Tag: folklore

folklore

The Book Baby Blues

Debut author Laura Kemp joins us today on Missdemeanors to discuss her reaction to the publication of her first novel, Evening in the Yellow Wood, and her approach to getting back to writing.  December 12th was a big day for me. It signified the birth of my Book Baby. I’d spent months, even years on perfecting my manuscript so that a publishing house would pick it up, and when they did I spent another chunk of time editing and re-editing so that the finished work would meet their standards.  Needless to say, everything was leading up to a point in time, a proverbial Mount Everest and when the day came the flurry of activity was intoxicating. My adrenaline took a serious hit as friends sent well-wishes, tweets were re-tweeted and posts shared. I watched my Amazon sales climb and shared my excitement with those closest to me (middle schoolers).  And then the next day came and a heaviness settled over me, a feeling of… what’s next? The adrenaline had crashed and real work began.  But what was this phenomenon? It’s was almost like post-partum depression without the baby.  And then I started researching.  Other writers have experienced this- in my own publishing house and beyond, the feeling that the real work was just beginning and the excitement was going to wane and then… gasp I might have to start writing ANOTHER novel.  What would my first novel think?  Going behind their back and toying with another manuscript? I’d invested so much in my first novel that writing its sequel almost felt like infidelity. However, what I learned from my research says different.  The overwhelming solution to the Book Baby Blues was to start writing again.  And soon. I can get so caught up in promotion and sales and trying to hit my ‘target audience’ that I forget what makes me tick… putting words on paper.  That’s why I appreciate blogs like this one, it’s a place for me to get my thoughts down in a quick and easy format.  Novel writing is tedious, and I often spend just as much time editing as I do writing.  Stream of consciousness projects help,  as does poetry, and sometimes short fiction, or going rogue and writing a scene for my novel that hasn’t been written into its proper sequence yet.  I just need to sit down and do it.   And after that, I need to remember that publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.  Which is hard for this OCD, solution-focused girl to do.  I want results! And NOW! But the results come slowly- in my blog posts and poems and (gasp) other novels.  All that together makes up the tapestry of what a writer’s life looks like. And it’s all okay.  We’re allowed to experience all these things, even if we don’t want to talk about it for fear of feeling ungrateful (you’ve published a book, what do you have to complain about?) And the full landscape of these emotions is what makes us good writers.  So feel the Book Baby Blues for a bit, then shake it off and get back to writing! How do you bounce back after finishing a major project? Leave a comment or join the discussion on our Facebook page.   Author Bio- Laura is a teacher who loves to write about her home state of Michigan. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University where she studied under Stuart Dybek, and has had her short fiction and poetry published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Word Riot, Tonopalah Review, SaLit and SLAB: Sound and Literary Art Book. “The Pursuit of Happiness,” – a short story she wrote while at WMU, was chosen as a finalist in the Trial Balloon Fiction Contest. When not writing, Laura enjoys musical theatre, hiking, swimming, reading and performing with her Celtic folk band- Si Bhaeg Si Mohr.  She also enjoys spending time with her husband and children as well as her dog,  four hamsters, ten chickens, two horses and eight  (and counting) cats. Laura loves to connect with readers on her blog: laurakemp.author@wordpress.com (Sea Legs on Land), as well as on Facebook, Twitter (@LKempWrites) and Instagram. (lkempwrites)(woodys_book_tour)

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Oh Christmas Tree?

 A photo of FLOTUS’s White House Christmas decorations—a phalanx of up-lit, bare-branched white trees lining a black-tiled corridor illuminated only by a few pendant lamps and the lights on an equally dark Christmas tree at the corridor’s far end—generated lots of reaction on social media. Responses pretty much evenly split between “love it” and “hate it” (although I know of one person who said, “at least it’s different”). Many assumed that politics informed the reactions because, hey, everything is about politics these days. Right? Wrong, in my case. I voted “hate it” not because of political affiliation but because of—scary trees. I don’t think hip or trendy when I look at the photo of stark branches emitting an icy vibe. I think, “When are the flying monkeys going to attack?” “Where’s the Snow Queen hiding?” Jack Frost? The Abominable Snowman? Snow White’s wicked stepmother? The cast of an M. Night Shyamalan movie? Notice a theme? Forests, the woods, places filled with scary trees are places where evil lurks and bad things happen. They are not locations of holiday merriment. “Little Red Riding Hood”. The Princess Bride. “Hansel and Gretel”. The Blair Witch Project. The Cabin in the Woods. Deliverance. Do any of those stories stir the holiday spirit? Every time I pass a woods, I think of the news reports and true crime shows and episodes of “Law and Order” where a body was found in the woods by a hiker, hunter, dog walker, or Boy Scout. Don’t go in the woods. Add chilling darkness to the scary trees—as in the White House photo—and I cringe. When people talk about winter wonderlands I think “wonder” in the sense of “I wonder what I’m doing out here and I wonder where the nearest fireplace is”. I don’t do cold and dark. I can handle them each individually—cold or dark. Combined? No thanks. I moved from Alaska clear down to Texas to get away from a cold darkness that seemed to last forever. The dark is the worst. When it’s just cold, I can bundle up in stylish sweaters and fashionable coats, throw on a rakish scarf for some flair, and head outside to enjoy the bright winter sun. I’m a creature of light. I keep a light on the porch and a sting of fairy lights in my bedroom illuminated all night, to heck with the electric bill.  I’d make the world’s worst vampire. While some people bemoan it as a sign of light pollution, I think the sight of cities lit up as you fly over them on the red-eye is beautiful. Neon signs flashing over city streets are magnificent. I never fail to stop and marvel. My town illuminated all of its (not scary) trees around the train station and Market Square with thousands of miniature lights for the holidays. I love it. A forest of light is a forest where nothing lurks. I’m sure a folklorist or psychologist would explain how the forest represents our primal fear of the unknown and the danger that awaits those who dare venture away from the safety and security of the tribe/family/familiar. I’m not going to tell you any of that. I’m going to say there’s a reason, a reason that has nothing to do with holiday cheer, so many authors and filmmakers set their horror stories and cautionary tales in the woods—the colder and darker, the better. What’s the scariest place you can think of to set a story? What do you think of when you see woods in the winter?

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