Giving Back via Social Media—Indie(s) Spotlight.

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National Children’s Cancer Society from Jamal McLaughlin on Vimeo.

As author’s we use social media for a lot of things. We promote our books; connect with bloggers, readers and reviewers; we connect with other authors; and we share our individual journeys. This week’s Indie Author Spotlight tells the story of what can happen when we use the connections to reach beyond ourselves…when we use them to touch the lives of others…when we use them to give back.

It all started with a Facebook group which was created to connect authors. Talks of writing books for charity began to flow between the authors and so the books Wild Cards and Children of the Night were born. 100% of the proceeds will go to The National Children Cancer’s Society, a charity organization, dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with cancer.

We all know the work that goes into things like writing and compiling a book, hosting a blog tour, and promoting a project so to think that this group of extraordinary authors came together to do it all for charity is amazing. Also, I can think of no charity more deserving of the contribution than the National Children’s Cancer Society. I had a 6 year old cousin pass away in November from childhood cancer and so I have a new understanding for the impact that Children’s Cancer can have on the life of the children as well as the families.

The group continues to give back as they work on another collection of stories, this time for the ASPCA. Check out the following posts to get to know the authors and books created for this wonderful cause.

https://ashleywillismusings.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/charity-blog-hop-children-of-the-night-national-childrens-cancer-center/

https://ashleywillismusings.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/childrens-charity-blog-hop-wild-cards-national-childrens-cancer-center/

The Joys and Pain of Researching…#writershelpingwriters

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I’m beginning to really fall in love with my short story collection (tentatively titled “Willow Moon: and other stories”). Although I am not as close to completion as I would like to, the stories are coming along nicely. I love the horror aspect of it and it feels great to stretch those writing muscles which haven’t been used in a while. I actually forgot how much I love building tension and terror…and how much I love the characterization in short stories.

It’s funny how something like this can start out as a small project and grow into something that means so much to the author. It began as a collection of horror stories, based on the Celtic properties of each month’s full moon. Throughout it, I have put my own spin on the spirits and monsters of mythology from various cultures. Although the main focus is building horror and creating stories that are terrifying, I am able to bring the theme of the collection as a whole to life. The overarching theme of the collection is quickly becoming “Dark Places”. Perhaps this would be a better name for the collection? It is something I will have to consider.

Anyway, I’m digressing too much here. This post is about research. I am not an author who shies away from research. In fact, I quite enjoy it. My brain aches for knowledge and researching for a novel or story fulfills this ache. Still, with this collection, I am pulling from a lot of different sources. Although the basic characterization of each story comes from the Celtic Lunar Calendar, I am not limiting myself to Celtic characters.

I just finished a story rooted in Lakota mythology and started one based on Catholic culture. I found the research on the Lakota culture easy. Trying to find a list of demons acknowledged by the Catholic Church? Not so easy. I mean, I can easily find talk within the Catholic Church about demons in general. What I’m looking for is more specific…more directed. I am, perhaps, too meticulous in sticking with the themes of each story so using generalities doesn’t really work well.

I guess my hope in writing this is that an expert in demon exorcism will read it…or at least someone who has experience with researching the Catholic church…I’m just looking for a point  in the right direction or some kind words about the joys and pain of researching.

 

Horra…Horra…and I Just Realize I Like Killing People!

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My next release will not be a young adult fiction, like Darkness Within. I haven’t established myself as an young adult author yet, so I think that’s okay. In fact, my next release will be something completely different than Darkness Within. It will be more dark and sinister…and a lot of people will die.

You see, I really like killing people. Not in real life, of course. In real life, I am a tree hugging, book loving, pacifist. I wish I could say that my blood lust was “left field” and in no way indicative of my own mind but I can’t. It is something I have been aware of since my childhood; it is something about myself that I love. There is a piece of my brain; a small section in the back corner that loves the gore and terror of the horror genre. When I first began writing, horror is the only thing I would write. I love haunted houses, scary movies, and (of course) horror literature.

I could tell myself that it has nothing due to a genetic predisposition toward fear and the paranormal but I would be lying. I will save the entirety of that story for a rainy day…it’s not something I need to get into just yet. Let me just say that I’m not the only person in my lineage who’s teeth are set on edge at the thought of a paranormal story or event.

In fact, the warping of my brain probably came about because of this. Growing up, everyone around me read. My mom read, my dad read, my grandmother read (and wrote)…I grew up in a house full of books.  I learned to read at age 4 and gobbled up every children’s book that I could get my hands on. By the time I was in the 4th grade, I was bored with children’s books of all shapes and sizes (including middle grade and young adult fiction). I wanted to read the big books. I wanted to read the books that the adults around me were reading.

My dad read primarily western…I had to be really desperate to read his books (although I did love listening to them on tape on long trips). My mom and grandmother, on the other hand, both read two genre of books: romance and horror. I was forbidden to read both (at first). I tried reading romance novels but they scared they scared me to death. The thought of being so immersed, physically, in another person that good judgement and morals went out the window was terrifying to me. Was I going to end up like this? Would I become silly and giddy like these stupid girls? I would shudder at the thought of it. (Spoiler alert: I did…*sigh*)

After the possibility of romance novels was out the window, I began sneaking and reading my mom’s horror novels. I had been watching horror movies since I was an infant so I didn’t know what the big deal about these books was, anyway. I quickly learned that the written word can be much more terrifying than a movie. Stephen King was my first, and my favorite. I read Pet Semetary, Carrie, and Delores Clairborne early on. Then I moved onto Dean Koontz and VC Andrews (most notably).

That was the beginning of the end for me. It was as if something in my brain that had been kicking and screaming had been set free. For a long time, I read only horror and I wrote only horror. It wasn’t until I was much older and developed a similar connection with classical literature and poetry that I began to branch out with my writing.

Now that you know why my mind is so warped, you’re probably curious what it is that I’m writing?

It is tentatively titled “Under the Full Moon”. It’s loosely based on the Celtic Tree Calendar. If you’re not familiar with it, I will explain it shortly. Each month has one full moon (except in the case of a blue moon). The Celtic people developed a calendar based on these moons and gave each month’s moon a list of attributes and properties which turned into myth and legend. It was a way of personifying the moon and building a deeper connection with the lunar cycle.

Yes, I know, I write about the moon a lot. That’s because duality fascinates me.

It is only loosely based on the calendar because the uses and attributes of the Celtic Moon Calendar are positive and uplifting. It started out with the purpose of being an inspirational piece…that was before the caged animal in my mind let out a deep roar and set itself free. It may be a mistake to do it like this but my beast needs feeding (I haven’t written horror in a very long time). After all, every moon has a darkside, right?

How else is it different than Darkness Within? 

It’s a collection of short stories. I love short stories. I remember buying short story collections when I was little and reading them under the covers, when I was supposed to be going to sleep. I would promise myself that I would only read 2 of the stories and then I would go to sleep…it never happened like that. Instead, I would shift into a ravenous dog. I would devour every story in the collection I could before my eyes blurred and I drifted to sleep.

Now, I’m no Ray Bradbury but I’ve written a fair amount of short stories. In fact, Darkness Within is based on a short story that was the winner of the 2012 Muskogee Public Library’s Summer Reading Program Short Story Contest. Short stories are my comfort zone; they are my home.

I love the pacing of short stories. Writing a novel is a push and pull. There are moments of action strung together with points of thought and reflection. It’s like building a house. First, the novelist builds a foundation and then works on the interior of it; running wire and stringing lights. The  novelist pulls the reader along on a journey and that’s a beautiful but acquired skill.

The short story, on the other hand, is more like demolishing a house. A good short story will hit the reader like a bulldozer and drag them along the highway at 60 mph. I’m very excited about this project and I will keep you updated on the release schedule, once it’s ready for release.

Chapter 3: Redemption

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Chapter 3: Redemption

I met my goal last night. I have posted the first part of the third chapter while I am working on the second part: the birth of Awen. Being 600 words from my goal for today makes me feel amazing. I have never felt so assured in finishing on time than I do now. I am really beginning to feel like a professional writer….I hope you all read and enjoy. I am so thankful to receive, and give, support on this journey.