An Excerpt from Exit 1042

This is an excerpt from my upcoming short story, Exit 1042. This is just a little hint of what’s to come.

Highway image courtesy of Pixabay.

Highway image courtesy of Pixabay.

The long stretch of road had been too much for Derrick. He closed his eyes and leaned back into the passenger headrest.

The hum of the engine and rubber on the pavement were only broken by the sound of Sara’s fingers tapping lightly on the steering wheel.

Tap.

Tap tap.

Tap tap tap.

He knew the rhythm well. Once with the first finger. Twice with the second. Three times with the third and on through to the fourth.

Normally, her sonorous drumming annoyed him.

He smiled.

Today it was strangely comforting. He couldn’t think why.

Perhaps it was because it reminded him of his daughter Alice?

Derrick frowned, and closed his eyes.

For a moment his daughter was alive again in his mind. A mere glimmer. But inside that flash, folded tight as an origami puzzle, lay all the pain in the world.

Sweet Alice. Wise beyond her seven years. Velvet pantsuit with tiny blue flowers for buttons.

Blue flowers to match those in the favorite field she played in. Fat bumblebees buzzing from flower to flower.

How could he have been so naive? The highway had always been too close.

He grimaced and opened his eyes, hearing a loud semi’s horn fading.

“You okay?” Sarah asked, barely audible over the hum of the engine.

“Yeah, I’m good,” he nodded.

His voice croaked as he spoke. He coughed uncomfortably to clear his throat.

“Hungry,” he added. “That’s all.”

Her hand left the steering wheel and squeezed his. Sara pointed to the exit.

“1042,” she said. “Next exit is 62 miles and we’re running out of gas,” she told him. “There was a sign back there for a diner and fuel station. We could grab a bite before we get to the hotel.”

Derrick agreed, falling silent. Alice hadn’t died in a car accident. Alice had drowned in the lake, and he hadn’t been able to save her. His brain killed her thousands of times in different milieus. Torture by the sea, torture by abduction. Shots fired, flash floods, Hantavirus.

Years of therapy changed nothing. The coffin was sealed, and unless there was an afterlife, his daughter was lost.

Exit 1042 is now available for purchase on Kindle. Add it to your end-of-summer reading and win the satisfaction/feeling of accomplishment of having read something.

Advertisements

Memorial Day

To the Veterans in my family, and the Veterans who are my friends, as well as the Active Duty men and women whom I know and love, and hell, even the ones I don’t: THANK YOU.

My mother once told me that, when she was a little girl and would see the WWII soldiers who were home on leave, that she was so in awe of them for what they were doing for our country that she could not meet their eyes. She would hang her head and stare at her shoes, so humbled by the fact that they were willing to risk their lives for us.

I have sat in rooms with Vets with PTSD, who have survived Hel’s wrath, looked her in the eye, and said, ‘not today.’ I have consoled (or tried to, anyway) the loved ones who will never see their sons, daughters, brothers, or sisters ever again because they were killed in action. I have seen tears, anguish, and amazing strength and coping skills in dealing with things that were so ugly, that they would knock some people right on their asses and they would never recover.

Today I remember those who lost their lives so I could open my big fat mouth.

You are not forgotten.

Humbly yours,
Anne Lucienne.

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

I know a lot of writers and authors get that question a lot. Usually, there’s just no satisfactory answer for people who don’t write. They seem to be mystified by the writing process, and for the writer just starting out, the process is frustrating. They’re waiting for inspiration, a muse, an idea that will be colossal and add to the Zeitgeist.

Found a place for your "muse."

Found a place for your “muse.” Image courtesy of Flikr.

Yeah, good luck with that. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (because people don’t learn, damn it): if you wait for a muse, you will never produce anything. It’s really that simple.

Now, I’m not telling you that there won’t be days where you’re too tired, too sick, too whatever to write. It happens. You come home from a long day of work and you’re exhausted because not a single thing went right that day. That being said, don’t let that become a habit. If you do, you’ll fall into the muse trap, and then that bitch has you by your short hairs. You think I jest? I would never!

So even on the days when you’re drained, write 1000 words. Write 500. No? Okay, start with 100 and then see how you feel. If you’re still too tired after writing just 100 words, then you can cry off for the day. But get back on it tomorrow. Tomorrow, you’ll need to write a minimum of 200 words.

This, my dear readers, is where you’ll get your ideas. You may have one already. Great! Then sit down and write it. There are a couple of methods you can use to get it done.

  • By the seat of your pants. This is the method most often recommended by the wonderful human beings at The Office of Letters & Light, hosts of National Novel Writing Month. You set a daily word count (say, 1667-2000 per day), and write to meet those targets. Take your rough idea (and if you don’t have one, generate one with a writing prompt) and just write it. Worry about continuity later. You can fix your world in edits.
  • Sketching an outline. If you need more structure, make an outline of your novel. What do you want to have happen throughout? You still need to make that daily word count, but this way, you can fit it into a skeleton so that you don’t go rambling off in a totally different direction.

Either method works, and I know, I know, I’ve said all this before, but you JUST KEEP ASKING ME the title question, don’t you? So I’m going over this one more time. It’s really simple: if you write it, ideas will come.

They will. I promise. I know because I don’t wait for a muse. I told her to hit the road a long time ago, and when she tried to interfere, I punched her square in the nose, wrapped her unconscious body in tarp, threw in some rocks, and sank her deep into the sewer system of Nowhere. And I’m glad I did, because her abuse was controlling my life. I know she’s still alive, though, because apparently she bothers a host of other people, too. I encourage all of you who are tortured by a muse to get rid of him or her. Write even when she doesn’t want you to write. Eventually, she’ll get the hint and go away.

No more waiting on a “muse” who’s a complete bitch and won’t tell you what to write. You are in control. You tell the characters what to say, who to kill, how to hide the bodies, and who catches them. You craft a place where painted rocks are currency and the waiter never gets your character’s order right. You make a space where fallen soldiers return from the dead for a final revenge on their Brigadier General. You, and only you.

This is your world. You are the master of it.

Show us what you’ve got.

This post was written without a muse. Really, I had no idea what I was going to write until I wrote it. You can follow me on Twitter @Spellvira, or Like me on Facebook.

I Have Returned to Dine on Words & Humble Pie

Almost a year ago, I blogged about a phobia I had been developing. A phobia about why I didn’t want to self-publish over the traditional route. There are still a lot of good things about going the traditional route. I’ve been published in Zombie Bites, edited by David Saunderson, and that’s fine. It’s more than fine–I’m among a wealth of other talented writers in a thrilling, humorous, exciting anthology.

This IS the book you’re looking for … at Amazon.

But I got a lot of good feedback from those who have got the route of self-publishing, and I think I’ve changed my mind about how I feel about the DIY route. A couple of friends of mine who are self-published authors really enjoy it. For three main reasons:

  • Total creative control. Your book is your baby, and while it’s great to have a publisher with their in-house editors re-frame your words and cut out the unnecessary bits and change things around, it’s also annoying if and when it comes back to you as diminished from what you intended. It’s good for new writers, sure, but if you’re seasoned, it can get old, fast. When you’re publishing your own work, you get to decide what stays and what goes. You, and only you. That level of control and responsibility is important, and can be a pitfall if you’re not good at editing and pruning, so make sure that you’re surrounded by excellent beta readers and editors who will help you with an objective look at your work. (This is vital to keep your work from falling into the swill of writers who couldn’t do the same.)
  • Retention of profits. When you do all the work yourself, no one else gets a cut of your profits (unless you hire professional editors; then you have to pay them). There’s no agent, no publisher to take a deep cut (Kindle Direct Publishing does take a chunk depending on the pricing of your book), etc. It’s all yours to keep. This is also a great motivation to keep you creating your best work possible on the days you’re feeling ready to just give up. While money isn’t the main motivator for most writers, it’s certainly nice to have a royalty check that’s all yours at the end of the quarter.
  • It keeps you from hitting the publishing wall. Let’s say you’re a niche writer. The competition is fierce. Your work might be really good. Great, even, but if there’s no real market for it, then you’re going to have a hard time finding an agent or publisher who’s willing to pick it up. That’s when self-publishing can save you.
    I have gotten tons of rejection letters that all say the same thing: they love my work, they think it’s polished, but they just don’t have the market for it “at this time.” Well, I would hope that my writing would be worth the risk, but with traditional publishers having to cling to every dollar from their big clients, they don’t often have a lot of room for those of us who are the ‘little guys.’ Fair enough.
    If you do it yourself, you don’t have to worry. You make the market. You’ll work your rear end off, but you’ll do all your own marketing and contact with fans. It might just pay off.

Now, while I enumerated the negatives of self-publishing in my previous post, as well as the drawbacks and benefits of the traditional route, it has become clear to me that both sides have their merits and flaws.

If you have the time and devotion to the written word and a slew of good editors (you can use Bubble Cow’s editing services if you lack beta readers and editor friends), think about going the self-publishing route for good or while you’re waiting for a traditional publisher to pick you up. Get your well-deserved words out there for people to enjoy.

So I will take my slice of humble pie, enjoy it with some refreshing soy milk, and get a book out there all on my own. It’s about time!