Writing

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ISO a few good madmen…

Published April 15, 2017 by Shadow Girl

I originally asked @screamfix if I could share this post here because I think it’s a legit, no-bullshit offer that will be a win/win for everyone. Plus, I know a handful of BBB readers who will want to jump on this immediately. 

But, there IS another reason…

I want to shine the spotlight on Dön & Donna Harrison, and The screamfix Horror Community for a minute, and I really hope that everyone will check them out. I believe that screamfix and Shadow Girl started out with a similar intent – to SUPPORT/PROMOTE INDIE HORROR! Or, as screamfix so eloquently puts it –

“Promoting creators of independent horror by feeding rabid horror fans”

You gotta give it up for Oscar Wilde-like wordplay that good! 

This is the point where I would usually start detailing all the awesome, but not this time. I don’t need to. Check them out. I’ll be surprised if you tell me that you disagree. I’ll be rockin’ my screamfix Horror Community badge here on BBB, while I think of ideas, stuff, and things – hopefully there will be a Horror Network badge to keep it company soon.

Support & promote independent horror, dark fiction, and sci-fi in all their various forms: movies, books, poems, comics, artwork, music, games, fashion, etc.  Write a review. Share a link. Update your status. Tweet the deets. Tell a friend. Call your mom. Shout it from the rooftops!

    

 

shortlink – http://wp.me/p37DRX-1EJ

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Your Official NaNoWriMo Cheerleader!

Published October 31, 2015 by Shadow Girl

November Is National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMoCheerleader.SG

 

 

ISO URBAN LEGENDS, FOLKLORE, and CREEPYPASTA

Published October 19, 2015 by Shadow Girl

Urban-Legends

Urban legends & folklore have been in existence since man began storytelling.
Many of them may have a basis of truth, but it’s so far buried in embellishments as the story is circulated that it’s hard to distinguish fact from fiction. Others are so engrained in our history that they’re considered accurate accounts of actual events.

You know the story. THAT STORY. Where everyone heard it from a friend of a friend and they are pretty sure there’s some truth to it because their cousin saw something when they were in 9th grade and then so and so’s Dad saw this light on the water in 1972 and there was that one time the barn down the road just up and vanished and showed up two days later somewhere else…

And that’s pretty much how it goes. I’m sure everyone reading this blog has a story from where they grew up, or a tale told on the playground on a stormy day at recess in elementary school. Or they heard something from a friend of a friend…

These are the stories we love. Told by ”the people they happened to”.
These stories must be true. After all, this is the internet.
You can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true. Everyone knows that.

Urban Legend A humorous/horrific story or piece of information circulated as though true, especially one purporting to involve someone vaguely related or known to the teller.

Folklore:  The traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth.A body of popular myth and beliefs relating to a particular place, activity, or group of people.
Creepypasta:  Essentially internet horror stories, passed around on forums and other sites to disturb and frighten readers. The name “Creepypasta” comes from the word “copypasta“, an internet slang term for a block of text that gets copied and pasted over and over again from website to website.
Creepy stories that float around on the Interwebs.
Kate: I heard that if you say “Bloody Mary” 3 times into a mirror, a hook will appear on your car door.
Rob: No, dude. That’s just some creepypasta.

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In March of 2013 I published the URBAN LEGENDS page here on BBB with the intention of posting re-imaginings of some great urban legends.  With a little help, and some added Griz-tion, it was off to a good start!

Then the inevitable happened. Life. Stuff. Things.

It’s time to inject some new life

into this project!

Email your nightmare inducing stories to blacksheep572@yahoo.com with URBAN LEGENDS in the subject line, and attach any pictures you would like to be included in the post.

Tell me a story. Scare me.

It’s a dark & stormy night…

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: R.J. Spears

Published April 27, 2015 by Shadow Girl

R.J. Spears is a writer, and he writes about the undead.

He grew up in a small city in southern Ohio, attended a large Midwestern university and studied film-making.  He kicked around the Midwest, working in the hollowed halls of academe, but kept piddling around with writing.  Just a few years ago, he got serious and now has 4 novels, two novellas, twenty or so short stories, a short story collection and a bunch of stuff on the web and in print anthologies.

rj

He’s written two series:

Forget the Zombies

Forget the Alamo
Forget Texas
Forget America

Books of the Dead

Sanctuary from the Dead
Lord of the Dead
Dead Man’s Land
Into the Deadlands (coming soon)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

He has also written several zombie short stories & horror stories, along with crime flash fiction and mystery shorts.

To learn more about R.J. Spears, and his books, check out his Amazon author’s page.

Here’s a link to his [not recently updated] blog:
R.J. Spears Blog

You can follow him via his Facebook page

And you can chat with him in the Zombie Fiend chatrooms!

Become a part of the first Crowdsourced Beta Reader group

Published April 22, 2015 by Shadow Girl

You are invited to become part of a crowdsourced Beta Reader group,  the first of its kind! 

The group is to review the Up From the Depths zombie apocalypse series by J.R. Jackson.

Scenes, chapters, and chapter excerpts will be posted to the group and members will have a chance to read and make comments on how to make those excerpts, and the entire series, better.

This is the first time that something like this has been done [that I’m aware of]. You, the readers, will have actual real world input into an unpublished series and the author will literally be able to hear from those same readers and provide edits, additions, changes, deletions, etc to make sure that the work is at the level that the readers of the zompoc genre deserve.

Not only do you get access to a new zombie apocalypse novel, you get to be a Beta Reader and provide valuable insight that usually only comes in the form of bad or indifferent reviews once the book is released.

That also means that once this series gets to the point where cover art is created, members of this group will be able to pick what cover is most popular for each book.

https://i2.wp.com/api.ning.com/files/xkVCMRT4uG-znQKR35KA6NDa*iL-pQ7LpDSvEE0aveB7HjyjDJcc1EjTBxg4FjMV702syxf5jABlZ2HVUtRx*ZpvzqLF59lT/laststand.jpg

This is what the series is about: a zombie apocalypse.

Seriously, there is a zombie outbreak, not the usual contrived, cliche type of outbreak. No space aliens, no returning space probes, no rogue comets/asteroids, no 10,000 year old alien thawed out, nothing that Mystery Science Theater 3000 would make fun of.

No. The cause of the outbreak is more based in the real world.

There is no central Main Character, the MC as it were. There is an ensemble cast with a core element of main characters. That means that there are several characters spread all over CONUS (Continental United States. This abbreviation is also in the Glossary page of this group) and small sections of the world, one character in the UK.

There is a relatively heavy military thematic element to the series as it takes a look at various US military units, before, during, and after the outbreak.

Due to the inclusion of those units, there will be a glossary of terms and abbreviations posted to the group (separate page so you can have that tab open while reading any excerpt) that will allow you to be more informed about what is being done, used, or spoken about in the various scenes. That does not mean that the series is rift with these terms but the average reader is not that well versed in military terminology or what some might call ‘Mil-Speak’.

To any active, prior, or retired service members, any insight into the interaction between military characters that would increase detail would be greatly appreciated. I have some knowledge on how units might operate and interact with each other but I’m sure there’s some details missing that could be added in to make those scenes containing that interaction more true to life.

To clarify how this group works, there will chapters, chapter excerpts, scenes, and sequences posted from the various books, in order, so you won’t be reading something from book 5 when there was something previously posted from book 1. Each topic posted will be identified as to what book it came from. That way we’re all on the same page and the same book.

All the topics posted will be in order starting from Book 1, Denial Measures and moving all the way to Book 6, Secondary Objectives.

Your task, should you decide to participate, will be to review the posts and make comments on how they could be changed to provide more balance between plot and character, more detail to let the reader know what’s happening, resolve any obvious plot holes, make sure there’s continuity, and provide information on how to make this series better.

If you feel you can do that as a member of this group, then sit back, buckle up, and prepare for a trip through a zombie infested world that will blow you away.

To view the chapters in order, what that means is the most recent posting will be the first posting, you may have to change the sorting options. That can be done under the ‘Sort by’ then select the option that will help you get the chapters in numerical order.

If you’d like to participate, or check out the group before making a decision, just click on the link provided.

UP FROM THE DEPTHS BETA READER GROUP ON ZOMBIE FIEND 

8 Words To Seek And Destroy In Your Writing

Published March 15, 2014 by Shadow Girl

8 Words to Seek and Destroy in Your Writing
COLUMN BY ROBBIE BLAIR NOVEMBER 9, 2012

Creating powerful prose requires killing off the words, phrases, and sentences that gum up your text. While a critical eye and good judgment are key in this process, some terms almost always get in the way. Here are eight words or phrases that should be hunted down in your story and deleted with extreme prejudice.

“Suddenly”

“Sudden” means quickly and without warning, but using the word “suddenly” both slows down the action and warns your reader. Do you know what’s more effective for creating the sense of the sudden? Just saying what happens.

“I pay attention to every motion, every movement, my eyes locked on them.
Suddenly, The gun goes off.”

When using “suddenly,” you communicate through the narrator that the action seemed sudden. By jumping directly into the action, you allow the reader to experience that suddenness first hand. “Suddenly” also suffers from being nondescript, failing to communicate the nature of the action itself; providing no sensory experience or concrete fact to hold on to. Just … suddenly.

Feel free to employ “suddenly” in situations where the suddenness is not apparent in the action itself. For example, in “Suddenly, I don’t hate you anymore,” the “suddenly” substantially changes the way we think about the shift in emotional calibration.

“Then”

“Then” points vaguely to the existing timeline and says, “It was after that last thing I talked about.” But the new action taking place in a subsequent sentence or sentence part implies that much already. You can almost always eliminate your thens without disrupting meaning or flow.

“I woke up. Then I, brushed my teeth. Then I, combed my hair. Then I , and went to work.”

“Then” should be used as a clarifying agent, to communicate that two seemingly concurrent actions are happening in sequence. For example, “I drove to the supermarket. Then I realized I didn’t need to buy anything.” Without the “then,” it would be easy to mistake this as pre-existing knowledge or as a realization that happened during the drive itself. “Then” can occasionally be useful for sentence flow, but keep the use of the word to a minimum.

“In order to”

You almost never need the phrase “in order to” to express a point. The only situation where it’s appropriate to use this phrase is when using “to” alone would create ambiguity or confusion.

“I’m giving you the antidote in order to save you.”

And after ten minutes of brainstorming for an example of a proper time to use “in order to,” I haven’t been able to come up with anything. Legitimate uses of “in order to” are just that few and far between.

“Very” and “Really”

Words are self-contained descriptors, and saying, “Think of tasty. Now think of more tasty” doesn’t help readers develop a better sense of the meal or person you’re describing.

“Her breath was very cold chill as ice against my neck.”

Mark Twain suggested that writers could “substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Another strategy is to find a more powerful version of the same idea or give concrete details. To say “It was very/really/damn hot” does little, but saying “It was scorching” helps. Even better?: “The air rippled like desert sky as my body crisped into a reddened, dried-out husk.”

“Is”

Is, am, are, was, or were—whatever form your “is” takes, it’s likely useless. When’s the last time you and your friends just “was’d” for a while? Have you ever said, “Hey, guys, I can’t—I’m busy am-ing”?

The “is” verbs are connecting terms that stand between your readers and the actual description. This is especially true when it comes to the “is” + “ing” verb pair. Any time you use “is,” you’re telling the reader that the subject is in a state of being. Using an “ing” verb tells the audience the verb is in process. By using “is verbing,” you’re telling your audience that the subject is in the state of being of being in the process of doing something.

Take this example:

“I was sprinting sprinted toward the doorway.”

If the description is actually about a state of being—”they are angry,” “are evil,” or “are dead”—then is it up. But don’t gunk up your verbs with unnecessary is, am, or was-ing.

“Started”

Any action a person takes is started, continued, and finished. All three of these can be expressed by the root form of the verb. For example, “I jumped.” The reader who stops in frustration, saying, “But when did the jump start? When did it finish?” has problems well beyond the scope of the content they’re reading.

If you’ve been doing yoga for six years, you could reasonably say, “I started doing yoga six years ago.” For you, yoga is an ongoing action with a concrete starting point. But when describing action in a story, there are few circumstances where “start” is effective.

Let’s take this case and look at the potential fixes:

He started screaming.

Is it a single scream? Use “He screamed.” Are you telling us his screams will be background noise for a while? Rather than clueing us in unnecessarily, show us the series of screams first-hand. Do you want to introduce a changed state, such as escalating from loud speaking into screaming? Show us the decibels, the gruffness of voice, the way the air feels to the person he’s screaming at, and the hot dryness in the screamer’s throat as his volume crescendos.

“That”

“That” is a useful word for adding clarity, but like Bibles on the bedstands of seedy motel rooms, the word’s presence is often out of plac<<e.

When “that” is employed to add a description, you can almost always move the description to before the term and make a more powerful image.

“Ireland was nothing but flowing green hills that flowed green.”

In many other cases, “that” can simply be dropped or replaced with a more descriptive term.

“I was drunk the night that your father and I met.”

Many other uses of “that,” such as “I wish I wasn’t that ugly”, can be enhanced with more descriptive language.

“Like”

I’m not just saying that, like, you shouldn’t, like, talk like a valley girl (though that too). Here’s the problem: “Like” is used to show uncertainty. And you. Should. Not. Be. Uncertain.

Be bold. When making a comparison, use force. Use metaphor over simile. Don’t let yourself cop out by coming up with a halfway description.

“My eyes rested on the gun for a sliver of a moment. I snapped forward, grabbed it, and it was like the chill metal flowed from the gun into my veins.”

One of the 36 articles by the infamously fantastic Chuck Palahniuk dives into the issue of like in great detail. It’s well worth checking out.

As always, Orwell’s final rule applies: “Break any of these rules before saying anything barbarous.” There are instances where each of these words fills a valuable role. However, especially among inexperienced writers, these words are frequently molested and almost always gum up the works.

Apply these lessons immediately and consistently to empower your words. Then, with practice, you will suddenly realize that you are starting to naturally trim the text in order to create prose that is very powerful.

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