Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Power of Hidden Gems


Rockstar Jessica Bell has taken over my blog today.  
And I've taken over  HER BLOG!

We're both in and writing about the From Stage Door Shadows anthology.  



The cover is inspired by her short story. 


       When Jodi Cleghorn of eMergent Publishing asked if I would like to write a story for one of their speculative fiction anthologies, From Stage Door Shadows, I jumped at the chance. Not only because it was the first time anyone had ever actually solicited my writing (and I was damn excited), but because it was related to music—my specialty! But, I had never written speculative fiction before, so I was feeling a little angsty about that.

       Once the authors were finalized we were all sent the lyrics to the song the anthology is based on. But I was unlucky. I didn't get the prompt I wanted! And I panicked! Great, I thought. I have to write in a style I'm not familiar with and with a prompt that doesn't inspire me? My story is going to be bollocks ...

Blessing in disguise? Absolutely.

       My lyric prompt, from the song Tiny Dancer, was "LA Lady". So, I asked Jodi if I could be creative with it and give the acronym an alternative meaning, and she was all for it. So LA Lady in my story, entitled MUTED, stands for Lonely A Capella Lady, instead of a lady from Los Angeles.

       Immediately, upon Jodi's approval, I imagined a hearing-impaired and mute singer who became that way through corporal punishment. I saw translucent temperature-controlled bodysuits made from fetus membrane in her wardrobe, her old clothes hanging limp like dismembered joints, a black lace corset with layers of raw blue-grey silk and tulle fanning out into a skirt. I saw her performance before she was tortured and left to take orders in a totalitarian society. A cross between Maria Callas and Madonna, I thought—“the only woman to ever render an audience of 100,000 mute in seconds.”

Holy cow! Computer! Now!

       Within two hours I had an almost perfect draft of a story written in a genre I had never ever written in before. I had never felt so inspired in my life—and all from a prompt I didn't even want!

       What's my point here, you ask? Well, sometimes shitty things really are for the best. Sometimes we need to have faith that there are hidden gems embedded in our path. This was one such case. Since writing this story, eMergent Publishing have decided to re-release String Bridge this December (which went out of print when my publisher closed down), and they have also partnered with me and my Vine Leaves Literary Journal colleague, Dawn Ius, to bring out The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012. The opportunity to publish my next novel with them is also in the cards.

      MUTED was my hidden gem. And I haven't been the same since. Not only did the opportunity reaffirm the power of hard work (and luck), but it changed the way I view my writing, my world, and my career, for the better.


What events have acted as positive turning points in your life?


Jessica's links:
blog 

NEWS!



Jessica has good news for commenters.  
Her novel, now from eMergent Publishing, String Bridge is free today. 
 See Amazon! And help spread the word.  



Happy Halloween!  xo

52 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for having me today! Such a great idea to swap blogs! :-)

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  2. Really enjoyed this post and how you took something difficult and made it work for the good. I am headed over to Amazon to get your novel!

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  3. Yay for your hidden gem, Jessica!! Take care
    x

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  4. Awesome Jessica. Your post is really inspiring about how something can really open doors. Good luck with all the good things coming up for you.

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  5. So good to see you doing so well Jessica!! Great post on forging through and rising to the challenge!! Rock on!!

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    1. Hey where did you pop up from, Angela? Miss your face around the blogosphere!

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  6. There is no greater gift than the challenge that unleashes a writer's creativity. Congrats, Jess. I look forward to reading "Muted".

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  7. That is an inspiring story, Jessica. And I cannot rave enough about String Bridge. You write beautiful prose. Congrats on...everything!

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  8. Congratulations, Jessica!

    Aww, I love the idea of a lonely a cappella lady :-)

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  9. Sometimes shitty things are for the best - I dig that line!!

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  10. Hi Jess - such a great guest post - I'm so pleased String Bridge is being re-released .. and then the Anthology ... funny how things turn out. Love the thought of Lonely A Cappella Lady ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  11. It sounds like the story had a big impact. I love your description of it, especially "the only woman to ever render an audience of 100,000 mute in seconds."

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  12. I often find that when we're called to do something out of our comfort zone, like write for a different genre, it's often a moment to grow as a writer. Looks like your moment turned out great!

    Jai

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    1. Thanks, Jai. Yes, it definitely helped me to grow.

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  13. Wow! Sounds like quite the story! Isn't it wonderful when unexpected good comes out of something? Great to hear about your hidden gem :)

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  14. It is amazing to look back and see where our inspiration comes from! :)

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  15. I love that your prompt was Tiny Dancer. One of my fav songs ever.

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    1. I'm ashamed to say that I never appreciated the song much until this anthology!

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  16. The whole idea for this anthology was fabulous. Congrats, Jessica!

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  17. I love it when a story comes together like that. It's rare, but it's so awesome when it happens.

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    1. It is rare. And something I'll never forget.

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  18. I love when ideas twist and take you in a new direction! So awesome that your story coallesced (sp???) like that in such little time :)

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    1. LOL. Not sure I know the spelling of that without looking in a dictionary either!

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  19. *waves peace sign* Heyya Jess! We never know how something or someone can inspire us. Fantastical! :-)

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  20. Reading through this process was interesting. I believe in hidden gems, too.

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    1. My faith in them has certainly been restored.

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  21. Hi Jessica!

    Thanks for sharing about your process to how this story came about.

    All the best!

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  22. Wow! A cross between Maria Callas (one of my favorite opera stars) and Madonna! Now, that is an original character! :-) How great that you got that inspiration from something that at first you weren't drawn to. It really gives writers something to think about. A hidden gem indeed!

    PS: I've always liked "Tiny Dancer" too.

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    1. A Maria Callas fan, hey? Not many of those around anymore! Glad I'm in good company!

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  23. That's awesome news, Jessica. :D

    I'm not creative enough to write from a prompt. Though maybe next time I should think about the prompt while running. That will help get the ideas flowing.

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    1. I used to think that about myself too, Stina. Until I forced myself to try it. You'll be surprised at how different your work (and maybe better) it becomes!

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  24. EXCELLENT thoughts, Jessica! And you are so right--sometimes ultra shitty things ARE for the best!!!!

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  25. I so love your take on LA Lady. Pretty brilliant!

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  26. Oh my gosh, I absolutely love the imagery you saw when you got your story idea! It's amazing. It really makes me want to get my hand on the story.

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