The Vibrant Effusive Creative Spark

“When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into_ 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.”
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

Creativity is a strange, nebulous thing — shifting between vast emptiness and the glorious noctilucence of starlight.

I’m currently in a state of vibrance, and Neil Gaiman’s quote about writing novels has never felt more appropriate. The world at large is facing massive challenges (to put it lightly) on a number of fronts, struggles that should be acknowledged and addressed — but, hey, I’m also in a state of vibrant creativity, so as far as my brain goes, it’s not all bad.

Here’s a few of the news and projects that have me in a state of joy right now:

• My chapbook, Twelve: Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale (forthcoming from Interstellar Flight Press) has been up on NetGalley for a few weeks now — and the responses coming in have been mostly positive, such as this lovely review.

• For a long time, I’ve wanted to have my own places to write about horror movies, TV shows, video games, and dark lore. Although I’ve written about some of those things here, I’m finding it a bit too cluttered and I would like this blog to be dedicated to books and writing. Thus, I’ve finally created Once Upon the Weird, a place for all things unsettling and strange. A website is in the works, but in the meantime I’ve launched a newsletter (first issue to go out tomorrow). I’m honored by the early response. Thank you to everyone who has already subscribed.

• I’ve returned to working on my YA apocalyptic horror novel (which I started in November), progressing into the third act. A part of me feels like this should be the final section of the book, another part wonders if I need to explore the characters more before I wrap up. But the important bit is that the work is progressing and I’m feeling good about where it’s going.

• I’m starting work on a new horror movie script idea that swooped in and smacked me upside the head. Last week, I cleared my bedroom story board so that I could start putting up characters, scenes ideas, and other notes in order to begin preliminary work on the script. Movie scripts are such a different and interesting beast from any other kind of writing, and I’m fascinated by the unique challenge.

• Another new horror novel idea also came to me in the form of a Stephen King-esque nightmare, in which a girl with psychic powers takes up residence in a small town, where there’s a haunted apartment block. The idea is in the early, early stages, but I’ve started taking notes and have even dropped down a few loose scenes. This may be what I work on after I finish my current novel.

And that’s just to name a few ideas and projects that are in progress right now.

Moments of creative flight can be fleeting. Just as quickly as creativity floats into view, it can drift away again. I’m attempting to seize the moment and engage with the work as much as possible while this spark is present in my life.

As I’m in abundance, I send this blessing out to you, friends. May your creativity spark with new life, may it thrive and grow, may it cultivate and bear fruit. May your art, your words, your craft, your cooking, your endeavors gather and linger in your days and fill you with joy.


This was first published in A Seed to Hatch, my newsletter on the writing life and things writers might find interesting. If you enjoyed reading this, please check it out and subscribe.

Tools for When You’re Feeling Creatively Blocked

It can be hard to put words on the page at the best of time. The inner critic can rear its head, bringing on self-doubt and uncertainty, which leads to a feeling that many people call writer’s block.

However, these are not the best of times. Many folks have been shut in at home due to shelter-in-place orders, which might seem an ideal situation to increase productivity and get writing done. Instead, increased feelings of stress, uncertainty, and depression can make it harder to be creative, compounding the problem.

My own writing process has been hit or miss over the past few weeks, with stretches of no writing being marked with sudden bursts of creativity. Since I’ve been dealing with my own ambiguous feelings towards being creative, I thought I’d share a few tools or methods I use to address the feeling of being blocked when it comes up.

Not all of these ideas are going to work for everyone, so feel free to use or discard them as you see fit.

Continue reading “Tools for When You’re Feeling Creatively Blocked”

A Bit of Good News

Twelve: Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale

Days pass strangely of late. I move through the rooms of my house in all the normal ways — eat food, watch TV, work, read, or clean — and yet there’s an oddness in every peripheral.

Time passes — quick, quick, slow.

Nothing is normal — and it’s hard to know how to feel when nothing is normal.

Today, I get to announce the wonderful news that Twelve, my chapbook of prose poems based on “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” will be published by Interstellar Flight Press later this year.

I’m delighted — of course I’m delighted. Though some small part of me wonders if, considering everything that’s going on in the world, all the stress and doubt and fear, whether I should be subdued in my excitement, more respectful of those who are struggling right now.

But here’s the thing, I think the world needs good news. It needs victories great and small. It needs celebration in whatever small spades that life can offer.

So, I’m thrilled and excited and overjoyed to announce that I have a chapbook coming out this year. The cover is beautiful with art by Yana Germann and the layout is stunning. In fact, when I first saw the combination of fonts and illustrations combined together with the words I wrote, it was so beautiful I started to cry. It feels like a “real” book. And I’m so grateful for the amazing work that Holly Lyn Walrath and her team has done to make Twelve into the best possible book it can be.

I’m also overjoyed that folks whom I respect in the poetry community have also said lovely things about Twelve.

“Andrea Blythe’s collection of the retold (and often feminist) Brothers Grimm fairytale, ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses,’ is a breath of air at the bottom of the ocean. It’s not only fresh, but it’s so different and unique that it deserves multiple reads. One of my favorite lines in the book is also something we should all ask ourselves, ‘Do you mean it?’” — Joanna C. Valente, author of Marys of the Sea and editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault

“Hearkening back to when Grimms’ tales were less fairy, more formidable, Andrea Blythe offers a rhythmic, alliterative retelling of traditional stories that reveal a stark imbalance between genders. An engaging and eerie tribute to the young girls and women who read, dance, and keep things clean, Twelve does exactly what her storyteller suggests of her characters: it ‘see[s] the truth beneath the pretty surface.’” — Christina M. Rau, author of the Elgin Award winning Liberating The Astronauts

Twelve will be published on September 7th. Pre-orders for Twelve will open up around June.

For those interested in receiving a digital review copy of Twelve for review, the chapbook is now available at Net Galley.

I have no idea what the world is going to looks like a year from now, a month, a week, tomorrow — but I do know this: I have a collection poetry forthcoming. It’s a collection I’m proud of, and I’m elated to be able to share it with the world.

Do you have any victories to share? Any good news big or small? I would love to hear about it and join you in the celebration.


This was first published in A Seed to Hatch, my newsletter on the writing life and things writers might find interesting. If you enjoyed reading this, please check it out and subscribe.

Culture Consumption: April 2020

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, games, and podcasts.

Books

Shutter by Courney AlamedaAs I mentioned last month, I was struggling a bit with reading — until I switched away from the book I was struggling with to read Shutter by Courtney Alameda instead. It was the perfect choice.

Shutter is a a fun YA horror novel about teenagers battling ghosts and other evils. Micheline Helsing is one of the last descendants of Van Helsing, who uses a combination of guns, knives, and a uniquely rigged camera to destroy monsters and exorcise ghosts. When she takes on ghost hunt that turns out to be too much to manager, Micheline and her crew of fellow junior agents find themselves all cursed, fated to die if they can’t find a way to break the soul chains that bind them.

The characters are smart and skilled, and yet still young enough to make mistakes. One of the things I appreciate was how the story handled its elements of romance. The affection between Micheline and Ryder comes from years of growing up together and a sense of earned-respect from working side-by-side in the heat of battle. It feels natural and genuine that they would fall for each other — the only obstacle being Micheline’s father and his expectations for the kind of person she should marry in order to continue to the Helsing line. It makes sense in the context of the world in which they exist and feels natural.

On the whole, this book features a nice blend of action, horror, and teenage romance — making for a fun, quick paced read and the perfect escape.

Sealed by Naomi BoothAnother great (though very different) read this month was Sealed by Naomi Booth. Set in rural Australia, Sealed is a psychological body horror novel. Much of the tension is driven by the anxieties of the main character Alice, who is heavily pregnant and her fears about rumors of a bizarre disease that seals people within their own skins. When her obsession with the disease nearly threatens her government job, Alice and her boyfriend Pete (who I find annoying) travel to the countryside in search of solitude and safety. But Alice still sees signs of the disease all around her and she increasingly questions whether they made the right decision.

This book is brilliant in the way it slowly builds uncertainty and tension. The world Alice and Pete inhabits is frightening even without the threat of this new disease, between concerns of poverty, privately controlled social services, and environmental pollution. However, the overshadowing threat of this skin-sealing disease and Alice’s distrust what lies beneath the skin of her pregnant belly amps everything up. It’s a brilliant novel, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from Booth.

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: April 2020”