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The Writer Emerges From the Pits of Doom!

Pardon the gore-covered fingers as I type this overdue blog entry...I've been busy! I entered the Pits of Doom months ago and have finally battled my way out, gutting several stories along the way. One didn't make it at all...it bled out all over my feet and now my shoes have a stiffness to them they didn't have before.

So, I revised and revised and revised again that tormenting beast known as my short story collection. I even ripped its skin loose and created a new one in is likeness, but better. GIMP is now my new BFF. We might get matching tattoos.

Seriously though, it has been quite the journey to get the book this far and at one point, I almost considered just seeing if a publisher would want to publish it for me so it could be out of my hands. But then I realized this whole process was a giant learning tool to make sure future works of mine are really in the best shape possible before subbing them out. I always think they are but there's usually a handful of ty…

Why I'm not writing right now

I've got the worries. MRI for my neck is scheduled for Thursday and I fear a) surgery is the only option and b) even surgery won't help.Um, my neck hurts. See above.I've got a wicked case of the "Everything I Write Is a Steaming Pile of Poo." Is there a cure for this? *awaits answer*I brought the wrong flashdrive. That's it in a nutshell. Now for a walk to clear my head.

On the Second Day of Hallowe'en My True Love Gave to Me...

I have to take time here to get mushy. Last night after a particularly frustrating day of work, I came home to the most epic gift I have ever received: a Halloween 'advent calendar' in the form of a bookshelf. The hubby started working on this epic gift in January and kept his secret VERY well! He told me how he hollowed out each book, painted some of the spines, found images to glue, sanded and painted a bookshelf...all for little old me. I opened the first book last night to discover an adorable jack o' lantern ornament from Arkansas and today's book contained a framed piece he made out of some of the lines of the books he cut up and the image of a *cringe* spider. This man gets me. I try to say it often, and sometimes in strange voices...I love this man.



Props to cover artists everywhere

So when I came up with the notion to self-publish a collection of my own short stories, I knew right away what the title would be (Hair Baby and Other Weird Tales) and what the cover would be. Easy peasy. Until I searched images online for book covers that have cat eyes on them. Holy heck, three looked EXACTLY like the cover I worked so hard on and then, a writer friend posted a link to one of his covers on Facebook and of course...cat eyes. That scrapped the eerie-green-cat-eyes-on-a-black-background idea. Now what to do, what to do?

I tried a blood-red misty fog over a picture of the real Zoey (the cat in "Hair Baby") but it just looks ridiculous.  Then I tried blood spatters and smears which looked even worse.  I'm struggling not only with the concept, but also the program to create it.  I give massive, massive props to cover artists near and far, of every genre.  Your job ain't easy.  Next time you see a cover that knocks your socks off, take a moment to silently…

An Interview With the Artist

Today, I present to you an interview with the amazing Jill Hejl, the illustrator of my book Haiku Horror Stories.

CB:  Thank you for letting me interview you! You know I've been following your progress in your 365
challenge. How do you keep yourself on-task to art each day?

JH:  Well, it's hard! It's a commitment that I made to myself that I wanted to honor, but probably announcing it publicly made the possibility of letting a day slide by impossible! ha! I think to myself, you HAVE to get it done! The weekends aren't as bad, but during the week when I work full-time, and don't get a chance
to start until 8 p.m. or later, it is sheer force of will that says, I've GOT to go paint or draw a picture.

CB:  Do you remember the first piece of art you sold? What feelings and thoughts were going on inside
your head and heart?

JH:  I think the first large sale I had was a huge, oversized planter and it's accompanying dish that I painted and sold at a local gift sh…

Time Slips Away Like a...Something or Other

Oh August, you went by so quickly.  My day job sapped quite a bit of my time, energy, and enthusiasm but I'm back now and have my feet planted on the floor and my head is in writer mode. Except for when I have to be in crafter mode.  Or teacher mode. 

Let's see what's new, I've signed up for a festival and will be selling my jewelry along with some neato aluminum or copper wall art.  I'm even venturing into the realm of hair accessories, so that should be interesting.  This is one of the pendants I'll be selling.  (if I can bear to part with it)



I was a very good girl and turned my contract and class handouts in incredibly early and I even have been putting together the kits for the steampunk-inspired necklace class I'm teaching in November.  Yes.  November.  Can I NaNoWriMo and teach a class in November?  I hope so.  Every year, I declare that I will win and this year is no exception.  I want to say "I finished!"

The collection of horror stories …

Hey blog, I'm back!

Well, last we spoke, I was taking all of July off to get stuff done and I'm pretty proud of how well I did.  Yes, Facebook lured me back as did Twitter, but I wasn't spending every waking moment posting or scrolling, so hey, that's progress.  Several of my "must-do" items did get completed and I've begun one that's been lingering for years on a shelf...the dreaded pile of story ideas scrawled on a napkin, the first page of a genius story that has been abandoned to time and forgetfulness, handwritten stories complete but in need of a red pen.  Who knew I had so much backlog?  (and that so much of that backlog was utter crap?)

July was a sad, strange, entertaining month.  I lost a couple family members, discovered strange health issues, and I ended the month going full Indiana Jones into the dense woods and not finding a lost military fort, but a mess of poison ivy.  *cue the violins*  And now in August, I sit with steroid-induced "moon face," res…

See You In August...Don't Forget to WRITE!

I'm writing with tired, dried-up eyes caused by the Arctic Breeze that whips through my office all day...every day.  One of these days, I'll learn NOT to wear contacts to work.  I've been squirting eye drops in to no avail and here's hoping I can remove them tonight without causing permanent damage to my eyes.  Although, I do have two eye patches, so I'm prepared.

With my impending July Challenge, I'm anxious and excited to avoid social media for an entire month.  I'm sure I'll miss birthdays and adorable cat photos and the endearing rant or two, but for the most part, I think it'll be freeing and less negative.  To help stay away, I've even decided to write solely on paper or on my mini because the battery drains way too fast if I have an internet browser open.  Sneaky girl.

Before I go, let me mention a review I left on Amazon for Michael S. Gardner's Ruination: A Short Story.  This story is so very good and so VERY gory (beware if you are…

My July Challenge

Well, June is nearly over and I'm sitting here wondering what to share on Ye Olde Blog.  Let's see...  I had quite a few rejections come through and most (again) say things like "well-written" and "strong voice" but my work just don't fit what they're looking for.  Someday!  *shakes fist at the sky*  Someday they'll want me!

So now, I have to get back to work sending out stories to new markets and writing fresh material and working on those big novel-sized projects that keep collecting dust.  And that takes time.  Which brings me to my next topic:  My July Challenge.  What is it?  Well, it is just me on a mission to write a lot without distractions like Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and online shopping and well, even the blog.  If I post anything, I think I will allow myself to post word counts and maybe paragraphs from works in progress.  Maybe.  Those could be "gateway posts" leading to hours of my life wasted watching the potty-m…

Trying New Things (again)

If you've been following my blog *pauses to listen to the crickets* you know I'm big about doing new things and being 'brave.'

In keeping with this quest of mine, I agreed to read my poetry in front of someone other than my cats and my husband.  And it was fun!  The initial quivers I had over reading my work to strangers with my...unique voice just melted away after the first poem.  I think it might have been the intimate atmosphere that really helped.  If you're a writer and/or poet, I would recommend finding small poetry readings in your area as a testing/proving ground for yourself.

Also in line with 'new things,' I mowed our grass last night.  No big deal, but I haven't mowed a yard in over twenty years.  I think I surprised the heck out of the hubby by stepping up and offering to do it and I did a very mediocre job of it, at best.  But, I tried.  Will I mow again?  Hmm...the hives I'm enjoying today make me say no, but you never know.

Since I&#…

What's Up

The end of the semester nears, which means I will be working four 10-hour days soon (we close on Fridays for about 8 weeks).  The lovely 2 hours of writing/revision time I get each day will be gone and I'll be forced to either hole up during my lunch break or stay up later each night.  Decisions, decisions...  But at least I'll have Fridays to myself to write.  (cue the dirty dishes to wash, the laundry to fold, the floor to vacuum, the toilet to scrub...)

Last week I screwed up enough courage to send out a totally fresh piece of flash fiction to a market and while I wait, I'm trying to work on another longer piece.  I say trying because the antihistamines are kicking the life out of me.  Yes, that lovely sun allergy has returned along with the pleasant weather.  After finishing the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure yesterday, hives broke out on my hands and face and scalp, etc and I got all swolley.  (yes, I know swolley isn't a word, but it totally fits)  Gonna be a l…

Sucking out the poison!

The sting of a rejection hurts.  I almost wish they left physical scars so we writers could compare past injuries.   I can see two crusty old writers belly up to a bar, exposing flesh.  "See that one?  Yep, got that when I subbed to Tor."  "That one?  pffft.  That's a scratch compared to this one I got from subbing to Cemetery Dance."

Anywho, I got a big old sting last night and I pouted and whined and sulked more than I have over anything in a very long time.  I even coined a phrase:  fanken crappenstance.  (it felt right at the time, but now the meaning is elusive)  When I woke up this morning, I was ready to set all of my flash drives on fire and just walk away.  Honestly, I was.  But writing is a drug.  It is a lover.  It's a damn part of me and even if I did walk away I wouldn't get too far before scrounging for a pen and something to write on.

We writers are a cursed group.  We're gamblers and charlatans and we enjoy pain.  We must, or we woul…

Black Cats and Book Covers

So, the last few weeks I have been working pretty much non-stop on my first collection of short stories,.  (pssst...it is called Hair Baby and Other Weird Tales and I'm shooting for publication in June)  The table of contents is sorted out, the interior looks good, and there's just one last story that needs completion before I hand it to the beta readers. 

From the moment I decided to self-publish a collection, I knew what I wanted the cover to look like and spent countless hours messing with a photo of my cat, Zoey.  She's a great gal, that Zoey, but her image isn't very dark nor disturbing.  I mean, look at that smile!
So I tried making her white spots black and added red to her eyes, which just eneded badly, especially with that grin of hers.  Luckily, this weekend we were in Le Claire, Iowa and stumbled upon a shop with a dark, brooding black tomcat.  My hubby took a picture of that cat, and ba-dah-bing...it is now the cover!  I'm still fine-tuning it, but wil…

Ernie, Sunny, and Me

I had my first author event at The Book Mouse over the weekend and had so much fun!  They have a chinchilla named Ernie and a big cat named Sunny that Jill, my illustrator, and I pestered all afternoon.  The staff was awesome and I sold a few books, so the day was a success!  I can't thank them enough for having us.

This event was just the kick in the rump I've needed to get back into my bigger writing projects.  I think it will be fabulous to return to The Book Mouse with my very own collection of short stories, just in time for Halloween.  Perhaps Ernie won't hide from me next time?



The Unexpected Things You Discover When You Clean

So, the dust layer on my bookshelves has gotten thick and I decided for my Spring Break (yeah!) I'm cleaning the office.  Scrap by scrap, book by book, I'm dusting and purging. 

I'm a month shy of being 39 and I like to buy children's books, especially if they're about witches or have a horror element to them.  When I was a wee child, I had some really cool books (possibly from the Weekly Reader program?) and most of them now grace my bookshelves; yellowed, torn, stained, and written on. 

As I dusted them, I realized:  this is where it all began for me!  These books in the photo especially.  I've read and re-read so many times.  I've traced the amazing drawings on these pages.  My style is so similar to these books, it is making me wonder...is this the writing path I should follow?  Should some my short stories really be turned into childrens books?  I mean, I've been told I'm "horror lite" so maybe I should aim my work at helpless kids.

Did you reboot?

I've had training as a helpdesk person where I work and the first thing we always have to ask a caller is "Did you reboot?"  If the caller hasn't, we then ask them to do it.  This Techno Magic usually fixes whatever issue they are having and then the caller thanks us and goes about their merry way. 

The last couple weeks, I've been struggling with my writing, revising, and life (in general) and yesterday, I determined that I too, need a reboot.  My boss gave me the go-ahead and here I sit, in my pajamas after the best night of sleep in a long (very long) time.  Today, I'm rebooting myself:  no looming To-Do lists...no self-imposed word counts or editing.   I've got my iTunes on shuffle and not skipping any songs.  I'm even going to nap.  Heck, I might even read for fun. 

If you have deadlines or a cram-packed schedule or just a lot of crap on your plate, take some time to reboot yourself.  If you take a full day, a week, or even a few minutes with t…

Challenge!

Okay, so recently I posted about being brave and now I'm really walking the walk. 
I've schedule an author/artist event at a local book store for the end of March and I'll be contacting the local newspaper for an interview regarding the event.  I am now an official member of The Horror Writers Associaton (at the affiliate level).  I decided to query several small presses to see if they would be interested in publishing my collection "Hair Baby and Other Weird Tales."  If they are not, I'll be self-publishing that.  Now, I challenge you to do something that scares you.  Write a story.  Send that story out to publishers.  Sing in front of a group.  Teach a class.  Skydive.  We spend too much time worrying about what will happen IF we do something.  Sure, we might get rejected or sing off-key or students may tie you up and lock you in a closet or your parachute might not open.  But what if you get accepted or blow people away with your performance or the  studen…

An Apology to My Stories

I'm Carey Burns, I'm a writer, and I'm a mess.  I have four flashdrives for my writing.  Four.  With multiple versions of all of my stories on each of them.  That's a lot of stories.  So finding something I'm working on is a chore in itself.  This week, I'm on an organizational kick.  I'm wiping out old versions of stories and getting down to just two flashdrives:  one working and one backup.  I know, I know, there's some Cloud out there and other services that will gladly store my stuff, but I'm paranoid and don't embrace change easily.  I still have 3.5 inch floppies!  (that sounds wrong...)  Anyway, the point is, I'm making a huge effort to treat my stories better than I have been.  Next up is getting all of my handwritten scribbles in some sort of organized fashion.  That might take a while.

In other writerly news, I've decided to throw caution to the wind and join the Horror Writers Association (HWA) as an affiliate.  Once my dues a…

Trying

Each year, one thing I put on my "To Do" list is to be braver.  If you would meet the me from 10 years ago and have her stand next to me, I think you'd see she was horribly shy and timid.  She would never dream of sending out any of her stories or talking to new people or *gasp* starting a blog to talk to people she didn't even know.  I'm pretty proud of how far I've come and how I've dealt with setbacks along my journey.  Each day I try so hard to be the girl I want to be and live the life I want to live. 

Yesterday and today, I did some pretty brave things.  I participated in Neil Gaiman's #KeepMoving and tweeted some pretty personal things.  Things I think I've been trying really hard not to express.  One thing, I miss my dad quite a lot and cry more often than you can imagine.  I've been filling my last 4 months or so of my life with so much activity that I don't really have time to dwell and grieve.  But I'm getting tired and wor…

Holy cow...I'm posting more frequently!

Surprise, surprise!  I'm getting better, I promise. 

I've been very busy lately formatting my Sketchbook Project and right now it is available on Smashwords.  It is called "Sounds Fishy:  Mermaid Haikus and Wisdom" and is free--free--free!  A lovely handful of quasi-naughty haikus and my own illustrations...just for you!  Hopefully soon it'll be available for Kindle and Nook, etc. 

Now that I'm finished with that formatting joy, I'm in the process of putting together my own collection of short stories.  Right now, I have just over 34,000 words accumulated and I'll be adding a couple more stories.  I already have the cover concept done and am getting a few new beta readers lined up.  With any luck, I'll have a PDF to give them within a week or so.  Then I can get back into my novel.

Slimming is still a work in progress.  I  haven't gained, but I'm not losing big numbers each week like in the first cycle of The Shred.  At least I'm lo…

January is almost over...ooops!!

Hello there, Blog and Happy New Year!  This year has a lot in store for it and my head is already swimming...

First off, I need to announce that the Slimming is going very well.  Since April of 2011, I have lost 20 pounds.  It has been a long, sometimes difficult process, but I've got faith in myself that I can get down to my goal weight.  This is the ultimate birthday present to myself since nobody, and I mean nobody, can do this for me.  It feels very good.

Next, I need to say a huge thanks to everyone that has bought a copy of Haiku Horror Stories.  I'm humbled beyond words.  To celebrate, at the end of the month I will be giving away a free copy on my Facebook page.  By the way, I have an official page on Facebook so go ahead and like it if you would.

My Sketchbook Project got mailed in a smidge late, so I hope it makes it into the collection and they digitize it.  When it is available, I'll share the link here.  In the meantime, I am putting my own scanned copy into t…