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Writer’s Workshop Wednesday: Grady Hendrix

While I was on vacation this summer, I bought The Final Girl Support Group by horror author Grady Hendrix, intrigued by its cover and premise.  I had never read anything by Hendrix before, but I was immediately drawn into the story and the myriad twists that came along the way.

While Final Girl is his latest novel, Hendrix has also written many other novels, including My Best Friend’s ExorcismWe Sold Our Souls, and The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires; and the non-fiction books Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction, and Dirt Candy: A Cookbook(which he co-authored with his wife).

Hendrix was born in Charleston, South Carolina and worked in a library before becoming a professional writer.  He has written articles for PlayboyThe New York Post, and The New York Sun.  He’s also a screenwriter, a playwright, and writes short stories.

Check out his official website HERE.  

Below are some interviews with Grady Hendrix where he talks about his works and his process.  

Enjoy!

Back in two weeks with another great author!

Book Review Tuesday: Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard

As I’ve mentioned before, I love reading! Over the past few years I’ve been a member of Goodreads.com where you are able to write mini reviews of books you’ve read. Starting today, I’d like to share my reviews with you and see what your thoughts are on these books if you’ve read them as well.

Today’s book review is Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard:

Abraham Lincoln is known for many things: 16th President of the United States; masterful orator; emancipator of slaves; vampire hunter. In Courting Mr. Lincoln, we get to see a different side of Lincoln in the context of a historical romance inspired by the real-life correspondence between Lincoln and his life-long friend, Joshua Speed. 

I had heard about this novel’s premise and was intrigued. I was not disappointed. This is an exquisitely written story, and a masterful piece of historical fiction that revolves around the love life of one of the most popular presidents in U.S. history. 

Courting Mr. Lincoln was an enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.

What did you think of Courting Mr. Lincoln?

Back next Tuesday with another book review! Happy reading!

Writing Tip of the Week: Writing a Fearless First Draft

The ominous blank page.  Whether it’s a blank page flashing a taunting cursor from a screen, or a lined notebook daring you to fill its pages with ink, it can sometimes be challenging to get your brain and body moving in the same creative direction.

Every day, we see films, novels, and TV shows that move and amaze us.  But what we don’t see are the hundreds of hours of hard work, gallons of coffee or energy drinks, and the multitude of drafts that went into making what you’re watching or reading available for mass consumption.

The drive for perfection of the first try can be a detriment to creativity.  We demand perfection from ourselves, it doesn’t happen off the bat, so we beat ourselves up and walk away.  But nothing we see or read is the first draft.  Nothing we see or read didn’t start as something worthy of the recycle bin.  

Everyone’s first draft sucks.

And that’s okay.  If we were given insight into the early drafts of any best-seller or Oscar-winning film, we would be surprised to see that what is considered the standard of great writing starts off as mediocre at best…and unsalvageable at the very least.

I say this to tell you that writing the first draft of anything need not be a perilous and disastrous endeavor.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  First drafts are supposed to be bad. That’s why they’re called first/rough drafts.

So, let’s talk about them.

For Your Eyes Only

First a foremost, this draft is for you.  No one else.  Not your significant other.  Not your Beta reader.  Not your favorite child or pet.  You are the sole audience for this version of your story, and that’s that.

This is a place where you can openly write ideas, dialogue, description, and more that might be pushing limits or boundaries.  This is the place to test out ideas and story threads to see where they go.  This is the place to have fun with what you’re writing.  You are the Creator in this world; what you decide to do is what happens.

This draft should be unfiltered, unedited, and uninhibited.  While you’ll want to have a basic road map guiding where the story is headed, don’t let that stop you from shifting your imagination and creativity into overdrive in this draft.

You can always change it later.  The important thing here is to get everything down and out of your head so it can be fixed in subsequent drafts, because whatever you do…

Don’t Look Back!

You finished a chapter last night and woke up this morning with a new idea to change what you wrote.  Great.  That means your creativity is doing its job, but don’t return to that chapter and attempt to edit it.  Why not write a new version of the chapter with the new material instead?  

Writing a first draft is about momentum, the momentum to get from the beginning to the end without the pitfalls and hazards or going back and editing and revising. You’ll have plenty of time for that later.  Plus, what if you erase what you had and then realize later there was some dialogue you deleted that would’ve worked great in the revised version?  Now it’s gone.  

Keep it all in the first version and do that heavy lifting later.

Write the Fun Stuff First

We all have our favorite things to write.  It could be action sequences, romantic scenes, or comedy moments that really help drive the story and are fun for you to write.  These moments are likely the big payoff to a long buildup, so writing them can be an enjoyable experience.

However, we shouldn’t deny ourselves the opportunity to write these when we want to.  Write them when you feel like writing them.  When it comes to drafting, you always have the power to rearrange and change where chapters or scenes are located in the story’s world.  If you want to write the big finale first, do it.  Have a romantic scene that you’re itching to write?  Write it.  

While there may be traditional story structures needed when you put the story out there for the world, in the drafting phase, you can write what you want, when you want.  And no one can stop you.

The Creative Brain on Auto-Pilot

Sometimes your characters will begin to dictate what they want to do, what they want to say, and where they want to go. Don’t fight this feeling; let them take you there.  Often your subconscious knows what’s best for your story and can take you places you didn’t initially think of.  

This isn’t some weird phenomenon; it does happen.  And if it does, let your characters take the wheel.  Remember, if they steer the story down a wrong path, you can fix it later.  If they show you something fresh and new about your story or characters, it can be a great win for you and your story. 

Getting here requires you to tell that evil, no good, despicable part of your brain to shut up and go on vacation.  And that part is…

The Evil Voice of Doubt and Negativity

This horrible creature likes to loom around your creativity, giving making you unsure of what you’re writing, how you’re writing it, and if you should even be writing.

I sure hate this creature!

There are 24 hours in a day.  Give this monster a few hours off as your write and keep them locked out as you work on your draft.  This is all for you, not anyone else, so this evil creature is wasting your time by creeping into your head as you charge forward.  Even if the monster makes a good point about a scene or chapter, make a note or rewrite the chapter, but keep going.

Creativity is a big enough challenge at times without this specter of negativity floating about.

When You Feel Blocked…

Writer’s block does happen, but it’s how you handle it that makes the difference.  I would suggest when you do hit a wall moving on to another part of the story or work on another project to keep the creativity flowing.

It’s very tempting – and I’ve done this – to close the laptop, lay on the couch, and watch TV instead of writing.  While this is a quick fix, it doesn’t get you to your goal of finishing your draft and moving on to the next project.  

Do your best to stay focused and stay on track.  You may falter, but don’t let the block prevent you from writing for too long.

Have Fun!

As I said before, this draft is your time to play. It’s your time to test out ideas, see how they work or don’t work, and see if your characters take you anywhere new.

If you are bored with your story, have lost interest, or are dreading writing this draft, then there may be something wrong with your story, not you.  What is the reason you aren’t excited to write?  What aspect of the story is holding you back?

Unless you are writing this draft as part of an assignment, reevaluate your story and see where the issues are.  Maybe you are challenging yourself to write in an unfamiliar genre, or you don’t like the main character.  Whatever it is, make the changes you need to make the process enjoyable.

Writing is a journey. It’s a process. It’s a challenge.  And it’s something that can become addictive in a positive way.  As you begin to write your first/rough draft, remember that Stephen King, Jordan Peele, Grady Hendrix, and Maya Angelou all had to start with an idea, a blank page, and a first draft.

You can only get better once you have the first version out of your head and out on the page.

Happy writing, and I’ll see you in two weeks!

Check out My Interview with Mindy McGinnis of Writer Writer Pants on Fire!

Last week, I had the exciting opportunity to be interviewed by author/blogger Mindy McGinnis, host of the Writer Writer Pants on Fire podcast!

Check out the link below for the podcast and transcript. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!

Enjoy!

https://www.mindymcginnis.com/podcast/ian-dawson

Writer’s Workshop Wednesday: Jack Ketchum

An author whose novels are not for the faint-of-heart or the squeamish, writer Jack Ketchum has been described by Stephen King as “the scariest man in America.”  There’s no doubt in my mind that there is something to King’s view of Ketchum’s work.  I have read many of his novels (The Girl Next Door, Off Season, Off Spring, Red, and many others) and the images that he paints with words stick with you long after you’ve finished the book and moved on to other, less disturbing, fare. 

And yet, his writing style makes you return for another graphic and horror-filled tale from this master of his craft.

From 1981 to 2017, Ketchum authored 27 works that range from short fiction to novels.  His unique voice and his ability to ignore critical views of his work – the Village Voice has referred to his writing as ‘violent pornography’ – have made him an iconic voice in horror fiction.  

Sadly, Ketchum passed away in 2018, but his works live on through print and film and TV adaptations.

Check out his official site HERE.  

Below are some interviews where Ketchum speaks about his works and his craft.

Enjoy!

Back in two weeks with another great author!

Sunday Edition of Writer’s Workshop Wednesday: New Stephen King Interviews & A Conversation with Stephen King and George R.R. Martin

Stephen King is one of my favorite authors of all time.  In honor of his newest novel, Billy Summers, here are some new interviews about the book, and a Q&A with King and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin.  

Enjoy!

Below is the King/Martin interview, which I was unable to embed, so please click the link below to access the video (there is profanity, just to let you know):

Back in two weeks with another writing series!

Happy writing!

Check Out My Interview and my Twitter Takeover for Midnight House with Young Entertainment Magazine!

I had the fun opportunity to be interviewed and do a Twitter Takeover with Young Entertainment Magazine! Check out the links to the articles below!

Thanks again, Young Entertainment Magazine for your support!

GET YOUR PAPERBACK COPY OF MIDNIGHT HOUSE ON BOOKBABY AND USE THE PROMO CODE HOUSE20 TO SAVE 20% OFF THE PAPERBACK AT CHECKOUT.  

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Writer’s Workshop Wednesday: Suzanne Collins

In 2008, readers were introduced to Katniss Everdeen, a young woman who literally put her life on the line to save her sister in the dystopian young adult novel, The Hunger Games.  Two more novels would be published in the series: Catching Fire in 2009, and Mockingjay in 2010.  In 2012, this trilogy, from author Suzanne Collins, ranked as the second most popular teen book series (Harry Potter was #1).  

2012 also saw the premiere of the film adaptation of The Hunger Games starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.  The film grossed $694.4 million at the box office and the final two books were also adapted into films (the final book into two films).  

Collins was inspired to write the novel while watching TV and switching between reality shows and the new about the war in Iraq.  She stated that: “I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way.” And a novel series emerged.  

Read the full interview HERE.

The Hunger Games prequel novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was released in 2020 and instantly was a best-seller.

While her name is synonymous with this series, she also has written a kid-friendly fantasy series, The Underland Chronicles, which debuted in 2003; and a children’s book, When Charlie McButton Lost Power, in 2005.

Check out her official site HERE.  

Below are some interviews with Collins where she talks about her works and her creative process.

Enjoy!

Back in two weeks with another great author!