Tag Archives: Literary Mix Tapes Eighty Nine

From Song to Story (Part Two): The Vampire’s Curse

I’m hoping you’ve now had a chance to read my story for FREE on the Literary Mix Tapes website. If not, it’s still up until 11pm AEST (that’s another 14 and a half hours). There will be SPOILERS in this post.

To recap: In Part One I talked about how I was given the song ‘Eighteen and Life’ by Skid Row as my inspiration (a song I’d never heard before). I had to combine it with an event from 1989 and include a speculative fiction element to write a 1500 word story. After listening to the song I had an idea to make my main character a vampire.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Now all I had to do was tie my vampire character to an event that happened in 1989. That was tricky. I skimmed Wikipedia’s list of events from that year, but nothing really stood out. At one stage I was tossing up between Tiananmen Square and Ted Bundy. But in the end I went in a completely different direction. Instead of going with a political event, I went with a pop culture reference. There was one thing that really stood out in my memory from the year 1989. It was the movie The Little Mermaid (Hey, give me a break, I was only 7 in 1989!).

A Different Kind of Vampire

The idea behind my vampire evolved from the idea that the last image he saw when he was alive, a movie poster of The Little Mermaid, meant he had a compulsion to feed on girls who resembled the red-haired, waspy-waisted Disney Princess.

I was really quite happy with my draft. I loved my vampire, who I thought was different to any vampires I had read in the past, wasn’t romantic in the least and had ties to a more traditional form of vampire.

A Second Opinion

I sent my draft to several beta readers, made up of writer friends and fellow Eighty Nine authors (one of the great things about being involved in Literary Mix Tapes is how all the writers work in contact with each other and swap stories to critique). I took on board most of their comments and ignored the ones I thought might not work for my story, and started redrafting.

Hold My Breath and Submit

What if Jodi thought my writing wasn’t good enough and sent me an e-mail telling me, ‘Sorry, we won’t be including your story in the anthology’? Thankfully, this was not the case. Jodi loved the idea behind my vampire. Now it was time for the edits.

Pushing My Story to New Limits

Working so closely with an editor (especially one as awesome as Jodi) was such a great experience. I learned a lot and pushed my story into new realms. Every time Jodi sent me back edits and notes it sparked new ideas. It was a long back and forth process, but so worth it.

I Should Have Listened to my Beta Reader (sorry Rachel!) — P.S. SPOILER ALERT (you should really read my story first before you read this section)

One of my beta readers made this note:

I was just wondering whether it might be interesting if the girl at the end was actually his sister – maybe she looks up at him and mentions his name as she dies or something – then he really would feel sentenced to this life.

I didn’t think this would work for my story, I think I had some lame reasoning about the hair colour being too obvious and the fact he’d watched the girl for three days would mean he would have known it was his sister.

Then on Jodi’s first lot of edits, she wrote this note:

What I’d like to see is for you to take this idea and really push the boundaries of it. Rather than him imprint on the Little Mermaid – what if he imprinted on his sister, she doesn’t run away, gripped by fear she stands and watches it all happen? Which would mean he is cursed to walk the earth feeding from girls who look like his sister.

I took the idea and ran with it. The Little Mermaid was scrapped. The focus on 1989 now came from the cultural references, rather than a specific reference. Having the sister as the focus added a new layer of depth to the story.

The Countdown

Once all the stories were finalised, all the authors got sent a pdf copy of the book to proofread, which meant a first peek at the other stories. (It was great seeing everyone’s takes on their songs and the year 1989.)

Then we got our first look at the cover. The girl on the front cover has been affectionately named Amiga after a character from one of the stories in the anthology.

Then the nailbiting wait for my contributor’s copy to arrive in the mail. I was on a rollercoaster ride that whole week. I knew it was due to arrive, so every time I got a parcel pick up notice I got really excited. But every time I made a trip to the post office I was disappointed to find it wasn’t ‘Eighty Nine’. Then one day my husband walked in with a parcel for me and as soon as  saw the envelope I knew it was finally here! Of course I flipped straight to my story and basked in squeefullness (yes, I just made that word up)of my name in print.

Blast Off!

And that leads us to the launch!  Thanks to everyone who has joined in the Facebook event so far (it’s still going, so drop and join in the fun if you haven’t yet).

You can still read stories for FREE. The last one has just gone up and the others will gradually be taken down one by one over the next 24 hours.

You can also still take part in the Amazon chart rush (and take advantage of free shipping to Australia and New Zealand if you order from Amazon UK before 31st October). Or if you buy a copy directly from the Literary Mix Tapes site you get a complimentary ebook to go with it!

To finish, a picture of me getting into the spirit of the launch last night with my copy of Eighty Nine.

From Song to Story: Vampires with an Eighties Twist?

Today marks the launch of the speculative fiction anthology Eighty Nine. To celebrate I want to share the journey of how I took a song from the year 1989 and turned it into a story about a vampire with a compulsion. My story ‘Eighteen for Life’ will be posted HERE to read completely FREE for twenty-four hours starting at 11pm AEST*. (The first stories have already gone live.)

But first, a look at how it all started…

When Opportunity Knocks

When a call went out for authors for a new Literary Mix Tapes anthology I jumped at the chance to be involved. I heard about it through Jodi Cleghorn (who had been the editor on 100 Stories for Queensland). I was impressed by all the hard work Jodi had put into 100 Stories and I was excited by the idea of writing a story based on a song prompt. There were eight places available and I was lucky enough to secure one of the places.

The Idea Behind Eighty Nine

Authors had four main rules they had to follow for their stories:

1. It had to be 1500 words.

2. It had to be tied the year 1989.

3. It had to be inspired by a song from the year 1989 (from a playlist of songs which would be randomly drawn from a hat and assigned to each author).

4. It had to be speculative fiction.

Combining a cultural/political event from 1989 with a speculative element (ie: fantasy, paranormal, science fiction) into a story inspired by a song, all in 1500 words. Piece of cake, right? Hmm, maybe not. I do love a good prompt though, and I knew I would have a lot of fun with this one.

Drawing Songs from a Hat

When I first read through the song list for the anthology I had my fingers crossed for ‘Funky Cold Medina’ as I immediately got a story idea for it. There were also some other really great songs on there I love, like ‘Love Shack’. But when Jodi pulled my song out of the hat I could only say, “Huh?”

I got ‘Eighteen and Life’ by Skid Row and I’d never even heard of the song or the band.

Thank You, YouTube

The YouTube video (click to watch)

I went straight to YouTube so I could listen to the song. My heart sunk even further. Not only was I unfamiliar with the song, it was heavy metal, which I can’t stand. I knew there was a chance one of the other authors might swap songs with me, but I looked up the lyrics and listened to the song a couple more times…

Inspiration!

I got an idea. I decided to use the character Ricky from the song as the main character in my story. There were a couple of lines in the song that I wanted to include as part of his character, but in a different way to what the song meant.

“He had a heart of stone.”

and

“…he fought the world alone”

Bam! I immediately thought of a vampire walking the world on his own in a lonely existence. Ricky would be this vampire. And there was my speculative fiction element.

THE STORY CONTINUES IN PART TWO.

Come Join in the Launch Events!

As I mentioned, stories are being posted FREE for twenty four hours each, with one story going up every hour (the first ones are already up). Mine goes up 25th October at 11pm AEST* and will remain up until 26th October 11pm AEST. Don’t forget to come back here tomorrow after you’ve read it to find out how my idea transformed into the story in its final form.

There will be a Facebook event happening at 5pm AEST** today to celebrate the launch. Please come along as there will be eighties trivia, prizes (including copies of Eighty Nine) and lots of eighties fun. Just by clicking the ‘I’m attending’ button you go in the draw to win a copy of Eighty Nine.

You can also get involved in the Amazon chart rush taking place. This is a good chance for all you Aussies to take advantage of Amazon UK‘s free shipping to Australia offer (which ends on the 31st October). Grab a few other books you’ve been thinking about getting while you’re at it (or maybe some copies of Eighty Nine to put away for Christmas presents; or a copy or two of 100 Stories for Queensland to continue to help with flood relief).

Me & 1989

As part of the launch celebrations, here is a photo of seven-year-old me from 1989:

I haven’t changed a bit 🙂

Because I know time zones suck:

*11pm 25 Oct AEST = 12pm 26 Oct AEDST(Victoria); 9am 25 Oct EDT(New York); 6am 25 Oct PDT(California); 1pm 25 Oct GMT

** 5pm 25 Oct AEST = 6pm 25 Oct AEDST; 3am 25 Oct EDT; 12am 25 Oct PDT; 7am 25 Oct GMT

2nd Blogiversary: The Highs and Lows of the Past Year

Wow, what a year!

This time last year I was celebrating the very first blogiversary of this blog, I can’t believe another year has past. So much has happened in this past year; these are some of the biggest ups and downs:

I took part in NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row. After finding it hard to get into the story I’d planned, I ended up writing a fanfic and reaching my goal of writing 50,000 words in a month. (The previous year I’d only managed half that.)

– The worst day of my life was the day I found out I had a miscarriage and lost my baby. I didn’t cope at all with the loss and sunk into depression. I found it hard to write for a while. I’m still struggling with the loss, but I’m writing.

After entering my completed YA fantasy MS into a couple of novel competitions and having no luck, I decided to put it aside for the time being, rather than following my original plan of querying it. I decided to focus on my YA thriller WIP instead.

– After the devastating floods in Queensland at the start of the year, I was compelled to submit a story to the anthology 100 Stories to Queensland. I was thrilled to first make the longlist and then the shortlist and have my story ‘A Penny for a Wish’ included in the anthology. The anthology has gone on to raise much needed funds for disaster relief in Queensland.

– I was surprised and thrilled to find out my story ‘Angel Blood’ was to be included in the Australian Literature anthology (and I also totally bawled my eyes out as it was to be my first story I would be getting paid for). It was released at the same time as 100 Stories for Queensland. I couldn’t believe my debut as a published author involved two separate stories being published at the same time.

– I jumped at the opportunity to get on board an anthology called Literary Mix Tapes: Eighty-Nine where I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with other authors and an editor (the fabulous Jodi Cleghorn). Working on my short story ‘Eighteen for Life’ has been a great learning experience for me as a writer. Eighty-Nine is due for release next month.

– I’ve had the honour of being invited to write short stories for several other upcoming anthologies (which I will tell you more about as the release dates come closer).

I found out I was pregnant again, but kept the pregnancy secret despite the fact I was suffering the worst morning sickness of all my pregnancies so far. Thankfully the morning sickness has now subsided. I’m nearly at the halfway point!

My family and I were all plagued by illness over the winter months, and in fact it got so bad my son ended up in hospital for a week (with me staying there with him) and my daughter ended up in hospital overnight. Even once we were home it was a long road to recovery (compounded by the fact I was also suffering horrendous morning sickness at the time). Needless to say my writing suffered during this time, as did my poor blog.

I worked up the courage to send a couple picture book (and one chapter book) manuscripts to publishers. So far no luck, but…

– Only last week I received the exciting news my picture book ‘Monster Sister’ was shortlisted for the CYA competition’s preschool category. (CYA = Children and Young Adult Writer conference, which is held annually in Brisbane, Australia.) I just found out the winner as I was about to hit ‘publish’ on this post. Unfortunately ‘Monster Sister’ did not win, but I feel so privileged to have even been shortlisted and to have had the opportunity for my story to be seen by a publisher.

Edit: Just had to make an edit, because I just found out that although ‘Monster Sister’ did not win the CYA preschool category, it did place second!