Sunday, March 18, 2018

New Story Up at Grievous Angel!

My flash horror story, I FORGOT TO LOCK THE DOOR, is now live over at the marvelous Grievous Angel Magazine!

This story was written towards the end of the summer in 2015, just a few months after we moved from Brooklyn to the suburbs. We knew nothing about our new town before moving here, except that the few people we met who'd heard of it said it was great for families. Low crime rate, excellent schools, people moved here just to raise their kids. Sounds good, right?

But we didn't really know anyone in the town when we moved. The kids were not going to camp. We didn't have a babysitter. No daycare. Because our former landlord screwed us over, we could not afford to join the town's community pool. So that meant a summer of just me and the kids finding things to do for nine weeks. We discovered a nearby skate park and my older son picked up skate boarding. We joined the nearby science center. I let the kids ride their bikes in the street. I set up kiddie pools in the backyard. None of this kept my kids amused for very long, and by the time the first day of school arrived in September I wept with relief.

I had this idea that when we moved in, suddenly families with kids would pour out of their houses on our street and my kids would be outside playing all day every day all summer long, but instead we met almost no one.

Things have changed, certainly. We have friends in town, the kids have plenty of play dates, we have babysitters, we've joined the community pool in the summer, and we know which camps the kids like. Our summers are now full of friends, camp, vacations, and spending long afternoons socializing poolside. But that first summer is burned into our psyches: long, empty days full of quiet and boredom. And that's where this story comes from.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

On Modifiers, or Specificity vs Not

I'm something of a word nerd. I love the cadence and flow of certain words, I love the writerly act of choosing the exact right word to convey what I mean, I love learning new words. Depending on a single word I can create a cheerful image:
The bright yellow curtains

Or a mournful image:
The faded yellow curtains

Or a shocking image:
The fluorescent yellow curtains

And that image will (hopefully) stay with the reader as she delves into my story.

Or, I might choose to simple say the yellow curtains and leave the reader to fill in the blanks depending on the rest of the story, and depending on how important those curtains will be in creating a setting.

In my last blog I mentioned the podcasts I enjoy, particularly as a fan and writer of speculative fiction. Today, I have two specific episodes that I recommend for all writers, not just those of us in genre fiction.

Last week while I schlepped about, these two episodes happened to play back to back and I think they actually fit together. Both cover the theme of words and how words are absorbed. As writers, words are our tools, the medium by which we share our art. Episode 12.11 of Writing Excuses covers the how of words: when to be specific, when to generalize, when to use modifiers and which ones. Episode #64 of Hidden Brain digs into the why of words: what happens to our brains when we listen to someone speak and why we are influenced by what others think and say.

Of course, when we write our first drafts we should focus on getting the story down on paper. As we head towards revisions, either with a chainsaw or a chisel, it's important to focus on word choice, including modifiers and when to use them. 

Give these two podcasts a listen. And let me know whether you, too, are a word nerd and what you think of modifiers.

Writing Excuses #12.11: Diction

Hidden Brain #53: I'm Right, You're Wrong