Welcoming Wicked Women Writer Leigh M. Lane!

L at Desk 1

Here at A Diamond In The Dark, we’re THRILLED (and a little terrified) to welcome Wicked Women Writer Leigh M. Lane. I must say, and I mean this is in the nicest of ways, if she doesn’t scare you, no living thing will. Haven’t checked out her podcast yet? You need to. It’s all sorts of creepy-unsettling-psychological-terror like I like. It’s available at www.horroraddicts.net, so go there and read it and listen to it *shudders* You’ll thank me .. maybe … no, you will. Trust me… So now, without further ado, please welcome Leigh with a Guest Post!

Writing Wicked

I remember back when I was a teenager writing about vampires and diabolical villains, one day my dad took a look at my work and asked with a painfully sincere face, “Can’t you write about something … happy?”  I’d tried to explain my motivations to him, but back then even I wasn’t entirely sure what drew me to write such dark and twisted tales.

Since then, I’ve realized my reasons are as complicated as they are diverse.  My first impulse is to explain my desire to delve into the darkest reaches of the human psyche as being my own way of making sense of all the craziness that exists all around us.  I firmly believe that the more realistic the story, the greater the potential horror.  Imagined monsters might scare their audiences, but real-world evils have the potential to haunt them.

I must admit, I get a thrill in knowing I will leave at least some of my readers with psychological hitchhikers that have the capacity to linger and torment them long after they’ve finished a given story.  I’m a bit sadistic that way.  That’s my darker side.

Conversely, part of what motivates me stems from a more altruistic side.  Some of the wickedness I write comes from a need to address social evils I believe deserve the attention.  I feel that, if I can haunt my readers with what haunts me, perhaps some of them might feel motivated to effect some kind of change.  I can’t say I’ve made any notable difference, but gauged by some of my reviews, I can say with absolute certainty that a few of my stories have affected people.  One of my favorite reader responses was an expression of horror and discomfort for having read my dystopia World-Mart, that it was a difficult and painful read, one she would never want to revisit—but one she was grateful to have endured.

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In my Wicked Women Writers’ story, “Enter the Corruption,” I explore technology gone too far, posing the question, has our growing dependence on technology created a sense of disconnect throughout modern society?  The story prequels my novella, “The Corruption,” which compares this disconnect to a zombie apocalypse, suggesting that we are giving up a part of what makes us human by spending increasing amounts of time interacting in cyberspace instead of in person.  The “Corrupted” are the result of a technological breakthrough gone terribly wrong, their minds reduced to the equivalent of computer hardware—intelligent and functional, but devoid of all emotion.  Moreover, the nanotechnology that has made them that way is contagious, threatening the very essence of the human spirit.

Pretty wicked, at least from where I stand.

 About the author:

Leigh M. Lane has been writing for over twenty years.  She has ten published novels and twelve published short stories divided among different genre-specific pseudonyms.  She is married to editor Thomas B. Lane, Jr. and currently resides in the beautiful mountains of western Montana.

Her traditional Gothic horror novel, Finding Poe, was a 2013 EPIC Awards finalist in horror.  Her other novels include the supernatural thriller, The Hidden Valley Horror, inspired by Barker, Bradbury, and King; World-Mart, a tribute to Orwell, Serling, and Vonnegut; and the dark allegorical tale, Myths of Gods.

For more information, visit her website at http://www.cerebralwriter.com.  You can also find her on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

♫ The Cover Is The Hardest Part ♫

As it turns out, that’s completely and totally true. I should start out by apologizing for any and all redundancies and bursts of enthusiasm in this post. I’m fresh from a NaNoWriMo win, made sweeter by the fact that I didn’t actually start writing until November 15th. Also made sweeter by the fact that I started the process of finding a cover for The Fishing Widow. So, here’s my story, and I’m sticking with it ….

It took three years to write The Fishing Widow. I’m counting from the moment Colin Claybaugh snuck up behind me while I was doing dishes (and I turned and took a swing with a frying pan at this unknown, disembodied voice…it’s a good thing he ducked) saying, “I hear you’re good at writing down stories.” through to the final edit. I’m pretty sure there were no fewer than fifteen edits of the book; along with endings, and alternate endings, and fist-fights about the ending, and, at last, THE ENDing. If you write, you’re nodding sagely at that last statement. Yes. It’s a struggle. It’s a struggle even when you’re dealing with forthcoming characters who want to tell you everything. Not that that’s any good, either, because then you’re staring at a reams-long tome wondering what in the world to cut out. No one needs that much detail….

See? I’ll blame NaNoWriMo because I’m slightly rambling, but only to make a point. Three years of my life and more than two-thirds of my sanity have gone into The Fishing Widow. I’m ready to put it out there. And then, there’s the whole putting it out there. As writers, let’s face it–it doesn’t matter how long we’ve delved into something, it doesn’t matter if we have cracklingly real characters, believable dialog, compelling stories, horror, triumph, a catastrophic bettering of the human condition, and that attainment of catharsis that our high school English teachers told us we had to attain in our writing or Dante would be waiting for us in the bowels of somewhere down there in the hot spot, without a decent, eye-catching, soul-gripping, I-need-to-read-this-lest-I-die cover, your book is not going to stand out on the shelf amid the others vying for attention. To that end, I’ll add this: I know graphic design and I am no graphic designer. So, while trolling Facebook, I came across a publisher (Permuted Press) who was looking for feedback for a book cover design contest at this website called 99 Designs. Really? Book cover contest? I just had to look….

Then, I was hooked. While this isn’t an advertising blitz for 99 Designs, I’ll just say that I put up a contest, 55 designers submitted 180 possible covers based on a detailed design brief that I submitted and I worked with a number of them through a feedback process to whittle it down to 6 designers. Now, there are eight possible designs on the block–each one a bit different, each one with a different feel, but all of them by designers who are wildly talented and even better, responsive to feedback. Huh. I guess this is a bit of an advert for 99 Designs ….

But, back to the contest. There’s this poll. It lives here: https://99designs.com/book-cover-design/vote-h7sika And, I’m using this as a forum to solicit feedback from YOU. When I wrote the original design brief, I asked for a cover that would make people yank the book from the shelf and open it. So, I now ask you, looking at these designs, if you were standing in a bookstore surrounded by more compelling graphic design than one person could bear, which one would stand out? If you were strolling the Lido Deck (they all have “Lido Decks,” right?) of a cruise ship and noticed a book in someone’s hand, what cover would catch your eye and make you think, “Wow, I should so totally read that.” ?? I know, asking a lot, but if it’s not compelling enough to pick up, if it doesn’t draw your eye, you’ll never open it to read the flap (which reminds me, I’ve got to write that bit, too), or thumb through the pages.

And then you’d never meet Ethan.

Or Colin.

Or Brett.

Or St. John.

Or Elizabeth.

And that would make me sad, ’cause trust me. You’d love ’em…..

Coffin Hop Day 3 …. Horror Alaskan Style!

Welcome to DAY 3 of Coffin Hop!

I write Alaskan Gothic. More than just a “setting,” The Great Land is actually a character in my writing. People who have read The Fishing Widow agree that it could not be set anywhere else in the world–and not just because it’s the Sitka Herring Sac Roe Fishery that’s depicted. No matter where I go in my writing, real and imagined Alaskan mythologies and creatures snake their way in to every tale. Add to that a rich and diverse history — we’ve had the Spanish, Russians, Americans through the ages, I’m pretty sure the Basques at one point showed up, and there isn’t enough room on the blog to mention all the Native Alaskan groups and their contributions to Alaskan history — and this place is an endless tale that twists and turns through time….

The one I have in edits now is In Dark Places. Set in an interior Alaskan copper mine not unlike Kennecott, the story follows a crew of miners working South Adit–one of the most remote places on the mining landscape–in the winter of 1913. Bitter cold and darkness sets in and, while there’s an underlying sense of foreboding and uneasiness, the characters (and the reader) are left with a sense of is it real? Is it imagined? Like fishermen, bless their hearts, miners are a superstitious lot. Toss together a multi-national crew (Irish, Swedish, Welsh, mid-Western Americans, Dutch), and each one brings his own stories, his own legends…and, being guys, they talk about it. It was a surprising story to write, because, honestly, I didn’t understand it until I got about three-quarters of the way through. What does that mean? Who are THEY? Whoa, what the hell is THAT? Yeah. Nothing planned, and everything twisty like I like it.

On rare, sunny days on my far-flung island, this is where I like to be best. At this table, looking out over what I imagine San Angelo Island was in The Fishing Widow and writing. Of course, howlingly-bad, windy, rain-swept, cold days are nice, too. And for In Dark Places, I’m at the disadvantage of trying to REMEMBER what -40°F feels like. I mean, I remember, but I want to be able to convey it (especially the sticky eyeball part). Then again, that’s what edits really ARE for ….

CONTEST!

Ready? This one is all sorts of cool-io. Since I’m talking Alaskan and there’s this little thing I wrote for Coffin Hop called “Salmon In The Trees,” I figure this is the perfect day to have that as a prize. But, wait! There’s MORE! Because I ripped off the title (shamelessly, but, hey, titles aren’t subject to copyright!) from Ray Troll and Amy Gulick’s book about how salmon are important to rainforest ecologym, I feel this overwhelming urge to somehow make amends… so, in addition to the COFFIN HOP DEATH BY DRIVE-IN COLLECTOR’S EP, I’m offering these two goodies to go with ’em … Ready?

The first is a t-shirt from Ray Troll’s Soho Coho shop in Ketchikan (you get the pick the size):

The SECOND thing is an enameled pin with a sentiment near and dear to all our hearts (I reckon):

What do you have to do? Well, hmmm…. how ’bout leave a comment about WHERE you like to write and WHY. Random.org (which, by the way, is administered out of Trinity College Dublin where I’ll be on Tuesday! Yay!) will pick the winner, um, RANDOMLY from the comments! Spread the word, and Happy Hoppin’!