This time of year is flying along so fast that my attention is really only going to the essentials. In Melbourne we have recently emerged from stage #4 lockdown with all its limitations. Our household continues to adjust and be savvy with time, space, energy and so on….especially energy. It’s not the time to be wasting time on unproductive pursuits, whatever they may be. And from this writers’ viewpoint, that means being really certain about time going into projects and submissions that may be over-consuming of my precious time and energy.
💕💜💕 Key statement: Is it really worth it? 💕💜💕
Not much to speak of for this month so far, other than it’s NaNoWriMo time being November and many writers, myself included, are squeezing out thousands of extra words this month, including starting novellas and novels. I’m finding it a great time to complete a range of short stories for several calls I got my eye on. So it’s day 5 today and I’m up to 5k words which makes me happy and feeling productive. The plan is to do 1k words daily for the month, finish the works in progress and set up a trait of writing longer and more often. Sounds good to me.
A couple of other recent achievements are publication of a poem about boredom called “The Dreaded Blue-Grey” thanks to Dagmara at Spillwords, publication of the book, “Nation” from Jesu at Barrio Blues Press; microfiction and a short story, “Halloween Spirit” and “The Wedding” being published by Paper Djinn Press, thanks to Umair editor-in-chief. Iron Faerie Publishing also released “Hexed” this month, and accepted my future work, “The Queen Mother Saw” for their Hawthorn and Ash anthology coming later this year; an acceptance for my essay about being a writer to Sweetycat Press, “To Be or Not To Be a Writer” collection, thanks to the prolific writer and publisher, Steven Lester Carr.
Today is September 1st and it’s feeling like a mammoth occasion because Spring is here. You know; all the birds buzzing around, and bees lapping up honey in our blossomed white tree in the backyard. It has a nice fresh feeling about it even though we are still in lockdown and the days of the week are blurring, morphing into each other.
For some time now I have contemplated the writing of horror and what is unique to this particular sub-genre of speculative fiction. My written horror micro-fiction usually has irony or humour ingrained in it. I can’t write it too sublimely gruesome as my preferences lay with fantasy, sci-fi or the paranormal. So I asked three writers, who I know especially through Black Hare Press, their own slant on it. Here’s what they had to say. Thanks to Hari Navarro based in Italy, Dawn De Braal from the US and Jasmine Jarvis from Australia. Their links are also below as they are all worth following up on social media, especially if you are a horror story fan. Each one has their own talent, uniqueness and appeal.
What is it about writing horror that appeals to you?
Hari: To me it’s a very honest genre. Whereas other tropes might allude to the dark things that prod us to do and think the way that we do, horror is a far more direct examination. I know certain victims of violence find solace in extreme forms of horror. It affords chance to safely peer through the eyes of our daemons and ponder just what makes them tick.
Dawn: I love psychological horror over blood and guts, plots that twist in the end unexpectedly. Horror gives you freedom, a “no holds barred” liberty that is invigorating.
Jasmine: In my teens I was heavily into reading horror, but it never truly sunk in just how scary it could actually be until my epiphany one night in September 1997. I was going through my Anne Rice phase and was eyeballs deep in her vampire series. Up until this moment I was like “meh! Bitey monsters, no biggie!” (thanks Hollywood!) but that night after reading a few chapters of The Vampire Lestat, I stopped and actually thought about it. About being hunted by a creature that was strong, fast, driven by hunger and volatile. How would I, a then 15 year old be able to escape a vampire? Then I began to think just how horrible living forever would actually be. The more I thought about it I realised that immortality was a frightening concept too.
So I mulled over this epiphany in my room in the dead of a hot and steamy Townsville night. Outside I could hear the fruit bats fighting in my neighbours mango tree. The realisation of just how scary these things (vampires, not fruit bats) could be was sinking in, but not enough to deter me from leaving my room to go to the bathroom. Unbeknownst to me, my mum, who was tired of constantly fighting to get me to not read at night, had heard me get up and she snuck into my bedroom where she hid behind the door and waited for my return. I walked back into my room, still occupied by the thoughts of vampires, when I closed the door and my mum lunged at me, hissing and gurgling. Her frizzy blonde hair sticking out in all directions, the sliver of streetlight that came in through the crack of my blinds made her look absolutely terrifying. I dropped on the spot, screaming and boxing the air – if I was going to die, I would do so fighting.
So fear. Fear is what appeals to me about writing horror stories.
What has been your best horror story/drabble and why?
Hari: “Pieces of Grace”, a short I based on the video for Slipknots – Vermilion Pt. 2. It involves the body of a beautiful woman who mysteriously appears from the sky and unconsciously floats the earth swirling and dancing upon the breeze. Initial fascination is replaced with greed as mankind literally tears her apart for souvenirs.
Dawn: Usually it’s the latest baby I gave birth too. One of my favorites is “Prelude to Murder,” a story about a young woman who leaves her alcoholic mother days before her 21st birthday, and hitchhikes from Illinois to Florida with a man she doesn’t know after meeting him at a truck stop.
Jasmine: My favourite drabble is one I wrote last year – The Tech Age Apocalypse (in Black Hare Press Apocalypse anthology) – because now it is even more terrifying given what is going on at the moment with the pandemic.
Which writers have inspired your writing horror & why?
Hari: I recently discovered Lucas Mangum via his book “Saint Sadist”. Not strictly horror though certainly horrific in theme it taught me to be indelibly true to my ideas.
Dawn: I grew up on Steven King and Dean Koontz. I was always amazed at how well they could tell a story, and scare you with words, not violence.
Jasmine: When I was in high school, I was an avid reader of Stephen King, Anne Rice, Christopher Pike. I was sixteen when I got my hands on a copy of the true account that The Exorcist was based on. Now that book kept me awake all night! Anything paranormal and I am like a moth to a flame! Now I mainly read autobiographies, history, crime (currently re-reading The Complete and Essential Jack the Ripper by Paul Begg and John Bennett), political, environmental and social science books. My fiction collection is across multiple genres. Basically I am happy to read anything I can get my hands on. I love reading, I love stories. I draw my inspiration for my horror stories from what is around me. My upcoming story The Rise of the Great Old One came about while listening to clips of unexplained underwater sounds with my kids one afternoon. We then began to talk about Cthulhu and what if the creatures Lovecraft wrote about in his stories actually exist here and now; and that he saw them and knew we were going to be wiped out, but instead of saying outright “hey guys, don’t want to alarm you but have you seen these monsters? Like, the person standing next to you, the one with fish eyes, yeah that is one of Cthulhu’s buddies. Oh, and by the way, we are doomed!” (which would have seen him locked up in an institution). He instead tried to impart these warnings of our demise at the hands (tentacles) of these monsters in his stories, and we lapped it up as fiction. From that, my story took shape. I have always had an active imagination, and the authors of the stories I read in my teens I think have had the biggest influence and have set the foundation for my horror writing today.
POETS – I’m over the moon about acceptance of my poem ‘Ask Your Mum’ to the Penned in the City’s charity chapbook, NATION. My first ever poem to get published and for a really good cause too. Thanks to Jesu Estrada and Ximena Escobar. Boom! That requires as much celebration as this Melbourne lockdown can provide.
A new forthcoming book from Sweetycat Press with stories from a range of emerging and otherwise writers’ journey to their current spot in the literary scheme of things. This looks to be an insightful, interesting and popular read. A big shout-out to author and publisher Steve Carr for providing the opportunity. 📚Hoping to send mine before tomorrow. 🔴
And just for some ambience my friend Patricia in Tahiti took these wonderful tropical beach photos. The doggos look a bit anxious, but the water is totally chilled. 💜
This is a submission call for speculative poetry from the new Paper Djinn Press from Umair and Shawn. Love the cover and hoping to be part of this.
Sometimes one has to step back and take an inventory of the direction of one’s writing activities. Note that I don’t say writing ‘career’ as it doesn’t feel like I have one. Does whether I am being paid for writing or not have anything to do with that? Time will tell.
Recently I caught myself out procrastinating, and I’m glad I did. As I hovered in the backroom of a particular social media platform waiting for someone else to be making something happen, (to suit me), I remembered the reviews I have wanted to do. That’s currently at least three books, and a fourth counting an August uni assessment. It also requires reading the books first!
Writing isn’t just about anticipating acceptances. It’s about writing reviews, whether for other writers, blogs or publishers. We indie authors all help each other, right?
So I need to sort my writing activity out. Currently I have several bits of work on the go, ie: short stories. Is this wise? Should I work on one thing at a time, or dive into a multi-tasking of writing projects? Like reading, I have about six books on the go, and that’s not including kindle. Is there a writer who just sits down and does one thing at a time? Maybe there is, and they are writing a novel? Something I am decidedly not doing as I’m happy with writing short stories, microfiction and poetry.
So keeping to the theme here, what do writers do when they are not actually writing? And I’m talking about writing-related tasks, not eating, sleeping etc.. Apart from actual writing, writers do a lot of other necessary things to keep their productivity afloat. This includes:
1) Engaging with other writers and publishers on social media. This needs discernment or time is lost.
2) Preparing work to submit. This includes finding beta readers, editing and layout, and sending submissions off to a publisher. Can take up quite some time.
3) Research. I am currently researching ideas for a poem which is something I’ve not done for poetry before.
4) Keeping notes and notebooks, preferably in a well-organised manner.
5) Writing the blog. Say no more…
6) Reading. This is an absolute requirement, not just for escape and sanity, but for ideas, comparisons and refreshment.
7) Reflecting on rejections and learning to tolerate them as part of the process. It can be a bitter pill, (disappointment), but it’s silver lining is that it moderates ego (ouch!) and so whilst learning new ways to improve one’s writing, it also helps you become a better person.
8) Doing interviews or interviewing other writers.
As from tonight Melbourne goes into stage four lockdown, so I’ve found that the best coping mechanism is to get really creative with my time. Some friends are doing it with food, as in making new dishes, bread, etc. It’s good to make friends with your mind, and do some meditation or mindfulness. Lots of Zoom calls and some interesting webinars are available too. (Writers festivals etc..) Make it easier. 💟🕯🔥😊🔥🕯💕
Here’s July already and Melbourne has again gone into lockdown, masks are being encouraged, and I have ceased my day a week of health care work with intentions of more paid writing work coming to me. (With some effort of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day).
Am continuing to challenge myself by delving into new areas of writing world. This has meant 1) seeking out or being sent to publishers with whom I have not previously submitted my work, 2) plotting out some short stories and microfiction in new (for me) genres, eg: crime fiction and 3) THE most exciting, reigniting the flame of writing poetry.
YES! I wrote poetry for years and no, I treated it badly, and therefore didn’t keep much if it. Now, however it seems so special, easy and…..appropriate to write. So I’ve been doing that and have submitted a few so far.
June and July have also been a time of attending some online writers festivals and other writer-learning sessions. Doing one on crime fiction this weekend with Dave Warner, and another on ghostwriting in a few weeks. Always more to learn….
Shout-out to Paper Djinn Press, and Umair for moving this venture foward. Looks like a breath of fresh air for fantasy and sci-fi writers. Good luck! And another 💜 to the generous and prolific Black Hare Press, most happy to know that Dean is back and smoothly cranking it up. I was so pleased to receive my contract from Fantasia Divinity for the Earth of Oblivion anthology, which includes two short short pieces I wrote, Mudwitch and Grounded. Coming soon. Such a great cover! 💚
Really enjoyed writing a couple of micro stories for this (above) anthology too. Thanks for accepting, Kelly Matsuura. 💜 When I spent about nine months travelling around SE Asia, it changed my life in many ways, and this is the beginning of writing about it. These two were inspired by a Buddhist temple in south Thailand and staying on Nusa Lembongen near Bali.
Stay safe! And keep away from all peaceless situations, unless as you can help improve it. 🌹 Good luck! It’s more than half way through 2020 and a lot has been seen and understood. 🌳
Time for a blog post to share some news and views. May has almost ended and we’ve been in Lockdown now for 2-3 months. As has been suggested by many, this time of isolation is good for those who are naturally hermit-like and introvert. This is a part of me for sure, however not the full picture. I like being around people, I like to go out and I like choosing activities that take me into another environment for the newness and refreshment it brings.
Still, this enforced time of being at home has been useful and productive with my writing, finishing stories and submitting them, seeking out some new publishers and gaining further momentum which my main publisher, the fabulous, prolific Black Hare Press.
There’s also been the study of Narratology in this past few months, although not a favourite initially, has turned out to be useful as well as interesting. (Would the idea of analysing text previously caught my attention? No. But now it does.) Just need to plan and complete the 3000 word final essay now, and onto the next unit which is a look at short stories. Yes!
Here (above) are a few anthologies which are publishing one of my stories, or microfiction.
One of the most fun pieces I wrote lately was about a huge live-in robot called ‘The Magnificent General Vici Galactos’ This was accepted into BHPs Lockdown sci-fi series.
I will try and do a monthly blog. Promise. Take care and stay tuned in.
Actually I do recall being bored… I don’t like it. It’s a fed-up ‘let me out of this jail’ kind of feeling and I never came to terms with it. Maybe I should have honed in on it with the right mindfulness technique. Oh well, over with that one.
So why don’t I ever get bored in these past couple of years? I started to write more seriously. Yes, I’d always written, be it poetry or paragraphs or plot themes. Now it was becoming more substantial. I had a need to get published, and share what I write. Put it out there into the big world. And the best way, of course, online and independently. Welcome to the world of Indie Publishing – you will like it here and life will never be the same. So that put an end to any old strains of boredom that may have lurked menacingly on the horizon.
And now, with the sudden emergence of what they are calling Covid -19, I am finding myself working from home and also hardly leaving the house. A trip to the supermarket every few days brings new things to see, and the walk every 2 days is having significant advantages. I just made a mind map of my ‘Time Takers’- things I do which hold my time. Here it is.
Meditation routine – starts early each morning, then includes a Webinar at 6.30am, connecting with individuals or in groups on platforms like Zoom or Google Meet etc..ongoing throughout the day.
Uni work – currently studying a unit on Narratology in my post grad Cloud ‘Writing and Literature course. ‘ This keeps giving me fresh ideas on my second greatest love *WRITING.*
Writing – I write speculative fiction, poetry, dabble in crime/psychological fiction and the odd paranormal romance. Love it all. It’s not my full-time work so I’m a bit more low key on promotion on social media, but am part of several online writing groups and especially Black Hare Press which is full of interesting, unique, and ‘no flies on me’ writers. Love it!
That’s not all I do, but will hold it there as lunch is ready and this is getting a bit long and detailed. 😻
I’m here in India – Mount Abu Rajastan, doing my annual trip which is a time to get back to the real core me and tune into the deeper understanding of 1) Who am I? 2) What am I doing? and 3) Where am I going? (especially in 2020). Deep reflections indeed. Spiritual is necessary in these chaotic times. (Even if just to still the chaotic mind.) 💛
In the past 10 months I’ve had great success in getting my writing work published as well as branching out into other areas of Speculative Fiction that I may not have previously considered. A huge shout out to Black Hare Press for being an indie publisher with the strong ethic of encouraging and supporting emerging writers. 💜
So the year ahead looks fast, exciting and wrought with possibilities. However, I’m understanding the need for balance and even more, the required self discipline to keep the most important thing of all steady, stable and flourishing: My Inner State of Mind. Love to all. Some pics of Indian art at the meditation retreat I attend. 🐼
A quick post here seeing as I have been non-communicado for several months. My excuse is being busy, but that’s a tardy one. It’s usually about procrastination, but enough of that. I’m back. And regular, so here it is. My February 6th 2020 rant.
Today I am quite excited! A few reasons for this, and the main one being is that today, after I do some driving and work for 3 hours, I will sit myself down at one of my libraries (I visit 6 depending on my location on the day), and freely, easily and wholeheartedly write. Write, write and write! And I will endeavour to complete one Work in Progress. I have 2 WIPs – short stories and another to edit and 2 poems to be added to the edit list. So I will lap up 3 hours at the chosen library and seriously immerse myself in it. Can’t wait!
Have had work accepted in several anthologies of late. Take a look. Adios.
With good intentions in 2019 I took a dip into the NoNoWriMo aims and intentions. The plan was to ideally write 30,000 words, (not the 50,000 they suggest) but life had other plans so I ended up with a 2000 word story about power and control (see the Duchess Klara), several drabbles, (accepted into two anthologies to date & waiting to hear from several others). Other WIP includes a take on a famous fairy tale and a novella about a man who wants eternal youth.
These are some of the upcoming anthologies I have pieces in. 🔴 ❤ 🔴