The Evolution of an Idea: Murph’s Law is up at The Confabulator Cafe

One of the most common questions for writers is where they get their ideas and how they develop them. I think every writer does it a bit differently. The way I write isn’t the way my local colleagues write. I improvise a lot at the keyboard. Other writers outline vigorously and essentially know the story before they write it. This week, I decided to explain the process I used to write “Murph’s Law,” which appeared at The Confabulator Cafe a month ago. If you liked the story or just want to know how I work, head on over and check it out. There is also a note about Fairfax, the fictional rural setting for several of my stories, which turned out not to be as fictional as I thought.

Looking Back and Looking Forward: The Year in Review and Preview

For many the New Year is a time of reflection and resolution. I am no different. It’s a chance to look back on accomplishments, and set goals for the next 365 days. Looking back on the past year in writing, I accomplished quite a bit. Looking forward, I hope to accomplish quite a bit more.

The last year was spent pursuing an education. My master’s degree will be wrapping up this year. On Monday, I start work on my thesis. The curriculum has worked out much better than I could have even planned. I went in to the program hoping that close reading of great literature would make me a better writer. What I didn’t expect is that so many of the books would have a direct connection to my type of writing. Every class I took had classic works of dark fiction. I read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Thomas Preckett Prest’s String of Pearls, Richard Marsh’s The Beetle, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Marie Corelli’s Ziska: The Problem of a Wicked Soul, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, among other classic dark works. I read both Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and Bram Stoker’s Dracula twice. This semester, I will read Hound of the Baskervilles for the second time in a class on detective fiction that will include works by Poe, Doyle, and Hammett. Overall, I’ve been happy with the sort of books I’ve studied.

I love classes. I love learning. Even after I am done with grad school, I will keep reading literary criticism. I’ve also got plans to take more classes in the future. That being said, I am ready to get back to producing literature, rather than just analyzing it.  It was a good year for publications. “Collectors” appeared in Separate Worlds, “Waking” appeared in Epiphany Magazine, “Victor’s Indifference” appeared in The Rusty Nail, “Hatched” appeared in Dark Eclipse, “Bloodline” appeared in Hungur Magazine, and “Flute of the Dead” appeared in Bete Noire. (You can find copies of these stories under “The Work” link at the top of the page.)  I have more short fiction waiting to go out, but I also want to get around to rewrites of longer work. I have two and half novels on my hard drive waiting for edits.

Officially, my degree won’t be complete until July, which will be over halfway through the next year, but I am already looking forward to what comes after that. Novels, short stories, a collection, and maybe even research on the literary history of the haunted house. The point of my education is not only to learn a new skill in literary criticism and theory, but to become a better writer. I am eager to test its influence and continue pushing my literary career forward. That will be a never-ending, life-long process, but hopefully this year will provide a good spark to get the fire burning.

I am excited for the lifetime of writing that I have ahead of me. I hope you stick around and see how it all plays out. Fly or crash and burn, it should be an interesting trip.

A Confabulator Cafe Review of Fortunately, the Milk

My latest Confabulator Cafe book review is available. This week, I step away from my standard dark fiction to review Neil Gaiman’s recent children’s story Fortunately, the Milk. My son gave me the book for Christmas (with my girlfriend’s help), so that I could read it to him. The review is less about the book and more about what it meant to me. You can read it at