Month: September 2017

Q and A with Alec Arbogast!

Inksmith Publishing would like to offer a warm welcome to our new author Alec Arbogast, author of The Last Odinian! Below are some questions he has answered for us to help get to know him better!

Message from Alec: Hello! It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for reading, and let us share in our love of storytelling together.

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: Even though they aren’t single stories, my favorites would be The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe, and also The Great American Short Story Collection. They have both had a great impact on me. Regarding single, full-length stories, I first read The Shining by Stephen King when I was a teenager. It became a sort of catalyst for my creative mind, introducing me to the immense world of storytelling, the concept of tasteful, imaginative horror. It made me aware and reflect on the struggle between good and evil, and the grey area between the two.

Q: What is your favorite food? Favorite color?

A: My favorite color is blue, and I love Thai food.

Q: What/whom is your favorite mythical creature?

A: This is a hard answer to narrow down. Recently, I’ve been drawn to Slavic and Norse mythology. However, Medusa from Greek mythology is my overall favorite. She’s a singular, terrifying creature, who can make quick work of almost anything or anyone- even the Titans.

Q: Can you share a little of any of your current work(s) with us?

A: I have three writing projects I’m currently working on. One is an action-adventure novel revolving around an elite group of soldiers; one is a story that blends elements of time travel, mystery, and horror; and the other is a gangster drama set in post-Civil War America.

Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

A:  I find quite a few aspects of writing challenging, but it’s always a good challenge. I’m drawn to historical fiction, and in these stories it’s a challenge to make sure I’m accurately representing the event while also molding it to fit my narrative. Pacing is another struggle as well, as I find it tends to do one of two things: the narrative flow develops naturally or can be hard to keep on track. Almost like an intractable horse, I feel like sometimes I have to nudge it in the right direction while it wanders off.

Q: Did you learn anything from your book(s)?

A: I learned the forbearance and discipline it takes to finish a full-length book, which can be equally an exhilarating and daunting process. I stretched myself intellectually at the same time as discovering who I was as an artist and what message I’d like to be sending. I also learned the worlds you create are a tenable space in your mind and can leave a mark on your soul.

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?

A: The Last Odinian originally came to me on a whim, to be honest. I started writing it knowing the setting and atmosphere I wanted—the haunting forests of the Pacific Northwest–and developed a narrative around that (almost similar to The Twilight Zone).

Q: Do you remember how your interest in writing began?

A:  I’ve always been interested in the function of stories, and produced some short films in school with a few friends. I didn’t discover the writing form of stories until a few years ago.

Q: Do you have a specific writing style?

A: My style varies from story to story, actually. I try to find a voice that feels right with each individual story, and the characters within. I think my prose tends to have a grounding in the contemporary style while borrowing from romanticism and transcendentalism.

Q: Who is your favorite author? What really strikes you about their work?

A: I have many favorites, but I’ll try and narrow it down. On the classic side, I admire Edgar Allan Poe’s complex prose. He tackles haunting subjects, like the inescapable reality of death, in a truly singular way. Edith Wharton made me a lifetime fan based on just one of her short stories, Afterward, due to her unique style. On the contemporary side, Stephen King has influenced me with his unending creativity, and I respect his voracious need to tell stories. His characters are always vivid and three-dimensional, and he has a pragmatic approach I admire. Craig Johnson has a sort of straight-forward and laconic approach to his prose, but it’s riddled with sardonic insight.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?

A: Find a writing process that speaks to you. Some people prefer a meticulous preparation: a diligent outline, layers of notes detailing each character, the narrative mapped out beforehand, etc. Others prefer a more organic process wherein the narrative, characters, subplot, and all the other details just flow naturally. And these are just two examples of the compositional process- everyone develops their own process. Another tip is to be true to your story. Don’t let your own moral standards and ideologies overly influence your characters or narrative. It’s important to realize the difference between who you are and what you create within your writing. On a similar note, don’t be too concerned with your audience or their opinion of you based on your writing. Write how you want and what you want, and your creations will be truer. Finally, your final story will likely be quite different from how you originally wanted it to be, and that’s okay.

 

An Excerpt from The Last Odinian

 Seeing him in plain sight was an abhorrently different experience than through the peephole of his hotel room. Light and shadow played across Kendric’s mutilated face like a symphony of horror as he stood under the bar lights. Koenig forced the coffee down his throat and exhaled. Like a boxer caught off guard, he didn’t know whether to swing a punch or duck for cover. For a moment he just stared at the decrepit man, and the man stared right back, his one working eye fixed on Koenig. Words came to him at last, and he steadied his voice… “Any final thoughts?”

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Tips to Beat Writer’s Block

I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for the past few weeks, and it is very frustrating. I go to write and I have nothing, but once I am busy and cannot write, all of my ideas starting coming in. It’s a difficult cycle, but here are a few things that helped me along the way.

1. Give Yourself a Break…Literally!

Unfortunately, the more you try, the harder it is going to be to find the inspiration. Just like when you’re working on a puzzle (jigsaw or crossword) and you’re stuck, taking a break and going back to it with a clear mind helps immensely! Taking 15-20 minutes to regroup and come back has helped me so much. Whether I go for a walk, watch one episode of something on Netflix (The Office or Parks and Rec are my favorites!), take a nap, or even just scroll through my phone—not thinking about the article/post/whatever I’m trying to get done actually helps me more after a rest.

2. Read through old material.

Sometimes, when I’m trying to write a blog post on my personal blog, I don’t feel motivated. I feel like I’m just writing into the abyss of the internet and it’s just a waste of time. And then, (because I’m trying to prove myself right), I read through old posts. Seeing what I’ve already done inspires me to write more because I’m perfecting my craft, and even through this short comparison between older pieces and newer, I see how much I’ve improved. So even if you’re trying to write a sports piece and you’re reading through an old screenplay you wrote five years ago, it still gets the gears turning in your head and helps bring the motivation back.

3. Meditate.

About a solid 65% of my writer’s block is pure anxiety. “I can’t write now, I have laundry and dishes and FILL IN THE BLANK”…and then I never actually get to writing. Or the dreaded procrastination bug: “Ah, this isn’t due for awhile, I still have time,” and then it’s the night before (or the day of) and I haven’t even opened up Word yet. Since I deal with anxiety about most things (thanks to a generalized anxiety disorder), I’ve learned to combat these thoughts. I take a few deep breaths, and I tell myself that I’m too frazzled to do anything right now, so I might as well meditate. I like TheHonestGuys channel, and I just do one of their shorter ones to refresh my mind. After doing so, I feel relaxed and don’t feel the pressure from earlier to get everything done right now, and it’s easier to write because I don’t feel as rushed or pressured.

4. Try Not to Psyche Yourself Out…or Should You?

Whenever I’m writing for myself and don’t care about my audience, I’m more comfortable and therefore it’s easier to write. I don’t worry about format or grammar. I just write. However, whenever I have to write for a purpose like a school assignment or something for work, etc.,  I find myself so caught up with everything being perfect that I forget that I am good at this. What I have found is if I tell myself that this is just for fun and only content matters, my thoughts and ideas flow more freely. I then take a break (more often than not I get a snack!) and then go back and edit. This helps keep me at ease and keep my mind thinking outside the box, not just what I think my audience will want to hear. And then once I edit, I can always make sure it meets the expectation.

5. Read Other Authors.

There are a few authors I follow on Instagram, and seeing their pieces throughout the day keeps me motivated to always be ready to write. And sometimes, when I feel particularly unmotivated, I read chapters from my favorite books or a few of my favorite poems.

These are just a few of my tricks to help me beat my writer’s block. And sometimes they don’t work, but that’s okay. As long as there is a will, and ink, there’s a way.

 

Meet Jenna LaBollita!

Jenna’s passion for writing started very young, even winning her a Young Author Award in elementary school. Since then, she has written for The Odyssey and Puckermob, and has read countless books in many genres.

Her love for writing is unmatched, and she hopes to become a published author herself one day. Jenna holds an associate degree in Liberal Arts from Ocean County College in Toms River, New Jersey.