Sunday, September 23, 2012

Welcome To Moonridge

I'd like to take a moment to introduce the small fictional town of Moonridge, located in Ohio. In my series "Moonridge Memories", the town of Moonridge is both the background setting as well as a bit of a scapegoat for some of the horrible things that happen there. The main character of the series, Theresa, often reflects on the state of the town and in turn, the people who live there. I always wanted to write a book or a series where a town is almost a character unto itself, and although it's not very uncommon in horror fiction, I haven't really seen it done in mainstream least not that I can recall. I often wondered if it was too much of a stretch to make a town almost its own entity, but it occurred to me that there are cities and towns in real life that seem to have their own heartbeat and personality.

First, allow me to give a little bit of history of how Moonridge came to be in my mind. When I was brainstorming for the "Moonridge Memories" series when I was a teenager, I drew a lot from aspects of my life and the things I knew well, as many writers do. After all, this was my first book, and I didn't want to overwhelm myself with trying to write a novel about places and people and things that I would have to heavily research. So, one of the most basic elements a writer needs before beginning their work is a setting. I knew I wanted to set the book(s) in a town that had a lot of history and was sort of old-fashioned, almost antiquated. This led me to the city I was born in and still have a great love for: Cincinnati.

I lived in Cincinnati until I was two years-old, before my family moved to Florida. Sadly, I don't recall living in Cincinnati, but every year my family would take a trip back there when I was a kid. Because Cincinnati was a vacation spot for me and very different from any city I've lived in in Florida, it had an almost magical quality to it. It was so rich in history, and all the homes and businesses were old and had a lot of character to them. Although Cincinnati is far from being a small town, it always felt like there was a sense of familiarity among the people who lived there. Both of my parents were born and raised in Cincinnati, so I feel like that's still where my roots are and my home away from home. When I was young, I often longed to live there and be near family and feel connected to my roots. So, when I sat down to write the "Moonridge Memories" series, I knew I wanted that for my characters, for better or for worse. In Theresa's case, she complains about the town and often longs to leave it, but really, she has a deep rooted loyalty to the town she grew up in, and it is home for her, despite all the horrible memories that dwell there.

I wanted Moonridge to be a living, breathing entity even if it is only in the background of the story. As the series progresses, there is this sense that the town is cursed when terrible events keep happening. I think of the town as being haunted by the tragedies of the past, and this leaves the residents in a pretty bad state of mind, which only perpetuates the dreadful events that plague the town.

Fun fact: the town of "Moonridge" was named after a street in Cincinnati by the same name.

So, there you have it! A little bit of insight into the "making of" Moonridge, Ohio. Consider checking out the first book in the "Moonridge Memories" series: Dog Days of Summer

And book two, "Leaves In Autumn", will be out next month!

Friday, September 14, 2012

How It Really All Began

About a week ago, I was thinking about the question, "When did you start writing?", and I realized my kneejerk response is always "At the age of 13, when I wrote my first novel." And although I believe that is when my true lifelong passion began, I suddenly had a memory of the third grade when my class was making accordian-style books. The memory is vague, but as I recall, we were allowed to make extra books for extra credit or some sort of reward. I can't remember how many I made, but I kept churning them out and ended up having the most in the class, I think somewhere between 10-15 books. I wish I still had at least one of them to show off, because this memory made me realize that writing has always been a part of me, even before I really gave it any thought or any real importance.

My third grade memory made me dig a little more into the dusty recesses of my mind, and I remember now that I used to write short stories in fourth grade as well, usually when I was supposed to be paying attention in class. Even then, writing was an escape.

When I got to middle school, life became very difficult for me. I had a hard time adjusting to the new school environment, and I felt childhood slowly slipping out of my grasp. I was teased mercilessly by my peers and didn't really have any close friends, and I developed a lot anxiety which pretty much made me depressed all the time. At eleven years old, I felt hopeless and suicidal. I turned to writing to help me through it, because I felt like it was the only way I could really express myself. I ended up writing a lot of depressing poetry and morbid short stories, just as a way of getting all that hurt and anger and fear out of me. I still have trouble thinking about that time in my life, and that's probably why I never talk about my writing from before I was thirteen.

As a bit of a side note, I remember everyday when my mom would drive me to middle school, I would see that old gray building looming in front of me, and I would have these vivid imaginings of watching the school burn down. It looked and felt like a prison to me, and I just wanted it to go away. A few years ago, they did actually tear my old middle school down and rebuilt it from scratch. For me, it was like seeing hell destroyed, and it gave me some closure. It's a bit surreal though when I have nightmares about that school, and I wake up and realize I'll never set foot in that building again because it doesn't exist anymore.

Anyway, when I started this blog post, I had no intention of delving into that time in my life, but it's been oddly therapeutic. I often wonder if I hadn't been able to express myself through writing, if I'd even still be here today. And on that note, I want to leave you with a poem I wrote during that time in my life. This hasn't been edited, and was copied down just as it had been written at the time.

"Into Your Heart"

They laugh in my face
And slow down my pace
Then I cry all through the night

I lay down in pain
Then go insane
Never winning the fight

Oh why can't they tell
This is the hell
I suffer through everyday?

Are they too blind to see
I'm in misery
I'm lost, alone, and afraid?

If life is a gift,
what is with this?
Why must I pray for death?

If I'm left here to suffer
and strength I must muster
Why do they call this the best?

I'm supposed to have peace,
where's my release?
Why has my soul been bruised?

When I grow up,
will the sun show up
And chase away my sorrows and blues?

But what of today
what can I say
As they kick me and treat me like dirt?

Should I hold my head high
keep my tears inside
And pretend that I am not hurt?

I just can't be that strong
All this wrong
Why must they fill me with hate?

Where are the adults
This is their fault
why can't they ever relate?

So, please, oh Lord
I just can't afford,
to go on while they stand still.

Help me to show them
I just can't forgive them
if they go on crushing my will.

So here are my prayers
they have many layers,
But it's truth from the very start.

I hope you can hear
the fall of my tears
and enter me into your heart.
Copyright, L.M. Pfalz

Aaaaand We're Back!

I haven't updated my blog in several days, and that's because my keyboard broke. Ugh! So I promptly ordered a new one and it arrived yesterday. Still getting used to the slightly different layout and the amount of pressure the keys require. I was making do with the On Screen Keyboard all week but didn't have the patience to type up a blog post with it, so forgive the lack of updates! I'll be blogging regularly again now.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Amazon Genres

Boy, I feel like an idiot right now. It's always bugged me when browsing through books on Amazon that the product pages don't list the genre of books. Sure, usually the cover and blurb are enough to tell me the genre but not always. I even emailed Amazon requesting they add the information. Little did I know, the information is there! If you scroll all the way to the bottom of a book's product page, the genre(s) is listed. Now seriously, has that always been there? Am I THAT unobservant? Oh well. I guess I should just be glad I noticed it at all ;)