For Erik Anderson, the Copenhagen line is his curse. He takes the train every night en route to collect souls. Like any lovelorn fool, he bargained his own long ago, and now pays the price—a lifetime of loneliness as a grim reaper. Stay distant—that’s been his mantra and what keeps him sane.
Until Mina Castner drops into his life like a whirlwind, one spilled drink leading to staying up until dawn with the woman. He believed one night couldn’t hurt, but he sorely underestimated her determination. Every encounter between them is a reprieve from the guilt of reaping souls every night, but it can’t last. Even if she sparks long buried feelings, and even if her sheer presence intoxicates him, he can’t let this continue. For humans, his touch is poison, and if he slips up, it could cost her life.
Guest Post: Prompt or No Prompt?
by Katherine McIntyre
My most recent release is a twisted fairytale, so you can already guess my opinion on using writing prompts. I love them. Not only do I appreciate the random ones found in writer groups and websites, but I adore submission calls for the same reason. While inspiration can hit randomly and I’ll discover an idea that’s burning inside me to write, I find using prompts is a useful tool for when you can’t.
Everyone’s different, as evidenced by the hundreds and thousands of written works out there, and part of the beauty of our variety as writers is the approach. So many offer a proven method, or state what works and doesn’t, but writing is such an organic, intrinsic process to each individual—which makes a lot of mandates and governances fall flat. One thing I will offer though, are reasons why using prompts can help, in case you’re on the fence, or stuck and looking for new options to try.
1. Prompts can herd inspirational thoughts, cutting through the chaos of our minds to provide channels for creativity. Oftentimes my head is too crammed with loose threads, images, feelings, and stray thoughts that interfere when I sit in front of a blank page to type a story. A prompt or a submission call gives me the focus and path I need to pull the gems from the baggage crowding out my brain. Really makes the mantra “there is no chaos, there is harmony” come to life. (Yes, I’m a huge Star Wars geek.)
2. For the plotters, guidelines can help you move past stretches of writer’s block. Have you ever worked on a story and just got stuck? You have no idea where the characters want to go next, or have no idea what will even happen at the end? It’s a paralyzing point—sometimes you move past it, and other times the idea gets scrapped. One of the lovely things about prompts and submission calls is that the structure can provide the necessary tools to move past it. If I’m stuck, it’s okay, because I know where I need to get to next. Though I’m less of a plotter and more of a fly in blindly and flail, I enjoy working with frameworks, like time-old fairytales, if only to subvert them into my own unique creation.
3. On a professional note, being able to respond to submission calls from publications and write your genre on command is a skill that you’ll only benefit from. A lot of my romance novellas have sprung out of submission calls from various publishers, and on top of increasing my writing repertoire, I’ve also expanded my horizons by making connections with different publishing groups and other writers in the field.
So if following down the path of submission calls and prompts will detract you from writing your next big novel, or the series that’s burning in your brain, obviously that road isn’t for you. However, if you’re itching to write something, or stuck on a story and need some inspiration? I’d highly recommend hitting your favorite writer website or checking out your dream publisher to see if they have submission calls out. After all, life’s short—why spend time staring at a blank page when you could be writing?
She rounded a corner, stepping onto the street where the club was located. The Hive stood out even from a couple of blocks away. Its glass-and-steel exterior was slick, and lights flashed on different floors, granting glimpses of the chaos inside. Like other top-notch places, this one didn’t advertise—no sign out front since the building was imposing enough. A strain of music filtered from it, but the noise was muted—she’d bet the inside was the opposite.
She wrinkled her nose as she got closer. Great. A line. My perfect Saturday night—waiting in a line to get into a loud room with blinding lights, blaring music, and sweaty guys. No thanks.
One glance at the people waiting to get inside and she wanted to turn around. Caked on makeup, glittery dresses, and overly gelled hair dominated the crowd, all part of a scene in which she didn’t fit. A slight breeze carried the cloud of perfume teeming around the line her way. She fought not to gag.
Strands of her auburn-dyed hair kept slipping from her bun and trailing along her shoulders. Why did I even bother doing my hair? Once I get inside, the sheer heat from the place will frizz it out. Mina sighed, trying to calm her frazzled nerves. This is why I don’t date.
Up ahead, the bouncers were either admitting people or turning them away at the door. She joined the end of the line, checking her phone while she waited. He was already inside. Joy. Too late to suggest a detour to a coffee shop instead.
A man tall enough to stand out approached the entrance. With hoops in his eyebrows, ears, and, chances were, elsewhere, too, he didn’t mesh with the rest of the crowd. Nor was he wearing a polo or suit, the type of club attire the rest of these guys wore. Instead, his sleeveless, fitted hoodie made an impression of its own as did his tailored black pants, which were accented by his leather stompers. Even in a sack, the man would’ve looked good. When the guy opened the club door, the bouncers didn’t even give him a second glance. Seems they know their regulars.
She hoped her date stacked up. The line moved forward a couple of paces, and she crossed her arms over her chest. This was going to be a long night.
About the Author & Links:
A modern day Renaissance-woman, Katherine McIntyre has learned soapmaking, beer brewing, tea blending, and most recently roasting coffee. Most of which make sure she’s hydrated and bathed while she spends the rest of her time writing. With a desire to travel and more imagination than she knows what to do with, all the stories jumping around in her head led to the logical route of jotting them down on paper. Not only can her poetry and prose be found in different magazines, but she’s had an array of novels and novellas published through Decadent Publishing, Boroughs Publishing, Hazardous Press, and Jupiter Gardens Press. For more casual content, she’s a regular contributor on CaffeineCrew.com, a geek news website.