Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February 2018 Edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group

Good morning! I hope February has treated you well so far. Thank you for stopping by! Today is the monthly gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you're unfamiliar with the group, you can find out more about us HERE and sign up HERE. The IWSG is the brain child of Alex Cavanaugh and has been providing a safe, encouraging haven for insecure writers for seven years.

Our fabulous co-hosts this month are: Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte. Make sure you stop by their sites and thank them for a job well done :)

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What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

When I write, I dive into some strange waters, a muddy mix of Southern Gothic, horror, classic ghost story and old folklore. I like to stir things up and see what climbs out. The easiest label for what I write is horror but I prefer the term Speculative Fiction. Speculative = "What if?" It's a wonderful genre, one that holds close all the imaginative literature of fantasy, science fiction, and horror and all the sub genres those encapsulate. I first discovered the term years ago while doing research on horror writing and it summed up what I thought of when I thought of horror: not blood, guts and gore but a deep exploration of the dark side of things that ultimately brings out the heroic in the ordinary.

I love writing horror because I love that exploration. I enjoy the thrills and chills of things that go bump in the night. I've always loved the rush of adrenaline you get when you're deep into a story and something happens - the author makes you JUMP, YELL, Throw the book across the room - and then you giggle, nervously, as you turn the page and try to maintain a sense of calm while you finish the chapter.

Horror is engaging. It forces the senses into overload. Fear is very palpable and our bodies going on hyper-alert. Our sense of smell is more sensitive, as are our eyes, ears, and skin. We start to pick up on things, subtle clues, and our primal instincts take over. That Sixth Sense some people joke about kicks in and we really are able to "feel" that something isn't "quite right".

I love the way a scary story haunts you, makes you think, makes you reconsider everyday things like cars, dogs, China dolls, and squirrels. These things are symbols, stand-ins for deeper truths that we, as humans, try to hide and forget. THAT'S what horror is really about: it's about bringing to light the frightening realities of real life in the guise of fiction, of something totally improbably, so that our human-ness can shine. So that we can realize that we aren't really the "other" but that our neighbors, our friends, our family members, even that customer who chewed you out because of something you didn't do are all a part of a bigger family, a bigger picture. The ghosts, the goblins, the creatures from our nightmares pull us together and make us realize our petty differences aren't worth the stress. Horror encourages us to band together against true evil, those forces out there that seek to separate and destroy, to control and annihilate.

Plus, it's just a lot of fun! Seriously. I love a good, scary book and I love closing it and having to turn on all the lights in the house just to go to the bathroom. I've finished books before and not been able to go past the refrigerator, the rocking chair, for fear of what might be hiding there. One story had me jumping as far out of the bed as I could at night because, hey, that hideous monster really could be under the bed. It could!

So tell me, what do YOU love about the genre you write most in? Why do you find yourself drawn to the same themes? It doesn't have to be anything deep or profound. Heck, you could just like it! At the end of the day, I love reading ghost stories, folklore and mythology, "true tales" of monsters and hauntings and murder mysteries. So if I enjoy reading them, why not write them?

Happy hauntings,

34 comments:

  1. And, you are so good at it. Loved your story in the Hero Lost anthology. I've developed a taste for horror/spec fiction. It took a while. I read some of your posts, and JH Moncrieff. I read The Shining, and really liked it. Like, couldn't put it down, shut the world out, liked it. So, I tried my hand at the mystery/crime/thriller theme for this year's anthology, and my story got accepted!

    I usually write plays. I love the collaborate effort of producing a play and seeing my character come to life through the actors.

    Cheers!

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    1. Thank you so much, Mary! I sort of fell into Horror and tried it out for fun. I'm so glad you're enjoying the genre and I can't wait to read your anthology story! Thank you so much for the kind words :) They really mean alot!

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  2. I didn't answer this week's question on my post. I got long winded as it was. But I write romance, contemporary romance and love it. Romance can sometimes get a bad wrap, but even though some can follow a basic formula, not all do. And it's not always about the bedroom times. I like exploring the relationships in romance. More than just the romantic ones, but also the friendships and family connections. A lot goes into making the two MCs who they are and effects what they bring to the relationship. Romance allows me to explore that.

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    1. I would hazard a guess that the development of the characters, both together and alone, are really what tie a romance together. Like in real life, you have two different people who fall in love and who have to navigate feelings and real life in order to find common ground. I love the idea of exploring the relationship and connections in a romance more than just the "bedroom scenes". Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I like the sound of your "strange waters." I don't often read horror, but I do read what could qualify as speculative fiction. Speculative fiction is fascinating. Who can resist that "What if?" Not me. :)

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    1. Thank you, Chrys! The answering of "What if?" is what has always pulled me towards fantasy and digging deeper into the symbols and the background of those questions are what drew me to horror.

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  4. There was a little bit of that horror in your story for the IWSG anthology last year.

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    1. There was! It was the first time I've ever really consciously written something with a horror flavor. The novel I finished in December has far more horror notes in it. It's got some editing to do but I'm happy with it!

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  5. I like reading horror though I don't watch it in movies. Too scary. I don't think I could write it myself. Speculative fiction covers all the most interesting genres.

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    1. I don't like watching it either! People find it so funny that I write and read horror but don't watch it. I don't know. I just feel like people today have this blood and guts idea of horror that doesn't hold to the true meaning of it. And there seems to always be some sort of terribly disturbing, sexual scene. I don't understand why that always has to make it's way into a horror movie. I want no part of that!

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  6. I also like using the term "speculative fiction," since it covers science fiction as well as fantasy.

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    1. It was a wonderful discovery for me as well! I like the patchwork quilt of genres it knits together.

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  7. I dove into horror this year...well, I put my toe in the water and didn't exactly plunge. However, I found it interesting and exciting. It's certainly a change from what I usually write.

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    1. I write in a couple of other genres as well. I just haven't gotten serious in them. I use them for respite when the horror starts to get to me.

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  8. I have to admit a good horror is great. It puts me in the mood for Halloween all year round. Wha-ha-ha.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. LOL! I love that! Yes, there's nothing better than a good ghost story to keep things interesting all year round :)

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  9. My squirrels are haunted - that explains a lot. LOL

    I like subtle or unique horror stories. I've always loved Lovecraft.

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    1. Me too! I love the old, Gothic masters. Shirley Jackson and Susan Black leap to mind as favorites. Poe and Lovecraft are at the forefront, of course.

      And yes, squirrels are haunted. Read "The Shapeshifters" by Stefan Spjut. I've always had an...interesting relationship with squirrels. After reading that book, I just know they're watching me. *shudder*

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  10. Horror is so much fun to write. I think a lot of people are missing out. ;)

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  11. Love the way you've described your genre here, your website looks fab too :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Angela. And thank you for stopping by!

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  12. It is good to see you love a good, scary horror book. I personally admire that people can write good horror but I don't have the constitution for it. I have nightmares and so I stay away from horror. Yet, I wish you all the best in your writing because I can feel the love you have for your genre in your article.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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    1. Thank you so much, Pat! I understand. There are genres that I'm not a fan of but I admire anyone who can produce a great example of their genre. That can only come from a passion and a love for that type of story. Have a wonderful week!

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  13. As someone who writes horror, all I have to say to this post is - YES! YES! YES! :)

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  14. I LOVE the way you've explained the horror genre as being more than just blood, guts and gore! Even though you mention speculative fiction as your genre of choice, I think you have an amazing literary-styled voice which you can probably adapt to suit whatever you write.
    Write On, Jen!
    I'm still waiting for you to release that novella/novel...

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    1. Michelle, you always make me feel capable of anything and I'm so grateful for that! Thank you so much for your kind words. I really needed those this morning :D
      xo

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  15. It's true. I'm a big chicken and can't read horror. But I am a tea drinker! This is an interesting post. I've already followed your blog and connected with you online. All the luck with your writing, my dear!

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    1. Tank you so much, Victoria! Tea brings all manner of folk together and that's one of the wonderful reasons I love tea. Best of luck to you! And thanks for following along.

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  16. So I know I already commented, but the internet ate my words. Bad internet. Anyhow, I really like horror too. It was one of my early genres, and the whole "what if", that's my favorite game. But why am I surprised? We writers tend to be like-minded lunatics, eh?

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    1. Grrr, bad Internet indeed! Ah, I love this! "Like-minded lunatics". YES!! It helps to be reminded of this when most of your work is done alone. Cheers!

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