Thursday, March 26, 2009

AFRAID a review and afraid of changing genres?

My kitty wondering if he dares read AFRAID by Jack Kilborn.

AFRAID is the first horror novel by Jack Kilborn, aka J.A. Konrath. J.A. Konrath chose a pseudonym for AFRAID because he writes the humorous Jack Daniels mystery/thriller series under J.A. Konrath. AFRAID is truly and firmly ensconced in the horror genre. A different genre for the author, which begs the question--should a writer write in different genres?

In some ways, the genres Konrath chose are closely related--Kilborn's Afraid is full of mystery, action and thrills. But the Jack Daniels series abound in fun, quirky characters whereas AFRAID has eccentric, egocentric and strange characters. Both have their share of evil individuals, of course. Perhaps the biggest difference is in the voice or "feel of the read" in AFRAID. This is visceral, ripped-out-guts, don't-turn-out-the-lights horror as opposed to a lighter, less violent, less ferocious style of his mystery series.

Did it work for Konrath/Kilborn to switch genres? In the case of AFRAID, I believe it did. Afraid is a strong book in the horror genre and a good debut novel for a "new" author. A good read, IF you enjoy horror.

And I believe I saw some good development in Konrath's pacing, characters and plot(I've read his Jack Daniels series as well). It's a danger, when you switch genres in "jack of all trades, master of none" but in most cases it stretches a writer to move into a different arena. An excellent challenge and growth opportunity--I certainly have noticed it in my own writing when I try something different. I suspect this is try of most creative endeavors--a painter using acrylics instead of oils, a musician trying rock instead of classical, etc.

So, dear reader, what do you think? Okay to change genres, try different formats and ways of writing? Or do you focus on working on one particular style and making it your own?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Expectations, Part 2

Out of a lot of work and courage comes...

A previous post discussed expectations that can get into the way of success. Here are expectations that lead to success.

1. Expect to FINISH. No matter what. Anything begun you should expect to finish. This is the first one that most people run up against and don't have the expectation of taking a project to the end. Many people start a lot of projects with enthusiasm but as soon as it gets tough, quit. And start something else. If you don't finish, you'll never know if it truly worked, or not. If you don't finish, you'll never know success.

2. Expect to work hard at your craft, all the time. Any creative person who doesn't expect to work on improving their skills, stagnates at best. Creativity increases with the hard work of getting better at your chosen craft.

3. Expect it to be difficult. Yes, being creative is a lot of fun. But, if you're serious about being any kind of artist--it's also work, lots of work. Work that is totally subjective so there's a lot of rejection. And sometimes you just have to slog through a project to see #1.

If you expect the above, I believe at some point you'll see some success. You may not be on the bestseller lists, or in the Metropolitan Museum, or even making a living from your creative endeavor, but you will succeed.

What are some of your good expectations that work for you?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Go Green!


Here's hoping you have a fun, joyous and safe, green and blooming with life day, regardless of ancestry or nationality. And if you do celebrate today, how?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Expectations, Part 1

My backyard yesterday morning.

Yesterday afternoon, Oregon Trail.

December, same trail.

Last weekend, it was 60 degrees outside. Bruce trimmed the rose bushes, took the sand out of the trunks of the cars and in general did the yard work for an early spring. Then, three days later, the snow came back. Not as much as in December, but enough. My poor roses...

Our expectation was that the weather would continue warm as it had been. We made decisions and acted upon those decisions according to the expectation. But of course, the expectation turned out to be wrong. Which got me to thinking, how often does that occur in our creative careers? Where do we act upon expectations and then find myself stunned by the result? Why do we have such expectations?

Part of it must be because of those sneaky feelings, hope and desire. Of course, without hope and desire no one would ever attempt anything creative. It's hard work. If we didn't have the desire to create and the hope of success, why try? But often, we fall into magical thinking. Along the lines of "if I attend this workshop and learn more of how to paint/write/any other creative endeavor then I'm sure to sell then" or "if I write this novel/paint this painting/photograph in this new fashionable bestseller style I'm sure it'll be the answer" or even "If I buy a new computer with this new software or this new camera or this new paint brush or paints or whatever then..."

How to avoid the pitfalls of time and expense that often comes from such thinking? I've always found that returning to my source line works. By that, I mean recognizing that the wild expectations come out of a true passion. (It's time for it to be spring so it is.) And that searching for simple solutions or shortcuts is only human nature.

Finally, roses are tough and will most likely survive. Quite possibly, their color will be deeper for the experience. Same as with creative people.

So what do you do when your expectations run wild? What happens? Is the experience disappointing or invigorating? Or both?

Next up: Good expectations (there are some).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Clearing the Decks, Pros and Cons

Clearing the decks? All writers are sailors? No, not exactly. The metaphor is simply this: if you don't clear the decks from time to time you won't be able to see where you're sailing. And, if you can't see, you're liable to run aground.

Why the metaphor now? Because I've finished my first rough draft and am now "clearing the decks" before diving into the next draft (okay, enough sailing, water metaphors!). Why? Because if the decks are blocked by half-finished short stories or articles with an upcoming, looming due date then how can I turn all my attention to the rewrite? If my notes on the rewrite are scattered in this file and this other file, how can I be certain I'll find and more importantly USE my extensive rewriting notes?

So, there's been a flurry of organization and finishing up and submitting short projects. This helps me in another way--I've found that having writing "out there" submitted (and occasionally published, yay!) supports my rewriting. It's a reminder that finishing a writing project is possible. It's a boost to know I'm continuing to pursue my passion, any way I can. And, as the Muse on Inspired Day by Day mentioned in her post on How to Make Things Happen: Visualize, it's a positive visualization of success.

A pitfall--or reef to get hung up on (back to sailing images): clearing and organizing and "getting ready" forever or for so long you've stepped out of the current w.i.p. too far. So far all the energy goes out of the project. It can end up as a "drawer novel." Ugh. I set a time limit for the clearing up for this reason.

Do you go from one draft into another? If so, why? Or do you have a period in between? What works best for you in the long, long run of writing a major work?