My blog tour officially begins today. During the tour, Running Ink Press is dropping the price of my novella, Malakh, to 99¢. So I hope you buy it because I have one expensive hearing aid to pay for this year, and I’m relying on you. No pressure.
To kick off the blog tour, I wanted to talk to you all about writing. No, I’m not going to tell you how to do it, because everyone’s style and method are different, and who am I to say how you should write? I’m also not going to tell you why I do it beyond the reason every writer has for writing: to appease the voices inside my head and stay off anti-psychotic medications.
Instead, I’m going to tell you about the twisted, convoluted journey that led me here, speaking to you, and about the twisted, convoluted way my mind turns a simple thought into the plot for a novel.
I started writing regularly in 6th grade after receiving an A+ on a short story I wrote for class. I literally penned that sucker while my classmates were standing up front reading their stories out loud–because, as usual, I had forgotten to do my homework. I wish I still had that story–God knows what happens to things over the years. I lost a whole lot of stuff in moves–one to California (and back again), one to Kent, WA (and back again), and then to various places around Spokane. The main things I remember about the story: it was a horror story, it involved an abandoned house and a rotting corpse with half-eaten legs, and it was inspired by this house we used to pass on Highway 2 on our way from Fairchild AFB (where I existed at the time) into Spokane.
This house stood on the edge of the highway on a weedy, brambly, overgrown plot of land. Its windows were broken out, its siding hung from rusty nails, and its roof was half-caved in. It was the most fascinating house I’d ever seen, in all its derelict, pseudo-Victorian beauty.
Years later, when I was in the latter half of high school, that house wormed its way back into my thoughts and found its way onto paper once more, this time manifesting as a mysterious mansion in the deep woods where many an unwary soul vanishes. The story morphed over the two and a half decades–yes, you read that right–before it was finished. In my defense, I put it away for the better part of ten years while my kids were young. It was hard to get writing time in when the computer was in another room and the kids were busy dismantling the family abode. I was weary from work and raising children and it was easy to say I didn’t have the time. More honestly, I didn’t have the maturity of voice or confidence in my own talent, which is why it was amazingly easy to lay it aside for so long.
But the stories wouldn’t stop. In lines of song, in phrase of book, in golden moments caught on celluloid, ideas, plots and characters battered at the gates of the stronghold behind which I’d ruthlessly shoved them. In 2006, four short weeks after I re-entered college while working full-time and raising teenagers, I picked up the pen where I’d left off. I joined this nifty little site called WritersCafe, where I met some fabulously supportive people, one of them my business partner/editor/crit partner/beta reader/treasured friend Jinxie G. In five months, I’d revised all chapters I’d written. Four months after that, I keyed the words I thought I’d never see on any manuscript of mine: The End.
And then I cried.
And then I had a celebratory beer.
And then I put the book away for a year before editing. When next it saw the light of day, I saw many of the glaring errors of a first time novelist, the main one being this hummer weighed in at a porky 176,000 words. Yowza! My flawless gem had…well, flaws!
So I edited. I trimmed. I ruthlessly cut scenes that I loved (killed my darlings) because they were unnecessary or plodding.
Another year passed. I penned my second and third novels in just three and four months, respectively. I trotted out the Dreaded First Novel, and revised the crap out of it. I whacked passages, I moved passages, I wrote new passages. I took a glossed-over twelve-hour captivity and not only turned it into some of the most chilling writing I’ve ever
committed penned, but turned my antagonist into one of the most charming, sexy, irresistible, utterly soulless men on the planet. Now we’re talking! This is still one chubby bunny–134,000 words–but it’s sleeker and sexier and can you tell I love this book? Its sequel is 85% complete, and I’m planning the third in the series, which is the story of two of my most favorite characters I’ve ever created.
All involve the house. The house. It has become a living entity in these stories, a vehicle of evil beings, a shelter for evil men. A sanctuary for dark, dangerous thoughts and deeds.
All this from a drive past an old abandoned farmhouse.
To ask writers where they get their ideas is a little like asking us to explain DNA. Most of us know only a scant bit about it. The ideas literally flow from a well deep inside us, and no one knows how that well is tapped, how the bucket is drawn to the surface, what’s going to be in that bucket when it arrives. We make up stuff to tell interested parties because who will believe that we really can’t pinpoint what inspires our writing?
All I can tell you is the path from my inner well is pretty twisted, and it can take a simple phrase–such as Genesis 6:2–to start the machinery that produces a story about an angelic serial killer.
I hope you find the water of my well suitably
sweet and refreshing hypnotic and chilling.
Next stops on the blog tour:
April 17: Bedazzled Butterfly, the gorgeous blog of Allison Claire, where I’ll talk about angels, demons, and exactly how Malakh came into being.
April 18: Discussion with Christel about bad boys vs. good guys at Random Musings.
April 19: Interview with Jinxie G at Jinxie’s World.
April 20: No tour blog, as everyone I know seems to be involved with A Round of Words in 80 Days and are posting their status updates for Wednesday check-in. 🙂