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Archive for the ‘Writing’ 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 »

The Write Drive

Posted by Flood on June 23, 2006

I don't know how to drive.

I don't mean that I drive poorly, I mean that I never learned to drive. It's a big confession for a grown woman to make. I am embarrassed when it comes up at gatherings becoming the focus of conversation.

"You should know by now!"

"Better learn before the kids do, ho, ho, ho!"

"How do you get around?"

"Easy way to get out of doing groceries."

What I usually do in those situations is get drunk and act like an idiot, making everyone thank God that I don't drive. Works like a charm.

We married poor, so we didn't have a car for a while. By the time we got one, I came to fear driving. We are on our fourth car, now, a soccer mom's dream. White van, with sliding side doors on both sides, dvd player, fully loaded, as they say, but I have no idea what that means. I've sat in the driver's seat and felt very small. It becomes completely out of context to me. It's like sitting all year in your desk in elementary school, and trying the teachers desk out. All perspective and familiarity is lost.

My neighbourhood is a blessing for walkers. Grocer, doctor's office, pub, parks, tennis courts, schools – all nearby. I can be anywhere in in my part of the world within half an hour, at most. Most trips, though, only take about a half hour to complete. At this point, I think the only thing that is going to get me driving is getting out of my comfort zone and becoming acquainted with a new part of the world.

So it is for writing. I've started very small, flash here and there, and I keep my big project a closely guarded secret. Just like I hate telling people that I am not sure I know the gas from the brake pedal, I hate admitting that I have no idea what I am doing with my book. I worry that I'm going to become complacent about doing flash and short stories and never test drive the car into an agent's office. I'm a quitter, a ruiner, a pessimist, sometimes and I disappoint myself.

I'm a creative person by nature. My spirit/chi/soul/call-it-what-you-will is begging to be heard. Who am I to let it down? These are the things I am going to do to help me help myself:

  • continue submitting short pieces out into the ether
  • make a concerted effort to get a rejection this year (from a mag or an anthology or something that uses paper)
  • keep writing the book
  • write daily, I don't care if it is a grocery list
  • adopt Little Puddle's joie de l'écriture
  • search blogs and websites to read about people who are close to making it
  • find a writing partner who is honest and articulate
  • ignore any writerly angst that threatens my mission

I meant it when I said that Scott's dare to suck idea is going to be my motto. I can't win if I don't drive. You will probably see me make lots of moving violations on the way. (I have read the driver's handbook. 6 times. I hate non-fiction.) When you do, give me a little help, huh?

Most of the people who read this blog are yet to be published. I know it's your goal, so I want to find out what your baby-steps are to getting out there. We are all at different levels, so your plans could help the rest of us. What works, what doesn't, how are you going to get to the finish line?

Posted in Personal Thoughts, Writing | 1 Comment »

Stories and Friends

Posted by Flood on June 23, 2006

I'll remind you again on Friday's Round-Up, but Jason Evans (The Clarity of Night) is hosting another contest, with great prizes and a new theme. It begins on Wednesday, so get your thinking caps on and your pencils ready because it's going to be fun.

I just started this blog a few days before Jason's last contest and that was where I came to know some of you who read FlashFlood each day. That's why I feel compelled to tell all of you that whether you enter a story or not, you should pay attention to those who do. Someone will write something that resonates with you. Someone's work will speak to you. Discussions in the comments of each entry will peak your interest in someone else. In one event, you could come out with at least one or two loyal new readers, and someone new to visit as you make your blogging rounds each day. When you look at it that way, everyone wins.

If this is your first contest, like Two Lights was mine, I wish you the best of luck. I took great pride out of finding the courage to submit something. It was the stepping stone I needed to get out there and dare to suck.

As I approach my two month anniversary of blogging, I can see how the blog is changing. My original intentions grew into something else. I like where it's going. I feel like part of the community. I enjoy visiting you in your space each day and I am pleased to know you like coming to mine. Thank you. A note to new readers: if I have neglected to put you on my blogroll, please let me know. I've tried to keep up to date but I feel like I am missing someone.

Posted in Contests, Writing | 1 Comment »

Based on A True Story

Posted by Flood on June 14, 2006

Those of you who read The Rehearsal, might have found the end unoriginal. True, we've all read in horror stories of this kind in the news. Deliverance may come to mind or maybe a disturbing episode of the X-Files. This isn't a nothing-new-under-the-sun post, though.

The Rehearsal is based on a true story, in that:

  • South Mountain is a real place in which a clan has been procreating via incest (and non-familial sexual abuse) for over 7 generations
  • The girl in my story is based one of the girls I went to school with after the clan was raided one time
  • The final words spoken by Leesa in the story were actually said, though to a teacher and not a woman she met on the street

Growing up during the time that members of the clan were arrested and kids were integrated into my school was like a nightmare. There was a lot of injustice, both to the victims and the abusers.

Most of my writing has some truth behind it, in the sense that something happened directly to me or affected me in some way. Jane Stafford's Flag is also based on a true story, though I took huge poetic license with it. I've been obsessed with the biography Life with Billy since I was a kid. (I lived also near the Staffords.) Jane Stafford's death in 1992 was mysterious and added a morbid fascination to an already unsettling story.

It could be said that real writers make up things that never happened. However, I am not the kind of writer that can make up a world, person, plot, that I didn't come in contact with in reality. I admire those of you who can do this, because without you, we wouldn't have Star Wars or Dracula or E.T.

I love Jack Ketchum. My favourite book of his, The Girl Next Door, is a fictional account of the 1965 torturing death of Sylvia Likens. He creates a much better ending than the true story. I think that's the attraction to this kind of writing. Not only can you work out things that impact you, but you can compose an improvement of the facts.

Not all of my writing is dark and dreary, but the same applies to the lighter stuff. My what-if's come from people around me or events that moved me.

Today, I want to know where your ideas come from. Specifically. Like Bernita's fondness with the Luck Of Edenhall. Or the painting that moved Jaye. What kind of things affect you enough that you write about them? You don't have to give away plot, just give us a sense of what kind of real life events move you to create a story. (I am guessing some of your answers.)

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A Gabbly Environment

Posted by Flood on June 13, 2006

There's a lot of activity around me at home no matter what room I'm in, so I spent 4 hours at the library on Saturday. I got more done in that time than I did in the previous week. I credit this to several things. First, my laptop couldn't pick up a wireless signal, so when I got stuck on something, I couldn't surf around for a while and get lost in other people's work. I was forced to labour on it without distraction. Eventually, I was working back and forth on two projects, as I tired of one or the other.

Secondly, I was in a new environment, and one that breeds writing.

Third, the library can be a great place to people watch. Lots of interesting character studies there, and most people are so wrapped up in what they are doing, they can't tell that you are taking notes about them. I was privileged enough to watch two adults argue over using a computer.

Stout Little Balding Man: (booming voice) Sorry there, Miss! I have these two computers booked for the next two hours!
Curly Haired Angry Lady: (stern voice) Well how come I am still logged in, then?
STBM:They've been booked since yesterday, dear. I am not trying to be rude, but I'm telling you it's my turn now. Mom, hang on we'll get this sorted.
CHAL:I am not letting you log in on my time. The computer tells me when I am finished! Not you.
STBM: I'm getting the librarian.
Scared Librarian: (meekly) I'm sorry, but these computers are booked for the afternoon.
CHAL: That's just fine. I'll get up when I get an apology.
Scared librarian: I'm sorry. Our mistake. You are welcome to log-in on another station.
STLBM: Technology isn't all they say it is, dear. They've screwed with my time, too.
CHAL: Whatever. (gets up to move on)
STLBM: I'm not trying to anger you, dear. I am being self-defecating. Deprecating!

The man spends the next hour teaching his mom how to open her hotmail, and then goes out to smoke. He gave me a wink on the way out. I hope I see them again.

Still, I got a lot done. Worked on my current project and did research for another. Three flashes for the Gutter (2 went up on the weekend) and outlined my blogging entries for the week. Total success. Plus, the whole experience knocked me back into some self-discipline.

Invention Strategies (UofW, Stevens Point) suggests the following fun ways to get unstuck:

Change your writing environment

Write in a different place (indoors, outdoors, elevators, closets, cars, cafe's, on the toilet, while eating, anywhere you're bored, at the gym, in a bubble bath, in a meeting, at or away from computer, at or away from keyboard, while walking like the British poets did, sit in a seat you've never sat in before, sit in a rocking chair, go fishing without bait like Edison did, at a daycare, in a playground, one of your favorite places, etc..)

Write in different lighting (in the dark, wearing sunglasses, wearing 3-D glasses, in a room with stained glass, with one eye closed, strobe lights, randomly clicking in FINALE with your eyes closed, etc..)

Write at different times (in the middle of the day, first thing in the morning, right before you go to bed, in class, during church services, surprise attack–set your alarm for 3:30am, during sunset, during meals, etc..)

Write for different periods of time (write for 30 seconds, 10 seconds, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, one minute, an hour, until you get an idea you can use, pull an all-nighter, etc..)

I dunno about that toilet thing.

Out of all the expert tips offered to make sure my pen is on fire, changing my writing environment is the most practical for me, and for now, works like a charm. Do you change your writing location regularly? What works for you?

Fun toy alert: We've all seen blogs that include tag or shout boxes. A way to test that kind of feature, without committing anything to your template, is Gabbly. Add "http://gabbly.com/" before the URL with which you want to chat with others. Users can even use the RSS in the window to keep track of new posts. Let your readers know you are trying it out and see if it takes off. Note: If you can't use instant messengers or chat programs from work, this probably isn't a good idea. You can test it on my blog now by clicking here.

Posted in 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.


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 »


Posted by Flood on June 7, 2006

I've been having problems lately with my big project. It's in first person right now and I like the tone, but at times it moves slowly because the protagonist doesn't have all the pieces to the puzzle while moving through the plot.

Third person would allow for greater exposition, not in back story, but in the readers understanding of what's going on. Giving the reader the whole picture as it unfolds might maintain interest throughout the story to see what happens. I would like to think I am a strong enough writer to keep people rapt in the first person, discovering with the protagonist what's happening, but it's a lot more work.

In the end it might be worth it, though.

My understanding is that there are gender lines for POV, in this respect. Women tend to write more in the first. I can't find an argument for why that is, other than "the implied intimacy of first person, as well as the fact that many men tend to be event and action oriented, not character oriented" [Linda Adams]. This makes sense in action scenes with many characters. It wouldn't flow well from in just one character's mind.

First person can sound gimmicky or amateurish. The author could conceivably think that it will be easier to deal with one POV. Sometimes it can read like the author is finding out what happens with the reader, giving little confidence in the writing.

But. I really like what I have so far. It's just taking a little longer to get where it's going. I know about the dangers I could get into. I hope.

This is exactly why I need a writer's group, like Jaye mentioned in her interview earlier this week. How are you guys faring in the world of POV? Do you prefer one to the other as readers, or as writers?

BTW, speaking of Jaye, she starts a new feature today, so be sure to check it out.

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Pay Attention, Kids

Posted by Flood on June 6, 2006

In grade three, I was easily distracted. I had selective hearing and was often lost in my own imagination. I was a princess or a pirate, depending on my mood, but I was rarely Flood, 'cause that's no fun. So, I often humiliated myself because I wasn't on the same page as everyone else.

I will share with you what turned that around. In class, Mr. Hunt was diagramming sentences for us. Terribly boring and a perfect reason to day dream. I half listened to his drone in case my name was called, but was lost in a world of pioneers, in wagon caravan to settle western Canada. The natives were sure to attack just as Mr. Hunt was recapping.

"So. Who can tell us what a noun is? Flood?"

"Yes?" Stunned bunny wakes up.

"What is a noun?"

My brain rewinds the tape and I am searching for the info. I am positive I know this. The answer clicks.

"A person who plays with their thing?"

It wasn't until I was 12 that I figured out why he laughed so hard. Or why my mother did when I told her of the day's news. Still, I knew they were laughing at me and not with me, so I tried to pay better attention after that.

I am sure most of you were young when the writing bug bit you. The joy of writing was reward itself and getting the story out was all that mattered. Publishing wasn't a consideration, it was just getting praise from one person that made you keep going.

I wanna remind some of you why you do this and bring you back to those days of pure creativity and fun. To that end, I present:

Little Puddle

She's 12, and she's a writer. She's also sad that no one but me has commented on her blog yet. And one of my comments included a threat to ground her if she didn't use the blog wisely. She was as excited to open the blog as I was when I made Flashing In The Gutters, yesterday. (Shameless plug via inappropriate segue.) You don't have to go through all her work so far, but throw the kid a bone, huh?

In Jason's interview, he mentioned one of his first stories he wrote as a kid, that got him excited about writing. Do you recall writing as a kid? What were your stories like? Did you get lost in them? Ever draw pictures to accompany your masterpiece? Did you keep any?

Let's hear it.

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