Graduation time isn’t so far away. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned over the years.
- It’s better to live in your car than work in customer service.
- Always consider saying yes.
- If you have a great idea, do it right away.
- It never hurts to ask. What’s the worst that can happen?
- Ask yourself: what’s the worst that can happen? Prepare for that.
- Don’t think about money first. You’ll never have enough, no matter what.
- Go places, even if they don’t have indoor plumbing.
- Be afraid and do it anyway.
- Don’t cry about objects. Stuff is just stuff. There’s more.
- Don’t be a writer. There are too many damned writers.
- If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything.
If I haven’t mentioned it before (or enough), I’m the chief editor of Omnium Gatherum / Odium Media. We’ve got a brand new group on Goodreads. Today we’re discussing quotes that inspire us. To join us, click here
This is what I said:
I love a good quote. A well turned phrase that encompasses more than at first it appears to is such a pleasure. This quote sums up a theme I return to often in my writing. What are your favorite quotes?
From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.–Kafka
In The Trial Josef K. finds himself accused of a crime. He never finds out what it is. This quote refers to the point when authority and society in general decides to reject an individual. It seems like a plea to just get it over with because the fact that society ever accepted Josef K. was a lie all along. That’s an interesting thought, but the reason I love this quote is because of the way Paul Bowles used it to introduce The Sheltering Sky. In the context of Bowles’ story it refers to the thought, word or action from which there is no turning back. I’m fascinated by those crucial moments that change the present into the unchangeable past.
I’ve been tagged by Eric Shapiro in ‘The Next Big Thing’ that’s going around. The challenge is to answer 10 questions about an upcoming book, then tag 5 author friends to answer the questionnaire the following week.
Eric answered questions about THE DEVOTED. You can read the answers to his questions by scrolling back a bit on his Facebook wall (It’s worth it). If you haven’t read THE DEVOTED yet get your copy on Amazon. This is a disturbing tale of cult madness that makes for tense and disturbing reading. Don’t miss it!
Here go the questions:
1. What is the working title of your next book? CANDY HOUSE
2. Where did the idea come from for the book? CANDY HOUSE began with a question. Usually when people think about Hansel and Gretel the question they ask is: what kind of horrible parents would leave their children in the woods to die. This question is obviously being asked from a child’s perspective. The more interesting question for me is: What kind of boy willingly goes into the witch’s house and gets in her cage without a fight? And what kind of girl is able to burn a woman to death and be okay with that? Then I piled on ancillary questions like: In a world of dogs and cats is it wise to bet on the dancing bear? If you never leave your parents’ home are you ever really grown-up? If love is one-sided does it still count as love?
3. What genre does your book fall under? Dark Fantasy/Myth Punk/Whatever genre Kafka is
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? I would prefer to cast unknown actors, but if I have to choose I’d say for Roland the young professor who has been forced to move back home when he’s fired for failing to control his temper, Rich Sommer (TV guy on Madmen). For Julia the young firebug Krysten Ritter (Jessie’s girlfriend on Breaking Bad). Dandy Darkly (NY performance artist who might actually be more Aubrey than Aubrey)for Aubrey the effete brother of the mysterious neighbor. And I’m running thin on ideas here, but I’ll bet Glen Close would make an interesting Hesperia the compelling older woman who lives next door.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? CANDY HOUSE is the story of a brilliant young scientist who has to move back home with his parents because his explosive temper is ruining his career. His neighbors, a family of witches, imps and demons, are humanity’s last line of defense against the deadly scientific discovery Roland is on the verge of making.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? My book will be available June 2013 from Evil Jester Press.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? This book has been around my neck like Marley’s chains for years. Several of them it spent in the trunk. Once I dusted off the original manuscript and began the serious work of making it cohesive, I’d say the first draft took about eight months. I then spent another year and a half polishing it up.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I did my best to make CANDY HOUSE as unlike any other book as possible. It might be a little like Palimpsest by Cathrynn Valente in that both books are written in English and have some sexy parts. I’ve heard that it reminds some people of David Lynch, but that’s not a book. It’s got a talking mouse, so in that way it’s like… no not really. Way back in its early incarnation it shared some features with Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory McGuire. Some of that survived.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? I wanted to explore some uncomfortable topics, career failure, obsession with sexual fetish, self-destruction, mental illness through the lens of a fairy tale.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest? Throughout the book there are little jokes that you’ll only get if you A. Already know about everything I researched or B. Google. For example, if you were to research (or know) a name that’s casually dropped at a party, the comment made about that person is clever. If you don’t want to bother with this kind of stuff, the story won’t suffer if you skip it.
And next week we’ll hear from S.P. Miskowski, Neil Davies, Daniel Ribot, Brent Michael Kelley.
Sunlight trickled through the lacy leaves and splashed onto Lorena’s blanket. She gathered up the remains of Kit’s lunch and stuffed it in the picnic basket.
“Can I go swimming yet?” the little girl called out.
Lorena stood up. Impressions of her feet in the soft moss marked her path down to the river.
“What are you building?” Lorena studied the pile of sticks bound together with vines. “Is that a castle?”
Kit nodded. She wrapped a vine around and around a stick. “This is the castle door.” She wedged her creation into place. “If I had a pulley, I could make it go up and down. But I don’t, so the princess will just have to open it herself.”
“Are you going to be a princess when you grow up?”
“There’s no such thing, Lorena.” Kit rolled her eyes. “Just in fairy tales.”
Lorena laughed even though she forced her face into a stern expression. “I’ve told you not to call me by my name. It’s not polite.”
“Your friends call you Lorena.” Kit grinned a mischievous grin. “Aren’t we friends?”
“That’s enough. It’s not polite.”
A breeze rustled the leaves as a car passed by. Lorena’s heartbeat quickened. The car was maroon, not red. It was the wrong year, wrong make, wrong model. The car sped away.
“When is Dad coming?” Kit jumped to her feet. “He promised he would come with us.”
“He’ll be here.” Lorena’s stomach clenched just like it did when she told a lie.
“Can I go swimming, yet?” Kit bounced up and down. “Those kids are.” She pointed to a gaggle of splashing children in the river. They batted a red ball over their heads.
Lorena sighed. “All right. Go on.”
“Yesss!” Kit bolted for the water. She jumped in and splashed her way to the children. The red ball floated through the cerulean sky to her. She hit it back.
Lorena breathed in the mushroom damp air as she climbed back to the blanket. Maybe later she and Kit could poke around under the canopy of trees and find new flowers to press in the pages of the encyclopedia.
A shower of gravel rolled down the hill as a sporty red car skidded to a stop. A man stepped out of the car and posed like the Colossus of Rhodes with his arm shading his brow. Like a crack of thunder from an unexpected storm, the passenger door slammed shut. Franklin held out his hand to the willowy woman who wore her custom-made clothes with the casual air of a princess dressed in finery.
Lorena’s stomach twisted and folded in on itself. He wouldn’t dare bring that woman here. He wouldn’t dare. Hatred, insistent as a cigarette burn, spread inside her. Lorena didn’t move. She didn’t call out. The hatred burned and blazed.
Franklin squinted into the sun. He scanned left then right.
Lorena didn’t move.
Finally, the princess tugged on his arm. Together, they got into the car. A shower of gravel trickled down the hill as they drove away.
“Hey lady,” a boy called out. He pointed.
Kit screamed. She thrashed and kicked as a hulk of a man plucked her from the water and tossed her over his shoulder.
“Kit!” Lorena shrieked. Her feet furrowed up chunks of moss as she slid and scrambled down the bank
“Mom!” Kit howled. Her cries grew weaker as the man ran with her into the tangle of ferns and juniper.
Lorena rushed into the woods. Sticky pine branches snatched at her hair and blackberry spines clawed her skin. Her heart throbbed. She pushed her legs one after the other. She forced them to go.
She threw herself forward. She stumbled. She lurched. She scrambled and ran even though her body threatened to collapse. Her heart hammered hard enough to break bone.
Leaves rustled. Branches snapped. Sounds twisted her in their maelstrom. Torrents of noise rushed and battered and sucked at her pulling her into their eddy. She ran left, right, back again. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong way. Like rapids, panic roared in her ears. No matter how fast or how far she ran, she couldn’t catch even a glimpse of Kit.
Lorena doubled over and gasped for breath.
Like a sign from heaven, a shard of sunlight cut through the thicket of trees. Lorena dove through the opening.
She blinked as the sunlight trickled down through the lacy leaves and splashed onto Kit lying on the blanket.
Lorena flew to her, fell to her knees at her side. She gathered her up – a bit, a piece, an arm, a leg, the remains of her. She held her tight. “I’ll make it better,” Lorena sobbed.
Lorena flew to the river’s edge.
Children laughed as a red ball flew up into the cerulean sky.
Lorena waded into the river. Her feet were as heavy and as unwieldy as stone. She dragged them. She lifted them, one then the other. She snatched up a child.
These fingers, they are her fingers. These toes are her toes. Lorena ran with the pieces back to Kit.
Wrong size, wrong part, wrong child. Lorena screamed in panic and fear as she wrapped vines around and around her little girl. Time was slipping away. Her daughter was slipping away.
Lorena wailed and howled as she flew down to the river’s edge. Frantically she searched. She would find her child – all the parts of her. She would make her better again.
Don’t go down to the river, child,
Don’t go there alone;
The sobbing woman, wet and wild,
Might claim you for her own. – La Llorona, Mexican folksong