They Tore Down the Zombie Car Wash

That old chestnut “write what you know” is one that I adhere to in a very broad way. I know the story. I know the characters. Anything I don’t know, I can learn later. Then I’ll know it for next time.

However, sometimes I take that advice more literally and write what I actually know. Like working in customer service. And I frequently set stories in my hometown. Now, the people who live here would probably argue that there’s nothing about this small town in the middle of a cornfield that’s worth writing about, but to the people who don’t live here, it’s an exotic locale.

Only a handful of people that I know who also know this town actually read my stories. In most cases, my friends who don’t read my work don’t read it because I don’t write what they like to read (a far from exclusive club since strangers feel the same way). So, there are only a few people who can actually pick out the real locations I’ve used in stories.

One of those locations is the Zombie Car Wash.

It wasn’t always called that, though.

It was an actual car wash (that I always used despite the other two in town) that happened to be down the street from the grocery store. There were only three stalls, two vacuums, and the back lot was lined with trees. Despite being able to see the rear lot of the grocery store right across the street and the house next door, it felt weirdly secluded. It was a great spot. I loved it.

I loved it so much that I made it the opening scene in my short story “Another Deadly Weapon”, which I published in the short story collection Yearly. I didn’t think much about it at the time until one of my friends, Natalie, read the story and it ended up scarring her for life.

You see, if you parked on the east side of the grocery store parking lot, you could see the car wash that I used in the beginning of the story. So, whenever Natalie went to the grocery store and would see the car wash, she’d half-expect to see a zombie stumble out of one of the stalls over there. She couldn’t not think of the story when she was there.

A compliment, indeed.

And it also led to us calling it the Zombie Car Wash.

So imagine my heartbreak when I turned down the road to go to the grocery store one day and saw the stalls down, the vacuums gone, and the lot empty. A landmark gone. It wasn’t just my preferred place to rinse the rural off of my vehicle; it was also a standing reminder that once upon a time I actually wrote something that someone couldn’t get out of their head.

At least the Zombie Car Wash will live forever in “Another Deadly Weapon”. So, if you haven’t read it yet, do so. And if you have read it, read it again.

In loving memory.

“How’s the Writing Going?”

Let’s be clear: asking me this question even in the best of times is assault. Because we all know that you don’t really care how the writing is going. You’re just being polite. It’s up there with “What are you working on?” You don’t care. It’s just a polite question you ask before launching into a long story about your much more interesting life.

However, in the current bad times, asking me this question is now felony assault. Because it ain’t going great. And I don’t want to talk about that with someone who doesn’t actually care.

I was struggling with my writing before this endless panini, before the routine exasperation of telling people to put their masks on, before the constant stress of being forever understaffed at the library. I’ve been struggling for a while and baby, it ain’t necessarily getting better.

Blogging consistently is a challenge. That I’ve managed to put out two blog posts a week for two different sites for the last couple of months is nothing short of a miracle. Writing 1,000 word flash fiction stories for Patreon has been the extent of my fiction writing outside of NaNo in the past few years. And this year’s NaNo is looming and I’m looking at it with dread because I don’t know if I can do it. I’ve tried everything to get my fiction flow back and the dam is still in place, only letting through a trickle.

I’m still getting ideas, though not at the same pace that I used to. Just the other day I got a random idea for something that would be a fun film script. I jotted it down and I hope that one day I find enough mojo to at least outline it.

I miss fiction writing. I miss that buzz, that sensation of getting lost in my work, surfacing an hour later like I’d been swimming with mermaids and that first gasp of air reminds me that I’m human and I’ve just done something incredible. I’ve had fleeting bits of that, but nothing like it used to be. It makes me sad.

It’s not like I’m not writing at all or that I don’t like the writing that I am doing. I like doing the blog posts. I’m rediscovering my joy in that. I like doing the Rerun Junkie posts over at aka Kiki Writes, even if they can be a bit involved. I’d love to do a pop culture book one day. I really would. And I like running off at the mouth here about whatever. I like doing the scripts for the library’s podcast. Podcasting in general has become a big way I spend my time now. There’s not as much writing involved in Book ’em, Danno, but there is some.

It’s not like I’m not living up to my name. Kiki is still writing. I’m just not writing what I thought I’d be writing. I’m not being KikiWrites the way I thought I’d be. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe this is all part of the evolution of my writing existence and one day I’ll get to come back to fiction writing as my main thing. But for now, it’s not.

So, how’s the writing going?

Not the way I’d planned.

But it’s going okay.

Welcome to Kiki Writes About

As the name implies, this is where I write about…whatever. Myself, life, writing, sexuality, weight, my random issues and obsessions, if it comes into my head, I may just put it into words here.

If you’re looking for my fiction, you’ll find everything on Read Me. Everything I’ve published (either traditionally or self) is there. If you’d like to be convinced that I’m worth your time and money, check out the Writing for Tips section. It’s all of my free short stories. However, if you read a few and decide you like them, feel free to buy me a coffee over on Ko-Fi.

Murderville is my Patreon project. It wrapped up in 2021, but watch this space. There could be a new project coming soon.

If you’re looking for my podcast ventures, like Book ’em, Danno, or my ramblings on reruns, you’ll want to check out aka KikiWrites.

So, kick back and enjoy some words.

They could be about anything.

July Writing Projects

I thought I’d be done with the revisions on The End of the (Werewolf) Curse by the end of June, but I severely underestimated the amount of rewriting necessary to finish it. I’ve got less than thirty written pages and a few more rewritten chapters to go, so I’ll be wrapping that up this month.

And then that’s it.

I’ve decided to take a break from writing for now.

I don’t know how long the break will last or what it will look like exactly. My inability to completely stop writing is known. But what I’ve been doing for the last year (and actually the last few years, if we’re going to be honest) isn’t working for me anymore. I need some time to just exist and see what happens. Because right now, I’m not going anywhere.

I do feel another site redesign coming in the very near future. I’ve got some ideas I’ve been sitting on and I think they’re about ready to hatch.

But you can still enjoy the fruits of my labors!

Episode 7 of Murderville: So Long, Neighbor will go live on July 13th. It’s the second to last episode of the last season of Murderville, so become a patron before the fun runs out. $1 an episode let’s you read. $2 an episode gets you a sweet bonus every other month.

The season finale of Season 2 of Book ’em, Danno will go live at the end of the month. In the meantime, enjoy episode 25 and all of the previous episodes as well. Then do all the things you do to show love to a podcast. Let this be the summer of podcast love.

June Writing Projects

It should be no surprise that I didn’t finish revising The End of the (Werewolf) Curse in May. I’m almost half-way through the manuscript, so it’s entirely reasonable to assume I’ll have it done this month.

Yes, I know. Best laid plans.

The thing is that I’m really enjoying taking my time with this. I haven’t looked at this manuscript for about three years. This round of revisions is going to take a few heavy rewrites to make the changes I want that I think will improve it. I really like this story and I want to take my time with it. Maybe reacquaint myself with a time when I used to be good at this.

Speaking of being good, I submitted a couple of poems to the Writer’s Digest Annual Contest at the beginning of May and then a couple of weeks later got the rejection from the 100 Word Story Contest I entered last September. Sunrise, sunset. One day I’ll feel that victory high again.

Maybe.

Season 5 of Murderville is quickly coming to a close. The next episode of So Long, Neighbor goes live June 8th. There’s not a lot of time left to become a patron. $1 an episode lets you read. $2 an episode also gets you a sweet bonus, like the one due on June 22nd. Don’t miss out!

 

Season 2 of Book ’em, Danno is also winding down. Episode 25 should go live at the end of the month. In the meantime, entertain yourself with the most recent episode, which was just released at the end of May. Or entertain yourself with past episodes. Hell, go back to the beginning! I’m not the boss of you. Listen, like, subscribe, share, comment, love, and enjoy.

May Writing Projects

Since I managed to write a few decent poems last month, and since I also found some even more decent poems that I’d written previously, I’m going to submit those to the Annual Writer’s Digest Contest. I don’t expect anything to come of it, but I’m in the mood to waste some entry fees.

In addition to this questionable decision, I’m going to go back to the Outskirts Universe and do another revision on The End of the (Werewolf) Curse. In theory, I would like to be done with all three of the Outskirts novels one day and the only way I can do that is if I actually revise them. To Tell The (Conjurer’s) Truth needs a heavy rewrite and I should do it first, but quite frankly, I’m procrastinating on it because I know the amount of work it needs and I don’t feel like it. So, I’ll do this one first and then see how I feel.

I’m also ruminating over what to do with my Patreon after Murderville ends. Do I want to do anything with it? It’s kind of nice having a dedicated project that I get paid for, but at this point in my existence, I’m not sure what I’d want that new project to be. Another writing project? Something more in line with podcasting? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions at this point. But I’m thinking about them.

I’m also thinking about Episode 5 of So Long, Neighbor, which goes live on May 11th. Become a patron now just in time to bid farewell to Murderville. $1 an episode lets you read, $2 an episode lets you read and gets you a sweet bonus every other month. It’s not too late to see how it all ends.

Episode 24 of Book ’em, Danno will go live at the end of the month, but you can pass the time by listening to an extra long Episode 23. Dan Budnik joined me to talk about “Cry, Lie” and “Most Likely to Murder” and I can assure you that there’s enough fashion discussion and facial hair talk for everyone. Give it a listen and then go give Dan a listen over at Eventually Supertrain, which contains all of his wonderful podcasts.

April Writing Projects

Last month I managed to finish the sixth (?) revision of (Vampires) Made in America. In a perfect world, I’ll be done with this manuscript and I’ll be able to send it out to agents. But I don’t reside in perfection, so. It’s entirely possible that I am done with it. I just don’t know what I’m going to do with it. I should probably try researching agents again, but that’s another struggle. One I’m not in the mood for at present.

Instead, since it’s April, I’m going to be working on some poetry. Not a poem a day, like I’ve done before, but there are some poems that I’ve been wanting to work on and I’ve been putting them off because I’ve had other things to do.

I like writing poetry even though I’m not good at it (as my poor $2 patrons well know). It’s a nice creative exercise for me, using words in a different way. I don’t know that it’s helped my prose, but it’s a nice break from it.

The big Writer’s Digest Writing Competition is looming again. I’ve placed tenth in genre fiction and fifth in scripts. I’m really thinking about entering something again. Maybe a couple of poems. I’m always seeking to recapture my second place in state glory. Maybe something else. I know there’s not a lot of time before the deadline, but I’ve done that before. Granted, I’ve never done it while completely lethargic and lacking motivation, but hey, what’s a little challenge, right?

And how about the challenge of the last season of Murderville? Episode four of So Long, Neighbor goes live on April 13th, so become a patron now. $1 an episode lets you read. $2 an episode gets you a sweet bonus every other month, like the one going live on April 27th. Yeah, it’ll probably be a poem. Sorry.

Episode 22 of Book ’em, Danno just went live at the end of March and Episode 23 will happen at the end of this month. A special guest will be joining me. So, while you wait in trembling anticipation, give a listen and then do all the things -like, subscribe, rate, review, share, follow, whatever- to show a little love.

March Writing Projects

Last month I decided to do a couple of minor fixes on a few projects. I fixed my issues with the Ivy Russell novellas. And I sort of did the minor revision on (Vampires) Made in America, which I suspected I had already done, and I kind of had, but this just clarified it further. I think. I hope.

But since I’ve already done the minor fix on the manuscript, I might as well give it another once over, just to see if there’s anything else that needs tweaking. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be lucky enough to call it the final revision.

After that…who knows?

Speaking of an uncertain future, I have no idea what’s going to happen to my Patreon after the final season of Murderville, but I do know that right now, it is the place to be. Episode 3 of So Long, Neighbor goes live on March 9th. Become a patron just in time for the send off. $1 an episode lets you read; $2 an episode let’s read and gets you a sweet bonus.

The latest ep of Book ’em, Danno just went live and the next ep is due at the end of the month. Episode 21 features three season 2 episodes of Hawaii Five-O. What three? Is that a trick? Yeah, it kind of is. But you’ll only understand the magic if you listen. Also like, subscribe, favorite, share, and otherwise show a little love. My ego needs the boost.

 

Fixing Ivy

I wrote the first Ivy Russell novella, Cheaters and Chupacabras, back in the early 2010s. I self-published it and then ended up writing three sequels, The Timeless Man, The Odd Section of Town, and Firebugs and Other Insects. Instead of publishing those three individually, I just put all four Ivy Russell novellas together in a big omnibus and published them together. And like most of the things I write and then publish, I moved on to the next project and didn’t give it much more thought.

Until I did.

There’s a character in the novellas named Riley who’s a trans man. I tried to be as mindful as possible when writing this character, but as hard as I tried, some of the language and character bits just didn’t age well. They didn’t completely molder into unintentional transphobia, but they definitely wilted into failed ally intentions.

I’ve been debating for a while about whether or not to update those parts. Part of it is my own laziness, but the bigger part was the idea of leaving it as is as part of the bigger overarching display of how my writing in general has grown. That yes, even I make mistakes despite my good intentions of including the character.

In the end, my own discomfort with leaving it as it was knowing I could -and should- do better won out and I did some mild rewrites of those parts. To ensure that everything flowed together okay, I ended up rereading all four novellas in the course of a week.

Which challenged me in a different way. In addition to my laziness telling me it would be a lot of work to fix the Riley parts (it took less than an hour), I was worried that once I started looking, I’d be fixing all sorts of things. This wording, that little comma that no one else would notice, tweak that bit of description, etc. And though I did end up fixing some egregious mistakes that I missed during my initial proofing (it’s tough being a one-person show) and made another minor change to more accurately reflect the culture of a different character (a Hawaiian man nicknamed Sweet Pea), I left the rest of it alone, despite my overwhelming urge to fix it all.

Because even with the Riley issue (and to a smaller extent, the Sweet Pea issue) fixed, the novellas still illustrate how I’ve grown as a writer.

Even if some of that growth is kind of embarrassing and awkward and painful to read.

February Writing Projects

I spent a day or two in the month of January staring at the list of writing projects I have that are in various stages, from ideas to drafts to revisions to finished. The purpose of this is to touch base with all of the shit I have that needs to be worked on because I have a tendency to get both distracted by new ideas as well as hyper-focused on certain projects and either way, I end up forgetting that I have half-finished projects that need attention.

Once again I have to remind you to never do anything the way I do. I am terrible.

Anyway, as I glance at my own personal project hell, I’ve come up with a loose idea of what I’d like to work on during the year.

This month, I’m going to do what I hope to be a couple of little things.

First of all, I’m going to fix a couple of issues that have cropped up with the Ivy Russell novellas. While I love the stories, there’s something about a couple of them that hasn’t aged well. The character of Riley is transgender and even though I had the best of intentions when creating the character, certain aspects haven’t aged well and it’s been nagging at me for a while to fix them. Since they’re self-published, I have total control of fixing and uploading new manuscripts. And since they haven’t sold too many copies, I don’t have to worry about the change affecting too many people.

Second of all, I’ve been working on (Vampires) Made in America for years. I recently had an epiphany about a revision that needs to be made, so I’m going to work on that. The thing is, though, is that there is a possibility that I’ve already done this revision and what I really experienced is a flashback and not an epiphany. So, we’ll see! At any rate, I’ll be revisiting that manuscript yet again and hopefully, it will be for the last time.

But probably not.

However, we are hanging out in Murderville for the last time and the second episode of So Long, Neighbor goes live on February 9th. Not a patron? Now is the time to get in on the action. $1 an episode lets you read. $2 an episode you lets you read and you get a sweet bonus every other month, like the one going live on February 23rd.

Episode 20 of Book ’em, Danno just went live a few days ago and episode 22 should go live at the end of the month. I’m cruising through season 2 and have a blast doing it. Do check it out and then show some love. I shouldn’t be the only one having a good time, so subscribe and share and like and heart and telegraph. It’s all very much appreciated.