what i’m sick of

Astarte.Canty

Astarte by Canty

Before I get to that, I’ve finally hit upon a new blog name; dayya was only temporary. Penpanther is the blog’s new name.

And my Nanowrimo manuscript, A Useful Blind, stands at 39,704 words. I will be finishing on time. And then there’ll be one hell of a rewrite in 2015.

Now . . . what I’m sick of  . . . these are declarations to remind me that I am a writer, have always been a writer, and will always be a writer–it’s me through and through . . . if I don’t write, I’m lost. You know that anecdotal tale about burning the ships? Some tellings name Julius Caesar as the original guy who burned his ships upon invading Britain, other tellings name Hernan Cortes’ conquest of the Aztec Empire. In 1519 Cortes landed on the coast of a new land in the New World, he destroyed his ships and two years later conquered the Aztec Empire. For Cortes and his Spaniards, there was no giving up and no going back. I burned my ships, and I’m never going to surrender. But, like Danny Elfman’s “The Little Things” on the WANTED soundtrack, I’m sick of the little things.

  • I’m sick of everything getting in the way of me writing.
  • I’m sick of having to earn money doing everything but writing.
  • I’m sick of my unfinished manuscripts.
  • I’m sick of my lost days, days when I don’t write. And there’s far too many of those!
  • I’m sick of thinking about writing and not doing it.

Forward!

wolf apples

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My love of tomatoes began with my great-aunt Stella. “Got a taste for tomatoes and vinegars,” she used to say. She had another name for tomatoes too–“wolf apples.” I don’t know where she got it–I was a little girl then and didn’t question my elders, but being of a fantastical turn of mind, I thought of werewolves ’cause I only knew about regular apples and if there were wolf apples, I figured werewolves must eat them.

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Ma Stell grew a passel of tomato plants on a napkin of land next to her house on the levee. Big, fat, scarlet globes hanging from vines, giving off that pepperish green scent. She’d pick a couple, slice them, add salt, pepper, sprinkle on white vinegar, and, during the humid south Louisiana afternoons, we’d sit in the shade of the screen porch and enjoy our tomatoes. That was my introduction to the delectable tomato. Sliced, with salt, pepper, and vinegar is still my favorite way to eat them–only I’ve kicked up to balsamic vinegar. And it’s not a respectable green salad if there’s no tomato in it. Believe it or not, some restaurants will serve a green salad with just lettuce and dressing. The horror!

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After college, living on my own in Southern California, I encountered cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, pear-shaped yellow tomatoes, heritage tomatoes! Got my first taste of those at a fancy restaurant–a purple and a yellow sliced and served with balsamic dressing and a little endive. Up until then, I’d been content with the flavorful red–when I could find them. I wasn’t too happy with the pretty but less than flavorful “wolf apples” at the local grocery store. The farmer’s market became my friend. Nothing enlivens the acidic depths of a salad like the lush honeyed flavor of grape tomatoes.

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Did you know tomatoes used to be considered poisonous? According to Wikipedia,  the tomato plant belongs to the deadly nightshade family, and was erroneously thought to be poisonous. But that idea was quickly dispelled once people discovered the luscious taste of the succulent fruit.

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Tomatoes dress up so well. Quartered into salads, (except the pear-shaped yellows should be left whole or only sliced in half), they shimmer like jewels against the green melange of lettuces. Scoop out some fat ones, fill with guacamole (chop and mix the scooped out part with guacamole), stick a chip or two on top, and you’ve got a party tray. But the nicest thing about the tomato is it takes me back to those lazy afternoons on Ma Stell’s screen porch.images-4

 

ah me . . .

jb_alvidas_window John Bauer
Been crazy busy. Have not been able to carve out a moment to think about what to post let alone write a post. So I’m writing this one on the fly. Work has eaten nearly all my time, but I’ve managed to write a little bit and a little bit and a little bit more on The Friendship Killers, a serial killer horror story, which I think will be a novella. I’ve written over 16,000 words so far. And then there’s my completed but not yet ready for prime-time story, A Useful Blind, desperately in need of revision. When am I going to find the time . . .

On my agenda:

  • Finish a first draft of The Friendship Killers
  • Revise A Useful Blind
  • Write the next vampire essay
  • Read and review An Eggshell Present

This is inspiring, makes me think: persistence + time equals getting it done. I will get it done. Must set deadlines.

One way of getting it done is the art of parking lot writing. And there will be more . . .

The Dark Angel’s Dilemma

200px-Varney_the_Vampire250px-Vlad_Tepes_002Unknownvampyre

Knowing my obsession with the vampire, a writer friend tossed me an engaging question … does the vampire have a soul? Traditionally the vampire was considered a soul-less creature, having lost its soul to eternal damnation by becoming a blood-drinking monster. I expect someone will remind me that vampires are … not … real, so what’s there to talk about? And they are so right. But I can’t help my idiosyncratic leanings. My head long ago floated off my shoulders and hovers in the clouds. No, I do not believe in vampires (or ghosts, witches, zombies, demons, etc.), but as a fantasy writer, I find the things that come out of the human imagination fascinating, especially that alluring and dangerous monster, the vampire.

638256-blood2We’re familiar with Dracula, (published in 1897), but Bram Stoker did not invent the vampire or the vampire tale. He created Dracula based on the historical Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia known as Vlad the Impaler, and East European folklore, primarily Romanian. That same folklore was used by John William Polidori in his creation of the deadly, cruel, day-walking  vampire Lord Ruthven in The Vampyre (1819); also by Sheridan Le Fanu in writing his seductive vampire Carmilla, (Carmilla (1871), and by James Malcolm Rymer, creator of Varney the Vampyre or Feast of Blood (1845-47), (also attributed to Thomas Preskett Prest, but now thought to be the work of Rymer). All were part of the sensationalistic literature of the vampire, a myth that pre-dates the rise of monotheistic religions and can be found in nearly every culture around the world. When there is not a logical explanation or when one cannot be found for one phenomenon or another, people tend to create one—that’s how we get folklore. The folklore of the vampire was born from ignorance and superstition about the dead and dead bodies. It’s not only nature that abhors a vacuum; the human mind isn’t too fond of it either.

The English clergyman and vampirologist Augustus Montague Summers, states in The Vampire: His Kith and Kin: Throughout the whole vast shadowy world of ghosts and demons there is no figure so terrible, no figure so dreaded and abhorred, yet dight with such fearful fascination, as the vampire. Additionally, he reminds us: There is no more terrible tradition than that of the vampire, a pariah even among demons.

A pariah even among demons. Wow. That’s a damning statement, and begs the question, does the vampire have a soul?

The soul can be interpreted as that part of us where resides our mercy, our pity, our compassion, our capacity to connect with others. We can love with all our soul and hate with all our soul too. You’ll hear it said of someone who seems to lack compassion, “She has no soul.”

We have no proof that the soul exists, that there is an amorphous entity inside us that can be called the soul, but we feel we have something more within us, don’t we? We express ourselves as if the soul does exist: “Bless my soul.” “Save my soul.” “She’s a dear soul.” “God took his soul.” (Better than the alternative!) “He sold his soul.” “All Souls Day.” In the Holy Bible, the soul is a prime subject.

638256-blood2 There are vampires who have a soul and vampires who do not. The canonical vampire’s soul was considered damned for all eternity. In the Francis Ford Coppola film, Bram Stokers Dracula (1992), the iconic character was more than willing to give up his soul in vengeance against God, swearing to never die and live in defiance of God for all time. In the television series Angel (1999), Angel, was the vampire with a soul (given back his soul as a curse to never know happiness.) When Angel loses his soul, he becomes Angelus, a soul-less demon vampire from Hell. There is Saint-Germain, the compassionate and caring heroic vampire in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s series of novels, first introduced in Hotel Transylvania (1978). Saint-Germain definitely has a soul.

“If this is about my soul,” Bella Swan declares in Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance New Moon. “Take it! I don’t want it!” But we know Bella’s soul stayed with her even through her death and revival as a vampire. Edward Cullen tells Bella his soul is damned so never mind. But the Cullens are most compassionate, foregoing the traditional vampire’s diet of human blood in favor of the blood of animals. I’d say the Cullens have souls, but the Volturi—not!

638256-blood2 Anne Rice’s romanticization of the vampire in her series of novels, The Vampire Chronicles, beginning with Interview with the Vampire (1976), altered the iconic view of the vampire as loathsome and evil, a soul-less creature by virtue of its murderous existence, killer of the innocent. Anne Rice presented the vampire as a beautiful, irresistible, predatory being tortured by its existence (You can’t be tortured by your existence if you don’t have a soul.).

Whether we can prove it or not, we think we have a soul. The vampire was once human, so the vampire has a soul too. The soul doesn’t get up and walk out after the vampire’s victim is given the Immortal Kiss. However, the other side of the coin is damnation. The vampire may retain his soul, but according to tradition, it is lost to redemption.

dark_angel_by_qiubi-d5asy1mNo longer a repulsive, soul-less creature in  contemporary books, television, and films, the vampire has become an elegant being dealing with the issues of immortality and attempting to reconcile its undead existence within the realm of Life, and yes, contemplating the dilemma of its soul.

blog’s got a new name

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Not that I wasn’t fond of the name “pendrifter.” I remember doodling words until I came up with it, when I decided to start a writer’s blog ten years ago, but I received an offer on it–someone wanted to buy it. Not one to turn down money, I sold it! So baby needed a new name. My tag name,”Dayya,”  suits fine. I’m happy.  d:)

On a different note, I’ve got a few miscellaneous posts and 3 essays planned for the blog, one focuses on vampires, The Dark Angel’s Dilemma. I hope to have it up soon. I’m doing July Camp Nano and all my writing time is devoted to wrestling with the outline of my fantasy novel, Chained. It’s about a married vampire, a deal with a demon, chained souls, and breaking the deal–so far.

I sent A Useful Blind (formerly Sleight of Hand) out to betas and have comments back. My birthday was July 4th, and my best friend gave me Caitlin Kiernan’s The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories, which I’ve wanted for ages. My short story, Dust, may be lingering a while longer. Yes I’ll have another slice of procrastination pie!

blue, white, and gold

Peaches in Sun
I’ve written about ten short stories and each of them, except for one, took a long time, like finding every grain of rice in a pot of sand. Back in 2011, I think, or maybe 2012, I began a short story titled Dust, wrote about three pages at the time, came up against the wall and put it away. It’s lingered in my story file since then. Last week I dug it up out of its paper grave and wrote some more of it. It’s now at 3,947 words and I may finish it soon.

For nearly a month I was at a loss with it, particularly a scene I call the “house blessing.” I couldn’t write one word of that scene although I knew some of the action, I didn’t know its actual purpose, what was to happen and where it would take the story. Any number of things could happen, but I needed to know why and what for. What stopped me for the past couple years was once I’d written those three pages, the well ran dry. The brain said, “That’s all, folks!” Pretty much like Porky Pig.

I’m thrilled as a bunny in a newly-grown garden of lettuce to have managed thirteen additional pages, though I’ve no idea how long it’ll be.

I love reading short stories; I love the short story form, its tight structure containing character, conflict, and resolution all in one tidy package. I’m determined to master the art of the short story.
Not so much June gloom this year. The days have been gloriously sunny with lots of blue sky; the nights have been cool and summer is sweeping in, blue, white, and gold.

faves

My evocative post set me to thinking about my favorite books, particularly my favorite vampire novels. I love so many books that they are all favorites really, but then there are those particularly special books that still make my reading heart butterfly and I’ve read them over and over. Their delight never fades for me.

 The Vampire Chronicles The Vampire Chronicles, particularly Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice and oh yes The Vampire Lestat. Before I discovered Interview with the Vampire, I’d read only two other vampire novels, Dracula by Bram Stoker and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Didn’t surface for days while reading Interview with the Vampire.

Twilight Forever RisingTwilight Forever Rising, by Russian writer Lena Meydan. Despite its title, similar to Meyer’s, this was one hell of a good vampire novel. A thriller, It tells the story of vampire Darel Ericson of the Dahanavar clan caught in the machinations of the other vampire families and particularly targeted for death by one clan’s ambitious scheme to bring war to the vampire Houses and gain free reign over humanity. Somewhere I read a sequel had been published in Russia. I hope it gets translated and distributed.

Yarbro-Hotel-Transylvania_web Hotel Transylvania by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (a new release of the first of the Saint-Germain chronicles with a new cover). Love the entire series. Count Ragozcy Saint-Germain, a vampire thousands of years old, has the remarkable quality of compassion. He most certainly has a soul. (Original cover, published by Saint Martin’s Press, hard cover, 1978.)Hotel Transylvania

 

 

 

Twilight Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (I enjoyed all four books (and all five movies), but the first book is my favorite. It may not have been ideally written, but it told a compelling story.) People sneer at Meyer’s glittering vampires (don’t know why given the great variety of vampires to be found in today’s books and movies, like vampires who eat solid food and use the bathroom), but I think she found a great way to solve the problem of daywalking vampires (no bursting into flame) by giving them stone skin that glitters in sunshine (and marks them as non-human and supernatural) and connects to the canonical view of a vampire’s skin as extremely white and highly reflective (yes, like Lestat’s). I don’t find the Cullens and the Volturis at all “like rainbow ponies and fairies.” And they bite. And their bite is torturously painful with none of that romantic ecstasy found in other vampire books and movies.

The Five of Cups The Five of Cups by Caitlin Kiernan. Favorite line from this book, “Sunrise was still a long way off, and Gin’s heels clicked down the Atlanta sidewalk like castanets played slow.” Can’t you hear the rhythm of her stroll? I loved this book not only for the high quality writing, but also because it encompasses the Gothic, the ragged urban reality, and mid-nineteenth century history in a fascinating tale of vampires in the contemporary world.

This list is but the tip of the iceberg!