Sunday, 27 October 2013

Start Again- a poem

Start Again
A poem by Laura E Brown

The Castle
As I stared over the ramparts, I knew that the fall was a long way down.
The drop was dizzying, and every time I contemplated it, I wanted to be sick.
For the longest part of the climb up the marble staircase towards the castle
I'd simply refused to look down.
For the longest time, I climbed, only staring at the highest tower.
The light was blinding at times,
Blinding me to the unstable rock beneath us.
I knew it was there, just like the potential plummet.
One slip would send me to the earth,
And one tremor would send us both together.
But our climb was not one of naivety.
Our climb was together, hand in hand.
This was our castle
High in the clouds, our destiny.

The steps grew steeper, more cracked.
The far tower seemed further away still,
And yet we fought.
Holding each other up, helping each other through our exhaustion,
We broke through the pale clouds.
What I saw broke my heart.
The tower was not steady-
It was one lightening strike away from collapse.
We could not stay here.
This was not our castle after all.

I didn't allow the sun to blind me any longer- I just couldn't.
If we fell, it would destroy us both.
The castle couldn't hold us both.
But off in the distance, beaming in the lilac sunset, I sighted it-
A new hope, a new tower,
Climbing above golden tinged clouds
Struggling into life.

I pointed, and smiled, and said, there it is
That can be our castle.
We can't both stay here.
I tried to hold hope in my heart as I held his hand
I could feel the desperation in our pulses
He couldn't go.
I couldn't stay.

The bloody light of dusk made his tears shine gold
And then to red as they fell
We were both bleeding, as, after a long time,
I turned to walk away.
I tore open on the first step.
I didn't want to go
But I had to.

The Fall
Darkness fell, and it was a long way down,
And eyes blurred by tears and pain
Cannot see the broken steps of the staircase into the heavens.
It wouldn't be long before I would stumble and fall, crashing into stone as I fell
Ripped on jagged stone and battered on cliffs.
I fancied I could hear him cry as I dropped, powerless to help me

I lay on sharp stone, hanging over an unfathomable precipice
And I cried to my spirits, begged them not to leave me alone here.
Was this how my courage had rewarded me? With broken bones and a broken heart?

I was not alone.

I never had been.
They came from star and moonlight, and helped me down over the ledge, back onto the stairway.
They cared not that I bloodied or dirtied them on the way,
They supported my shell, and eased my hurts.
Silver
They took the shapes of a flock of birds, a pack of wolves, a swirl of autumn leaves
They were hope.

I could barely stand at times, but somehow we managed back onto the path.
They took a great amount of my burden
I feared their silvered feathers and plumes would taint at my touch.
We all walked arm in arm,
And little by little, the worst of the pain began to fade.

The Stand
I let myself down.
After dark days of rain and burning, I learned to walk again.
I was cracked and spider-webbed like glass, fragile, but in one piece.
I followed my silver friends- they were a rainbow in sunlight!-
But no longer needed them to hold me up, or so I thought.
I stumbled from time to time, but it wasn't too bad.  The fall didn't seem so bad from here.
Until I did the most foolish of things.

I looked back.

This time I fell too fast for them to catch me.

The precipice turned black and engulfed me as I slipped into it
I let out my silent scream and it tore across my skin in a howl of anguish
The cracks in my heart and soul reopened, and after what wasn't all that long of a fall
I hit the ground.
But it was not the end.

I awoke to a soft white mist, a gentle silence and a song of comfort,
My silver friends were there.
It was agony as I tried to move, and they stood about me in a circle.
They sang.
And I stood.

A long time has passed, since we walked into the mist.
I no longer know where the castle, atop its tower of treacherous stairs, lies,
I lost my bearings, and in its place found a strange sense of peace.
I didn't need to care where I was going or where I had been
For I no longer knew.
And I wasn't alone.
I walked with the silver ones, turning into spectrum when the light gently pierced the mist
This was not a time for direction.
But a time for healing.

My back is straight,
My legs are strong
Blood runs in the right place, and I can walk for days.
But a numbness still covers me...

The Beginning
I found feeling again.
It seared through me, like holy fire, burning the taint and awakening me
Sometimes pain is cleansing, even if it burns and brings tears to your tired eyes.
I clutch onto precious stones and hope they will fix me.

The mist thins, and an empty horizon begins to emerge.

I awake to a grey dawn, and no shroud over the sky, and I dare to look at my scars.
I am cracked like volcanic glass
White patterns etch my skin, marring the smoothness.
Snowflakes and wishes, and heartbreaks and dreams,
All traced upon my soul for anyone to see if they care to look hard enough.
In this special light, I see the light caress the silver ones with me, and see that they are the same.
They wear their marks and tattoos, as badges, as stories, as maps
As tapestries and guides.
They are all so beautiful.

I am broken, but I am not destroyed.
I see the marks and see they are where I knit back together
I touch them and they are strong.

I feel a swelling within me, and realise my heart beats again.
I still hurt, but I am not ended.

The first of my feathers are growing.
I am free.
I am scared.
But I am free.

We stand and turn to the pale light,
Full of promise and possibilities
More darkness lies ahead, but we are strong together
And more light lies in wait, if we can battle our way there first.
They take my hands, and for the first time I realise that I can feel their skin.
I can feel once more.
Before we set off, another crack peeks open,
As I think of him in his tower.
His shape remains in my heart, and there is an emptiness in his image there.
I hope he is safe and happy, for I cannot fly up there yet, like the others.

We walk to the moon,
Together,
And in the distance, I think I see a new tower.

27th October 2013



Image of Carina Nebula from Wikipedia
Image is not mine
"Start Again", poem written by myself, Laura E Brown

Impossible Spaces Blog Tour- Guest Post

Wow wasn't that a quick update? Wasn't the last one something like...an hour and a half ago? Well, isn't this a good start?

Well, this was a guest post I did for Hic Dragones' blog tour for Impossible Spaces- in which my short story "Skin" (my third in-print publication) appears.  This actually went up in August, but as I was really struggling at that point, I failed to join in with the publicity properly.  Well, better late than never I suppose.  Hope you enjoy!

http://hannahkate.net/guest-post-laura-brown/


Attempting life reboot in 3...2...1...

What was supposed to be a few days hiatus to recover stretched out into a few months, and I wish I could say I was sorry.  Sadly, this has been such a difficult time for me, and the healing process still continues.  Unfortunately, in the meantime, a lot of writing work I could have gotten on with has fallen by the wayside, as has plenty of publicity work I was supposed to be doing.  I do apologise to those affected for my utter unreliability but I've realised that this was important for me.  My world was essentially turned upside down and I'm still trying to find my bearings.  However, I do feel its time for me to pull my socks up and get into a routine.  Mostly for my own benefit.  Everything I do at this point, I really need to be selfish and think of myself.

There are developments and work to come, so please stay tuned.  I'm back.





Image is not mine, neither is the Doctor.
Or the Universe.
Image shared for important message <3

Monday, 26 August 2013

Update: Yes I know, I disappeared again...

Boy, I thought things were bad before, and yet somehow, I'm still standing.  I'm afraid the reason for my disappearance this time has been an extremely difficult emotional trauma.  I'm still finding it very painful to speak about, so I'm not going to be putting details here.  Not to mention, despite the fact I like to think myself as an open book, I'm not comfortable divulging the details so publicly.  Its been heartbreaking, and its taking me a long time to recover, and settle back to normal.  In fact, I've only been on the PC twice since it all kicked off, preferring to just chill out with my phone instead.

So of course, I've not been able to do publicity, updates, IWSG, writing etc. I've decided today to try getting back online to do the "work" kinda stuff (mostly gonna keep fun social networking and shopping to my adorable new phone though), so here I am, writing this update.  Things are still gonna be slow as I get used to everything again- my life has become ridiculously chaotic overnight, and I'm trying to basically restart almost every aspect of it, so things will be slow.  But writing is part of that, so there should be signs of life appearing again.

As I'll be popping back up again soon, I have some blog posts and guests posts to share and things, and more general publicity for Impossible Spaces, so stay tuned x

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Impossible Spaces Blog Tour- Interview with Angeline Trevena


Hello everyone! How are you all?  I'm feeling pretty dandy myself, and also very excited because tomorrow Impossible Spaces comes out! Yay!  What with me going on about it every few minutes, I'm sure you're all aware that my short story "Skin" features!  

At the weekend, I had my very first author interview go live- now I would have posted this sooner, but I've been away on a mini holiday for the last few days (and the short amount of time I was home, I was being a good bunny and writing), so I just haven't had a chance.  However, I will post a link now- my very good friend and fellow writer (and something of a mentor of mine) Angeline Trevena was ever so kind to interview me for the Impossible Spaces Blog Tour- thank you so much, Angeline!  Here is the link:


I hope you all enjoy it!  It was a delightfully odd experience- I have interviewed a fair few people for EGL Magazine, so I'm the one used to asking all the questions!

Can't wait for tomorrow! Thank you all! x



Sunday, 7 July 2013

July Blog Post! Summer Greetings!

Summer greetings! I can scarcely believe we are already in July (you know, apart from the part that I'm utterly MELTING!).  Its quite scary how quickly the months go by.

Well, as you may have noticed, there was no June blog post, as I was taking a break for stress and health issues.  A quick update on that; I have seen the doctor and been placed on medication (which in turn seems to have freaked out my bosses enough at work to stop putting me into overly stressful situations), and I am doing much, much better.  Now, I still have issues to face and there's still plenty more to be dealt with, but I feel like I have the help I need, that the last few weeks have been much more relaxed, so I no longer feel like I'm at the very edge of losing my mind.  Which in turn, makes for a much happier Laura-bunny.

So, now that part's out of the way, moving onto news and things coming up soon!

Impossible Spaces and "Skin"

The time I've been waiting for so excitedly is nearly here- the release date of Hic Dragones' anthology Impossible Spaces, featuring my science-fiction short story "Skin".  The release date will be July 19th (only days away now!), and I'm ever so excited.  Skin is a story that means a lot to me, and so its very special to know this one will be in print.  I'll be providing links at the bottom of this post, but here is a sneaky peak of the front cover!

Relating to this, I am currently finishing off an interview with my good friend Angeline Trevena, who will be interviewing me about "Skin" very shortly.  I have to say, as someone who usually writes the questions, it feels a little bit odd to be the one interviewed this time around! (But then again, as it was lovely Angeline who taught me about interview techniques in the first place, interviewing her a couple of months back for Fifty Shades of Decay felt slightly odd also! But great fun!).  So please keep your eyes peeled for that too!

Changes in Art

I recently made the decision to stop pursuing artist work within tattoo studios.  Without naming the studio (as I actually still get on with everyone there!), I was recently let down by the place when they expected me to be available whenever they needed, and passed on the position to a younger lad without getting to see the (if I may say so) lovely tattoo design I had drawn up for them.  However, I do not make this decision grimly or with hard-feelings.  Sadly, for people in my position, tattoo-careers simply aren't viable.  You simply cannot have a "day" job and work within a tattoo environment at the same time.  So I'm passing up the notion of that career path now.  Having said that, I am still more than happy to design tattoos as commissions, and have not turned my back on the industry! (Oh hells no, despite all that, I'm sure I'll be back in that same studio later this year for my Wayfinder tattoo ;) ).

Career Progressions and Ambitions

As I mentioned a few weeks back, regarding my near-mental-breakdown, I was assaulted by a customer while I was at work.  A few days after that, one customer was so offended by the fact I didn't laugh at his awful joke (that I hear multiple times daily) that he phoned one of the managers to make a complaint.  So as you can imagine, I've been job-hunting weekly to find a non-retail job.  In my first week, I managed to find 2 jobs, but as I haven't heard back from them, I can only assume I didn't make the cut, which is a real shame.  Then at least 2 weeks  went by where I found nothing (apart from retail).  I was also flat-out refused by an agency, and I was left feeling pretty worthless.  Sadly, at 26, despite the fact I have been in work consistently since the age of 15, my lack of "experience" in other fields of work mean that I'm not even given the time of day, despite the fact I am well-educated and have a broad skill set.

So talking things over with my mum (because mums always know best), we decided that writing now has to become work, not a pastime that I do with the intention of getting published.  I'm now going to be adding 2 and half hours a day on top of my working hours (to make that a full working day), just to write.  Trying to turn the negative into a positive :) Its something I really need to take off- sadly in retail, full-time jobs are extremely rare, so its obscenely difficult to support oneself in such work (hence why I currently live at home).  Not only do I want writing to be my career, but now it looks like I will need to also, especially if I have any hope of moving out in the next 2 years.

So lets see if I can be disciplined enough to make this work! Wish me luck!

Other Things

Not too much else to report, but in the last month, I have gotten a new phone that actually works (yay!), bought my very first bikini (*blush*), celebrated the Summer Solstice (summer greetings to you all x), got to spend a lot of lovely time with my lovely friends (<3) and also recently gotten addicted to Dungeons and Dragons (I'm a dhampir cleric :3 ).  Coming up over the next few weeks, I have more social gatherings, holiday, birthdays and next month I will actually get to meet my literary hero Neil Gaiman!!! Getting to meet Voltaire and Neil in one year?  This year has been a pretty awesome one!

Reflection (Spiritual)

This is just something soppy and spiritual I wanted to add at the end of this blog post (feel free to skip if you wish!), but it was something that occurred to me during our Summer Solstice ceremony (which was an unusually sombre affair due to recent mournings in the community).  This year so far has been hard, incredibly so in some ways, yet has also been full of immense joy and happiness for me.  Its hard to think of chaos as a negative force in the world, when sometimes bad things simply have to happen so good things can happen to.  These bad times really make me love and appreciate the friends closest to me <3

So thats pretty much it till next time.  Stay turned for updates and THINGS!



http://www.hic-dragones.co.uk/
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Impossible-Spaces-Hannah-Kate/dp/0957029284/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373214763&sr=1-1&keywords=impossible+spaces

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group- Love Thy Editors!



The summer is finally with us!  Is everyone enjoying the sunshine?

I'd like to quickly start this entry by updating from the last time I posted- I'd like to thank those of you who left a kind word regarding my situation, and I did indeed take a little time off as needed (hence no June blog post).  I'm not out of the woods yet, but I am now taking medication and feeling a lot, lot better- and I will be doing some more posts over July, as we have some exciting developments just around the corner!

I'm doing this a teeeeny bit early, but I intend to catch up with Top Gear tomorrow morning, and then I have work in the evening, which makes it a bit tricky to get online to type out blogposts.  But anyhoo, onto this month's IWSG topic:

Love Thy Editors

I think the reason why some would-be writers out there shy away from submitting pieces is because they fear bad feedback from, or losing creative control to editors.  I won't lie, there was a time when I felt wary of submitting my own work.  I was worried that at best, I would be forced to change my work to suit the whims of a corporate suit, at worst, would have my confidence utterly shattered by someone behind a desk, completely blasting my ability and making me want to never pick up a pen again (I am dramatic :P)

I'm extremely happy to say (and I imagine many others will too) that all of my experiences with editors have been completely positive.  Even from my earliest days starting out with EGL Magazine, right up to my most recent experiences with Hic Dragones, every editor I have ever worked with has been an amazing person who I have been happy to work with.  Oh, I'm sure there are less than brilliant editors out there, but as someone who used to be so wary of negative experiences, and knowing there are others that feel that way, I thought that for this month's IWSG I would give the hard-working editors out there a little bit of love!  It's got to be a difficult job, and one I'm not sure I could do, so I think it's important to appreciate the vital work they do to make our stories super shiny for book-pages.

If you're a new writer who is nervous of editors, this is why you shouldn't be:

1) They already like your work
If you are passed over for a submission (which will undoubtedly happen at some point, and you mustn't feel too bad about it, because it happens to everyone), you won't receive a cruel email telling you to go back to school, so don't worry about something like that happening.  If you are successful, however, you mustn't be nervous of what comes next- you were picked because they liked your work!  The editors know what they're looking for in a good story, and they certainly wouldn't be wasting their precious time on editing your story if they didn't think it was worth the time and effort.

2) They are improving on what they already have
While all publishers are expecting clean manuscripts when they receive submissions, they aren't expecting refined, polished gold.  They know it will need work.  That's where the editors come in.  Think of your story as a rough diamond that needs to be sanded, buffed and polished before it can become the gem it's meant to be.  That's what the editors do.  Any suggestions or changes they make are there to improve the flow of your story, and make it the best it can possibly be, not to change your story and make it something else entirely.  They also won't make huge changes without putting them towards you first, and will always keep you involved in what they are doing.  Work together with your editor, and your story will shine.

3) You will learn from them!
I've learned a lot about my writing habits from things pointed out by editors.  I am already quite aware of my typos, but that's not a major issue :P (not in blogging anyway!).  One bad habit I used to have was the overuse of the ellipsis for dramatic tension...unfortunately, overuse led to disruption in the flow of the writing, and also lessened the dramatic affect I had been aiming for.  This was pointed out to me by an editor, and she certainly didn't make her point harshly.  Every single experience I have had with an editor has been positive and beneficial to me, and I've learned something every time.  Ultimately, this makes me a better writer, and improves the quality of the writing.

I often worry more about being a difficult writer for an editor to work with, rather than finding my editor to be difficult- I always have things set out and imagined in my head just so, and when I was younger I wasn't particularly receptive to criticism (in hindsight, this was mainly because most criticism I was received wasn't particularly constructive).  So far, I have found all feedback completely helpful and beneficial, have found editors happy to work with me, and ultimately do a great job with the finished manuscript.

So what else can I say?  Don't fear the editors.  They have a very hard job, but its them who gets our stories down onto paper and onto bookshelves.  To any new and anxious writers out there, don't be afraid to allow them to improve on your work- they are professionals and they know what they are doing!

And as for the editors, well, every single editor I have worked with has been a real delight to work with.  I thank you all for being awesome :D

*

Right, well, I'll be back soon with some more updates, please stay tuned and enjoy the weather!


http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.co.uk/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

ISWG- Scheduled for Meltdown in 5...4...3...

Almost missed this month's IWSG- thank goodness for Twitter, which reminded me! (Even if I spend way too much of my time on there harmlessly stalking celebrities I like!)  The reason for my absences in recent weeks and months actually ties in nicely into this post- I missed April's due to personal reasons, and May was just extremely busy for me all month.  Now we're into June, and I'm hoping that I can snatch some downtime to myself, because in all honesty, I'm about to burn out, mentally and emotionally.

As if I haven't mentioned it enough times on my blog, I've been under a lot of stress this year so far, but sadly, my hiatus and trip to the US wasn't quite enough for me to recover.  Without listing all the details, I'm facing home and family problems, and my day-job is rapidly becoming unbearable (in fact, only a couple of days ago, I was physically assaulted by a customer- this has been the final straw for me, and I am now searching for a new job outside of the customer-service industry, especially as management haven't been supportive).  I've been prone to depression, stress and anxiety, and finding it hard to cope with much besides a social life (which may sound really awful, that the only thing I can do right, right now, is have an active social life, but in all honesty, despite the energy I expend having it, its one of the few things keeping me sane right now).

This of course has left very little time for writing and drawing.  I'm passing up submissions that would be pretty good for me, because I either don't have the time or the energy.  While writing doesn't generally stress me out, it does require both time and energy, as said, and neither of those I have in abundance right now.  With my daily schedule still in tatters (you'd think a month would be enough to get back on track!), my downtime at home when I come home from work usually involves surfing the net, a wee bit of TV, a book if I'm lucky (not much time for reading even!), painting my nails ridiculously crazy colours or sleeping.  I'm doing a LOT more sleeping.

On one hand, its awfully frustrating, because I've tasted success (another anthology out recently, another next month), and I know I have to keep working at it if I want more of it.  While I have been known to knock out a short story in a night, it takes hours of furious typing and a flurry of vicious editing, and as you can imagine, this requires me to be very alert, energetic and wired.  Those periods of energy are not very prolonged for at the moment.

I have even struggled to maintain my usual exercise regime (although fortunately, a lot of going out means a lot of walking!), which has probably played its hand in affecting my mood.

Its also frustrating because I'm having IDEAS.  If only I could have the energy to scribble furiously for a bit, and I'll probably finish the first draft of my novel within the next month or so, I can really feel it.  I'm having lots of art ideas too.  Art is something I can do in a more relaxed state, luckily (as I love to recline while drawing, and it also doesn't stress me out) but once again, I need to be very focused, and alert enough to do so.  At the moment, if I'm relaxed, I'm going to sleep.

On the other hand though, I am aware that with everything the way it is, its very important for me to let writing and art take the back seat for now.  I'm confident the ideas will still be there (especially for the novel), but if I try to juggle everything right now, I am going to snap.  I am probably on the verge of a breakdown, and I'm seriously considering getting signed off work.  I already have a doctor's appointment booked.

Now, I say all this, without being negative (REALLY! :P).  I actually feel quite positive at the moment, because I have some ideas of how to avert this meltdown, and they are going to involve some major life changes.  Its definitely going to involve a career change (still hoping if the writing works out well, that can be a help too ;) ), and things are going to change at home also.  I'm also going to start introducing a strict routine for myself, written on a timetable like I had back at college :P I am pretty confident that if I act now, I can stop myself from going postal and losing my mind.

But it does mean that writing needs to go on the shelf for the moment.

But I'm totally ok with that, because it gives me something else to write about ;)


(PS- deleted to discover my acid-trip dreams are coming back!  I love my crazy dreams, but went through a long phase without any!  Lets hope I get time to record them again soon!)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Sirens Call Publication- The Horror of Steampunk Blog Post

With the release of each new anthology, Sirens Call Publications invites its contributing authors to write a guest post on their blog, to allow us to share our inspirations behind our pieces.

For the release of Bellows of the Bone Box, I was invited also, to have a good old ramble about what inspired me to write my short story, Clockwork Doll, and about what Steampunk means to me.  I hope you enjoy!

And if you stick with my little ramble, there's a little sneak-peek excerpt of my story too!

http://sirenscallpublications.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/the-horror-of-steampunk-with-laura-brown/

Monday, 13 May 2013

Bellows of the Bone Box- Steampunk Horror Anthology, featuring Clockwork Doll, out now!

Well, I'm a wee bit late to this party- we can all thank the disruptive and naff-tastic updates that Hotmail had last month!  As it goes, I didn't know until yesterday that my short story had been published as of April 17th, due to emails just not making their way into my inbox as the whole thing was updated!  Blasted technology!

Doesn't it make you long for simpler times?  Back when technology was more reliable, more refined?  Then maybe you'd be interested in this steampunk/horror anthology.

Bellows of the Bone Box, from Sirens Call Publications, is now available to buy in both kindle/e-book format, and in paperback.  My contribution is a short story called Clockwork Doll, and is set in an alternate Victorian London, but as the goggled skull on the front cover might suggest, these short stories aren't just typical, run-of-the-mill steampunk tales...

I love steampunk literature, as well as the fashion and aesthetic, so it was great fun to be involved with this anthology!  It also marks a particularly significant stepping stone in my writing career, as "Clockwork Doll" is the first short story I will receive payment for.  Its a small stepping stone, but as I say, significant, as being a professional author is my ultimate career goal.  While I can't quit the day-job yet, I can however say I am a published, official author, and my aspirations seem just that little bit closer to finally becoming reality.

What is steampunk?  If you're unfamiliar with this phenomenon, steampunk is both a literary movement as well as a fashion one.  For the purposes of this blog, steampunk often refers to a literary setting that takes place during the Victorian era or the Industrial revolution, but involves science fiction elements, usually such as technology that runs on steam and clockwork (as was usual for the time period) but far more advanced.  The genre, however, is far broader than that very brief description would have you belief, and covers a many different themes, such as exploration and alternative history (there are even other derivatives that cover different time periods in the same manner, such as "atom punk" or "diesel punk").  What is so interesting about the Bellows of the Bone Box anthology, however, is how the steampunk genre has been blended with horror in these tales.

Now that I'm finally on board this (steampunk) train, I'm hoping to participate in the publicity that follows, so please watch out for upcoming blog posts and the like!  In the meantime, if you would like to find out what exactly Clockwork Doll is all about, and what perhaps steampunk-horror is like, then click the links, buy the book, curl up with a cup of tea, and enjoy!

http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Bellows-Bone-Box-Kirk-Jones/dp/0615774873/ref=tmm_pap_title_0


Sunday, 12 May 2013

May Blog Post- I'm BACK!

Hello everyone!

I'm very glad to announce that I'm BACK and feeling much, much better after my much-needed hiatus!  I don't have a huge amount of news, being as I was trying to use my break to chill out, but I do have a few updates to share.

If you read my blog you will know that the reason for my absence was mostly down to stress.  The beginning of this year has been very tough for me, and trying to keep up with Twitter, Blogspot, writing and all sorts of things was getting too much for me, what with all the things going on in my personal life.  We've lost some feline friends in the last few months, and its been a very sad time.  I've also had a lot of stresses from the "day job" affecting me.  I didn't intend to miss May's IWSG post, but as I had only just come back into the UK and it was birthday, I simply had no time, sorry!

I spent the last 2 weeks of April in the US visiting my fiance who I only see once a year usually.  Getting away from it all was something I clearly needed, but I was quite unfortunate to be struck by a horrendous dental infection (thank gods, and my dentist, for anti-biotics), and then pollen season in Ohio broke me out in hives!  Poor old me!  But on the upside, I got to see my Bear and have some good quality time with him, without any worries about work or writing.  It feels weird to say I've been home 2 weeks now, because sadly it feels longer, but in that 2 weeks I've had some cool things going on, and while readjusting is always a struggle for me, I do feel a lot of my stresses and concerns are finally lifting from my mind.  So back to work I go, and here I am!

Beltane Blessings

A little belated, for sure, but wishing you all some Beltane blessings at this time.  Beltane is also my birthday, and was celebrated in the most self-indulgent manner ;) I was unable to attend the Beltane ceremony I had intended to, but managed to hold my own little ceremony under a tree near my house; it was rather cute and little, and I think it went well, although may have confused the neighbours!

This is my photo of my "makeshift altar"- I was in a very pink-and-purple mood, so I bought along a rose quartz and a purple cat's eye (also appropriate as upon a "cushion" of wilted cherry blossom petals, sits my pendant of the Goddess Bast).  My pentagram sits in the middle, with some bluebells and cherry blossom flowers either side...after roses, these are my favourite flowers and are in bloom around my birthday and Beltane, so it seemed appropriate.  But also, I keep finding the blossoms ripped from their trees in clumps and just dumped on the floor, so I picked them up with the intention of putting them on the altar.  I also brought along a small offering of cheese which was gobbled up over night.  The whole thing went well very nicely, and I feel as though I've had some kind of fresh start- maybe the fertile energies of Beltane will help me with my endeavours and creativity :)

Writing Updates
Writing has been very slow for me recently, and slightly disappointing.  I've been absolutely neglectful of my EGL work, and had great intentions for attempting a bajillion different submissions, but little has come to fruition.  In the past few months, I've had only had rejections.  The first was annoying but I could kinda see where they were coming from.

The second didn't upset me at all to be honest, because it was such a nice rejection!  It was a story called "God Town" that had struggled a little with, but also was very pleased with, and had poured a lot of love into the tale, as well as a little humour.  Sadly, the submission turn out was huge, and God Town was not quite what they were looking for, however, the feedback was very positive, and left me in good spirits about getting it placed elsewhere.

The third rejection simply wound me up, as I didn't feel I was given any useful feedback, and as bratty as I might sound, I think it was probably turned away with little consideration.  I'm not usually one to blow my own trumpet, but with the subject matter in hand, not only am I confident that I was giving the publisher exactly what they were looking for, but also was using the otherwise very popular and overdone subject matter in a very unique way.  I wouldn't even be too surprised if they decided not to read it- the them I'd picked was a popular one and I had submitted close to the deadline, so perhaps they had already read something they'd liked and thought "sod the rest".  I'm not sure, and I can only speculate, but I was very annoyed by the whole thing.  I'm sure though that a similar subject will arise at some point, so their loss I suppose.

Meanwhile, on the upside, this week I began working on the edits of my short story "Skin", set to be published in the Impossible Spaces anthology by Hic Dragones!  Very pleased to have something positive going on, although editing is mighty hard work!  I have to say, I really do appreciate editors- they have a bloody hard job to do, and I certainly hope I don't make their work too much harder!

In the process of writing this blog post, I have found out some more news, which is pretty darn awesome, and if I can get it verified, will include it at the end of this post, and will probably dedicate another to it also!

(This is why it takes me forever to do blog posts :P).

Art (and Related Exciting Happenings)
Art has been a bit on the back-burner recently, although when I can get some time to draw I think it does help to relax me.  Most of the doodles I've been enjoying recently have just been sketches and ideas for my Puffin memorial tattoo, and I've finally decided I like the idea of having a sort of cameo-brooch style-frame in the design.

One piece of artwork I've been working hard on was completed and given as the gift it was intended- I'm going to admit now that I was an utter squishy fangirl who makes presents for musicians and artists that she has fangirl crushes on.  This artwork was a drawing I made for the musician/author/animator/all-round-creative-and-awesome bloke, Aurelio Voltaire; it was a tea-stained mock poster advertising fictional belly dancers (named the Clockwork Dolls, after my story of the same name) performing to his instrumental piece, "Tempest".  I'm going to wait to put up a photograph, as I'm still a bit...blushy...over the whole thing...but Voltaire is an absolute gentleman- he said he really liked it, made some lovely comments about my artwork, kissed me on both cheeks (squee!) and even gave me a keyblade pendant as a thank you gift! I tell you what, I've had a naff week following last weekend when I met him and saw him perform in London, but that little high just keeps me floating quite happily!


BIG BREAKING NEWS!

Well, I found out rather by surprise while writing this blog post that I've had a major development in my career as an author!  There appears to have been some sort of miscommunication mishap while I was absent, but as of April 17th, I have a second short story in PRINT.

That's right- Siren's Call Publications steampunk-horror anthology Bellows of the Bone Box is now published and for sale!


My short story "Clockwork Doll" is featured in this anthology- it is my second in-print (in-an-actual-physical-book-you-can-hold-in-your-hand-in-print!) and the first one I will actually receive payment for!!!

And you know what that means!

I am now officially, an author! ;)

Blog-post to follow where I gush about this- clearly I need something to celebrate after all that poop from earlier this year!

To buy copies of the book, please see Sirens Call Publications and Amazon:
http://sirenscallpublications.com/index.html
http://www.amazon.com/Bellows-Bone-Box-Kirk-Jones/dp/0615774873/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

I think that's a good place to wrap up May's blog post, so thank you, its great to be back!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Gonna take a little break...

Eventually, something's gotta give.  And it was either the remainder of my sanity or the Internet.

My computer is appallingly bad, slow and crappy, and as I've mentioned frequently, I am not good with computers at the best of times.  However, for example, it has taken me two and half hours this evening to do some stuff that probably should have only taken me one hour.  This sort of crap frustrates me endlessly, and on top of all the stress I'm dealing with at the moment, it is extremely unneeded and unwanted.

So I'm taking a hiatus from the Internet- after I sign off in a few minutes, I won't be back online until I briefly pop on on Friday evening (as I'm off to America on Saturday to see my fiance, and I will "need" to make obligatory "I'm going to America to see my fiance" statuses on Facebook :P ).  After that, I may return online sporadically for the next 2 weeks, but mostly in a social, casual manner.  So there may not be an April Blog Post this month.  I also apologise for not being more active with this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group- once again, trying to read just one other blog is taking me so much time, and taking up so much of my now endangered patience (thinking of investing in a new laptop when I come home, so I don't have to use this Box of Rocks PC).

The upside is the following:

-I won't go insane
-Therefore I won't go postal ;)
-I will have time to relax
-I will have time to deal with my shit
-I will have so much more time for writing and drawing
-I will be doing lots of writing and drawing :D
-I get to see my fiance!

I clearly need a break...so off I go.  Thanks everyone for their support, see you in a few weeks x

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group Post- Writing and Illustration

Happy April everyone!  Sorry for my absence last month; I was having a lot of emotional issues and traumas so I decided to take a little break for a week or so- however, over the last week and a bit, I'm trying to get back in the swing of things, so here I am.

This month's IWSG topic is a little odd- not a strong insecurity on the surface of it, but a concern that I have, and I'm wondering what other writers might make of it.

You see, I am not just a writer- I am also an artist.  I don't put a lot of my artwork online for a couple of reasons; one out of fear of plagiarism or theft (one of the reasons why I don't put my writing up for everyone to see, even though I've had requests for it).  As I'm totally inept with technology, even putting a simple watermark would be beyond me.  Secondly; DA is a pain in the ass.  Some DeviantArt artists may gasp in shock at me for this, but the truth is, I do have a DA account.  I was freaking addicted to DA for ages, until my gallery got stuck with a malicious ad that in the space of two months attacked our computer twice.  DA's stance is that its basically not their problem.  Now,  I'm sure some of you are thinking I should just use this finagle or use this filangee to fix the issue, but as mentioned before, I am inept with technology.  I struggle to keep a blog and Twitter going!  That, and we have a PC so bad that I've taken to calling it a Box of Rocks just so it seems less crap.  The account is still there (Chibi-Black-Rabbit) but as this is technically not my computer (I live at home with my folks), and my Dad asked me not to use DA anymore, I'm kinda obligated to respect his wishes.

But I am an artist; I have provided artwork for local musicians, created tattoo designs, hell, even apprenticed briefly at a tattoo studio, and it was my portfolio that nabbed me that position (it was insurance, or lack thereof, that robbed me of it).  I'm not a very social artist, but DA was working to improve that.  Creatively, my art and my writing tends to go hand in hand.  For a lot of my stories, there are doodles, sketches and even fully-developed pieces to accompany it.  I imagine the vast majority of my novels, once completed, having my illustrations accompanying them.  I can't choose one expression over the other- while writing may seem to take precedence, art is just as important to me.

You see, I don't think illustrations are just for children, or just for graphic novels.  I think even adult novels can make room for the occasional, well-placed piece of artwork.  Heck, for Night Gods (the novel I am working on) I have even considered the possibility (if it is successful enough to warrant it) releasing a whole art book, a bestiary even, of artwork for all the strange creatures and characters that appear.  Now, I've read plenty of books without illustrations, and its not spoiled the reading for me, but I do love a "picture" book too.  As an artist.

But how often do you even come across books with the odd illustration here and there?  Not many, that's for sure.  I'm trying to tell myself that its quite likely publishers will probably talk me out of illustrations, at least at first (if perhaps I became successful, I can imagine later editions and companions with artwork).  But at least the cover work, that could be mine, right?

Right?  I have no idea.  I have not seen many books where it has said that the writer was also the artist responsible for the cover design.  This surprises me, as I'm sure there must be other writers out there, like me, who are also a dab hand with a pencil or a paintbrush.  Is it always down to an illustrator/designer to do this?  How much say does the writer get in that?

You see, I can't really imagine ANYONE else having artistic input in that area.  Oh wait.  I lie.

I can name ONE person.

You see, I do admire many other artists, from Salvador Dali to Brian Froud to Yoshitaka Amano, oh of course, you can't be an artist without having your influences.  But on a more personal level, I have always been...odd around other artists.  Its a bizarre personality trait that I can only put down to insecurity and jealousy, but I have never been particularly fond of other artists in the past, or if I have done, then I've been hugely jealous of their work, which has made me feel awkward.  Nowadays, however, I do have some artist friends who I don't feel this way around, and love their work.  And one such is a very good friend of mine.

As a fantastic animal portrait artist, she is also the first ever artist I have personally commissioned myself!  I have never asked anyone to do something for me before!  IF I had to concede the task to another artist, she's the only person I can imagine doing it.

I'm even open to collaboration- as I suck with technology, I wouldn't object to a photoshop artist perhaps cleaning up something I've produced, alter it slightly to make it more appropriate for a book cover.

But actually concede the work to someone else (apart from aforementioned talented friend)...unthinkable to me.

Is this a possibility?  Has anyone ever faced this issue?  Am I being overly concerned? (I'm certainly being premature, as I have even finished Night Gods yet :P) Like I said, at this point, not a major insecurity, but as for me, art is just as important as writing, it is something I don't want to just leave to someone else.  If writing a story is all part of the expression I'm sharing with the world, then so is that artwork.

Anyway, I shall leave it at that, as I am a very tired bunny.  My April blog post will be coming up soon, but this month will also be relatively quiet as I'm spending half of it in the US!  Just want to say thanks to everyone who left a kind message recently.

Take care for now x

http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.co.uk/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

Friday, 15 March 2013

Interview with Angeline Trevena- Horror Writer and Enthusiast, and Author of "Being Superhuman"


Angelic Knight Press have published an anthology of erotica- oh what a surprise, eh? In the wake of the success of E L James' Fifty Shades of Grey, everyone is jumping on that bandwagon at the moment after all!  Oh...but I forgot to mention though...this is no ordinary erotica.  This, my friends, is zombie erotica.

I'll just give you a moment to get your heads around that.  The anthology is called "Fifty Shades of Decay" (I see what you did there!) and features 51 different authors, and their tales of undead pleasure and decadence; certainly not one for the faint of heart.  One of those authors is writer Angeline Trevena; you maybe more familiar with her works of spine-chilling horror fiction. This is her first erotica story- and my first author interview! I caught up with Angeline to find out more about her short story "Being Superhuman".


- Although very well acquainted with the world of horror, erotica is a newer genre for you as a writer. What sort of challenges did this present for you?
It is such an unfamiliar territory for me, as I'm not even a reader of erotica. At first it did worry me, and my biggest issue was how graphic I should be. I follow a few erotica writers on Twitter, and know another in my local writing group. I appealed to them for help, and received a lot of advice and encouragement in reply. As long as I avoided all those comical and awkward euphemisms, I knew I could give it a good go!

- What was it about the Fifty Shades of Decay submission that appealed to you in the first place?
Just how unusual it was. Who would have ever thought of mashing zombie stories with erotica? It's so deliciously and disturbingly wrong that I simply couldn't resist it!


- You’ve said that you initially struggled to write zombie erotica, but was suddenly struck with inspiration, leading to the creation of Being Superhuman. What was the difference in your approach that lead to your success?
After a lot of false starts, I reverted to that good old piece of advice 'write what you know'. So I wrote a horror story which included sex, rather than attempting to write erotica and add horror to it. Once I got that distinction into my head, the story just flowed from there.

- The word limit was very tight, itself presenting a challenge. How did you overcome that particular obstacle?
It was tough. I ended up cutting about half of the first draft to fit the limit of 2,000 words. My story involved a lot of travelling across country, so all of that disappeared. I also cut the whole of the opening, beginning the story at the start of the action rather than spending time setting the scene. It certainly does teach you a lesson about word economy and cutting out the waffle.

- What is the significance behind the title “Being Superhuman”? It intrigued me, but didn’t allude to the sinister twist that took me by surprise!
Without giving too much away, the zombies in my story are stronger than they were as humans, they have more energy and more stamina. They are, in essence, superhuman.

- Despite the limited word count, Being Superhuman seems to hint at something deeper and larger. What message does Being Superhuman share, and do you think you’ll revisit this theme?
2,000 words doesn't give a lot of scope for character, world, or plot development, and when you're writing about something your reader doesn't have any real life experience of, you are left leaving suggestions of things, letting your reader fill in some of the gaps themselves.
For me, Being Superhuman is a story about unconditional love, and the power of lust within a committed relationship. It's about saving that relationship against extreme odds. This is certainly a theme I'll revisit, although not with the same setting and characters.

- Erotica is open to a lot more criticism than other fiction genres; why do you think this is, and how do you think these perceptions can be changed?
Erotica is mainly written by women for women, and we live in a society that is highly suspicious, scared even, of women's sexuality, and women being in control of their sexuality. While men have an unspoken freedom to explore theirs, women are subject to slut shaming, victim blaming, and an unrealistic expectation of virginity and abstinence.
It's sad that, even in the 21st Century, society reacts to sexually open women with either disdain or ridicule. Women spend their lives fighting against this cultural attitude, and I suppose we'll continue until we can find some sort of sexual equality.

- Do you think you’ll return to the erotica genre at some point in the future?
At the moment, I can't see it, but I'll never say never. Relationships are an integral part of any story, so there is sure to be sex popping up in my writing in the future.
I really enjoyed writing this story because of the unique mashup of genres, so if another chance to write horror erotica comes up, I'm sure I'll jump at it.

*

Fifty Shades of Decay is currently available in ebook format, and due for paperback release soon.  To find out more about the anthology, and about Angeline Trevena and her work, please follow the links below! :)


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

March Blog Post- Bereavements, Difficulties and Developments...

Hello everyone! So we've made it to March!

I want to start by thanking those of you who have left me messages of condolence regarding the passing of my beloved cat, Puffin.  Its been a hugely difficult week, made worse by other factors, and I'm sure there are many more tears to be shed yet. However, the kindness of so many has genuinely been appreciated, and has made this hard time a little more bearable.  So thank you.

Despite the fact I was singing February's praises, it turned out to be a real sucky one in the end after all! March so far is determined to carry on in that vein! Oh well!  It hasn't all been bad, and I have a lot of developments and projects to report!  And while I certainly needed some days to veg, I have found that sometimes, keeping busy and getting on with work is a great way to battle through struggles and hard times.  So here I go!

Science Fiction
Ok, so I've actually already ventured into the realm of science fiction before with my soon-to-be-published short story, "Skin", but I recently submitted another sci-fi short!  Its a very futuristic twist on the fairytale classic, Sleeping Beauty.  I don't know if this submission will be picked, but I don't think it was a bad effort, and it was certainly good fun to write.  I absolutely love twists on old fairy tales (Neil Gaiman's short story, "Snow, Glass, Apples," is one of my favourites!), and I love the creativity involved in picking back through a classic and finding little twists and openings to reinterpret.  I'm actually working on another right now (not sci-fi this time) based on Red Riding Hood.  While I'm a big fan of The Company of Wolves, I am trying to steer clear of that sort of angle.

Amusingly enough, I was cutting it very fine on the deadline! I have improved in this, but sometimes you just still run out of time!  But what was funny was that while I was finishing the story, my dad and I were watching Iron Maiden, Live at Long Beach 1985...and I submitted the piece at 2 minutes to midnight! ;)

(Cookies, if you get that.  If you don't, you really need to get Edward the Great and brush up on some 'Maiden ;) ).

Other Fiction Projects
I'm working on two other short stories at the moment, with the intention of submitting them at the end of this month.  One is the aforementioned reinterpretation of Red Riding Hood, as I mentioned.  The other is an "urban mythic" submission I'm working on.  I think I may have a very different idea going, but one of the fun parts of it is that I get to do one of my favourite things- brush up on my world mythology!  Mythology of various cultures is a subject I love, and never get bored of.  I'm really into a strange mix of Egyptian, Mesopotamian/Sumerian and Norse at the moment, but my research leads me into other pantheons also.  I think I'm going to really enjoy this particular piece!

On a slightly unrelated note, I'm going to an alternative/fetish club event at the end of the month dressed as the Goddess Inanna ;) (theme is angels and demons, gods and comic book heroes).

Art Projects
I have various art projects ongoing, or about to begin presently.  One is a cute little idea I'm pursuing as a present for a friend- I've managed to get her hooked onto my own guilty pleasure, Monster High, and am currently rendering our group of friends as freaky-fabulous monster dolls! XD  Another thing I'm working on is a tattoo design; I have been itching for more ink for months, and it just seemed natural to me that, with Puffin's passing, I should have her portrait tattooed on my skin.  So I'm currently sifting through various old photos of my old dear, and also drafting up a design which also incorporates an ankh, and the Egyptian cat goddess, Bast.

I'm also going to work on a full-colour piece very soon...its a bit embarrassing to admit, but one of my favourite musicians is coming to the UK in May, and I'm going to one of his gigs, and I thought it might be nice, very fan-girly and not at ALL creepy to bring him a present :3 Its going to be a drawing of three belly dancers, inspired by one of his musical pieces.

(Speaking of belly-dance, I really need to get back into that this week...)

Other Developments and Upcoming Stuff!
Very soon, I shall be hosting my very first blog-post interview, so please stay tuned! I am also currently working on an interview for EGL Magazine.  I feel have neglected my work for EGL in recent months so I need to devote a little more attention to that.  I am also considering setting up an artist/writer's page on Facebook (one separate from my personal account), although I may put that off for a month or two.  I'm currently having some social-media issues that maybe affected by it, so I figure I might just put that back.  But it should make it easier for people to keep up to date with new projects etc, and spread da word!  Not to mention, I can share artwork a little more easily.  I may, possibly, think about reviving my old, abandoned DeviantArt account also.

Its been a hard couple of weeks, but its not been all bad.  I'm determined to knuckle down with more work at the moment.  Sometimes the distraction is a good thing, when times are tough.  My current mantra has been "haters gonna hate, bunnies gonna bun" XD.  But yes, things have been tough, but I have been surrounded by some amazingly lovely people, at home, in my social life and even in my working life, and it has made me very grateful, and helped me to cope.  I now hope that throwing myself into work will help me get myself back to...reality.

Right, back to work, still have loads to do.  But stay tuned, things are a-happening!
(And I will be back for April's IWSG.)

Thank you everyone for your continued support- wish you all well :)

In loving memory of Puffin

Monday, 4 March 2013

RIP Puffin

This morning, my 18-year-old cat, Puffin,  peacefully passed away in her little house.  We had suspected the end was near due to some very worrying and unusual behaviour last night.  However, despite how torn up we all are about it, I am pleased to say that the last time I held Puffin alive, just before I put her to bed last night, she was enjoying the attention and purring like a kitten.  I would like to think she just went to sleep happily and didn't wake up.

In light of this, I feel I need to put some of my writing endeavours on hold at the moment.  I can be a little flaky at the best of times, but I'm sure its understandable that at least for a few days I need a break.  I had a topic planned for this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group, but I think I may put that on hold till next month, for obvious reasons.  I had some other things I was meant to be working on, but the person involved with those, I'm sure will understand.  I just need a week or so to get myself together.

So my March Blog Post will be a bit late this month.  I don't know if anyone is particularly bothered, I don't think anyone is going to be actually affected by my quietness online for the next week or so, but I just wanted to let people know why I'm so quiet, and also not let Puffin's passing go on unmentioned, being as she was given a mention in one of my earlier blog posts, and of course, was a dearly beloved member of the family.

I just would like to thank my friends, so many of them, who have left a kind word of condolence or support- it has meant a lot, and made this very difficult day a lot easier.

RIP Puffin.  Lady Bast has taken you where you need to be.  Love you.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Women in Horror Month- SCP Feb eZine, Free Download!

Siren's Call Publications are celebrating Women in Horror Month by dedicating their February issue to the event, and only featuring female writers (men get their turn next time).  What's more, its free to download! Go and check it out now! :)

(My poem "Fey Shaper" is featured this month- thank you, SCP!)






Sunday, 10 February 2013

What's Happening in February?

Hello February!

Hello everyone! Like the picture? You can make one too, using the PULP-O-MIZER- just select what backgrounds, colours and characters you'd like, change the text and you'll have your own vintage-style science-fiction magazine cover!  They're great fun to play with, and I thought this would make a nifty and eye-catching header/introduction to my blog! Think I'll start the important ones like this from now on!

I also really love this style of artwork- its beautiful aesthetic, and I've really been into it ever since Bioshock (although they take a darker twist on that look!).

Isn't February usually the most depressing of months?  I've often found it to to be the worst month of the year for me...the weather is miserable, money isn't usually good, and you can't seem to get around like you normally would.  Anyone who's read my End-of-2012 blog entries will know last February was an awful time of the year for me, and I wasn't really expecting anything different for this year.  However, I am pleased to say that this month isn't really going too badly right now!  There seems to be a lot of really good things going on at the moment, which I will share with you momentarily. I'm also working on some new projects, and there just seems to be a really positive energy about that I usually don't see this time of the year

Upcoming Publications
I have mentioned these before, but I have some upcoming publications just around the corner.  Coming soon from Siren's Call Publications is the Bellows of the Bone Box anthology- an eerie collection of Steampunk-Horror.  My contribution is a short story called "Clockwork Doll", which was a real joy to write, and I also hope will be a joy to read- but I should warn you, its creepy!

Coming this month, Siren's Call Publication's bi-monthly eZine celebrates Women in Horror month (don't worry, the men get their turn next time!), and my poem "Fey Shaper" will be featured.  If you were the sort of child who stubbornly watched creepy movies and read scary books in spite of the nightmares they were giving you, you'll certainly get what this poem is about.

Also upcoming, Hic Dragones will be releasing their Impossible Spaces Anthology, which features many short stories from a range of dark genres.  My short story "Skin" was accepted into this anthology, much to my delight, as I really fell in love with the characters as I was writing this- this was a short story that I became very emotionally invested in, so I am so pleased by its acceptance.  "Skin" is a tragic romance within a dystopian science-fiction setting- but its no Romeo and Juliet, think more a twisted take on the Gift of the Magi.  More details to follow, as I recieve them!

New Projects
I am currently working on two more short stories, with the intention of submitting them by the end of March.  One might be influenced by the horror genre, but both are definitely fantasy.  For one, I am currently doing a lot of research into mythology (a subject I feel I have a decent amount of knowledge in already, but its a great subject, and one you can't learn too much about, I feel!), but the other one is still at the trickier part of planning.  With the acceptance of Skin into Impossible Spaces, I am also determined to revisit the story and expand upon it; there were a lot of possibilities left to explore but as it was a short story with a word count limit, I had to put that aside.  I am excited at the prospect of returning to this story in a more indepth manner at some point soon.

I am also working on some artwork projects at the moment, including tattoo artwork, and also some illustrations for novels I want to work on.

Speaking of novels...

Secrets Revealed...?
I am a very secretive writer by nature, for various reasons ranging from sheer paranoia to a lack of confidence, but for the most part, I dislike divulging information about works in progress.  However, during my last post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, I decided to take a little step and announced the name of what will be my first novel.

The novel will be called "Night Gods", and I have been working on it for some time- a long time in fact.  I'm not entirely sure when I began writing it, but I think I may have been writing it for about four years or so, which has prompted a running joke between my brother and I (anyone who has seen the ongoing banter between Stewie and Brian Griffin in Family Guy, regarding how slow Brian is in writing his own novel, will probably be able to guess how it pans out!).  Its been a tricky one, as it has a huge amount of personal content, and has been frequently plagued by the Dreaded Writer's Block.  It started as a dream I had some years ago, a very vivid one that I can still remember clearly to this day.  However, as a story emerged from the dream, it took on a lot of emotion and sometimes has been a struggle to continue.  There have been several long periods where I have been unable to touch it at all, which then abruptly end with a flurry of pages almost writing themselves.  I have learned to let myself have breaks from Night Gods, or to let it have a break from me, and only push it in the right places- its been a very organic writing processed, influenced very strongly on my feelings at the time. 

So what can I tell you about Night Gods?  Well, firstly, I can tell you that when I imagine scenes from the story, or even when I'm physically writing it, I have to be listening to the music of my favourite band, The Birthday Massacre, which makes up the majority of its secret "soundtrack".  I can also tell you that Night Gods is written entirely by hand; Night Gods began at a time when I was convinced I had "forgotten" how to write and was profoundly unhappy with anything I produced.  However, I found that writing it out by hand gives it a raw, emotional feeling that I couldn't seem to achieve by typing alone, and it has stuck that way (this of course has contributed to delay in finishing it- I have typed up everything that I've written on paper, editing and embellishing on the way, and of course, I suffer from tendonitis which can make writing by hand for long periods painful).  Also, I like to consider the story as influenced by a weird combination of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, the Labyrinth, and the creepy video game series, Silent Hill

I can also tell you that Night Gods will be finished this year.  It was my first New Years resolution in years, but, encouraged by getting published for the first time ever in the autumn, I realised that really, I can do this! I am now in the final part of the novel, moving very steadily towards the climax of the tale, and so I hope that by the summer I will have also moved onto the editing and revising process.  This is a little daunting for me, as last summer I had no idea how to edit, but I have picked up some good habits and knowledge already since then.  Writing short stories has taught me some helpful things that I'm sure will be very useful when editing a novel. 

I am also starting a little work on another novel (I wish they would they would just be patient and wait their turn, but ideas can be sooo demanding!), as its starting to nudge me with good ideas.

More Secrets and Things?
I doubt it'll be a surprise to anyone who's been reading this blog since it started last autumn, but I am not very adept with social networking, blogging and online publicity in general- not very good for an author and an online-magazine writer!  But that isn't for a lack of trying, and Blogspot and Twitter are slowly becoming less alien to me as I attempt to keep everyone updated.

This hasn't been a fruitless endeavour, but I would like to try and draw a larger audience, and I've decided one thing I might like to do is try giving any readers of this blog a snippet of some of my fiction writing that they don't need to buy or download (wow, I'm being brave, divulging information about my novel and sharing writing?! *gasp*).  I have a short story I wrote last summer that I'm going to be revisiting at a later date, but for the time being, it is just collecting figurative dust.  I believe people may find it enjoyable to read, even in its current form, however, and I think it might be worth sharing with people.

Its called "Moriko", and if you are a fan of Japanese mythology and folktales, this maybe right up your alley.  So if you would like to read some snippets from Moriko, please leave a comment and let me know!

Stuff and Oddments
You know, its funny how February is such a naff month, yet also has a lot going on in it.  We've had Imbolc and Setsubun already, then its Chinese New Year (that's today, Year of the Snake, doncha know?), then the beginning of Lent, Mardi Gras, Carnivale, Valentine's Day...despite it being the most miserable month of the calendar, there are a lot of events and dates going on!  Regardless of what nation or culture those celebrations might originate from, I like to acknowledge them all in my own way; I just like to take advantage of all that positive energy.  This time of the year, there is no harm in a little self-indulgence to help you get through the soggy, gloomy days.  This is something that I've been doing, even little things like treating myself to little cosmetic products while shopping or buying a nice hot chocolate from Costa when its cold.  So everyone, don't feel bad about treating yourself, and just hang on in there- spring is on the way! (Although it would be lovely if she could hurry up!)

So as you can see, I have finally gotten around to proudly posing with my copy of FEAR Anthology Volume 2, in which my short story "Candlelight" appears.  This book will always have a special place in my heart (and on my bookshelf!) as it is the first time my work has ever been published in a printed book!  I just can't believe that it won't be long before I appear in two more!  Candlelight is based on a nightmare I had about my younger brother being haunted by ghostly orphans- perfect for a stormy night.
If you are interested in any of my other fiction works, click the following links:

-"Alone in the Dark", Siren's Call Publications eZine issue #4, August issue, Dark and Edgy Horror

-"Candlelight", Crooked Cat Publishing, FEAR Anthology Volume 2 (proceeds go to charity)

-"Oiran" Siren's Call Publications eZine, issue #6, December issue, Frozen

And of course, I still write articles on Gothic and Alternative lifestyle and culture for EGL Magazine under my pen name, "Blackavar".

Thanks everyone for reading; please leave a comment if you want to read excerpt of Moriko.  Have a lovely February and lets hope spring makes it here soon!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group- Acknowledging Inspiration, Nods and Influences?



I have no problems with finding inspiration; I'm exposed to a lot of it.  I read like a little addicted bookworm, I watch a fair amount of film and television (more of the former than the latter) and I am interested in various non-fictional subjects that I love to read up on and consume knowledge.  I listen to a various different music genres, which are probably one of the most stimulating things for me, creatively speaking, I admire many forms of artwork which sometimes compel me to creatre a story to reflect the images, and even the various video games I enjoy dabbling in will inspire me.  And if all those sources weren't enough for me, I also have what my fiance calls a "naturally occurring form of crack" that is found only in my brain, and gives me extremely vivid, bizarre and crazy dreams.  I have used them for inspiration in the past, and will continue to do so.

We are always influenced by someone else, and that is just a fact of life when it comes to anything creative.  Even if we produced something original, some of its soul will have come from elsewhere.  Even things that reflect on our childhoods usually also reflect on whatever media we absorbed at that age- movies, cartoons, storybooks, etc.  Some of my favourite things from childhood that I think influenced me creatively were movies such as Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal, and books by writers such as Roald Dahl and KA Applegate's Animorph series.  As an adult, my influences have extended to include authors auch as Neil Gaiman (naturally), Phillip Pullman and Clive Barker, among a myriad of others, and films, musicians and games.

But do you ever get to a point where you worry if your inspiration is becoming more than just a nod to something that spoke to you?  Do you ever worry that your work is fast becoming more than just a tribute and becoming a rip off?

When I was in my pre-teen years, I used to spend the summer holidays writing lots of stories.  Heck, in my teen years, I wrote stories all the time.  There are several that stand to mind that, frankly, despite my pride in writing them, were practically plagirised from whatever I was interested in at the time.  After reading James Herbert's "Fluke", I suddenly churned out lots of little stories about people being reincarnated into black labradors.  Sometimes, one would even be named "Fluke", just for extra lack of originality :P Shortly after Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was released, I began a short series of sci-fi stories about a Princess Amistable (not all that far off from "Amidala", not that I realised it for some time) fighting against some nasty space tyrants.  In fairness, that story had a certain amount of deviancy from the Star Wars universe that inspired it, but my following series, when I was in Year 10, was a blatant rip-off of the Dragonball Z Universe.  The first story basically was Final-Fantasy: The Spirits Within meets the Saiyan Saga.  What it spawned became slightly more creative, but picked huge elements from Akira Toriyama's creation. 

Of course, I was just a kid writing for fun at the time, and had no understanding even on the simplest level of how to get published.  However, despite my constant borrowing from other creative minds, my English teacher clearly saw the potential- he told me he fully expected to see my name on a book one day.  He also encouraged me to draw on my own experiences in my writing.

Some other stories have been attempted, and then trashed for lack of originality over the years, but my current stories, I do feel, are all my own.  All of the short stories I have submitted since the summer have been my own stories, even if they have had their influences (Moriko- Daughter of the Forest was definately heavily influenced by Princess Mononoke and Okami, but I still feel it was my own tale).  One of my short stories was definately my own - it was a retelling of a true event that happened to me after all! Another was inspired by a nightmare I had suffered.

Its mainly my novels I worry about.  I am nearly finishing the first draft of a novel I am titling "Night Gods" (this it the first time I have publically admitted the title, as I am so secretive* ), and on many occasion, I have wondered how to describe it.  Usually something along the following emerges: " a mixture of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Labyrinth, the Neverending Story and Silent Hill" (I love to put Silent Hill right at the end, just to interrupt the line of lovely, fantasy sources :P ).  A huge portion of Night Gods comes directly from my own dreams, but the other influences are there.  Music by my favourite band The Birthday Massacre also makes up the entire, secret soundtrack that I imagine when visualising the story. 

On a confident day, I know damn well that no one will have read anything quite like Night Gods before.  Despite all those influences, I know that the story comes very much from within me- it is a very personal tale, and reflects directly on personal emotions, experiences and observations.  On a not-so-confident day, I fear the story being compared unfavourably to the inspiration from which I cannot deny had coloured it.

I have to remind myself that this is NOT a bad thing.  This is not the same thing as copying.  Every writer does the same thing- some of the greats have admitted as much, time and time again.  Perhaps, its just because at this point in time, I remain unpublished as a novelist, and doubt my work.  Perhaps when it is completed and people have the opportunity to go on that adventure, I will see that I have sold myself short?  I certainly hope so. 

Most of the inspirations have become mostly aesthetic at any rate.  I have two more novel ideas, waiting in the wings after Night Gods, and both I used to worry were "copies".  The one that will follow was originally sparked into life by watchng the extended teaser trailer for The Devil's Carnival- the story that now follows barely resembles TDC in any form, but the imagery of that teaser trailer remains a strong element in my idea.  The other, the full-length version of my short story Skin is more original, but also has huge aesthetic influence from last year's blockbuster, Prometheus (although the stories resemble each other in no way!).  Obviously, I am very much visually stimulated- certain pictures and images spark off ideas that carry off on their own, and will go a very different path, even if they share the same colours.

So, the question I pose, is when you know full well you have drawn influence from another artist, what is the best way to handle that?  If you are confident that you have not ripped off someone else, merely accepted the influence and crafted something of your own, how do you appropriately nod towards the inspiration? 

I recently had a poem accepted, in which I reference two things- in the submitting email, I made a point of pointing those out, as I was unsure of whether or not it could be "allowed".  One reference was "Say your right words", a line taken directly from Labyrinth ("'Say your right words,' the goblins said"  as the line in the movie goes).  Another was a nod towards the film adaptation of Coraline- by mentioning that stones with holes are "good for lost things sometimes".  Now, I should mention the poem is about scary films influencing children when they go to sleep and see shadows on the walls, so it wasn't a case of me just ripping off dialogue, but clearly referencing something else :P. 

What is the correct way to acknowledge the inspiration or artist who influenced you and came before you?  Is there a particular way of going about it? 


So that's whats been on my mind recently.  I have to say, there is one thing that does come to mind that does set my mind a little bit at ease; I recently finished reading Clive Barker's Weaveworld.  Its an absolutely beautiful book, and at the end, little prickles of tears stung my eyes.  I was struck how some of the themes and elements remined me of Night Gods- however, I certainly can't have "ripped" Weaveworld off- Weaveworld has been knocking about for years, I only started reading it last year, and have been writing Night Gods for about three or four years now (yes, I am slow).  So I guess perhaps that a lot of authors and writers are simply wired in the same way- we think on similar wave lengths and certain subjects and possibilities occur to us, no matter how different from one another we try to be :)


(* I think being secretive is one of my problems.  I am nervous of sharing my work for various reasons, so without other people to take a look at it, I can't always be sure of just HOW original my ideas are).

Hope you all had a good January (mine turned out alright after I recovered- thanks for all the comments, and apologies again for the whiny-ness of that last post!) and happy February to you all :)