My New Math

There are inflection points in life. The variables shift, and the comfortable plateau becomes something else. My graph is no longer a steady line, but a hyperbola, a sine curve, a Lissajous figure expanding and tightening its figure-eight of me-then/me-now.

Life on a wave is different than life on a line. I wake up excited and energized by the changes. I am a more fearless version of myself; my hair is cut short as a warrior queen’s, I wear chunky bracelets that clang as I journey to the living, beating heart of my city, my self. All of my electrons make the jump to the next level. I feel like a bright filament, a reactor of potential. Time runs faster, and there is an intensity to the even the still moments. I wish I could hold your hand, transmit this to you, but my words will have to suffice.

Aurora potentialis.In the onrush of nownownow I stopped blogging, but I kept writing. I put another revision on my second novel, DEAD BREATH, and have just received the last of my beta reader comments for a final pass. I revisited the decisions of my plateau-self and decided that I want to submit this book to traditional publishers. I love the freedom of indie publishing, the ultimate control – but I falter in post-production. I never found my audience with STOLEN CLIMATES, and all those people who are looking for small town horror with a soupçon of  THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL are still looking because I never made it possible for them to find it. If one function of life is to keep each other company, and a function of writing is to extend that company beyond time, space, and even death – isn’t it very sad indeed that books get lost?

I don’t want that to happen with DEAD BREATH, my second novel. DEAD BREATH is dark science fiction driven by the strong-arm elements of a thriller. Traditional sci-fi publishing houses accept unagented, unsolicited manuscripts. I know the arguments against traditional publishing. They remain valid. However, good stories don’t find their way to an audience on their own. They need advocates. What is a publisher, if not a long-standing advocate for stories? I want that big, purple-ape of an advocate. I’ve picked five markets to submit to, and given that the average time for response seems to be three months, it will take me over a year from Day One Submit to get to the end of my list. By then, my third book will be finished. If there are no takers on DEAD BREATH, then I will send the next book. If I get to the end of the series, and no purple apes shout my books’ praise from the towers of advocacy, I’ll go indie – but I’ll do it right, with a plan and with the budget to back it up. No matter what happens, the wait until my next book is published will be measured in years. In the interim, I’m toying with dabbling in Wattpad and Booksie to share out some of my odd little stories. I will keep you company here, too, checking in throughout the submission process, and you can friend me on Facebook, GoodReads and Twitter.

In other writing plans, I want to go on a writer’s residency next year. Nova Ren Suma, whom I’ve never met outside the pages of her books, inspired me with her diary post from her residency at Hambidge. The idea of a space to myself and time dedicated only to my writing titillates. I love it that there are writers residencies. I really love it that they feed you. Looking at MacDowell Colony and the like made me realize that although I love the idea, I don’t have to wait for acceptance to a residency to carve that time and space for my craft. I don’t know if any of you have every visited HomeAway, but beware! – it’s addictive. My ideal “residency” is a week of rural rental via HomeAway. I picture buying my provisions; there’s a blue ice cooler involved, a rented car, and the thrill of being somewhere new. I’ll drink hot black coffee, eat crusty French bread, and spend my days writing. There will be no dogs to walk, no job, no obligations, and no internet. It will be my residency, and I’ll write the first draft of a horror novel that begs to be birthed in a strange, isolated place.  I’m going to take advantage of this surge of creative energy – can you feel it?

 

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my newsletter!  

I adore and reply to comments!

Silly Candid Video

The office is closed for Good Friday. A crazed dictator has my city on his hit list. I’d say there’s no better time to upload an old video I found in the dust of my camera’s SD card.

It is circa early 2012, and I am wearing my thrift-store find, grandpa style writing sweater. I am in my sun room, by the desk where all of my stories are born. Mr. Aniko is the off-camera voice.

“It’s possible to be emotive without being twitchy!”

 

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my newsletter!  

I adore and reply to comments!

Perspective

I’m eating my lunch in the company kitchen. It is a wholesome lunch, nutritious and just enough to satisfy my hunger without leaving me sleepy. I’m  telling you about my lunch because I have no idea how to start this post. A group of co-workers discusses the upcoming Thai New Year, and I set aside the laptop to prepare my salad. The fridge here has the habit of turning my homemade herb-and-lemon flavored olive oil dressing into a congealed, light green mass speckled with lavender buds, snips of marjoram, and piney threads of rosemary. I cross the room to microwave my dressing. Ten seconds on the clock and someone calls out to me.

 “How’s the book going?”

“It’s going well,” I say. “It’s five hundred pages and still going.”

“Wow! I meant the book you have for sale, how’s that going. I didn’t know you were writing another.”

“Writing’s what I do. Selling? Not so much.”

“Is the new one a sequel to STOLEN CLIMATES, part of a series?”

“It is the first in a series, but it is not a direct sequel.”

Another person said, “I’m too scared to read your book; I heard it was scary.”

“I didn’t think it was that scary,” I say, retrieving my salad dressing from the microwave.

“Well, maybe scary isn’t the right word. Just, you know, people are like, “Is that what goes on in her mind?”

“People always think that because I wrote the book, I thought it up, but I’m as surprised as anyone with what happens. The ideas aren’t ‘in’ my head, they sort of come from somewhere out here.” I wave the hand that is not holding my salad dressing somewhere beyond my right ear. “I guess that sounds crazy.”

“No,” a third person says. “It sounds brilliant.”

The one who started the conversation smiles and says, “The most creative things do come from crazy people. Music, art… Have you seen MISERY? Someone might kidnap you and force you to write.”

“If they give me good food and a comfortable bed, that can work for me,” I say.

There is a slight pause in conversation, as there always is at a quarter past the hour.  The woman who is afraid to read my book broke the silence. “Did you write much when you were on vacation in Hawaii?”

“Not at all.”

“Really?”

“I discovered that when it is so beautiful, when everything is so good, I have no drive. Why create something when you are already in a perfect moment? I’m writing now that I’m home, though.”

And the writing has been amazing. The book is far longer and more complex than I could have imagined at the outset, and far more intriguing. I am at the stage where I can see everything, how all the details I didn’t understand are coming together to form the whole. The book is as real to me now as the work that I do during the day, or the people who were talking to me in the lunch room. I catch glimpses of people in the halls or passing me in traffic, and I think for an instant I’ve seen one of my characters. I love this phase of writing a novel. This is why I do it. The knowledge of this feeling – this utter completeness – this is what pulls me through the doubt and confusion that come with writing a book. It is a rush.

My attitude towards writing has reverted to something more pure than it was when I started this book. If you are a long time reader, you know I started out with a specific plan, complete with publication goals and strategic marketing. When I realized I wasn’t going to make the first goal, I dropped out of the internet. I spent two months living my life, not writing, not blogging, not thinking about publication. I made some major lifestyle changes, and as my well-being improved, I gained clarity. I do not have to stick to plans driven by publication. I do not have to blog weekly. I do not have to build a brand, or build my bookshelf, or market what I write. What I need to do is simple: eat healthfully, sleep well, laugh, and write for the joy of it. It is all so very, very simple. It took months of changing one small thing at a time to get to this point. I have finally stopped framing my decisions and goals in ways that inhibit my natural trajectory towards being exactly who I am meant to be.

As a result, I am not planning to self-publish my book when it is finished. I am going to send it to traditional publishing houses, and while it makes the year(s)-long rounds, write the next book(s) in the series. If I get to the end of the series and no one is interested, then I’ll consider self-publishing.

Maybe.

The fact is that I am not good at being an indie. I don’t have any drive towards the post-production/after-writing aspects of being indie. I went that route with STOLEN CLIMATES because the thought of the submission process sounded stifling, and everyone pointed out how I’d make less with a traditional contract. However, that concept only applies if you’re making money. I’ve never even come close to recouping the production costs of  STOLEN CLIMATES. Some days, I consider pulling it out of publication all together, which would really amount to unpublishing on Amazon. After more than a year, I still haven’t made STOLEN CLIMATES available on all platforms (read: B&N, Apple, etc). I never even got around to making a print version. And I have no interest in doing those things on my own.

I will never be a successful indie.

emergenceAnd that’s okay, because I understand now how much the act of labeling myself poisoned my ability to focus on writing. I was so worried with all the things an indie must do to be successful, that I couldn’t see the sheer simplicity of living to write, as opposed to living to write something to sell. I still want to share the stories I create, but now I am willing to see if I can find a partner to help me do that. Maybe I won’t, but I believe in what I’m doing. The best part of all of this is that waiting for responses from publishers won’t matter because while I am waiting, I will still be writing.

That is what I wanted to say. It took a frozen block of olive oil and some random conversation, but I’ve managed to find the words. I am no longer who I thought I was.

 

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my newsletter!  

I adore and reply to comments!

And the Winners Are…

we hopped 'til we dropped!

Coffin Hop 2012, like all good parties, has left us with new friends and good memories. I enjoyed the variety and inventiveness of your Hop posts, and I was thrilled with the comments left here on my blog. I’m sure we’ll bump into one another again sometime, and then we’ll smile and say, “Remember when?”

xoxo,

-aniko

~~~~~~

Prizes were drawn by writing each commenter’s name on a slip of paper and putting it in a lovely felt basket with an owl applique. People who commented more than once got an additional entry for each comment. Once a slip of paper was drawn from the lovely felt basket with the owl applique (and green LED eyes!!), that paper was not put back for further drawings.

Haunted House Group Scream Winners

( Receive a copy of Stolen Climates )

Penelope Crowe

Erik Gustafson

Kim Koning

Carrie Crain

Milo James Fowler

Ann Michaud

Jennifer Stuart

James Garcia, Jr

Jolie du Pre

Jeanette Jackson

Jason Darrick

Bn100

Nina D’Arcangela

Joseph Pinto

Laura Thomas

The Blood-Curdling Scream Winners 

( Receive a signed Stolen Climates Postcard )

Carrie Crain

Erik Gustafson

Inion N. Mathair

Jason Darrick

Blaze McRob

fuonlyknew

Nina D’Arcangela

Joseph Pinto

Liese2

Anne Michaud

The Strangled Scream Winners

( Receive a Signed Stolen Climates Poster )

Nina D’Arcangela

Blaze McRob

The Pleasant Surprise Scream Winner

( Receives a bundle of fiction by The Emissaries of Strange )

Erik Gustafson!!!

The Grand Prize Scream Winner

( Receives the Stolen Climates themed goodies + the felt owl basket )

Kim Koning, come on down!!!

Congratulations on winning my Grand Prize! I hope you enjoy the waffle mix from Kerby Lane, which is a 24-hr diner in Austin that’s amazing. You could eat waffles and read The Haunting of Hill House, of which I’m sending you a physical copy. I’m also including a packet of cosmos seeds to grow in your garden, a signed Stolen Climates poster, and a severed hand!

All packed in a lovely felt basket with an owl applique!

Kim's Grand Prize

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my newsletter!  

I adore and reply to comments!

Going for the Gross Out

Welcome, Coffin Hoppers! Prizes! Ghost! Inspiration! Another ghost!

Quick Win: Leave a comment with the phrase “Mother Nature is not just a metaphor” to get an ebook of Stolen Climates.

Our visit to the field left us chilled, so we decided to warm up in the living room. The paprika colored walls reflect the warmth of the fire, and every now and then someone cuts through the room, dragging the cold outside air along behind them like a ghost. We’re on the couch, sipping scotch and pretending that it is only the temperature making us shiver.

When the party gets quiet, as even the rowdiest parties do, we can still hear the distant screams. The sound steals in through the chimney, moves through the flames, joins us on the couch. As the one who set the mood by telling a ghost story in the middle of a haunted field, I feel obligated to lighten things up a bit; like any writer, the only thing I can think to talk about is writing.

The most I can promise is that this particular story won’t involve ghosts. It might go for the gross-out, but that’s just the risk you take. I top off our drinks, set the bottle on the end table and move slightly closer to you.

hey how for halloween!

Not everything in Stolen Climates was inspired by other artistic creations. A bit of it was lifted from real life. From my life.

In the backyard, near the door, there is a flower bed. The first year we lived in the house, a plant that looked like a cross between a sego palm and a philodendron grew in that flower bed. We thought the drought of the following summer killed it; there were no more leaves, just a cactus stump no more than a few inches high. That fall, I crouched to pull weeds and fallen leaves out of the bed; my knees were pressed into the dirt, my gloved hands seeking. It is possible I was listening to music, and it is possible the wide sky was blue. All I remember clearly is the pain. A sudden, literally stabbing pain.

I peeled my glove from my left hand.

A thorn was shoved under my fingernail. It was a quarter inch long, and I could see the thick line of it under my nail. It stuck out of the tip of my finger, a fat wooden stake.

Apparently, the sego-philodendron grew a crown of thorns and, apparently, I had bad luck.

The thorn hurt, but it was too strange and too unbelievable not to share. I went inside, to where my husband sat in his office. I think I asked him if he wanted to see something cool.

I added that scene to Stolen Climates, although I amped up the supernatural causes for it. You can win a copy just by commenting, and every comment is another entry to win one of my Scream-y prizes. Don’t be shy!

 

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my newsletter!  

I adore and reply to comments!