What’s your favourite scary movie? It was probably a book first!

It’s Halloween Eve and there’s no end of ghosts and goblins preparing to take over the streets and wreak a little candy-related havoc tomorrow night. There’s also no end to the number of fright films being broadcast on television at the moment, a real treat for horror buffs to be sure!

But I’m not really into horror movies—so how am I celebrating the holiday? Why by going to the source material for the scariest movies out there: books! People often forget that many of the most frightening stories every to hit the celluloid were, in fact, novels first.

Just think of the scariest films you’ve seen: The Shining, Psycho, Woman in Black, Stepford Wives, Rosemary’s Baby, even Jaws—all found their first expression on the written page!

And why do I prefer to read ‘scary’ rather than watch it? Well, the fact that a book sustains the tension over many hours, rather than a pat 90 or 120 minutes makes it far more thrilling! And when it’s a particularly well-written thriller I find you get far more absorbed in the story than you ever could with all the distractions surrounding you watching a movie in your living room.

So tomorrow night, after the trick-or-treaters have retreated with their sacks full of candy, consider curling up with a creepy tale of terror. You could even ‘treat’ yourself to a copy of Evil on the Peace River!

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So many stories to tell, so little time…

I’ve said before, I have a pretty amazing location in which to pursue my craft. I feel like I’ve got the ultimate ‘room of one’s own‘ for writing. But of course, that’s only one piece of the puzzle. For writers, probably the most important part is finding the time to actually write.

As I mentioned, I tend to write very late at night into the wee hours of the morning—not out of choice, but out of necessity. Just like everyone out there, everyday life just seems to get in the way. I’m a mom, a grandmother, and up until a short time ago, I was also taking care of my ailing mother. Not to mention the fact that I work full-time on our farm, which involves tending to seven acres. I have a garden to look after, and a couple of houses to clean and run. And then of course are those annoying tasks like laundry and cleaning that, much as we’d like to skip, have to be done.

Oh yes, and then there’s that whole ‘sleep’ thing that apparently we humans have to do.

So at the end of the day, it really doesn’t leave a tremendous amount of time to write. And sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like there’s no way forward. But at the end of the day, writers write. So if you’re truly driven to be a story-teller, then you’re going to have to make it work. Have a read of this blog entry by another female author with some really helpful tips on how to make that happen.

Instead of getting frustrated about not being able to find time to write, remember that you might have to make the time to write.

Writers can be a crazy lot—our quirks and collections can rival anyone out there. Most often, our collections are focused around the tools of our trade: notebooks, pens, pencils, typewriters, etc. I myself have an impressive collection of notebooks and pens, but it’s not strictly ornamental. Despite how digital everything, including the writing process, has gotten I still find myself taking an ‘old school’ approach to my craft. While it may surprise many: I write everything first with a pen and paper.

I’m the first to admit I’m not the most technologically savvy of people, but it’s no techno-fear that’s led me to writing longhand. I really feel like there’s something fundamentally different about putting lead to paper as opposed to banging away on a keyboard—I just feel more creative doing so. And it turns out, there’s some science to back me up!

It turns out that children write better when they use a pen as opposed to a keyboard, and the simple act of connecting the form of each letter actively engages your brain in a way that isn’t seen in typing.

But even if there wasn’t the scientific evidence there, I doubt you could dissuade me from utilizing my trusty notebooks. The fact is there’s something special about how these simple tools have been used to create masterpieces. This author summed it up beautifully.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go get some fresh notebooks and a spankin’ new pen.

Writing in the witching hour.

I talked last week about how much I love the changing of the season All Hallow’s Eve grows nearer. But there’s another reason why fall brings out the best in me, creatively-speaking. I really do my best work as a writer in exactly the kind of conditions germane to this time of year.

Living on a farm there’s a huge amount of work to do in order to keep things rolling smoothly. Obviously 90% of that work has to be during the day-time, so if I want to write my only real option is to do so in the evening. And once the cooler months arrive and work on the farm slows down, I’ve got more time to do what I love best.

I’m incredibly fortunate to have a two-story antique home right on the banks of the Peace River. So when the sun goes down I light a fire and write until dawn. I really couldn’t ask for a more perfect atmosphere. Peace and quiet, solitude, and the flickering of the fire—a writer’s paradise, really.

So with the ever-shortening days and the instinct to hibernate slowly kicking in, I’m looking forward to a productive writing season!

‘Tis the season for tales of terror!

As I’ve said before, Evil on the Peace River was my first venture into exploring the creepier aspects of human behaviour. And in all honesty, I loved it! Delving into the darker side of life was a blast. I think what I loved about it was the endless number of opportunities to essentially ‘go nuts’ creatively.

And I think that’s why I so look forward to Halloween. I mean really, what other time of year do you get to watch the physical embodiment of almost every creepy character you could imagine, just walking down the street? October was MADE to inspire creativity.

And I think it’s especially inspiring to children. In fact, I honestly think there’s no better time of year to get those creative juices flowing in youngsters than Halloween. So if you’ve got a budding writer in your family, why not take the opportunity to spark their imagination during this season.

To help them along, I’ve found some great Halloween writing prompts for the Poe Jr. in your household:

http://www.teachervision.fen.com/reading/activity/3127.html

http://journalbuddies.com/journal_prompts__journal_topics/halloween-writing-27-journal-prompts-for-kids/

And if your child ends up writing a story of Lovecraftian proprotions, why not send it along to me? We might be able to share their work with the world!