Lessons from the third draft

apsarae6edc5It’s been two years. People are beginning to ask, aren’t you nearly finished with your novel? You must be working on the final edits. And I have to correct them and explain that I’m actually writing a third draft. A tense silence falls, or there’s a lot of head nodding. Either convention will do to signal that we’ve got to move the conversation along. No need to dwell on the obvious problem.

Two years? C’mon? How can someone still be writing new scenes, heck even chapters, after two years? Dead novel writing, they suspect. Remember William Hurt in One True Thing? Yeah, like that.

But I am cool with it, pretty much. I’m learning something from round three, which is a mix of writing and editing. I hope it will be one heck of a cocktail in the end, filled with the right balance of syrups and bitters. One of the things that’s different this time is my lens. Instead of focusing on each chapter’s arc, I’m looking at three or four chapters together in a block and see if they hang together and make a working part.

Okay, I’ve only done this for the first four chapters so far, but here’s what I do know (shaking a finger and speaking with Bernie Sanders’ Brooklyn accent): Chapter four told me that chapter 1 was missing. I mean missing. The old chapter 1 had to become chapter 2 and chapter 2 had to move up to 3, etc. And the real chapter 1 was missing like a black hole. It was such a powerful hole that the whole novel was going to collapse if I didn’t write it. So I did.  Continue reading

Tiptoeing into the uncanny valley of clowns, robots and dolls

clown57d7112f44c86-imageHave you been following the news of creepy clown sightings this year? A sighting was first reported this year in South Carolina on August 21st and then reports pretty much erupted all over the country since then. Reports have been made in Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. There was a “clown hunt” at Pennsylvania State University that resulted in no clown captures and seems a likely case of creepy clown hysteria. More sightings of these uncanny thespians of the absurd are now appearing in Australia and New Zealand, and there seems to be an outright plague of them in Wales.

Evidently this is not unprecedented. Media reports that the creepy clown sightings happen every few years, with 1981 and 1991 being notoriously bad years for this sort of thing, and most of the official reactions to these sightings is to tell people to calm down. But, honestly, who can calm down when they see a clown standing at the edge of the woods behind their house at night? Not me. I like my creepy clowns in stories, not in the parking garage.

Perhaps we’ll see some great writing come out of this. There has been no evil clown-themed work of fiction to truly rival Stephen King’s creepy Pennywise since It was published in 1986. Likewise, creepy doll stories are few and far between these days. Robots, however, still seem to generate a lot of writing and film. All three of these creatures–clowns, dolls, and robots–inspire an unease in human beings that is partially explained by a hypothesis called the uncanny valley. Continue reading

Review of World Fantasy Award nominee “The Neurastheniac” by Selena Chambers

This is the fifth and final review of the nominees for the World Fantasy Award for best short fiction in 2015. Winners will be announced in October. Other reviews are hereherehere and here

If I wanted to read “The Neurastheniac” by Selena Chambers I had to order the anthology it’s published in, which I didn’t mind doing, but discovering that Cassilda’s Song was created to pay tribute to “The King in Yellow” put me off right from the start.

I like a good bit of weird fiction. I even like weird fiction that pays tribute to particular fictional mythos (See my review of “The Deepwater Bride” for example.), but I have my limits. All of us do. Weird fiction that requires me to delve into a mythos I don’t find particularly compelling has to be either stylistically interesting and conceptually fresh or stylistically fresh and conceptually interesting to hold my attention. In my opinion this story did not make that cut. Continue reading

13 Questions with Mercedes M. Yardley

Love Mercedes Yardley’s work, and I totally relate to the struggle for writing/life balance. See my review of Pretty Little Dead Girls @ https://wordpress.com/stats/day/labarnitz.wordpress.com?startDate=2016-09-24

Joan De La Haye

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today we have Mercedes M. Yardley in the interrogation seat.

Mercedes Aurthor pic

Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantasist who wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair.  She was a contributing editor for Shock Totem Magazine and currently works with Gamut, a new neo-noir magazine. Mercedes is the author of many diverse works, including Beautiful Sorrows,Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, Pretty Little Dead Girls, and the BONE ANGEL trilogy. She recently won the Bram Stoker Award for her story Little Dead Red.  Mercedes lives and works in Las Vegas, and you can reach her at www.abrokenlaptop.com.

You can also stalk Mercedes on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

  1. What drives you to write? 

MMY: “Drives” is the right word. I don’t simply write for fun or because it’s a cheery little thing to do. I write because I’m…

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