June is Pride Month and this year one of my short stories, “Some Kind of Monster” will appear in the Queer Anthology, Unburied. Proceeds from book sales will be going to a LGBTQ charity, so what better way to read some cool stories AND help out for a good cause!
I could never see the monster, I just knew that it was large because anytime I found myself in his viscid stomach, I was swallowed whole. Never chomped up in little pieces.
Last night, once again I had the same nightmare. I was in the monster’s belly, the acrid scent of his stomach acid made me gag as I floundered in it, blind. I can’t ever see the inside of it because of how cavernous it is. All I can feel is the stifling sense of being wrapped in an unwanted hug.
The nightmare usually laves me feeling unsettled. No amount of hot tea and buttered biscuits can comfort me back to normalcy. After one those nightmares, I tend to spend the rest of the day jumpy and tense, my shoulders sore from my inability to relax. Another side-effect of this reoccurring nightmare was that whenever I woke up, drenched to the bone and shaking, it would leave me so wound up that attempting to fall back to sleep was futile, even if I had three hours to spare before my alarm would sound off.
There I was, sitting my cubicle both in dire need of sleep and also very afraid of being met with the same feeling of dread and anguish that the nightmare always delivered. My eyelids felt heavy, like keeping them open was a task in itself, and one that I was certain I’d fall victim to if I didn’t get my ass out of the chair and mainline some caffeine into me stat.
I hurried to the break room not caring that I had already taken a break twenty minutes ago. My sanity depended on staying awake. I felt like those scream queens on A Nightmare on Elm Street where they conjured up inventive ways to keep themselves awake, lest they become savory kebabs for Freddy’s expert razor claws.
“Another coffee? Tough morning, huh?” My co-worker Jack asked with an easy shiteating grin that made the other girls in the office swoon but that I despised. His dockers were perfectly pressed and the button down shirt impeccably ironed. He ran a hand through his sandy blond hair.
I knew I looked as much as disaster as I felt. My curls still tangled and pinned to the top of my head in a messy bun, yesterday’s eyeliner smeared under my eyes, and a gel manicure outgrown its natural stay that my half-moons where visible. I just shrugged not wanting to commit to an answer. Hoping that maybe this would dissuade him from small talk.
“You look like you could use some sleep, Sharon.”
No shit, Sherlock.
I plastered a fake smile and replied, “You’re so very astute, Jack.” I silently begged for him to leave the break room so that I could have a few moments to myself. But Jack lingered with his dopey grin.
“What’s this?” He pointed to something on the side of my neck.
I hope it’s not a hickey, although I haven’t made out with anyone in weeks. I went towards the mirror placed above the sink, to inspect and oddly enough there on the side of my neck were three punctures holes. I carefully touched the wounds, not understanding where or how I could’ve gotten them.
If you’re a querying writer nothing makes you want to jump off a cliff faster than having to write a query letter or dreaded synopsis. Now, as painful it is to write one, it’s also the only way to get a literary agent’s attention and your ticket to traditional publishing if that’s something you’re aiming for. Now, I’ve written a myriad variety of query letters for different projects and I’ve gotten full manuscript requests for them, so I have some experience in writing them. I’m not going to say that I’m a full on expert as agents are all different and some may respond better to one type of query than another, but if you’re just starting out or wish to amp your query writing game, then check out below for some tips on how to nail a winning query letter!
TIP ONE. ALWAYS START WITH A SALUTATION.
The classic Dear is fine in this case, followed by Mr./Ms. and the agent’s surname. Please make sure to spell their name correctly and for the love of all that is important to you, NEVER and I mean NEVER open a query with “To Whom It May Concern” unless you want to end up in the rejection pile pronto.
TIP TWO. BEGIN YOUR LETTER WITH A HOOK.
Before you delve into your MS’s plot and amazing characters, you should catch the agent’s attention right away and the best way to do that is by delivering your hook right away. What makes this MS stand out for all the rest? Find out what it is and hook your reader stat!
TIP THREE. NO MORE THAN THREE SHORT PARAGRAPHS TO EXPLAIN YOUR PLOT.
After you’ve delivered your hook, now you can explain what your plot is, what your main protagonists are, and what the main conflict is. This is also where state the GENRE, WORD COUNT, and any comp titles.
TIP FOUR. SUCCINT SHORT BIO AT THE END.
This is where you write why you’re the perfect person to write this book (say if you’re writing about a drug addict and you’re an ex addict or if you’re an own voices author), whatever it is you can state it here but keep it short!
And this wraps up my four tips for writing a compelling query! Let me know if this has helped you!
What It Does: Visibly reduces the size of pimples and helps promote healing.
Active Ingredients: Hydrocolloid, Calendula, and Tree Tea Oil
Verdict: I’ve been wanting to try these blemish patches out ever since they were sent to me, but lately I’ve been blessed with clear skin. However, not so since the humidity levels have been insane, so I finally got to use them and honestly, look how freaking adorable they are! Unlike other blemish patches you can easily sport these outdoors because a random black star positioned just so on your face will give off major glam Marie Antoinette vibes. But enough of me gushing about how darn cute they are – the real question is: do they work? I can wholeheartedly say that YES THEY DO! These patches truly work wonders! They suck out all the gross pus and impurities while you’re sleeping or going out and about your day allowing the temptation to pick or squeeze said zit to diminish. And I know how tempting picking can be! For my particular zit, it went down with one patch kept on overnight. But by the second one, it made it disappear completely. I cannot recommend this enough if you have a pimple and wish to banish it stat. Not to mention that no one would be none the wiser of what you’re truly concealing beneath the black star.
Tress Montor’s family used to mean something—until she didn’t have a family anymore. When her parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her best friend home, Tress lost everything. The entire town shuns her now that she lives with her drunken, one-eyed grandfather at what locals refer to as the “White Trash Zoo.”
Felicity Turnado has it all: looks, money, and a secret. One misstep could send her tumbling from the top of the social ladder, and she’s worked hard to make everyone forget that she was with the Montors the night they disappeared. Felicity has buried what she knows so deeply that she can’t even remember what it is . . . only that she can’t look at Tress without feeling shame and guilt.
But Tress has a plan. A Halloween costume party at an abandoned house provides the ideal situation for Tress to pry the truth from Felicity—brick by brick—as she slowly seals her former best friend into a coal chute. Tress will have her answers—or settle for revenge.
Ever since I read The Female of the Species years ago, Mindy McGinnis has easily become an auto-buy for me whenever she drops a novel. It doesn’t matter what genre or subject she tries to tackle, I know that it’s going to be one wild ride, as McGinnis has this unique way of creating crazy plots where it’s impossible to truly know where the story is going to go. And I think it’s probably because McGinnis may be more of a pantser author as myself than one who outlines the whole plot.
The Initial Insult sees McGinnis exploring Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado with a Tiger King twist. Two ex-bestfriends Tress and Felicity find themselves at the same party their senior year. Years ago, when the two were younger, the girls were inseparable, then one night whilst Tress’s parents were driving Felicity back home, something occurred. Tress’s parents mysteriously disappeared whilst Felicity was found on the riverbanks alone with no knowledge of what happened that night. Tress has lost everything because of her parents’ disappearance, and she’s convinced that Felicity knows the truth of what happened that night and she’s going to do anything to get her to speak, even if it means slowly walling her alive, brick by brick.
This novel is told in the dual points of views of both Tress and Felicity, which helps amp up the tension and build the thrills. This is a crazy ride and as always, McGinnis’ characters are gritty and strong even at their most vulnerable. Sadly, this novel is only Part I, and seeing how it ended, it’s going to be so hard to have to wait one year to read the sequel!
I recommend this book if you’re a fan of McGinnis and Poe (you’ll love all the references).
Skincare Concerns: Dryness, dullness, and uneven texture
Verdict: When scouting for a moisturizer, I’m looking for two things: that it hydrates my skin and that it’s light enough not to clog my pores. This moisturizer perfectly fits the bill. It’s light and gel-like substance but it isn’t as watery as most moisturizers aimed for oily skin are. It still feels rich without feeling too heavy. In fact, it completely absorbs into the skin leaving it feeling fresh, hydrated, and glowing. It’s truly a tall glass of water for your skin!
If you are a writer, or aspire to be one, you have probably experienced some of the symptoms of writer’s block. Writers find that they can write only when they feel inspired and their minds are energized. When writer’s block strikes, it is often followed by an overwhelming sense of fatigue and frustration. Unfortunately, there is almost no way to combat writer’s block. The best you can do is wait it out.
However, writer’s block does not have to be the end of the line if you are willing to accept some practical steps that will help you to overcome these feelings and continue writing. Keep in mind that writing is an extremely personal process; as a writer, you are responsible for your own feelings and thoughts, so try not to blame yourself if your creative juices seem to dry up at any point. this state will most likely persist until the writing session is complete or until the next time that artists’ muse visits them again.
Here are some tips to help you to get past writer’s block and to finish your piece:
Take a break. If you are experiencing writer’s block, a break can actually be extremely helpful. Unfortunately, this is possibly the last thing that you want to do when writer’s block strikes because it usually means that you have not been getting much work done on your task at hand. However, taking a break from writing is sometimes the only way to get past this phase of writer’s block. During your break, do something that has nothing to do with the things that you are writing about currently. Try to relax and unwind, whether it’s by going for a walk in the park or taking a hot bath at the end of a long day.
Write anyway. The most important thing to remember is that writer’s block does not have to be the end of your creative process. Even terrible rough drafts can be edited at a later date and polished into a better finished final draft, so don’t worry about your rough draft not being the next bestseller. You can fix things up even if you have little written, but you cannot fix a blank page.
Read your genre. If you’re writing for a specific genre (ie. Horror, thriller, romance) it’s best to read a lot of books in that genre so you know what publishing companies are looking for. Not to mention that the more you read the better you will become at writing and the more ideas you’ll have from reading new material! It’s definitely a win/win situation.
These are my three tips for writers, share below if you have any ones that work for you!
Active Ingredients: Watermelon, Vitamins A, B6, and C, Charcoal, Green Tea, and Aloe Vera
Verdict: This has easily become my newest favourite cleanser. First of all – it smells divine – like you’re being pulled right into the summer months with a mouth watering watermelon scent that will make you feel like you’re biting into the most exquisite slice. The best thing about this cleanser is that it helps ban dirt and oil without ever stripping your skin of its precious essential oils. You’re left with hydrated skin, never tight or dry.
Richard doesn’t have a past. For him, there is only the present: a new marriage to Tamara, a first chance at fatherhood to her son Elijah, and a quiet but pleasant life as an art teacher at Elijah’s elementary school in Danvers, Virginia. Then the body of a rabbit, ritualistically murdered, appears on the school grounds with a birthday card for Richard tucked beneath it. Richard doesn’t have a birthday—but Sean does . . .
Sean is a five-year-old boy who has just moved to Greenfield, Virginia, with his mother. Like most mothers of the 1980s, she’s worried about bills, childcare, putting food on the table . . . and an encroaching threat to American life that can take the face of anyone: a politician, a friendly neighbor, or even a teacher. When Sean’s school sends a letter to the parents revealing that Sean’s favorite teacher is under investigation, a white lie from Sean lights a fire that engulfs the entire nation—and Sean and his mother are left holding the match.
Now, thirty years later, someone is here to remind Richard that they remember what Sean did. And though Sean doesn’t exist anymore, someone needs to pay the price for his lies.
This is my second sampling of Clay’s writing and I must say that I really enjoy how strong his novels begin. This novel is steeped in reality as it’s based off of the 80’s Satanic Panic that made people suspect of anyone in getting caught up with witchcraft. In the 80’s a California preschool was in the news for the teachers were accused of being Satanists. Obviously, it all ended up being one big lie, and this book explores what happens when a little boy delivers a lie that changes not only his life but that of many people. Sean is five years old when he accuses his kindergarten teacher of worshiping the devil. Years later, we see how that lie comes back to haunt him.
Some parts of the book were creepy (I really enjoyed the Gray Boy) and some of them were kinda slow. I liked how it explored the Satanic Panic craze as I was too little to recall any of it when it was happening, not to mention that since my parents weren’t the crazy types, they never thought that Cabbage Patch Kids or The Smurfs were “Satanic.”
I did enjoy the dual narratives between Sean in 1983 and Richard in 2013 as it amped up the mystery of what happened and trying to figure out what exactly what went on. The imagery was dark and creepy and I was compelled to keep on reading as more and more of the mystery began to unravel. I liked how the book ended but it felt like the novel began to drag towards the end, so I would’ve preferred a more tightened end, but I did like how we were left with a question rather than all answers.
*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Quirk Books for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!