):

“Now chile, dis here is strong magic,” the old priestess said, the words came out stretched like only bayou folk can speak them – chiiile and straaawng. “Strong magic here, oh yes.” She raised a closed fist to her lips and huffed into it, blowing a cloud of reddish-brown powder across the flickering candles before her. A searing flash filled the stifling hot shack, and the sharp metallic odor of iron pierced the air.   The old woman stared up at the dark ceiling where the flame shadows danced, her milky white eyes wandering blindly, and held out a primitive-looking contraption with gnarled black hands. “G’on now, take it.”

Lily Girard hesitated. It was an ugly thing, just over a foot tall at its peak with a triangular base, a bastardized open-frame pyramid made of sticks and roots and chewed leather and God knows what else — bones, she was sure – all held together with grass and probably the gut strings of some sacrificial animal. A devil’s trap, she thought it was called. She’d seen such things before in shops in the Quarter; not the tourist trap shops, but the ones the locals frequented. The secret back rooms where practitioners of the true dark arts shopped for their wares. But there was something base about this one; something primeval, something vile.

Her stomach turned at the thought of touching it.

The old woman shoved it toward her again, gesturing for her to take it. Their fingers brushed in the exchange, and Lily cringed. The priestess grinned and let out a hoot, her blind eyes rolling back in their sockets.

“Afraid, you are,” she cackled. “I can feel it. That’s good. If you wasn’t, I’d stop all dis now.” She reached back and felt around on the table behind her, landing on a bone-handled knife with a pitted, rusty blade. Maybe not rust. Maybe dried blood. Lily’s stomach wavered again. The woman pointed the blade toward the thing in Lily’s hands.

“Put dat down now an’ give me yo’ hand, chile.”

Too afraid to do otherwise, Lily set it down on the dirt floor in front of her, next to the wooden altar that held the offerings for the one they were to conjure: a bottle of fine spiced rum with a shot already poured; a fat Cuban cigar; an antique gold pocket watch. An expensive bounty that’d cost Lily over half her meager savings. She held her right hand out over them and the woman grasped it, squeezing and groping, then shoved it away with a huff.

“Now what I gonna do wit’ dat? Ain’t no magic to be worked on yo’ good hand. Gimme de other one. Yo’ bad one.”
So….voodoo YOU love?  Post your comments here!

 

 

The Kill Floor

Very excited to be part of the new Sanitarium Magazine Contributors’ Group!  We’ve begun a weekly flash fiction prompt to keep our creative juices flowing in between our other writing projects.  This week the prompt is “Dormant.”  Here’s my opening line:

Father Kline’s faith fell dormant as he stood on the Kill Floor at Washington State Penitentiary, readying to perform last rites for a man claiming to be the Devil himself.

Hmmm…I wonder where this might go?  (insert evil hand rubbing and diabolical laugh here)

Interesting tidbit as I was researching WA State Penitentiary — did you know that hanging is still utilized as a method of capital punishment in Washington State?  Lethal injection is the preferred means of execution, but the prisoner can opt for the gallows if they so choose.  In the state’s history they’ve performed 110 executions, and all but the last three – yes, THE LAST THREE – were by hanging!  The last one was May 27th, 1994, and the three subsequent executions were by lethal injection.  So note to self:  watch your ass in Washington State!

 

To prompt, or not to prompt?

Okay, I’m past due on my blog.  But sometimes life gets crazy and refuses to relinquish the reins.  But it wasn’t all for naught.  This weekend I had the good fortune to attend a terrific writer’s workshop hosted by author Laurie Larsen, followed by our annual Summer Solstice Soiree for the Pen to Paper writers group.  The latter ended with the usual results:  too much food and wine, a lot of spirited conversation, and boisterous good times all around.  Who says we writers don’t know how to have fun?  But the best part: writing prompts from both events gave birth to two new story ideas that are now trekking their way through my gray matter, turning over rocks, poking here and nudging there with their walking sticks, forcing me to get them down on paper before they hike off to locations unknown.

Writers have a love-hate relationship with prompts.  Personally I love it when somebody says “here’s your prompt – you’ve got twenty minutes – GO!”  It forces you to think on the fly, shoves you out of your comfort zone and makes you scramble.  Ideas zinging like pinballs in your head, you can’t write fast enough.  But fast writing is often the best writing — no time to think, no time for your internal editor to get snitty about words or structure.  You just puke it all out onto paper and see where it goes.  That’s why I love them – I create something I never would have written if I’d had time to think about it, and I walk away feeling inspired to write more.  My last two published stories came from writer’s prompts.  So never doubt the power of the prompt to kick your muse in the ass and send her on a wild ride over the rapids without an oar.  Don’t worry.  She’s a good swimmer.

A quick plug for a couple Writer’s Digest Magazine items that my fellow authors may find useful.  First, the July/August Creativity Issue rocks, it’s full of great ideas and prompts for getting those juices flowing.  Second, WD is offering a free webinar this Tuesday 6/24/14:  Build Your Author Platform Online, all about creating and growing your online presence via blogging, author websites, and social media.  Take advantage of it if you can, they don’t offer freebies very often.  Today’s authors need a solid and active online presence to succeed in our social media-driven world, so register today.  If you don’t build your audience, who will?

Now back to you, reader.  Here’s hoping you had a great weekend and –

Wait, did you hear that?

Sshh…hold on…there it was again!

Oh crap, it’s my muse.  She’s swearing and screaming something about an oar.  Guess my surge of ideas has hit flood stage.  Time to put pen to paper and save her from the roaring currents (insert cheesy Baywatch theme song here).

I sure as hell hope she wore her water wings.

Ah, Sunday…or as I prefer to call it, Wine-day!

Sunday.  What’s usually a day of rest for most never seems to be that way around here, so how nice it was to get the weekend projects knocked out yesterday and actually have today to myself.  A little vacation planning, a little wine….a little dinner prep, a little wine….a little writing, a little wine….and shortly, homemade grilled pizzas and a little wine.  Sounds like a great day to me!

But let’s face it….while that first glass of wine or two quite often brings my muse skipping along with fairy-dust shooting out her ass while snapping her fingers and yelling “Crack those knuckles and get to work girl, I’ve got my creative on!”, that third (and fourth, and, well, occasional fifth) glass usually has the lazy bitch calling a cab.  I know, calling my muse a lazy bitch isn’t exactly what a begrudgingly under-inspired author should be doing.  But maybe if she showed up for work once in awhile, I wouldn’t have such a reserve of repressed creativity.

Oh, who am I kidding?  Do I really need a muse to be inspired?  To be creative?  Nope.  I don’t.  It’s just an easy excuse for finding something else to do besides write.  That’s right, a writer who doesn’t want to write.  For those non-authors in the audience, let me explain.

Whether you’re an accountant, a parent, a teacher, a sales rep, a CEO, or any combination thereof, we all want to kick ass at our job.  It’s all the work in between that sucks.  Being a writer is no different.  We often see the beginning, ending, and key scenes of a story in our heads long before we put pen to paper.  It’s figuring out how to tie them all together to create a logical, fast-paced, fun to read epic that’s the hard part.  Or at least one of the hard parts.  There’s also that whole character-building thing.  And theme, plot, setting, fact-checking, timeline, point of view, editing, rewriting, getting less-than-savory critiques from your writing cohorts….then more editing, rewriting, and so on.  All for something that may never see publication, with the exception of its title in a rejection letter from yet another agent.

Really, I can think of a lot of less painful things to do than write — like shaving my legs with a rusty steak knife, or stepping barefoot on a wasps’ nest, or getting brain surgery with no anesthesia.  But writing fiction is a whole lot like hosting your family at the holidays — it’ll drive you bat shit crazy, but you love it anyway.

That said, it’s back to the drawing board.  Right after I pour another glass of wine.

 

Ass in chair, hands on keyboard…

While I’m constantly writing in my head, the past month has left me squat for time to get it on paper.  Between my daughter’s high school graduation and party, landscaping and outdoor projects, family visiting, taking over the reins of the Pen to Paper writer’s group, the workplace tedium, household chores…..there just aren’t enough hours in the day.  Like you didn’t already know that, right?  But things are finally winding down around here, which means my ass is back in my office where it belongs and I’m playing catch-up.  And there’s a LOT of catch-up!

Otherworld is in a state of hiatus at the moment while I finish up Sirens.  Hoping to have it knocked out over the next couple of weeks so I can get back to Otherworld…..my poor Gemma has been wandering in the ether with no direction for far too long, and she’s getting pissy about it.  Thanks to all my writing cohorts for your patience, as it’s been awhile since I submitted anything Otherworld related for you to critique.

Just got my Facebook page up and running — Michelle Anderson Fiction — be sure to check it out.  Heck, if you really want to be nice, you can even “Like” it and “follow” me as I wander randomly throughout the interweb!

Alright, enough with the blabbering….time to get to it or there’ll be nothing to blabber about!  Until next time…

Serial Seedling published!

Sanitarium Magazine (Issue #019) has just come out, and it features my disturbing little piece of flash fiction, Serial Seedling.  The Kindle and paperback versions can be purchased on Amazon.com and Amazon UK.  Or you can subscribe for a full year’s worth of creepy crawlies at Sanitarium Magazine!

Sanitarium Magazine

Sanitarium Magazine Cover, Issue 19