#NaNoWriMo #Interview: Miranda Kate

*This year I wanted to provide a spotlight for a few writers who have decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Enjoy getting to know them and learn from their insights!

Tell us why do you participate in National Novel Writing Month

To get the bulk of my novels written – at least that is why I participate now. In the beginning it was to learn to write forward without editing as I go. I found that a revelation in terms of how much I could produce. And now I look forward to the word sprints and the community of it: all of us writing together – remotely.

I am a Brit living in the Netherlands, and I live in a small village where I haven’t managed to fully integrate, so this is one of the few ways to connect with others. I love opening the door to all the new writers and stepping into that world for the month – it’s like I’m where I belong for a while.

How/When did you first learn about NaNoWriMo?

Back in 2011, I arrived on Twitter at the end of July. I joined to follow a couple of friends, and then found lots of writers and flash fiction contests, and then as November approached I heard about the challenge and decided to give it a go, connecting to everyone through the hashtag. It was like stepping into a whole other universe.

How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo?

This is my seventh time. My first time was 2011. I was working for a company then and wasn’t able to complete 50K, but in more recent years I have succeeded. I try not to put too much pressure on. If I only get 25K or 30K that is still a lot for me to write in one go. I also tend to flag a bit a couple of weeks in, so this year I am taking it easy.

What is your NaNoWriMo project for this year?

I am finishing the sequel to a novella of mine called, The Game (currently published in my collection called Slipping Through). It’s a dark sci-fi time travel story. I began it last year for NaNoWriMo, so I am planning to complete it. I have sort of let it lie over the year as I have been busy publishing my first full novel, Sleep, which was released on the 1st of September.

Do you listen to music while you write?  If so, what kind of music?

I need complete silence to write. Although I did enter a weekly flash contest which had a song prompt for a couple of years. That was interesting and produced some great stories, but it was difficult. I had to have the song on repeat to keep whatever story had popped into my head going. I can, however, write with a lot of people around me, as I started writing when I used to work in an office and I am used to that.

Do dreams inspire your writing ideas?

Often I will wake up with complete ideas or answers to things I am trying to solve in a story. I had to write an epilogue to my novel, Sleep, and I wasn’t sure what to write, but one morning I literally woke up with it mapped out in my head. It’s fabulous when that happens – although it is rare.

Who is your favorite author? Why?

Stephen King. He covers all the genres I love: Horror, Fantasy, and sometimes surreal stuff. I love how he writes. Whenever I return to his books I sort of sigh to myself as it feels like I’ve come home; it easy to read with such great flow and pace.

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

I think about how they speak to other people. I imagine dialogue first, and listen to that dialogue and sort of see them speaking in my mind’s eye.

Please tell us about your celebrity crush.

Just one? Not sure I can do that!

Actors: Tom Hardy is my biggest, I love his on-screen intensity. Others are Idris Elba, Johnny Miller, Cillian Murphy.

Music: I am a massive Prince fan, since I was 15, so that’s been a permanent crush. And despite his death, which devastated me, I still listen to his music daily.

Also Theo Hutchcraft, from a band called Hurts. He seems to be taking a break from social media and it’s killing me! He has such a great voice, and is wonderful eye candy.

What is your preferred genre to write in?

I like to write dark stuff mostly, can be horror, can be sci-fi, can be general fiction, but I like it to be dark and have an edge to it. I can do fantasy and surreal mixed in too. My novel, Sleep, is a psychological thriller, which was different for me, but was a story that had begun 28 years ago. I tend not to define genres in my writing, I write what comes.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I am also a freelance editor, and I see a lot of people worrying about what they could possibly produce in just a month and whether it would be any good. I have worked with several authors first drafts in December, helping them pull it into shape, and having something to work with is the key. It doesn’t matter how you get it down. Just keep writing forward through November, leave the rest for after.

Twitter: @PurpleQueenNL
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Thank you so much, Miranda for taking the time to share with us a little bit about yourself and your writing experiences.  Best of luck for your NaNoWriMo! If anyone has any questions or comments for her please leave them in the Comment section.

#NaNoWriMo #IWSG: Finding Inspiration

Click on image for site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Time!

It’s November and many of you are probably participating in the NaNoWriMo. I am as well. And so far, I’m not off to a very good start sitting at just a little over 3,000 words. Granted, my actual goal for this project isn’t to write 50k but 12k words so if I take that into consideration I’m actually right on par.

I’ve been doing NaNo on and off since 2008, and with each of them I tend to run out of steam in the next week or so.

The dreaded “muddle middle.”

Finding Inspiration To Keep It Going

The key is not to give up on the story, but find inspiration to jump start the writing process. Here are a few that I’ve used:

!. Create a playlist or soundtrack of your novel.  This works for me nearly every time. You can use You Tube or Apple Music to set up a playlist.  Pandora is another good one.  I use mainly You Tube. What about you?

2. If your story was to be made into a movie, which actors/actresses would you want to play the parts of your main characters? I am in the process of doing this for my NaNo project.  I will post on this later.

3. Pick one or more characters and interview them.  Sometime it’s just a matter of getting to know your main characters better that will jump start the creative juice.

4. Create a trailer for your project.  I love doing this!  I use Kizoa to create trailers for various projects.  This can help you flesh out the major plot/character arcs of your story.

 

Now, what about you? What methods do you use for inspiration?

 

Today Begins Spooky Season!

Today begins one of my favorite times of the year! Mainly because I love all-things spooky and scary!

I’m planning to write a few short stuff for here so be on the look out!

Will you be writing scary short stories or creating spine-chilling videos/short films? Please let me know via in the comment section below so I can check them out!

To start off the season, I’m posting a spooky video I created two years ago (one-liner story so it’s very, very short!). Enjoy!!!

 

Never Forget: Looking Back (a 9/11 story)

September 11, 2001. 

The day that changed America.

I know it changed me, and my perspective on the duality of mankind (evil vs. good).

I’m finding it difficult to believe that it’s been eighteen years when it feels like it just happened.  Even now, certain images or sounds still evoke all those terrifying feelings and thoughts I had on that fateful day.

An airplane flying over my house.  A fireman on a street corner.  Any high rise structure.

It took me sixteen years to step back on a plane.  I have flown a few more times since; however I am still unable to shake the uneasiness that disaster can strike at any given moment.

In 2017, the events of 9/11 continued to haunt me so I decided to write a micro-story and eventually turned it into a video, The Bench. In a way, I did this to try and purge some of the feelings of intense sadness and of the anger over what we all had lost that day. I wrote this from a fireman’s perspective drawing upon a specific story I saw on one of the many 9/11 documentaries.

 

 

The actual photo that inspired my story:

(Someone took the iconic picture of a fireman sitting on the bench when he couldn’t find his wife anywhere)

Article detailing his story — Husband and Wife Survive World Trade Center on 9/11

Although his story had a happier ending, I wrote my story with the thought of so many others who’d lost their loved ones. And even worst, never to have their remains found.

 

My Story

 

9/11 had a profound effect on me. For several months afterward, I struggled with depression.

Perhaps in part it had to do with the fact I am from New York state. Born and raised upstate, my hometown was about five hours north of the Big Apple.  I’d spent time among those enormous high rises (yes, including the Twin Towers), roamed many of its streets, and walked along the boardwalks admiring great ships of war.

My husband and I had just relocated from New York to Raleigh, North Carolina in May of 2001.  I’d flew on an American Airline plane back to New York in July for my sister’s wedding.

On that day, a Tuesday, I was a teller working for RBC Centura in one of their branches near REX hospital (only a few short miles from the RDU airport).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annette, another teller, was there initially as we got ready to open the bank. But just before opening, she received a phone call that her grandmother was taken to the ER so she had to leave.

It was a few minutes before opening, Waller, the branch manager, got a call on his cell from his mother to turn on the news.  A plane had crashed into one of the Towers.  We quickly went back to the break room and turned on the small television and sure enough, we could see plumes of smoke rolling out of the North Tower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first thought was that a commercial plane had accidentally hit the Tower.

An accident. That’s all it was.

With that, we opened the bank for the day.

As there were no customers yet, I rushed back to the break room to continue following the breaking news when I witnessed the second plane hitting South Tower.

I’d felt like something had knocked the wind out of me as I found myself holding my breath unable to take another.

Oh my god…that was no accident.

When the third plane hit Pentagon less than 20 minutes later, I was thinking, my god, we’re under attack.

My heart was racing. I couldn’t help but wonder – where will they hit next?

Unbeknowst to me at the time, my brother, Rick, was working that very morning at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservation Center in Cary, NC.  He personally knew the coworker who took that agonizing call by one of the flight attendants (Betty Ong) from Flight 11 (the plane that hit the North Tower). But when the call initially came in (between 8 and 8:30am), no one (including him) except for the supervisors knew of the tragic events unfolding.  The coworker was told to keep the call discreet as not to spread panic through the center.  Unfortunately, no one was able to get help in time for her and the passengers of Flight 11.  Rick said that this coworker was so distraught, they had to resigned.

It was sometime before 10am when I began hearing that the FAA were grounding all flights. I also remember hearing that all planes were accounted for…all except for one. That one, Flight 93, crashed in Pennsylvania.

Throughout this whole first hour of being opened, not one single customer came to the branch.  The main phone did not ring. At. All.

I was still the only teller.  Annette was gone.  Remi, the part timer, wasn’t due in for another hour. Throughout this entire building there were only myself and the branch manager.

It felt so eerily strange.

Up to this point, I was feeling a little frantic and unnerved, but managed to keep myself together.

A little before 10am,  I decided to go back and check on the news for any new information and watched disbelievingly as the South Tower collapsed.

 

Oh. My. God. Did I just see an entire high rise crumble to the ground?  How was that even possible?

Less than 30 minutes later, North Tower fell.

There was a loud buzzing in my head as my mind tried to decipher all that had happened. This was such craziness! Who would do such horrific acts?

I was stunned.  I was afraid. Then I became angry.

Whoever was responsible, needed to pay for all those lives lost.

I was so livid, I really wanted to smash something.

Anything.

The phone rang.

It was my husband, Jay, who’s a teller at another bank across town. A former soldier who fought in Desert Storm in 1991, it was his calm voice that snapped me back from the edge I was about to fall from.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

I had to take several deep breaths before I could answer, “Yes.”

After all that had happened up to this point, the bank decided to keep their branches opened; but the rest of the day was a blur for me.  I don’t remember if Remi ever did come in.  I’m sure he did. I do remember the only two customers who came.  One of them took the drive-through, the former owner and CEO of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Everything felt so surreal.  I couldn’t tell if I was awake or asleep. I suppose I was in shock, but I can remember the utter relief I felt when we finally locked the doors, and seeing my husband waiting in the parking lot.

Thank god, I can finally get away from here!

For the next week or so, the skies over us were empty. Silent. The RDU airport nearby was practically barren of all life.  Rick was given nearly a week off before returning to the Reservation Center.

Our lives, everything, had changed forever.

Feeling secured in our country had only been an illusion.

Even today, I can’t help looking over my shoulder every once in a while for the next disaster to strike.

 

What about you? Where were you on September 11, 2001? How did that day change your life?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s Just A Dream #Poetry

Life
Its dark path’s a mystery
Full of hidden dangers & wonders

Eyes
Concealed within the shadowy woods
They know I’ve gone astray

Lost
In my mind home’s just beyond that bend
Alas, it’s only a mirage

Heavy
The mist encases each bared limb
Drowning me in despair

 

*Author’s Note: this poem was written for a prompt given by #BardBits on Twitter —

Marvelous Monday!

prompt 294: Midnight/Moon/Sea/Dock/Stroll/Reflect/Light/Clarity
Our Guest Hosts:
&

Write a short story or poem inspired by or using the word(s) and/or image.

#IWSG The Horror and Suspense of Life

This post is for IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group), and this month’s question: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

 

Right from the get-go, I’ve always been drawn to the darker sides of things. My first story I ever wrote (around eleven years old) was about a creepy house where a girl entered on a dare and discovered a decapitated head in a fridge.

Pretty morbid, eh?

So, I started with horror, then it became horror-paranormal to horror-apocalyptic, and now it’s mainly suspense.  Through these genres, the common theme always centered around death.

When my cousin (and best friend at the time) Darren passed away just before our fourteenth birthdays, I was hit with the stark reality that we were not invincible or immortal.  That even kids die.

Since then, I have experienced several other deaths of family members and friends.  Many of them died well before they were at the peak of their lives, or even able to realized their dreams.

This have always weighed heavily on me.

And showed up in pretty much whatever I wrote be it a short story or a poem.

A loss of some form. The darkness that’s constantly there.   .

I enjoy writing both horror and suspense mainly because it’s cathartic for my broken heart, and it’s my way of dealing with the pain.

What about you? What’s your favorite genre to write/read? Why? I love to know!

 

Animivorator #Flash #Fiction

Dark gray clouds hung heavy in the sky like a blanket of wispy fog partially covering the treeline in the distance.

Kurt’s day didn’t start off on a positive note as he trudged along the heavily cracked road.

“I’m so sorry Mr. Buxton, I’m unable to work today due to an aging car that I can’t fix because the wage you’re paying me royally sucks!” he muttered as his brown eyes pandered ahead of each step, hands deep inside the pockets of the long black coat, “of all days to break down, it had to be today.”

“What’s so special about today?”

Kurt jumped and swerved around to see where the voice came from.

There was an old man standing well off the side of the road nearly encased in shadows. His clothes were tattered, his salt n’ pepper hair oily and unkempt. Kurt noticed a strange looking box that he held in his gnarly hands.

“Excuse me, sir, are you alright?” Kurt asked as he stepped slowly to the man.

The elder’s pale face only partially visible save the eyes which were hidden under the lid of a baseball hat with its emblem long worn off.

“Sir?” Kurt now stood a mere yard from  him. The wooden parcel appeared very, very old. Its craftsmanship told Kurt it came from a time long since past. The box wasn’t perfectly squared. No, it held more of a rectangular shape which reminded him of a–coffin.

“What’s so special about today?” the man asked again. His croaky voice carried an unrecognizable accent.

An icy breeze swept over them. Kurt’s body shivered as he buried his hands deeper in the wool pockets.

“Um, I have a presentation to make,” Kurt let out a sigh of frustration as the breath came out in a wavy mist and drifted upwards briefly before dissipating.

“One you really do not want to make,” the man stated as he continued to stand still.

Kurt cocked his head at this strange person before replying, “You’re right, I don’t really give a damn about the presentation.”

“What if I could take away the misery you call your life and give you one with a true purpose?” the man’s tone was an eloquent one.

Kurt straightened as he considered the man’s offer. The breeze suddenly halted as if nature was holding its breath.

Shrugging, Kurt said, “Sure, whatever.”

The man’s lips curled upwards ever so slightly, “Care to see what’s inside?”

Kurt glanced to the peculiar box, “Okay.”

As he took a step forward, the wind let out a whistling moan which caused the hair on the back of his neck to stand up.

He paused.

“There is nothing to fear,” the voice crooned.

Kurt watched as the lid slowly rose releasing a familiar scent.

Cinnamon.

“Come a bit closer,” the smile on the man’s lips grew when Kurt took another step, “and behold your future.”

As Kurt stood over the box, the first thing he noticed was that there were movements inside.

Was there something alive in there?

Blinking, he peered even closer.

At first, he thought he was looking at a box full of the old-fashioned clothespins painted grayish-white. He then realized that the tops held faces.

“What the hell?”

His mouth dropped when he noticed that these “clothespins’ were all looking up at him. With their rapidly fluttering eyes.

Black. Soulless.

“My god, what kind of freak are you?” He stammered as he attempted to take a step back, but a sharp coldness cascaded through his body when he discovered he could not move.

His boots remained planted in the dirty snow, his eyes on the ghostly stick figures.

“What kind of sick game is this?” Spit spewed from his lips.

With a joker’s grin, the man let out a soft, menacing chuckle, “My dear sir, I assure you that this is no game,” the interior now completely exposed, “it is futile to resist. Give in, and fulfill your chosen purpose.”

The more Kurt tried to move his head, or even a leg, the louder the drumming grew in his chest. His face, red with sweat beads rolling down the sides, he opened his mouth and let out an anguished roar that only the trees heard.

Panting, Kurt closed his eyes, fighting back the hot tears, “wh-wh-who the hell are you?”

“The name is Reike,” the man pushed up on the hat’s lid revealing a taunt face that held eyes that were like coals, and a mark engraved in his forehead – of a full moon with an eye in its center.

“And your soul now belongs to me!”

Story written for the Mid-Week Flash Challenge

10 Films Based On Short Stories

Are all movies produced from screenplays only?

Nope.

Many have been inspired by novels. Think Harry Potter and Twilight. But, did you know that there are a large number inspired by short stories?

Here are a few just to give you an idea:

Sleepy Hollow – based on Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Birds – based on Daphne du Maurier’s story with the same name

Minority Report – based on Philip K. Dick’s story with the same name

I, Robot – inspired by a collection of short stories by Issac Asimov of the same name

Candyman – based on Clive Barker’s collection of stories in the Books of Blood

They Live – based on Ray Nelson’s Eight O’Clock In the Morning

Dark Water – based on Koji Suzuki’s Floating Water

Screamers – based on Philip K. Dick’s Second Variety

The Thing – based on John W. Campbell Jr.’s Who Goes There?

In my next post, how does a short story get selected to be a film?

Dance (A Cento Poem)

by gillesgrimoin on DevianArt

 

 

Is that dance slowing in the mind of man

The head of a sleeping man

My mind was going numb –

I need a place to sing, and dancing-room,

Wrecked, solitary, here –

All night I have dreamed of destruction, annihilations —-

With blood

And then I heard them lift a Box

The deathly guests had not been satisfied

 

 

*Taken from the following poems:

Waking In Winter by Sylvia Plath

God Lay Dead In Heaven by Stephen Crane

I Felt A Funeral In My Brain by Emily Dickinson

The Dance by Theodore Roethke

 

Saturday Story: Suppose

 

*Note: Am participating in the #Write28Days (February) hosted by Anita Ojeda. Click here if you would like tp participate. 

 

Suppose

 

Scared witless, he slammed the company’s truck to a full stop and watched as the radioactive sludge engulfed the town. Strangely, the first thought to come to mind was- “Dang, I suppose I should have lowered those control rods.”