Friday, September 27, 2013

What is Normal?

This is a question I ask myself a lot. I have never considered myself “normal” and don’t think I ever would. In reality though, what does normal mean? We throw around phrases like “the normal girl next door”, “normal teenager”, “normal business man”, and so on. In this case normal almost has the connotation of being boring.

The fact is, what is normal in one society may not be the norm in another. Normal among the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea is to live in mud huts and hunt and gather your food. Essentially the word normal then becomes obsolete. It’s based on perspective and has neither good nor bad connotations.

This being said, I’ve noticed a trend with my characters: none of them are “normal” in their worlds. This is of course if we go by the definition of normal off “Usual: conforming to the usual standard, type, or custom.” Most of my characters go out of their way to not be normal and in some cases places in a situation that pummels the normalcy out of them. In the midst of all my characters, perhaps the most normal is Penn from “Dark Cell.” He is a typical Gorgon teenager who has powers. In the mystical land I made up, where everyone had magical powers, he is the norm. What sets him apart is his quest to save Ness from being executed.

In Summer’s Hollow the word normal comes up a handful of times. Rylie talks about her less than normal family, her not so normal hobbies, and of course the fact that her life gets turned upside down when the town is attacked by dark spirits. In the new installment (which I’m currently working on) explores more into that feeling of normalcy or lack thereof.The sequel takes place 13 years after the first book. Rylie is now in her career, has found her true love, and has all around moved passed what had happened in the first book. She thinks she is finally normal once again. That is until she journeys back to Summer’s Hollow for a long weekend. Interestingly enough the setting of Summer’s Hollow itself is referred to as a “normal small farm town” but once again has deep, dark secrets that set it apart from other “normal towns.”

Emma Carmichael is pretty much the embodiment of what is not normal. The very fact that the series is called “Chronicles of a Freak” tells you that nothing about her is normal. In her world there are monsters, spirits, demons, and all other things that get bump in the night. The problem is there are only a couple of people that actually believe in those things. As a result she has made it her mission to save the ignorant while somehow still maintaining her life. We see the biggest impact when she is in high school. There are times where she does try to be the normal teenager: goes out on dates, attends school functions, and joins the volleyball team. It seems though every time that she tries to get involved “things” crop up out of nowhere. She takes the new boy in school out to a movie festival – they’re attacked by a monster. She has her first sexual encounter - it's broken up by a venegeful spirit. All of these impeded her from living out that so called normal life.

These are just some examples from my writing. I’m interested to see everyone else take on normal or not so normal characters in other books.

The image above is from which is a really poignant post from a teenager on what normal is.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Where in the World is Sam?

I know you all have been thinking it. Well to ease your minds, I have not been sucked into a black hole or have been eaten by zombies. The real world has just hit me a little hard the past month (in both good and bad ways) – hence the blog hiatus. The good news: things are looking up!

Last week I started a new job where I’m editing classified documents for the Defense Security Services (DSS). So far I love it – especially the commute since I’m going against traffic. I’ve realized that sometimes I enjoy editing more so than writing (in the technical space at least). I love getting to play around with word choice, grammar, and sentence structure. What is even greater about my job is it’s all classified information. This means I get to feel ultra-cool with my CAC card and access to different systems. Of course this also means most of the documents I edit I can’t talk about with you guys.

In addition to the new job, I’m also doing consulting work for my former employer, taking Spatial Statistics for Grad School, planning the wedding, and something I know my readers will like: working on the sequel to Summer’s Hollow. Between all of this I’m sticking with my writing, work outs, and of course my favorite TV shows. Sometimes I find I work best when I am so busy. In fact, I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t busy!

Speaking of busy, Summer’s Hollow is doing great! At this point I’ve broken even with what I put into the book. It was a labor of love and I’m glad that everyone seems to be enjoying it so far. If you haven’t yet gotten your copy, head over to Amazon to purchase either the eBook or print version. Also, just like last year, I’m participating in Samhain’s Sirens! Starting October 1st there will be tons of blog posts, crafts, recipes, song, folklore, and giveaways. So head on over to the Samhain's Sirens page to keep updated!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Summer's Hollow is Here!

Happy Friday the 13th! Today's the day a lot of you have been waiting for: Summer's Hollow is available! To say I am doing a happy dance is an understatement. I've been waiting for this day for many years and I can't wait for you all to get your hands on it! Below are the three different way to order it.

Kindle/Print Version on Amazon:

Print Version on CreateSpace: 

Signed Print Version: Send me an email if you're interested and I will send you a Paypal Invoice.

If you have any questions, comments, or just want to tell me how much you love Summer's Hollow please feel free to email me: curtinall89[at]gmail[dot]com. Happy Haunting! ;)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Novel vs. The Short Story

Yesterday on my Author Page I posed the question:  Which do you prefer to read: novels, novellas, or short stories? I was expecting to have a smattering of answers but I noticed that most people said that they prefer the novel. There were different reasons given for liking the novel such as getting lost in a longer story and being emotionally involved with the characters. A couple of people said they don't have a preference and I would put myself in that group.

My good friend Pherin I think said it best: "A good story is a good story regardless of its length." That's exactly what I strive to produce when I write: a good story no matter the length. The fact is, when it comes to writing, I prefer short stories. When it comes to reading, I like reading pretty much anything if I can get sucked into it. The mark of a good writer is to suck the readers in no matter if the story is three pages long or five hundred pages long. 

Summer's Hollow is my first full length novel but I prefer writing shorter stories even if they are part of a larger series. Now that Summer's Hollow is published and set to be released September 13th, I have already started to work on the sequel (hey it's a horror story what did you expect?). What I am debating though is what length to make it? Do I spend years crafting another long novel (the first one took eight years) or do I treat it more like a novella or even a couple short stories put together? For the time being I'm leaning more towards another novel since I do have a lot of ideas; surely I'd be able to fill up a couple hundred pages.

I've joked since I was younger that I wanted to be the next Stephen King: to write novels and short stories. The feeling of having my full length novel in my hands is one of the highlights of my life; it's something I haven't felt when writing and publishing short stories as eBooks. Of course the biggest change is that it is print. Perhaps I'll feel different if I published a short story anthology in print? I've been musing the idea of adding a few more stories to "Deal with the Devil" and publishing it in print. 

Regardless of the questions going on in my brain you can bet that I'll be writing many more short stories and maybe even a few more novels. All I can hope is that my faithful readers are enjoying my stories no matter what length they usually prefer. In the end if one person likes my writing I can go to sleep happy. 

The photo above is of two of my favorite books: An anthology of Poe works and a Scarpetta Novel by Patricia Cornwell.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

This is Madness...

Most of us are taught from a very young age not to copy other people's work. In first grade you wouldn't take another student's Popsicle stick puppet and claim it was yours. In sixth grade you wouldn't copy spark notes and claim it was a book report. In college you wouldn't copy and paste a scholarly article and claim you had some brand new theory. So the question is, as an adult on social media, why would you claim something is yours when it isn't?

You would think this would all be common sense: that if you shared something from someone else you would attribute it to them. It's really not that hard to add a sentence or even just a few words explaining where you got it from. As a writer, blogger, and a decent human being it leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I see people blatantly claiming other people's art, writing, or even ideas as their own.

Yes, I realize that sometimes it's not done intentionally but doing a simple Google search can save you a lot of grief. There are times when I find passages or quotes that explain ideas covering the topic much better than I can. The simple solution is to put that passage in quotes and write a short citation on where I found that. I use quotes a lot on my social media pages and it takes me maybe 2 extra minutes to properly attribute them.

So here's my plea to my readers: if you are sharing something that isn't yours take that extra few minutes and give the originator credit. In addition if you know of someone who is plagiarizing whether intentionally or otherwise point it out to them. Lastly, if you know of people who are constantly stealing others' ideas, artwork, or writing, report them. We can't let this run rampant; as social media grows bigger and bigger it is my fear that it will.

The image above is from the blog: Visit the blog to learn more about plagiarism on Facebook and other social media. (see what that so hard?)