Tuesday, August 31, 2010


KillerCon was a great first-time conference experience. Absolute aces. I made amazing new friends, networked, got my name out there. I passed out business cards. I befriended the editors of at least three horror markets. I met so many writers... artists who inspire and astound me, new names on the playing field, experienced authors who had plenty of advice to offer - it was just a matter of asking.

KillerCon had a lot to offer, and here's a little bit about the different aspects of the conference:

Panels - Nine panels were offered at this year's KillerCon. There was a great variety of topics, from women in publishing to shapeshifters in horror fiction. Informative and interesting, and they offered the chance to ask questions and add to the conversation on most panels, as long as there was time. I took some great notes on the query letters and screenwriting panels, and I will post those here later in the week, if you're inclined to know my thoughts.

Prose - Between panels, writers read from their works. I listened to amazing prose from Brian Lumley, Adam Pepper, Michael Louis Calvillo, John Skipp, Cody Goodfellow, and Tananarive Due. It was a thrill to listen to these authors and have the opportunity to ask them questions about their work and their careers. There wasn't a single boring or bad reader and I wish I'd had the opportunity to sit in on every single reading there was.

Pitch - My pitch session was with an established horror agent, and it went really well. He seemed impressed with my concept, and asked for the first few chapters of my novel, plus a synopsis. He also asked for an excerpt featuring the monster of the novel, once he found out what the monster was. Hell of a nice guy; he set me at ease immediately and we had a real conversation that lasted much longer than the initial pitch session was supposed to - we talked for half an hour or so instead of the customary ten minutes.

Parties - After ten and eleven hour days of working, it was time to party. I had a great time mingling with everyone and talking about a little bit of everything, from writing to books, music, movies, and moonshine. Anything under the sun (and some things that aren't) came up over the two nights we had together. Saturday evening never ended for me, because a group of us stayed up forever - no kidding, three of us never went to bed. It was fulfilling to spend time with other writers - people who understand who I am and where I am in this process of crafting my career. And it was effortless. I clicked immediately with several people, and I'm looking forward to discovering and developing those friendships.

Particulars - The staff was dedicated to making sure everyone had something to take away from the experience. They had a snafu with the original conference hotel on the first day, but they worked hard to overcome the difficulty and make sure everyone was accommodated. The Stratosphere was a stellar hotel for a convention. The KillerCon attendees were welcoming and happy to talk with me, and I made a lot of new friends this weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing most of them again at KillerCon 3, if not at World Horror Con in 2011.

Them's the basics. Now - I know you've got questions, kids. Lay 'em on me. I'll be posting more this week on the panels I attended, and I had some really great ideas for an upcoming contest and a blog hop, too. I missed y'all and am glad to be back; now it's time to get to work!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back in the Land of Sweet Tea and Free Internet

Howdy, y'all!

I'm back on the east coast after my trip to Vegas for KillerCon! I had a fantastic time, made lots of new friends, and had a wonderful pitch session on Friday. I'm in Atlanta at the moment, staying with a friend. Tomorrow I head back to Greenville and I'm so ready to get back. I've got a lot to work on and it's exciting!

Thanks so much to everyone who sent good vibes and encouragement my way! It really paid off. Expect a full report tomorrow on the convention!

See you back here tomorrow! I can't wait to fill you in on what all happened at the convention, but I gotta crash for now. I can't keep my eyes open. I'm wiped out!

Have a fantastic Monday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ready... Steady... Go!

KillerCon is this week! Whoooo!

I've been working on getting the novel edited, and putting a pitch session together. After a heated debate with my writing partner, I've decided to put the cut first section back into the novel. It's not my job to hack and slash at the prose; hopefully I'll have an editor interested in doing that. At this point, I feel the need to just back away before I do serious damage to the novel.

The pitch session has been worrying me, but I've finally wrapped my brain around it and done my best to stop being so damn stressed about it. I'm determined to enjoy the conference and relish it for exactly what it is: a chance to network and make new friends in the horror writing community, as well as get some pointers and suggestions for how best to query agents and editors about my manuscripts. Anything else is just gravy, at this point. It would be awesome if my book is a hit with an agent or an editor at the conference, but it's not something I'm going to obsess about. Especially if that would keep me from having a good time at the con.

So now I'm counting the hours, minutes, moments until it's time to go. I keep going over checklists in my mind, making sure I haven't forgotten anything. I finally finished the one-sheet for the pitch and it looks good, as far as I can tell. I feel like I'm stumbling around in the dark making this stuff up as I go along, but I'm sure everybody feels that way the first time.

I'll give you guys a full report when I get back... in fact, if I'm able to blog from the hotel I'll probably post something at the end of the week about how everything is going.

What are you looking forward to this week?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Proverb of the Month is...

"If you can do something about a situation, don't worry about it. And if you cannot do something about a situation, don't worry about it." 

This is a lesson I'm still striving to learn, but it's sinking in. Slowly.

I've been absent for a few days; my apologies, y'all. I'm just trying to get my head on straight before the conference next week. I've never been to a writing conference and of course I've never had a pitch before, so I'm understandably anxious. I took a break for a bit so I could collect my thoughts and breathe. 

Now I'm a week away from the con, for better or for worse. In one week, I'll be heading to Atlanta to make my flight. A week from tomorrow, I'll be in Vegas, checking in to the hotel. A week from Friday... pitch time. But it's all right. After some time away and a long talk with an old friend (who's also an artist), I feel better. Stronger. And ready. As much as I can be, anyway.

I sound grim, don't I? Heh heh heh... Well, I am a horror writer. But don't worry; the excitement will be back. I'm just glad to be past the worst part of these pre-con jitters - what I believe to be the worst part, anyway. I missed you guys while I was away. Hope the world's been good to you while I was gone.

I'll be around more in the next few days, and I'm sure the exuberance will return. For now, I'm just basking in the relief of letting go all of that worry I've been trying to process. Tomorrow, we get back to the warm-wet-puppy excitement of it all.

Until then...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Like a Freight Train

Here it comes.

In two weeks my bags will be packed and I'll be on the road to KillerCon. I start the journey with a road trip to Atlanta, 'cause it was a LOT cheaper to fly out of ATL instead of Greenville. I'm crashing with a friend overnight, and then heading on to Vegas.

I've been working hard on my manuscript, but I don't know if it's gonna be done. I'm really concerned that it's not going to be in a shape that I'm comfortable with showing, and that kinda freaks me out. Especially since I have a pitch session FOR the novel coming up. I mean, I'm sure everyone attending KillerCon - especially the agents and editors manning the pitch sessions - are professionals, but I'm sure you know how hard it is to shake that Oh-my-God-I'm-in-front-of-the-class-and-where-are-my-PANTS feeling.

The last few days I've been in a standstill, like the doe who's found herself unlucky enough to be caught on the train tracks as her death approaches in a rushing growl of thunder and steam. I open the manuscript and look at it. I know the beginning HAS to be rewritten, but...

Sigh. I HATE buts.

I'm grateful to have found KillerCon, but I wish it was in October like my original timeline called for. Then I would have a finished, polished product to take with me to Vegas. Something I would know is the best work I could possibly give to a prospective agent.

Oh well, wish in one hand, spit in the other, see which one fills up first.

Fellow writers, when you go back through your edits, is it hard to read your own prose? Do you sometimes question whether or not you should subject another human being to experiencing said prose? I know I sure am this week... as I hear the train whistle in the distance, I know there's not much time left to get my shit together.

Send me some good productivity vibes huh? Thanks guys.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Perseid Meteor Shower

I wish I could somehow orchestrate a huge blog meetup this Thursday. Tap into the science fiction of Star Trek to transport whoever wanted to come see the Perseid meteor shower with me that evening.

The Perseids are a meteor show that comes about because of Earth's orbital progress through a comet's debris field (in this case, it's comet Swift-Tuttle). They're called the Perseids because they seem to emanate from the constellation Perseus, which is also known as the Seven Sisters... and some of you may be amused to note that the name of this constellation in Japanese is Subaru... which is why the Subaru logo has seven stars in its design.

I LOVE meteor showers. I'm a big old geek. Astronomy fascinates me... I'm far too mathematically challenged to deal with the physics of the science, but I love thinking about the stars and planets, and our place in space (hey, that rhymed!). I'm one of those weirdos that VOLUNTARILY goes to an educational planetarium show, just because I love looking at the night sky so much.

And then add in the excitement of a meteor shower... which is, basically, a whole night of guaranteed shooting stars... and I'm in heaven (no pun intended). Every shooting star is a wish granted, a little magic sprinkled into the world, and man do I ever need some magic this month.

I know a great place to watch it, too. There's a little turnoff on highway 276 just before you get to Caesar's Head state park. It's a really fun twisty-turny-windy road that goes up and up and up through the mountains... although I do prefer driving during the day because the scenery is incredible. At night, though, there's no lights or any cars on the road, and once you get to Bald Rock, you can see for miles in three directions.

Here's a picture of the view from Bald Rock: 

It's the perfect place for stargazing... I went there last December when the Leonids came to town. It was amazing, I saw a fireball in the sky. I also made a hyoooooge thermos of hot chocolate (like, a damn half gallon of hot chocolate - I swear!) and when we got too cold we made a fire on the mountain and ate s'mores and drank hot chocolate and my God, weren't we the kings of creation on that particular evening...

Ah, pardon me, I'm rambling... I'll get back to writing about writing tomorrow, I promise.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Surfin' Saturday

Howdy, all!

On a whim I've decided to share with y'all some funny and/or interesting stuff I found around the internet this week. A lot of people really liked the turtle I posted yesterday so I thought I'd share some other stuff too!

I think I may have mentioned once or twice how much I love Star Wars, so it was a given for me to share SeƱor Vader!

Do you know about the LHC project? LHC stands for the Large Hadron Collider, and it's one of the most interesting projects out there! The scientists working on the LHC are trying to isolate the particles that are responsible for starting our universe! What's even cooler is that they've found a way to turn the sounds of decaying particles into music! Check it out here.

This is kind of a long entry, so I'll put the rest behind a jump. Click "read more" to see the rest of this week's findings!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Century Post!

So this is my 100th post to this journal! Whooo!

I'm pretty proud of what I've accomplished with this blog in the last eight months. I've posted consistently, documented my journey as a first-time novelist, and made some great friends along the way. And some of you must like what I have to say, because I now have 144 followers! I can't believe it!

Thanks to every single one of you for your kindness, support, and positive energy you've sent my way. I never expected anything like this when I started this blog. I'm overwhelmed at the amount of amazing writers and bloggers I've met since I started this journey.

And the journey is just starting to ramp up... with KillerCon on the way (don't worry, I'll be giving you a full report *salutes*), other conventions to plan for, editing on the novel close to being finished, a new novel to research and start a timeline for, short stories to polish and/or compose, a website to launch (later this month!), and a whole lot more... I hope you'll stick around for what's coming up next.

And as for other things coming up next, remember that Pay it Forward contest I had a couple of months ago? The winner was Karen G from Coming Down the Mountain. I bought a copy of her book (as per the contest prize rules) and expect to finish it this weekend! So keep an eye out for my review next week, and I'll also be posting an interview with Karen!

There's a lot of stuff to work on this weekend... finalizing business cards for KillerCon, working on the edits for the novel, practicing for the contest at the convention, finishing up Karen's book and writing a review, getting short story submissions ready for upcoming deadlines. I'm so looking forward to the days when I can do this full-time and not cram it into weekends. But until then, I'll just keep on going for as long as I can and try not to get in this guy's predicament:

Sometimes I feel like this when I am editing... Almost there, almost there, almost... wait a sec... WHAT needs to be revised again?! Where am I in this book, anyway?!

I'm sure y'all can identify. ;)

Have a FANTASTIC weekend, friends!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Stoker Weekend

I found another horror writing conference - Stoker Weekend next June. It's about the same price as the other conferences I've found, and the guest of honor is OH MY GOD Peter Straub!

Yeah... Peter Straub! The dude who wrote Floating Dragon? And Ghost Story? And In the Night Room? Okay, okay... and YES, yes yes yes, The Talisman and Black House with... ah... my writing hero, Stephen King?!

Oh yeah that guy. ;)

Guess how I found out about this one? I became friends with KillerCon on Facebook. Through that friendship I became friends with Cutting Block Press. On one of their posts earlier today, someone commented that horror writing conferences were really starting to pick up, now with KillerCon and the WHC and Stoker Weekend.

Stoker Weekend? I said to myself.

Roughly fifteen seconds later I was having a joygasm as I looked delightedly at the home page of another horror writers' convention I want to attend. There's a ridiculous amount of cool stuff happening at this conference - yes, OH MY GOD Peter Straub is gonna be there, but there are also workshops, meet and greets, readings, a "pitch-a-thon"... man it sounds like a blast!

Now I needs to get to penny pinchin'...

Everything seems to be slowly falling into place, it took signing up for KillerCon for this to open up the way it has. Y'all wish me luck... I feel like I might be going down a rabbit hole soon.

The gent frowning at you at the top of this entry is none other than Bram Stoker himself, BTW. ;)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pitch vs. Synopsis

I took a screenwriting class a couple of summers ago, and on the first day the teacher explained the concept of an "elevator pitch" - that is, if you were a screenwriter suddenly stuck in an elevator with a movie executive, would you be able to summarize your idea in the length of time it takes to go ten floors?

I was enchanted with the concept - what a great idea! I thought, never realizing how frickin hard it could be to condense a complicated story into less than three minutes of conversation. I'm hoping my trouble with summming the story up in just a few words is because my head is inside the novel and I'm unable to hold it far enough away from my perception to really give it a concise definition.

Does that even make sense?

I'm worried the reason I'm having trouble is because the novel's too complicated - and then I wonder, is it possible for a novel to be too complicated, if it's written well?

In any regard, I've made headway on the synopsis, at least. It's what I first thought of as "the pitch" for the book, but it's really too long for that. I sent it to my writers' group and they are going to help me make it really tight. Gail has already said it needs some scrubbing, so I'm hesitant to post it here... Oh, don't look at me like that.

Okay, okay, how about we compromise with the first paragraph of what I've come up with? I'm pretty happy with that, at least.
Blood in the Orchard is a horror novel set in the fictional Southern town of Brookston, South Carolina. It is the story of a family torn apart by the death of the talented artist Kate Spivey, a beloved daughter, sister, and wife – and how the two men who loved her most struggle with the grim supernatural consequences of her passing.

What do y'all think?

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Perfect Pitch

The schedule of events for KillerCon has been updated, and man am I excited!

There are a lot of different things that tickle my fancy on that list, but what I'd like to talk about today are the pitch sessions being offered by the con. The sessions are free; I just need to send the info about my book to the committee so they can pair me up with an appropriate editor/agent.

So now I'm finally struggling with what I knew was going to be a real sticking point for me: the pitch for my novel.

I did some research and found a couple of great articles here and here, but I feel like I've just scratched the tip of the iceberg here. Do you guys have any advice for a good pitch, or any links you'd like to direct me to? I will be happy to list them in a future post for everyone to see. One of the things I'm really proud of with this blog is the fact I've been documenting as much as I can about the process of the first novel - from conception to execution, planning, promoting, and (hopefully, in the future) publishing. I want to share as much information as I can with fledgling writers like me, so hopefully it'll be just a little easier for the next person in line.

I've been tinkering with the pitch. I wrote a few paragraphs, but what I've been finding as I read more about this process is that the pitch itself needs to be no more than four or five sentences long. Anything longer than that and it's considered a synopsis, I think. Anybody have experience with this?

I'm going to write more about this in the days and weeks to come. Any and all advice/help/suggestions you may have are more than welcome. Tomorrow I'll post what I have so far on my pitch, and I hope you'll tell me what you think and offer some constructive criticism.

Have a fantastic Monday, my friends!