Lorna Brown, author of Debris (available in Spring 2018), has been writing for at least 13 years whenever she gets the chance. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College, and her stories have been published in numerous magazines. She lives in Massachusetts and goes back to her hometown in Ireland when she’s working on a story. She loves getting up at 5:30am-6:00am when the house is quiet to get work done (although she can’t stand it if there are no bananas!), or after her daughters go to sleep. And even when she’s not physically writing, she’s always thinking about her stories.
Regarding Debris specifically, the final draft is actually a rewrite of a story she wrote years ago. The story changed a lot from the rough draft to the final cut, so she essentially had to start over. She only spent four months (on the rewrite, when everything was all said and done) writing Debris, but she learned a lot of lessons along the way. Writing this book has helped her figure out her writing style and method, such as wanting to have a more detailed outline for her plots and subplots, as well as character development.
She has three daughters who she loves immensely and says they’ve made her a “big softie”- so much so she cries easily when she watches movies and shows, like The Voice. She loves to go hiking with her family and their dog and sees life as an adventure. She’s traveled extensively and finds it hard to stay in one place.
She is very excited for Debris to be available to the public. The release date for this fiction piece is Spring 2018 under the pen name L.M. Brown.
Dawn Napier, the author of Star Pack, has an assignment for you writers! Check out this fun writing prompt to get you started on your next great novel!
You’re in a boat over a deep, dark lake. Something scrapes the length of your boat, and you hear someone whisper your name.
Now, grab your pen and paper, or open up a new Word document, and get writing. I like to add some mood music to my writing. Here are a few “creepy” songs to use while you write. Feel free to share your creepy song suggestions, or even a bit of your writing, in the comments!
Dock Boggs, “Pretty Polly”
Snakefinger – “Sawny Beane/Sawny Beane’s Death Dance”
Radiohead, “We Suck Young Blood”
Misfits, “Wolf’s Blood”
Rolling Stone has a great list on their website, too. You can find the list here!
In this day and age of technology, many real-life experiences have seemed to fade in importance. Hanging out among friends is now just relaxing in the same room on their cell phones. In fact, any social event is made up of cell phones taking up a majority of people’s attention. Social media platforms are more important to people than real friendships in person. The internet, in all of its glory and accomplishments, has taken over a lot of people’s lives and priorities.
<I’m not bashing social media or the Internet–I’m all for innovation and taking advantage of new things that come arise as time changes. This is just my opinion on where priorities should lie, and why some things (writing) should not be overlooked.>
I’ve noticed this in myself, actually. At one point in time, my presence on social media was more important than my off-screen life. I was more caught up with Twitter retweets and Snapchat views than real conversations, and it wasn’t until I missed an event in a close friend’s life that I realized I had to check myself. I also realized it was a long time since I had written. I’ve written Facebook posts, Twitter threads, etc, but nothing for myself. Not like I used to.
I’ve kept a personal journal for years, and it has helped me immensely. Whether it be getting things off my chest, or working through life decisions, writing has grown to be a part of me. Inspiration for stories or poems come to me at the most random times, and I see writing opportunities everywhere. Surprisingly, writing is not a common hobby for the majority of the population anymore. And a percentage of those who do write prefer to have followers/subscribers; so anything they do without viewers doesn’t seem worth doing.
Hopefully today, I’ll let you in on the secret as to why writing is important and why it’s a life-changer for many of us.
Writing is therapeutic, and I’m not the only one to say so. Personally, I’ve used my journal(s) to help me through many issues, like what major I wanted to study in college, whether or not I wanted to move from NJ to PA (and back again!), through my struggles with anxiety and depression, my goals and dreams, etc. Writing helped me through so much in life and has been meditation-like. After writing, without worrying about neat penmanship or getting all the details perfect, I feel calm and collected. (For more information about how writing can be meditative, check out this article on How Life Unfolds!)
Writing for social media and for yourself are two different things. When you write for any sort of audience, there’s a filter and also a purpose. When you write for yourself, for the most part, there’s no purpose or target other than self-fulfillment. Easing that burden of meeting an audience’s expectations helps the creativity flow, at least for me!
The society we live in seems to dictate success by the measurement of how many people see your work and respond to it. Whether your choice of platform is YouTube, Twitter/Instagram, Facebook, or some other shareable network, the driving factor of this “success” relies heavily on followers, subscribers, the number of views/likes, etc. The act of writing shouldn’t need gratification from social media.
For those of us who have a Twitter (or any other platform obsession), it is too easy to get caught up in thinking personal reflection needs to be in the form of a [INSERT PREFERRED PLATFORM HERE] thread. It seems that if there’s something you want to say, it has to be done online so it can go viral.
When it comes to writing, something that seems obsolete in this day and age, this art form should be taken seriously. When I write, I try to have silence or at least soft music on in the background. If I’m writing in my journal, I don’t really care about where I am; but if I’m writing for something (like school or Ink Smith), I write at my desk to help keep me focused. I don’t care if anyone sees my writing.
I’m not saying that no writing should ever be done online. Me writing this article would be hypocritical if that was the claim I was making. I’m just saying that, as amazing as social media is, it should not replace true writing. It should not replace the soft, gentle reflection, or ferocious scribbling as a thought consumes you. It should not be peppered with SEO keywords just because you want it to show up first in a search. It should not only be written with the sole purpose of many people reading it. Writers who write for the enjoyment of it, for the catharsis of it, even for the utter need to write – those are the writers who will find their writing most relatable to others.
In short, as long as your purpose for writing is to achieve some form of Internet Fame, then wanting to post your work online to share doesn’t have a damaging effect on your writing. Just because your work doesn’t go viral doesn’t mean it isn’t a message that people want to hear or a work of art that people wouldn’t appreciate.
I am all for innovation. I’m 100% in support of social media, and I think it’s a great thing. It helps people reconnect, celebrities seem more like regular people, and it brings a lot of people together. I just think that it’s important people remember how useful things offline can be, whether in functionality or whatever else. Writing is a great tool and is most definitely worth doing in any 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.
Writers have a way of turning the nuts and bolts of creation into a heated political debate. I don’t know if this is the result of increased exposure in the form of social media or if we’ve always been this way, but it’s interesting to watch. One of my favorite hot-button debates is the issue of plotting vs pantsing.
Plotting is exactly what it sounds like. You map out the course of the story and figure out how it’s going to end before you start writing. Some plotters map out every twist and turn, while others create a rough outline that they know their characters will escape by the end of the book. Plotting is like architecture; the writer designs and measures and sketches before he begins to build.
Author Jan Ropers puts it thusly: “For me the fun moved from figuring out how it would end to how they were going to get there.” Rather than plan out every step, Ms. Ropers figures out how it’s going to end and then “pantses” her way to that ending. Different authors have different methods for plotting, depending on their literary needs.
Pantsing is more like planting a seed and watching to see what comes up. The pantser sits down with only the vaguest idea of what she’s doing and makes everything up as she goes. Sometimes the pantser starts with an image, or a character type, or an odd combination of thoughts that come together and make the writer say, “Hey I wonder what would happen if…”
The plotter writes to tell what happens; the pantser writes to see what happens.
In my earliest attempts to write a novel, I tried to plot. But I realized that if I planned the story out in advance, I got bored and lost interest in the story. Planning made me not care about writing the ending, because I already knew what would happen. This discouraged me, because at the time I thought I had to know how the story would end in order to write it.
As he often did in the course of my angst-riddled adolescence, Stephen King came to my rescue. In his brilliant memoir On Writing, he says, “Why be a stickler about the ending? Every story comes out somewhere.” So I said what the hell and gave it a shot. I sat down and started writing about a dragon kidnapping a unicorn. That was all I had—just that one image—but it was enough to get me started. I forced myself to write at least a few words every day, and six months later I had completed my first novel. It was absolutely terrible, one of the worst books I’d ever read in my life. But by golly I had finally finished something. I was on my way.
Every book I wrote for the next ten years was a complete ad-lib. Sometimes the starting point was a young woman avenging her mother’s death. Sometimes it was a party my husband had formed in his favorite role-playing game. But each time I went in with no idea where I was going. Sometimes I didn’t even know if the story would be a short story or a novel until I’d written ten thousand words and the characters were still doing things. I did what I did and loved every minute of it. I decided that plotting was an acceptable method for control freaks, but not for the free-and-easy creative likes of me.
Until the fateful day a serendipitous conversation on Twitter changed my whole outlook on the writing process. Never let it be said that the Internet is anti-creative; I’ve gotten some of my best ideas from random conversations with strangers on the other side of the globe.
I don’t remember the exact course of the discussion, but it included this question: “Why are werewolves never depicted with weapons? They never have knives or guns, even when they’re wearing clothes.”
My companion responded, “Because they don’t need weapons. They’re super strong and have razor teeth. A weapon would be pointless.”
That was a good point, but I said that nevertheless I would read the hell out of a story about werewolves with ray guns. Then I flashed on the image of a wolf-headed man in a 50’s style space suit, complete with fish bowl helmet, holding a bright silver ray gun. Werewolves in space. Why the hell not?
It seemed like a simple enough idea, so I took of writing the way I always do: I picked a scene, picked up a pen, and went to town. I finished two or three chapters in high spirits. And then the Doubts started creeping in. And then I sputtered and stalled.
Part of my trouble was my overwhelming awe of science fiction as a whole. I grew up watching Star Trek and Doctor Who; I cut my literary teeth on Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. I felt instinctively that sci-fi was this vast empire of wisdom that I, a simple horror writer, could never hope to enter.
This feeling was exacerbated by the realization that writing this book was actually hard. It genuinely felt like work. My werewolves were from another planet, with alien technology and alien ecosystems, and I had to create and maintain this vast structure all by myself. My daily word count went from a thousand words to five hundred, then to zero. It was just too much.
My husband, bless his heart, wouldn’t let me give up. He insisted that Star Pack was one of my best stories yet, and if I gave up I’d never get to the next level as an artist. So I dragged my butt through it, and three years later I finally had a finished manuscript. (As a point of reference, my usual timeline is between six and nine months.) I’ll always be grateful to him and my writer friends who insisted that my story was good and that alien invasion was going to be the Next Big Thing in publishing. I have no idea if that’s actually true or they were just blowing smoke to get me to stop talking and start writing, but it worked either way.
I learned a lot from this experience, more than I’ve ever learned from my “easier” books. The first and most important is try never to give up on a work in progress. Sometimes it can feel like you’re handcuffed to a corpse, but you have to drag that sucker across the finish line. Secondly, don’t underestimate the power of people telling you what you want to hear. Sometimes a little candy-coated baloney is just what the doctor ordered.
Finally, when you try out a new genre, be prepared to find out a new way of writing it. Pantsing is fine for genres like horror and fantasy, where if you get stuck you can just change the rules to make it work. But it turns out you can’t create an entire planet, culture, and ecosystem by the seat of your pants. Not without a lot of cursing, despair, and moaning, “This isn’t going to WORK!” to your significant other. Geography, even on an alien planet, needs to make sense. If you have predators living on your alien planet, they need prey to feed on. And the prey needs to eat, too. Worldbuilding as you go along is like building a flight of stairs in the dark with a flashlight.
When I realized that I had it in me to write a sequel, I took a deep breath, broke out my trusty notebook, and set to work on an outline. I spent about a week describing the land my new characters would hail from, then another week on the planet my explorers would discover. Finally I composed a rough outline of the events of the book. I still don’t know how it’s going to end, but I know where the people are going and how they’re going to get there.
And I still haven’t lost interest in the story. Even though I have a good idea of what’s going to happen, I still want to write it out. So plotting did not, as I have long feared, ruin my enthusiasm for writing the book.
I’m still a pantser at heart and probably always will be. But I feel great knowing that I’ve found a new way to do what I love. It’s like a new restaurant with an old love. You’ll always have your traditional date spot, but making new discoveries can bring a fresh outlook to a long-term relationship.
As an author we want our readers to be sucked into the worlds that we painstakingly develop. We don’t want them to be on the other side of the glass looking in, but to be immersed within it. We are immersed, so why is it that we occasionally see these types of faces staring at our books?
Well, it may be because we are slow to start. I am guilty of this in every first, second and even third draft of my own works. I call it: Author Information Vomit. Lovely name, I know but it reminds me of word vomit – and it has a bit of a Mean Girls connection. How you can find yourself unable to keep all the words you should, or should not be saying contained. It just kind of spills out of you. That is exactly what happens with a lot of authors who are focused on world building and character background. This is not to say that your world building/character background isn’t important, but placing it all at the forefront is just information overload for the reader.
Rule of thumb: beginnings should be interesting. Easy, right? Nope. Interesting is important, but as the author you have to make sure that the “interesting” thing happening, is a) appropriate to the story line, b) fits the timeline, c) doesn’t give too much away, and d) propels the story forward towards the main conflict and resolution.
As a side note, I do try to avoid prologues when possible — a lot of the time they aren’t necessary, and may set up your readers for a different kind of story. But use your judgement!
My best advice during the writing process is to write down everything that comes to mind. Everything. Leave it there for the first edit. At the second edit, step back and try to read it as if you have never read your book before and evaluate; don’t take huge chunks out until you have read the whole draft twice. Finally, let yourself read novel and make your cuts. It can hurt to delete beautiful lines, or great paragraphs full of background information. To ease the blow of “killing your darlings,” copy and paste the larger and more beautiful lines that you are cutting. Save them in a separate document in case you can utilize that information later on!
The editing process is a slow, dark and oftentimes unfair process where writers question their motivation to follow through to the polished manuscript. I urge you to follow through, it will absolutely, 100 percent be worth it in the end.
Keep on writing, editing and killing your darlings – your novel will be better off with a savagely determined captain at the helm.
Connect with me on Twitter! @AndersonCorinne
Corinne is an editor at Ink Smith Publishing. Since her first trip to the library when she was a toddler, Corinne has been collecting books, recommending her favorites and providing commentary on the less-than-stellar. Her belief is that if you have a problem, it’s nothing that a good book can’t solve. She holds her MFA in Creative Writing from Lindenwood University, and is currently pursuing her MPS in Publishing at George Washington University. She hopes that her experience editing and her blog posts here will help writers improve and publish their work.
Ink Smith: Where do you do most of your writing? What is your process like?
Rod: I write on my computer in a large room on the ground level of our home. I use two monitors–one screen for the manuscript, the other for research.
Ink Smith: How did you come up with the idea of this book? How long did it take you to write?
Rod: I am a big horror film fan. I love the A-Horror films as well as the B Horror films. In the past, I wrote many TV police shows. I wanted to mix a police story with horror and paranormal activity. This triggered the “idea bank” in my head I guess. The idea started small and singular but then branched out as I outlined it until it became the complete Devil’s Scribe. I was busy in life with other things when I started jotting down notes for the book before I could start writing it. I would say actual writing time was 12-18 months.
Ink Smith: Who are your favorite authors/books? Why?
Rod: When I started my writing career, I read everything that William Goldman and Richard Matheson ever wrote. I love the way they write, their style. I also read Dean Koontz and Stephen King. I like Clive Cussler—the way he uses a historic event as the catalyst for his stories and the big adventure that results. But what attracts me to a book is usually not the author. It’s the story. If the story grabs my attention, I will read the book no matter who wrote it. Good stories always have the best characters in my opinion.
Meet the Author
Rod Baker is an Emmy Nominated, NAACP Image Award and Youth in Film Award winning television writer (with Glen Olson).Rod also co-authored the 10 book children’s series The Adventures of Gabby Bear. He has a BA in Radio, Television and Film and lives in Thousand Oaks, CA with his wife. Rod is a member of the Writers Guild of America, west.
Ink Smith: How did you come up with the idea for Scream If You Wanna Go Faster? How long did it take you to write?
Wade: A few years ago I wrote a story called “Triggers” about a Gold Star mother whose son didn’t make it back from Vietnam, and how she struggled to ignore all the daily things that reminded her of him. Chief among those being his abandoned Ford Galaxie 500 sitting in the shed behind their house, waiting for its owner to come home. I had written that one just for myself, really, to try to work out some feelings I had about someone I was missing. A while later I went back and wrote a story called “American Butterflies,” told from the son’s perspective, and how his memories of the Galaxie and his best girl kept him going when things got particularly bad over there. Not long after that I wrote “Nowhere Fast,” a story that tried to capture the feelings of freedom and potential and excitement I had felt cruising the Strip every weekend with brother and best friend when we were in high school.
I realized that all of those stories shared a common thread of the automobile and I began to wonder how many lives one particular car could affect from assembly line to junkyard. I wrote about the man who bolted on the bumpers at the factory, the greasy salesman who sold it to its first owner, a woman who chased down her independence in it, the mechanic who busted his knuckles on it, the father and son who restored it. Before long I had a pretty complete portrait of this car as seen through its drivers and passengers. All told it took about four years to put it together, but a few of the scenes and ideas have been floating around in my head for the better part of a decade.
Ink Smith: Where do you do most of your writing? What is your process like?
Wade: I actually do most of my writing in my head, daydreaming while driving and listening to music, or trying to fall asleep or wake up, or when I’m supposed to doing my day job. I spend a lot of time scribbling notes down on paper, or putting notes in my phone, and trying to decipher them and somehow turn them into semi-coherent sentences later on. My family is my top priority in the evenings, so sometimes it’s pretty tricky to devote time to write. Most days that time comes late at night when everyone else has gone to bed.
Ink Smith: Who are your favorite authors/books? Why?
Wade: I’m a big comic book junkie and love Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Matt Fraction, and Kurt Busiek. But actually my biggest writing influences are usually lyricists. Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Jay Farrar of Son Volt, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley of Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell. I’m always blown away by what they can do, the complete pictures they can paint with just a few carefully chosen words. Perfect example, the very first line of “Cass” by Lucero (written by Ben Nichols): “Five sisters and she’s the one.” Just like that you’ve got an idea of this girl and her story in your head.
One of the coolest things that happened to me while writing Scream If You Wanna Go Fasterwas getting Mike Cooley’s permission to use one of his lyrics from “Zip City” for the epigraph: “I get ten miles to the gallon. I ain’t got no good intentions.” He did in one sentence what I struggled to do in 200 pages.
Meet the Author
Wade Beauchamp is from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He and his wife, Ronda, have one daughter. His writing is heavily influenced by fellow Southerners Junior Johnson, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Devil.
Visit Wade and Scream If You Wanna Go Faster on Facebook!
Writing is something that some people, the writers, feel compelled to do. It isn’t a pastime, it’s not something that you do occasionally, you have to do it. Sometimes, it’s almost as if it’s painful to not write.
But what happens when you aren’t ready to write what you know you need to? Do you just not write it? Do you let that story go?
Yes. And no.
Recently, I’ve had some moments in my life that I’d like to write about. But I know I’m not ready to write them. I put my pen to paper and I get a few sentences down – usually the angry parts that really don’t make much sense without the context of the entire story.
And then I find I can’t put into words the rest of the story.
Sometimes we have to accept that while we need to write the story it isn’t always the right time to write it. It takes time, you need time to reflect and to understand your story just as much as you would if you were creating a brand new world. Emotion is a wonderful thing, and you should share it. That’s what every professor you’ve ever had has instructed you to, “Make people feel your story.”
But your story should have resolution, or a reason for not having resolution. We should learn, reflect and make sure we tell the story in its entirety. The good, the bad, the awful, the too-terrible-to-talk-about.
You can also check out some great tips on Reader’s Digest, on how to write your memoir.
Connect with me on Twitter! @AndersonCorinne
Corinne is an editor at Ink Smith Publishing. Since her first trip to the library when she was a toddler, Corinne has been collecting books, recommending her favorites and providing commentary on the less-than-stellar. Her belief is that if you have a problem, it’s nothing that a good book can’t solve. Currently, she is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Lindenwood University, editing for Ink Smith Publishing and hoping that her blog posts here will help writers improve and publish their work.
July is Ink Smith Publishing’s Anniversary month. We started in July 2012. Our initial goal was to publish the best in Fantasy Fiction, Science Fiction and Horror. However that quickly changed. After several great submission in genres ranging from Comedy, Paranormal and Thrillers, we changed what we were looking for to one simple thing, a well written and developed book that readers couldn’t put down. That’s why in our catalog you will see a wide range of genres.
Starting today, we are offering select ebooks on Amazon.com for free! This offer will go from July 23rd to 27th. Don’t miss out!
Starting August 1st 2015, we will begin our first annual submission contest. This year, we are looking for books in the genres of Fantasy, Sci-fi and Horror. We will be selecting one winner for each genre.