Camp NaNo (April Recap)

I won Camp NaNoWriMo! “Winning” Camp NaNo means I successfully met my writing goal for the month, which on a purely personal level is actually pretty awesome. I went for the standard 50K word count and made it with a week to spare.

It was weirdly validating. I’m only about halfway through the novel itself — and maybe less than that after edits — but it made me silly and giddy and I walked around all day feeling super accomplished. Like yeah, bitches, I’M A REAL WRITER NOW.

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

I’ve been a “real writer” (in the published sense) for a decade now, but this felt different somehow. You’d think getting paid would be validation enough, but what can I say? Writers are a needy, greedy bunch! We need petting on a regular basis.

So yes, I’m already looking forward to Camp NaNo again, in July! I even broke down and bought a damned Camp NaNo Storysquatch T-shirt. Represent, yo.

Things I was able to finish during Camp NaNo: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

I did make a great deal of headway, though. I’ve finished several chapters that I didn’t really want to write (not because I disliked them, but because they were connective chapters and like a kid who wants to skip dinner and gobble up dessert, I was having more fun writing the whizz-bang-rotting-corpses-all-hell’s-breaking-loose-gaaaaaaah! parts instead). I also discovered a few plot holes and have set about filling them in.

(Speaking of — brief aside here — if you’re a fellow writer and you sometimes find yourself getting bogged down by plots, I can’t recommend Alexandra Sokoloff’s Stealing Hollywood highly enough. Best four bucks I ever spent.)

I also came to realize, in the desperate need to stop dicking around and finally solidify my novel’s premise, exactly what sort of novel I was actually writing. This probably seems like a no-brainer, but while I’ve been writing short stories for a long time now, this is my first real go at a full-length novel (not counting one long-ago fan fic and a truly awful fantasy novel I wrote more than ten years ago before I had the first foggy clue what I was doing).

OCTOBER DIM is definitely Gothic horror. I would call it a love letter to every Gothic trope I ever loved in novels, films, and an avalanche of penny-dreadfuls. I stopped trying to fight it and just went with it — gaslights, fogbound cobblestone streets, gloomy cemeteries and all.

It’s also deeply religious. I realized I kept trying to bury the religious themes and go for more subtlety, but nope. It’s a religious novel. I’m owning it.

Now I just have to FINISH it. *flails!*


Camp NaNoWriMo and THE NOVEL: An Update

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo started last Saturday, April 1; I’m a participant for the first time this year! While I have no idea how the traditional November NaNoWriMo works (I’ll be doing that this year for the first time as well), with Camp NaNoWriMo you’re assigned “cabins” of 20 fellow participants. The part I like best is the sidebar, where all your cabin mates are listed plus the name of their current project, target goal, and most recent progress.

It’s awakened in me a streak of friendly competition that I didn’t know I had. Nothing will light a fire under my ass like peeking at that sidebar and seeing someone that’s ahead of me. What?! xxBooberry13xx has 1,452 more words than me? I DON’T THINK SO, SUGAR!

“What do we say to xxBooberry13xx?”

It really is a super-friendly competition, but it helps keep me motivated and that’s the entire point. I’ve been using the camp to plow through scenes in my current novel — those connecting scenes that are super important but where nothing terrifying and/or epic is going on. I end up skipping them when left to my own devices so I can get on with the cool stuff, and then kicking, procrastinating, and flailing about when I can’t ignore them any longer.

Novel Update

Speaking of the novel — and while this is sort of “burying the lead,” I guess — it has a name now: OCTOBER DIM. While that is, of course, subject to change, since the novel isn’t finished yet and I’m sure my beta readers and editor will have their own opinions and advice to offer, that’s what I’m calling it instead of “Untitled” or the tongue-in-cheek working title, A Pocketful of Dead Things. The last one always makes me laugh, but that’s exactly why I can’t use it. I’m sure it has a few funny parts, but it’s actually pretty dark. Names, names — this is why titling a book tends to give some authors hives. (I am scratching myself as we speak. Sheepishly.)

I have a hard time describing the novel to people. I’m not worrying about it too much at this juncture; I have a feeling that as the story goes through the editing process, the “how” of describing it will sharpen and come into focus. But right now, mix Repo! The Genetic Opera and the Gormenghast books, sprinkle some Neuromancer on top, add the darkest and most dreadful fairy tales from the past with a healthy helping of classic monsters, then slather the whole thing in zombies — and there, that’s my novel.

It sounds cracktastic. It probably is. But I’m tellin’ ya, it works.


All Your Haints Are Belong to Me

This is the part where I would love to introduce myself with some great, public-access-style intro. Jazzy Haunted Mansion music, the camera zooms in on a coffin, it creaks open slowly — and I pop out like the Crypt Keeper. Weeelcome to my blooog. *slaver, slaver, cackle, drool*

Alas and alack, I don’t have a coffin, creaky or otherwise, and I don’t look like the Crypt Keeper (except early in the morning, before I’ve washed my face). I’m terribly sorry to disappoint you; I’ve been told more than once by people who have met me that I don’t seem like a horror writer at all. I’m chunky, bubbly, and a bit of a goofball. I don’t dress in all black, I only wear makeup at Halloween, and I collect really bad jokes like grandmas collect doilies and Hummels.

Pictured: A creepy-ass doll staring into your soul, and definitely NOT a Hummel.

(Favorite joke: Where did Napoleon keep his armies? Up his sleevies! Hyuck hyuck hyuck…)

“Ees not funny.”

For those who know me well, however — and I hope, my freaky blog-reading darlings, that YOU will come to know me well — it’s sort of obvious that I’m not really suited for anything but writing horror. I’ve been morbid since birth, quite literally; I was born on Halloween night in a hospital on Gallows Road. For a long time, I didn’t understand that Halloween was a holiday quite separate from my birthday; I thought orange and black were my colors, that pumpkins were only for my birthday. Spiders, bats, black cats and crows were all mine; Frankenstein and Dracula were monsters that belonged to me. That early self-identification with the macabre led to a lifelong love affair with all things spooky, strange, terrifying, morbid, grotesque, and just plain weird. And from the moment I learned as a wee beastie that could make stories, too, I’ve been writing them down for the pure, sweet joy of scaring the pants off you.

I have lots of plans for this blog:

1) I love to write, and talk, so this fills my incessant need to shout my opinions into the void.

2) In addition to the stories found here, I’m working on a novel — the first in a series — and it will be fun to talk about it here as a sort of documentary of the process (something to look back on when I’m old and gray and squinting at the screen through my bifocals).

3) I’m also going to talk about whatever weird thing pops into my head — from horror literature and films, to mummies, to vampire legends, to local ghost stories — all the freaky-wonderful stuff that has been and continues to be my endless source of creative inspiration.

(Short version: I’m going to talk about scary shit. Because I like it, and this is my blog.)

I plan to post every other day or so, with notice if I plan to vanish into the ether for an extended period of time (usually only on my rare days off from the Internet). I sincerely hope you will stick around and nosh on horror with me.

Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!