Tag Archives: Writing

#OctoberFrights – The Pluff Mud Seance Part IV

Welcome to the 2017 #OctoberFrights blog tour. There’s a lot of great contributions this year, and a massive multi-author Rafflecopter Giveaway! (And the link even works now!)

Welcome to the fourth installment of The Pluff Mud Seance. If you missed any of them to date, here’s Part IPart IIand Part III.

 

“What were you thinking?” Derek paced between the pair of workspaces in a back bedroom they used as a shared office. “Have you even informed the ladies yet?”
Amber stared out the window. For a mid-week day, they had good tourist traffic, and Harvey her groundskeeper was working double time to prepare for their big night. “I screwed up getting into bed with them to start with. But the cash flow will keep us going for months. And the publicity – the only reason I talked to them was what they’ve done for the Cistern Inn. They’re packed every day and night. Bobbi introduced me to the producer. It was a weak moment during a long boring day. “
“Thad Taylor loves nothing more than to tear a new one in any poor soul that doesn’t worship the ground he defiles.” He perched himself on the worn oak of his own desk. “You remember Cissi over at the Old Jail? They destroyed her career.”
“She was a hack.” Amber refused to look back at her business partner. “She deserved to get blacklisted after the way she behaved.”
“And more people he ruined just for sport.” He ticked off on his fingers. “The Sable Stable? The Westerly? Madame Anna Richardson? Marie Doubloon? Mohawk girl from the square?”
“Marie? Really? She pulled gauze dipped in yogurt out of her size EEE over the shoulder boulder holders as ectoplasm during her stage bit.” She shuddered. “That was just nasty.”
“You’re just jealous. And she had skills.” He slid to block her view of the outside. “The girls love her, and she’s legit. And can’t get a gig. That’s who you’re letting in here is the man who loves to tear down any spiritualist. He’s worse than Houdini, and believes even less. He is from around here, which is why he sees it as his mission to bust frauds.”
“We’re not frauds.” She threw her hands in the air, knowing that wasn’t the point. “We’re locked in now, so what do you propose?”
“I could take the day off.” Derek picked at a chip in his manicured nails. “That way I don’t go down with the ship.”
“Or?”
“We ask the ladies to put on one hell of a show for the non-believer.”

~

Amber gathered her family, both corporeal and not in the parlor.
Viola made a show, plucked each of her eyes from their sockets, and set them in a saucer on a tatted doily.
Amber tried to rub away her budding migraine, knowing they all had a long evening ahead. “Now what was that for?”
Viola looked back at her from two deep dark holes in her head. “Because I don’t see how this is going to happen.”
“That man was… disagreeable the other evening. I did not mean to eavesdrop, but you know how these walls echo.” Lula Rose pursed her lips, shuffling away from her sister on the settee. “He does favor someone, but for the life of me I cannot remember who.”
“Reminds me of Uncle Junior.” Viola huffed, “If you could buy the man for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he is…”
Amber stood up and waved at Derek. “You try.”
“Miss Viola, that is inappropriate. And a little creepy. Please put those things back in your head.” He hissed, “We’re all family here, and you might need that trick for tomorrow night.”
Viola blinked, and the milky balls were back where they belonged. “I may be caged, but I do not perform tricks for treats.”
Lula Rose turned, “It could be f-“
“Don’t you dare say it.” Viola poked her sister. “This will not be fun.”
Lula Rose looked at Derek, “I believe it could be a lively evening.”
“Viola?” Amber plead, “Please?”
“Fine. But if I do this, I want a week without disturbance. From any of you.” The ghost rocked back and forth, like she was making an effort to get out of her seat. She spun around to loom over Lula Rose. “Especially you.”
Derek swung an excited thumbs up. “Thank you ladies so much.”
Viola pivoted on a point in space, glaring at his gesture. “What about Constance? Has anyone thought about her?”
“Did someone call?” Constance’s head rose out from the potted ficus tree. Her body took form as she sauntered out of the bush. “How may I be of service to the family in its time of need?”
Amber flashed an ignored glare at Viola before turning to the spectral teen, “Tomorrow night, Halloween, we’re going to have a television crew here looking to prove you don’t exist.”
“My, what a quandary.” Constance made a scene of wedging herself between her cousins, false innocence flavoring her tone. “Are we looking to give them evidence to the contrary?”
“Maybe Constance. We want to give them enough to prove there may be something on the other side.” Amber rubbed the sudden perspiration coating her hands on her jeans. “But nothing harmful or destructive.”
“It would be my pleasure to do my small part with my cousins.” Constance reached out to grab her cousin’s hands.
Viola pulled her arms inside her girth like a vacuum was pulling her inside out. Lula Rose squirmed, but took the specter’s gesture.
Constance looked up as oblivious to Viola’s slight. “What is it you ask of us poor lost souls?”
Amber’s head throbbed, almost enough for her to lose the ability to focus on the spirits. “They want to have a séance on the dock near where you and your suitors took to the water on that unfortunate day. I think they might be interested in even doing an interview.”
“If you are willing to allow me, dear Amber, it would be my pleasure.”

 

And we’ll see you tomorrow for Part V!

The new <a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Home-Summonings-Winter-Trilogy-Omnibus-ebook/dp/B072JMRCZ1/”>Omnibus of Home Summonings 1-3</a> is out, <a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Spirits-Season-Longbow-Initiative-Short-ebook/dp/B00OP1XKIY/”>Spirits of the Season</a> and <a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Gnomebodys-Business-Longbow-Initiative-Novella-ebook/dp/B016XI574G/”>Gnomebody’s Business</a> are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. <a href=”http://eepurl.com/S9uGL” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Sign up today</a>!

<a href=”http://www.jim-mcdonald.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Winter-Trilogy.jpg”><img class=”size-medium wp-image-555 alignleft” src=”http://www.jim-mcdonald.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Winter-Trilogy-200×300.jpg” alt=”” width=”200″ height=”300″ /></a><a href=”http://www.jim-mcdonald.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/cover.jpg”><img class=”aligncenter wp-image-559″ src=”http://www.jim-mcdonald.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/cover.jpg” alt=”” width=”126″ height=”190″ /></a>

<a href=”http://www.jim-mcdonald.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cover_walshes.jpg”><img class=” wp-image-200″ src=”http://www.jim-mcdonald.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cover_walshes-199×300.jpg” alt=”” width=”149″ height=”224″ /></a> A Longbow Initiative Story

 

The business of creativity

I’ll get it out of my system soon enough, but I’m working on a project around the business of creativity, and I decided to share a few of my thoughts. Most of this is tailored towards writing and writers, but it applies to most creative endeavors.

I know a lot of creative people. A lot.

The first thing I want to say, don’t become a writer to become rich and famous. In fact, if that’s your plan, run far, run fast, and get a job doing almost anything.

If you’re going to create, create for yourself. Not your audience. And know it’s a painful process to create.

As soon as you put yourself out to the world, you are going to have haters, detractors, and critics. And that’s just in your friends and family. Wait until you meet the internet trolls. If you’re going to be public and creative, you’d better put on your armor and start growing thicker skin.

Not to mention agents, publishers, editors, and everyone else in the industry.

Get used to rejection.

Still reading?

Good.

Now comes what may be the hardest part. Creating not only for fun, but (hopefully) profit.

I’m going to write in more detail about these pieces, but here’s the first thing that’s hardest to get over. That piece of work you poured your heart and soul into, and ultimately bled into existence?

It’s a product, a commodity. Nothing more. Just like Coke or airlines. And your customers have a large number of choices, and you want to thank them every time they take a trip through your work.

Did I just call your baby out, and say it’s nothing special among the herd?

Yep. I’m an asshole.

The truth is, it is special. It’s borne of all that you are, and the level of work you put into it. Just like all of your competitors. If you intend to sell your work and be a commercial enterprise, you are a business. Just like the quickie mart.

And you want to be able to tell your customers, “Thank you, come again.”

I might have been watching a little too much of the Simpsons.

But hey, almost everyone knows that tagline, and heard Apu’s voice when they read that. And The Simpson’s has been a huge commercial success.

One that Matt Groenig came up with at the last minute and pitched because he didn’t want to hand over control of his baby rabbits. (See if you remember his original strip.)

So now that I’ve been a heartless bastard, here’s what you need to think about when you start down this path:

  • Am I ready to have my work praised and criticized?
  • Am I ready to be a business, keeping track of sales, expenses, and do taxes?
  • Am I ready to invest the time and money it’ll take to run my business?

If the answer is yes to these, then get ready for even more questions. Not today, but soon.

And don’t give up. No matter what, create for yourself, and the only one that has to be happy with your work, is you.

And your publisher.

And your audience.

And while you ask yourself what you have gotten into, be ready to use that experience in your art.

Stop binge watching TV and go create!