A Writer Learns Piano



I wrote about what to do when writers get into a rut (see Writing Rut? Stretch Yourself) and took my own advice. A beginners’ piano class had a spot open unexpectedly and I signed up. I attended one class, had to miss the second, and suffered agonies that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Class three was the other night and proved, like most fears, that all the nail biting was for nothing. Everything was fine. I hit wrong notes, pressed multiple keys instead of the intended one, and wondered if I’d ever get through “Ode to Joy.” Yes, that piece.

Interview with Horror Novelist Carrie Vaccaro Nelkin



You write speculative fiction that’s mostly horror, like your recently published novel Snare (The Waiting Dark Book 1). Why horror?

The world’s a scary place. Writing about bizarre bad stuff helps me deflect what’s out there. It allows me to mold it into something I can deal with.

I heard you went a little above and beyond in your research. Something about duct tape?

Oh no, the duct tape! One of my characters was bound hand and foot and gagged with a strip of duct tape. I had to get her free but didn’t know how, so I asked my husband to tie me up (please stop snickering) and slap some tape over my mouth. I learned two things: duct tape smells vile (see the anagram for evil?), and sometimes there are ways to get it off your face without using your hands.

Good thing you didn’t ask about the crawlspace incident.

The crawlspace incident?

No way—I’m not going into that one here.

Okay, I’ll let that go this time. Is there a reason you went with traditional publishing instead of indie?

I wanted the structural support and industry weight a publisher can offer. Indie publishing is a lot of work—and to do it right is even more work. The whole marketing issue aside, I wanted to focus more on the writing and less on being general contractor to formatters, artists, and distribution entities. I see what indie authors go through and am in awe of the stamina required to do a fine job on both the writing and the business ends. I’m already involved in indie anthologies, but maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to attempt an indie novel or novella.

Do you have a writing routine?

I sit at the desk, push the cat off the keyboard, and vacuum the fur from the keys. Then I start writing.

Actually, my routine varies depending on what else is going on—editing work, family obligations, appointments. What I have is a certain amount of writing that I want to complete every week or every two weeks. I prefer writing in the morning until I reach a logical stopping point or have to turn to something else, but if mornings don’t work then I’ll do whatever it takes to reach the goal I’ve set for myself.

Any advice for writers?

Grow a thick skin. Be persistent. Do not give up. If you throw enough pasta against the wall, you will eventually learn how to make viable patterns that stick. Be professional. Be kind to your fellow writers. Be grateful to your readers. Love your pets.

Where can we find Snare?

It’s on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Smashwords. It can also be purchased through Permuted Press.

Where can people find more information about you or your other writing?

My website is cvnelkin.com. I’m also on Twitter (@cvnelkin) and Facebook.






Writing Amid Clutter



I once worked in an office where I had a large cubicle as my office space. My desk, spare chair, and even part of the floor had stacks of paper arranged in seemingly haphazard ways. My supervisor came by one day and asked me to straighten it. I looked at the mess and replied, “It can be neat or I can get the work done.”

The way the surroundings are is the way my mind works. As one writer friend says, “One big whirlwind in a stewpot.” There is a threshold—too much clutter and I can’t concentrate. Too little, and my mind empties into blankness.

I do have a system for the mess, although darned if I can explain it. But I know when I’ve crossed it. There’s a weight on my shoulders that forces me to think of the clutter instead of the next scene. Deadline or not, the pen goes down, the computer gets turned off, and I begin putting things away and shredding paper.

The opposite end of the scale is when company goes home. I tend to look around and wander aimlessly through the space, searching for those elusive ideas that faded into the woodwork. It takes a little time but a few scattered books and papers and a sweater or two tossed on a chair, and I’m ready to consider work.

What about you? Is clutter a help or a hindrance to your writing?


* Used by permission: © 2015 Trina Schart Hyman and Pawprints, Inc.




Cold Weather, Writing, and Me



I am not a winter baby. Sure, there are those moments when I step outside into cold, crisp air on the way to meeting with friends and then warm up with a hot chocolate.

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