Monday, May 30, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
As Edgar Allan Poe once deep into darkness peered, to wonder, fear and doubt, he also dreamed dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. And Nietzsche, while warning against hunting monsters, was quite fond of that abyss which gazed back.
The light of our hearts' delight can only shine sweeter against a backdrop of despair. Darker stories swirl and fester in the midst of the mundane; mysterious creatures prowl at the edge of awareness to seduce and devour.
Conflicts bleed into our world, to snare unwary mortals; tantalize us with hints of magic and enigma beyond our ken. Love is lost and found, empires rise only to crumble, and few dare to step beyond the threshold.
Did you grow up reading Poe, Burroughs and Lovecraft? Do Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and The Sandman graphic novels languish on your bookshelves next to Poppy Z Brite's Lost Souls and Storm Constantine's Wraetthu novels? Lyrical Press is looking for works of dark fantasy that explore the contrasts of modern urban living with that of the supernatural, expressed in a gritty tone redolent with pop culture references and noir elements.
See the submission guidelines at http://www.lyricalpress.com/submissions.php and email firstname.lastname@example.org with your query.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I've been really struggling with my writing the past month or so. It's not that I don't have ideas floating around in my head.
My problem is purely technical.
In early May, my hard drive crashed. I lost everything. Yes, everything.
I lost family photos. I lost passwords. I lost work files; I'm a web designer, so that goes hand-in-hand with the passwords. I had to re-install software. It was not a pretty sight.
I managed to recover most of my WIP*, thanks to my critique groups and some friends who I'd sent various parts for their input. All but one chapter, that is. The second to last chapter I'd written before losing everything.
You would think that losing a "middle chapter" wouldn't be so bad. And I'm more grateful then anyone will ever know to have only lost one chapter, believe me. And I know where I want the chapter to end up, I know what clues must be woven into the fabric of the story. I just can't remember exactly how I got there.
For everyone who is nodding sagely, thinking "run an anti-virus" or "make sure you back up," I have another confession. It was my Mac that bit the dust. It had nothing to do with spyware or malware or viruses. A section of the hard drive lost it's magnetism. (Or some such thing...the computer guy tried to explain it to me, but I was still devastated at the time.) And I own an external hard drive. It's even connected to the computer in question.
But external hard drives are only useful if you actually put stuff on them.
Learn from my misfortune. Back up your important files. Heck, back up the things you don't think are that important. Then you won't be missing a section in the middle.
*That would be Work In Progress. Or the novel I'm currently working on.
Monday, May 9, 2011
The word "paranormal" can mean a whole lot of things. Ghosts. Witches. Shape shifters.
No matter what, though, there are almost always superstitions attached to the word.
Personally, I'm not really superstitious. I don't "knock on wood" or hold my breath crossing a bridge.
Some superstitions make a lot of sense. Really, is it bad luck to walk under a ladder? Maybe not, but I don't think it's that smart. If you bump the ladder, whoever is on it might fall. Or they might drop that bucket of paint all over you. It may not be bad luck, but it doesn't seem smart, either. Does one apple each day keep the doctor away? Doubtful. But people who pick more healthy foods are usually, well, healthier. What about the idea that a cat will try to steal a baby's breath? Not true. But a cat will try to get that milk all over the baby's face and can (in extremely rare cases) smother the baby while doing so.
Some superstitions have made their way into the realm of tradition. How many brides have worn something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue?
One of my "favorite" superstitions, however, happens this week. Friday, to be exact. Friday the 13th.
Friday the 13th is a combination of two different superstitions: Friday and the number 13.
Most people have heard of the number 13 being unlucky. And anything to do with that number is "taboo." Hotels skip the 13th room, buildings the 13th floor, city's the 13th street. It's not lucky to have 13 letters in your name: Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy. Planning a dinner party? Avoid having 13 people at the table. One is said to die within the year, a superstition that dates back to the time of Jesus when he dined with his 12 disciples.
Bad luck on Friday is a less common belief. Most people I know look forward to Fridays, since it's the last day of the traditional work week and the start of the weekend. Sailors, however, avoid Fridays. Years ago the British government wanted to quell the "Friday superstition" and did everything they could to prove how silly it was. They commissioned the HMS Friday, christened the ship on a Friday, launched her on a Friday, selected the crew on a Friday. They even put Captain Jim Friday in charge. The ship disappeared on her maiden voyage.
Combine it all, and it's understandable why some might be tempted to stay home this Friday. Those who don't may have some "bad luck"—or they may find themselves victims of a self-fulling prophecy.
Me? I'll be going out to dinner with the family. No, not as a way to thumb my nose at fate. Instead, my family will be celebrating. It's not every Friday the 13th that the baby of the family turns 18, is it?
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
While I can't show the visuals, I had an awful lot of fun on Saturday with some of the BlackMilk crew, who offered to help me shoot some promotional visuals for my next vampire novella, What Sweet Music They Make. Now, if all goes well, my publisher will like the final results well enough to use for the front cover. Or at least that is my intention. And even if the visuals don't make the grade, I've some stunning prints to use as promotional material when release day swings round.
Why am I doing this? Many years ago I majored in illustration and photography when I studied graphic design, and I'd always hoped one day to have a shot at cover design. While I'm no PhotoShop wizard, I do have an idea of how to style visual communication.
The secret now: work with professionals. I am heavily indebted to the expertise of Leon Visser, who is the cinematographer and editor for BlackMilk Productions, an indie film production company here in Cape Town. Thanks go to my husband, for lending us his professional lights. Many thanks also to Lohan Koegelenberg and Anika Molnar, who took the roles of Severin and Tersia respectively, for this shoot. The two happen to be close friends and when I'm ready to show the final results, you can definitely see the chemistry.
In the meanwhile, you'll have to contend with the after-shoot silliness where my creations spring to life to give me a nibble, or two.
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