WIHM: Time and the Single Parent Blog

I became a full-time single parent—by full-time I mean 24/7, 365 days a year—in 2003 and thought that was the end of writing until the kids left the nest. Three mentally unhappy and restless years followed and I realized I felt the way I did because I wasn’t writing. I had always written and to stop wasn’t working for me. Never one for watching much TV, I read instead, I decided to cut down my two hours of reading time after the kids went to bed down to one and spend the other writing. It took a while to get into the habit but I stuck with it. When the kids were younger, it was much easier as their bedtime was much earlier but as they got older it became harder. Strange to think it’d get harder but I am one of those who can’t write when their kids are up and about.

I try to write 200 words a night but have to remind myself 200 words a day are better than zero. 200 words doesn’t sound like such a hard number to reach but when you’re gone ten hours a day, making dinners, playing mom-taxi, making sure homework is completed, and all the rest of the duties it takes to run a household, it can become like trying to scale Mount Everest.  Some nights by the time I get to the keyboard, I’m done. On those nights, after staring at the screen in a kind of waking sleep, I’ll write a sentence or two of what direction the story was supposed to go in that session and go answer emails that need answering. I won’t beat myself up for not getting my 200 words in for one night.  One night. If I let it go more than one, I get caught in the “I can catch up tomorrow” cycle and before I know it a month has gone by with nothing written.

One hour a night, 200 words a night, 1,400 a week, 5,600 a month, and 67,200 a year can be frustrating when you see others posting word counts of 2,000 a day on social media. It used to drive me nuts with word count envy. And it still can but I have to remember I doing the best I can with that I have. I guess if I have any advise for full-time single parents, it’s to remember you are doing the work of two people and not to get down on yourself if you’re not as prolific. As long as you keep at it, keep eking out time even if it’s one hour a night, four hours on the weekend, or, if you live near the other parent and share custody, a weekend day devoted to writing, you are still writing. You are still doing what you love even if it takes a bit longer.

But what about keeping up with social media, blogging, marketing, and the business end of writing? As I started to have work published that presented its own set of challenges. Slow times at work, lunch breaks, and coffee breaks became the time when I’d hop on my phone to check emails and, if it required a short response, respond. Also, I’d make a stop at my social media sites and posted about an upcoming publication if there was one or a random meme if there wasn’t. Except for a few guest blog posts here and there blogging never became my thing, as it is a bridge too far in the time I have available. As for research, I take the write first research after approach just to get the thing down. My manuscripts are full of highlighted areas to “double check”. Or, if the research needs to be done beforehand, I forgo my leisure reading time.

The point I’m trying to make is writing and single parenting is hard but doable. There are sacrifices too. Like giving up that favorite TV show or computer game or reading time. It may be slower and you may feel like those you started this trek with are passing you by—in low moments I know I can—but it is possible. Just find that hour a day or that one day a week and write your heart out. I know you can do it. As another single parent writer I know with little time to write once told me, “Everyone has to poop.”

Chris Marrs

Chris Marrs

Chris Marrs lives in Calgary, Alberta with her daughter, a cat, and a ferret. She has stories in A Darke Phantastique (Cycatrix Press-2014), the Bram Stoker winning The Library of the Dead (Written Backwards Press-2015), and in Dark Discoveries Issue #25/Femme Fatale, October 2013. Bad Moon Books published her novella Everything Leads Back to Alice in the Fall of 2013. Her novella, Wild Woman, was published in September 2015 as part of JournalStone’s DoubleDown series. Entangled Soul, a collaborative novella with Gene O’Neill, was published by Thunderstorm Books in November 2016. January Friday the 13th, saw the publication of Intersections: Six Tales of Ouija Horror in which her story Sounds in Silence appears. She has two stories forthcoming with Great Jones Street short story app.
You can find her at www.hauntedmarrs.com or Instagram as hauntedmarrs.

WIHM: The Purging Method

Over a year ago, I fell into a slump in my writing. I had published the first book of The Blasphemer Series called Maxwell Demon and though I knew what I was going to do in the next book, I wasn’t fully sure the direction of that singular piece to continue the smooth flow of the series as a project in and of itself. I stopped writing. I was stifled and that bothered me. I began to worry that I was going to end up in a writer’s block, something I strongly believe is possible and even has experienced. At this stage that would’ve been the death of my publishing career when it had just began. I couldn’t have that!

I would open my word document to begin and the blinking vertical line would ultimately begin taunting me, “Come on, type. You can’t? Well neener–neener.” As all writers, I too am hard on myself. I am my worse reviewer and tell myself all the petty comments as I write, but I’m also a self-motivator and slowly began taking this as a challenge. I began looking into writing programs, researching methods, and even tried old school outlining. I bought Scrivener, I got WriteWay, and even LibreOffice hoping that maybe writing in something different would help me, to a point it did. Scrivener was something gotten to help with my writing, but instead of writing it keeps me organized and it’s a fantastic organizer for stories and projects. WriteWay quickly fell for me into the background and LibreOffice didn’t really change anything.

After wracking my brain, trying so hard to figure out what to do as this struggling began to affect other writing projects I needed to just get everything out for every single story. I had ideas, but wasn’t working, and outlining has NEVER worked for me. I can never keep to them when I had tried in the past so all together quit doing it. I once more had the vertical line taunting me with its blinking. I began to purge. I started with writing all the titles of the books and if I didn’t have one I would replace it with ‘book 4’ or whatever the book in the line for my series it would’ve been. Under each title I began purging all that I wanted to happen in that specific book, dialogue I thought would be very good, asking questions that I would need to answer, and all of that. I just had to get it all out.

As I worked through my new little project of purge I began answering the questions I had typed. I would see flat out in a bigger picture style that some things could or should work out in sooner books rather than later ones. Slowly, but surely this took The Blasphemer Series from eight books that I had figured it would be to tell the story down books, condensing them until I was left with roughly five books. I also gained through this method a better sense of each book as a singular project within the greater one.

I even continued into the secondary series that I wanted to do in the world I was creating focusing on the witches in the world ‘after’. I loved it!

After I had solved my problem I began noticing fellow writers struggling and decided to posted snips or screenshots of my newfound method on my Facebook page.

I explained that this is what my madness had brought me to and how it had actually helped me. It was shortly around the time of my post that a friend of mine, Rae Ford, contacted me asking more about the method I had posted about. I then proceeded to explain it to her in more depth what I had went through, what I had done, what I had asked myself, how I answered myself, and about the post. I even sent her the snips I had previously shared so that she could use them for reference. I hoped it would help her, but wasn’t sure if it would. I wasn’t sure if it would help anyone it wasn’t anything I had been taught in school, it wasn’t anything I had seen others doing, but I held hope.

As a writer I can have sympathy for my fellow writers when they struggle because I’ve been there. I know what works for me may not work for others, but a suggestion can change things. I didn’t hear much about Rae and this method until recently when I discovered she wanted me to write an article about this method. She had done her own independent research and found that this method had a name, brain dumping. I had never heard of that before and was very interested. It’s not a method that works for everyone, but for those it works for it’s wonderful. This was also when I discovered that Rae had continued using this method! I was pleasantly surprised. I’m still glad that I was able to help a friend struggling.

When I was given the chance to write something for a website that could possibly help others as it had helped in the past I jumped at the chance. That doesn’t mean that this will definitely work for everyone, but you never know, it may work for you in the way it has helped myself and Rae. This is a method that I continue to refer to when I’m truly stuck, it has morphed from computer to notebook and converted back, but it’s always the same set-up. Title, ramblings, questions, answers to the questions, and next title then repeat the process until I’ve struggled out of the quick sand of my block. It’s a method I highly recommend with personal testimony!

L. Bachman

L. Bachman

At a young age, L. Bachman started creating stories and art. This form of expression led to becoming a published author with the stories Maxwell Demon, Human Ouija, and Harvest. She has also been included in several anthologies. In March 2016, her short story, The Painting of Martel, was included in the anthology Painted Mayhem. Following its release, she was once more included in an anthology, And the World Will Burn: A Dystopian Anthology, with her work The Gaze of Destruction. She will once again be included in a December 2016 anthology called Crossroads in the Dark II: Urban Legends with a short story, A Farmhouse Haunting.

Bachman first gained attention in the independent publishing community with her cover design of the collection entitled Murder, Mayhem, Monsters, and Mistletoe: An Anthology. This led to her working with several authors, including Lindy Spencer and Rae Ford. Following her work on the anthology, she wrote The Blasphemer Series: Maxwell Demon in January 2015. It was nominated for Indie Book of 2016 by Metamorph Publishing, along with her bestselling short Human Ouija.

Her graphic arts provided the beginnings of her portfolio. Testimonials of her clients can be seen on her graphic design website, Bachman Designs. When she is not working in the graphics arts sector of the independent publishing industry, she works for the publishing house Burning Willow Press, LLC. They took notice of her portfolio after she provided a graphic design for author Kindra Sowder, CEO of Burning Willow Press. L. Bachman now is a full-time staff member working in the graphics department of the publishing house doing promotional media… videos, promotional materials, and cover design. Through her work with Burning Willow Press, she’s provided materials for the likes of Kerry Alan Denny, SL Perrine, Jay Michael Wright II, and James Master. She continues to work independently for her own clients, having plans to continue her independent writing.

After the passing of her father in April 2016, she dedicated The Blasphemer Series: Harvest to him, dubbing him one of her biggest supporters, if not her biggest fan. In honor of him, she continues to do charitable work and supports active duty military personnel. Her submission to the anthology Painted Mayhem raised money for military personnel suffering and living with PTSD. This also led to her donating some of her work to “Authors Supporting Our Troops”, an event held by author Armand Rosamilia that sends copies of books to active duty military.

Between her publishing and her graphic arts work, she has been a featured guest for many book releases held by other authors, interviewed multiple times by blogs, featured on many podcasts, such as “Unfleshed” with TJ Weeks in September 2015, and has been a returning guest on “Armcast” with Armand Rosamilia and “The Darkness Dwells”, just to name a few.

She continues to write from her home in Northern Alabama where she lives with her husband, the poet and writer DS Roland, their son, Damien, and one very judgmental rescued elderly cat named Mouse. Bachman continues to educate authors interested in improving their writing and marketing skills, as well as holding onto her mission of empowerment, inspiration, and aid to young writers.

My links –

WIHM: The Gift Of Rejection

Create, edit, and submit. For some writers this cyclonic habit can suck the confidence right out of you. Seasoned writers know the key to not obsessing too much is to have a stable of submittable stories and markets at the ready. They are too busy working on the next story to stop and grieve the rejection that just came in. I’m not saying it doesn’t still sting, but with the next market send out a new hope begins; and that is, in my opinion, the key.

Publishing houses of all sizes can get an overwhelming number of submissions to any call and sometimes it can take months to sort through, decide, and respond to them all. This leaves the anxious new writer checking their email numerous times a day – if you only have a few stories out. If however you start writing a new story as soon as you’re done the last, then your mind moves on to something else to be preoccupied by and your productivity and chances for publication rise.

This may seem obvious but you would be surprised how many new writers just stop writing and start waiting.

BING!

Oh, was that an email notification? You just got another rejection? Well let’s analyse it, shall we?

First off, was it a form rejection or a personal one? If it was a form perhaps the editor simply replied that it wasn’t a good fit at this time and try again in the future. They may have already accepted a tale that is too much like yours. A personal rejection – although not as common – can hold gems for the writer. If you have received numerous rejections with comments compare the notes. Do they say the same message? If so, I suggest you seriously consider the advice. If not, then see what you agree with or you feel will contribute to the story. (These people usually don’t take the time to send a personal rejection unless they feel your story has potential.) Perhaps they talk about confusion with character point of view, or the pacing is too slow, too quick, or all over the place. Consider this a sort of free edit that will give your story a better chance with the next submission. These small gifts are far and few between so remember to send a brief ‘Thank you’ for their time. That kind of etiquette can go a long way if you submit to that editor again in the future.

Speaking of submitting, shouldn’t you be working on your next masterpiece? Get writing!

Jo-Anne Russell

Jo-Anne Russell

Jo-Anne Russell is a dark fiction writer and a publisher at Lycan Valley Press. She is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, the Writers Guild of Alberta and the Edmonton Arts Counsel. Her work can be found in a multitude of anthologies, and as standalone stories. Her debut novel The Nightmare Project was republished last year with Book 2 to follow. She is a wife, mother of eight children, has numerous pets, and is legally blind.

You can find out more on her website at www.jo-annerussell.com.

And on Amazon.

WIHM: Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Female Horror Writer and Proud

Hi All, it’s February already, scary, right? And February is (Drum roll please) Women in Horror Month. Yes, this is the time for all you female horror writers (myself included) to tell everyone what amazing horror writers you are.

I’ve been writing seriously since 2012 (wow, time sure flies), but I had no clue that there was a month dedicated to horror writers until I joined the Horror Tree crew. I know, shocking, right, considering I’m a female horror writer? Well, this year, I have decided to write something for this special month.

So, what do I have for you today? Well, I want to talk about how you shouldn’t let self-doubt stop you from writing those dark and disturbing stories just because you’re a woman.

Often when a person thinks of a horror writer, they automatically assume it’s a man. So, when a woman steps forward and tells the world that she loves writing horror, she is likely to get some funny looks. I should know – I’ve had plenty of funny looks when I’ve told people what I write.

Because I’m a woman who loves pink (I wear it a lot), who bakes, watches Barbie films and musicals, and has a huge (and I mean huge) collection of cuddly toys, people are often gobsmacked when I tell them that I write horror stories. Obviously, they assume I must write chick lit or that romance stuff, but I don’t want to write about a girl with relationship dramas and blah blah blah. No, I want to write about a girl being possessed and murdering her entire family.

Even though some would say I don’t look like a typical horror fan, I’ve been a horror fan even before I started writing.  When I was younger, I loved watching programmes like Are You Afraid of the Dark and Goosebumps. I read horror stories – R.L. Stine and Stephen King are my favourites. I also love the zombie horror genre – The Walking Dead and Z Nation are my favourite TV programmes – I’ve also read some of the Walking Dead books. I love being scared, and even better, I love scaring people. So, of course, I was going to become a horror writer.

However, since I started working on my novel, I wondered if anyone would buy a horror novel from a female writer. It’s not easy going into what appears to be a male-dominated genre. When people think of a horror writer, they picture a man, not a woman dressed from head to toe in pink (I’m exaggerating, but I do love pink). Sadly, I’ve heard about many female writers (not just in the horror genre) that use a pseudonym or initials, so they don’t put off male readers. This has made me wonder if I should have done the same – used initials. And then doubt starts creeping in: if people don’t think women horror writers are good enough, then they’re not going to think you’re good enough. Everyone’s going to laugh at your weak attempts to frighten them.

But then I decided to fight back. Being a woman doesn’t mean you can’t be scary. It doesn’t mean no one will buy your books. You don’t have to change genres. And there’s no point in hiding behind initials because people will eventually find out who you are, especially if you do book signings. I don’t know what the secret is to guarantee success, but all I know is that you have to do what’s right for you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something – unless it involves a crime, then it’s best not to do that.

So, don’t listen to Mr. Self Doubt. Don’t let him stop you from doing what you love if you love horror, no matter what your gender, you should continue to write it – Say it with me, ‘Horror writer and proud!’

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“Don’t you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can’t be exactly who you are.” ― Lady Gaga

WIHM: How Do Authors Auth?

So, it’s ‘Orrible Wimmin Month again, or words to that effect. How time’s whizzed since the last ‘un. And as it’s whuzz, so we’ve become that little bit older, that little bit smarter, and a FUCKTON badder. Shit Extraordinaire hit the American Fan with a SPLAT –and, by default, crap splashed across the Rest of the World– but how did we wash it off?

 

We FOUGHT.

 

Some women marched, some performed, and some did both, writing and performing powerful words to rally the troops and keep ‘em rallied (Jessica – I’m looking at McYou.) Women in their squillions –every last one an inspiration– refused to be moved, and marched ‘til they were blue in the feet. And at our side, all the way, were some good, decent, men (to those blokes: you’re officially honorary women. This is a good deal, believe me: it means you get all of the good stuff, and none of the periods.)

 

And authors authed. We wrote speeches, songs, and poetry, and told horrific stories and terrifying non-fiction. We shared our fears, hopes, and predictions, and raised each other up by our blistered, marching soles. Fighting for what’s right is but one of our traits; something we can’t not do.

 

Another thing we did, and continue to do, is celebrate success: our own, and others’. And I LOVE it. I adore the fact that we take the time out to spread the wordy love and share our own achievements.

 

When you lot post your progress reports on social media, or fill us in with your daily word counts, I see happiness. I see pride. I see a person who’s maybe been down on their luck, with rejection after rejection, but who is finding their confidence again. See below re: crippling depression – most writers struggle with this shit on a daily basis, and reading about their triumphant achievements in the ugly face of uglier adversity makes me happy, gosh darn it. For some, social media is a diary; that people choose to share their innermosts with me is quite a thing.

 

And who knows? You might be spurred on by another writer’s work in progress. You might see someone else’s word count and up your own game. Inspiration itself is inspiring. It truly is. It’s infectious –and not in a herpes way. Seeing my writer friends be bitten, struck, muse-smooched, makes my insides all squishy. And this is how it should be – for me, at least. By interwebular osmosis, we soak each other up and spit each other out across the page.

 

There’s just soooo much to being an author – other than bookishness and wordstuff, that is. And much of this muchness is the same whichever writing desk you go to, with little –if any–deviation from the 2017 Haynes Manual: WRITER edition. For starters, we all love cats, right? Cats and coffee. Or maybe dogs and scotch. Either way, animals and beverages are part of our DNA.

 

Then there’s the default introvert setting. We do love our conventions and stuff, but that, inevitably, leads to PEOPLE! Eeee! *Nails down a chalkboard*. For me, I’m happy with one laptop, two cats, a bottomless brew, a people-free room, and pantsless legs, thank you very much. And you can’t really be sans pants at a convention. Or can you?

 

We’re geeks, too. And although said geekery may involve either the more comic-booky aspects of pop culture, or the less visual and more literary sorts of dweebishness, it needs to be rebadged as PASSION, pure and simps. Whether we love our cosplay and movie merchandise (these are not toys – they are Screen Accurate Scale Models, thank you very much) or whether we relish in the celebration of great literature, it’s the LOVE OF ART wot counts, bay-bee.

 

At this juncture, a special mention must go to the crippling depression and/or anxiety that affects probably *80 per cent of writers, but which, although it kills us, keeps some of us alive.

 

*Wholly unscientific figure there, plucked out of thin, mentally unbalanced air.

 

Most of us are skint. Potless, in fact. In accordance with this, you might see culinary status updates about Ramen Noodles and medical ones about imminently-necessary organ-pedalling, but still, we write – and still, we READ.

 

So, what do we read? Or who?

 

Me? I like to read good writing. I love to read great writing. But above and before any of that, I need to read writers. If a story doesn’t contain the very guts of its author, I’m usually uninterested. If you spend the first seventeen pages describing the blummin’ weather, well, I’d never know, because you’d have lost me at paragraph two. I get it: the weather was weatherish. It was doing whatever weathery things it needed to do to set up the weathery metaphor. Weatherly so.

 

Not everything has to take place on a stormy night; scary stuff happens in the daytime, too, y’know. More often than you might think, actually. Murdersome tendencies can manifest ‘emselves in the middle of summer in Lanzafuckingrote, so you don’t have to write all your stabby characters into rainy Bognor bastard Regis. You wanna talk? Have your characters talk for you. You want realism? Don’t write characters at all. Write people. And how do you do that? You start with observation, my friends. Observe your friends, your peers, your prime ministers and presidents (*vomit*), and … observe yourself.

 

There’s no end to the advice blogs. Don’t do this, DO do that, avoid x,y,z. My advice to anyone would be to read all the advice you want, or don’t. Take all the advice you can, and then ditch the bits that are no good to you. Every writer works a different way, and what suits one might not suit another. Learn the rules, so you can break ‘em. But do break ‘em. Write rulelessly.

 

As editor of a forthcoming anthology –which is not actually that forthcoming due to my own particular Ramen requirements, but which may eventually be published when I’m a hundred and three– I received over six hundred subs, most of which weren’t exactly mustard-cutters. (Note to self: next time, forget the open call lark and go for invitation-only.) Okay, so my subject was a gritty one– but you might be surprised how many folk glossed over the anthology’s theme and wrote about frolicking animals and sexy Russian spies.

 

For most of those subs, something was missing. And that something was easy to identify: it was the writer. Story after story was written in a way the author had been told to write. And you could spot it at fifty paces. The writers were in there somewhere amongst the bad, accurate habits, but their excavation would’ve been the tallest order since Lanky McLankerson asked for an expanding ladder.

 

But then … there came diffused lights at the arse end of a tunnel; getting sharper and sharper as writers started calling out to me. I heard the voice of Allegra Keys standing up straight and walking over to me, poking me in the ribs and telling me to buckle up, hold tight, and listen well. I heard Jessica McHugh’s outside-the-boxness, shamelessly beautiful in its horrific existence. Jo-Anne Russell nudged me in the ear with heartbreaking simplicity, and Michael Gonzalez and Matthew R.Davies dangled storyful carrots on which I just had to munch.

 

They spoke to me. And I don’t mean that in some tritey-shitey spiritual way. They actually did. And it’s easy to do; think about it.  You know all those questions you ever had as a kid, and never did find the answers to? Ask them in a book. Give them to a character. All those thoughts you had, the ideas your parents told you were stupid? Write them down. And remember that time your partner told you you’d never amount to nuffin’? When he said you’d never be a writer, or that your idea for a film would never work because it was too fantastic? Get.That.Shit.Down.On.Paper. Write that screenplay. And then write about him.

 

When you have a fall, or maybe a car accident on the way home from work, how do you impart that information to your friends and family? Do you blather on for six minutes about the weather before you get down to the whole SPLAT scenario? Do you say that the rain was beating down on the roof of your 2011 Ford Focus, painted in racing green? Do you harp on about the fact you’d been to the hair salon that day, or mention what you were wearing? No – you tell people you crashed your car. Tell them how you crashed, that’s fine. But we don’t need to know about the make and size of your tyres, unless those rubber things somehow had something to do with the situation. Don’t be afraid to SPEAK to your readers the same way, and splash ‘em in the face with the blood of the accident.

 

Or, you could just ignore this whole thing because it’s just some bird’s fifty penceworth, and just do YOU. Please, for the love of Orwell, just do you. But if you do decide to sit down and have a chinwag with your readers, they just might hear you a little better.

 

The first rule of Write Club is that there are no rules. Just get on with it. Just write. And know that there are enough writers out there who are not you. And as all of those Not-Yous are busy being Them, you owe it to yourself to be YOU.

 

Are you still here? G’wan now – GIT!

 

 

 

Linda Nagle

Linda Nagle

After two decades as a parliamentary drafter slash Whitehall minion, Linda turned her hand to *proper* writing at the ripe old age of 38. Recent highlights include having a bunch of her monologues performed on the NYC theater circuit, and her role as screenwriter for Trafico, a NYC-based web series tackling the uncomfortable subject of human trafficking. Stranger Companies, Linda’s latest collection of Weird Fiction, is available now from Amazon. 
 
You can find more about Linda at her blog: liberatetutemet.com 

WIHM: Serial Killers And Horror Writers

Definition: Serial Killer
noun: serial killer; plural noun: serial killers

  1. a person who commits a series of murders, often with no apparent motive and typically following a characteristic, predictable behavior pattern.

Definition: Horror Writer
noun: serial writer; plural noun: serial writers

a person who writes a series of murders, often with no apparent motive and typically following a characteristic, predictable behavior pattern.

 

My name is Lisa Vasquez, and I am a serial killer writer.

 

When people find out I am a writer it usually starts with a smile. A fascination with my craft that typically follows with, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” I smile with polite tolerance and nod appropriately in response to their poking and prying into my work life with their over-personal questions. I find it somewhat offensive when someone digs in so far you wonder if you’re being audited by the IRS or if they are so unaware of how rude they are being.

“I’ve been told there’s no money in writing. You must be doing well.”
“Oh, you’re a writer? Are you on the best sellers list?”
“I’ve always wanted to write a book. I think I will write on this summer.”

Inwardly, I respond. Thanks, random stranger. You know, I always wanted to catheterize someone. I think I will become a Registered Nurse this summer. No, I’m not on the best sellers list but you knew that already, I appreciate the condescending tone coming from the downward slope of your thin nose. No. There’s not a lot of money to be made in it unless you work hard like any other career, craft, trade, and so on. You know what does make a lot of money? Selling organs on the black market.

Outwardly, it goes more like…”I’m a starving artist but it’s fulfilling and I can’t see myself doing anything else. I get to make my own hours, write what I know and love, and see my family. Oh, you flatter me! Not on the best sellers list, yet! Hey, wanna buy my book? Haha! You should write a book! I’m sure you’ve got a good story in you that needs to be told. Oh? An autobiography? Yes, you should write about your life. I’m sure a lot people will relate to your life and everything you’ve gone through.”

My favorite part of the conversation then makes its arrival.

“I’ve tried to write a book before. I just keep stopping or don’t have time. Got any tips for me?”

I smile and continue to try and hide behind my glass of wine or beer, or whatever hors devours I’m escorting around on a napkin. I’m using either to keep my mouth otherwise engaged so I don’t slip up and tell this stranger, “Yes you’ve just insulted me by calling out my minimal annual take home revenue, and snubbed the skill and devotion it takes to sit down and write 70-100k words. Words which not only go together but don’t put your audience to sleep faster than a sermon on Sunday. Absolutely! I want to tell you how to do my menial, unappreciated ‘job’. By all means, I’ll give you free mentoring and waste more of my time.”

No, I don’t say these things because it’s not worth it. Saying those things will do me no good in the long run.

“I’ll share with you the best advice I’ve been given,” I say, and they now they’re leaning in to hear words of wisdom they expect to come swirling out of my mouth like a zen riddle of enlightenment.

“Write what you see, do, experience every single day. If you write what you’re passionate about, the stories will be more engaging and appear more real to the audience.”

Their eyes like up. That’s it. You’ve been elevated to Yoda and Obi One all rolled up into a small, petite package. Eff Ghandi. You have inspired this human being in front of you to Amazon Best Seller Status!

“That makes so much sense!” they say and give your arm a touch.

This makes my eyes drop instantly to where they’ve made contact. I don’t like to be touched by strangers. When my eyes meet theirs again, invoking an uncomfortable moment of silence they laugh it off with a weak chuckle and look around before clearing their throat.

“So, I never asked you,” they continue, trying to smooth over and recapture the spark of conversation, “What do you write?”

Bingo. I’ve looped you in and now it’s time for me to make my profound exit.

“I’m a horror writer. I write a series about a woman who sneaks into parties and makes friends with strangers so she can stalk them. I’m sure you have heard about it. Oh, but if not I can email it to you. Do you have an email address? Or maybe I can come over? I’m free tonight after the party. I am really glad we met. We have so much in common and since my best friend died last month I have no one to talk to. No? Not tonight? Why not?

And that’s it. I’m free to go about my mingling, or wall-flowering … whichever it is that night. They go on their merry way to tell everyone that I’m the freak and how much I scared them.

First one’s free, I think with a grin because I know it’s better than any business card money can buy. That person’s going home and Googling my ass off. And telling their friends, and their friends’ friends and co-workers…etc., etc.

Lisa Vasquez

Lisa Vasquez

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  By design, Lisa Vasquez creates horror with vivid, dark, and twisted words and images that not only drags the reader in between the pages, but onto the covers that house them, as well. When she releases her grasp, readers are left alone to sort through the aftermath those images leave behind; each one becoming a seed that roots itself within the soft confines of their psyche. She takes this passion for writing horror and uses it to mentor other authors and volunteers as the Publisher’s Liaison for the Horror Writers Association. In January 2016, Lisa took her commitment to the next level and opened an independent publishing house, Stitched Smile Publications.

You can read Lisa’s work in several anthologies, or by purchasing her newly released novel, “The Unfleshed: Tale of the Autopsic Bride”. For more information and updates on Lisa’s work, you can find her at: www.unsaintly.com, Instagram (unsaintly), or Amazon.

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