Write what you love

Let me tell you a secret. I want to be Stephen King.

[Warning: This post is animated GIF-free.]

Okay, I don’t actually want to be Stephen King. I don’t want coke-bottle glasses and I don’t want to live in Maine, nice as it is in July. I’m also happy being a few decades younger than King is.

But I’d still like to write like the man writes.

Here’s the thing. I’m not Stephen King. (apologies for the rhyme — it’s not my fault his surname rhymes with ‘thing’)

I’m just me. Christina, Tine, that chick from Somewhere in the American South, or whatever I happen to call myself on Friday evenings.

Take-home message? Sure, I have one. It tastes like “write what you love,” not what you want to/pretend to/hope to love. Read more

The gift of flash

Great things from tiny sparks

I had a few alternate titles in mind for this post:

  • How I got the flash bug and why I’m in no hurry to get over it (gag)
  • I write flash, and you should, too (even worse)
  • A flash a day keeps insanity at bay (true, but way too rhyme-y)

[Attention: This post contains no animated GIFs of celebrities freaking out. It does, however, include an awesome photograph by Morgan Sessions via Unsplash for those who appreciate the beauty of stillness.]

So I went with something shorter, sweeter, and all multiple-entendre-ish. Consider it my gift to you.

Great things from tiny sparks

I got all nostalgic the other day last month here on Le Blog and put up a few links and pics of the short stories I grew up with. You won’t find them on your ten-year-old’s school reading list, which is too bad. If more kids read Shirley Jackson and Stephen King, I think we’d live in a better world. Especially if all of Jackson’s and King’s work was in cursive.

But I digress.

Flash fiction is a gift. Read more

From Dissertation to Novel

Standard Disclaimer: This post contains no mind-numbing, seizure-inducing animated GIFs. It does, however, include profanity worthy of Stephen King.

Alternate titles:

Why Academics Make Great Novelists

If You Can Write 400 Pages About Consonant Weakening Processes in Florentine Italian, You Can Write Anything

What to Do when your Academic Reputation Goes South because You Took that Career-Smashing, (but Lucrative) Job in Another Country When You Should Have Stayed on Your Butt in Jolly Old England and Become the Queen of Phonetics

I particularly like that last one. It’s just too damned long.

Fellow academic-and-writer Fred Senese (who I “met” when his ultra-violent flash piece got picked over my wishy-washy flash piece in The Molotov Cocktail’s July Flash Fury Contest – note to self: be more furious) and I had a bit o’ Twitter banter the other day on the topic of how our doctoral studies helped us out on the road to becoming writers of fiction. Read more

The (Bitter)sweet smell of success

Struffoli

StruffoliActually, it’s very sweet. Dripping-with-honey-and-sprinkled-with-rainbow-coloured-non-pareils kind of sweet:

My flash fiction memoir “The Honey Clusters” won an honorable mention in the 2015 Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Award and will be featured in their Nov/Dec 2015 issue!

The bittersweet part is in the content of the story. I wrote it shortly after this past Christmas while I still had a small plate of the traditional Italian treat called struffoli (honey clusters) remaining on the kitchen counter.

They don’t last long. They never do. Read more

The Patience of a Writer

Things could be a lot effing worse...

Here’s a wee fact about me: I don’t have any. Patience, that is. And I expect I’m not alone. Chez moi, we’re working on a cure for PDS (Patience Deficiency Syndrome). Multiple steps are involved:

  1. Resist the urge to bang out a full-blown (or mini-blown) revision the minute your agent sends you an email with suggested changes.
  2. If (1) fails, which it inevitably will, resist the urge to send your agent the revision two days after he’s finished reading the most recent version. He needs his rest.
  3. Practice writing paragraphs with one space between sentences instead of two. Trust me, this will take up the better part of a day.
  4. Do not, I repeat – DO NOT, stalk agents, editors, and publishing houses on the Internet. It’s okay to peek once in a while.
  5. Plan your book’s gestation period like you would plan a pregnancy: write in the winter, aim for submission when the weather gets warm. That way you can plant little things in the garden and make believe they’re organic versions of your novels that will grow into great big things.
  6. Apologise in advance to your agent for any insanity your emails to him may manifest in the upcoming days, weeks, months. Consider sending him cookies. Or North Carolina barbecue.
  7. Tackle that mountain of ________ [ironing, paperwork, bills, sewing, refrigerator science experiments, dead houseplants] that’s been growing over the past several months.
  8. Create a mantra along the lines of “I will not become a pariah.” Repeat it early and often or wind up being the woman your neighbours eye warily before ducking back into their houses when you walk down the street with the pooch.
  9. Think hard about picking up that cross-stitch Monopoly board you began last year. You don’t have to work on it, just consider it.
  10. Write the next book. Hell, write two of them.

If none of these works for you, lie back and read a soothing horror book by Stephen KingMisery is a good choice–no matter how anxiety-ridden your days are awaiting responses to queries, revisions, submissions, etc., at least you can smile and say, “It could be worse. I could be Paul Sheldon.”

Things could be a lot effing worse...
Things could be a lot effing worse…

The Truth is Out (I’m addicted to flash fiction)

It’s true. I freely admit it. That’s the first step, right?

I love flash.

Lightning-Bolts

And flash, it turns out, has been pretty good to me these days. While I’m wading my way through edits of Lucky Thirteen (it often seems I’m stuck in an infinite If-Then-Do Loop), solidly into the first 10K words of Work in Progress (I borrowed that catchy title from one of my writing friends), I have to find innovative ways to refresh my mind. Read more

Making that bad character badder

IMG_4012 - Version 2

Yeah, I’m a linguist.  I know the word ‘badder’ doesn’t exist in English.  And I know why it doesn’t exist.  So unless you want a dissertation on morphological processes, you might wanna let that one go.

Back to our regularly scheduled programme…

LUCKY THIRTEEN, like all thrillers, has a bad guy in it.  I read somewhere that it’s a rule for thrillers.  If you know me, you know that I’m not a big rule-follower, but this one seemed pretty important. Read more