FlashFlood

writing about writing

Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

I Got Hit 2000 times…

Posted by Flood on June 27, 2006

…and I loved it.

FlashFlood’s 2000th visitor, Mitch, doesn’t actually win anything but my recognition in this post.

Congratulations, Mitch!

I’ve decided I’m not going to worry about numbers anymore until visitor 10,000 approaches. Ok, maybe 5000.

FF is getting some new visitors as a result of the Midnight Road contest and I would like to take a minute to explain the purpose of the Monday interviews while they pop in.

I’ve thought about how I will know that I made it, and decided my first interview would be a major milestone. I’ve fantasized about it, had the entire conversation in my head and written portions of it out. It’s a fun little visual for me to keep motivated when I’m feeling low.

I figured that if I was thinking this way, other people might be thinking the same thing, so I posted about interviewing writers who blog, who are on their way to their goals. I roped in some readers to be subjects and here we are. While it’s a fun exercise that appeals to the inner kid, each of us has something to offer the rest of the group and there’s always something to take with you and use in your writing career.

Because writers at any stage of publication are interesting, we’ll sit down newly published, the very near published, and those taking baby-steps. I hope you’ll join us.

There are links in the side bar to the interviews you might have missed. If you would like to participate as a subject, feel free to email me. Tomorrow is Monday and that means a new interview. Forrest Landry from For The Trees shares his thoughts on POD and his writing journey. Don’t miss it. While some of us have issues with print-on-demand, I think you will still find Forrest’s reasons of some interest. When it comes to writing we all have to ask ourselves, Why am I doing this? Forrest will be fielding questions and comments tomorrow as well.

Hope to see you then.

Posted in Blogging, Interviews, Writing | 1 Comment »

Friday Round-Up

Posted by Flood on June 27, 2006

Busy with life, busy perusing entries in the Midnight Road Contest, busy with interviews. Thanks again to Scott, who gave us more than a good interview, but a motto with which to achieve my writing goals.

On Monday, we visit with Forrest Landry of For the Trees. He has some interesting points to make about Print-On-Demand publishing and why he uses it. I am hoping for some lively discussion based on his thoughts. I’ve been having a lot of fun interviewing “gonna-be’s,” as Bernita has referred to them. I want a turn too, so I am collecting your questions for me here. If I get enough interest, I’ll be able to have a freebie entry someday when I can’t think of anything to write.

If you have been a fan of the wildly popular Wandering Scribe, (whose book is due out in early 2007,) you may be interested in this article, about other homeless bloggers. (Scroll down)

This series of photos on Flickr, depicting a library giving up and lying down cracked me up.

Wetpaint helps you create “free click-and-type websites you can share with like-minded people.”

That’s why we created Wetpaint. Yes, blogs make online publishing easy — but blogs are monologues. And forums are great for question and answers, but they’re too hard to search. And wikis allow the reader to become the writer, editor and fact-checker, but they’re just too darn hard to use for the average person. Wetpaint is different. With Wetpaint, anyone with a passion can create an entirely new website and invite others to help them build it. And it’s easy — adding to a Wetpaint site is as simple as click and type. No, Wetpaint won’t cure cancer. But it will most certainly make it easier for anyone to share ideas, trade stories, and find people who are passionate about the same things you are. So try it, have fun, and let us know what you think.

If you have a passion for a certain subject, this might be a great tool for you.

Fringes continues her reviews of the latest SmokeLong Quarterly. If you are considering starting your own series of related posts, Lorelle has some technical tips for you.

If you haven’t yet, check out the new lit ezine Picolata Review. Jamie Ford and Jeff Neale, among others, have fantastic stories in the inaugural issue.

Horror writers, don’t forget about the 3rd Tastes of Darkness Carnival. Submissions due June 28. 1 and 2 are available to read now. Thanks to Melly for the reminder.

That’s it! Have a great weekend.

Posted in Blogging, Contests, Flash Fiction, Interviews, Writing | Leave a Comment »

Bernita Harris – The Interview

Posted by Flood on June 12, 2006

Bernita Harris is the author of An Innocent A-Blog. She discusses with us her previously published accomplishments, her current project and her Hang-Ups.

Thanks for agreeing to meet with us. You look great.

This is so nice of you, Flood.

This isn't your first interview. How were you previously a subject?

I was interviewed over a lost and no-longer-lamented non-fiction title, for example and for the odd thingy now and then. Nothing much to expand on – and this covers many years, you understand. I think the last one was a telephone interview by a freelancer who saw a letter to the ed. of mine on the Unknown Soldier (my son was part of the Honour Guard which brought him home). It must have gone OK because he sold his interview.

Sadly, I will not be getting paid for your time.

Nevertheless, these interviews are an excellent idea. You are both good and clever to feature other writers this way.

You are too kind. I love learning more about people so I don't feel so alone.

It is lonely at times, isn't it? Blogging helps assuage that a little.

What is your writing genre?

Romantic adventure in this latest incarnation. Cross-genre. Not a formula story. I think.

Did you write something else before?

Long, long ago and far, far away, I wrote a non-fiction how-to book as I mentioned. I secured a publisher. When we reached galley stage, the publisher developed financial problems and eventually released the book. The book was promptly snapped up by another publisher, who almost as promptly went bankrupt. Life intervened and other books came out on the same topic. So, like Prospero, I drowned my book. Before and after that at sporadic intervals I've sold the odd magazine article, but not many and not recently.

Having been published in non-fiction, is that a help or a hindrance to what you are trying to achieve now?

It may be both. One learns to be flexible to the demands of an editor. One learns to write succinctly to fit word limits for a requested article. On the other hand, the urge to support a point can lead to a fiction writer, freed of those restraints, to wander and include wallops of info dump.

What is your current project?

A projected series of romantic adventures called Tempest in Time – the first book, temporarily titled A Trio of Dragons, features a forensic occultologist, Dr. Damie Tempest, as the main character. The series involves time travel, terrorists and temptation (insert hunky male member of the anti-terror squad) – because every age has its dragons.

Sounds exciting! Do you find one aspect more difficult to write? I have a hard time with action scenes.

Not really. Time consuming since one has to visualize every movement and then decide if they contribute to the scene or not. I worry about making the linking scenes interesting. Or fussing if the rare sex scenes are cliche.

Querying your fiction yet?

Slowly querying. Snail pace. Contrary to the very good advice to query in batches of half a dozen or so, I've queried one at a time, while continuing to revise and polish. I have a full out on request at the moment.

Has that been nerve wracking?

Do you mean do I sit for long periods in the corner, rocking back and forth and moaning? Metaphorically, yes. One part of my tiny mind does that, while the other part is exasperated with such stupid behaviour.

Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions? Do you ever write by hand?

No rituals or superstitions. I began writing by hand but as I become more familiar with the computer, I have found I can compose direct – much to my surprise. Still scribble notes and scenes though. I must have a general outline of the plot in mind before I begin. I tend to focus exclusively, perhaps obsessively on a project until it is done in draft.

Why did you start blogging?

Blogging seemed a necessary step to establish myself as a serious writer. It allows me to share opinions and ideas, ask questions, and, most importantly, learn from other writers and from those agents and editors kind enough to share their experience and knowledge. I wrote the book first though.

Why 'An Innocent A-Blog'?

Because, though a take-off on Twain, it was the bare truth. And like Miranda, I began totally ignorant of this "brave new world".

What's your blogging style? Do you have a schedule for blogging or an overall theme to your blog?

My style is familiar essay – sometimes very familiar. One blogger, Bonnie Calhoun calls my blog "a civil living room." I blog most every day as a morning ritual. Anything to do with writing – from punctuation to sexual positions – seems to have developed as the main theme.

Does blogging daily and coming up with clever entries ever create a sense of pressure for you? It's obvious you give each a great deal of thought.

It hasn't until lately. I may alter my blogging to every other day.

Interfering with your writing time?

Not so much the time as the concentration.

What is your favourite entry on your blog?

Better to ask which one you enjoyed most. Probably the short fiction pieces.

I love the discussions that go on in your comments. I go back a few times a day for that.

I do that to with my favorite blogs, too. Comments make a blog live, otherwise one is yelling down a well.

What advice do you have for new bloggers? New writers?

Read blogs and more blogs. Especially industry blogs. Finish the book first.

Whose blog do you use most as a writing resource?

Easy question. Miss Snark.

Do you have a lot of support for your writing?

My family and fellow bloggers have been most encouraging – and very kind.

Tell us about the coat hanger cartoons. They are very cute, and don't think I didn't notice your fine penmanship.

Thank you. The study of Anglo-Saxon affected my style forever. My "Hang-Ups" – some of which are just raw sketches/scrawls – are products of my aborted career as a cartoonist. I re-discovered them rooting through some old files and thought they might add a bit of fun to the blog. My favourite is an early one of the little dress dreaming of an evening gown.

You seem to have a real love of the english language, and a strong vocabulary.

Words are exciting, fascinating. I have a Masters in English Literature with minor things like anthropology, history, classics and languages. The last time I counted we had over 5,000 books littering our house and straining the floor joists. I'm a victim of book lust.

You are a fellow Canadian. How will that affect your writing and quest for publishing?

I am quite happy to go with an American agent. Few Canadian agents deal in genre fiction and there are few Canadian agents. I use American spelling in my ms.

Your blog is lightly peppered with your poetry.

At one time I had the usual immature ambitions to be a poet. Even won some awards for poetry in undergrad and had a few published.The few I post are those I consider fit to be seen.

Are you hard on yourself when it comes to your work?

Oh yes. One of the most detrimental qualities in a writer is conceit and satisfaction about one's own work. There is ALWAYS room for improvement.

You often use your garden as a metaphor for writing.

It seems fitting. As one must dream a garden into being, imagining color, flowering season, height, spread and habit, so must one dream into being the reality of fiction. A WIP needs occasional pruning, transplanting and – most of all- weeding.

You mentioned habit. I find myself stuck sometimes with the same ideas or using a word too often or just overusing the same literary device.

We all have our modus operandi and have to watch for those repetitions. The trick is to decide which are part of "voice" and which are simply careless, obvious and irritating.

You recently shared the opening lines of your current project.

Do you mean "La Belle Dame?" It began as a novella but may become the beginning chapters of the third in the Tempest in Time series. Fascinated by a legendary artifact "The Luck of Eden Hall" (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum). I wanted my heroine, Damie Tempest, to have a hand in its acquisition.

Is "La Belle Dame" any relation to the Keats poem?

Indirectly, yes. Both "Belle Dames" have qualities in common.

To what do you credit your blog's high readership?

I don't place any great value on statistics – they are so often used out of context or for competitive purposes. My blog has generated over 30,000 hits to date, and I have no idea if that is large or small. I'm just grateful so many take the time to read and comment. They are quite splendid people and I have learned so much from their comments and advice.

What are your goals from this point forward?

The normal ones: acquire a publisher. Learn more. Write more.

Bernita, thank you for opening up with us today.

Thank you, Flood. Very much.

*

Next Week: Scott, of Hard To Want

Weekly, FlashFlood interviews writers who blog. Any writer at any stage of publication is interesting. If you would like to know more about your favourite blogger or want to be interviewed yourself, email me.

Posted in Blogging, Interviews, Writing | Leave a Comment »

Weekend Update-Great News!

Posted by Flood on June 10, 2006

I am happy to share that Lorelle on WordPress linked (click it! click it!) to Jaye's interview and included a portion of it in today's entry.

I was so excited, I completely spazzed out and commented twice. (Same comment, one with an error.) That's what I get for trying to play it cool.

Whew.

Remember to check in on Monday for Bernita Harris' interview.

FlashFlood is booked for interviews for the next 4 weeks, but I'm still taking volunteers. Any blogging writer at any stage of publication is interesting, so don't be shy. Email me: flood.vax@gmail.com.

Posted in Blogging, Interviews, Personal Thoughts, Writing | Leave a Comment »

Friday Round-Up

Posted by Flood on June 9, 2006

Not a lot to review this week. Jaye's interview was an insightful success. Thanks Jaye! Bernita Harris is next in the hot seat, on Monday. There has been some back room talk about my own interview, which I was loathe to do, but I've been having so much fun with other people, I thought I would provide opportunity for anyone who wanted to interrogate me. I'll collect questions here, over the next few weeks. Help yourself.

Yesterday's game was a hit as far as humour goes. Schprock runs with the monkey people (last link not safe for work), Bernita needs a lawyer and Jason offered to represent her. I am a little worried about Scott's boys though.

Fringes moved to a new home, with her own domain here.

HACK is a funny addition to anonymous advisors, but Blogger was being such a pain this week for comments. Got a writing dilemma? Be sure to email HACK.

Melly discusses blog goals and how to achieve them.

Jeff makes with the funny in Hillary Goes Hunting.

After reading about Dahni the Wonder Cat, Lorelle challenges us to blog about someone or something that changed your life.

Jamie Ford is on his way to Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp, and he's left us with a cliffhanger in his latest post. Zing good mojo his way.

Finally, MG Tarquini has a really great little story on Flashing In The Gutters (where yours truly appeared this week)

Yikes! One more link: The SurLaLune Fairy Tales Site A portal to the realm of fairy tale and folklore studies featuring 44 annotated fairy tales, including their histories, similar tales across cultures, and over 1,300 illustrations. Discover hundreds of fairy tales from around the world here.

The no comment thing is driving me insane. How can I make new friends and influence people without comments? How can I maintain the love I got going with the friends I have already?

Posted in Blogging | Leave a Comment »

Jaye Wells – The Interview

Posted by Flood on June 5, 2006

This week we sit down with Jaye Wells, of jayewells.com. An author, wife, mother and art scholar, Jaye tells us about how her blog began, her completed manuscript, and how she killed Fabio.

Jaye, thanks so much for taking some time for this interview. You look terrific. Can you tell us when and why you began writing with publishing in mind?

Thanks for letting me talk about myself. And by the way, those shoes are fabulous.
How did I get started? Well, I was a magazine editor before my son was born and a freelance writer after that. So I’ve been published in magazines and on web sites. But articles and copy writing lacked excitement for me. I had talked for years about writing a book, but had all the tired excuses for not trying. Then as my thirtieth birthday approached, I decided I needed to take a chance. Fate stepped in one day as I was scanning a list of continuing education classes at a local college. The class was about how to write a romance novel. Since I read a lot of romance it seemed like a good place to start. I started my first book in that class. I also joined RWA and the local RWA chapter in Dallas, called DARA. That was a year and a half ago. I now have one completed manuscript and am halfway through my second.

Wow. How long did the completed manuscript take you?

When I started that book I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I wrote on it for about six months. Then finally I hit the dreaded wall. I won't call it writer's block cause it was really just that I didn't understand plot structure. I sent an email out to my local RWA chapter asking if anyone was looking for a critique partner. To my delight a lady emailed saying that her critique group had an open spot after one member had to leave for family reasons. I met the three remaining members and we hit it off instantly. It was amazing to me because they're all published and have been working together for over ten years. Anyway, they taught me about story boarding. I threw out all I had (about 50,000 words) and started over. It took me three months to finish the book after that.

What's the best thing about writing, for you?

The days when it’s fun and things are flowing. It’s like an addiction. You spend the not so good days trying to reach that high again. One of the worst things about writing is process of getting published. It’s demoralizing in many respects. Sometimes I wish I was the type of person who could be content just writing without wanting to be published. But I’m not. I love having an audience, which is one reason why blogging is so great.

It's really a fun way of communicating with people you would not have met otherwise.

Totally. I've met some great people. I find it interesting how many of the bloggers I interact with are from genres other than my own. It's a great way to get different perspectives.

I am not sure what paranormal romance entails. That's your genre, right?

Paranormal romance is a love story that involves characters such as werewolves, vampires, ghosts, etc. I write about vamps.
My books are what is sometimes called “light paranormal.” I can’t stand these guys in capes lumbering around bemoaning their damnation. Dude, you’re immortal. You’ve got preternatural lovemaking skills. Have fun with it! But I see myself branching off into other genres—maybe women’s fiction? Who knows?

Are preternatural lovemaking skills based on anyone you know?

Are you trying to get me in trouble?

Haha. The protaganist in your novel is a museum curator. Is that a reflection of your art history education?

Yes. I got the idea for that book when I was working at a museum. One of our galleries had a portrait of a fine looking man in uniform from the 18th century. And I thought, what if a woman had a crush on a guy in a painting and then out of the blue he showed up?

Interesting twist. So, how did you come to start blogging?

This is kind of a funny story. My best friend and I were talking one night. We decided we needed to write an advice column. I’m a suburban housewife and she’s a single lesbian in New York. We figured between the two of us we’d solve any problem out there. I had heard about this thing called a “blog,” and said it might work as our medium for all this great advice. So I went online and checked out blogging sites. As a test, I signed up for a Blogger account. It was so easy I decided to start one for myself. Somehow in my excitement I forgot all about the advice column. Although it might be a fun feature in the future.

Sounds like a great ad for Blogger: Even *I* could figure it out!

Ha. That's true. Although I am proud that in the year or so I've been blogging I have learned some of the more advanced tricks, like setting up RSS feeds, changing my template and such. I am addicted to checking my stat counter, too.

What's the theme of your blog?

If I have a style or theme, I wish someone would tell me, cause I have no clue. I try to blog every week day. I hate it when people go more than a couple of days without an entry, even if it’s a link or something. Gotta keep the readers coming back.

Without readers, we're nothing. What's your favourite entry on your blog?

I enjoyed the series I did on personality types. My critique group uses them when we’re developing stories, and it’s a subject I find fascinating.

I just liked personality-profiling for my own ego stroking, rather than anything to do with character work.

Please, it's that way for me too. Total mental masturbation. But it does work with characters too.

What do you enjoy most about blogging?

First, I get to talk about anything I want. Second, I love that some people make a point of checking out what I have to say every day. How awesome is that? Third, I get to count doing a blog entry as writing on days when I make no progress on my book. Fourth, I love the community. For the most part, everyone is supportive and there’s a real exchange of ideas. It’s exciting.

I agree. It's also nice to not feel so alone in the craft.

That is one reason why I encourage new writers to join writing groups. RWA gets a lot of flack, but you can't beat it for resources and networking, even if you don't write romance. It's nice to be around people who get what you're going through.

What other advice do you have for new writers? New bloggers?

The best advice I have for new writers is not to believe every bit of advice you read about writing. It’s so easy to get bogged down in advice from people, books, etc. Then you think of a million stupid things to distract you, i.e. what font should I use or when I finish my book how do I find an agent. Just shut up, put your butt in a chair and write. Worry about all that other crap once you’ve finished something.
New bloggers should avoid discussing the minutiae of their day. The best bloggers who talk about their lives make the tales entertaining. Don’t tell us what you had for dinner unless it’s a good story. For example, Reality TV isn’t real. There are producers editing the tapes to make mundane events seems more dramatic. Don’t lie, but don’t bore us either. I also think trying new things is fun too. Do a contest. Ask questions of your readers. Make it interactive and people will want to hang around. Also, I’ve also found a large part of my new traffic comes from people who click on my profile when I’ve commented on other blogs. So if you want readers you have to be a reader and commenter.

It's a quid pro quo kind of deal for a lot of people.

Like you said, without readers we're nothing. If you want people to read your blog you have to share the love.

Whose blog do you use most as a writing resource? What website?

Miss Snark, Evil Editor, J.A. Konrath, Paperback Writer, and Buzz, Balls and Hype are all excellent sources for info about publishing and writing. I probably have about fifty writing-related blogs I check out though.

What blogger would you like know more about?

Well, you of course. The first time I saw you on Jason’s blog and after when you commented on mine, I thought you were a guy. I’d love to hear more about the name “Flood” too.

It's my second name, but the one I generally answer to. Weird, huh?

I love it! As someone with an unusal name, myself, I appreciate it. Oh, I forgot to say, I’d love to know who Miss Snark and Evil Editor are.

Wouldn't that ruin the game?

I suppose, but I am intensely curious by nature. I love trying to solve mysteries.

Tell us about your writing process.

I do a lot of writing at Starbucks while my son is in school. I also write at night. I am not one of those people who has to do a certain number of pages a week. I write pretty fast when I can focus. It’s making myself focus that’s the challenge. I don’t have any rituals or superstitions related to writing. My only habit is sitting on my patio and smoking while I write. I enjoy writing by hand although I don’t do it as much as I should. I do have to edit on hardcopy though. My hubby bought me a beautiful pen from Levenger for Christmas. It writes beautifully. It was my first pretentious author accessory. I also couldn’t live without my laptop. I belong to a critique group. We meet plotting days when we’re all starting on new books. When we plot we do a storyboard for the next book we’ll be working on. The board is divided into twenty squares. Each square is a chapter. We make notes for each scene in a chapter on Post-Its. The board is not set in stone, but definitely helps us get an idea of structure. However, for shorter pieces I rarely plot. Sometimes it’s fun to shake things up and write by the seat of my dungarees.

How does your family feel about this path you are on?

I wouldn't be where I am in my writing without my husband. He's the one who doesn't let me make excuses or hide behind fear. I’ve already written the dedication to him for the first book I get published. He rocks. The rest of my family is supportive, but they don't really understand why they can't just walk into a bookstore and buy my books. I try to explain that it's a long process, but you kind of see the suspicion in their eyes–like they think I'm lying and I really must suck. What will really be fun is when I sell and they all assume I'm rich.

You've queried. You've been rejected and accepted. How have you kept an even keel with that?

Well first of all, I have yet to be accepted. Unless you’ve heard something I haven’t. If that’s the case you’d better call me ASAP. No?

Sigh.

Oh you were talking about the e-zine? Yes, I was published at The Square Table. See, now that I've moved on to fiction, I tend to discredit my previous publishing credits. It's like starting all over again because editors don't care if I had a couple dozen articles published in a lifestyle magazine or an essay published about getting a tattoo. They want to know I can write fiction and keep the reader engrossed for 400 pages. And it's a very different animal from a 2000-word article on the newest bathroom trends.

As for rejection, it's part of the deal. It sucks. Like everyone, I have days when I swear I will never send out another query again. And really bad days when I swear I will never write another word. But then hubby laughs at me and tells me to get back to work. Or my critique group reminds me that the road to publication is long and I need to just do what I love and not pressure myself about the publication part. I hate it when people are sensible. But you know what really keep me going? My son. I never want him to let a little discouragement keep him from pursuing his dreams. What kind of role model would I be if I gave up because some faceless agent (or fifty) didn’t fall in love with my story?

I’m impatient. And I have control issues. Not a good combo for someone in a business this slow with so much out of the writer’s control. I try to focus on getting the words on paper and enjoying the ride. But I won’t lie. It’s frustrating as hell. That’s why it’s nice to have friends who are writers. People who have been there. They remind you that you aren’t special. Getting rejected is part of the dues paying.

And you'll just keep going for as long as it takes?

I know I will be published in book-length fiction. I feel it in my bones. So, yes, I'll keep at it. Although, I have to remind myself that getting published isn't the finish line.

Romance Is Murder is a smart and funny story.

Romance is Murder is the result of a post I did a few months ago. I had seen a write-up about Thriller Fest. They had all these cool author events, like mock autopsies and trials. I complained that romance conventions didn’t have cool things like that. One of my readers, Jamie Ford (who has a fantastic blog—check him out) said it would be funny if someone wrote a suspense set at an RWA conference. He said, “Lock the doors, Fabio’s been murdered.” I thought the idea was funny. So I sat down and started writing. It started as a very short story, but took on a life of its own. I decided to do it as a serial on my blog. It’s gotten some good reaction and I’ve had a lot of fun with it. It’s one of those things I haven’t plotted out. I plan to do more installments in the future. I don’t plan on making it into a book. I mean, can you imagine Fabio’s rabid fans busting down my doors? Not to mention his lawyers. The story has made me interested in writing humorous suspense though. We’ll see.

It cracked me up but it also had a kind of hardboiled feel. Pulp-y.

Honestly, I don't read a lot of mystery. I inhaled the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich though. I loved her voice in those books. I enjoy suspense or mystery when there's some humor to soften the edges a bit. But I wasn't trying to sound like anyone or anything with that story.

What do you think has changed about your blogging style since you began?

As I said earlier, I started my blog on a whim. At first, I didn’t make it public. I just wrote stuff I found funny for my friends. I basically harassed everyone to comment and it became kind of a joke. I’d write outrageous stuff to see if I could get a reaction.As I got more into the blogosphere I realized the potential for getting my name out there. Plus I wanted more comments. What can I say? I like the attention. So I made it public and started talking more about writing. I stopped talking so much about my family and doing things just to amuse myself. Now I try to remember that I have an audience that isn’t required to read me everyday.

You mentioned Jamie Ford earlier, he's very funny. You also lean heavily on humour in your blog and writing.

Is this where I am supposed to be self-effacing and say I don’t think I’m funny? I don’t know that I could write without some humor involved. I’ve written some darker stuff, but I think my voice just naturally lends itself to humor. I love making people laugh. Plus, I think having a good sense of the ridiculous helps keep me sane. Sometimes it’s a matter of having to laugh at life, otherwise I’d cry.

Jaye, it was great of you to share some of yourself with us.

Thanks for having me. It was fun exposing myself in public.

*

Next Week: Bernita Harris

FlashFlood interviews writers weekly, who blog. Any writer at any stage of of publication is interesting. If you would like to know more about your favourite blogger or want to be interviewed yourself, email me.

Posted in Blogging, Interviews, Writing | Leave a Comment »

Writely Game Intentions

Posted by Flood on June 2, 2006

Forgive the long post, but the short week is making play me catch-up and I wasn't even invited to the holiday.

I am making some great headway into my current project. This is partly in thanks to having the interview ready to go on Monday and giving me little to think about when it comes to blogging. I learned a lot from Jason, and a little something about the interview process. Jason and I worked on this via email, but I have since decided to use Writely, from here on out. A web based word processor, users can collaborate on a document together. Revisions can be compared to the original and it saves time. Interviewees can work on their answers at their leisure, while I format, so they get a glimpse of how it's going to look. Jaye was the first to use Writely for this project with me, and I think it will make a difference in presentation. Look for her interview next week. If you would like to get your own Writely account, (currently by invitation only) leave a comment or email me. It's a great tool for having an online friend edit your novel while you watch.

My original intent was to post the interviews on the main page for one day and provide the permalink. Because of the holiday, all you yanks were off BBQing, so I left the interview up this time for two days and was pleased by the response. On behalf of Jason and I, thanks to everyone who took the time to read it.

I had a lot of fun working on the video I posted this week. The idea was to illustrate how I avoid the work when it becomes difficult for me. My mind races at the other, 'more important' things that need doing. If I have to describe an outdoor setting, you're darned tooting that the toilets will be cleaned first. And the garage, and the stove, and the chimney… Ever feel like that?

The video itself was a distraction, to be sure. During filming, Mister says to me, "You know, I could take pictures of you actually washing those pots!"

"Not now," I said, waving him away. "I'm working."

This week's game continues. You guys are funny. I should really read Konrath before I post anything, though.

In blogger-pal news, Scott deserves a pat on the back for finishing his Carnival story in time for a contest. When you take the time to read it, look at his previous entries that describe his anguish and excitement in creating it. I am really happy for you, Scott!

Jaye, as I mentioned, has a special day here on Monday, with her interview, but she also starts a surprise feature on her blog Wednesday, so stay tuned.

Melly has a great blog, with lots of valuable information. I am glad she stopped by this week. Check it out.

Lorelle on WordPress is my resource for all things blogging. She puts an amazing amount of work into compiling information for users, not only for WordPress, but other blogging sites. I cannot plug her enough. She recently discussed what it takes to blog , but closer to my heart, some reasons why all of you should have Firefox. If this blog is not uniform in font, it's because you do not use Firefox. Why do you hate me?

Have a wonderful weekend.

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Jason Evans – The Interview

Posted by Flood on May 29, 2006

Jason Evans is the mastermind behind the successful concept blog, The Clarity of Night. He took some time to discuss his writing and blogging with us, and explains his family's love of cemeteries.

Jason, thanks for taking the time. How did you come to start writing?

I guess I was born with the bug for writing and storytelling (Is that a genetic defect? Hold on while I query the Human Genome Project). My first memory of writing a real story was in the car traveling from my grandparents' house in Pennsylvania to my home in Buffalo, NY. I was about eight years old, and I "borrowed" some funky, long writing paper from my grandmother's desk (It was on a spool. You rolled off what you wanted then tore it with a rather dull strip of teeth). With a triangular marker, which I also borrowed (geez, I hope I got permission for all of this borrowing), I wrote a three foot long story about a mine disaster or some other gloomy subject. A few years later, I wrote short stories and poetry. Then, between 16 and 18, I tackled a novel. I had some success with the short stories and poetry, but the novel was a learning process.

I still wrote in college, but slowed down. In law school, I stopped. Cases and statutes are simply FAR too interesting to waste time on mere literature. Not. Honestly, I was just too burned out. I picked it up again after life settled down and I realized how much I missed creating and sharing stories.

You seem to write more than one genre.

My first loves were suspense, ghost stories, and horror. I've gotten my best reader reactions from my mainstream pieces, and that is my focus today. My current work in progress, The Backwards Path, is a novel about a 35-year-old man's identity crisis. It's not gloom and doom, however. It's quirky, funny, and plays with a touch of madness.

Who are your favourite authors or writers that inspire you?

Wow, that's a hard one for me. I enjoy so many different authors. But when I'm writing, I really strive to find my own, unique voice. Books which have inspired me are: The Shining by Stephen King, Dune by Frank Herbert, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, and more recently, the Life of Pi by Yann Martel and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

With so many writers starting blogs, what made you start The Clarity of Night?

Well, there are many writers' blogs about the craft of writing and the business of writing. I've learned so much from them (Kelly Para, Tanya Holmes, and Anne Frasier just to name a few). I wanted to do something different, though. The Clarity of Night is a window into where my mind goes in quieter moments. Atmosphere and mood are vital parts of my writing. The Clarity of Night is a reflection of that drive to build the kind of world I'd like to live in. It's a darker, more reflective place. And something extraordinary always hovers beneath the surface–like a dream or a promise, never concrete enough to touch. I try to weave a secret place for my visitors with color, pictures, poetry, reflections, and fiction.

The fiction pieces have also become an important element of my blog for me, especially serial stories posted over a couple of weeks. Doing those stories is how I experiment and learn.

What's the benefit to you in writing in such a public arena?

Toiling for years on a novel is gloomy business. The inevitable rejections are form letters, giving you no real guidance on how to improve. Sure, friends who critique are vital, but you still receive a very narrow view of your writing. By taking risks, sharing, getting critiques, and seeing what's praised and not praised, I see tremendous improvement in my skills. I spun my wheels in the dark. By putting stories in the bright light of day, I've received wonderful guidance, including the insights of published authors.

You've recently introduced another short story in installments.

My current serial story is Flashlight Tag. I wanted to do a traditional horror piece, but I always struggle with finding a premise which feels fresh to me. The idea came after I went downstairs one night because I forgot to close the back door. On my way back up, I had a flashlight, since my girls' rooms were open and I couldn't turn on the hall light. Sometimes, I let my imagination run wild in the dark, and that night I wondered what it would be like to see something monstrous and disturbing in the flashlight beam, something creeping toward you. But get this. When you pull the light away in panic, you realize that the thing only exists in the light. When it's dark, you are safe. Yet, darkness brings its own flavor of fear. From that premise, I began the story. As usual with serial stories, I didn't bother to plot out the whole thing or even decide how it ends. I approach each section individually and let the story unfold under its own weight. Comments along the way help me shape it. If one element seems to be working well, I'll be sure to strengthen that angle in the story.

My favourite of your past stories is Caroline. What's yours?

I have to admit it's my favorite also. I was reaching for a bit of magic there, and I think I got at least a finger on it. The inspiration came at a performance of The Nutcracker done by a local dance school. Ahead of me in the audience, I saw a striking young girl (about 7) with long black hair. I got to thinking about how some children can be "old souls." They have an uncanny ability to hold the attention of adults and speak and think on their level (I've been accused of similar traits in my youth). I wanted to explore a moment of that sort of interaction–the moment when a young girl captures the attention of a man and the two nearly switch roles. She becomes the adult, and he becomes the child. Of course, as usual with me, there's a twist at the end, but I won't give it away!
As for poetry, I really like "She Dreamed of a House," "The Piper's Gift," and "In the Shadow of Burnaby Light."

You have referred to your piece of the internet as a 'concept blog'. You also have a schedule for entries. Tell us about that.

I do give a fair amount of thought about what people want. I try to deliver: (1) strong personality and personal insights, (2) fresh content, but not updated so often people fall behind, (3) pictures (they really are worth a thousands words), (4) brevity, and (5) interaction–all comments should be personally answered. For me, I post 3 times a week to give time for folks to read each post, comment, and receive a reply. The types of posts are rotated so that if a person is not quite feeling one variety, the next will be something different.

You seem to spend a lot of time in cemeteries.

Hmmmm. Gravestones. Yep, I'm known for my posts on gravestones. A dubious honor, but one I'm proud of. They fall into a couple categories: insights, symbolism, and remembrance posts (where I share a grave I've found interesting and invite folks to give him or her a little more life by remembering them). You'd think I'd want to stay away from cemeteries, but I guess I'm just getting a feel for the neighborhood, since I'm destined to spend a bit of time there. They held a particular fascination for me as a teenager. Those bright, austere stones and statues reflect the best in people and the best in life, but tinged with melancholy and loss. I'm a romantic, I suppose, and cemeteries draw romantics like moths to an offering candle. I used to drive to a particularly massive and old cemetery in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and walk there on quiet afternoons. I took my future wife there. Of course, she has her own cemeteries in her closet.
By the way, the fascination appears to be genetic. After I ran out of old cemetery photos, I had to start generating more. Now, my daughters are known to shout, "Yay! We're going to a cemetery!" We'll see how they turn out (the kids, not the photos).

I am picturing a couple of little Wednesday Addamses running around your house. Haha. You recently hosted a very successful contest for other writers?

Yes, the "Two Lights" Short Fiction Contest was a wonderful, positive experience. Unpublished writers love to be inspired, to experiment, and to learn. People in general love to win prizes. Why not join the two? See my logic here? Folks do impromptu and spur-of-the-moment contests on blogs, but I wanted to offer a more organized contest. I posted an evocative picture from a historic inn my wife and I stayed at (no kids!!) this spring. The challenge was to write a short fiction piece of 250 words or less based on the photo. Any genre was welcome.

I really enjoyed you giving entrants a theme to work with.

My goal was give a strong inspiration, give enough writing room to accomplish something without scaring people off with long stories, and award real prizes (Amazon gift certificates mainly) a week later. The response was fabulous! 41 entries and over 5000 visits. I will DEFINITELY be doing more contests. Look for more prizes, bigger prizes, and new sources of inspiration.

What's next for you?

I'm continuing work on my first revision of The Backwards Path. Querying novels is exciting, and I can't wait to get to it! However, I'm taking the time to make sure the novel is the best I'm capable of at this point in my growth. In the meantime, I'm dedicated to keeping The Clarity of Night strong and meeting more fellow writers. I will help anyone who asks for it, and hope to receive similar support when I need it. Sharing the creative process with so many talented people has been an amazing rush! The world would be a much duller and isolating place without the internet.

*

Thanks so much to Jason Evans for sharing his insights, and his willingness to be the first gerbil in this experiment.

Next Week: Jaye Wells

FlashFlood interviews writers weekly, who blog. Any writer at any stage of of publication is interesting. If you would like to know more about your favourite blogger or want to be interviewed yourself, email me.

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Internet Credibility

Posted by Flood on May 26, 2006

In the wake of the Agent vs. Writer's Forum scandal, I've been thinking a lot about internet credibility. I wanted to discuss it with you, but I am no expert. So, I googled around and found this internet credibility worksheet from a High School. I should probably keep it taped to my monitor at all times.

It's easy to spot a less credible website or blog by poor html, spelling errors, that kind of thing, but sometimes a site can make a claim that may feel true, but isn't. I have a feeling that the Writer's Forum has a right to be incensed, but I can't prove that.

I've become motivated to take a more critical eye to what I read on the net, lately. I know everything on the internet is not true. I never send back chain e-mails, I rarely read compilations of "Wacky World Laws" and I don't take everything I read at Wikipedia as gospel. Yet, I still catch myself repeating something I've read on a site that either I didn't confirm, or the author left little evidence that he did his homework. It just felt like the information was good or it suited a point I had to make. Maybe the site had no animated .gifs, which is a sure sign of total honesty. Maybe, when the page loads, a terrifying midi does not play. You know. Indications that the knowledge contained therein can be taken seriously.

The worksheet requires kids to ask themselves some serious questions when getting information online. I'm going to make it a habit to ask myself the same questions, every time I use the internet as a resource instead of a toy. While I become an cyber librarian who bogs herself down in proof that Snopes knows what they are talking about, can you describe a time when a website fooled you?

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RSS Personal Thanks

Posted by Flood on May 24, 2006

Anyone else use RSS feeds for blogs? I don't trust mine. The computer is just gonna magically tell me about someone updating? Suuuure.

Anyway, I've started the blogger interviews, watch for them to begin weekly, this coming Monday. If you haven't been contacted about your interview yet, but you showed interest by commenting on my post about them, worry not. The invasive questions are coming. If you are new to the blog and want to be interviewed or want more info, leave a comment or email me.

The interviews and the recent posts of my friend Fringes has me thinking about personal entries in blogging. Some of us rarely refer to our daily lives, children, job and keep the blog's theme strictly about writing. Some of us intertwine our lives with our writing and post about both. Some of us will rarely refer to writing, but use the blog as an outlet for fun essays or finger stretching before getting to work.

There is no right or wrong way. Sometimes I feel, though, that I am taking a chance when I post about something personal. I think I could be risking readers who want to read about what we have in common rather than what seperates us.

Yes, we all have some form of family and we all struggle through life (happily or otherwise). We have that in common. If I decide to use this as a personal diary rather than a way to connect with people in the writing community, then there's really little point in making it public. On the other hand, it's just not in me to keep it only to one subject. I want to do that, but it's a struggle. I'm not prolific enough of a writer to showcase my work all the time. I've got one big project and sometimes I get creative and do small ones. I want to learn more about writing, but I don't always have the right questions to ask to make a decent entry. I am still new so the blog is going to reflect that for a while.

So if I am going to do both, heavy on the writing, a little personal on the side, is it going to put my blog somewhere in the no-theme-zone?

Today marks one month since I started at blogspot. It's been informative, entertaining and, best of all, I am really enjoying the company. When you read my words, you affirm that I have something to say and for one minute of your day, it's important. Thank you. And thanks also for sharing some of you with all of us.

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