Sunday, April 26, 2015

Guest post: Mandi M. Lynch

I really like opening my blog to guest writers. Not only do I have to do very little work, but I get to introduce new voices to those of you reading. It's intrinsically important to broaden our horizons and find new weavers of tales, to listen to different opinions and story tellers, to learn, to grow.
This week I have 2 guests, the first of which is the brilliant Mandi M. Lynch. So sit back and read her words. Learn, grow, and be better for it.
 
 
 
The Detail is in the Tale

 
I just read a line* from Neil Gaiman.  “There was a girl; her uncle sold her. … That is the tale, the rest is detail.”  Maybe that is why writing is both so easy and so difficult at the same time.

Sure, we can all come up with a simple storyline.  Okay, there is a guy and he’s suspected of being a terrorist… But then the problem becomes that we have to make our story be different than a thousand other stories that have exactly the same story line.  There’s a guy, and he’s suspected of being a terrorist, on the InterPlanet Hree, orbiting the Nth galaxy’s inner sun…

And then what if you write something that a thousand other people wrote that you didn’t have the luxury of reading yet?  So you spend how many hours writing a story and then you send it to your beta reader and they’re all like… “Oh, I just saw this movie last week!” Damn, now what?

My problems tend to come when real life decides it has caught up with fiction. 

(No, fiction doesn’t imitate real life – it’s totally the other way around.)

I had a book just about planned out that I was working on some minor plot issues and character development for.  A lot of it had to do with the spread of a virus, and a few political things going on, and… and then the political things sort of happened and we had that month long Ebola scare.  And then what do you do? Do you write it anyway and wait for potential readers to think you’re ripping things from the headlines, or do you hold on to it for six months, a year, more?  What do you do?

Of course there are no answers to it.  The number one thing that drives me crazy as a writer is listing to other writers ask if they can do things like there’s an absolute list.  “Am I allowed to write my story in <point of view>?”  Um. Yes?  “Can I put <character type> in <place>?”  I don’t know, can you?  “No, I mean, am I allowed?  Because I see other stuff where…”  Okay, but are you trying to do exactly what the other stuff does or are you trying to be your own writer and do your own story?

This is the tale, the rest is detail. And if you’re going to be a writer, you put on your big girl panties, and you start putting details down.  And who cares if the next person over wants to psychoanalyze whether or not your curtains should be blue or green or polka-dotted with contrasting neon zig-zag trim and pompoms dangling?

As writers, we have a target audience.  It’s exactly one person in number, and it’s ourselves.  You write to yourself – the story that you want to tell in the way that you want to tell it.  Because even the most brilliant story becomes total crap after you let a thousand so-called-potential readers tell you what you have to do.  You know that artist you’re writing about with polka-dotted curtains with the contrasting neon zig-zag trim and pompoms dangling?  Six beta readers later, they might be black leather, designed to block the natural light that your artist so desperately needs.

So be true to yourself.  And do the easy part – tell the tale – but then settle in for the long haul and do the hard part, too.  And don’t let others muddy your story by telling you how they want it.  If it were so easy, they’d be doing it themselves.

 

[*American Gods, hardback p 252]

 

 


 

 

Mandi M. Lynch wrote her first story at the tender age of six, pecking at the words on her mother’s typewriter.  Although the crayon drawings are marginally better, the spelling has not improved.  Aside from being a writer of speculative fiction, a blogger, and an editor, she publishes Ink Monkey Mag and a variety of anthologies, and is programming director for Hypericon, a speculative fiction convention based in Nashville, TN.  Her next anthology release is The Tomato Anthology, which makes its debut this August, and she has several horror stories in the works.  Lynch lives in the suburbs with three cats, none of which write due to their lack of thumbs.

 

You can find her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/authorMML, http://facebook.com/inkmonkeymag, or at her book review blog at http://bookinthebag.wordpress.com.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Motivation and Success


Okay, in my last blog post I told y’all why I became a writer and why I write horror, in a weird, looking back into the shadows of the past kind of way. Today I want to touch on what inspires me, who inspires me, and what keeps me motivated. I also want to say a little something about how I can write as much as I do, because that’s something I get asked all the time too, and it fits here. So let’s get going.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what inspires me, but if I was to look deep inside and tell you the truth, I would say that my inspiration comes from me. No one else is making me get up at 3AM to write. I don’t have some huge contract with a scary deadline
looming over my head, there are no threats from my publisher that they’re going to pull my book if I don’t get it done within a few days. I get up and write because I need to. I have this undying need to become successful in everything I do, and writing is no exception. In fact, writing is the prime example of something I need to be successful at. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, and I won’t stop until it’s my only means of support.

I have other inspirations, of course, such as other writers, friends I’ve made in the
industry, and the people I look up to. I mentioned Stephen King in my last article, but don’t really need to mention him because Steve inspired just about everyone. Other important influences to my writing are: Charles Bukowski, Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of meeting Jack Ketchum a few times, and Brian Keene is a friend of mine. I’ve had the honor of drinking alcohol with the man and talking about the publishing industry, movies, and all kinds of geeky fan-boy things. To say he is a gentlemen is a gross understatement. When success finally comes my way I can only hope I’ll be as genuine and cool as he has always been. The aforementioned authors inspire me, not because they’re big name, big deal authors, but because they write what they love, they live what they love, and they are always
honest and true to their fans.


 
 
 
 
 
I want my books to be read by tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people. I want to make them scared, make them angry, make them horny, and make them disgusted. I want them to love me and to hate me, talking about my books to their
friends and writing about them on social media. I want my words to echo in their minds and hearts, lasting long after they read the last page. I want to be the ghost that haunts them.

I’m motivated by the small amounts of success I’ve had, the tiny victories, and the not so tiny ones. In the past couple months I’ve been picked up by a big(er) publisher (Booktrope) and was accepted as a member of the International Thriller Writers. Those two things are HUGE for me. I moved from the dozen or so small presses I’ve been published in to a solid medium (and rapidly growing) publisher. I have about 5 new books coming out and close to 20 books being re-released through Booktrope. There is actual marketing surrounding my books, and more people are going to read my words than ever before. I can’t help but take the motivation from these victories and roll them over. They help fuel me. They motivate me. They push me to do more, to do better, to achieve, to find the success I’ve always dreamt of.

And to accomplish this, I do one thing, and one thing only. I write. I sit down in the morning, long before the sun comes up and sane people hear their alarms. I sit down at my desk, fire up the computer, and I JUST WRITE. I follow a goof formula (for me) that has worked for years. I write for a half hour, then I rest for ten to fifteen minutes. I jump on social media, update my pages, read the stupid shit that’s on there, and then go back to writing for another half hour. Then I get up, get more coffee, have a cigarette, check Facebook, and then I write again. And again. And again. I do that until it’s time to go to work. And then when I come home guess what I do? I write again. I try to get a solid 5 hours in every day. If I can’t, then I do what time and my life allows, but I write every single day. Every. Single. Day.

Okay, Lone Survivor is coming out soon, so I hope y’all buy it and leave me an honest revue. I’ll be posting excerpts over the coming weeks to whet your appetites. I’m also opening my blog up to some guest authors, so you can get to know them a little bit as well. I’ll also be doing guest posts on other blogs, so check Facebook and twitter to see where and when I’m posting. Until next time, my friends.