On Weirdness, Diversity, and Moving Out of Boxes

I’ve come to the conclusion that my work is always going to be a little weird. A little quirky. Not a nice neat fit into any genre. And I’ve made my peace with that. I can try to fit better into boxes, but I find these days that I just don’t want to.

A few years ago I wrote a novella about zombie dragons. It was kind of fantasy but set in a post-apocalyptic, steam-punky world. I had such a blast writing it. I submitted it at a conference for feedback, and while the editor loved the pages, she said it would be a nightmare to publish—not in a discouraging way, but just letting me in on the reality of the industry at that time. Perhaps I’ll self publish it one day.

It feels like the world is in a place–with this vibe–where people are starting to just embrace who they are and retooling their environs to fit them as opposed to squeezing themselves into imperfect containers. It feels like as a collective we’re moving away from the cookie-cutter traditional everything: education, jobs, marriage, families. Overcrowded as it is, the world is so big with so much room for diversity, and the pandemic seems to have given people time and space to envision how to make that work for real and not just lip service and workshops.

I’m rambling a bit. I’m okay with that.

Yesterday on Twitter I saw a question posted by an author who was being told to lean her writing into what was more commercially certain instead of what she wanted to create. The responses telling her to do what she loved were so gratifying to see. I think I will take the advice that was given to her.

And on that happy note, Merc and I have been chatting and she’s requested some changes to her narrative. So we’re getting back to work now.

Have a beautiful day!

What I’m Reading These Days

The Four Agreements (+Companion Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz

A book of Toltec wisdom that changes your perspectives and perceptions in order to lead a happier life. Some tough self examination but well worth it.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

An experiment gives two best friends super powers and then pits one against the other as the author examines what really defines a hero or villain. Loving it so far!

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Anthology of short horror fiction – weird and beautiful. I also recently read her memoir, In the Dream House, which I highly recommend.

Quick update

I haven’t posted here in a minute! Mainly because my last publications were in 2018 – The Magical CSI anthology stories. Umbra’s Shadow was in publication for a while, but the publisher, Roane, shut down and so Merc is now waiting for me to decide her future. Back in 2020 I had signed a contract for another anthology, but before it could be published, it was scrapped due to Covid ruining everyone’s plans over and over and over.

I can’t lie. I lost all inspiration to write as the pandemic dragged on and only brushed off my keyboard recently. So hopefully I’ll be able to get some work out again soon.

Hope all is well with you!

Guest Author: Jodie Pierce

In Vein Best 3crime bites and so do i 1

I have had the recent pleasure of becoming acquainted with and working with author Jodie Pierce. She is coordinating the upcoming Supernatural Writer’s Group charity anthology, Wild Cards. In August,she released the paranormal thriller, Crime Bites and So Do I. Here, Jodie shares some thoughts about her work and writing in general:

Bio:

Jodie Pierce is married to her hubby, John who gave her a storybook happily-ever-after. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio but traveled to Brasil when she was 16 years old as an exchange student and she continues to travel the US with her hubby. Jodie started writing as a teenager and even wrote for her schools’ newspaper and yearbook.

She has had a fascination with vampires since they were introduced to her as a child so she’s had a long history with them. It wasn’t until she started reading the Anne Rice vampire books in college that she was truly inspired to stop writing sappy teen romance stories and focus on the vampires she loved. You will find some of her experiences from Brasil in her stories. Many of her stories have historical or researched facts as she also enjoys research and learning about new places.

She has published four short novels (Eternal Press), a short story in “Midnight Thirst 2”, an anthology (Melange Books), has five self-published books (with 3 more charity anthologies by the end of 2013). She’s published her first charity vampire anthology book with various Authors named In Vein, where all the proceeds of the book went to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. She loves helping out other new Authors, runs blog hops and Facebook events for them to help market them. She has her own small publishing company named Vampirical Lyrical Publishing where she takes on new Authors and helps them see their creations come to life. She’s always busy with the next great vampire story as her mind is non-stop and even plagues her dreams. She’s co-manager of the Facebook Supernatural Writer’s Group where they put together 2 charity books a year where all proceeds will be donated to a special charity.

 

On what sparked her passion for books and good stories:

My parents were always good readers and I picked up the hobby from them. I just started writing short stories about my life, moved to romantic fiction and then was inspired to write about vampires. After years of trying to get published, I was finally introduced to publishing houses and later on, self-publishing. I was ecstatic to see my stories come to life and to be able to share with others.

On the books that inspired her:

Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned were the first books to inspire me. I then read Anne Rices’ erotic novels and found that I could also write stories that were similar though I preferred the vampire romance genre.

On the challenges she’s faced in her writing career:

Marketing and promoting have been the thorn in my side. Even with the publishing company, the marketing was left up to me.

Best moment as a writer?

The best moment was when I got the email stating they wanted to publish my book. Nine months before, I had sent my manuscript to them and they refused it. The, Twilight broke out and I resubmitted it to them upon the request of my hubby. They took it and when I read the email, I thought someone was messing with me. It turned out to be real and I was really excited

Author idol?

Anne Rice is my first idol. J.K. Rowling is a close second but she doesn’t write about vampires which is unfortunate. Christopher Paolini gave me inspiration for fantasy and the Anne Rampling series encouraged me to write the one erotic book I wrote as well.

On seeing herself in her characters:

Absolutely. Most of my characters are based on the people that have come into my life in many different ways. Sometimes, just their personality or physical traits are included in my characters.

Any occupational hazards to being a writer?

Absolutely! Fear of rejection can cause many authors to give up and quit their dreams. Also, as in my case, I’ve typed for so long that I now have Carpal Tunnel and have to limit my typing each day which just kills me. I have to write and I enjoy it so it’s very hard to stifle my creativeness. I’ve started writing ideas down in that notebook I mentioned so I can write a little more later.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit?

I have never wanted to quit. Rejection at first made me feel horrible but as time went on, I learned it’s all part of the process and can brush it off as it comes along.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Write what you want, not what you think publishers want. Write from your heart and the creative juices flow more easily. Jump in with both feet and bring your ideas to life through your writing.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Never give up and support your fellow authors. You can learn a lot from them and it will make you a better writer. If I gave up every time I was rejected, I wouldn’t be published. Take the bull by the hands and make your career what you want it to be.

Where to find Jodie:

www.thevampirequeen1@gmail.com

www.thevampirequeen1.blogspot.com

www.vampiricallyrical.blogspot.com

www.thevampirequeen1.weebly.com

www.facebook.jodie.pierce779

www.amazon.com/authors/jodiepierce

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=the+vampire+queen

https://www.facebook.com/groups/supernaturalwritersgroup/

 

Tell Me What You’re Reading 2/21

Open_book_01Because it’s Thursday, so why not?

I have a tendency to read multiple books at once, and while I read mostly Fantasy, I love to branch out. So I’m always looking for recommendations.

This week I have read/am reading:

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

    While I have read the HP series about a billion times, my daughter has recently taken an interest in the series. Since this is her school’s month-long reading program, PARP (Parents As Reading Partners) and she tackled the first three books on her own, we decided to read this one together. It’s a whole different experience reading it aloud with her and watching her discover the world I fell in love with years ago. We’re having a blast with it. She particularly enjoyed doing the voice of the Sorting Hat.

  • Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

    I just finished this one last night and although I started reading it with no expectations, I found myself pleasantly surprised by how much this YA Paranormal resonated with me. It was a quite moving examination of the bonds that hold humans together even beyond this life. I especially appreciated that the love stories were not all romantic, but delved (to use Kim’s language) into friendships, sibling relationships and mentor/mentee bonds. A beautiful story.

  • A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson

    Our library decided to run a program this month—have a blind date with a book. They wrapped up a bunch of books from all genres and you just pick one up at random with no idea what you are going to get. It’s meant to get readers out of their comfort zones, so of course I jumped right in. Hmm…it’s a little farther out of my comfort zone than I was expecting, so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but I will finish it. From the 32 pages I’ve read so far, there seems to be a romantic element and there is a motif of describing East African birds as the main characters are bird watchers. The writing is actually engaging, I’m just finding it hard to connect to the characters so far. But I will persevere.

     

  • The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

    I’ve had this one on my Nook for a long time, and I just happened to glance at the prologue today. That was all it took to suck me right in. I have no idea where the story is going, but it seems there are angels and demons. Color me sold.

So that’s what I’m reading at the moment. How about you? Throw some recommendations my way!


Derailed but Not in a Bad Way

For the past week and a half, my Unicorn submission preparations—all my writing, really—has been derailed by illnesses. First, my daughter came down with Strep and was home from school for several days. Now I am trying to shake some unspecified viral sinus infecting thingee. (My brain stopped processing once the doctor said I wasn’t getting antibiotics to get rid of it.) This has not been a complete waste of time though. I think I see a silver lining in the pain, suffering, and inordinate amount of fluid from the past days.

One of my favorite aspects of being a writer is the research. I love learning new things, and I can sit at this screen for days researching random topics. We don’t need to get into how often I actually do that. While I’m not what you’d call a science geek, I won’t lie; I find the occasional experiment fascinating. Which brings us back to my sinus issues.

Once I quit mentally cussing out the doctor, I read the info sheet she handed me explaining why antibiotics are generally prescribed for sinus infections only if they don’t clear up after a week on their own. What I originally heard was, “Blah blah blah suck it up for a week.” The handout gave several drug-free suggestions for helping clear said sinuses. One method is nasal irrigation using, among other devices, a neti pot.

I was familiar with the concept of the neti pot and nasal irrigation from my days teaching yoga, but I never got up the nerve to try it. Here was a perfect opportunity. I could experience it and record all sorts of gross details for later use in my writing. I certainly did not expect to come away with such a wealth of information as I did.

Some observations:

  • When I first start pouring the saline solution into one nostril, there’s a weird glugging inside my head as the liquid goes through the nasal cavity. This happens more when my sinuses are really clogged or swollen.
  • I have not yet felt like I am drowning, but since the pot is see-through, I can watch the water level decreasing, which takes for-ever. At least it feels like forever. Which makes steeling myself for the second nostril more fun.
  • If I mix the saline incorrectly, it burns a little, like when you get pool water up your nose after a cannonball. There is a good reason I don’t do cannonballs into pools. I don’t enjoy burning inside my head.
  • My favorite part of this process is when one side is so clogged that the solution doesn’t run through from one nostril to the other but instead backs up into my mouth. It tastes salty, let’s assume because of the saline.
  • I’ll spare you the after-effects once the pot is emptied through the nostrils.

Aside from this thing actually helping my illness, these details may prove to be invaluable one day. As a middle-grade and YA writer, the chances of me calling on them one day are relatively good. If, for example, I ever find myself needing to write about milk coming out someone’s nose, I am in a much better position to describe it than I was a few days ago. Overall, I would have much preferred to have my health than this information, but at least I’ve been able to put the time to good use.

Pardon me, time to irrigate again.