December and Dark Corners

December 3, 2016 at 12:28 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

darkcornersI know this has been my first blog post in some time and it’s not because I participated in Nanowrimo this year (I didn’t). Rather, real life had me busy. An issue with my well/running water that had to be resolved before the ground froze for the winter had me (and to a larger extent, my husband) occupied on the home front for over a week.

Meanwhile, having to move offices (for a third time since I started my current job) meant numerous missed breaks and lunch hours and just a general sense of feeling burnt out at the end of the work day – so any blog posts got put on hold for sometime.

December won’t be much better, time wise. Commitments for the holidays, Christmas shopping and trying to fulfill the act from my daily act of kindness advent calendar doesn’t leave much wiggle room for writing or blogging, but I’ll do my best to squeeze some in.

On a happy note, I did keep up with my short fiction writing in November. One of my blitz acceptances (from a rejection the publisher retracted the day after it was sent – a first for me) came with a request for a sequel short, so I completed that. I hope they like it. I added a bit of plot and character complexity that they might appreciate, or it may put them off. I’ll wait and see.

I also worked on a sci-fi story for a selective call for submissions (a call extension by invitation only) with an impending deadline. Writing to a requested theme can be tricky – I have a tendency to skirt the edges of the topic to avoid being boxed in, which doesn’t always work in my favour. The story ended up nice and tight though, so I’m hopeful it has a chance.

And in other news, November saw a new story release. My horror short story, “On the Tip of her Tongue” is now available in the latest Dark Corners anthology, dedicated to the original editor, who sadly passed away before the anthology saw the light. Thanks to his wife and others committed to seeing the anthology’s completion, his efforts won’t go to waste.

I’ll try to get in a few updates in December, but if blog posts are limited, I’ll make up for it in January with my first annual winter submission blitz. I’m aiming for 100 submissions next year. Let’s see if I can make it happen.

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Yuletide Plans

December 24, 2015 at 3:25 am (writing) (, , , , , , )

xmas3I’ve been tinkering away at a story I just recently finished, with a few new submissions I intend to send in over the holidays. Another rejection came my way recently and I’m hoping to get the opportunity to resubmit so I’m digging around to see what calls are out there.

I don’t know when I’ll get around to returning to working on Fervor #6, which is partially complete. I’m not feeling all that invested in writing novels with so many manuscripts here waiting for a home, and since I don’t have the inclination to make a serious shopping effort, nor do I have the time, resources or drive to self-publish (the right way), they’re more than likely going to sit here gathering dust. At least I can say that they’ve all been read by at least one person who enjoyed them, some of them by multiple people, and at the moment, that’s all I can ask for. Things could change some day. We don’t know what the future holds.

In the meantime, my holiday plans involve less writerly things. Tomorrow my daughter and I will be working my workplace’s kids’ party. I do face painting (it’s not pro-level but I’m volunteering so they seem okay with what I produce) and she does balloon animals (self-taught as of age 8 – she amazes me.) After the party wraps up, we’ll be headed out for celebratory sushi. It’s not exactly standard holiday fare, but it’s a favourite in my household.

Other than that, Christmas will be a quiet time at home with the kids and my mother-in-law, just the inhabitants of my house. Not that guests wouldn’t be welcome, but my relatives are spread to the four winds (France, England, Calgary) and friends have plans of their own. My hubby’s family is also spread out, his sister a couple of hours drive to the south and his brothers and father in Alberta. Home’s best for my youngest anyway, Because of his autism, he’s not big on crowds and he’s most at ease when holding to regular routines.

I will miss my friends, Kelly and Pierre’s, open house this year, but they moved away. It was one of those outings I knew would be Etienne-friendly. They always had a gluten-free spread and his stimming and strange ways never seemed to bother anyone all that much. We’ll raise a cup to them though, and wish them well in their new home in Montreal.

Here’s a big happy holidays to all of you out there, no matter what you celebrate (or don’t). I hope this festive time of year brings you time with family, friends and fun.

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The Season for Waiting

December 16, 2015 at 10:57 pm (fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , )

I’ve had lots of news lately, but unfortunately not things I’m at liberty to share. I got a peek at an anthology cover but I have to wait for it’s official release. I recently received an acceptance and contract but mum’s the word until the official ToC is announced and I’m still waiting to spread joy about an earlier acceptance which I’ve been asked to keep quiet for now.

I’m also waiting on the release of three anthologies I’m in, two horror, one fantasy, that are supposed to be released soon, but I haven’t had word on any exact dates.

With all this waiting, I’m getting a little twitchy – kind of like a kid waiting for Christmas Day.

So I’m trying to keep myself occupied by enjoying my new netbook (with its 9 hour battery life -yay!) and writing and submitting a few short stories. That way, the waiting doesn’t seem so bad.

Twitch, twitch.

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Tis the Season

December 1, 2015 at 11:26 pm (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

Dethlehem3

This has been a good week for me. To begin with, I have a new notebook computer. It was going to be a “family” Christmas gift to me, but thanks to my lovely mother, Christmas arrived early. This means I’m writing consistently again and I will have a number of submissions to make over the next month, even though I won’t be blitzing. It also means a return to regular blog posts – happy, happy.

I’m also celebrating the release of “The Hack-Jack Prospect” in time for Christmas.  And Grinning Skull’s latest Christmas charity anthology should soon follow.  Watch here for more details.

So I’m off to saturate myself in coffee and get in more writing – happy holiday season to all.

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Women in Horror – Shared Pages: Catherine Grant

February 26, 2015 at 3:37 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

CatherineGrantI chose this female horror writer for my spotlight because her story “One of his Own” in the O Little Town of Deathlehem anthology is that wonderfully jarring type of horror story that just gets under your skin. I wouldn’t want one of my own for Christmas *shiver*.

In addition to being a woman in horror, Catherine also is an editor, blog mistress, office monkey, bibliophile, gamer and connoisseur of caffeine-laden beverages (her description). She got an early start on horror thanks to the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

Find out more about Catherine here: http://www.authorcatherinegrant.com/

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Scary Christmas

December 26, 2014 at 4:09 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , )

rtdYou might think frightening tales about Christmas like the ones in Return to Dethlehem are a modern thing, but stories about Christmas monsters have been a long standing tradition. Here are several examples of yuletide nasty beasties that I managed to dig up when I went looking:
1. Baboushka (La Befana)
2. Belsnickel
3. Frau Perchta
4. Grýla (mother of Yule Lads) and husband, Leppalúði
5. Hans Trapp
6. Jólaköttur(inn) (The Yule Cat)
7. Kallikantzaros
8.Krampus
9. Mari Lwyd (the Christmas Zombie Horse)
10. Père Fouettard (Papa Whip)
11. Servant Rupert
12. Straggele
13. Tomte(n)
14. Yule Lads (Sheep-Cote Clod, Gully Gawk, Stubby, Spoon Licker, Pot Scraper, Bowl Licker, Door Slammer, Skyr Gobbler, Sausage Swiper, Window Peeper, Door Sniffer, Meat Hook, Candle Beggar – From the poem The Yuletide Lads by Jóhannes úr Kötlum. )
15. Zwarte Piet (Black Peter)

And here are a few blogs regarding these monsters as reference:

http://scarylittlechristmas.wordpress.com/
http://www.fright.com/edge/scary_facts_about_christmas.htm
http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/non-fiction/articles/the-myths-and-legends-behind-christmas/
http://www.thjodminjasafn.is/english/for-visitors/christmas/other-christmas-characters/

So have a merry scary Christmas and keep an eye out for things that go bump in the night.

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Submission Blitz – Day 19

April 20, 2013 at 2:29 am (fantasy, writing) (, , , , )

Late in the day as it was, I did get out today’s submission, but it was the unlikely-to-find-a-home “The Paint-box” rather than “On the Tip of her Tongue.” I made good progress on it in the morning, and I’m sure I would have finished it if I had not strayed from my usual routine, but things were a little different today because of Barb’s memorial service. I stayed late at work and hung out with one of my co-workers, Sherry, prior to the service. There didn’t seem much point to heading home briefly only to have to turn around and drive back in again. So I kept her company while she shopped, we went for a burger (a super gourmet burger topped with bacon, monteray jack, guacamole, jalapenos, lettuce, tomatoes and fried onions), and when two other friends joined us, we headed out to the service together.

The service was nice, although sad. Terry, Barb’s fiancé, had a couple of slideshows running with photos of her. Terry mentioned she would have killed him for putting up those photos, but I know seeing those pictures made us all feel better. She may not have considered herself photogenic, but she was beautiful in every single one of those shots – and smiling in most of them. I especially liked the ones where she was wearing one of my face-paintings. She insisted I paint her one every year at the Christmas party. I never would have imagined this year’s face-painting would be the last, but that just goes to show you should never take anything for granted.

Seriously – I mean that. Barb never took anything for granted and that’s one of the reasons why so many people loved her. There were a lot of people at that service tonight, and not one of the people there considered Barb “just an acquaintance.” She had a hard life, but she never used that as an excuse for being bitter or inconsiderate. She managed to make everyone she got to know feel special. There’s not enough of those kinds of people in the world. There ought to be more; the world would be a much better place for it. Sadly, the ones we do have don’t seem to last nearly as long as the selfish, inconsiderate schmucks who don’t give a damn about anyone else.

Barb really liked “The Paint-box” but I may never find it a proper home. It is only borderline fantasy, with a bit of a dark flavour, but just speculative enough that I don’t think it could pass for mainstream. We’ll see how it fares with this submission. You never know just what will grab ’em.

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Genre for the Holidays – Last Minute Business

December 24, 2012 at 3:17 am (horror, writing) (, , , , , )

Just tying up the last few loose ends before Christmas. Dinner items have been purchased, gifts wrapped, stockings readied and cards were sent out long ago, although I realize three went to old addresses and I need to resend them because folks have moved since last Christmas (they’ll get their cards late – so sorry). Next I have to go through my face paints and get them organized for the party tomorrow – my daughter will be making balloon animals. The party lasts 3 hours and involves more than 100 kids – ugh! I won’t want to see another child again for a week, other than my own. We have two other parties to go to after that, first visiting friends and then my husband’s family. It’s going to be pretty busy.

I’ve also been typing in that horror Christmas story I mentioned, Deck the Halls. Here’s the promised excerpt:

The house was lonelier than Ward thought it would be, even though he didn’t really miss his mother. Now that it was the week before Christmas and Ward had had one too many celebratory rum and eggnogs, heavy on the rum, he had decided it was time to decorate.

“I don’t need anyone to bring me any lame-ass ole’ presents,” he slurred as he pulled out the storage bins, talking to nobody in particular. “I can buy plenty of my own damn presents, thanks to that insurance money. All I need to do now is sell this crappy house – probably in the spring. Then I can go anywhere and do anything I want to.”

He stumbled along with boxes in hand, headed for the hallway where he had already set up the artificial tree. He had bought that himself, a few days after his mother had died. She had always insisted on a real tree, so he had gotten it just to snub her memory – proof that she could no longer order him around.

Ward staggered around carelessly, dropping more than one ornament as he attempted to hang them on the tree. He cut his finger on one of them, but just laughed at the pain, shovelling all of the broken bits into a garbage bag along with a few of the undamaged but tacky ones his mother had adored, but he had always hated. They were mostly ones with a religious motif.

“I don’t have to look at that shit anymore, and I don’t have to listen to your nagging ever again either. I get to ‘deck the halls’ anyway I choose.” Ward sang those three words like the Christmas carol. “I get to hang my hockey team ornaments wherever I want, not just in my room, and I get to put up my naked girly garland that I got at the novelty store. This is my home now – and my decorations. So fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.”

Ward belched and threw a couple of her favourite gaudy antique ornaments against the wall, with a loud “crash!” He laughed uproariously as they smashed to smithereens.

“That one’s for you, Ma.”

There will be one of my full flash fiction pieces featured on the Guild of Dreams site tomorrow. I’ll be reblogging to Word Blurb, since I won’t have time to do anything more. See you then!

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Genre for the Holidays – A Little Bit of Mystery

December 23, 2012 at 2:51 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Today I’m going to talk about a genre of a different nature. I’m not a big mystery fan, normally. I don’t see myself writing mystery (although I did put together a little fantasy murder mystery party called “Who Killed Dodger Nabbit?”) I am, however, very much inclined to the modernized versions of Sherlock Holmes (I enjoyed Mr. Downey Jr. as Holmes on the big screen, although I prefer him as Iron Man). I was fortunate enough today to get to see Episode 1 of Season 2 of the latest British Sherlock TV series which was a holiday episode encompassing Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Day. It also was a risqué episode involving a dominatrix known as “The Woman” who managed to actually capture Sherlock’s interest. The series is brilliant, and this episode is captivating. While other versions of Sherlock Holmes are entertaining, the acting in this is impeccable, the plots are interesting and there is amazing depth to the characterization (I adore both Holmes and Watson in this version.)

Comparing the latest American version, Elementary, is a little unfair. The British version wins hands down, in my opinion, but Elementary is still worth watching. I wasn’t planning on following it – I figured with a female Watson (Lucy Liu,) and Hollywoodization, it would be kitschy, but it sucked me in despite my intentions to avoid it. So far, I’ve found it quite interesting, and there’s good chemistry between Watson and Holmes, although it fades in the shadow of the chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. I also can’t help but look at them with fan-girl awe, when you consider Freeman played Arthur Dent and Bilbo Baggins and Benedict Cumberbatch joined Freeman in The Hobbit (in the later segments of the story) and is playing the big baddie in the next Star Trek movie.

And I miss another American Sherlock series that I didn’t recognize for what it was until it was ending. Of course, there was a slight attempt to disguise it. Rather than Holmes, the name used was House, his best friend Doctor Wilson instead of Doctor Watson, and the detective was a medical one, but Gregory shared many of the characteristics typical to Sherlock including drug abuse, an acerbic personality and the love of catching people in lies. I just didn’t clue in to all the similarities until the end.

Word has it that despite new fandom success for its co-stars, there will be more episodes of Sherlock. If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend it.

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Genre for the Holidays – Sounds for the Season

December 22, 2012 at 12:59 am (fantasy, horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

One of the great oral features of the festive season is the selection of holiday episodes at my favourite genre podcasts. I thought I would share my picks and links to some winning seasonal audio tales. Here they are:

Tales to Terrify: a horror podcast with sinister flavour, this episode features a short story called The Spirit of Christmas – http://talestoterrify.com/tales-to-terrify-show-no-49-lawrence-santoro-and-james-lovegrove/

Podcastle: for fantasy fans you can find their yarn with a Christmas spin, Catching the Spirit, at http://podcastle.org/2012/12/18/podcastle-239-catching-the-spirit/

Pseudopod: Podcastle’s horror sister podcast offers a gothic Christmas tale, The Dead Sexton – http://pseudopod.org/2012/12/21/pseudopod-313-the-dead-sexton/http://pseudopod.org/2012/12/21/pseudopod-313-the-dead-sexton/

And I’ve mentioned this one before, but this year’s Wicked Women Writers competition featured holiday stories including ones for Christmas and Hanukah. You can find the full spread here: http://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/horror-addicts-079-wicked-women-writers-challenge/

While they do not have any specifically holiday-themed stories, you can find some excellent speculative fiction at Drabblecast and Starship Sofa.

4 days left ’til Christmas J

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