Appalachian gothic fiction writer - my works reflect a love of literature flavored by the darkness and magic residing in these ancient mountains. In my spare time, I'm a Simmer, I tumbl, I journal, but I always have a very strange sense of humor. I have lived away from the mountains and lived deep in the mountains. I currently live in Central Kentucky with my lifepartner and his cat. The mountains, their culture, their superstitions, their particular magics, will always be in my blood.
Over the course of a life hard lived, the minder and the town and the mountain became as one, and no one ever left Harlan alive.
Country noir fits easily with horror. What is scarier than a long, dark shaft in an abandoned coal mine? Might our greed for the black stuff cause us to dig too deep? Might the violence on the surface go beyond the natural into the supernatural?
I was delighted to learn that Apex released a collection of short horror stories set in Harlan County, Kentucky (originally famous for the coal mine labor strife featured in Harlan County, USA and more recently famous as the setting for neo-Western Justified).
note: This is a guest post from author Stephen Zimmer
Writing can involve periods of feast or famine when it comes
to output, and many writers can find themselves in situations where they have
largely ceased to write and create.
During such times, it can take a lot for a writer to get back on the
wagon and start moving forward again.
The reasons for these periods of shutdown can take many
For writers who still have to maintain other jobs to pay the
bills, the demands of the workplace can become a primary reason as to why
output slows to a trickle or even stops.
Increased hours, new responsibilities, changes in shifts, relocation,
and many other things involving a regular job can conspire against a writer and
leave them too exhausted or with little available time.
At other times, “life happens” events can result in a
writer’s shutdown. From the needs of
children, to traumatic periods such as a death in a family, to the needs of a
spouse or significant other, a great number of things can crop up in an
unexpected fashion to shut a writer’s productivity down.
Then, there are more internal obstacles that can arise. Failure to reach a goal, such as a daily word
count goal or a target date for finishing a manuscript, can have such a
negative impact on a writer that they simply quit writing.
I have witnessed all of the above time and time again among
the writers I know and interact with.
No matter what the reason, getting back into the groove can
be a challenge. There is no
one-size-fits-all solution for writers who find themselves in this
situation. A writer must find what works
For myself, when I was in a really bad place following the
passing of my mother in 2013, it was the emergence of a new character and
accompanying story ideas that pulled me back into the writing chair. That character was Rayden Valkyrie, and the
ensuing novel Heart of a Lion. Taking on
something fresh and new gave me a clean slate to work in, which I think helped
to a great degree in helping my mind get back on track.
I think there are many other approaches to try. For the writer who might feel like a failure
due to falling short of meeting self-imposed word count or manuscript goals, I
would suggest setting aside those kinds of things and just focusing on writing
regularly, no matter the volume of output.
Even a couple hundred words a day will keep you in a rhythm and writing
mindset, something that is far more important than the volume of output on a
If unavoidable demands of life or work are getting in the
way, perhaps set your sights on finishing a shorter project, like a short story
or novella. Completing a project always
has a good effect on a writer’s outlook and self-esteem, and it can also help
mitigate friction that might build from resenting the job or elements in life
that are creating obstacles for you.
The good news is that a writer can get back on the wagon and
start moving forward right away. It does
not cost money, it only needs a little investment in time, and requires only
willpower. Reconnecting with the
creative elements within yourself will have the added benefit of positive
results in your outlook and approach to the other things in your life.
If you find yourself in an unproductive zone, do not
hesitate to take that step today. Once
you have accomplished that, then put your focus to one day at a time and you
will get back up on that wagon!
My blog is broken. It’s not supposed to be all one big column like this. It’s supposed to be a nice, orderly column with a header and a nice orderly sidebar. I’m not sure how it got broken, but the code has to be somewhere inside the sidebar. I’ll work it out. I miss my blog!
Hhmm … May no longer be completely borked … Nice! :fingers crossed:
I’ll be making the rounds all this week, promoting my occult detective collection, First Born, which is the opening chapter in my Liber Monstrorum Chronicles. As my appearances go live, I will update the blog roll accordingly.
Interviewing the biggest legend of them all, Gorias La Gaul, is a dream come true for Jessica, and she’s traveled quite a distance and lost several escorts along the way to meet Gorias in Segesta. The city is a stop along a route Gorias takes each year on a regular schedule. She’s an undergraduate scribe from Nineveh School, sent by Dr. Allard, a former instructor of Gorias’, in order to collect information for “a true transcript from [Gorias]” as “a valuable testament or an exciting chronicle for future generations” for posterity.
Gorias warns Jessica that his life and travels aren’t “a fantasy adventure, sweetheart” and goes on to tell her, “it’s horror, pure and simple.” To this she gives the simple reply, “I understand, Lord La Gaul,” truly not understanding what she’s gotten herself into.
The tales she collects are from of Gorias’ earliest days, back before he’d found his swords, to a time when a dragon needed killing. Tales back before his heart had hardened. Maybe. For a legend like Gorias La Gaul, even the past is up for debate. Along the way, they happen upon side adventures. Through these, and through the memories of Gorias she collects via stones called Eyes of the Dragon, she learns who Gorias really is. However, this doesn’t prepare her for the cold truth of his yearly, 600 mile pilgrimage.
Gorias La Gaul lives in three novels and in one collection – and this one isn’t to be missed. Through this adventure, through the little information he tells Jessica and through the Eyes of the Dragon stone, the reader learns more about the legend than we’ve known before. The reader is taken down into the gritty, ugly meat of what created the man who became the legend. For those readers who enjoy their fantasy infused with swords and madmen and a bit of sorcery, Born of Swords delivers these and more.
While I enjoyed this adventure very much, the narrative could have taken some extra editing. Most of the errors weren’t that jarring (misspellings, punctuation), but they were jarring enough to pull me from the story at times.
Steven L. Shrewsbury lives, works and writes in rural Central Illinois. Over 365 of his short stories have been published in print or digital media since the late 80s. His novels include Within, Philistine, Overkill, Hell Billy, Blood & Steel, Thrall, Stronger Than Death, Hawg, Tormentor and Godforsaken. Shrewsbury maintains a blog at https://sshrewsbury.wordpress.com and can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorstevenshrewsbury.
I give Born of Swords three out of five coffee cups.