Hey guys! I am so excited to have the incredibly sweet K.G. McAbee here today with a guest post, creative writing prompt, and interview by a fellow author! Stay tuned for all the fun.
Don't forget to drop by the kick-off post to enter our HUGE giveaway!
Dare to Dream
I've written nearly twenty books and a hundred short stories by myself, and I've co-authored a bunch of books with several other authors. Writing with someone else can be fun. In some cases, it can double your creativity or even increase it exponentially. What you might come up with, plot or character or situation or scene, will be changed and morphed and transformed and improved and upgraded and enriched in so many, many ways when you work with one or two more authors.
But what is the process like, for those who've never taken the plunge and created a new work with another writer? Well, for me at least, the process has been different with every writer I've worked with.
I once wrote a pulp novella called SHADOWHAWKE: FIRST FLIGHT with the brilliant pulp writer Tom Johnson. We did absolutely no brainstorming, just jumped right in—or should I say, write in? I started it off by introducing our hero in the first chapter, and then we alternated, me writing about Shadowhawke and his team, and Tom writing the villainous Spider Lady. We'd each stop at a rousing cliffhanger-end-of chapter, then send it off, just to see how the other would get out of the mess. It was fun, so much fun! That's certainly one way of collaborating, but I don't think it would work unless the writers are very clear on the background of the specific genre. Tom and I are both pulp fans, so for us, it worked.
J.A. Johnson—no relation to Tom—and I have collaborated on several things. We did a lot of brainstorming for our middle grade series, but I did all the writing. For our zombie novella, THE SEETHING, which he had already started, we had chapter titles and a general idea about where the story was going, but we both had a lot of freedom to develop individual characters and settings. And J.A. and I have also collaborated with another great writer, J. Kirsch, in a couple of science fiction series, TALES FROM OMEGA STATION and CRYSALIS. In both of these, since they were shared worlds, we each pretty much told our own stories within a specific world or situation.
Another writer I've worked with is Cynthia D. Witherspoon. We have two series out now that we've collaborated on, paranormal romance THE WITCHFINDER WARS, and GILDED CAGES, which is steampunk. In this collaboration, we tend to do outlines—okay, I admit it: we brainstorm, then Cynthia does outlines that she shares with me, then she threatens me if I don't follow them—and then we jump in, often at the same time, but writing from different characters' POVs. That's yet another kind of fun. And I admit, sometimes, even after the threats, we both have what we call 'and suddenly a shot rang out' moments, when our characters take off in directions we never expected.
So there you have it. Collaboration can be as rigid or as flexible as the two or three—or more—writers wish. Strict outlines or seat-of-the-pants: they both work.
Of course, I've been lucky. ALL my collaborators are brilliant writers!
It’s the last day of school and you’re clearing out your locker when your best friend runs up to you out of breath. “You have to come with me right now,” your friend says. “It’s a matter of life and death.” So you rush with your friend to the cafeteria, only to find several of your classmates have been turned into zombies. What is your plan to survive the zombie epidemic?
My locker catch is a little wonky and you have to hold it just so. And it’s right beside my best friend Jon’s, which always smells like socks marinated in old elephant pee and rotten eggs. But nothing could make me feel bad today.
Last. Day. Of. School.
Nothing feels better, does it? I just hope, when I get out to ‘the real world’, something in the rest of my life will feel as good.
I’ll settle for almost.
Finally! I yanked the door open. I just needed to get the last few things out and—
The yell echoed through the empty hallway.
“Hey, Jon, what’s up?” I didn’t bother to turn around as I raked a year’s worth of essays into my backpack.
“Zach! You have to come with me! Right now! It’s…it’s….it’s life and death!”
Jon’s kind of a drama queen at the best of times, but this was way past his usual.
“What?” I asked. “Cafeteria out of chocolate milk again?”
He was trying to catch his breath. Jon isn’t exactly a jock. His idea of violent exercise involves flipping open his laptop.
I was trying to decide if the three broken pens still in my locker were worth saving.
“I’m still here,” I said. Probably a big NO on those pens…but what the hey, neatness counts. I slid ‘em into my pocket.
“Zach, it’s happened!”
I looked at him in disbelief. “For real? You spoke to Tiffany?”
“No. Are you crazy? It’s the zombie apocalypse, Zach! Two guys from the football team! They were in the cafeteria and they fell over, dead or something, then got up and started…attacking.”
“Jon,” I said. “Think. Football team. Non-jocks are their natural prey.”
“Well, not today,” Jon said. “Everybody is prey today. I ran. When I left, Charles and Kevin both had the arm of a lunch lady…and rest of her was still in the kitchen!”
“Okay,” I said and slammed my locker door. “Show me.”
Halfway there, alarms started screaming. Something really was wrong.
We stopped outside the cafeteria door and peeked through the glass.
Charles and Kevin had finished the lunchroom lady’s arms but they still looked hungry.
I looked around. Why is there never a weapon around when you need one? Samurai sword? Machine gun? Schools are dangerous places, after all. It’s a proven fact.
“Here, Jon,” I said, handing him one of my broken pens. “It’s up to us to save the world.”
Jon looked at the pen, looked at me. “Are you insane?”
I shrugged. “Nope, not certifiably. Let’s do this, while we still can. Besides, didn’t Kevin hit on Tiffany, like, right in front of you?”
That got him, like I knew it would. He growled louder than the jocks inside.
Long story short, we saved the world. With broken pens. And I gotta admit, it wasn’t too hard.
Made a mess, though…but they have until fall to get it cleaned up.
Interview by James D. Horton
What inspires your stories most often?
Whoa, I wish I knew! Ideas just seem to bubble up from my swamp of a subconscious. Of course, I've been filling that swamp with books and stories for so long, it's not surprising, huh? Most often, an image will pop into my head, such as my first fantasy novel, THE MALMALLARD CODEX; it began with the image of a man running through the woods. Then he fell down and I heard dogs baying. Then I had to find out who was chasing this guy—who I then noticed was naked, by the way—and why. Wouldn't anyone have to find that out?
And sometimes something I read or hear or see says 'story idea!' And I start a scene and see where it takes me.
What is the biggest benefit to being independent? Biggest challenge?
I've been published by close to a dozen presses so far, and I've dealt with all the drama, including but not limited to publishers closing their doors and decamping with their authors' royalties. Now, as an independent, I'm my publisher: I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want. I can choose what my cover looks like, when I'll publish, decide what word count works best for the story I want to tell, what genre or cross-genre to work in, everything. And I'll probably not run off with my royalties.
The challenge, to me, is the same challenge I've always dealt with in publishing: promotion. How to find readers who like the things I write.
If you got to cast one of your books for the screen, who would play the lead?
Peter Wingfield! He's an amazing English actor who has such range, such with and such style that I would love to have him play any of my characters. Well, the male ones at least.
What would you title your autobiography?
Writers Are So Cool and I'm One, So There!
What is your favorite genre to read?
That is a truly impossible question to answer. I read and love: steampunk, science fiction, mystery, horror, comics, pulp, YA and fantasy—oddly, the same things I write. Or maybe not so oddly. I also consume tons of history and science and biography, especially English history. Favorite authors on any given day might include Heinlein, Tolkien, Rex Stout, Stan Lee, Roger Zelazny, Ramsey Campbell, H.P. Lovecraft, Dorothy Leigh Sayers, and Lester Dent. Lester Dent, I hear you say? Under the house name Kenneth Robeson back in the thirties, he wrote a 60K Doc Savage novel ONCE A MONTH for nearly the entire run of the magazine—which I believe was seventeen years! And his Doc Savage books are still being read; in fact, I saw a rumor online that a movie is in the works. That's a writer and a writing habit to aspire to.
Do you have a writing quirk or technique that works best for you? (A lucky hat, specific playlist, space to write in?)
BICHOK. That's the acronym for 'Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard'. I sit down, I pet the dogs, and I ask them not to get in my chair while I'm in it—sometimes that works, mostly not. I don't like music playing, ever. I do prefer to write in the mornings, and one simply must have a glass of iced tea within reach. I'm from the South, after all, where we only stop short at injecting sweet tea straight into our veins—usually we stop short there, anyway.
What is one thing you would like your readers to know about you that doesn't come through in your stories?
Probably nothing about me doesn't come through in my stories. I'm secretive and Scorpio, passionate and enthusiastic, rational and skeptical, but skeptical in the 'That might happen' and not in the 'That can't happen' style. Oh, and I'm afraid of heights.
K.G. McAbee has had a bunch of books and nearly a hundred short stories published, some of them quite readable. She takes her geekdom seriously, never misses a sci-fi con, loves dogs and iced tea, and believes the words 'Stan Lee' are interchangeable with 'The Almighty.' She writes paranormal, steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, horror, pulp, westerns and, most recently, comics. She's a member of Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers and is an Artist in Residence with the South Carolina Arts Commission. Her steampunk/zombie novella received an honorable mention in the 3rd quarter Writers of the Future contest and is now available in issue #5 of Pulp Literature.
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