Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Why Do We Love This Horror Stuff So Much?

I've read many stories in my lifetime, and these stories vary as widely as the human experience-- everything from comics to biography. But the ones that stick in my head as vividly as the time I read them and shoot a rapid pulse into every part of my body were penned by writers like Poe and King. 




When I want to explore my greatest fears I read The Tell Tale Heart or The Cast of Amontillado or The Shining. Brrrr.

King says that people read horror to explore death through fiction. And to some extent I think he's right. Reading about death has a therapeutic release. It allows us to be anxious and fearful, but at a safe distance. 

He also maintains that horror appeals to us because it gives us a chance to experience emotions our society demands we keep under close control. (King, 47, Danse Macabre). It's wrong to kill and to torture, but inside a horror story, we're free to watch and feel those terror-inducing acts through characters.


But here's something even more primal, and it's what I think is at the root of our love for horror. I found the following quote HERE if you want to read more.

"If you go to your video store and rent a comedy from Korea, it’s not going to make any sense to you at all,’ says literature scholar Mathias Clasen based at Aarhus University, ‘whereas if you rent a local horror movie from Korea you’ll instantaneously know not just that it’s a horror movie, but you’ll have a physiological reaction to it, indicative of the genre."




Horror crosses cultural barriers, and it's timeless. Our pre-historic ancestors whose greatest fear was being eaten by another carnivore. (Center for Evolutionary Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara) are at the root of our craving for horror. It's human nature to be fearful. Surviving depends on it, so stimulating the amygdala (fear's command center) shoots our adrenaline to full flight mode, and we live to hunt another day. What better way to stimulate this part of the brain than to read or see a good horror story, but today from the safety of our home?
If you think about it, most horror tales focus on characters who are about to be eaten by some creature. Think Tremors or The Rats or Jaws. With stories that have human-type predators, they come equipped with over-sized claws like Freddie Krueger or dreadful teeth and a love of Chianti to pair with human liver like Hannibal Lecter.

Just writing that shook up my amygdala, and I'll leave the lights on a bit longer tonight.

BUY NOW

I hope you'll pick up a copy of Tick Tock A Stitch in Crime and stir up your own amygdala. Eleven writers have offered up horror, crime and some thrillers for your reading entertainment.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

#IWSG:Titles and Names

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

 by Rebecca M. Douglass


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month there's an optional question members can answer in their IWSG post. This month's question is:
 What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

The awesome co-hosts for the June 6 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure, Tyrean Martinson, Tonja Drecker, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!


I love this question! Mostly, I love it because it tells me I'm not the only one who struggles with these things. In my first book, most of the names came easily--Big Al, Tom the Ninja Librarian (well, his name was a given since he was written for a real librarian), the children in the school. The title of that first book was easy, too.

I thought that was how it would always be.

Boy, was I wrong (I'm good at being wrong).

To answer the question, titles are harder, because I can cheat with character names--when I'm stuck, especially for minor characters, I use a random name generator, hitting the "generate name" button over and over until I piece together something I like. My own inventions aren't always so good. An early reader pointed out that in the first draft of Death By Ice Cream I had an unusual number of characters with alliterative names. That got fixed. And I have trouble with names that suggest different ethnicities (without being cliches). Too bad I didn't realize until too late that "Brian" is a really bad name for an author who types faster than she should. Spell-checker won't tell me when I've changed the poor boy to "Brain"! That was left to a reader (thanks, Deirdre!). Still, there are ways to get help naming those characters who resist an easy naming.

But book titles... I have never been happy with the title on my middle-grade fantasy, Halitor the Hero (just sort of a statement of who the book is about. Surely I could do better). And I ended up holding a poll on my blog to pick the title Death By Ice Cream. I also check each title against the listings on Amazon, because I don't want to be one of a dozen books with the same title.*  


I waffled about the title for my Tick Tock story, too. Should I use the whole adage, and call it "The Tide Waits for No Man"? Or was there a better option entirely? As with the "Death By..." series, I ended up appealing to others for help, and chose to go with "The Tide Waits." I realized after that it's a much better title, since it both evokes the adage and also suggests something lying in wait... much like the evil that drives the killers in these mysteries!


*On the other hand, I've made at least one sale of The Ninja Librarian to someone looking for the more widely-publicized Ninja Librarians--with an ess. I even got a good review from that person, which is how I know!

So tell us about your characters or titles--what was the best or worst you did?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Interview THEY Don't Want You To Read

During the press tour for Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, all of the contributors did interviews at various writing and review sites around the blogosphere. I participated and replied to their questions, as all we writers do on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I keep forgetting that my writing style does not appeal to a lot of people, so much so that one of the blog tour sites refused to publish my interview.

Are any of my answers particularly offensive? There's a couple of bad words, but I personally am not the best judge of that. It gets a bit weird in the middle, which I thought was funny but maybe the blog host didn't appreciate it (I've been kicked out of writing contests for my jokes, so I'm used to it). I think the biggest problem was me shilling my books full of graphic violence, sex and potty humour, and they were afraid their audience would be offended.

Anyway, the interview didn't get published then, so I'm going to try and offend all of YOU with it now... Happy reading!

#

Oh, and if you do like my style of writing and humour, then you will LOVE my contribution to Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, about a punch-drunk, recovering drug-addict private detective bumbling through an investigation to take down organized crime in the seedy underbelly of Mount Vernon, Washington. It's called "Gussy Saint and the Case of the Missing Coed" and no, I don't take anything seriously.


When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I've been writing stories since I was five years old, but I think I got passionate about it when I was about eleven or twelve. I would get really excited writing stories in English class. Most kids would see it as a chore and struggle to write a page or two. I wrote ten to twenty pages, and usually illustrated a cover, too. The teacher would often have me read them out in class (whether to save herself from writing a lesson plan for that day or to shame the other kids into writing better, I can't say), and I've always been a ham in front of  a crowd so that worked for me. I was never good at sports or popular at school, so entertaining the other kids with my silly yarns was a big deal for me. I've wanted to write and tell stories ever since.

What makes you passionate about writing?
I love the moment when an idea comes to fruition in words, when the story is flowing and coming together. It's so easy and fun, and the best feeling in the world. Of course, it always comes crashing down when reality sets in and I have to re-write everything to death, but the moment when the words are coming fast and furious is the moment I feel like a real writer.


What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Erratic. I tried to get a couple of books published when I was in my early twenties, in the early 2000s. This was before the rise of digital self-publishing, and I had no luck breaking in the traditional way. Probably had something to with the fact my writing wasn't that great and I was submitting to completely the wrong markets. I forgot about it for a while, but when Amazon KDP became big it piqued my interest. I thought about it long and hard for five years... and then self-published my first book in a rush without having a clue what I was doing. It was terrible, full of mistakes and typos. I sold a bunch of copies to supportive friends and relatives, who have since not bought anything of mine because the first one was so terrible.

Now, my next book was much better (it helped that I had a proper editor work with me to polish it up) and I actually went back and nearly completely rewrote that first one. Ten Thousand Days is now a proper, finished book, and it's the book I wish I had put out the first time, two years earlier.

Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Like I mentioned above, I tried to get my book published years ago without any success. I was young and naive, so I did get discouraged when rejection after rejection came in. I didn't feel that discouraged at the time, but it took me over ten years before I tried to seriously get published again, so it must have hit me more than I realized. Maybe it was because back then someone had to take the trouble to stick a rejection letter in an envelope and mail it, so that meant they REALLY didn't want you. It took the passage of time to ease the memory of it, and the inexorable onset of age and mortality to kick my ass into gear and remind me that if I didn't get started soon I might never see my work in print.

What books have most influenced your life?
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas taught me about the wonders and benefits of drug use. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy told me never to leave the Solar System without my towel. Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler taught me where not to hide the bodies. Marilyn Manson's autobiography taught me how to be a self-centered dickhead. The Cat in the Hat taught me not to let talking cats into the house when my mom is not home. The Secret taught me I should write terrible self-help books.
Is that what you meant?

Please tell us about your book, Hell Comes to Hogtown.
Hell Comes to Hogtown was my second self-published novel. It's the story of the hapless night manager of a comic book store and his womanizing, drug-addled pro-wrestler best friend. It follows their adventures trying to avoid being murdered by a bloodthirsty demonic hobo while clearing their names in the kidnapping of the prime minister's wife. There's lots of sex and violence and bad words, and it's not for the faint of heart.

What genre is it?
Middle-grade romance.


Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Before I start I usually have a few clear points in my head. Probably a few scenes, a couple of major plot points, some background info. I may or may not have the ending. I start writing and when I get to the end realize it's a total jumbled mess that doesn't look anything like what I had envisioned. Now that I know where the story is going, THEN I write an outline, and basically re-write the book so that it falls into a logical shape. I should really try to outline first to save myself a lot of time and headache, but I find that when I outline too much, I never get around to actually writing the story. It's like if I figure out all the details beforehand, it's not as much fun. I like to feel a little surprise myself as I go through the writing process.

What has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
As poorly has my first self-publication went, it really helped me out. It showed me how the publishing process is supposed to work, and a lot of mistakes I made along the way. Plus, my feeble attempts to promote the book also made me a lot of contacts and friends in the business, which makes a great network to support me in the future. If I could translate that into advice, it would be to go ahead and make mistakes on your first book, no matter how bad it is. If you want, use a fake name and go through the process just to see how it works. It's eye-opening, and using a fake name will save you some of the embarrassment. When you release your next book with your real name (or "real" pen name), you'll feel more confident going into it.

What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Dialogue. I come from a theatre background, so dialogue is very important to me. I try to give each character their own distinct voice, and play with how those voices interact with each other. Knowing what a character wants is very important, but knowing how they talk about what they want is just as important. Do they speak forwardly, being candid about what they want and think? Do that have unusual speech patterns or certain words they use frequently?  Do they have an accent? Do they speak to some characters differently than others? Are they eloquent or blunt? All of these things make the words and the individual personalities stand out on the page. Or just make them annoying to read, but I like to think it's the former.

Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
I don't know... nunchuck skills, bow-hunting skills, computer hacking skills. All the skills girls look for in a boyfriend.

How do you come up with your character’s names?
It really depends on how tired I am at the time. Some names have a deep meaning, or have a carefully-crafted joke built-in. Others are just made up at the spur of the moment, the first thing that pops into my head. There's a character in my current WIP named Thumb. There's no real rhyme or reason to that, like, he doesn't have particularly interesting thumbs or anything. Sometimes I go back and change those names when I think of something better, other times they grow on me and become part of the character. And sometimes my main character ends up with the name Fistpunch.

What is the best compliment you could receive from a reader?
Hey, I'll take any compliment I can get! Anyone who's willing to give my work a chance and spend a couple of dollars to read it is a-okay on my book! And if they take the time to actually write a review I'm over the moon.

Ah, who am I kidding? The best compliment will be when someone buys the film rights for $500,000 plus a percentage of the profits.

Where can readers go to find your books?
The best place to get your CD Gallant-King goodness is my homepage, http://www.cdgallantking.ca/. If you want to skip my thought-provoking and life-changing blogs to go straight to the riveting thrills of my novels, then check out my Amazon page at https://www.amazon.com/C.D.-Gallant-King/e/B00XAZHYGA/. If you prefer to read my random thoughts about daddyhood and Star Wars, then check me out on https://twitter.com/cdgallantking or https://www.facebook.com/cdgallantking. And if you just want to write passive-aggressive negative book reviews, then there's always https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13932038.C_D_Gallant_King.

#

So what do you think? Was it really that bad?

If you haven't already, go pick up Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime and let me know if my story about Gussy Saint is any good, too. Reviews and gratuities are appreciated. Love letters will not be answered, but will be read and cherished.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Until Release & The Villainous POV

by Jemi Fraser

I like to think I'm a pretty good person overall.
I take care of my family, I work hard at my job.
I even share my chocolate stash...well, most of the time.

So, why is it so much fun to write from the point of view of a villain?

I believe in law and order.
I pay my taxes and donate to charity.
I have no secret desire to cause murder or mayhem.

But, boy is it fun to write as if I did!

Creating a character who is a little twisted,
who plots and plans to destroy another
and who really is a nasty piece of work
is a whole lot of fun!

The characters in Until Release are a varied lot
They're (mostly) not all good or all evil
They're (mostly) just human beings
Which means they're an interesting mix of both

So, I think it's okay to enjoy
playing Voldemort
as long as it's just playing

Because as Miss Congeniality says, ...


How about you? Do like reading/writing the villain's point of view?
Do you share your chocolate stash?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

MYSTERIES & MOTIVATION

by Yolanda Renée



Edgar Allan Poe, considered the Father of the mystery genre is one of my favorite authors. His first mystery The Murders in the Rue Morgue is the book where he introduced Detective D. Auguste Dupin.
He continued to use Detective Dupin in The Mystery of Marie Roget, and The Purloined Letter. But more importantly, he shifted the focus from the situation to the study of the criminals the motivation?

Understanding motivation is the reason I write the mysteries.

If I were to write my top ten favorite mysteries. I’d have to start with Poe’s three, from there I’d move on to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Series, and then the Agatha Christie’s mysteries.

To pick just one is near impossible and if you add to that the fact that Gone with the Wind is one of my favorite books. It doesn’t add up because GWTW isn’t a mystery. Unless you consider the fact that this book covered several decades, had numerous plot twists, (OMG how much does this woman (Scarlet) have to overcome. I mean wasn’t that the mystery – a dilemma.). Besides, it was superbly written. To me, that’s what puts it up there with some of the best stories ever told. It kept me turning the page. I’ve always admired the author; Margaret Mitchell and I aspire to write such a tale!

Getting back to motivation, when I wrote Cypress, Like the Tree, it was important that the motive was clear, but it was also crucial that there be several suspects.


Here’s an excerpt for your enjoyment:

“Then tell me, Mata Hari.” Cypress leaned even closer. “If you didn’t convince one of these men to kill the bastard, which one do you think did it?”

I sucked the wetness from my finger, brought the glass to my lips, and gazed into his dark brown eyes. I couldn’t believe what he was saying, and yet…. I shook my head dismissively. “No, that doesn’t make any sense. Why would any of those men kill Bill? They don’t even know me.”

He sat back in his chair. “Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. But I’d bet my last dollar it’s one of them. That is if it isn’t you.” He stood. “Whether you did it, or one of your admirers did it for you, I promise I will get to the bottom of it.”

“You’re wrong.” I faced him. “You’re wrong about me, and them. Have you investigated his girlfriends? Maybe there’s a jealous husband or boyfriend.”

“We’re checking, but I’ve talked to all these men, and they all said your husband deserved to die.”

***

I hope you’ve got your copy of Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime and if not just leave a comment telling us what your favorite mystery is along with your email address, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime. You’re choice of paperback or eBook. Good luck!

To read more about Edgar Allan Poe go HERE!

If you'd like to win a copy of
Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime
let me know in the comments what your favorite genre is? Or who your favorite mystery author is?

And don't miss the Tote Giveway!




Wednesday, May 9, 2018

From Joe Mack Crawford's Kitchen

 In one of my interviews about Joe Mack Crawford, the hero in The Little Girl in the Bayou, I stated that Mack loves barbecue. That's an understatement. Most of his meals are from his homemade grill and all meats are marinated in his special sauce. I wanted to share his recipe with you, but it's his "mystery sauce" and he doesn't give that recipe to anyone. Not even me--his creator.

Of course, any Texan worth his salt loves Mexican food, and Mack is known for whipping up a batch of Ninfa's Green Sauce. Ninfa's is a famous Mexican restaurant in Houston that Mack frequents, and Mama Ninfa created this "Green Sauce" for her customers. Mack likes to think he has the original recipe for Ninfa's Green Sauce, but it's common knowledge that the family shared a modified version of Mama Ninfa's original recipe. Modified or not ... it's still good, and Joe Mack Crawford shares it here:

Ninfa’s Green Sauce
Servings - 5-6

Ingredients

– 3 medium-sized green tomatoes, coarsely chopped
– 4  tomatillos, husked and chopped
– 1 to 2 jalapeños, stemmed and coarsely chopped
– 3 small garlic cloves
– 3 medium-sized ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
– 4 sprigs cilantro
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 1/2 cups sour cream

Instructions:
Peel avocados, remove seed and place avocados in a blender. Set aside.
Combine chopped tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapeños, and garlic in a saucepan. Bring to a boil (tomatoes provide the liquid). Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then place all ingredients in blender with avocados. Blend until smooth. Stir in sour cream
Cover.
Chill.
Enjoy with your favorite chips or raw veggies.
 
Mack reminds anyone who tries the Green Sauce that it won't last more than a couple of days: one, because it's so darn good and two, because the avocados turn dark, making it look yucky.

 
https://www.amazon.com/Tick-Tock-Stitch-Gwen-Gardner-ebook/dp/B079J796TK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1525838421&sr=1-1
 

J.R. Ferguson is a staff writer for Southern Writers Magazine and the author of The Little Girl in the Bayou. She enjoys imagining what kind of meals her characters prepare in the kitchen.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

We Have Lift Off!

Brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. Join us HERE!


We post the first Wednesday of the month.
The co-hosts for the May 2 posting of the IWSG are E.M.A. Timar, J. Q. Rose, 

Each month there's an optional question. Here's the one for May: It's spring! does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

My answer is "or not". Spring is when I must be outside. That's why, when I'm really into writing a story, I pray for rain and wind. That helps me stay indoors at my desk. Now with all this @!#%% beautiful sunny, balmy weather I have to use super glue to keep my tush in the chair.  Even that won't work for long. As soon as I look out my window and see that sky, I'm twitching to head out the door.

However, with this month being particularly busy in the Insecure Before Launch Department, I'm trying my darnedest to stay at my computer.



If you haven't heard, there's a new anthology out as of May 1! Tick Tock A Stitch in Crime is officially launched and to excellent reviews. If you haven't picked up your copy, it's not too late. Here are the buy links, and if you enjoy the collection, we hope you'll take the time to leave a review.


Let me introduce you to Heartless, my contribution to the collection. The story's set in 1873.


This is the question:



This is the scene: 

Ahead, an eerie glow brightened the night sky and black smoke billowed upward. The air was suddenly filled with ash and the heat of unbridled fire. From behind them came, the loud clatter of hooves and the clang of bells. Hawkins drove the carriage to the side as two steam engines, belching smoke and scattering hot embers, roared past. 

“Good, God!” Detective Scofield shouted. “Chicago’s burning.”



I hope you enjoy all of the stories in Tick Tock A Stitch in Crime. 
Also be sure to visit the other hosts today! They have some interesting posts to share. 
And whatever you do, keep that Insecurity at bay by JOINING us!