Friday Links: Weeping Women, Horror-Writing Robots, and Ghostly Novels

I had wanted to write an actual blog post for the back half of this week, but it turns out that after a week of writing and pitching freelance articles, I just don’t have the brain power for anything too thinky. Normally when that happens I would just update you on how the book is coming along, but refer to the previous sentence re: freelance articles, which meant that not a lot of novel writing got done this week.

But I don’t want to leave y’all totally bereft of content (because, as we all know, it falls entirely upon ME to entertain you. What on earth would you do with yourselves if I didn’t serve up content on the regular? Rest of the Internet, you say? What? Pffft!), I’m falling back on that good old standby, aka what blogs were invented for in the first place: the link post.

Like probably a lot of people, I first learned about La Llorona, the Mexican version of the Woman in White ghost legend, from Supernatural. Since this type of ghost features prominently in Bound Spirits, I’ve been brushing up on them. Here are 13 things to know about the legend of La Llorona.

I was going to do a thinky deep dive on Woman in White legends but then I thought why do that when I can just link you to the Wikipedia Page on White Lady ghosts?

Child ghosts are probably the only thing more ubiquitous than Women in White, which brings to mind the ongoing saga of Dear David. Is it real? The Ghost in My Machine examines the veracity of the latest unsettling turn of events.

Do you prefer your spooky stories to be firmly and unquestioningly fictional? Then let Shelley, the world’s first AI horror writer, spin you a story.

And if you missed the prequel chapter from Dominion of the Damned that I sent to my newsletter subscribers last weekend, you can head here to read it (and then head here to subscribe so you don’t miss that sort of thing again!).

This band fueled a lot of the writing of Kindred Spirits, and they’re continuing to help me power through Bound Spirits. I particularly love this album.

I’ve been trying to make up for lost time on Goodreads, reviewing some of my recent favorites. Here’s what I thought of Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, and here’s my review of Brimstone by Cherie Priest.

Currently reading: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey.

And finally, a list post wouldn’t be complete without a little self-promotion, so here’s a friendly reminder that my haunted amusement park novella Eucha Falls is still free. Here’s the Kindle link, but it’s also available just about everywhere ebooks are sold.

 

Some Word Metrics and Some Useful Links for Writers

I bring you today’s word metrics on Ghost of a Chance, the sequel to Restless Spirits featuring more ghost adventures, more romance and more mysterious mysteries to untangle.

Words written today: 1,615
Words on the novel so far: 20,699
Words of fiction this year: 2,081

Here’s a non-spoilery snippet of today’s output:

She took hold of the door knob, but paused a moment, thinking of what to say as she opened the door, something clever and disarming that would diminish his rage, throw him off balance and give her the upper hand. But all that came to mind was, “What the hell do you want?” and she didn’t quite think that would do the trick. Taking a deep breath and bracing herself, she opened the door.

***

I told you today’s output would be a lot better than yesterday’s, and it was. For you productivity nerds out there, I’m applying the Pomodoro method, wherein I set a timer and sprint for 20 minutes, then take a 10 minute break to go to the bathroom, peek at social media, make some tea, talk to my husband or whatever. I’m aiming for four sprints a day, all grouped together so I don’t lose momentum, preferably before lunch when I’m still feeling creatively fresh and have plenty of mental energy. Today it worked splendidly. If this keeps up, I should be able to average about 1400-1500 words a day, which puts me on target to finish this draft in about eight weeks.

I just realized if I stick to that exactly, I’ll finish up on Leap Day. And I think that just became my goal.

At any rate, if you’re using the Chrome browser, you can install the Strict Workflow extension (formerly the Pomodoro extension but apparently there were copyright issues and they had to change the name). Not only does it function as a timer, which helps me stay focused, but it also cuts off my access to social media and other distracting websites when I’m supposed to be working. I highly recommend it.

After my writing session I hopped on Mr. B’s stationary bike for 20 minutes, which was supposed to perk me up and give me energy for the rest of the day, but now I just really want a nap. I think I did it wrong. Or maybe it was the soup I had for lunch (same as yesterday, still delicious). Or I s’pose it could be that I didn’t sleep so great last night. Hmm.

While on the bike I finally listened to an episode of the Ditch Diggers writing podcast by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace. It was my first time checking that out, and I only got 30 minutes in before I had to shut it off and get back in the office, but it had some good, motivating stuff. Lots o’ cussin’, though, if you’re turned off by that sort of thing. Also got in an episode of the Journeyman Writer podcast by Alastair Stephens, which are short, to the point and provide some food for thought. And are also generally free of cussin’.

This morning over on my other blog I posted about my approach to the New Year from a faith-based perspective. If you’re so inclined you can read that here.

And now I must do some article research and try to make headway on some future posts for BloPoWriMo. But first I will leave you with this shot of the very pretty adult coloring book I got for Christmas, which has become one of my favorite things.

tea-and-coloring

 

Cheers!

Happy Halloween! Here are some link treats.

Happy Halloween!

It’s finally here! I still need to clean up our front walk and string up a giant yarn spider web on the front porch before popping out to pick up some last minute ingredients for Matt’s Halloween menu. Then it’ll be time to slaughter some pumpkins and kick off our festivities. Here’s wishing everyone a fun and safe Halloween. Here are some links to help you while away the hours until sundown.

And before I forget, congratulations to the winners of our Midnight Snacks/Dead Ends giveaway, which officially closed for entries last night. It turns out everyone who entered is a winner! You’ll be receiving notification and your free books soon, so watch your e-mail!

Now for the links…

  • I’ve been working a ghost-blogging gig for the Libib book app blog for a couple of months now, and my last several posts there have been Halloween-themed, including some last-minute costume ideas for book nerds and some of the nation’s most haunted libraries. Check them out!
  • Lex Wahl’s Anything Ghost podcast is always a special Halloween treat. He has a ton of real-life ghost stories and spooky encounters to share this year, so you’ll need to carve out a few hours to hear them all.
  • If you’re in more of a hurry to be scared, this short horror film, Lights Out, is completely terrifying and under three minutes.
  • Finally, this Horror Movie Kid Daycare video from College Humor is definitely worth a few minutes of your time (and an excellent antidote if the above video left you too petrified to get on with your day).

 

Links: What’s Steampunk, Sleepy Hollow preview, and more

I didn’t get all of my freelance work done before the weekend, so I’m having to work today. It’s mostly my own fault for not managing my time as well as I could have, but then again this was a pretty hectic week that involved more errands and more reasons to leave the house than usual (including a second trip to Bixby to pick up Pete’s meds from the vet because she didn’t have them stocked when we were there on Wednesday. Let me tell you, that is quite a long way to drive for such a simple errand), so I’ll go ahead and cut myself some slack.

The plan is to get this last article written before lunch, then I’ll be free the rest of the weekend. Except I also have a couple of short things I need to write for a Fiverr client by Monday evening. I’m still dithering on whether to buckle down and get those done today so I can take Labor Day off, or just wait and do them Monday so I can enjoy most of my Saturday. Considering that “enjoying” my Saturday involves laundry and vacuuming the house, I’ll probably hold off on the extra work until Monday.

Also on today’s agenda: trimming my unruly hair (still debating whether to give myself straight bangs or keep them longish and side swept, even though I usually regret straight bangs because they never lay down like I want them to, and yet I never seem to learn), fiddling with the outline for the new novel, and pulling my horror short story collection together for beta readers.

And now I’ll leave you with some links that are open in my browser that might be of interest to you:

Friday Five – Get Your Steam(Punk) On

Steampunk Nerf Weaponry : The Girl, The Guns : 5I’ve been poking around the corners of the web lately, trying to become more familiar with the steampunk genre in preparation for writing my next novel, Radium Town. Of course, being a nerd who lives on the Internet, I’m fairly well acquainted with steampunk already–and you probably are, too, you just don’t realize that the genre itself is fairly old. It’s the rise in popularity and cosplay and what have you that are relatively new.

At any rate, I’ve stumbled across a few steampunk-related links that I want to remember, so I thought I’d share them with you this week.

Keys On the Typewriter: Steampunk 101 is a good overview of the genre, its history and evolution, its tropes and conventions, and it’s growing appeal. If you think you’re clueless about steampunk, this is a good place to start cluing yourself in.

American Cultural History 1890-1899 (and also 1900-1909) is an excellent reference resource for the time period my story will be set in. It includes sections for each decade on things like Art & Architecture, Fads & Fashion, Historic Events and People & Personalities. This should come in really handy for world-building and grounding my alternate-reality setting in history and realism.

Steam Circus doesn’t really have anything to do with my novel–I just find I’m digging the whole steampunk aesthetic, and since I haven’t been to a con in over 8 years and even if I did attend them regularly, I probably wouldn’t have the nerve to participate in full-on cosplay, I figure the best way to integrate a little steam into my wardrobe is with steampunk-inspired jewelry. This site has some such jewelry that is downright gorgeous, as well as other accessories that would work either as part of a costume or for a more subtle approach.

And speaking of real-world steampunk fashion, Minnie Zephie’s Steampunk Treasure Trunk chronicles her pursuit of same — attempting to integrate a subtle steampunk aesthetic into her every day wardrobe without crossing the line into costume-wearing. I really like this idea, and I think it’s something I could pull off. I feel like as I look ahead in my author career to potentially attending cons, signings and other writer events, I need to start paying a little more attention to my style and image and elevate it a few (dozen) steps above “yoga/pajama/workout pants and a tee-shirt most days and put on jeans on the rare occasions that I leave the house.” Anyway, I’ve always liked the neo-Victorian classical look, and I really like the edge that the steampunk elements give it.

And if I want to go a little less subtle, I can always whip up one of the AMAZING steampunk-inspired knit patterns from The Ladies of Mischief. This site is giving me SUCH a hankering to run to my local yarn shop and plunk down about a hundred dollars on some quality yarn so I can make these projects. LOVE the bloomers! And the corset! And… and… all of it! Love! Except, sadly, I don’t have a hundred dollars to spend on good yarn and I barely have time to knit these days. But it is bookmarked, and some day, my pretties, just you wait.

Things That Made Me LOL Today

(Cross-posted #)

Fantasy author Cathrynne M. Valente describes a day spent searching for coffee in Augusta, Maine. I thought Tulsa had problems, but we have plenty of Starbucks and no (known) axe-murderers buried under any of our cross-roads, so at least we’re two up on Augusta.

And speaking of soul-sucking…

Don’t trust anyone you meet online (via Wil Wheaton).

Both of these are potentially NSFW due to F-bombs.

Bully Bait: An Explanation

(Originally posted at Daydream Believer)

I’ve been wanting to write here about my childhood. I had a rough time of it growing up. Not as rough as some, but definitely rougher than a lot of people I know. My home life was dysfunctional, I was picked on relentlessly at school, and I had undiagnosed, barely even heard of at the time, learning and social adjustment disorders that guaranteed I would fit in wherever I went about as well as a tattoo and piercing enthusiast at a Church Ladies’ Sunday Social. So yeah, I have some pent up sob stories.

The thing is, I don’t want to tell sob stories. I want to be frank and honest, in a “names changed to protect the hopefully grown-up enough by now to know better” kind of way, but I want to approach it all with a sense of humor. Because I do have a sense of humor about the whole thing, most of the time. Some of it was too horrible to laugh at, but those parts are probably too private to share here anyway. But most of it, I can joke about. I’ve put off writing about it because I’m not sure how to joke about it in writing without turning it into one big joke, and I don’t want to do that. I’m also wondering how much embellishment for humor’s sake I’m willing to do. I want to do it in an entertaining way that’s funny and relatable and also real.

I’ve also put it off because I’ve been examining why I want to write about it. I’m not interested in getting back at anybody, hence the plan to change names and certain details. Part of it is therapy. I’ve made some pretty great strides in being able to forgive a lot of people, but I’m having trouble with the forgetting part, and on certain days, when I’m in a certain mood, I have a tendency to brood on this stuff, and it can get me really down. I think–hope–that maybe putting it all out here will help me let it go and stop thinking about it.

Another reason–a big reason–is that I want these essays to say, “Hey, look! I’m okay! I lived through some awful stuff, but it’s okay, and I’m relatively happy, and if you’ve gone through it, or you’re going through it, you can be okay, too. If your kids are going through this stuff, they can be okay, too.” I want parents of disordered kids to know that those kids can go through life without being drugged into conformity and those kids can still grow up to be healthy, productive adults. I want parents of kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders to know that their kids can eventually learn to do a passable-enough impression of normal to get by in the workplace and even get them invited to parties and out on dates. I want any teens or tweens reading this to know that not only is there life beyond high school, but that, for the most part, it gets so much better. I want twenty-somethings struggling to keep up with their peers to know that it’s okay to cut themselves some slack and stop trying to plan their lives according to other peoples’ schedules.

I want to give all of these people a big hug. Barring that, I want to be able to share a laugh with them, and help them learn to laugh at themselves.

Also, I just really want to practice memoir and comedic writing.

So that’s going to be an occasional column here, starting this week (schedule permitting). I had kicked around the idea of doing a separate, anonymous blog on the topic, but seeing as how maintaining one blog with any regularity is proving a major challenge right now, that didn’t seem like one of my brighter ideas. Plus, for me, the anonymity felt like a cop-out, and I wondered if anybody would believe I wasn’t making it all up. An occasional column here seemed like a good compromise. So for now, that’s the plan.

****

Writing and Creativity Links for 7.27.2009

Some of these tabs have been open in my browser for more than a week. Time to put them to rest.

Footsteps To a Novel – A great breakdown from author Margaret McGaffey Fisk on how to get started turning your basic idea into a full-blown novel. Even after I’ve written a few, I still found this helpful as I start thinking about what I want to do for NaNoWriMo this year.

From there I found Fisk’s list of writing tools, which includes useful things like a scene plotting spreadsheet and several different word count trackers.

The list also included a link to Holly Lisle’s Index Card Plotting Method, which I have a feeling is going to change my writing life once I get around to trying it out for myself.

Not strictly related to writing, but to creativity in general, Tyler Durden’s 8 Rules for Innovation is the article that inspired me to stop putting off the “Bully Bait” column I wrote about in the previous post (I’ve been kicking that idea around for almost a year now), make like a Nike spokesperson, and Just Do It. It’s inspiring me to Just Do a lot of things, actually. Here’s hoping that inspiration doesn’t wane.

THF Progress Report and How to Write a Novel in 30 Days

Almost finished rewriting Chapter 2. I should be able to post it for the beta readers tomorrow.

How to Write a Novel In 30 Days, according to Catherynne M. Valente, has inspired me to get off my duff and pick up speed on this novel. Her advice differs from that of NaNoWriMo in that she advocates using your time to create the opposite of crap. Of course, this isn’t so much advice as it is pointing out what people should expect to have to deal with if they attempt such a feat, but her description of her paper writing habits in college sang to me, because they were my habits, too, and it made me remember that I can produce quality writing in a short amount of time. I used to do it all the time. I just need to get back in touch with that part of me that was a little more reckless and willing to take those risks. Hopefully I haven’t left her behind with age.