Monday, October 28, 2013

Month Long Writing Sprint

There are many different writing challenges that circulate around the web this time of the year. The most notorious is the National Novel Writing Month or as it’s commonly known: NaNoWriMo. Every year I ponder participating in this, thinking that it would give me the drive to finish another novel. Then I realized that it has too many rules for me and that’s not how my writing works.

Among the rules are not having any of it already worked on. That poses a problem for me. I have tons of ideas in my head and on paper for two of my worlds I’m working on: Summer’s Hollow, and my untitled world featuring raw, unhinged Lucy “Loose” Quinn. Problem is I want to work off of some stories that I already have written; I don’t want to start something completely new. This is hindering me from participation in NaNoWriMo which saddens me because I know I’m gonna get jealous of all of you who are getting your ideas down during this month.

My solution: a month long writing sprint. My rules: there are no rules. Write as much as you want about whatever you want. I don’t care if you have half of it done already or none of it done; I just want to see how much you CAN get done. I have set a goal for myself though in the form of my notebook pictured above. There are 270 pages there that I plan to fill up. Yep that’s right, I’m literally going to write it all in long hand.

For this writing sprint I’ve decided to tackle Lucy’s story (and hopefully give it a name). I’ve explored her time as a teenager growing up around crime and corruption; I’ve explored her early 20s as she made a name for herself in the boxing world; I’ve explored when her life came crashing down the same time she became a felon; I’ve explored her life in prison. Now I want to explore her life in her later twenties – when she’s out of prison and trying to settle into her life. I’m not sure yet where her life is going but I figured this writing sprint would be the perfect opportunity to explore that.

So I’m asking my readers to pick their poison: feel free to join in NaNoWriMo or my Month Long Writing Sprint or heck make up your own writing challenge. No matter what I want to hear about it! Starting November 1 – 30th I’ll be posting updates via my Facebook Author Page and I want you all to stop by and update me on your challenges as well! On Friday November 1st I’ll sound the horn and we’ll all take off writing in whatever capacity you choose. Looking forward to hearing the updates along the way and the end results!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Mug Project Updates

Most of you know that there have been a lot of changes going on in my life lately so some things have been put on the back burner. Well, now that I'm starting to fall back into a normal schedule it's time to bring some of those back burner items to the forefront. The first order of business: The Mug Project. Next month (since October is filled with Samhain posts) I'm planning on posting all the images, blog posts, and emails I've gotten regarding The Mug Project. It will be one great big mug extravanganza!

If you've gotten any new mugs since I started this project, or haven't sent me your mugs yet, you have until October 31st to get them to me. Also, something I waited to mention until now: I'm doing a mug giveaway with the post! So stay tuned and watch out for the post so you can see all the lovely mugs I've gotten to see and maybe even win a new one of your very own! I'm excited to see what new mugs you all have gotten and any that I have yet to see!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Everyday Anthropology

When it comes down to it, my passion ultimately comes back to anthropology. No matter what discipline I’m studying or working with, it’s all driven by my love of this holistic discipline. My writing tends to draw a lot from it and even when I’m editing documents for the government I use a certain about of my anthropological expertise to get at what the writer was trying to say. The basis of anthropology, understanding how people interact with each other within cultures, the imprint of the cultures, and the biological aspect of what makes a person who they are (physically and mentally), is used in my everyday life.

As part of my Geospatial Information Science (GIS) Master’s Program I get to explore more about my anthropological background through my projects. For my current class, Spatial Statistics, my final is titled: Spatial Patterns of Bigfoot Sighting in Pennsylvania. In this project I’m creating a map of PA that shows where all the sightings are. Then I will run various statistical analyses using ArcGIS and CrimeStat software to determine distribution and/or clustering of these sightings. With this analysis I can then determine if these sightings show up more in populated or less populated areas, what kind of land they show up on (woods, farmland, suburbs, or urban), and if they are more prevalent during any particular time of the year. Here’s a little sneak peek at the introduction to my paper:

Bigfoot is a creature that has been sighted for over 92 years, yet has eluded cryptozoologists for most of that time. Evidence such as footprints, supposed droppings, and sighting have been found, but nothing to definitively prove this creature’s existence. This evidence has been wide spread and collected from the northeast, to the northwest, and up into Canada. Perhaps the most famous of these sighting it the 1967 Patterson film which depicts what appears to be a large ape-like creature walking through the woods. This film has been bombarded by scientists and videographers alike as either a hoax or definitive evidence that Bigfoot does in fact exist.

The fact of the matter is though, if there are all these sightings, why is it that we still can’t prove the existence? To explore this more the use of geospatial and statistical analysis must be utilized. We can use different GIS tools to determine if the sightings are evenly distributed, if they are prominent in highly populated or not as populated areas, if they are specific to any particular season, or if they are specific to any particular kind of land (i.e. forest, farm, urban, etc). To determine this, the study area that will be utilized for this project is the state of Pennsylvania. The reason this state will be used is because it has a great number of sightings as well as a variety of different types of land to study.

In addition to using my anthropological background for my Grad School projects, it crops up in my newest writing project. Currently I’m working on the sequel to Summer’s Hollow (SH). The working title is Return to Summer’s Hollow (RtSH) but I’m still playing around with it. RtSH takes place 13 years after the first one left off. Rylie is now grown up, freshly finished with her Doctorate Degree in Archaeology, starting a new job as a Professor of Marine Archaeology at the University of Maine, and she is engaged. All in all she is living the dream that she always wanted. Of course though, I write horror and following Joss Whedon’s lead, none of my characters remain happy for long.

Upon returning home for the long weekend, Rylie finds out that the Pascal House has been torn down to make way for a new dairy farm. This of course stirs up the Bloody Friday legend again and the town is thrown back into the mayhem it experienced 13 years before. This time around though, there is a new twist. Throughout this novel you’ll see more archaeology and anthropology than the first book. Of course this is all woven into the thrills, chills, dust, blood, and bones that worked so well in SH. I have to say as much as I’m in love with my first novel, I believe RtSH will be ten times better.

Image is courtesy of the Patterson Film shot by Roger Patterson on October 20, 1967

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Summer's Hollow Q&A

As part of All Hallow’s Grimm 2013 over at Pagan Culture, I’m giving away a signed copy of my book. Magaly’s post for the giveaway entitled: “Summer’s Hollow on the Bayou” really captures the essence of my book. As part of her post and consequently my giveaway, Magaly asked her readers to ask me about my writing process. I got some great questions (that I answered in the comments on her blog) that I wanted to share with you:

Q. Is the town based upon a real town?

A. The town is actually a hybrid of a couple of towns from both fiction and reality. My best friend from middle school grew up in this small farming town in Washington State. I wanted to embody that with the charm of a Puritan town in the Northeast.

Q. How does previous readings/characters fit into your life/writings… and do you have a favorite horror book or writer you are inspired by?

A. I draw a lot from both literature and pop-culture in Summer’s Hollow. I have some references to Buffy, Scream, Carrie, and various other horror movies/novels. I adore Poe, King, and Cornwell for their abilities to paint vivid pictures in your mind. Weirdly enough though the biggest inspiration for Summer’s Hollow came from my favorite novel of all time: “The Scarlet Letter.” I carry a copy of that book around with me wherever I go.

Q. What is the approximate length of time difference between poor Mary’s predicament and where Rylie’s story starts?

A. There’s about 200 years difference between Mary and Rylie’s existence.

Q. Did you become a reader at a young age? Were you drawn to any certain genres or did you read everything you could get your hands on?

A. I did! I started reading when I was young and found myself mostly drawn to fantasy and scifi growing up. Once I got to an that age I could read at a higher level I started to read the classic novels. I also found that I had a love for Shakespeare. Of course my love always lies with horror. Essentially you hit the nail on the head: I read whatever I could get my hands on – except romance. Never could get into it.

Q. Do you find yourself meeting people and filing them away to become future characters?

A. This happens all the time and not just with characters, but settings, or even events. I find myself participating in things and thinking “this would be great in my story…” A lot of the times I see people that have a unique feature (physically or otherwise) and I find myself enthralled by it and have to put it into a story. Sometimes this does come off as a little creepy if I’m just staring a people. People watching is one of my favorite activities.

Q. How do your characters come into existence? Do you chose them or do they choose you?

A. This kind of goes in line with the last question. I definitely find qualities in people to use for my characters but ultimate it’s as I write that my characters become who they are. They do in fact most of the time choose me. This is especially true about their names. For example in my second published work: “Deal with the Devil” I was going to name my main character Kris (before she turned into the vampire Aer) but she decided that she was going to be named Jordan. I found myself writing a scene between her and a customer and they called her Jordan. I had to stop and realize that it meant that was her name now. Though in that case the point was really her name didn’t matter before she became a vampire.

If any of my readers have any other questions please feel free to ask them in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Picking Up the Pieces

This morning I was looking at my blog and I realized the last post I wrote was back on September 27th. I wrote about what the word normal is. Well the past 16 days have been nothing close to normal for me. The reason I've been scarce on the blog scene (besides my posts over on the Samhain's Sirens page) is because I've fallen a bit into a funk during this government shutdown. I figured if I wrote anything it would either be a) bitching about Congress, b) complaining about how I'm losing money, or c) a horrible bloody short story to vent my feelings.

All those feeling though of sadness, anger, and anxiety have been replaced by apathy. Never in my life have I felt so apathetic. I've found a numbness has just washed over me as I remain waiting in the wings for Congress to get its act together. This apathy isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's allowed me to just continue with what I'm doing and figure out how to supplement what I've lost by being out of work for this long.

So what have I been doing during this Congressional tantrum? Well while this would've been a great time to get to work on Return to Summer's Hollow I've found myself lacking inspiration. Instead I binge watched Sons of Anarchy for about a week and a half in between going to visit my Dad who is having health issues. Let me just say if you haven't watched Sons of Anarchy go to Netflix and start watching now. I'm pretty stuck in my ways on what my favorite shows are but this show definitely breaks into my top 3 all time favorite shows. It has also given me the inspiration to write some new short stories that deviate away from my usual horror genre and to the crime/corruption genre (which I dip into in my first book: Dark Cell).

As far as work is concerned, I've been able to pick up a couple of hours at my old company to at least pay off some bills. My book sales for Summer's Hollow have been slowly growing so that's another source of at least spending money (and we all know when I say that I mean coffee money). I'm better off than a lot of people out there since thankfully Grant is private sector. Still, being a contractor and therefore not being paid unless I work, we are hurting during this time. Let's face it Grad School, a Wedding, and a house aren't exactly cheap things. I'm hanging in there, just feeling very numb to all of it.

I've lost all faith in the leaders of this country to be quite honest. But life must go on. I've got plenty of things to keep me occupied during this stalemate and I know the financial stuff will work itself out. Until then I'll just keep working out for obscene amounts each day and keeping my head buried in my eternal loop of Sons of Anarchy episodes and my new short story series.