Category: A Writer’s Life

How NOT to Write a Horror Story –

How NOT to Write a Horror Story –

What I’ve Learned So Far –

For more than seven years I’ve been working on this one horror story, off and on. It’s a story that shows great promise. Truly remarkable and unforgettable characters, one of which scares me witless, but for the life of me, I cannot get this story right.

This morning, I decided that there are a few things I’ve learned from trying to write this story, especially after publishing three others during the time I’ve been working on this one:

  1. Every story is different –

    What works for one story, does not necessarily work for another and as a writer, I must be honest enough with myself to recognize that.

  2. As a writer, I must face my fears –

    Especially while writing horror and, in this case, my fear is my antagonist. While interviewing him before writing this story, he truly unnerved me and unfortunately, I believe at some point, I chickened out.

  3. Don’t listen to other people’s well meaning advice –

    Wait, before you go off the deep end, allow me to clarify. Yes, some writing advice is good and noteworthy. But in the case of your story, no one knows your story better than you do, even if it’s still inside your head and in this particular case, part of it was research.

    In the original story, the focus was on Native Americans, Apaches to be exact, and during a research trip I interviewed a so-called Apache expert on the reservation near Flagstaff. The result of this bound me up creatively so bad that I scrapped the story.

    The other problem I had was taking the story to two different writers’ groups over the years, both of which were helpful in one fashion, but totally confusing in another. So, I put the story on the back burner to “cook” some more.

    In the meantime, I tried changing the layout of the story, adding a prologue, taking away the prologue, because prologues are “bad” right? I’m laughing now, but not then. Then to make the story fit I added two more scenes completely changing the dynamics to fit the new story. Sheesh! Crazy stuff…

  4. When all else fails, rewrite –

    Which is what I am now preparing to do. The first seventeen pages are great and then I get off track. So, that’s where I hope to pick up this afternoon. Sound be interesting as I’m working on the Esme Bohlin series this morning.

  5. Relax. Meditate. But, whatever you do, stay true –

    To your characters and your story. Maybe that’s how Stephen King does it?

    I don’t know. Yeah, I’ve read On Writing, maybe I need to reread it.

    Bottom line, in the process of writing the first version of my story, I knew I’d lost my antagonist somewhere along the way, but had no idea where. Then, to make matters worse, I made him into a love-obsessed “clown.” Maybe he really is a clown…

    Nah, he’s a seven-foot effin’ bone-obsessed, angry, red-eyed dude that can scare people into sticking knifes in their bodies… He’s definitely no clown!

    (Disclaimer – this is in absolutely NO reference to Pennywise in Stephen King’s IT, even though he really was more than just a clown.)

    Venting Over –

    Okay, thanks for listening. Now onto writing and rewriting and hopefully I’ll finally get this horror story done…hopefully, this year. Of course, if you find me with a long, sharp knife sticking out of my chest, you’ll know why.

    As for the picture above, yeah, there’s definitely a cave involved…

 

Never Settle for Second Best

Never Settle for Second Best

Years ago, at seventeen, I sought an outlet. Something, anything, that would allow me to give voice to my thoughts, a way to “visualize” the pictures and the “movies,” that ran through my head. The medium I chose was what came naturally to me, words.

With words I could paint a picture, with words I could share my thoughts, my ideas and explore the unknown universe within my mind…with words I could stretch and expand my creativity, thus providing the outlet I so badly needed.

…and so, a love affair began, my love affair with words.

Today, I was reminded of why I can never settle for second best when it comes to my own creativity. This movie, this delightful and entertaining movie, Words & Pictures, reminded me of why I started writing. It reminded of that innermost desire to paint with words.

Press Release January 6th 2017

Press Release January 6th 2017

Recently learned that as an author, I should have a media kit. As I just got a new cover for my novel, MY FATHER’S MAGIC, I decided to start with that. What do you think? Feedback is always welcomed and appreciated.

New Cover!

My Father’s Magic: An Esme Bohlin Suspense Novel

  • Genre: Fantasy Suspense
  • Publication Date: April 22, 2016
  • List price: 2.99
  • ASIN: B01E4R1IDW, 369 pages
  • Label: Lucky Nut Press
  • Available on Amazon Kindle

 

 About the story:

Her memory blocked at age six, Esme’s first memory is of visiting her mother in the sanitarium, the morning after she was committed, and the pretty stones her father called charms when he taught her how to create them. The charms were to be a gift for her mother and their “little secret.”

Eighteen years and many more charms later, upon her father’s sudden and mysterious death, Esme discovers a key within his desk; the key to an old family home she doesn’t remember. There, she meets strangers who claim to have known her as a child and her father’s secrets, so well guarded by a young woman with a blocked memory, begin to unravel.

 

Reviews:

C. Michael Bennis, Author, Signs of Destiny and Ralph’s Place, A Magical Experience

I couldn’t put down this narrative of mystery and intrigue that clings to you like stepping into a spider web in a dark and haunted house. …This is a great story with many plot layers that you will enjoy from this very creative and imaginative author.

 

Carol Marrs Phipps, Author, The Heart of the Staff Series and WHAM!

What a treat! My Father’s Magic is the first fantasy novel I have read by Author Ingrid Foster, but rest assured, it won’t be the last. Flawless writing, intriguing storyline and realistic characters that are easy to love, or hate, in some instances, are just a few of the reasons I adored this tale.

This book grabbed my attention from the start, held it in thrall to the very last page and then left me to anxiously anticipate the release of the next book in this addictive series. I can only say, “Ms Foster, please write quickly!”

 

PS Winn, Author, Phases, A Gradual Decline and the Parallel Adventure Series

This is a really great read, it’s like a female Harry Potter for adults. Readers meet Esme Bohlin Hermanus when her father dies. Esme’s mother Elizabeth has been placed in an insane asylum and has been there since Esme was a child. Not knowing much about her mother, Esme goes to a house of her father’s to grieve. What she finds there is going to take readers on a magical fantasy adventure of good, evil and family ties that will have you sitting on the edge of your seats. The author does a wonderful job linking the past to the present and to ramifications for the future. I found myself lost in the story and I think readers are going to love this tale.

 

About the Author:

Fantasy Suspense Author Ingrid Foster lists Farm Girl, Veteran, World Traveler, and Desert Dweller among her many descriptors. Having wrote her first story at eight, she officially got the writing bug January 2005. Often homesick for her native Pennsylvania, she currently resides in the Sonoran Desert with her husband and two furry babies. IngridFoster.com  Twitter Facebook

The Other Side of the Ocean

The Other Side of the Ocean

I’ve been reading my aunt’s book, “The Other Side of the Ocean.” Her words so fresh, so alive, I feel a newfound sense of who my grandparents were (my American grandmother and German grandfather, both pacifists) during a time of turmoil and “madness” in their beloved Germany. 
Upon the first mention of Hitler and what would later become his Nazi party, shocks ran up my arm as a sense of foreboding enveloped me. Until that point, the story, which chronicles the lives of my grandparents and their young family from 1899 until 1946, had been full of hopeful aspirations. It had been a love story. But as the reality of life outside their marriage began to change, the strain was reflected in my grandmother’s letters to her family in the States.
Nine years before the start of World War II, was the first mention of Hitler in the book. Under his leadership, his fledgling NSDAP party gained 107 seats in the German Parliament. Germany became torn between three political parties, the Social Democrats, the Communists and the National Socialists (NSDAP.) History tells us who became the victors in that struggle. What it seems to overlook is that as early as 1931, it was dangerous to publicly voice opinions contrary to Hitler’s party.
My Grandmother – Ellen Hayes Schulz
 
January 1933, Hitler became the German Chancellor. By the end of March, up to six thousand Social Democrats, Communists, trade union officials, heads of radio stations and newspaper columnists were arrested. On April 1st, Hitler declared a boycott of Jewish businesses, but then cancelled it due to negative international press.
 
One of Hitler’s first new laws was the, “Law for Restoration of the Civil Service and Aryan Clause.” Under it former Social Democrats, former Communists, and Jews lost their right to teach in public schools. My grandfather lost his job and his status as a civil servant.
My Grandfather – Paul Schulz
During all of this, my young grandparents were raising a family. My mother was born in 1928, her sister, Barbara, in 1929, and two more sisters (Sonia and Gudrun) were born years later in the 1930s. All this turmoil and still life, somehow, went on…
My mother, Kathleen, and her sister, Barbara (Author)
A HOME FOR ROSE – A Dark Desert Tale

A HOME FOR ROSE – A Dark Desert Tale

One of the things that attracted us to moving to the desert, was the lack of grass to mow. But, likewise, we also quickly noted that with no grass or ground cover, everything living or buried within the sandy earth was hard to hide.

So, as we began our gardening adventures, we found things that the desert had long ago claimed. In my office, I have a lion and a small dragon. Both are made of brass and both were found buried in the crusted dirt around our home.

But when my husband presented me with the dragon, it occurred to me, “What if he found something that was actually best left buried?” What if the object he unearthed only appeared to be treasure, but was actually so much worse?

And so, in the tradition of creepy stories everywhere, I wrote my second dark desert tale, “A HOME FOR ROSE.”

FRESH MEAT – A Dark Desert Tale

FRESH MEAT – A Dark Desert Tale

While living in a small town in southern Arizona a few years back, I was out walking my dog around our apartment complex when I spotted, high in the sky, a flock of large black birds. They were circling a grove of cottonwood trees.

My imagination, being a sometimes strange and dark place, began to wander, to form the “what ifs.”

What if someone lived in that grove of cottonwood trees? And what if that someone were to feed those large black birds much like one might feed the wrens and cardinals? 

…and so, Fresh Meat came into being…

“Do you want to feed my birds?” A soft voice broke through Timmy’s thoughts as the old woman turned toward him. – Copyright – Ingrid Foster 2015

 

Confessions of a Dark Fantasy Writer

Confessions of a Dark Fantasy Writer

In 1994, I had a horrific car accident almost ending my life, since that fifteen-day stint in the hospital I have vowed to live my life fully which includes facing my fears. My first confession, I am afraid of things that don’t go bump in the night.

Seriously, I can handle the occasional “bump.” Like when you hear a click in the night that wakes you up only to hear the next sound being the heater starting up. Or the loud thud that scared me so bad I caught my breathe and wanted to wake my sleeping husband. No, he was not in bed beside me and yes, he was the originator of the thud as he moved around the house in the dark.

These things have explanations and I can handle them. What I can’t handle are the noiseless things that move in the night or the unseen things that a part of you senses, but you cannot physically see or hear them. These are the things that totally freak me out. Sure, they may be part of my overactive imagination, but what if they’re not?

My husband has spoken a few times about going to California for a week on business. I would be left home alone to write to my heart’s content. My second confession, I really don’t want to be alone at night in this big house. Because of the design of this room I call my office; I must sit with my back to the doorway. Last night when I couldn’t sleep and sat here diligently working at my desk, every once and while I would look up at the open door leading to the rest of the house. Just in case. You never know what lurks silently in old houses.

My third confession is that when I was a child and yes sometimes still, I would fear cars and trucks Car Grillescoming up the road by my home.  Don’t ask me the origin of this phobia; it really makes no sense. All I can think is that the grill on the cars from the 1950s and 60s left a deep, tortured impression upon my psyche. Anyway, to this day I sometimes fear a vehicle “sneaking up” on me.

So why do I love scary stories enough to write them, am I in some subconscious way a masochist desiring to scare myself into insanity? No, probably not.

I think it’s for the same reason that as a child I use to love reading ghost stories or as a teenager babysitting my niece I read the THE AMITYVILLE HORROR in one setting. Reading horror does for me what other books don’t. It entertains me and at the same time forces me to face my fears.

And so I continue writing my own dark fiction, The Gathering, based on a place I once lived. My last confession, I am so glad we moved because in a certain point in the story my heroine, who is roughly based on me, has a near fatal fall… Yes, my own writing really does scare me!

Sharing Our Hidden Secrets, The Ultimate Vulnerability

Sharing Our Hidden Secrets, The Ultimate Vulnerability

Our secrets, the ones we keep hidden too afraid to reveal to even our closest friends, can be our greatest stumbling blocks. There’s a part of us that yearns to be free from our emotional pain, if only a safe, empathetic avenue of exposure could be found. But reveal our secrets to friends and, even worse, strangers? Surely that is the hardest act of bravery an author could ever do! Be Original

I applaud those who are that brave, unafraid to expose their deepest, most life-shattering revelations. But what about the rest of us? We need that release just as much. We need the knots to become unwound. We need the wound to be open to fresh air and in doing so, we too can heal.

To poor souls like me, I say one word…FICTION.

If our secrets are too profound, if our memories are too hurtful to ourselves or others, why not write in such a manner that allows us to reveal the pain, yet not expose our reality? That is the path other authors have followed and for them it has been most healing….and just between us, it is the path I took while writing my novel, My Father’s Magic.

My-Fathers-Magic-minThough Esme and her world are not direct reflections of my own, I used my personal memories of childhood trauma, separation anxiety and rape as fodder for the more traumatic parts of her story. Also, my own deep desire to be closer to my mentally ill mother was a key component in Esme’s relationship with her mother. The path I took in writing this novel allowed my inner pain to be handled in smaller doses and to expose my own memories at a safe distance rather than up close and personal.

Regardless of your choice, nonfiction or fiction, to all of my fellow writers I offer a warm smile and an empathetic, “Peace be with you.” And remember, we are all on this journey together and though revisiting our memories can be a dark and scary place, please know that with the love and comfort of friends, we can get through it and be the better for it on the other side.

As always thank you for reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

We are all in this together...

The Definition of Closure

The Definition of Closure

I just finished the first draft of The Gathering (working title) the horror novel I started writing before My Father’s Magic took over my life.

The story first came to me while living in an apartment in a small town south of Tucson. Our many walks around the complex were often interrupted by what I can only believe were ghosts. Patches of cold air to be followed by “things” hurrying up behind us, “things” only I could hear, and were not there when I turned to confront them.

The place was eerie with its long-filled lake bed, memorialized only by a small aqueduct and a group of resilient cat tails. Our apartment never ceased to give me a restless uneasiness, a feeling that something or someone was forever watching me.

I wrote the story in starts and stops over the years. Perhaps I was never ready to finish it, or maybe, the evil entity that pervades the story was not ready for his tale to be over… Either way, the first draft is now done; the last two characters in a cast of so many have now finished a journey that, for this writer, began seven years ago.

Hmm, it’s nice to finally know how the story ends…

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