Saturday, January 25, 2014

Two New Reviews, What It's All About, And Giving Myself Permission Not to Blog

First up, two new reviews this week sent me over the moon. For the most part, as Things Slip Through has been released and the initial rush of reviews has passed, I've put my head down and gone to work on other things. However, these two reviews came as welcome surprises because they were written by satisfied customers, not review outlets who received free ARCs.

First up is John Boden's review at Shock Totem Publications. He says some really nice things about me and the collection, my favorite gem being:
Lucia knows what he’s doing. He has studied the masters and taken adequate notes and has written a classically structured, darkly fantastical book. A love letter to both 50s dark fantasy and 80s pulp horror, written in red and bound in heart. Things Slip Through is a solid and entertaining journey through a very strange town.
Those who know me best may disagree with the "knows what he's doing" part, but what warms my heart is this review reflects my aims in Things Slip Through: "solid," "entertaining," "classically structured." I made a commitment three years ago to strengthen my reading habits, and it seems to have paid off with this collection.

Also important is "entertaining journey," because I've come to believe in two guiding lights in regards to writing fiction (quotes grabbed from personal conversations with mentor-type folks):

"The best stuff, the stuff that lasts, comes from the late-night conversations you have with your very own self. - Mort Castle

"If you're not entertaining people and they're not having a good time reading your story, then what's the point? You're not writing fiction people like to read, you're preaching." - Tom Monteleone (heavily paraphrased from what I remember at Borderlands Press Bootcamp)

What really motives me lately is the first quote, by Mort Castle. More often these days, that "spark" that gets me out of bed in the morning seems to come from my thoughts about the things that really stick in my heart and soul. Questions about life and death and faith and why things happen the way they do, why people fail/succeed, areas I struggle in and fail, my own fears and doubts and weaknesses. 

For example, where I used to think: "Let's write a cool story about a vampire or demon" I now think, "Let's write a story about someone who's always using others for his own ends and hates himself for it, but still can't stop." (because honestly, I've always been afraid of turning into someone like that, an sometimes I'm afraid I AM that person). Now, the irony is...that character may still turn out to be a vampire or demon. But my thought process has flipped, so to speak.

On the other hand, when writing, I always try to keep Tom's advice in mind. In the end, why do most folks keep reading? Because the prose is smooth and doesn't get in the way. Because there's an engaging voice. Because there's enough suspense to create a sense of narrative tension and excitement. Maybe there's some humor thrown in also. In the end, I want stories to come from my gut and my heart and my soul (even though that sounds corny), but I want to them to be enjoyable reads, also. 

The second review, posted on Amazon,  by Doug Murano, shared this snippet:
Through these interconnected short stories, Lucia draws you into a world full of sad-sacks, loners, weirdos and (sometimes) heroes pitted against evil that looms just beyond their perception and leagues beyond their comprehension. The world he's created lives and breathes--recognizable, yet dark and bizarre at the edges. His characters pulse with life, with flaws, with frailty. In short, they're human.
The last part, of course, is the point. I'm writing about what it means to be human. I'm in love with the fantastic and I love speculative fiction and asking "what if" so those genre elements will always be there. But more and more I'm hoping my stories will put that human element first...while, of course, still being fun to read.

Finally, it's very likely I'll be blogging less in the future. I still intend to keep the blog updated - it's necessary in the digital age to have something on the cyber-sea that's current, and enough copies of the collection have been purchased by strangers not on my Facebook that it's conceivable folks might come to the website before friending me on social media - but I feel like the blog well has run dry, and I'm not sure I have much to say, these days.

Because in the end, I'm not sure - even in sharing my publication journey - what I really have to offer that's different from dozens, maybe even hundreds of other writers' blogs. Also, I have very little interest in politics, I keep my personal beliefs to myself, and the evolving publishing landscape is so convoluted right now that me blogging about what I think about it is like spitting in the wind.

So I'm giving myself permission not to blog unless I really feel like it, or have something to announce. And of course, that could be random. Maybe Monday I'll feel like it. Maybe I won't feel like it until next Saturday. Who knows? But in the end, right now my time is best spent doing two things: writing fiction whenever I can, and reading voraciously, constantly re-filling the creative tanks. And I'm not going to disappear. I'm just going to reserve my blogs even more for when I have something definitive to share, or when I have something I really want to say.

And now, I'm off to read In the Fog: The Last Chronicle of Greystone Bay, edited by the late Charles L. Grant....