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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Just Call Me the Expert On Horror Novels

Some of you may or may not know that Seth runs a website all about the horror genre and everything related to it called MoreHorror. Well, he's been doing really well with it lately and I mean really well! In fact, his site has definitely gotten to the point where it's getting noticed by some incredibly big names. Major movie studios have been sending over DVDs for us to review. Many of them are screeners for movies that aren't even out in the theaters yet. He's been getting swag like t-shirts, signed movie posters, and other items along those lines as well.

We've recently started getting a fuck ton of books from major publishing companies lately as well, also for review. Although I've written the occasional odd piece for MoreHorror in the past and have been an official staffer for a while now, Seth really needs more help as the site continues to grow and become even more popular. That said, I'm happy and proud to say that I've recently been given the responsibility of reading and reviewing any and all books we get from here on out. I'm nothing if not a bookworm and I'm definitely a proud book/writing expert, so this will be a lot of fun in and of itself. I am very excited about this opportunity to get more of my reviews and writing samples seen and enjoyed as well.

Above are just a couple of the items in my "for-review" pile right now. The one on the right with the zombie on the cover is a copy of the Night of the Living Dead  stories. (This is the first time they've been included in one volume.) I'm currently chewing on it in my free time and I will be letting everyone know how I liked it, as well as critiquing the story line, character development, and use of horror elements very soon.  The book on the left is called Grim Reaper and is based on the original Inferno by Dante. Anyone who's been following me long knows The Divine Comedy is one of my favorite books of all time, so I'm especially excited about reading and reviewing that particular book.

Sometimes I'm really kind of taken aback by how far we've both come in just a few short years of really giving this whole "earning a living/making names for ourselves with our talents" thing a real shot. I've always loved to paint and write, but I can't say that even five years ago I thought I'd be up to my neck in copywriting jobs, art fans, and books that someone somewhere is waiting with bated breath for me to review. It's pretty dang awesome, but then writing's awesome. Creativity is awesome. The way life can be when you really focus on what you were meant to do is... well... awesome, too.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On NaNoWriMo Reward Systems

I'm sure I'll get my share of hate either here or elsewhere for saying this, but whatever. "Gators gonna gait." Sometimes I really get hit in the face with a wet rag in regards to how much I've really changed as a writer since I first made up my mind to be good at this someday. That kind of happened earlier today.

I had decided to keep my work day a bit lighter today, so I spent some time earlier hanging out on the NaNoWriMo forums to help myself continue to get in the mood to churn out a novel next month. Eventually, I found myself reading a thread where people were talking about what their reward systems were going to be this year. You know, for actually sitting down and writing this novel that they voluntarily signed up to write? What treats were they promising themselves for actually hitting the 10,000-word mark or the 40,000-word one? I remember this well from all my previous attempts at NaNo, only I'm not really sure I understand it very well anymore.

Isn't creative writing for self expression supposed to be... fun? If you have to promise yourself new toys, or a night out with your friends, or permission to shove half a chocolate cake in your face as a reward for doing something you supposedly love, then I have to wonder what you're doing wrong. I don't know that I ever had to hang a carrot in front of my face in order to encourage myself to cross the finish line during that first NaNo, but I think it's safe to say that I needed a lot of encouragement. I doubted my ability to actually churn out a piece of work that long though. However, once I knew that I could, actually keeping my eye on the prize wasn't really a problem. I sincerely loved to write though. Finishing something I set out to do in regards to my writing was truly its own reward. I thought that was supposed to be what NaNoWriMo is all about.

My attitude toward this reward system has changed in other ways as well. I'm not in the same position this year that I have been in the past. I've started writing on a professional basis since then and last year, I actually had so much to do for my clients that I literally couldn't even entertain the thought of starting a long piece of personal fiction for no other reason than self expression. I'm hardly complaining. The worlds of copywriting, ghostwriting, and web content production have been really, really good to me. I love writing for my clients and I love being able to earn a living doing something I'm so proud of. However, once you get to the point with your writing where you're doing it professionally as you always hoped you would be, something happens in regards to how you see your personal writing. If you're busy at work, you don't have much creative energy left over at the end of the day to write stories or poetry. When you do, you probably find it hard to justify actually sitting down and spending time doing that instead of simply continuing to do more work. This is me these days and then some.

That said? I'd say that my NaNoWriMo novel is my reward -- my reward for working all day and spending so much time writing things for other people and trying to meet other people's standards. Really, permission to do some writing for myself sounds like a nicer treat than even the richest piece of chocolate cake could ever be. I'm a creative person though. I consider time spent being allowed to be my creative self and write something for me for a change to be a refreshing change of pace. Then again, thinking of ideas or getting the writing out of myself once I put my mind to it has never been something I need to be pushed to do. It's feeling like I shouldn't be working literally all the time that keeps me from producing the way I'd like to. NaNo is my permission to spend some time doing something else for a change and I am looking forward to making the most of it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010, Here I Come!

I can't believe it's almost that time again -- November, also known as National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short). For those of you who have no clue what I'm even talking about, that's the annual web event you've probably heard some of your friends talking about where you attempt to write a novel (or at least 50,000 words) during the month of November.

It's more of a motivational exercise than anything else, as to win, all you need to do is meet the goal. You don't get anything as a reward for winning other than the pride that goes along with knowing you met a goal you set for yourself either. However, that's exactly what makes NaNoWriMo so awesome... and fun, too -- getting together with other people who love writing as much as you do, encouraging each other all the way to the finish line, and simply doing it for the hell of it.

I really don't know where the time goes, as it seems like just yesterday that I was contemplating NaNoWriMo 2009. I'm excited though, as I will definitely be participating this time around. I decided to forgo it last year for personal reasons. My fiancé had just come home from the hospital after a very serious illness. Also, I was very busy with work projects at that time and really didn't have the time or writing stamina to invest in starting another novel. This year is much different though. I have more free time, I have more energy, my fiancé and I are in a living situation that is much less stressful than our last one, and the conditions are just better all around when it comes to getting back in touch with my creativity.

This pleases me greatly, because NaNo and I go way, way back. I participated for the first time way back in 2006 and that was honestly the first time I'd ever sat my little butt down and attempted to put together a piece of creative writing that was longer than a short story or some flash fiction. Before that, I was like a lot of aspiring writers. I had the stories in my head and the desire to put together a longer piece of work one day. However, I kept putting off starting to work toward actually writing a novel in hopes that the "right time" would eventually come along.

Eventually, I realized that the right time would most likely never arrive and it wasn't like I was getting any younger, so I let some online friends talk me into signing up for NaNo at long last. I don't think I really expected to enjoy the event so much. In fact, I honestly had a blast! I also found out I was capable of accomplishing things with my writing that I never really thought would be possible before. I've been a regular participant every year (with that one exception) without fail and continue to be so now that I write professionally for my living. It's honestly still a lot of fun and being the kind of person who has trouble making enough time for my creative work, it's a great way to make sure I start at least one longer manuscript a year as well.

My novel this time around is going to be called Prophet Birds. It's actually a revamp of my first (as yet unfinished) NaNoWriMo idea, fleshed out and made worthy of the much better writer I've become over the past four years. At least that's what I'd like it to be. I have this terrible habit of not finishing what I start and my NaNo projects are not immune to my general lack of attention span by any means. I'm sure I've said this before, but I'd like to change that this year. I want to come out of this with a wonderful, cohesive piece of writing this time. I also want to polish it up properly, illustrate it (perhaps), and put it out there for public consumption.

It's a new year, a new event, I have a new niche blog where I can write about the process, and I have a renewed determination that I think comes from having had such a tough, shitty year last year. I'm hell bent on making it count! If you'd like to cheer me on, you can do so by following my progress here at my NaNo profile. I'll eventually be posting excerpts from my novel. Sooner or later there will be cover art and a synopsis up as well. I'm working on an outline and deciding once and for all where I'd like the plot to go before I attend to the details. If you're a NaNo person as well, feel free to add me as a buddy! We can encourage each other, do word wars, or hang out on the forums!