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Super happy to be in Shock Totem’s Halloween Issue!

shocktotem95Nice cover, eh? The kindle version will be up a little later today, print next week. Here’s the TOC:

* Halloween On, by John Boden and Bracken MacLeod
* Night in the Forest of Loneliness, by David G. Blake
* Kore, by John Langan (Holiday Recollection)
* Out of Field Theory, by Kevin Lucia
* Tricks and Treats, by Rose Blackthorn
* Witches and the March of Dimes, and Mike Warnke, by Babs Boden (Holiday Recollection)
* Howdy Doody Time, by Kriscinda Lee Everitt
* When I Scared Myself Out of Halloween, by Jeremy Wagner (Holiday Recollection)
* Untitled, by Barry Lee Dejasu
* The Mansion, by Lee Thomas (Holiday Recollection)
* Allhallowtide (To the Faithless Departed), by Sydney Leigh (Poetry)
* Flay Bells Ring, or How the Horror Filmmaker Stole Christmas, by Mike Lombardo (Holiday Recollection)
* The Candle Eaters, by K. Allen Wood
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

RLSATPNotes

In addition to the 13,600 words I already have written, I now have eight pages of handwritten notes to bring my story to probably a little past the halfway point. This part is based on Stevenson’s The Amateur Emigrant and Across the Plains, through which I’ve read and marked up considerably. Now that I’m plotted up to that point, I’m sitting down with two books: Silverado Squatters (with which the story will end), and Alexandra LePierre’s A Romance of Destiny: Fanny Stevenson (which is a terrible title). The Fanny bio should balance out what I’ve read about her in various RLS bios, as her character, good or bad, is famously (in some circles) debated. Ha…I realize I’ve given myself three days to do this. But Squatters is fairly short, and I only need to read the Fanny bio up until the point that she marries Stevenson and they go off on their honeymoon. I probably won’t make it, but that’s okay. I have more than enough to start writing on October 1st.

Here’s my plan. I’m writing at least 2,500-3,000 words every day of the month of October (except my birthday, the 18th, and Halloween). I have enough notes and enough plotted out to keep me well busy at least until my birthday, so when I’m not writing, I can finish up this reading and making the notes for plotting forward. By the time I take a day’s break and turn 40 (really? Really.), I’ll be set to finish up writing the final 3rd of the book. I expect to have a first draft (75,000-85,000 words, 20,000 words longer than the first novel) by the day before Halloween (celebration/party time).

I think maybe it sounds like a lot, or pretty ambitious, but remember I already have the thing started. Plus, there’s actually a lot of built-in wriggle room in terms of word count every day. Technically, with what I already have, if I wrote 3,000 words for 29 days, I’d end up with 100,600 words. And I don’t even want it that long. So, yes, wiggle room. Though, with the notes I’m making, I might very well write 3,000 every day. Maybe more, depending on the day and how I’m feeling. I’ve got my notes so that, at any given point, there’s room for change–freedom to be spontaneously creative–but basically there’s really no way I can get stuck.

I realized the other day that November is NaNoWriMo, and I’m a month early. I’ve always meant to do one, to officially complete it and blah, blah, blah. But oh well…I’m ready to get going on this. I’m not waiting a whole other month just to take part in what I should be doing a few times a year. Am I right, writers? ;)

So, yes. We’re just about ready to get going on this again. October, look out. Age 40, look out. 2014, I’m not leaving you until I have another novel fairly well written. At least a second draft. Then I’ll be looking for beta readers in 2015. Any takers? =)

Horror Flicks and Gender

CHicks HorrorI had the pleasure, last year, of having my story, “The Obstruction,” published in Postscripts to Darkness 3, edited by Aalya Ahmad and Sean Moreland. That is how I know, and respect, the author of this article.

My objective for “The Monstrous Feminist” was not to “convert” feminists into horror fans, although that did sometimes happen, but to open up horizons for both horror and feminisms. Firstly, I wanted to offer horror as a site of critical reflection to students who might be unaccustomed to combining their feminism with film or literary theory and cultural studies. Secondly, I wanted to expand on well-known feminist theoretical analyses that seemed to lock feminisms into perpetual struggle with horror, raising intriguing questions of gendered spectatorship. In what follows, I will briefly review a few of these theories in discussing the experiences of the “Monstrous Feminists,” who repeatedly demonstrated that the feminist classroom can engender interpretive strategies beyond the scope of the “male gaze” first conceptualized by Laura Mulvey in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975). Mulvey’s influential essay tends to exclude the possibility of a gaze that is not only acutely aware of what horror does with and to women, but also of what feminists might do with and to horror.

I suggest having a read. It’s fascinating overall to read how this incredible class functioned and, clearly, thrived (still thrives, I hope, if not this semester, then another soon), but equally fascinating (and stemming off into a thousand different directions of thought) are the concepts considered within the class. I wish (and you do, too, admit it) that I’d had this class as a choice during my undergrad and/or grad years. Honestly, it’s amazing where your thought processes can go when you stop considering females in horror (whether in front of, or behind, the camera) as defined strictly by the male gaze, or by the female gaze as influenced by the all-powerful male gaze. These women, and horror in general, open up significantly if you consider these characters and filmmakers as operating under their own volition and with their very own sets of ideas. Wonderful.

As mentioned at the end of the article, an earlier version of this paper appeared in Fear and Learning: Essays on the Pedagogy of Horror, which Aalya again teamed up with Moreland (they sure make a swell editing team).

BeastGevaudan1For this was the land of the ever-memorable Beast, the Napoleon Bonaparte of wolves. What a career was his! He lived ten months at free quarters in Gévaudan and Vivarais; he ate women and children and “shepherdesses celebrated for their beauty”; he pursued armed horsemen; he has been seen at broad noonday chasing a post-chaise and outrider along the king’s high-road, and chaise and outrider fleeing before him at the gallop. He was placarded like a political offender, and ten thousand francs were offered for his head. And yet, when he was shot and sent to Versailles, behold! a common wolf, and even small for that.

–Robert Louis Stevenson

I just finished yet another revision of this story, the title of which has been changed a hundred times and, at this point, stands at The Wolves of Gévaudan (still not satisfactory). Although I am leaving for a week-long mindfulness retreat at the Blue Cliff Monastery from September 10th-18th, I still have a few days to work on the second Stevenson novel I’ve got in my head. It’s sort of in my head.

While Wolves is basically set against the template of RLS’s Travels with a Donkey Through the Cévennes, this second story will follow Louis to America–this time I’m using The Amateur Emigrant, Across the Plains, and The Silverado Squatters. Right now, I’m just figuring out the timeline, which characters I want to use and how I want to use them. In this book, we will actually meet Fanny Osbourne, so I’m thinking a little extra reading is in order. I think my favorite part of writing something like this is all the research/reading associated with it.

So, last time we had werewolves (and you really can’t go wrong with werewolves). This time, I think I’m going to be exploring a variety of geography-dependent folklore. Who’s with me?

August Update

Well, we’ve moved into the new house, and so far, it’s been great. There’s still a ton to do, but now that we’re here and don’t have to drive three hours every day, it makes it a lot easier to keep up with, oh, I dunno, the rest of my life.

Update-wise, I suppose the biggest update is that I’m no longer with Nightscape Press. We gave it about six months or so and concluded that our approaches/style/technique–whatever you want to call it–just wasn’t meshing. Which was entirely a possibility. If you’ve never really worked together in that capacity, you don’t know until you do it, and really, I think we’re all glad we discovered and acknowledged it sooner rather than later. Something like that can stretch out and then grind ugly until everything just shits the bed. This way, everyone’s still friends and no one’s feelings got hurt. I sincerely wish Nightscape all the best, and you can bet you’ll still see me posting about their new releases and such here.

Despumation, my metal fiction journal, has been going great. Now that things have settled down a bit and time has opened up, I’m getting back to reading submissions and doing what I need to do there. That’s really going to pick up in the next couple of weeks. I’m expecting to get some author interviews up on the site, so definitely look for links to those here when that happens.

HoWCrownToday, actually, I managed to finish a couple of big projects. First, I finished a first pass of Mara Valderran’s Heirs of War: Crown of Thorns. I edited Mara’s first in this series, Heirs of War. She’s been lovely to work with–the ideal editor’s writer. She doesn’t take edits personally and understands that I’m not trying to pick on her–we’re all here for the same thing: to make this book the best book it can be. And I think the reason she doesn’t take it personally is, frankly, because she’s knows who’s really in charge. It’s her. I think some writers forget that sometimes. I’m not her publisher; I’m her editor. She can tell me to hit the road whenever she wants. The other thing, too, is that…Mara’s a pro. If she’s got a weakness, she faces it head on and works to strengthen it. And her strengths, she works to make stronger. If you’re not doing that as a writer, you may as well pack it in. So, I’m glad, today, to have gotten to a point where this book is one step closer to getting into the hands of the readers Mara attracted with her first book (Mara is a marketing machine). You can expect to see this available October 13.

LNWYWSThe second project I finished today was an illustration that will accompany a piece in Michelle Kilmer’s upcoming collection of short stories, flash fiction, and poems, Last Night While You Were Sleeping (Michelle gives it a mention here, among other things–go look at what she’s got going on). Look at that cover–isn’t it lovely? I love it. She’s got a good eye, and I’m excited to see/read this when it comes out on October 31st in paperback.

I’m most excited, though, about returning to my own writing. I’ve got a few plans for the first Stevenson novel that I can’t really go into right now, but once that ball is rolling, I’m so very ready to get back to writing the second Stevenson novel. *taps head* Most of it’s up here. Most of it. Well, some of it, but most of the general idea–where it’s going. Up in the ol’ noggin’. And now I’ve got a little time to get back to the 13,600 words that have been sitting lonely, waiting, waiting…I’m coming, Louis. I’m coming. Keep yer ‘stache on.

giveCover

Pretty dern happy to have just had my short story, The Surprise, accepted into this sweet-looking anthology being edited by Michelle Kilmer & T.J. Tranchell! Best part: They’re open until September 30th, 2014, so get your creative caps on and submit. SUBMIT.

We want you to think beyond the traditional organs that get donated. Consider those parts of the human that come in pairs but aren’t necessarily donated. Everything is shareable, transplantable and rejectable, if you are creative.

We will be including only one story per body part, so if you are going to write about a more common body part, the story had better be special. Stories should be darker in nature. Horror, sci-fi, and dark humor are all appreciated.

For all the gory details, click here. (Seriously, look at that cover. You know you want to be in there.)

dominoes_front_lg

I don’t usually write reviews. Maybe I should. I left this over at Amazon for the lovely and talented Mr. John Boden:

Given previous reviews here, it would be too easy to fall into repetition. Yes, this book is unique (for real, not incorrect “unique” as in “different,” but correct “unique,” as in “singular”.) It is a gritty, nihilistic tale slipstreaming behind the guise of our collective childhood nostalgia. Best, it’s subtle. This brand of unpleasantness has been done before, but always in a look-at-me manner that disarms the entire project from the start, rendering it toothless. I’ve never seen nor read anything along these lines that didn’t have me rolling my eyes and thinking, “Yeah, yeah…” long before finishing. With DOMINOES, nothing got rolled at any point, except perhaps my small, black soul. The overall experiment itself is unique as a collective assembly—beautifully constructed in every way. It is a book you do not want to have on your shelf because you’d rather it be lying around so passers-by can see not just the spine, but the whole thing. But the inside is where it gets really exciting…

…refreshing? I’m questioning this word because it feels wrong, but I know it’s actually right. As I said, this kind of thing has mostly waffled embarrassing, like, say, someone insisting that KISS is still shocking today. DOMINOES had finally gotten it right, and has set the bar high. Anyone attempting this from this point onward will have to top this, and to them I say, “good luck.” So, in that way, it is refreshing. But Boden’s style overall is refreshing in terms of horror. While this book seems short, seems like an easy read, it isn’t. It can be. If you want, I suppose. But it can, and probably should, be much more. It is a slow, burning read. You can skim the keywords and enjoy your stabs in the eye that way, or you can drag your stabbed eyes over each line slowly, carefully, and savor the embedding gravel from the pavement as you go. This is a thinker, and the more you think, the darker it gets and the sadder, more uncomfortable you feel inside. And if that isn’t getting what you paid for with some horror reading, I do not know what is.

Kudos to Boden, Bouchard, and the powers that be at Shock Totem. I need this to be a series. I need this to not be the end of this kind of experimentation. I need what’s next. We can all blame Boden for that.

Pick it up. No joke.

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