FINISH THAT NOVEL—Tips to Help You Go the Distance

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Inspired author biting crumpled paper

Today, Alex Limberg is with us again, and he is talking about one of the most important and tricky issues in writing: Endurance. It doesn’t matter how well we write, how pretty the prose or witty the dialogue. WE MUST FINISH.

No half-finished brilliant manuscript ever became a runaway best-seller but a lot of finished “meh” ones have.

Alex has some very effective tactics and practical examples to help you out.

Just look at his list and pick out the ones that work for you. And if you want to see how good your story really is or what it might be missing, definitely check out his free checklist of “44 Key Questions” to make your story awesome. Post starts in 3… 2… 1… 0:

***

Have you ever written an entire novel? If so, then you know that it takes a lot of stamina.

I’m not just talking…

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New Giveaway to Celebrate The Reaping

Richard Schiver is a writer dedicated to his craft, and I am pleased to share his latest giveaway celebrating the June 24th release of his second book in the Dreadland Chronicles series, The Reaping.

all roads lead to terrorthe reapingrschiverauthorphotoGiveaways

Here I’ll list all of my current and future promos and giveaways.

Current Giveaway!
Upon the release of THE REAPING, on June 24, 2016, the first book in the Dreadland Chronicles ALL ROADS LEAD TO TERROR, will be free  June 24, 25, and 26. Grab a copy and leave an honest review before the end the day on August 20, 2016, and you will be entered into a drawing where one lucky person will receive this one of a kind 22oz sealed lid candy jar. I’ll even sweeten the deal by throwing in the first 10 oz bag of your favorite candy.

Image of jar: jars

The three images are of one jar as the design wraps halfway around the jar.

Sandblasting designs on glass is one of my hobbies and I created this jar just for this giveaway. 

I will ship this to the winner anywhere in the world, but the review for ALLROADS LEAD TO TERROR must be on Amazon.com, and must go live by midnight August 20, 2016 . Based on customs I may not be able to include candy. Sorry, that’s the breaks. As an added bonus everyone in the U.S (sorry I have to restrict this part, I just don’t have the money for international shipping on everything) who leaves an honest review will receive an autographed bookmark.
Ongoing Promo!
Leave a verified purchase review for any of my work on Amazon.com and I’ll gladly send you an autographed bookmark like the one pictured below. (Sorry this is only available to residents of the lower 48 states. I would love to send everyone who reviews my work an autographed bookmark but I just can’t afford to do so at this time.) Future Giveaways!
ALL ROADS LEAD TO TERROR: Two print copies through Goodreads, I’ll provide the link when it is set up.
THE REAPING: Two print copies through Goodreads, I’ll provide the link when it is set up.
Future Promos:
REPRISAL, Vengeance knows no boundary, will be $0.99 the weekend of July 8, 9, & 10 on all platforms.

Sign up!
While you’re here don’t forget to sign up to be notified of my updates and new releases and get a free copy of my novel White Walker for your trouble. All I need is your email address and I promise I won’t sell your info to any third parties or bug you with unnecessary emails.

Synopsis: When she was ten she made a promise to that which inhabits the winter storm, now she’s twenty six and pregnant, and the white walker has returned to collect his due.

Sign up HERE!

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5 Reasons Your Story is Stuck

 

Good advice on finishing the novel. I enjoyed this post so I am reblogging it here.

 

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 10.16.05 AM

If you’ve been writing any amount of time you have been there—THE SUCK. This is where no matter how hard you try, you just cannot seem to move your story forward.

Though “normal” people might laugh at the above meme? Writers know that quicksand is freaking everywhere. You think you’re on firm footing and then down you go and the more you struggle, the worse it gets.

From personal experience combined with my experience with hundreds of writers the process can look like this.

Shiny Idea Time—You get the coolest idea ever conceived of and cannot believe such genius has never before been put to the page. It’s as if angels have come down and handed you a golden feather that will whisk you to the realms of literary nirvana.

First 20K Words—You’re flying high. You wonder why you ever had such difficulty with word count before. You…

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Drabble, Drabble, Toil and Trouble

gwendolynI am proud to share my latest interview, brought to you by the fabulous Gwendolyn W. Kiste.  You can access Gwendolyn’s blog  at the following link:

http://www.gwendolynkiste.com/Blog/drabble-master-interview-with-thomas-kleaton/

Drabble Master: Interview with Thomas Kleaton

Welcome back to my author interview series! For the first spotlight of 2016, I’m pleased to present Thomas Kleaton. Thomas is an accomplished writer of short fiction, and his work has appeared at The Horror Zine, Riding Light Review, and Sanitarium Magazine among other outlets.

Recently, he and I discussed his influences and his long-term plans in the publishing world, along with his recommendations on how to write a great drabble.

Thomas KleatonA couple of icebreakers to start: When did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

I started writing two years ago. I could say that it’s something I just started on a whim, but that wouldn’t be the case. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but thinking about it doesn’t work and it all comes down to sitting in a chair and typing words on the screen. It’s important to write on a daily basis, but I have no Bad Thoughts (sorry, I can’t help referencing “It’s a Good Life,” one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes) for someone who doesn’t write every day. Writers need a break now and then as well.

As for my favorite authors? I won’t deny it; I was heavily influenced by Stephen King, and am definitely a Constant Reader. Dean Koontz is another; his Sole Survivor and Intensity really bowled me over. Peter Straub’s Ghost Story is a personal favorite. I also have newer favorites, writers like Rose Blackthorn, Richard Schiver, and Aaron Gudmunson.

As a writer, do you have a particular genre that’s your favorite?

Horror, horror, and more horror. Actually, although I like horror best and it seems to be the most flexible genre, I do enjoy a good science fiction story here and there. Stories like Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.”

In addition to short stories, you’re a prolific drabble writer. Because the medium permits only 100 words, is your approach to crafting a drabble different than crafting a short story? Do you have any pointers for other drabble writers out there?

Spooky DrabblesA drabble is all about the core idea. For instance, in my drabble, “Whistling Past the Graveyard,” found in Spooky Halloween Drabbles 2015, I kept seeing this little girl playing Patty Cake with her mother. Then playing Patty Cake with her dead mother. The situation came next, which was of a father bringing his little girl to visit her mother’s grave. Only her father is a killer, and his mother is buried in a shallow grave. Shallow enough for hands to stick out and…

Brrr!

But I think you get the picture. It’s all in the details. Once you have the story worked out, it’s time to condense it down to 100 words. Easy, right? I’ve spent hours on one drabble! But it’s worth it when you see the final product.

Out of your published pieces, do you have a personal favorite?

I do. A short story titled “Birds and the Bees,” found in Sanitarium Magazine issue #31. I saw a photo in a magazine in which a woman’s seed-filled hands were outstretched near a bird feeder. Chickadees sat on her palms eating the seed, and I imagined a little girl seeing her grandmother doing this, and wanting to impress her grandmother by imitating her. Only she can’t find any birdseed in her grandmother’s garden shed. Not one to give up, the little girl finds a substitute. That puts a sting into things.

Where would you like your writing career to be in five years?

To a point where I can write full-time. This may not happen, but I will not give up on it, and at the very least I’d like to have a good following by then. After all, the first reason a writer should be writing is because he or she enjoys telling yarns to entertain others. Being told by someone that his/her story really resonated with them can put a writer on the moon.

Big thanks to Thomas Kleaton for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find him online at his website and his Amazon Author Page

Happy reading!

All Roads Lead to Terror

rschiverauthorphototeddybookmark1.jpgToday I am sharing a blog post from author Richard Schiver, whose work I definitely admire and whose latest novel, All Roads Lead to Terror, has just been released.

I’ve read portions of this book (as it was written), and enjoy the adventures of Meat and Window as they make their way into the unknown.

Richard has promised an autographed bookmark (in yellow lettering, above) to anyone posting a review of the book.

All Roads Lead to Terror (synopsis) by Richard Schiver

The horrors of the past meet the brutality of the present.

Four boys strengthen the bonds of their friendship, while taking their first hesitant steps into adulthood, as they face the brutality of an old, new world. They will be tested at every step in their journey, as they travel through a blasted land where the only hope is for a swift death followed by an endless sleep. Survival lay in the firepower they carried, coupled with their willingness to use it, and their ability to trust each other with their own lives.

The world had become a wild place filled with wild things, and into this new reality each of them had been born. Coming of age at the end of days, where savagery was the norm, and man’s inhumanity to man was on daily display. Where the only law was the firepower one carried and the only hope was for a swift death followed by an endless sleep.

Meat was born at the height of the Zombie apocalypse, upon his birth his mother took one look at him and pronounced him meat. He grew up in a reality where they were all nothing more than walking bags of meat, so in his mind the name fit perfectly.

Window, his best friend, is very quiet, and ever watchful with a quick hand. To him friendship was the most important thing in the world. His family had perished in the ruthless times after the awakening and his temperament had been forged in the fire that took them from him. His friends were all he had left so he watched over them with a jealously protective nature strengthened by that sense of invulnerability all boys his age embraced. Further backed up by a quick hand with the .44 he’d used to kill the men who had raped his mother.

The remaining members of this quartet are Einstein who had been born within the compound at Bremo Bluff after the apocalypse. Having spent his life behind the fence he had no first hand knowledge of how brutal the world has become. As his name implies he’s the smartest in the group, as well the most innocent. While that innocence helps to soften the ruthlessness of the other three, it will serve to drive a wedge into their friendship. On this trip he will discover just how terrifying the world beyond the fence has become.

The final member is Billie-Bob, one half of a set of twins who appeared outside the fence several years earlier. Your typical class clown whose mouth runs a mile a minute, if he isn’t sharing overused jokes about Zombies, he’s whispering the passages from a book his mother used to read to him when he was younger, a chant that provides him with a degree of comfort. Billie-Bob is unique in that at the tender age of eleven he has proven himself to be a natural born sniper with a willingness to use his special talent to protect his friends.

The trail they follow leads them East, into the Dreadlands, a mysterious land from which those who dared to venture in the past, never returned. For there are places where the fabric of reality is at its thinnest. Where nightmare creatures roam the shadowy corners of a well lit world. Having existed at the edge of man consciousness since the dawn of time, an indistinct blur briefly glimpsed in our peripheral vision. Their presence felt on a primitive emotional level that reached our consciousness as a faint whisper in the night. Their touch the soft caress of chilled fingers dancing along the spine like the half remembered terrors lurking within the childhood memories of every person who had ever feared the night.

In Richmond they will be confronted by a savage cult of children who worship a creature of the night. A creature that until the apocalypse had existed in the shadowy corners of a well lit world A beast of nightmares that feasted upon the fear of its victims, delving into their innermost secrets, revealing half forgotten terrors that lay like a rotting carcass at the heart of their souls. For these creatures, that were once considered nightmare imaginings, are now awake in a world where the population has been reduced.

Awake and very, very, hungry.

Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016MLXM32

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B016MLXM32

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/all-roads-lead-to-terror-richard-schiver/1123014703?ean=2940152477603

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/all-roads-lead-to-terror/id1061157501?mt=11

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/all-roads-lead-to-terror

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/593434

Riding Light: Halloween Horror: Under the Black Sun

spooky halloween drabbles 2015riding light halloween 2015I am glad to share that my short story As the Butterfly Changes its Spots has been published by Cyn Bermudez in her special issue of Riding Light: Halloween Horror: Under the Black Sun. It can be read for free at the following link: http://ridinglight.org/halloween-2015.html  or can be purchased at a paperback copy here: http://tinyurl.com/qxpfvy7

I also contributed six stories to Spooky Halloween Drabbles 2015, which is a great little book for the money. The Kindle edition can be purchased at Amazon.com. I think my two best for this edition are Vice Versa and Whistle Past the Graveyard.

I am currently at work on my first novel, Undefiled.

Playmates

I am sharing a horror story for Halloween that I wrote a couple of years ago. I started thinking about children’s imaginary playmates, and began wondering if, sometimes, the playmates really weren’t imaginary at all. It is short, at a little over 1,600 words, but it packs a punch.

PLAYMATES

Thomas Kleaton

“Daddy, why did Mommy have to leave? I miss her so much,” said Susan. She stared upwards at her father with deep blue eyes, her sandy-blond hair scorched by the hot August sun. Susan was two weeks shy of being six years old, and curiosity was her constant companion.

“It’s hard to explain, Punkin,” said her father, Larry Connor. He leaned back in his chair and rocked for a few seconds, a gentle breeze cooling his face. “Sometimes people just have problems getting along, sweetie. It’s like I said. Sometimes people hurt the ones they love the most just to get away from the things they don’t like.”

Larry eased her up and set her in his lap. She put her arms around his neck and lay her head on his shoulder. He hugged her close. She was so naïve and delicate, and he was careful with his words, not wanting to harm her emotionally. “But don’t you go thinkin’ your old dad’s going to desert you, because you and I are in it for the long haul.”

Susan lay on his chest, fascinated by wasps shifting around on a paper nest snuggled up to one of the porch rafters high above her head.

Susan’s mother, Peggy, and Larry had been drifting apart for the last couple of years. He worked the second shift at the Millbrook Kia plant, and tended to drink after work, arriving home in the wee hours of the morning. This had not set well with Peggy, and Susan had lain awake in her bed late at night, listening to them arguing, tears welling in her eyes. Susan had awoke one morning two weeks ago, and sauntered into the kitchen for her morning bowl of Cheerios. Instead of her mother she had come upon the sight of her father sitting there at the table, bleary-eyed, drinking a bottle of Miller Lite beer.

“I’ve got some new playmates, Daddy,” she said, giggling through her words.

“Have you now?” he said.

“Mr. Snuggles and Mrs. Gardener,” said Susan, matter-of-factly.

“And why do you call them that?”

“I like to hug Mr. Snuggles. He sings me Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, and The Farmer in the Dell, just like in kindergarten. And Mrs. Gardener likes to grow things like on that cartoon I like, Betsy’s Green Thumb. She must love to grow things because she has plants growing all around her,” said Susan.

“Is that so?” Larry listened to her prattle on, the afternoon sun a hot orb in the blue sky. Peggy being gone had complicated things. She was an only child. Her parents, Joe and Elizabeth Spangler, perished in a horrible car crash ten years before. His final vacation week was dwindling down, and school would be starting soon. There was no way around it. He’d have to hire a babysitter to watch Susan in the evenings. Yes, there were going to be abrupt changes around the house now that Peggy was gone. He envisioned her face, smooth velvety skin, blond hair, and her eyes, like gazing into deep pools of azure.

“Tell you what, Punkin,” he said, looking into her face. His own face bore the ravages of the sun, smoking, and hard living. Deep creases were etched into the leathery folds of skin, and his dark eyes prodded hers. “Why don’t you go finish playing with Mr. Snuggles and Mrs. Gardener? It’ll be time for your bath soon, then I’m going to take you into town. How does that sound?”

“Yay!” said Susan, jumping off his lap onto the sweltering wood of the front porch. She tip-toed down the steps barefooted, careful to tread lightly on the hot boards. She skittered onto the cool green grass of the side yard and was gone.

***

Susan chattered with excitement during the drive into town, jostling around on the seat of Larry’s pickup, sticking her head out into the wind. He drove her the fifteen miles into Millbrook to the local Wendy’s, where she ate cheeseburgers, her favorite treat. Her tummy stuffed, the constant hum of the tires on the asphalt lulled her. She drifted off to sleep on the ride back, her head nodding onto her chest. He carried her into the house, careful not to make the screen door squeak, and tucked her under the clean pink sheets of her fairytale canopy bed. He grabbed a couple of bottles of Miller Lite and flopped down in his rocker on the porch.

Larry awoke, tiny rivulets of sweat streaming down his neck. He swatted at a mosquito boring into his elbow and sat up. He lit a cigarette, checking his watch in the red glow of the tip. The hands were poised at eleven p.m. He gazed up at the bright new moon peeping through the misty silhouettes of dark, purplish clouds.

Larry rocked in his chair, thinking back to his first kill, when he was twenty. He was at an open college fraternity party. A live rock band was blaring Drivin’ N Cryin’: For You when he saw her. She was a petite burnette, curvy in all the right places, a carefree young woman enthralled with the beat of the music and the wild gyrations of the audience. After a few minutes of idle conversation she left with him. Frogs croaked around the backwoods pond as the sky popped with majestic white stars, accompanied by the throaty exhaust of the chainsaw as he dismembered her on the tailgate of his pickup. Sex wasn’t the motivation, his was another fixation. He enjoyed playing with the remains.

He began cruising seedy convenience stores and gravel parking lots of the local bars in Millbrook, drinking, looking for women to pick up. The women, expecting early-morning sex, were instead strangled with a garrote he kept in the glove box. He dismembered them with an axe. Sometimes, if the mood suited him, he would decapitate the bodies. While Peggy and Susan slept unawares, he sat down in the darkness beneath the house, fondling lips and feet and hands still attached to severed forearms. When he tired of this little game, he buried them in the soft black dirt of the spacious crawlspace until the urge struck him to dig them up and begin the game anew.

Larry loathed the monster within him, keeping it caged until its voracious hunger compelled him to kill again. Peggy entered his life, and love, or what passed for love, blossomed. Peggy gave him a daughter, an object for his tainted affections. Both his marriage to Peggy and having Susan quelled the urge within him. Up until two years ago.

He rocked, ruminating on his dilemma. He would have to move the bodies. He leaned back as cigarette smoke curled around his head and wafted skyward. He got up, humming to himself, giving in to the urge to dig in the playground one more time before the serious excavation commenced.

His mind focused on fields by the roadside drifted in with dead leaves and pine needles. Uncultivated by human hands, overshadowed by wayward cedar trees, dogwoods and bramble thickets, many wilderness lots awaited, any number of which could be utilized to re-bury the bodies without discovery ever being likely.

He tromped down the hill alongside the old house in the sweltering night air. Mosquitoes betrayed their presence with their high-pitched drone. He halted at the weathered door of the crawlspace opening, an undersized piece of split firewood propping it open. He paused, seeing light within, and heard Susan’s lilting voice carrying on the humid night air. Bits and pieces of her garbled conversation drifted out to him, and he reached for the scattered fragments, gathering what he could.

“No, Mrs. Gardener…No!” said Susan. A resounding thwack! interrupted the stillness, as of a set of keys slapped against a leather purse.

“…Can’t have him…” she hollered in a high sing-song tenor.

Thwack!

“…No, no, no, no, NO!” Susan was screaming now, and as Larry peered around the door into the crawlspace his heart sank as he realized a tiny portion of the monster had been firmly ingrained in his only daughter.

A flashlight lay aslant, half-buried in the loose, sandy soil, its upturned beam holding the invading darkness at bay around its perimeter. A child’s sand bucket along with a shiny trowel lay near it. Susan was wallowing in the dirt, her arm wrapped around the bleached rib cage of a human skeleton, cuddling it. A rotted shirt drooped from its clavicles. Its bony, festered skull, adorned with Larry’s favorite ball cap, rested on her shoulder. She’d taken a large Chef’s knife from the kitchen and now gripped it like a broadsword in her right hand. She was chopping at another skeleton propped up against the cool blocks of the foundation with it, her angry brows furrowed in determination.

Larry goggled at Susan, horrified, watching her chip away at the bones. He realized somewhere in the back of his mind that here was Mrs. Gardener at last. The rancid bones and ragged print dress were clotted with dirt, and a single stem of crabgrass was rooted in the right eye socket. A few withered crabgrass plants grew around her, their shoots turned upward in a desperate attempt to bask in the sparse warming rays of sunlight that slanted through the ventilation holes in the block each morning.

Larry stepped inside, bending slightly to clear the flooring above him. Susan turned, glowering at him with such a grimace of hatred that he took a step back. Then her face broke into a cheery smile.

“Daddy!” she squealed, dropping the knife. It plopped into the dirt. “Mrs. Gardener was being mean to me. She wanted to take Mr. Snuggles away. She wanted to keep him for herself.”

Susan reached behind her to retrieve something mostly hidden by the sand bucket. She came up clutching a moldering human head, blond hair straggling from the dirt-caked scalp.

“This is my newest playmate, Mrs. Hairy,” she said with a toothy grin. “Doesn’t she look a lot like Mommy?”

END