Time Consuming

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I’ve been watching YouTube videos reading about manifestation through parallel realities, how envisioning what you want as reality can manifest it. Well, at the risk of sounding like someone who just joined a cult, it worked. Liquid Imagination published my poem, Time Consuming, today! I love this poem and the little monster inside me that whispered these words. You can read it AND listen to it for free (shout out to my husband for all of his EQ-ing and recording program wizardry)! I feel like this poem and the beast at the heart of it exquisitely translates to audio. This publication is extra exciting, because I’ve always wanted to be a voice actor or audiobook narrator. Don’t worry. I’m not one of those weirdos who is immune to hearing my voice on a recording. See tweet below for evidence.

But I do enjoy reading aloud. I’ve always been faster at understanding what I’m hearing than silent reading. I will say though, after twelve takes of this poem, I appreciate how much work goes into audiobooks.

In my last post, I suggested some different mediums to celebrate Women in Horror Month. For more ways to commemorate, check out Annie Neugebauer’s 9 Ways to Celebrate Women in Horror Month on Lit Reactor. In keeping with Annie’s third way to celebrate this month, I have to give a shout out to another woman in horror who gets me to my desk every Sunday morning to dabble in my dark proclivities: Carie Juettner. We met back in 2013, and our history just goes to show that online friendships can be just as strong. We’ve exchanged snail mail, attended a horror conference together, and traded our horror stories, novels, and poetry over these last six years. Check out her poem Night Walk in Dreams & Nightmares and her shudderingly good story Makeup, which you can listen to on Tales To Terrify. The narrator is fantastique!

To close out Women in Horror Month, I also want to share my first ever published work, The Insolubility of Nightmares, published by Hello Horror in 2013. Cutting a path for oneself in writing of any kind is an arduous, time-consuming process. Because of my publication today, three years since my horror flash, “The Wake“, and because I like circles, it seemed befitting to dedicate this post to the friendly person and fierce writer who inspired me to first submit my work, Annie Neugebauer.


If you checked out my first poem, The Insolubility of Nightmares, or read/listen to my new poem, Time Consuming, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Women in Horror Month

I listen to film scores…recreationally. I would say this is just a thing I do when writing, but it’s also when I’m driving, coloring with my kids, at work–it’s often, okay? I remember hearing one composer and thinking wow but not recognizing it because I hadn’t seen the movie. The composer was Rachel Portman (the song was the main title for Chocolat). I looked into her and found a massive body of magnificent work. I realized I had not heard of her because female composers in film are a rare breed–whether there really aren’t that many or that it’s hard for them to break through in a field dominated by men.

Women in horror presents and simultaneously disproves a similar statistical situation. But that’s another endeavor entirely. THIS post is about celebrating women in horror across a variety of mediums. Last year, in honor of Women in Horror Month, I wrote a post on my experience reading 44 books by only women authors in 2017. This year, I’m recommending some contemporary (and one classic) works by women in horror for you to sink your teeth into.

Novel

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Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage was an unexpected read last year. It was an audiobook I chose on a whim, and I’m glad I did. Gabra Zackman did a phenomenal job of narrating. I feel like the blurb is a little reductive of the sophisticated exposition and themes at play in this psychological horror. The end culminates in a different revelation than the reader carries from the beginning, leaving awe and sharp discomfort in its wake.

Actually, it reminds me of a short story I recently read by Annie Neugebeauer–

Short Story

“That Which Never Comes” by Annie Neugebauer appears in the first volume of Tales from the Shadow Booth, edited by Dan Coxon. This story is all about painful anticipation, but, there was something at the end, that really, truly terrified me and it had nothing to do with that which never comes. This story is such a full representation of a difficult, often deliberately misunderstood genre. You should also read her manifesto on why women in horror month matters.

Film

This article on 15 female horror directors revealed the director of my favorite horror film, American Psycho, to be another woman in horror to celebrate, Mary Harron. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a black comedy and psychological horror. My husband and I always reference it as the movie which you can play at any moment and it’s a good and/or hilarious part.

The article also reminded me of Honeymoon, a film that has stuck with me since watching it five years ago. The acting is seamless with tension that builds and builds to a gut-twisting crescendo.

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A more recent achievement for women in horror was Toni Collette’s complex, layered performance in one of the most startling, horrifying films I have ever seen, Hereditary. I can’t even say anything about this film. You just have to see it.

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Art

One of my absolute favorite mediums of horror is art. Dappermouth is an artist I discovered on tumblr a couple years ago. Every one of her pieces is so evocative and makes me feel things I don’t understand.

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Another artist who dabbles in horror is the author and musician, Maggie Stiefvater. Her tarot cards, The Raven’s Prophecy, are stunning. If you’re just beginning with tarot reading, the images are extremely emotional, making them easier than some decks to connect with.

Music

I want to recommend two artists, Meg Myers and Banks, with music in this genre.

The first video I saw for Meg Myers was Desire and I kinda fell for her. Her music is something that is waning in a very self-conscious field: it completely gives in. This song and video is so dark, she revealed in an interview, that a boyfriend broke up with Myers after experiencing it.

Banks is another phenomenal artist–I like earnest female artists, okay? She writes electronic, contemporary R&B-inspired confessionals. Her song “Fuck With Myself” examines the interplay and imbalance between self-love and self-hate. The video, in which Banks abuses a bald effigy of herself, is a horror gem.


 

Do you have an women in horror recommendations? Favorites? How will you celebrate the month? 

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Top 6 Reads of 2018

The time has come again for a book wrap up. Here are my 6 favorites from last year.

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The Secret History

I finished this book at the beginning of 2018, and I still crave the feeling I got while reading it. There are books you love because the world feels real and transports you (Harry Potter) and books you love because of the characters (The Catcher in the Rye). Then there books that read like shooting a FEELING directly into your veins. And this one is it. The Secret History is dark, smart, and will leave you tense and gasping all the way to the end.

 

 

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

I notice a theme with some of my favorite books and that is setting, which Call Me By Your Name has in spades. Italy. Good god, it’s lovely. But also, Elio. Elio is the sweetest summer child that ever was. His emotional narration rips into your heart with teeth that will leave their venom behind, forever infecting you with FEELINGS. Elio’s narration will blur your vision with his angst. You will remember your exact self at teenage-years-old. In short, you will fully comprehend the concept of “shook” when you finish this novel.

Six of Crows | Crooked Kingdom

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Four words for you: No mourners, no funerals. I feel like I need a rollie and a burning  whisky as I write this. I’m kind of cheating on this one saying both were top reads of last year, but really, this entire universe is just…wow. The first novel in this duology gave me a revelation about how I read. The world is flat-out stunning–sexy, smart, but the characters and plot are phenomenal too. If you love action, slow burn, heists–shit, I didn’t even care about heists until reading this–smart heroes, villains, and the gray ones between, read Six of Crows. If you want to be completely transported, this series is your ticket to Apparating.

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Spinning Silver 

I was looking for good fantasy feels when I started this book; let’s just say I struck gold (*waves hand* you’ll get it when you read it). It was even better than Uprooted (which I reviewed as one of my best reads of 2017) a feat I never dreamed possible, in this dimension or its parallel. I was craving fantasy, and this book is the genre’s epitome. When you read this, you will want to be zipped up in a sleeping bag and buried in a tomb with Spinning Silver clutched to your chest.

 

 

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

I have read four of Christina Lauren’s books and nary a one has disappointed me. But this one…whew. This is one of those books that overreaches its genre and plucks the strings of your soul and stays and stays and stays. I just got all mushy thinking about it again. This book is about gangly teens, growing up, reading in reading nooks, overcoming loss, and finding your soulmate over books. It’s endearing, funny, heartfelt, hot, and now I want to read it all over again.

 

annihilation

 

Annihilation

I did not read a lot of horror last year–three, in fact, and one was a novella–and it will show in how inadequately I will sing the praises of this novel. But this book, this little iridescent bundle of sci-fi horror like you’ve never seen  before had me holed up for days and contemplating which lines I wanted to tattoo on my body. The setting is stunning, but the narrator, and the way in which she just wields a good story like a shank in a psychologically and physiologically threatening frontier, is VanderMeer’s prize piece.

 

 

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Have you read any of these? What did you think? Did you have any favorites from last year? Please, share in the comments. I’m always looking for my next fix. 

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The Horizon of Possibility

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Photo credit: Greg Rakozy

God, it’s been a long time. I blame work mostly, but before that it was a general lack of inspiration. I was even flirting with the idea of just never updating this blog again, but for some reason, I couldn’t let it go. Now that I have actual thoughts to relay, I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t even know if anyone is still with me, here. Hello? Is thing on?

Anyway. Nanofreakinwrimo brings me out of my self-imposed hermitude. (I’ve dutifully transcribed my experience with this novel writing month here, here, and yes, here) Possibility is in the air. Do you feel it? Do you see how it breathes through the leaves on the shivering trees? Wait. Is it growling? Just me? Okay. So many ideas and current works-in-progress to dedicate myself to, and I just want to–do them ALL. My gothic work in progress, Wrathmoor, that I’ve been writing since 2011; my contemporary work in progress The Rosen Tales; and Other Points of Contention, which just makes me giddy and terrified every time I think about it; the short story I wrote for a contest that didn’t win, but that I love so hard I want it to have a face so I can pinch its cheeks; and the poem that is writing itself in my brain right now, revealing itself to me from the end going backwards, so yeah, that should be interesting.

This month makes me want that exhilaration of a cause and accomplishment and fighting tooth and nail to do the thing I love and what matters to me. I will never have an acceptable answer that “demonstrates critical thinking” or is particularly unique and especially meaningful for why I love writing and why writing these novels matters to me. Why does a child love painting and drawing? Why do we love to go to parties? Or, contrarily, why do we love to stay in and submerge ourselves in fanfiction? Just because I don’t have a textbook or Nobel worthy answer for why I love it, is it any less valuable?

No.

This life is too transient to get caught up in abstract, diaphanous terms like Meaning and Purpose in attempting to justify why we do the things we love. You get all tangled up in Plato’s Perfect Forms, and when you live in an imperfect world, it’s just not an ideal place to be, am I right? So, I say to you, my friends, on this day of new beginnings, of fresh, dewy eyed wonder, go. Find your horizon of possibility. Grasp its coat tails and let it carry you through the night.

Anyone else venturing into the great beyond with National Novel Writing Month? What will you be working on? Something new or something you’ve already started? I’m curious to hear how other people do NaNoWriMo: a little every day until you reach 50,000? Or just push yourself into the project with more gusto during this month of possibility?

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Resolving To Let It Go

Summer is in the air, which means the year is already half over. Summer has always given me a sense of urgency, a deep stirring I can’t quite shake (or maybe Vivaldi did that). This feeling is full of want and drive. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to do with all of that yearning, especially when you’ve conveniently forgotten all your New Year’s resolutions and intentions.

Resolutions? What resolutions?

As the year progresses, I often lose track of my well-meaning intentions, which means productivity turns into a mythical creature and flies away on newly minted wings. But I want to be better about spending less time trying to wind down on Instagram after my kids go to bed and more time producing work. Which brings us to revised goal #1, which may seem a bit counter-intuitive.

Let it go.

Hear me out.

For me, being my best self means being the most perfect mom possible but also someone who cares for herself, which means quiet reading time, keeping my body strong, and writing. This is a feat when I’m just trying to keep my cool with kids at that age where  controlling any aspect of their behavior requires dabblings in the occult–they’re extremely selective eaters, they tantrum daily, and they get into these manic moods where they just dart around like very large, very loud squirrels. I’ve been reading How Toddlers Thrive, which has helped me understand that letting a little of my control go can go a long way toward happy, healthy children. This will make for a happier mom and human being, which will ideally result in divine creative inspiration (right?!).

So the goal is to stop striving toward perfections, and let it go. I’m learning this with writing too.

Submit work

I have achieved a couple things on my list in 2017 in Review; 2018 Goals. I have already beat my number of submissions from last year. After one bout of divine inspiration for a flash fic and some serious work on a couple other projects, I have some stuff I’m pretty confident about. Problem is, all those polished pieces are out right now, and I’m in that purgatory of WAITING. Maybe someday in the near future I’ll have some good news to share on this front.

I also finished draft #3 of The Space Between Me and You, and I am 5 chapters into my current WIP and pretty dang happy with them. Despite these achievements, I wage a constant battle with the negativity that seems woven into the very fiber of my being telling me ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘you’re raising your kids wrong’, ‘you can’t even get anything published when writing is what you do‘.

But like with loosening up on my reins in parenting, I’ve realized that every day, you have to make a choice. And sometimes, that choice involves letting go of your best laid plans. You have to embrace things the way they are, and no matter how strong that inclination is to control everything, you may never be happy if you don’t loosen up your expectations just a little.

Deadlines

I work best when I have deadlines–the distant memory of working on research papers down to the wire, procrastinating and then pulling off my best work when the time was nigh. Or the flash fic I wrote this year in response to a contest, which had to be submitted by a deadline. When I plan a critique meet-up with my partner, I make the words happen. And sometimes they are pretty good. However, when there is no goal, I exist in a pudgy, lackadaisical state of ‘maybe I’ll write tonight’, ‘after I finish cleaning the entire house, I’ll write’, or, my personal favorite, ‘maybe I’ll be inspired’. Therefore, I will be better about giving myself a time frame to have a chapter plotted or drafted by and keep track of my progress for motivation. It will also help me structure my free time better, so it isn’t all spent winding down on Instagram. 😮

Get active, stay active

  • I’ve been working out at least 3 days a week for 2 months now, and 5 days a week for 3 weeks!!! I also kept true to my goal to go on more adventures. Today, I encountered this handsome fella (coyote or kit fox? We may never know. Unless you do, then tell me, please), and also a piece of wood shaped like an Edvard Munch depiction of a lizard monster in agony. But you know, I was like whatever.20180625_070911
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  • I will be participating in Pitch Wars this year, so I’m getting my submitting goodies together (query letter, synopsis, and pitch) for The Space Between You and Me. Follow me on Twitter to watch me be awkward–digitally!
  • Plot and write Chapter 6 of my WIP; maybe outline the dang thing? But let’s not put the horse in front of the cart. Wait. That’s exactly what we want to do? Oh…

READ

Keeping myself buried in stories ignites all the hodgepodge stacks of kindling in my brain for my own stories. I am five books over the halfway mark to my goal of 40. It isn’t so much about the number, as it is about the goal to let myself revel in this almost completely indulgent pastime (hey, it’s research like 20% of the time at least) and to read widely.

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Some books I’m excited to read (be reading) this year: Contact by Carl Sagan, rereading the Harry Potter series so I can undertake The Cursed Child, of which I am wary, but I need it because it goes with HP, therefore it goes in my soul (Look, I don’t own a wand or a Dumbledore beard or anything, so I think we can all agree this obsession is safe). Also, mysteries! I have so many mouth-watering mysteries waiting for me to feast my very dry eyes upon.

So that’s my biannual checkpoint on my year’s intentions. My goals for the rest of the year are modest, but even taking the time to document them is an achievement in and of itself for me. 😉

How have you done on your resolutions or intentions for the year? Does summer make you productive or lazy?

 

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