Tag Archives: short stories

Genres of Literature – Bizarro Fiction


bizarro

Bizarro fiction is a contemporary literary genre, which aims to be both strange and entertaining,  containing hefty doses of absurdism, satire, and the grotesque  along with pop-surrealism and genre-fiction staples, thus creating subversive, weird, and entertaining works. The term was adopted in 2005 by the independent publishing companies Eraserhead Press, Raw Dog Screaming Perss and Afterbirth Books.

The first Bizarro Starter Kit described Bizarro as “literature’s equivalent to the cult section at the video store” and a genre that “strives not only to be strange, but fascinating, thought-provoking, and, above all, fun to read.”

In general however, Bizarro has more in common with speculative fiction, such as science-fiction, horror and fantasy than with avant-garde movements (such as Dadaism and surrealism, which readers and critics often associate it with.

It seems to be a small niche genre and one that appeals to a select audience. However, I think it would be a fun exercise to write a story in this genre.

How about you? Have you written this genre? Or read any books in it?

 

 

 

 

Author Interview – Eileen Cook


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Eileen Cook

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It depends on the day. In general, it energizes me. I’m fortunate that I’m not one of those people who feels tortured by my muse. I rarely pound my head on the keyboard in frustration- most of the time I recognize that my job is essentially making stuff up for living. That’s a pretty amazing and given that this is what I’ve always wanted to do, I’m grateful.  However, I’d be lying if I said it was all puppies, unicorns, and high word counts. There are days when the story doesn’t flow. The trick is to remember those days end.

 

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Never say never, but in general I enjoy having my books under my own name. Growing up I always dreamed of being a writer. As a kid (okay, I did this as an adult too) I used to go into bookstores or libraries, run my fingers along the shelf and when I found the spot where I would be shelved, I would shove the books on either side over just a tiny bit to make space for my future books. Now that I have something real to go on the shelf I love seeing it there where I always imagined it.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I ever spent was when I started to go to the Surrey International Writer’s Conference (www.siwc.ca).  This was for three main reasons. First, they have great content with a mix of craft topics and information on publishing. Secondly, the chance to meet and interact with so many other writers was amazing. It was as if I’d finally found my people. Writing is such a solo thing- it was nice to be a part of a bigger group. Thirdly, it was the first real significant investment I made in my own writing career. It made me take myself more seriously. I became more committed to deadlines- if I was going to spend the money to go, then I had to follow through on what I learned.

 

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I want to have a spirit animal like a wolf or an owl, something mystical and wise. However, I suspect the truth is any spirit animal of mine is more like a scrappy terrier. I don’t give up easily- I’ve long believed that the difference between published authors and unpublished, is in part persistence. Like a small dog who is delusional as to how big they are- I have a habit of taking on larger challenges than I realized at the start. And at the end of the day, I like to snuggle up with a snack, a warm blanket and take a nap.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

How high can you count? I had five full completed novels that I tried to sell prior to selling my first book.  I had, give or take, one zillion uncompleted projects. I still save everything- you never know when it might come in handy.

 

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

This is a changing goal post. For a period of time it was finishing a manuscript all the way to the end. Then finishing a manuscript that I was proud of.  Then it moved to selling a novel. Then to selling another, and now I want to continue to sell and grow my readership.

Ultimately, the best success is hearing from a reader who’s enjoyed my work. I write because I have a story I want to share. When someone connects with that story, it feels like the best win ever.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I’ll start by freely admitting that I love the research aspect of things. (Yes, I am slightly weird.) I usually spend 2-4 months outlining and preparing to write including doing research. I’ve interviewed everyone from police detectives to convicted con-artists. I learned how to read tarot cards and had a library do a search for me on various poison options. Thanks to book research, I now know that more people are killed by being crushed by a falling vending machine than by shark attacks. (It makes scoring that Diet Coke at lunch take on a whole new level of tension.) 

I do most of my research before starting to write, but if I hit a point in the manuscript where I don’t know something I put in a place marker (usually just a XXX) so I can find it easy in the revision process and worry about it later. The good news is that between librarians (superheroes IMHO), online research and the chance to speak to people about any number of topics- research is easier than ever. 

 

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

I love the idea of having a typical day, but unless you count me yelling at my dogs for barking at the back gate, it’s always hard to know what it will be like around here.  I do set weekly writing goals- where I block out time on my calendar. I find if it isn’t on my list then it doesn’t get done. I need to make writing a priority- the same as getting to the dentist or walking the dog. 

Until three years ago I was still working while writing. As a result, I did the bulk of my writing in the evenings and on weekends. Now that writing is my full-time job I’m able to write on my schedule and I find my most creative time is late morning through the afternoon.  When I’m not writing I spend time doing research for other books, marketing and also teaching. 

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

There is a school of thought that you should build a brand in one genre, so readers know what to expect. So, if you write thrillers, keep writing thrillers.  Build a fan base and only then consider branching out. 

This advice makes a lot of sense, and I’ve never listened to it. I tend to write what I find interesting. I feel that if I’m passionate about a topic that will come through to the reader.  I enjoy experimenting because I love so many different genres. When I have a story idea I don’t want to be constrained that I can’t pursue it because it isn’t “my brand.”  When I got the idea for my book, With Malice, I worried that a thriller was too big of a jump from what I’d been doing. I wrote it anyway and it ended up becoming my break out book. 

I was once told at a conference- “You seem too nice to write about murder.” I think it was meant to be a compliment. I write mystery and thrillers because I enjoy reading those genres. I believe it’s easier to write in a genre that you read because you understand reader expectations and you have a sense if your idea is something new or fresh. I also enjoy the process of twisting reader expectations- leading them to believe the story is going one way and then taking it in an unexpected direction- while not cheating. 

 

  1. How long have you been writing?

It depends when you want to start the clock ticking. I always loved books and stories. My parents have a homework assignment I did in second grade where we were supposed to practice writing sentences and instead I strung mine together to make a story.  The teacher wrote on it: I’m sure someday you’ll be an author. This is proof that teachers are both inspiring and partly psychic.

The first time I can remember thinking that writing books was something I wanted to do was when I was eleven or twelve.  I’d gone to the library and picked up a book by Stephen King, Salem’s Lot.  The librarian tried to discourage me from reading it- declaring it too scary.  I remember being offended because I was a very mature kid and I understood the difference between make believe and real. I figured how scary could it be?  Turns out- really scary!  I slept with the light on for weeks. I thought it was amazing that this writer had made something up, something I knew was fiction, and yet it felt so real that I had a real emotional reaction.  That’s when I knew that is what I wanted to do. I wanted to create stories that made readers feel real emotions. There were years of filled notebooks, started novels, completed novels, a period of REALLY bad poetry and slowly over time I felt like I found my voice. I sold my first novel in late 2006 and it came out in 2008.

 

  1. What inspires you?  

I have no clue at times where ideas and inspiration will come from.  They pop into my head, a snippet of overheard conversation, something in the news, a discussion with a friend, an old photograph- you name it- they show up and slowly begin to morph into their own thing. I believe there are millions of ideas out there all the time. The trick is to pause long enough to hear them.  Then, when you do get one, spend some time trying to figure out if it is a good idea. Is it worth months (or years) of your time, hundreds of pages, and a reader’s attention?

It took me a long time to become more patient with ideas. I used to get them and then run to my computer to start writing as if I was afraid it was going to get away from me.  Now I slow down, turn the idea over in my head, ask a lot of “what if” questions. What would make this situation worse? What if this character didn’t know X or Y? What if this new thing suddenly happened? If I give ideas a bit of a chance to grow they evolve into much more interesting concepts.

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  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

To be honest I am always happiest when I have a project on the go. I love the process of making things up.  My current project is called YOU OWE ME A MURDER. It’s a bit of a homage to Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train (You may have seen the Hitchcock film.) A chance encounter on a flight to London England between two young women leads to murder.  The main character must determine how far she’ll go to get herself out of that situation.

  1. Share a link to your author website.

 https://www.eileencook.com  And you can always find me on Twitter (usually when I should be doing something else) https://twitter.com/Eileenwriter

Bio:

Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight languages. Her books have been optioned for film and TV. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her newest book, THE HANGING GIRL, came out in October 2017. She’s an instructor/mentor with the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio Program.

She grew up in a small town in Michigan, but would go on to live in Boston and Belgium before settling in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and two very naughty dogs.

In second grade Eileen’s teacher wrote on a homework assignment “I am sure someday you will be an author” which is a tribute to the psychic abilities of elementary school teachers, as well as Eileen penchant for making things up. While she would go on to fill endless notebooks with really bad poetry, short stories, and the occasional start to a novel, she would first go on to pursue a career as a counsellor working with individuals with catastrophic injuries and illness.

Eileen quickly discovered that the challenge of working with real people is that they have real problems and she returned to writing where she could make her characters do what she wanted. Her first novel was published in 2008. Entertainment Weekly called her novel WITH MALICE a “seriously creepy thriller” which pretty much made her entire year.

When not planning murder and mayhem on the computer, Eileen enjoys reading, knitting, yelling at her dogs to stop digging holes and watching hockey (which she is required to do as a new Canadian.)

 

 

Genres of Literature – Cli-Fi


cli-fi

The literary genre climate fiction is commonly known as Cli-Fi. The narratives deal with climate-change and global warming, although not necessarily speculative in nature the narratives center on the world as we know it or in the near future. In essence it is an off-shoot of eco-fiction addressing the effects of climate change in short stories or novels.

 

Although the term “cli-fi” came into use in the late 2000s to describe novels dealing with man-made climate change, it is certainly not a ‘new’ literary topic as natural disasters have been themes to novels in the past. For example Jules Verne’s The Purchase of the North Pole in 1889 relates to a change due to the Earth’s axis tilting. His Paris in the Twentieth Century, written in 1883, relays a sudden drop in temperature lasting three years in a titular city. J.G. Ballard used persistent hurricane-force winds in The Wind from Nowhere in 1961 and melted ice-caps and rising sea-levels caused by solar radiation in The Drowned World in 1962 (somewhat of a prophecy!)

This genre has grown as scientific knowledge of the effects of fossil fuel consumption and resulting increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations has become the global warming phenomenon.

Other novels include Susan M. Gaine’s Carbon Dreams, Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx & Crake, the Year of the Flood and MaddAddam.

Have you written Cli-fi?

Did you know of this genre before today?

 

Genres of Literature – Flash Fiction


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In short, Flash Fiction is a fictional piece of prose in extreme brevity but still offering character and plot development. They can be defined by word count, which includes the six-word story, the 280-character story; commonly known as twitterature’, the dribble or minisaga, 50 words, the drabble or microfiction, 100-words, sudden fiction (750 words), flash fiction (1000 words), nanotale and micro-story. This genre possesses a unique literary quality, in its ability to hint at or imply a larger story.  In the 1920s flash fiction was referred to as the “short short story”.

Flash fiction roots go back into prehistory, recorded at origin of writing, which included fables and parables, the best know is of course, Aesop’s Fables in the west, and Panchatantra and Jataka tales in India. In Japan, flash fiction was popularized in the post-war period particularly by Michio Tsuzuk. In the United State early forms were found int he 19th century by such notable figures as Ambrose Bierce, Walt Whitman and Kate Chopin.

There are many internet sites and magazines that accept flash or micro fiction. I have submitted micro stories before and found them to be great fun!

Here is a list of some sites:

http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/flash-fiction-list-resources

Have you tried micro fiction?

Which site(s) did you use?

I submitted quite a few to Espresso Fiction but alas there are no more 😦  It was a great exercise for me as a novice writer.

 

 

 

Author Interview – Mary Cooney-Glazer


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Mary Cooney-Glazer

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both. For me, writing includes considering various plot ideas and marinating them in my head. I look for incidents that disrupt characters’ lives so they need to change course and deal with the consequences. That’s the exhausting part.

I get energized when the core of a plot develops, and characters materialize to tell the story. For me, that’s when the best part of writing begins.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Getting myself to forget everyday obligations for a while and sit at the computer. Learning to make writing a priority is still a work in progress. However, I’m getting a lot better now that I have a published novel.

Do you have other author friends and how do they help you become a better writer?

Yes. I’m lucky enough to have a friend who writes in the same genre. It’s wonderful to exchange ideas and share problems and triumphs with a writing buddy who understands the process, helps with the craft, encourages and motivates. We try to meet in person every two weeks, and we email in between. Let’s face it, most people don’t get what it’s like to create and live with imaginary characters who’ve become part of one’s life.

Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I became attached to the cast of characters in my first book, published last November, and set primarily in a pair of small New England seacoast towns. Readers have let me know they want to know what happens to supporting players in that book. For those reasons, I’m planning to keep the area, as well as threads about the characters in my second novel. I want people to be able to read it as a stand-alone as well if they choose.

What was the best money you spent as a writer?

Two ways. Years ago, I took a summer institute on newspaper writing, publicity, and promotion. It was inexpensive and one of the professors had top newspaper and advertising names as guest instructors. I still use what I learned.

Another worthwhile expenditure was, and still is, buying an overabundance of best-selling novels in varied genres. I study structure, style, and try to analyze elements that make a popular book. The downside is it’s hard for me to read only for pleasure

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I learned specifically about written word power in early grade school. Each year, we were required to write an essay about something in nature for a statewide contest. The teachers encouraged vivid similes and metaphors. My ruby leaves and icy moons often won certificates.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot?

My writing mascot chose me. Tux is a tolerant black and white cat of a certain age. Among his talents are stretching out on piles of paper without disturbing them and head butting the laptop screen gently when he decides I need a break. Listening is one of his strongest points.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

No books, but there are many short stories. I didn’t have the confidence to attempt a novel until one of the short stories decided there was a lot more to tell. It took about four years, but eventually, the story became my book.

What does literary success look like to you?

First, I want people to buy and enjoy reading my novel. I’ve written about mid-life characters who get a chance to fall in love again. When readers finish my book….hopefully books….I want them to have a sense of optimism, hope, and confidence that life can be wonderful at any age. Of course, it would be lovely to be widely read as well.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

 Of course, I use the computer for whatever I can. Then, because some settings in the stories are popular tourist spots, I visit them and take notes. Details need to be correct, or the credibility of a book suffers as far as I’m concerned. Angie, the heroine, has an unusual business. She’s a Nurse Concierge. I spent a lot of time researching what that involves. Ben is from England but he now lives in the US. I had to get information on dual citizenship requirements. Then I had to learn about high tech company practices and offers for takeovers of small businesses.

I do some research during the development stage of the book, but it’s ongoing through the first draft at least, sometimes even later in the process.

How many hours a day/week do you write?

In defining the writing process, I include developing the book idea, and the marinating that goes on in my head before actually putting fingers to computer keys. During that phase, my writing is sporadic, maybe two or three days a week for an hour or two. I hide from the work, finding it necessary to iron, throw out old mail, anything but get to the story.

When the story starts to gel, and characters begin chatting, I can write for several hours a day with intense concentration. It wouldn’t be unusual to stay at it for 6 hours or more, letting most everything else in my life slide. I don’t write daily. Because I’m mostly a pantser, I need to think about what I’d like to see happen.

this time forever

How do you select the names of your characters?

Names come after the characters take shape. I consider their personalities and traits, as well as how they appear physically in my imagination. I also think about what sounds good to my ear. Last names come to my mind randomly. First names might come from an online list, the newspaper, or an old telephone book.

What was your hardest scene to write?

That’s easy. It was my first serious love scene, beyond kissing. Getting the elements of tender romance, mutual longing and participation, enough raciness to make it interesting, and avoiding offensive description was a challenge.

Why did you decide to write in your particular field or genre?

I started writing fiction as a second career. I was an RN for many years. Several friends found second romances in their middle years, and I enjoyed hearing the stories and seeing the happiness their relationships brought. There are not many novels dealing with people forty and over falling in love and successfully merging already full lives. I thought it would be fun to join the emerging field of writing love stories about people with life experience.

What inspires you?

Many things, but mostly watching and listening to people. It could be a couple holding hands on the street; two people laughing softly together; or seeing someone comfort a partner;

There is an incident I remember vividly that will find its way into a story. Two people were sitting across from each other in a coffee shop. Although they never touched, as they talked, their eyes were focused on each other every second. Their smiles were gentle, and I felt the connection as a palpable wave of love.

How do you make or find time to write.

I push down the guilt at not doing other things and just get to it.  It’s taken some effort to convince myself that this is not just a hobby now, but a second career. I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic, so thinking of writing as a real job has helped.

What project are you working on at present?

My major effort is promoting my new novel, This Time Forever. I still have so much to learn about methods of attracting an audience, promotion is close to a full time job. The novel is in an emerging genre, sometimes referred to as ‘Seasoned’ or ‘Midlife’ Romance. Angie and Ben, the two main characters are 57 and 60 respectively. I think they show that pursuing love in their phase of life is just as adventuresome, wonderful, and sexy as ever. So far, reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have been favorable, and there’s growing feedback that people enjoy reading about contemporaries. 

I’m also working on getting a website and improving my Facebook and Amazon Authors page.

What do your plans for future projects include?

There’s another book in the development/mental marination phase. The New England Seacoast will continue as the setting. It is another Romance, with the main characters in the 50-60 age range. 

Facebook Author’s Page:   

https://www.facebook.com/Mary-Cooney-Glazer-Author-850284245141392/

Twitter     https://twitter.com/writingyetagain