About Me

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Mike Mehalek writes fast-paced lyrical books that can be enjoyed with one reading but have enough substance for re-reading. He brings stories to life that demand to be told, regardless of the hopes/dreams/fears/desires of his characters--the Story first--always the Story.

In 2008 Mike earned his masters degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University

Visit Mike on twitter @mikemehalek

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A New Blog Hop: The Liebster Award OR Ten Questions on my Work in Progress (WIP)

Lisa Arnseth of Writer by Day.Writer by Night. That’s Right. I Write (You should read her blog by the way) tagged me in a ten question blog hop called the Liebster award. This was done waaaaaaaay back in November. I apologize for the slow response time, but I’ve finally got it posted on my blog. 


What’s your WIP all about?
I’m currently calling this WIP the Lying Dog series (but that may change because I’m not in love with it). This series follows a young man by the name of Francis (Frankie), who suffers from Schizoaffective disorder, but Frankie has come to believe that the hallucinations he suffers are actually the thoughts of other people. When he sees bad things happening to people, especially children, he feels compelled to help.


Tell us something you love about your WIP’s main character.
Frankie is a complicated character. He is good at heart, deeply--some would say obsessively--loyal to his loved ones. He is a protector. The compulsion to help others is altruistic, but he is at least partly guided by his previous shortcomings and also by the choices he has made in the past (not helping when he could have). At times failing to help results in bouts of depression but just as often helping someone triggers a bout. You would think he is conflicted when he has to help, but he often finds himself stepping in before his brain has time to catch up. Frankie has a voice in his head, Adam, who offers advice (much of it unsolicited) to Frankie.  Adam is both the angel on Adam’s shoulder and the devil. Frankie is also aware of a spying presence in his head, a specter-voyeur who he occasionally speaks to directly. That phantom would be the reader.

Where do you usually write, and what has been the strangest location where you’ve managed to get some writing done?
I like to write in coffee shops or sandwich shops (read: Starbucks and Panera). I plug in my earbuds (and never, never, never connect to the Wi-Fi) and try to block out distraction. Liking crowds and avoiding distractions sounds like a contradiction, but I like having people around me while I write. I guess it partly serves as white noise, and I like the energy of people around me. Maybe I feed off that energy. Maybe I’m too easily distracted at home with TV and chores and my pug Bella . . . As far as strangest location? Hmm, I’d have to say that I used to scribble out ideas or story parts on cocktail napkins and old menus at a restaurant that I used to work in years ago. I’d scribble stories down in the downtime between tables. I still have those notes and once in a while refer back to them.

What song(s) inspire your WIP?
I listen to a lot of different things when I write. I find that I enjoy soundtracks because sometimes I will stop writing to listen to the lyrics. But lyrics also inspire me when I hit a wall in my writing. I like repetition and sometimes loop the same song. This is especially true for when I am trying to create a feeling in a scene that is the same emotion I feel in a particular song. For my published novel Only Human I used the Gattaca soundtrack as well as Scars by Papa Roach, Far Away by Nickelback, and I Can’t stop Lovin’ You by Van Halen. For Lying Dogs, in addition to Superman (both Five for Fighting and John Williams’ versions), Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones and We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel seem to be cropping up on my playlist as I write. Oh and The Teddy Bear Picnic inspired one of the series’ villains. Man, is that song creepy!

What was the first book you ever wrote and what was it about?
My first story was entitled “Dennis the Dinosaur.” I was seven, in Mrs. Martin’s first grade class. The story is surprisingly similar to Only Human. Instead of a dragon, it was a dinosaur (obviously named Dennis) that didn’t really fit in because he was so big (and a dinosaur). He befriends a boy, makes himself invisible, and goes to live in a museum. He lives happily, ever after.

If you saw your main character at a party, how would you react?
Is it just me or is it getting a little meta in here? If I saw Frankie, I would probably try to buy him a drink and let him know that what he does to help people is appreciated and not in vain.  I definitely would NOT let him know that all of the terrible things that has ever happened to him were the result of me writing him into existence.

Do you have experience with online contests, like Pitchwars, etc? Please tell us about it if you have.
At this point, I have not.

Who are two writers you would love to meet in real life?
I don’t know if I can just pick two. David Mitchell, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Agatha Christie, Neil Gaiman are the first names that come to mind.

What’s your biggest challenge with your WIP? Generally when I write I have a beginning or an end and I start with that. By the time that gets going, my subconscious or my muse or wherever it is where all stories are born and live and wait until us writers get around to writing them has delivered the other end of the story to me and I write that while the middle is packaged up and delivered to my fingertips to translate. Well, that connection seems to be taking an long time to get here. I’ve tried brainstorming and outlining and am about to send out a search party, but so far…no signs. That’s not entirely true. I think the solution lies in a happy middle ground between writing as I go and planning ahead. That, and also giving myself permission to make mistakes as I go. Having read how this story is structured, you can see I may have to eliminate elements or alter them into a viable story-telling manner…Time will tell.

Please share a favorite line from your WIP!

I’ll give you two, both of which could be contenders for opening lines. Both set the tone I think, but both are very different. Which do you prefer?
***
Do you like the smell of gasoline?
I’ve found that there are two people in this world. People who love the smell of gasoline, and those who hate it. Up until today, I’ve been rooted firmly in the camp of the former.
If I live long enough, past today specifically, I may reevaluate this stance.
Because love it or hate it, its pungent, synthetic odor will sure wake your ass up in one hell of a hurry. Let me tell you that.
Especially when you come to as buckets of the stuff are raining down on you.
***
High above the congregation, thin sheets of rain spiral down like failing stars through the heavy morning fog, bursting open upon the collars, scarves and umbrellas of the mourners, miniature bouquets of blooming flowers mirroring those arranged peacefully on the heavy bronze coffin. . . .Suddenly, a gust of wind rips the pastor’s peacoat open, tearing his prayer book from his grasp.  It sails for a moment like a wraith before crashing to the wet earth.  As he bends to retrieve it, a gentle roar of far away thunder adds its rumble to the tolling of the bells.  The rain comes down with stinging force now, hammering liquid nails into skin.
The woman sits straight up and holds her wrinkled paws in front of her face for a moment.  It is as if she is seeing them for the first time.
It is as if the rain had awoken her from a wonderful dream.



Now it’s my turn to write ten questions and tag some writers to play along.

  1. Where did the idea for your current Work-in-Progress (WIP) come from?
  2. Quote a favorite line from one of your favorite books.
  3. Now quote your favorite line from your current WIP
  4. What unique challenges has your current WIP had that your previous ones did not?
  5. If you saw your main character at a party, how would you react?
  6. Who would play your main protagonist/antagonist if your current WIP were made into a movie?
  7.  What are your biggest inspirations for writing?
  8. Summarize your WIP as a haiku.
  9. What role does music play in your writing?
  10. What’s one thing you’ve learned about the craft that you wish you had learned earlier?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kicking Off National LGBT Month with a Story, a Pledge, and a Dragon (And Why I Need Your Help)

Hello Trickyverse,

Thank you for Coming out to a special edition of Writing is Tricky.  Today, October 1, marks the start of the 20th anniversary of LGBT History Month. Its intent (summed up nicely from Wikipedia) is “to encourage honesty and openness about being LGBT.” 

There are quite a few milestones in LGBT history, but the day that I most enjoy is October 11: National Coming Out Day

This reason this day resonates for me is because it is a day of both recognition and of action. It is a day, where those of us struggling with our sexual orientation/identity are not only reminded that others came before us but also that we are not alone. We are not outcasts. We are not ugly things, grisly things, disgusting things, undeserving of decency, respect, or a basic right to love who we want to love, or even to love ourselves. It’s a day where our community, including our closest friends and allies, step forward to say: You are you, you are human, and you are beautiful but most importantly, you are never alone.

Coming out is not an easy thing. We hear gay jokes, religious-misinformed rhetoric, and some equally shocking things from the mouths of those we feel closest to when they think no one will hear. For me, I sometimes feel like I had it easy. Most of my family supported me, even if most of them didn’t always understand what it meant having a gay cousin, brother, uncle--back when it was new. Just having that support, knowing that I always had a place to go, seeing their courage, gave me (and still gives me) strength.
 
Not everyone has had a family or the support that I have had, but luckily, there are now programs out there that didn’t exist years ago, or at least they didn’t exist in the tiny neck of the woods where this little magician grew up.

I know I just said coming out was not easy.  Scary is a closer word to the feeling. Terrified is closer still. Back then, I worried about my life, my morality, my soul (not to mention fearing retribution with a tire iron for finally being honest about who I was).

Knowing where I grew up and knowing that I would not be here today without the love and support I had (seriously, I despised myself back then) . . .

. . .I will be donating all of my royalties from my novel Only Human, purchased from Amazon (Kindle version or paperback) for the month of October to the Boston Allianceof Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Youth (BAGLY)

“BAGLY works with LGBTQ youth across Massachusetts—and beyond!  Through leadership development, health promotion & services, social support, events, and the statewide GLBT Youth Group Network, BAGLY is at work in our communities to support LGBTQ youth.”


It is my sincerest hope that this turns into a monetary gift that far surpasses anything I could have given on my own.

Please help and spread the word!

Share this with your friends, family, coworkers . . . anyone who you think might be able to help. Heck buy them a copy!

Tell me about it @mikemehalek so I can share as well. And next month, I hope I have a big number to report.

Thanks and Love,

-Mike
         
                                           
Kindle Edition

         
                                                                                               
                                                                                                Paperback Edition
http://www.amazon.com/Only-Human-Mike-Mehalek/dp/149434971X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1412134147&sr=8-7

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Passions of the Heart: Sherry Peters

Welcome Friends of the Trickyverse! So glad you made it :)

Today, is a guest post by Sherry Peters, author of the Ballad of Mabel Goldenaxe series. In this post, Sherry discusses a topic important to every writer but one that is even more meaningful to the indie author. It's something she calls...

The Passions of the Heart

I don’t think it is any great shock for me to say that the publishing industry is in immense flux. It can be incredibly frustrating, but there are also many more opportunities for writers. Along with the changes in the publishing industry has come a booming trade in “How To” books for writers.

There have always been books on how to write different genres and on elements of the craft. There have also been a fair number of books on how to end writer’s block. Now those books on writer’s block have multiplied. There is also an abundance of books on marketing your book, building an author platform, and how to write the next best-seller.

This bombardment of options and advice can leave writers reeling. That’s because so much of what is out there deals with the business end of writing. Even the books on craft spend a lot of time on what editors are looking for, what gets accepted, and what doesn’t. In the end, most writers question their choices on what they should write. Should they write to market? Is it even possible to write something new and still make it as a writer?

Because of all the questioning and pressure, writing stops being fun. Writers find it harder to write. Nothing we write is good enough.

One of the most difficult thing for a writer to do, is to focus soley on the writing during the time they’ve set aside for writing. The distractions of Facebook and checking e-mail are just excuses. Often we find other things to do besides writing because we worry about our work being rejected or if we’re going to make a sale.
It doesn’t have to be that way.

When you set aside a specific time for writing, focus on your writing and the story you want to tell. Most importantly, write what you love.

Writing anything, be it a short story, a novel, or an epic series, means you are going to be spending an awful lot of time with those characters and in that world. If you don’t enjoy the story, your reader isn’t going to enjoy it. If you love the story, if it is something you are passionate about, you are going to want to spend more time with it.

Writing what you love is no guarantee that your story will sell, but then there is no guarantee when you are writing to market or to trend. But chances are you will have greater success when you write something you are passionate about. Your love for the characters, the world, the story, will show through. Your readers are also going to see that passion, they are going to feel it, and be affected by it. And that is what makes readers buy books and recommend them to friends.

So what are you passionate about? Is it a specific genre? Is it a kind of character? Is it a political or social theme? Whatever it is, find it, make it yours, and write it.

About Sherry Peters

Sherry Peters is a writer and a Success Coach for Writers. She attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop and holds an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. When she isn’t writing, she loves to have adventures of her own including spending a year working in Northern Ireland. Mabel the Lovelorn Dwarf is her first novel. For more information on Sherry, visit her website at www.dwarvenamazon.com.

Twitter: @sherry_peters

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