I'll send the wolves that hunt at night, charging through the shadows with a thunderous whisper, tickling the air with fetid breath that smells of death. Teeth glint like steel in the moonlight, howls calling for blood. They hunt within the dark, blackish coats reflecting hell fire. One bite and you're forever theirs, forever mine. Don't fight the wolves, give in to the sinful desire. I am the wolf. I am Christian Jensen.
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
(No, fiction doesn’t imitate real life – it’s totally the other
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
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
[*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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
posed the question on Facebook earlier: What
would you like to read about on my blog. So here you go Jennifer Lopez,
this is why I became a writer.
easiest answer to this question, and the one I’ll give first, is that I became a
writer because I had to. It’s just something that’s always been inside of me, a
compulsion to put ideas to paper and tell a story. Ever since I was old enough
to read I’ve wanted to be an author. I’ve told stories for as long as I could
remember, standing in front of my class in grammar school and making things up
as I went along, or hanging out with my friends at the park or on camping trips
and telling one ghost story or another. Most of those tales were recanted from
books, but I twisted them, making them mine and adding characters. I loved
scaring people, creating nightmares and putting vivid images in their minds. So
yeah, the easy answer is that I just kind of had to be a writer. It’s who I am,
what I do, and what I love.
harder answer, and the one that’s much more detailed, starts back when I was
around 8 years old. My father was a drunk, and he’d come home more times than
not hammered off his ass. There would inevitably be some big fight with my
mother that, more times than not, ended with my drunken father leaving the
house with a flurry of curse words and slamming doors. I couldn’t put on music
to mask the sounds of the fighting and threats because if he heard that I was
awake he’d come into my room. I didn’t own headphones and there was no money to
buy any, and to survive I had to pretend I was asleep. So no TV, no music, no
noise of any kind.
left me with books. I would grab something, climb under my bed, and read by
flashlight. I’d lose myself in the worlds created by others, finding solace in
their words and safety in the pages. Once my father left I’d climb back into
bed and wait for my mother to come crying. I always hated that part the most,
trying to comfort her when I was terrified myself. I knew nothing would be okay
but I couldn’t let her know that. After she left I’d lay in bed and think about
the story I had read before, changing it around and making it my own. I’d
invent new stories based on what I read and get lost in them.
day fate handed me a strange curveball. I loved horror, even as a little kid. I
watched slasher movies on TV before dear old drunken dad came home. I’d rent
them from the video store when my mother had the extra three dollars. I liked
the idea of something that wasn’t my father scaring the shit out of me. Oddly
enough it felt like I could defend myself against Freddy Kruger or Jason
Vorhees more proficiently than I could protect myself from dad. It was during
this period, when I was around eight years old and still trapped by the horrors
at home, that I found a copy of Stephen King’s Pet Semetary. My cousin was
going to sell it in a garage sale, but he gave it to me instead. It wasn’t
kindness that enabled that gift, it was a black sense of humor. He thought the
book would scare me to death and leave me scarred for life. Instead it got this
whole train running.
read the book. I was eight years old, working my way through an adult novel,
one of the scariest written at the time. I poured over the pages, reading and
re-reading it until I grasped it all. Never before had the words of someone
resonated with me so clearly, the world Stephen King painted in my head crystal
clear and terrifying as hell. Of course I couldn’t grasp the real horror of a
parent losing their child, but to me Gage was just a dead kid doing horrible
things, things I could actually fight and survive. I wondered what my father would
do if I died. Would he bring me to tainted ground in the hopes of resurrecting
me, or would he just sit in the bar like he did every night and bitch about my
death like it was an inconvenience? To this day I would like to think the
former, but know the latter.
King was the game changer. He gave me a way out of the miserable fucking life I
lived. He was rich and successful. He was just as sick and twisted as I was,
and yet he made a living off the darkness inside of him. It made a weird kind
of sense to me. I loved to read. I loved to tell stories. I loved to create,
write, and draw. I had a darkness inside of me that needed to get out. What
better way to purge the demons from your soul than to inflict them on others? I
could unleash the horror of my life on the world at large and in doing so, just
maybe, heal some of my own hurt.
I started to write. I used an old typewriter my aunt had left behind. I spent
time every day after school working on short stories and trying my hand at
longer pieces. They all sucked, but each one got a little better. I showed them
to my friends and family. I handed them in as writing assignments. I asked my
teachers for advice and criticism. I was never shy about what I wrote or the
fact that I wrote. I was never embarrassed to hand my work off to someone
because it always just felt right.
the years my hobbies changed, my interests matured, and my life grew more
complicated. My parents got divorced. My father moved to North Carolina where
he died drunk and alone about five years ago. My mother got remarried and had a
family she could be proud of, which apparently didn’t include me. I got my own
apartment, then my own house. I moved from job to job. Most of the things in my
life changed, but writing has always been a part of it, one of the biggest and
most important parts. It’s the only dream that never died, the one thing I have
always been good at. The one thing I will always be proudest of.
hasn’t made me rich like Stephen King. It hasn’t paid me enough to make a
living…yet. But with every word I write I know I’m getting closer to that
dream. Someday soon I’ll be making a living off my words, and more and more people
will get to read them. And maybe someday, hopefully, those words will inspire a
broken child and help them find their way through the darkness.