Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gods Love the Bookstore

**OK, I missed last week. It was Friday before I realized with all the hub-ub of Christmas my writing and indeed the blog kind of went the way of the dodo. But looking back, we were supposed to write about conferences anyway, and since I've never been to one, I wouldn't have had anything to write about anyway**

I love my local book store. I really do. Not only is nearly every type and title of book available to browse and buy, but the gods blood (ie coffee) is made fresh for me. No more stumbeling downstairs 5 seconds after I wake up and try to make the stuf myself. But then comes the problem of where to find what I'm looking for.

Paranormal books are a bit peevish to find in the local mega store. I've found that if I want to find something with a paranormal bent, I have to look for the subgenre. Paranormal mystery. Paranormal true life. Paranormal romance (yes, I've found it, and can reccomend some gooooooooooood ones).

That's why I'm trying to create the Paranormal Bookstore. Come one, Come all, every Paranormal book that you can find! Would make my life a lot easier at least.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm sorry, Ma'am. Did you say Paranormal books?

Does that phrase sound familiar to you? No? Try going to your local bookstores and asking for the paranormal romance, mystery or suspense section and you're bound to hear it. All works paranormal are flying off the printers faster than you can say ghost. Unless you KNOW who you're looking for on the shelf, then you'll be out of luck. How can you discover new authors with a golden pen for ghouls if you can't find the genre?

Sure, publishers know a potential for big sales when they see it, but can't they petition the bookstores for a section all its own? So that the loyal readers and writers of the genre can find them?

Sci-Fi and Fantasy have their own sections, why not paranormal, huh? Where's the justice? What would it take? The cost of another shelf? The excuse I hear most often is "We just don't have enough customers with interest to specialize in that category." Oh, really? You would if we could find them.

With so many different sublabels under paranormal, you could probably fill two aisles. I write paranormal suspense and paranormal romance. How much easier would it be to publish and sell your book if the reader didn't have to sort through all the romance, fantasy and suspense novels in the store? Imagine going in and finding a whole aisle of paranormals full of new promising authors! Wow! You'd have to tear me away from the store and my purse. My fondest dream is to walk into Books-A-Million and find my novel on the paranormal shelf. It'd be great to see Barbs, Nichole's, Heather's and J.K.'s right beside mine too.

I'll start a petition ....Who's next to sign?



Monday, December 29, 2008

Wandering the bookstore aisles

When I decided I wanted to write "mysteries with a paranormal twist," I did what most good writers do.  I headed to the bookstore.  That's when I found you can't just walk in and say "I want to read mysteries with ghosts."   Not only does the staff look at you like you've lost your marbles, but they don't have a place to direct you, either.

Mysteries are easy to find.  Usually, they're housed right under the big sign that says "Mysteries."  It's the paranormal stuff that's all over the store.  You can find it in mysteries (if you're lucky and know what to look for), romance, and -- almost always -- science-fiction.  

The fact I can't find exactly what I want to read is one of the reasons I choose to write.  Well, that and the fact I've read some really lousy books that I know I could have written better, but that's a topic for another day.

I do wish,  however, that I could find some more mysteries with a paranormal twist.  Maybe booksellers should create a great end-cap display to feature the paranormal mystery authors.  And when they do, I have every expectation of my books being featured.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Getting the Most Out of Conferences

Attending a writer’s conference can literally change your life. You could walk away with a new friend, a new opportunity, even a new career.

I try to attend at least one conference per year. This year, it will be more. Here’s the schedule:

Love is Murder, Chicago Feb 2009
KillerCon, Las Vegas, Sept 2009
Bouchercon Indianapolis, Oct 2009

Love is Murder will be the first one for 2009 and it’s a great conference. It’s for writers and readers of mysteries and thrillers, but I also saw some horror and paranormal authors as well. Here's a few authors I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from at last year’s event:

Lee Child
Barry Eisler
Tess Gerritsen
Carolyn Haines
J.A. Konrath
Tom Shreck

I also attended pitch sessions where I met a publisher who enjoyed my work and invited me to participate in an anthology. That book is called MISSING and will be debuted at this year’s LIM. The proceeds will benefit missing person’s organizations and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. It can be purchased at Echelon Press.

Which brings me to the meat of the matter. How can you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to conferences?

Find one in your genre. This is a rule I stick to, although there are some great cross-genre conferences like the ones the RWA put on. For the most part, attending a mystery conference for a mystery writer means you’ll meet agents, editors and writers from that genre and you’ll learn from them.

Be prepared. Finish the book, perfect your pitch, print out some business cards, pack a notebook and pens, bring a recorder, wear comfortable shoes, and smile.

Attend the panels. Conferences are filled with fascinating people offering their time and knowledge. Take advantage of this! I met Tom Schreck on a panel about animals in writing and I have to say, it was so worth it. I personally have a dog in my books, so I found it interesting to see how other writer’s handle it. I also learned some martial arts moves from Barry Eisler, marketing tips from publisher Karen Syed, and the writing styles of Tess Gerritsen and Raymond Benson.

Mingle. This is easier said than done. You may feel intimidated. You may be shy. But really, you just have to get over it. Grab a glass of wine and chat up some fellow writers. You’ll be so glad you did. I’ve made a few friends at conferences and got several books signed in the hallways. Lee Child even took the time to explain how the TV show Murder by the Book is filmed. And I sat next to Carolyn Haines at dinner one evening. Fun stuff.

Make the pitch. Only do this if your book is complete, but if you think it’s ready, attend as many pitch sessions as you possibly can. Not only will it help you perfect the pitch, but you may also gain invaluable advice about your storyline, your pitch, and your platform.

Be yourself. Writers are a great group. They like helping other writers. They’re funny. They’re fun. Just be yourself, ask questions, wear comfortable clothes, relax and enjoy the experience.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I've been told conferences are a great way for writers to meet other writers, editors and agents in the business. With a nine to five, three kids, and a husband who is legalled disabled, traveling just isn't something I can do, not to mention the expense. I've never been to a conference, so I'll share my ideas of networking instead of conforming to the group topic this week.

Contests are a great way to get your work out there and get feedback from readers, agents and editors. Working in the capacity of a reader and an unpublished writer, I often volunteer to judge writing contests. By reading those entries, seeing how they are judged, I learn what mistakes not to make. It's so much easier to pick out the pov switches in someone elses work that in your own. Looking at other's work with a critical, but honest eye always gives me a fresh perspective on my writing. Then there's the benefit of reading untried stories and hearing new voices emerge.

My son asked me what I was working on the other day and I replied, "a dream". Of course he thought I was nuts, so I explained that the words on the screen were a tiny grain of sand in the writer's imagination. One she had wrapped carefully with experiences, heart, love, sacrifice and hope that one day she'd see her creation in the form of a brilliant pearl for others to enjoy. For the few moments I hold those words in my virtual hands, I see these things. Each one is unique and it's my job to examine that pearl in the light, see where it's lacking, and hand it back to the author gently so she can polish it to a shine. Some of those dreams soar and its my pleasure to help them fly.

Have a Happy Holidays everyone, no matter which you celebrate. May peace, joy, and love be yours throughout the coming year.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Conferences: best way to get "re-blued"

I love conferences.  Conferences of any kind get me excited.  In my mind, I think of it as "re-blueing" -- a hold-over term from my years in the U.S. Air Force.  

I've been to my share of conferences.  I went to editors conferences each year I was active-duty as a "DINFOS-trained killer."  I'm not sure how much of those I remember (and I'll blame the passage of time, as opposed to the hours in the bars, on my faulty memory) but I kept the information passed out and refer to the handouts even now when I'm no longer associated with the newspaper business.  I've been to conferences for philanthropic organizations my family is active in.

Writing conferences, though, I've been to very few.  My local writer's club, the Black Hills Writers Group, has hosted a few that I've attended -- once with William Kent Krueger and one with Bonnie Ramthun.  I've also been fortunate enough to attend some on-line classes (one taught by Mary O'Gara and one by Emily Brightwell)

The only other real-life conference I've attended is Mayhem in the Midlands, a mystery conference held annually in Omaha, Nebraska.  I've only been to this one once, but LOVED it.  It's among the closest to the Black Hills -- less than 500 miles away -- and that is a big factor.  Plus, not only is it in my hometown, so I get to see my parents and sister and brother-in-law, but it's an amazing opportunity for me to meet other authors and get "re-blued" about my writing.  

I'm going to Mayhem this year.  I've paid my registration fee, but still need to book the hotel room.  I'm looking forward to renewing friendships I made last time I went, as well as making some new ones.  I want to hear how other authors have struggled with getting characters out of certain situations -- like how Lori G. Armstrong had PI Julie Collins at a stop sign on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for days before realizing Julie wasn't supposed to be there at all!  I want to know that the frustrations I'm going through aren't some clue from the Universe that I shouldn't be writing.  

Conferences are also an opportunity to find my writer's voice.  Maybe that's just something I do, I don't know.  But in addition to reminding me that I can accomplish this goal of having a published novel, I'm more excited about writing after a conference.

The one and only downside to a conference is the cost.  And I'm not talking about the registration fee or the travel costs or even the hotel bill.  The cost that kicks me in the butt is in the vendor room.  Like most writers I know, I'm a reader.  A ferocious reader.  After the last Mayhem, my TBR pile doubled in size because I purchased books from almost every speaker I heard.  And, after two years, I've finished most of them.  I'm not sure where I'll PUT any new books I get at the next Mayhem in the Midlands, but I've already budgeted to bring another ton home.

If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times.  Writing is a solitary profession.  The opportunity to mix and mingle with other writers is important.  Writers need to vent.  We need to understand that the struggles we face aren't unique to us alone.  We need to know that the obstacles blocking us are something we can overcome.  And those published authors give us some hope -- hope that we will succeed and prosper in a difficult career.


Friday, December 19, 2008

From Wee Folk to Wariness

When I was a child, I believed in fairies. Beyond the borders of our carefully maintained lawn, in the shoulder-high weeds that separated our New Jersey half acre from the neighbors, I thought shy wee folk cavorted in the Queen Anne's lace.

As I grew older, my level of belief declined. My love of the stories, the lore of the paranormal in all its forms, however, grew.

I don't think I've ever achieved that level of total belief in the unknown again. I'm not a complete skeptic, but I'm more cynical than I was back then, more questioning, less accepting at first glance. I'm probably not the only adult who feels this way.

Writing paranormal fiction hasn't changed how uncommitted I feel to either side of the "existence of paranormal" debate. If anything, resources such as The Skeptical Inquirer have not only given me inspiration when it comes to my fiction, but have made me question more.

I guess I'm more of a Skully than a Mulder, though I do believe there is more out there than we can see.

One thing writing has made me believe in is the power of the imagination. With our imaginations, we can be anything, do anything, go anywhere.

In ghostly spirits,

JK Mahal

Photo by .Catherine.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

“There’s magic all around us…”

Stevie Nicks summed it up quite nicely with those words. I’m sure if you opened your mind to it you can pinpoint a mystical experience you couldn’t quite explain.

Maybe you had a dog that seemed to know what you were thinking just by looking at him.
Maybe you remembered an old friend and that moment the phone rang. On the other end of the line was the person you were just thinking about.
Maybe you had a terrible feeling about a trip, so you canceled it. Then the brakes on your car went out.
Or maybe you had a dream that came true.

Whatever your personal beliefs, everyone has had some strange experience they couldn’t quite put their finger on. Call it cosmic, call it paranormal, call it spiritual, but it happens all the time.

For me it all started with a penny.

I was on the phone with my mother one morning when she asked me what was new. “You know, it’s the strangest thing. I keep finding pennies everywhere, in the strangest places.” It was true. The garden, in my napkin drawer, on a bench I sat on. Just odd places you wouldn’t expect to find a penny. My uncle had recently passed and my mother said, “You know what those are. They’re pennies from Heaven. Check the dates, I bet you’ll find some correlation.”

I did. And she was right. The dates might have signified anything from the year I got married to the year I was born.

From then on if a penny approached me (and I had rules--it couldn’t just be in a parking lot or at the Piggly Wiggly) it went into the penny jar.

That little experience became a common thread throughout my first novel. My protagonist, Stacy Justice, gets hit in the head with a penny from her spirit guide, sparking the entire plot.

I’ve had many otherworldly experiences, but none quite so satisfying, or tangible, as that.

What’s your story?

“Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night…”
-Bruce Springsteen

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Which came first, the ghost or the scream? (short even for me this week)

I've always known there was a world outside what is considered normal. Until I was well into my teens, I still made fairy forts (which I started making again recently) and begged my cop dad to carry silver bullets. I still see no reason that a vampire can't exist(we do after all live in a 24 hour society, so why the hell not?). I believe completely and totally 100% that my cat is a reincarnated gigolo.

So I guess I can't say for sure that my writing about the paranormal has had any effect on my world view. If anything, it's just solidified in my mind everything I knew to be true in the first place. The only thing that may have changed is that since I started writing my story, I've noticed animal mannerisms in a lot more people around me.

(busy getting ready for xmas)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In Plain Sight

Have you ever questioned the phrase "The best place to hide is in plain sight."? Think about it. How could you hide something or someone where everyone can easily see them? Ask any mom. Try finding one pink sock in a sea of unmatched ones. I think that's how the paranormal world exists within and around ours.

When I started writing Blood Shield books, other's past experiences, and articles on psychics seemed to fall in my lap. Everywhere I looked I noticed a news story or magazine article on some aspect of the subject. When you write paranormal, you have to force yourself to think outside the box. You must be williing to take reality of the known world and that of the paranormal realm then push your mind one step further.

How? "Ghosts don't exist." Well of course they do, or else half the world has gone crazy, just because everyone can't see them does not meant they aren't there. Are there werewolves? Vampires? Those are a little more iffy for me, but they do make great characters. Haven't seen a ghost or spirit lately? Have you had goosebumps in warm weather? Then you've brushed the curtain that separates this world and theirs.

Even in paranormal there are certain standards, if not rules, to the universe. You can't write about something or someone unless you believe or at least give the benefit of doubt that it exists. Even if only in the recesses of our imagination.

Til next week,


Monday, December 15, 2008

Seek and ye shall find

Have you ever noticed that you can buy the coolest car, the one that not too many others have, and then (all of a sudden) that same make and model is every other car on the road?   The cars were there the entire time, you just didn't notice it.  

Writing about the paranormal is kinda the same thing.  Once you're looking for something, you'll find it.

When I started Ghost Mountain, I didn't know anything about Spirit Guides or Totem Animals.  Once I decided that one of the major characters would be a Spirit Guide, I found the topic discussed on some of my favorite "woo-woo" podcasts.  The Ted Andrews book "Animal Speak" literally fell off the shelf in front of my at the local bookstore.  I took those as pretty good hints that I should take Spirit Guides more seriously.  The podcasts and book were always there, I just didn't notice the Spirit Guide conversations before.  To be perfectly honest, I still don't know much about them, but I'm learning more everyday.

The same type of thing happened when I wanted to learn the meaning of various herbs and flowers.  Not only did I find those plants around, but I kept having a need to have them around as well!  (You'd be surprised at how quickly some herbs will get rid of a cold or stomach ache!  Then again, maybe you wouldn't...)

Ghosts, well, they've always been around.  But they seem to be more active in the past year or so.  About as long as I've been working on Ghost Mountain, to be exact.

I've recently decided to incorporate a mandala in the story and now I seem to find them everywhere.  (Even a couple of great books at the local bookstore that I'm seriously considering purchasing!)

So my writing about the paranormal has only opened me up to more paranormal experiences.  I've been more open to the "woo woo" and the paranormal has made itself more available to me.  Isn't that the way it usually works?


Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

That's how I feel on most days, when writing is but a distant dream hidden behind clouds. Of course this column is a day late. Again. Whether it's also a dollar short is a judgment you'll have to make on your own.

John Lennon once famously said that life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. I had grand plans once, I still have grand plans. But then you put your mom into a nursing home, move houses twice, lose a father, have a mother-in-law spend a year in and out of hospitals and spend the first four months of your long awaited pregnancy attached day and night to a toilet and plans go out the window.

I'm still trying to learn how to put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) while rolling with life's punches, because the hits keep coming and I doubt they'll ever stop. Hopefully, they'll just become less dramatic.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Writing Through Roadblocks

Ernest Hemingway once said the scariest thing he ever encountered was a blank page.

Strong words from a guy who ran with the bulls, hunted big cats, and survived more than one place crash.

Writing is nerve-wracking, frustrating, and heart-breaking work. That's what makes it great. And whoever said it would be easy?

If you want to be a writer you have to apply butt to chair, because the only difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is perseverance. That means let the laundry pile up, the dishes sit, and feed the kids PBJs. They’ll all still be there in an hour.

I don’t write every day, I admit. But I do work on something writing-related daily. My website, my blog, research. Even when I'm in a restaurant, a coffee shop, the grocery store, my writing hat is on, because you never know when something will spark an idea.

But I also don't let the written work sit too long. If it sits too long, it gets cold and stale and like a moldy loaf of bread, you just won’t want to touch it.

But if you are at that stage, here’s a few quotes to inspire you to get cracking:

The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn't behave that way you would never do anything.
John Irving

Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time... The wait is simply too long.
Leonard Bernstein

In twenty years I've never had a day when I didn't have to think about someone else's needs. And this means the writing has to be fitted around it.
Alice Munro

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.
Gloria Steinem

In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write.
Pearl S. Buck

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.
Isaac Asimov

I'm much faster now. When you only have a certain amount of time to write, after a while you learn to use your time well or you stop writing.
Alice Hoffman

If I waited till I felt like writing, I'd never write at all.
Anne Tyler

Scott took LITERATURE so solemnly. He never understood that it was just writing as well as you can and finishing what you start.
Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Life, The Ultimate Monkey Wrench

Looks like this week does have a topic, Life and how it gets in the way of writing. Since I finished nano, Life has kept me from my other wip's. I say I'll write in the morning before the kids get up, or while dinner simmers, and I usually do. Here lately my muse is on vacation.

Stress is a writing killer. Run here to work, to school, back home to cook some dinner that might be edible. Laundry, grocery shopping, homework to be done, all this tires out my muse and me. When I do finally stop running, I can't write, so I edit. This gives me the chance to look critically at my work without my muse poking her nose in and saying "But I really love that scene!".

I apologize for the late post, all. Enjoy your families and the time you have together. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. Til next week.


Life is a River, and I'm Still Wearing Water Wings

Life is for lack of a better word, organic. It is ever changing and mutating, always different and full of surprises. I wake up every morning not knowing what to expect other than the unexpected.

So I don't get wonkey when my best laid plans to get some writing done get thrown out the window. My writing happens when it happens. The same can be said of my painting, my sewing, and my home improvement projects. If I'm not in the mood to write something, I'm not going to sit there at the computer and force myself to write something just to get my word count up.

Of course there are times when the words do come pouring out and I'm nowhere near my computer. I'll be at dinner, at work, or playing mommy. For that reason I carry a notebook with me wherever I go. I can honestly say that there is more of my story written in my notebook than there is on the computer I'm currently writing on.

I long ago learned that it's far far easier to float along with the fluid movement of my life than to try to swim upstream.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans

This week's blog won't have a theme.  Unless you count being late and stressed and running around like a chicken with it's head cut off a theme.  I don't.  I call that life.

I'll be honest.  I'm a planner and a list maker.  I have MANY calendars and a palm pilot to keep track of where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing.  I have a grocery list on the fridge and a to-do-list next to my computer.  My husband claims that I just like to be able to cross items OFF the list.  He may be right.

But, in the end, it doesn't matter.  It all gets thrown out the window somewhere between getting out of bed and pouring my first cup of coffee.

Sometimes my writing is like that, too.   There are times I need a good kick in the butt to get back on track.  That can be hard to find in Western South Dakota.  It's not like I can hit a Mystery Writers of America meeting for inspiration.  (Not that the Black Hills Writers Group isn't cool, they just don't have the same number of published writers!)

I've found that it helps when friends ask "how's the book coming?"  I feel guilty if I have to give the same answer to someone twice.  There's a great feeling of accomplishment to know I'm further ahead today then I was last time they asked — even if it's only a thousand words!

And so, after a week that included more meetings then I care to count, a trip to the ER to learn about an infection that looks JUST LIKE appendicitis, not as much house work as should have been done, and putting up a Christmas tree, there's no theme to this week's blog.  Nor is there much progress done on Ghost Mountain.  

As we enter the holiday season, my wish for all writers is that they remember one thing.  It's awfully hard to write about life, when you don't take the time to actually live it!


Friday, December 5, 2008

A Vampire Walks into a Bar....

I'm not a very funny writer. Scary? Sometimes. Evocative? I'd say yes. But I don't write the kind of laugh out loud moments -- or even quiet chuckle moments -- that would classify me as a humorist.

Which doesn't mean I don't think humor and the paranormal should mix, just that I don't write it. The closest I come is a touch of wit -- like having the Mayor doing a particularly benign crossword puzzle in the spec episode of Buffy I wrote, or pointing out the coroner's love of Grateful Dead teddy bears in my spec X-files.

My favorite kinds of paranormal have moments of levity in them. The snappy one-off comebacks of Buffy. The tomato as villain fruit in the Kim Harrison Witch series.

We laugh when we're amused, but we also laugh when we're afraid. The two are connected on a primal level. But as any comedian will tell you, "dying is easy, comedy is hard." It takes a special type of writer to make people laugh. I think it's as much a natural talent as singing on key. Sure you can learn to warble like a canary, but it's never quite the same as for someone for whom it just flows.

I'm hard-pressed to point out the funny moment in my manuscript. It's not all gloom and doom, mind you, but it's just not funny -- at least not to me. Unless my writing comes across as unintentionally funny, which is possible.

I admire those who can lighten up the darkness. It's not my scene.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tactical Humor

My creative writing career began as a humor columnist for Illinois Magazine. I didn’t realize I could write humor until I did it for money. Then I couldn’t stop. I love cracking myself up as I write and I hope the reader gets a laugh out of it too, which isn’t always the case, no matter who you are or what you write, because humor is subjective. You might find someone slipping on a banana peel hilarious. The next guy might think it’s stupid.

But most stories have some humor in them at some point, in one form or another. Even horror novels like JAWS have a laugh or too in them (we’re gonna need a bigger boat) and those laughs can be gleaned from many different techniques. Let me break it down.

ACTION: Humor can come from simple action. Let’s go with the JAWS theme here. Remember the scene in the movie when Chief Brody and company answer the screams of a girl yelling “SHARK!” The tension is building, the hunt is on, and all guns are pointing in the water at… wait for it…a kid wearing a fin. Then he points to his brother and says, “He made me do it.” That’s funny.

SETTING: The atmosphere of a scene can provide humor as well. Right down to the paint on the walls or the car someone is driving. A creative use of setting can provide comic relief in any story. Here’s a scene from UNCOVERING AMETHYST where my protag is being introduced to the cottage she’ll be staying in, decorated by her amorous aunt:
Fiona grabbed a remote control.
"Okay, honey, now here's the switch for the fireplace."
Poof! The fireplace turned on.
"And this is for the stereo."
"Ohhhhhh, my love, my darrrrlin, I hunger for your touch…" sang a Righteous Brother.
"And this works the Jacuzzi."
I almost expected Barry White to pop out from beneath the bubbles.
"Can't you just see a young couple falling in love here?" Fiona clapped her hands together.
Actually, I could see a young couple plowing through a box of condoms here, but who was I to judge?

DIALOGUE: Much of the humor in a novel will happen in dialogue. Both internal and external. A conversation between a wise-cracking detective vs. an upper-class socialite is bound to have some funny in it. The side-kick in my book is a bartender with an attitude. One of her favorite things to do is to put people in their place and teach rude customers manners. Here’s an example of that:
"Hey, bartender," shouted a man a few feet down. "I've been waiting here for ten minutes trying to get a drink."
"Oh yeah?" Cin turned to face him. "Why don't you make a complaint on my website? It's"

DESCRIPTION: Similes and metaphors are a perfect tool for injecting humor into a story. Here’s one I used to describe a local publisher in my book:
Shea continued the paper but when it came to reporting, he was like a blind man driving a car. He could fire up the engine, but it was only a matter of time before he would run it off the road.

Or in describing a house, a personality, or a person’s looks, get creative.
Here’s another example:
Her hair was platinum even-I-don't-pretend-it's-real blonde, her nose small and her eyebrows tweezed within an inch of their lives. Judging from the look of her face, I'd bet the local Avon stock was seriously depleted.

I personally enjoy laughing out loud when I read a story, so that’s the kind of work I produce. So there you are, have fun with your writing and for more examples, here’s some of my favorite funny authors:

Janet Evanovich
Lisa Lutz
JA Konrath
Ellen Shanman
Toni McGee Causey
Marian Keyes
Carl Hiassen


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm Only Laughing Because I'm So Scared

You have to make them laugh their ass off after you've terrified them out of thier skin. I consider it a coping mechanism. You can't have absolutly nothing but tension, terror, and taute nerves throuout your whole story. It's just too much for people to handle. Even Shakespeare put at least one sceen of absolute comedy in every tragedy he wrote, he found the sublime in the ridiculous. Think the drunken guard at the gate of Hamlet. If you don't break up the tension, you loose your readers.

I can find the sublime in the ridiculous all around me. Trip a friend while running away from a zombie? Hilarious. Serve garlic bread to a vampire just to watch her squirm? I'm in stitches. Buy a designer flea collar for your ware wolf buddy? Comedy gold.

That's just a glimpse into my deeply scarred emotional disorders. How does this work with what I write? Since I tend to write as myself, all of the weird things that I find funny have a way of working into my story. And as those who know me would attest, I would do each and every one of those above things if given half the chance.

Take Wanda for example in the story I'm writing. She's your average thirty something woman with a bullet hole in her head and complete and total amnesia. And if that wasn't enough, she also happens to be a Ware-creature. Now, I know what you're thinking.. Ware-Wolf. Nope, not our girl. She's a Ware-Cat. To be specific, she's a Calico-Maine Coon mix, which makes her you're average house cat. To me, that's damn funny. Because who would want to be a CAT for gods sake? Everybody wants to be a wolf, or at least something halfway impressive.

Like I said, the sublime in the ridiculous.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Humor in Writing...O..Kay?

If you have ghosts, werewolves, vampires etc. in a story, you're bound to have terror and tension. How do you add humor to balance the scales without making your characters sound like cheesy excuses for slasher flick victims?

You obviously can't have pie-throwing vampires or werewolves juggling flaming swords, but the everyday life deal can be pretty funny so you work with that. Case in point, BLOOD SHIELD my paranormal suspense for nano, has this scene. Liv Corrigan, fem. main character and psychic, has been sleeping in the hero's bed (not like that lol) after waiting all night for him to return from some dangerous mission. She wakes, goes to look for him, and almost knocks him down as he opens the bedroom door. Both scream and the pink rose in its vase along with the scrambled eggs on the breakfast tray go flying. Tough guy with eggs in his windblown dark hair, rose petals on his shirt, and a scowl makes a hilarious picture to me. A pyschic who can't see whose on the other side of the door? LOL! A moment later the tension is back, danger looms, but Liv and Jack are better for the laughter. Throw in the ridiculous and smile.

Okay this bit is a little off topic, but I wanted to share. My grandma passed away on October the 13th. Her home was ransacked and all her valubles stolen the night she died. We've gotten them all back but for her antique dresser she prized. My mom asked me about it and I got this picture of where it was. (No previous seeing or knowledge I swear!) I'm still creeped out that I 'SAW' where my grandma's stolen dresser was, and the cops found it that exact place yesterday. I'm sure she'd be happy her dresser is back. Guess where the missing will was? Yep, taped to the back of one of the drawers. Wierd stuff happens. Watch out for it and believe.)


Monday, December 1, 2008

Humor and sex just happen — well, humor does anyway.

Humor is hard to write.  That's why I don't try.

I'm not saying my stuff is funny.  I'm not saying it's not.  I just don't TRY to make it funny.

When I write, I try to be "real."  I try to make my characters like you and me.  Ok, so there might be a little more of me in my main character and a little more of the guy who annoyed the crap out of me at the grocery store in either the bad guy or the victim.   Sometimes what I write comes out sarcastic, at least to my inner voice.  But my inner voice has been known to have a sarcastic streak, so that shouldn't surprise me.  

It shouldn't come as a surprise to those who know me that I don't try to be funny.  The "3 Stooges" were never my favorites and I just don't get slapstick.  I mean, why is physical abuse funny?  I'm much better with the one-liners or the deadpan answers from off-the-wall.

I guess I inherited my dad's sense of humor.  He's the guy who, when a waitress says "my name is Jane, and I'll be your server" replies immediately with "my name's Jim and I'll be your customer."  Or will explain to the checkout lady at Wally-world that he just returned from a vacation and only has Hawaiian currency.  Will they take that?  (Honestly, you'd be amazed how many don't realize that Hawaii is part of the United States and, therefore, has the same currency!)

So, for me, humor happens.  Sex doesn't.  Well, not in my fictional life anyway.  I can't get my married couple to kiss without it sounding stupid. 

In my real life?  Well, that's for me to know and you to NOT find out...  at least not in my writing!