january

January, the month of two faces, one looking to the future, one looking back to the past. To the ancient Romans, this month is of beginnings and endings, a duality of promise and what has gone before. For me, it’s a continuation of my writing life, a double strand of the past and the future.

My projects for the first quarter:

Project #1: I’ve returned to writing the fantasy novel that’s been knocking about in my head for a long time, A Lamentation of Swans, poor thing has spent several years in the dark of a bin under my desk while I dithered between fear of pulling it out and starting over and guilt for not having written it yet. I’m 9,900 words in and both of us are smiling.

Project #2: Errors of Choice, my 2017 NaNo novel, is finally feeling the heat of the editing lamp. It was Project #1 for the first quarter, but I moved it down a slot. I’ve edited 41 pages so far, or roughly 10,000 words of the 50,000.

Project #3: Can’t say anything about that right now, but it’s exciting news!

Meanwhile, this month, I watched three good horror films, Hereditary (occult horror, the ending appalled me, but I thought it top-notch horror the way horror used to be), The Kovak Box, (psychic terror horror) and Annihilation (science fiction horror; liked it very much).

Happy writing!

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she stepped from the river, muddy and dripping

Castle RuinsWhen I go to bed, I close the closet door to keep whatever lurks in the closet when the lights are snuffed from getting out. It took me years to stop covering my head, but my feet are always under the covers because, as Stephen King says, “covers are boogeyman kryptonite.” Yep.

My forays into writing horror fiction comes from growing up among folks who were both deeply religious and deeply superstitious. My great aunts and other elders believed in ghosts, prophetic dreams, witches, voodoo, signs and omens. It made for a rather nervous childhood.

I was afraid of a room in Aunt Nora’s house. Her house had been built in a style customary in the old days on the bayou, designed to hold two families so the kitchen was one large room, and opening off of it was another set of rooms on the righthand side of the house. Aunt Nora inhabited the left side, and the right side had been for family who had passed away before I was born.

On the right side was a shadowy parlor, and an equally dim front room that opened onto the enclosed porch. (In the old days parlors and/or front rooms often had a bed pushed into a corner. ) These musty chambers in Aunt Nora’s house were furnished with needlepoint furniture from bygone days, porcelain tchotkes, and to my imagination, ghosts of relatives I never knew.  I avoided that side of the house. The front room at least had a screen door that opened onto the porch and sweet daylight, but that inner parlor gave me the creeps.

I was afraid of the cemetery next to the Baptist church, afraid to be alone in an empty house, afraid of hearing and seeing things that weren’t there, and developed a fascination with death and dark things. One of my all-time favorite horror films is Carnival of Souls (1962). I’m fascinated by the idea of someone dying but not believing they’re dead and attempting to go on with the life they’d had. I’ve always felt great sympathy for the movie’s tragic heroine, Mary Henry, played by Candace Hilligoss.220px-Candacehilligoss4

I like horror films because the fears and anxieties raised by them vanish with the words “The End” or the modern film fade-out. Real life is filled with much greater darknesses, terrors and horrors that do not go away, but abide with us day in and day out. This is why I do not listen to the news. Escaping into a good horror film is a relief.

bronze pins

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To quote Alexandra Sokoloff, nothing supernatural could possibly be more horrifying than the evil that people do. My sentiment exactly. I often say there’s nothing horrible under the sun that a human being hasn’t done to another human being. Evil is timeless and people are endlessly creative when it comes to doing bloody harm to each other. Horror movies can’t compete with real life. I suppose this is why I’m suddenly able to watch my least favorite horror movies, zombie films. Over the past months, I’ve watched a number of zombie horror movies, much to my surprise. I guess, having spent the last quarter of 2014 watching a slew of horror films, especially Japanese and other Asian horror, my resistance to viewing zombie films broke down, but not completely. I tend to leave the room when the intestine-eating sequences go on forever. There’s still some that I won’t watch–they’re too graphic or are zombie porn. And nope, I’ve not yet watched The Walking Dead, but I probably will eventually.

My horror preference runs dark. I like Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, M. R. James, and other authors who write dark and weird fiction. I love ghost stories in both books and film. The Sixth Sense is one of my all-time favorite movies, and Japanese ghost movies are the best (The Grudge, The Ring), and then there’s HellRaiser, Stir of Echoes, The Orphanage, and The Others. Another favorite is Caitlin Kiernan. I collect her work obsessively, and although I can’t afford the additional expense right now, I plan to re-subscribe to her Sirenia Digest.  My best friend gave me The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories. Kiernan is unique.

Of course I’m not forgetting my shameless love of vampires. I recently re-watched After Dark and Let the Right One In. Seeing as this blog is already too long, I’ll save my vampire craziness for another time. I need to get on with today’s work, The Redemption of Cainan, which I plan to submit to RWA’s Second Chance anthology. Right now it’s at 2,903 words (and I’ve made my February goal of writing 2000 words this month! Yay me!) I hope to finish it by the 28th.

Happy Saturday!

 

i’m beginning to resent the sound of tearing flesh

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What’s up with naked dead women? Why’re people always hacking each other with chainsaws, axes, butcher knives? When the girlfriend is dead, quit talking to her! How many ways can you create a zombie? As many ways as there are stars apparently. Why’re you performing taxidermy on yourself? How come you’re walking barefoot through a black basement holding the weakest flashlight in the world? Dummy! Are there really that many abandoned asylums around? Oh wait–the latest thing is experimental addiction treatment centers. Best stay on the drug. Who really thinks swimming in a pitch-black lake out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by decaying forest is a good idea? I don’t care if you are camera-crazy, trespassing in the neighbor’s decrepit house so you can what–take cutting edge gothic photos of whatever you think you might find in the creepy basement? Really stupid. You know what happens to the girl who decides to walk to the country store through a forest at midnight to hitch a ride home ’cause she had an argument with her boyfriend? No matter ’cause we never run out of them. Rock music and screams get on my nerves. Country music and screams get on my nerves too.  If you move into your new apartment and the guy next door is shy and sweet, keep your distance, unless you fancy leaking blood from your eyes in due time.

(Sigh) Really must cut down on the horror movies.

the hours like birds on the wing

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Yesterday and the day before was devoted to research for Princess of Rosenstein. Today I’m thinking Sleight of Hand needs attention. I’m stuck in the worst way and don’t know what to do about it. The story remains unfinished and I’m wondering if I’ll ever finish it. Getting stuck always makes me question my ideas.

The sunny days of October are sliding by, the hours like birds on the wing, and I sit wrestling with words, worrying about not finishing my story. I took an hour-long walk with my neighbor which left my arthritic knees unhappy for nearly three days, but the walk was good for my heart.

1382220991000-Bones-ep905-sc31pt-0910Bones last night was delightful, but incredibly, I dozed off during a commercial break and missed the resolution of the crime–woke up just in time for Brennan’s and Booth’s wedding–thank goodness! Best TV nuptials ever! Still, I want to know what happened to the poor victim. 

Took advantage of a free month from Redbox in partnership with Verizon, and the trial membership also comes with four movie credits so not only do I get to watch movies for free for a month, but I get four additional movies for free too. This week I watched After Earth and Oblivion. After Earth was disappointing, but Oblivion was surprising–it was good. A complex science fiction story, nicely executed. 

What bothered me about After Earth was the acting–not very good. Will Smith usually does so much better. The story was a father/son tale, but I dunno, I was expecting more. I still have two free credits to use. Guess I’ll get Ironman 3, or Now You See Me or World War Z tonight. Hmm–my abhorrence of zombie films seems to be weakening, but I still have no intention of watching The Walking Dead.

Time to get back in the ring with Sleight of Hand. Writers write.

brass rubbing

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A brass rubbing is a sheet of paper laid over a brass engraving, like a commemorative plaque, for example, and rubbed with graphite, or wax, or chalk to capture the brass form, transferring it to the paper, making an artistic piece. Brass rubbing is a good metaphor for writing The Foreigner. Each time I lay fingers to the keyboard, I hope to raise on the page a precise rubbing of what I’m imagining.

MAN OF STEEL_Saw Man of Steel, as a long-time Superman fan, I loved it. Thought it a fantastic reboot of Superman and it was great to see the Krypton backstory.

Movies coming that I’m dancing in my seat to see–The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Legolas is back!); The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; 300: Rise of an Empire–I didn’t care much for 300 but I liked the look of this one. And I may give RIPD a look-see.

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So it’s Sunday afternoon, and I spent the morning in Metropolis; monkey mind is swinging from the brain stem so I might as well settle down with a good book. Happy reading!

at a loss

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I don’t know what to do today. I should write a page of The Foreigner, but my mind is word-empty–although I’ve got a vague sense of a scene bit: Marius encounters Fanh-Daole at the village market. I wrote 869 words of this scene yesterday, but didn’t get to the actual encounter. Balking at fences again.

It’s bright and sunny outside, but don’t know if I’ll go out today. There’s some reading I need to do, and I’ve got other story ideas passing through my thoughts like floaters passing through my vision. Very distracting.

Last week I watched my latest vampire movie discoveries, The Hamiltons and its sequel The Thompsons. Both were well done films with serious themes of the meaning of family and family loyalty. The Thompsons, formerly the Hamiltons, were born vampires, not made, and are not the undead and, having lost their parents, must survive in the contemporary world. Although the movies are described as “Twilight meets Tarantino” that’s just a clever marketing gimmick.  I wonder if there’ll be a third movie. I’d certainly buy it.

One vampire film series I’ve never been able to get into is the Underworld series. Seems like it would be right up my alley, but no. I think part of the reason, and yes this is weird, is the films are shot so darkly–all that deep blue-black–that I can’t focus on what’s really going on ’cause I can’t see it! And, I dunno, I don’t really connect with Selene.

Enough with holding off the blank page. The Foreigner demands some attention.