Dancing in the Dark

If you had asked me just a few years ago about the horror genre, I’d have admitted it was my guilty pleasure to read, but I would never consider writing it. I would have doubted both my ability and my qualifications. Goodness! I wrote for children! Wouldn’t that be some sort of sacrilege? But the intervening years have caused a shift in my perspective, and recent events have caused me to look at my writing self in a very different, and much darker light.

The first shift came in writing Beautiful Monster:monster

I’d never written anything like it, and to be completely honest, I never thought this book would be published for so many reasons. But it was, and there it is, and I’m rather proud of what it represents for me. It marked a milestone in my writing, it represents a change in both my attitude toward writing and in my perception of myself as a writer. I’ve come to love the characters and the book in a way I didn’t think was possible.

Not long after that, I was encouraged to submit a short story to a horror anthology. I dug up an old attempt I’d written years before and polished it to the publishers specifications. I was actually astonished when my story “Rita” was accepted to the Axes of Evil: A Heavy Metal Anthology.

Axes

And coming very soon, my story “Groupie” will appear in Axes of Evil IIAxes II

And just released, my short story “The Lamb on the Tombstone” became part of the Utah chapter of Horror Writers Association anthology called Old Scratch and Owl Hoots.

Old Scratch

I haven’t left children’s writing, and in fact, I’ll have a new young adult novel out in July of this year that has been waiting a long time to see the light of day. The interesting thing is, you might notice that the horror writing may be rubbing off on my children’s writing just a little bit:

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For something that I never thought I could do, I think I’ve done a decent job of it. But I have zillions of stories that are waiting to be written – not all of them for kids, and not all of them horror. For me, it’s just fun to go dancing in the dark sometimes, to know that I can do it and be successful. Who knows? Maybe I’ll tackles Sci/Fi next?

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Lost in My Own World

One of the great pleasures of writing is the ability to get lost in your own world for a while. You have the opportunity ditch the “real world” for a while and play God as you build your own universe and manipulate the lives of the critters who occupy it. Sometimes I only get to spend a brief time immersed in my alternate reality, and sometimes I get lost in there for days. Yes – days. I get so wrapped up in my characters, in their conflicts and their challenges, that even when I’m back in my own reality, I carry them around with me, worrying about them, fretting for their issues, listening to their conversations.  My characters are very real to me, and their dilemmas – even though I created them – are also very real to me. I dream about them, I wonder about them; they are like friends and sometimes family to me. I become detached from where I am because where they are is so much more interesting. While I love the experience, it sometimes annoys my family just a little.

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Recently, I’ve been working on a sequel to Beautiful Monster, and I was so wrapped up in getting my main character through a difficult scene that I completely tuned out my environment. My oldest daughter had been talking to me about helping her out and watching my grandson when I left this universe for the one I’d created. She continued talking to me for an extended time, but realized that I was no longer part of her reality. At that point, she began reciting Mary Had a Little Lamb to me, and I didn’t actually clue in until she started singing it. Without even realizing it, I had agreed to babysit for the better part of two afternoons before my daughter realized I’d checked out. Naturally, she held me to my promise to watch her son.

Lamb 2 with bo peep

 

You’d think by now my family would be used to this, but I guess used to it or not, they still get annoyed by it. I’d like to tell them I can change, but the truth is, the only way I’m going to change is if I give up writing . . . forever . . . and that’s about as likely to happen as a tidal wave in the Sahara. I’ve given up writing once. By choice even. It wasn’t a good outcome. I’d much rather have a root canal without anesthesia than go through the pain and withdrawal caused by not writing. Just the thought of not writing makes me anxious and jittery, so you can imagine how bad it would be to actually stop!

I’m trying to stay a little more grounded though. It would be bad to drift off into my own Never Never Land while watching my 2-year-old grandson. That has disaster written all over it.

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I’m also trying to be present with my family. Even though I’m really not choosing my own reality over them, they don’t necessarily understand the distinction. I can appreciate their feeling that they somehow take second place to my make-believe friends and family, even though that clearly isn’t the case. But they’ve all compromised a great deal for me to follow my dream. The least I can do is give them my full attention. Well, to the best of my ability anyway.

So if you happen to come by for a visit, or we meet up somewhere at a conference, don’t be offended if I suddenly go glassy-eyed and appear to be deaf. It’s not you. It just means I’ve slipped into my own world again. I’ll be back soon. Or if you can find your way in, you’re welcome to join me! 

 

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Mimi has had a rough year.

My former writing partner and I have parted ways. Mostly amicably, but I’d be lying to say that on my side of the fence it was easy and without anger. Frankly, that’s all I’m saying about that. I disappeared for a while, but I couldn’t stay invisible for long. There’s far too much mischief for me to get into!

This year marked the one year anniversary of Beautiful Monster – a fine accomplishment of which I’m fairly proud. But it’s now part of the past and it no longer holds the meaning for me that it did in the beginning. I’m moving forward – but more about that in a moment.

In August of this year, my horror short story Rita was accepted for the Axes of Evil anthology that will be coming out in February of 2014! Chuppa Cabra House is the publisher, and they are FUN! to work with! Hoping to do a bit more with them at a later date.

chuppa

And even though it was written under my kinder, gentler moniker, I will take a little credit for Death’s Kiss being accepted for publication. My name won’t be on the cover, but I’ve been assured of a hefty acknowledgement by the author! This one comes out early in the new year, but no specific release date yet!

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Kind of an up-and-down year, but I’m looking forward now, and things look good from this vantage point!

First up is finishing another short story entitled Snow Queen. This is a bit of horror and a bit of naughtiness rolled into one rotten main character. It’s one of those “Be careful what you wish for” stories, and I’ve so much fun with it thus far. It may find a home in another anthology edited by my friend Alex S. Johnson. We’ll see. For now, I’m just enjoying the thrill of really giving this character what she deserves.

Now, that project I mentioned before. I’ve been working on a sequel to Beautiful Monster, but told from Brenna’s point of view. If you’ve read the book, that makes sense. If you haven’t – well! Why haven’t you? Brenna is a very different girl these days, and there are some interesting twisties and turnies in this story. Yes – Sterling will be there, but he isn’t the main character. And for those of you hoping for more – sorry. This will be it. We’re gonna stick a fork in this one.

Another horror novel is swimming around in my head and taking on a life of its own. I love studying phobias, and I’ve always wondered what would happen if a phobia ceased being irrational and became something real! I’m mapping out the story and the main character, and I’m trying to give this one a good ending – believable and desirable. Sometimes, what I want to do personally isn’t really what’s best for the story. Don’t let my sweet appearance fool you. I’m vicious to my characters.

So tomorrow I way farewell to the dregs of 2013 and I welcome the promise and excitement of 2014. It’s like meeting a new lover before you’ve ever touched! Just the promise of something new serves as the aphrodisiac! Welcome 2014 – I anticipate a delicious time with you!

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