Monday, December 6, 2010

Save the words

I don't have a lot of time for blogging what with the little one, but I do still find time to browse the net & I found this site:


Save the Words



 Words that have fallen out of regular use ask you to adopt them - i.e. agree to use them regularly.

Some great words that are worth knowing just for their scrabble values. And because they sound cool. Examples include:



Quaeritate (to ask)
Odynometer (an instrument for measuring pain - nice word for a horror writer? I'm sure an evil character could find a use for one of those...)
 Viliorate (to deteriorate)
Snollygoster (a shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician - appropriate for the times we live in!)



...go check out the site! I'm sure we could all improve our vocabulary!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Too happy to write horror...

As many of you know, I was pregnant...well I had a beautiful baby girl almost 3 weeks ago.

She is perfect :-)

I will get back to writing dark fantasy, apocalyptic & horror stories again but at the moment everything is too full of loveliness and light :-)

I will also get around to commenting and reading people's blogs again - once I come to terms with this new "sleep" cycle which mostly involves not sleeping.

She's so worth it though :-) Nothing beats this feeling & even though I'm a writer I can't begin to describe it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Random - Giant Cats, The Simpsons

I have nothing new to share regards writing, or babies...my brain appears to have stopped working though, so just to make sure you don't all forget about me I thought I should do a post of some description...

So, some random things that attracted my attention recently:


Longest cat in the world. 
Cat is over 48 inches (4 feet!) long. 


I want one of those. 



The Vatican has found time to declare that Homer Simpson is a Catholic. 
Well seeing as God is fictional I suppose it's only fair the congregation is too...


Still, seems like the Vatican should really be busying themselves with a few other issues than claiming cartoon characters...


A study claims to have evidence for psi-phenomena or non-linear time

Umm...yeah. Seems more like a study about attention and memory retrieval and how existing information effects how we encode new...but clearly it sounds way cooler to say it's evidence for people predicting the future. Ahem.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

House of Horror Best of 2010 Featuring...me!

Earlier this year, I had a story accepted for publication on House of Horror. That story was Mike Patterson, Murderer, and you can read it here.


Mike Patterson, Murderer, is a tale about a man undergoing a mid-life crisis, who kills without compunction as an alternative to what he sees as the more pathetic middle-aged antics of his peers.


The excellent news is, my story has been selected as one of the best pieces on House of Horror in 2010 and therefore features in the anthology! So if you would rather read it in a book than off the screen...





You can order a copy of House of Horror: Best of 2010 on the House of Horror bookshop.





If you do order a copy, please quote my name as I get royalties that way!









Even if you don't order a copy of this book, it's well worth taking a look at the spooky House of Horror website.There are loads of great stories, poems and book reviews to read, and plenty of other anthologies to buy, including Stitched Up! which also features one of my stories, a zombie-tale called White Christmas.







You can also follow the owner and head editor of House of Horror, S.E. Cox, on blogger - for updates on House of Horror including calls for submissions, anthology releases and more news on HoH's plans to seek novel submissions next year, as well as book reviews and interviews. S.E. Cox's blog is here: http://house-madam.blogspot.com/

Over all 2010 has been a great year so far - I've had quite a few pieces accepted for anthologies now. Can't beat seeing my name in print!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Just the Dust - A short story from Casting Shadows

This story is the opening one in Casting Shadows. I am publishing it here today because today's date, ten-ten-ten (10/10/10) features in the story, so it seemed appropriate.


Would anyone like to review Casting Shadows, by the way? If so, please send an email to
joleenkuyper (at) gmail (dot) com

I don't have any hard copies at the moment but you can have the PDF, I'd love to get another review for the collection especially as it's coming up to Halloween! It's a mixture of stories and poems, mostly horror-speculative-dark fantasy genres. By Joleen Kuyper (me!), E.J. Tett and Jo Robertson. If it sounds like the kind of thing you'd be interested in, send me an email!




Just the Dust
Ashes. Nothing left, just the dust swirling in the air. Too light to touch, but choking and dark. It blocked out the light.

Her voice was croaky, and it echoed as she called for help. There were no replies. Her mouth tasted funny. Blood mixed with the smoky taste of the dust. She swallowed. A wave of nausea came over her.

What happened? The question came to her mind suddenly. Immediately, others followed. She couldn’t remember anything else either. Who am I? She wondered. For some reason the terror of that thought made her shudder more than the situation she found herself in.

She tried to move her legs. They were trapped under something. Whatever it was, it was heavy. The air was still too thick for her to see. She coughed, her chest hurt. She called for help again and again until her throat hurt too. There was no answer. There was nothing; just her and whatever was pinning her down.

Her head hurt as well. A tear rolled down her cheek. I’m going to die here, she thought. She sobbed until her head felt it would burst and a mixture of tears and blood from her cuts rolled into her mouth. She wondered if her own blood and tears dribbling into her would save her from dying of thirst. She didn’t think it would.

Her throat was too raw now to even shout and she didn’t think she had the energy to cry. Strangely, as well as desperate and terrified, she felt bored.

Think! She told herself. I have a name, I have a life. I must have. No answers came. The air didn’t hurt her nostrils anymore but she still couldn’t see anything. She couldn’t be sure if it was dark or the air was still clogged up.

I’m bored. What would I like to be doing? She asked herself. Something with my hands. Maybe I’m an artist? She wondered, then frowned. No. That wasn’t right. Busy hands, always moving. Something to do with a computer, she realised. I type quickly. A hundred words per minute. How can I be so certain of that and not know my own name?

She felt like drifting off to sleep, tried to force herself to stay awake. Remember something else. Something that might help, she instructed herself firmly. There must be someone looking for me, missing me. I’ve been here hours, she thought. It must be hours. A mother or father, brother or sister, friend or lover? A child? She wondered. Am I gay or straight? How can I not know?

She tried to think of celebrities, which images turned her on. Angelina Jolie came to her mind. Lesbian? She wondered, but soon imagined both Angelina and Brad Pitt in bed, with her. In her mind they had faces, she did not. Bi, or bi-curious, she mused, forcing away the fear at not knowing what she looked like. “How can I know who they are and not myself,” she muttered in a coarse whisper.

She tried touching her face to figure out what her features were. All she could feel was the dust and scrapes. Her nose felt big, she realised after she poked and prodded at herself more. And her lips were narrow. She felt down. Large chest, medium waist. Her legs were still painful, though it was more a dull ache now. She thought they were long but she wasn’t sure. “Quite tall,” she muttered. She still couldn’t picture what she looked like. Her hair was dry with dust and matted with blood, and she couldn’t remember what colour it was.

“What day is it? What year?” she asked herself aloud. Hearing her voice helped her concentrate. “What accent am I speaking in? Where am I from?”

“Ten, ten, ten,” she said suddenly. “October tenth, two thousand and ten. That must be the date, today’s date. Or maybe a date important to me.” She could see her hands suddenly, inputting the date into a computer. Slim fingers. Today’s date, she thought.

“Seven, seven, eighty-two,” she said after a moment. My date of birth, she thought, something told her she was right. “I’m twenty eight,” she said aloud, gravity in her voice, as if it would unlock the puzzle and set her free. Nothing happened.

I’m getting somewhere, she thought. If I can just work out who I am and why I’m here, maybe I can get out of here. She knew that she couldn’t afford to go to sleep. Knew that could mean never waking up again.

She tried to focus on the image of herself tapping away on the computer keys, remember what data apart from the date she was inputting. Am I at work, she wondered, was there an accident? A terrorist attack maybe? There must be someone looking for me! “Help!” she shouted, her throat raspy and sore. No response, no sound, nothing. Just dark emptiness.

“Six-o-six,” she said aloud then. A train, a train home? What route? What line? Victoria? “I’m in London,” she said, nodding to herself. “London,” she repeated. It felt good, to know where she was. The tube. Some kind of accident, I’m buried in a tunnel. They will come to dig me out. Why don’t I have a mobile phone? She wondered. She had nothing but the clothes on her back. No gadgets, no handbag, no purse or wallet.

Where is everyone else? If I was on the train it must have been crowded. There must have been other people. They can’t all be dead, surely? Panic gripped her as she started to fear being given up on, her breathing became fast and shallow and she felt her eyes grow watery again. Can’t cry, or I’ll get dehydrated, she told herself as she brought her breathing under control, forced herself to calm down. I have to figure out how to get the hell out of here, never mind who I am, that can come later in a nice clean hospital bed with a shrink or whatever.

She took a few slow, deep breaths and leaned forward as far as she could until the pain was too much to bear. Holding her breath helped a little. Whatever was on her legs was metallic and very heavy. She thought they were probably broken; she had some feeling in them but couldn’t manage to move her toes. A memory came back to her of having broken her leg at school; before being taken to casualty the teacher had taken off her shoe and sock and asked her to wiggle her toe. She could hear the teacher in her mind, speaking her name, but couldn’t make out the word.

“Never mind that,” she muttered to herself. “First things first.” She thought that maybe it was a part of the train carriage that was on her legs. It was heavy and though her legs were probably broken she couldn’t feel any wounds in them, no jagged shards poking out. She summoned up her strength and heaved, but she couldn’t get the right angle, couldn’t manage to shift it even the tiniest bit.

Spots appeared before her eyes as she exerted herself, and when they cleared as she took slow, deep breaths again she realised the air was clearing, there was a light in the distance somewhere. “Here! Please, help! I’m trapped!” she called as loudly as she could manage, which wasn’t as loudly as she would have liked. There was no response, no movement. No sound. Just a light in the tunnel, she thought.

She tried lifting again, then using her hands to tug at her legs but she couldn’t get anywhere. The silence disturbed her more with every minute that passed. The light down the tunnel blinked a few times, then went off. Complete darkness again.

There weren’t any animals either, she realised. There should be rats or something, surely, in the tunnels? There was nothing. Just her.

A wave of nausea came over her again as blood trickled down her throat from the back of her nostrils, and she gagged. Blood dribbled down her nose as well now, and she wiped it away with her sleeve. It too, was covered in dust.

She squirmed around some more, feeling for something that might be able to help her. A wedge of metal lay behind her head and she dragged it over her, little by little, and jammed it under the other piece, then rolled onto her side to push down on it with the weight of her body. She felt the pressure on her legs give way a little and once again reached for them with her hands, pulling them out. This time, she managed.

Which way? She wondered as she glanced around her. She wasn’t even certain anymore which direction the light had been in; the darkness was disorienting. She lay back down, her legs on top of the sheet of metal now rather than beneath it, to get her bearings. She started to crawl in the direction of the light, dragging her legs.

She was definitely in a tunnel, she thought as she made her way along a solid wall. It suddenly gave way, prodding with her hands she realised she’d reached a flight of stairs. She hauled herself up a couple, found it excruciatingly difficult. Her legs were a dead weight behind her.

A few at a time she made some progress. There was still no sign of anyone else, dead or alive. Just the dust.

She reached a plateau. A floor that was smooth beneath the coating of ashes, it was easier to move along. She wasn’t really thinking about anything but moving when the word iodine popped into her head. Iodine? She wondered. What’s that about?

It was still dark, though not as dark, but she still couldn’t see anything. The only difference was that now it was grey rather than black. A sickly kind of grey. She could just about see her hands, they were covered with sores, blood oozed out of her.

Suddenly she stopped; she heard something. Something scuttling, moving quickly toward her. She screamed as it passed over her hand. A huge beetle, maybe a cockroach. Just one. “Calm down, Lisa,” she said aloud suddenly. “Lisa! My name! I’m Lisa!” A wave of elation hit her. “It’s all coming back,” she thought.

“Calm down, Lisa,” she muttered again. Someone had said that to her. A man, older, her father perhaps? What had she been doing? She saw a newspaper article. Nuclear hostilities a possibility. She felt her panic on that day.

“Scaremongering,” her father had said. “They said that all during the cold war, we’re still here.” She took the iodine tablets anyway, the ones they sent out. Bought more on the internet, dosed herself with them.

Conspiracy theories. Ten, ten, ten. Today’s date. The end of the world. It was all over the internet. She looked at her hands again. The sores were getting worse, she thought. Even iodine couldn’t put off the inevitable forever. She’d run for the tunnels, not to catch a train. To hide from the blast. None of her friends had believed her.



She looked around again. Knew where she was. London, St. Pancras. Except there was nothing there. Just dust. She heard another cockroach scuttling around nearby. More of them, behind her now. They were coming for her. She pulled herself further along, but they came nearer. She winced as a piece of skin peeled off the palm of her hand. Heard the roaches eating it as she moved onward.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Misty Morning - A Short Story

A flash fiction. I wrote and revised this as part of Folded Word 24/7, in which participants wrote a piece a day for the month of August.

Enjoy!


Misty Morning

She climbed the tower as she did every morning. Today was different though. Usually the whole town was visible and she started her days by surveying it, and dreaming of what she would one day do. Now she couldn’t. Everything was hidden behind a shroud of mist. What little she could see was blurred and grey, and all the sounds were muffled. She felt like the only person left on earth. It left her feeling powerful and sad simultaneously as she climbed down. She could not do what she intended.

She went into the world as normal. Participated in the usual doing of job, paying of bills, answering of questions or whatever passed for dialogue. Pretended to be normal, as she did every day. She concealed the rage within her core, as before.

The mist did not burn off as the day progressed. The light remained the same shade of grey, only the movement of the clock indicated that time was passing at all. As evening arrived she climbed the tower once more and surveyed the valley. It was still hidden. Cloaked in mist.

They’re safe, she thought as she took the rifle apart again. They’re safe for at least one more day. If I can’t see them, I can’t shoot.

Darkness fell, and the mist remained.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My name is...

This is a repost of a post from June. Yup, I am that lazy! It's still relevant though, hence why I'm posting it again.


Joleen. Yes, Joleen. J-O-L-E-E-N.

J for Juliet
O for Oscar
L for Lima
E for Echo
E for Echo
N for November

I am aware that Dolly Parton spelled it differently (Jolene).

This is probably the most common variation I get. Other common ones are Joeleen, Joelene, Joline, sometimes Joelle and occasionally, Gillian. (I get all sorts of variations on my surname too, but I won't go on about that here).

I've grown used to it. Most annoying is when it's spelled wrong on a cheque - especially when I've typed out an invoice with my name on it, spelled correctly. I don't hold the knowledge of how to spell all names in the universe within my brain either - but when I'm writing a letter/email/cheque etc, I do tend to do my best to check how the person I'm addressing it to spells their name. Cheques especially, as the bank has this remarkably annoying tendency not to allow people to cash them if the name on the cheque doesn't match that on the account.

 What's even more hilarious than people spelling it wrong though, is when people tell me I spell it wrong. I wasn't aware of the law that made Dolly Parton's words (and their associated spellings) some kind of canon. I wasn't named after the song. My name is spelled how it's spelled. It's right, simply because it's what it says on my birth certificate.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Casting Shadows - Shameless Self Promotion!

I've mentioned Casting Shadows a few times, but I've gained some followers since, so I thought I'd do a proper post about it.


Casting Shadows is a collection of short stories and poems by Joleen Kuyper (me), E.J. Tett and Jo Robertson.



The cover image is based on a photo I took, the fact it looks so good is more down to E.J. Tett than me though, as she did the design!






It was taken in a forest park near where I live. 









It is a collection of short stories (some flash-fiction length, others a bit longer) and poems by Joleen Kuyper (me), E.J. Tett and Jo Robertson.

The book opens with one of my stories, Just the Dust. This is followed by a poem, Monsters, by E.J. Tett, and next a story, Roses, by Jo Robertson. The book follows this format - story->poem->story throughout, alternating between the three authors.

The stories and poems are all dark, though they vary between post-apocalyptic, straightforward horror, dark fantasy and just...dark! Hence the title, Casting Shadows. Shadows are dark!

While all I can really do is write and maybe take an occasional photograph, E.J. Tett has a few more creative talents up her sleeve - including this slideshow, which also features phrases from the equally talented Jo Robertson's spooky introduction to the book.



Your pictures and fotos in a slideshow on MySpace, eBay, Facebook or your website!view all pictures of this slideshow


 Casting Shadows is available to buy from:


And you can also follow Casting Shadows on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook - both good options if you'd like to buy the book, as we'll let you know when there are special offers and promotions taking place!


Casting Shadows has been reviewed twice - and they're both good reviews!






 The blurb from the back of the book:
The smell of roses is sinister rather than sweet. A campfire brings monsters rather than warmth in the woods. Real danger lurks behind the superstitious fear of whistling in the theatre. These are the types of tales contained in this anthology of short stories and poetry by a trio of writers who find their inspiration in darkness: that of night, of the human soul, and of the dangerous things that exist only in the imagination... or do they? Follow the path of darkness if you dare, and be prepared to see danger that lurks under the surface of a calm lake; hear something new and frightening in the sound of a whisper; smell the mystery hidden beneath a cloak of smoke. Be frightened, be intrigued, and enjoy every minute of it as these stories and poems suck you in to the shadows of their dark world.


If you read it, I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Open markets - Anthologies.

A few anthologies that are currently accepting submissions - worth checking out!

Blood Bound Books - Steamy Screams Anthology

Erotic Horror, 750-5000 words. Payment 3/4c per word. Click the link for more info.

Pill Hill Press - Many Anthologies!

Loads of anthologies here, too many to list them all, some paying, some for the love. Various genres - Pill Hill aren't just about Horror.

Library of the Living Dead (& sister imprints) - Various Anthologies

Click the link and scroll down to see various anthologies accepting submissions. Everything from comedy horror to GLBT sci-fi. Most anthologies pay 1c/word.




Duotrope's Digest: search for short 
fiction & poetry markets
If you're looking for more markets, Duotrope's Digest is my favourite writer's resource.You can adjust the search parameters easily, to search for markets in a particular genre, by payscale, anthologies only, or something like whether the market accepts electronic submissions. I also signed up to Duotrope so I can log my submissions - it helps to have an accurate indication of how long it'll take for editors to respond, so I know when to query.

Also good is Ralan - plenty of markets listed there as well.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Acceptance, yay!

A story that I've tried for quite a while to find a home for (in various different incarnations and rewrites) has been accepted for publication!

The Venetian will appear in Dark Gothic Resurrected magazine next year, in April 2011. It's a story about a vampire who finds herself in a damp, grey land and wishes to return to the much nicer setting of Venice where she is from, but being a vampire, her journey isn't easy.

Don't worry, I'll be sure to remind you about it at the time as it's quite a while away!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life is too short to...?

Life is too short to do all sorts of things. I do of course occasionally have to do things that I don't like in order to earn money, or keep someone I care about happy, but I'll only do them if there's some kind of reason behind it.

I mentioned to a friend the other day that I consider life too short to do much ironing - I'll iron for a job interview, and that's about it. Otherwise I try to buy and wear clothes that don't wrinkle easily. She said that though she bought clothes that did need ironing, overall she was with me - especially as some people iron things like sheets.

Why??? Why would you iron sheets?

What else is life too short to bother doing, in your opinion? 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Truth vs Creative Fiction:

..All but one of the statements I made about myself last week were true.

The statements were:
  1. Lobsters terrify me.
  2. I have no middle name.
  3. When I was a child I played the role of Mary in a school nativity play.
  4. I love doing bungee jumps.
  5. The first time I smoked a cigarette, I was 12.
  6. When I was a teenager I was in a samba-style drumming band.
  7. I play the same numbers in the lotto every week.

 #4 is the only falsehood. I have never done a bungee jump, though I would love to do one one day, and a parachute jump as well. All the others are in fact true!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

200 days

Tomorrow it'll be 200 days since I gave up smoking!!!

Yay me.

There were some difficult days. Like moving house. And exam time. And various other occasions that I always associate with smoking. But I'm glad I quit....will just have to see if I manage to stay off them long term.

According to the facebook app I've added 17 days to my life as well, by not smoking for 200. Well, you know - as long as I don't get hit by a bus or whatever.

There are nearly 5000 cigarettes I haven't smoked too. That's a pretty scary amount for a little over 6 months. Funny how it's that figure rather than the life saved or money saved which tends to hit home for me. 

Busy week so I haven't done any writing, got a few rejections but haven't sent pieces out again...I'll get to it. Will catch up on everyone's blogs as well, haven't been reading or commenting much this week. Hope all is well with everyone & everyone's writing :-)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Creative Blogger Award!

Firstly, thank you to the darkly talented Pixie J. King who passed this award on to me!

The Creative Blogger award is a 'pass it on' sort of concept, which means that I now get to nominate others for it. Oh, and tell some lies. *ahem* I mean creative fictions.



Specifically, I must:
  1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link to them.
  2. Add the award to your blog.
  3. Tell six outrageous lies about yourself and one truth. (Another variant: Tell six truths and one outrageous lie.)
  4. Nominate five creative liars/writers and post links to them.
  5. Let your nominees know that they have been nominated.
So #1 is done, thank you, Pixie :-)
#2 is also done.
 - So now for the fun stuff!

Are these six lies and one truth, or six truthful statements with just one single lie among them? Have a guess, in the comments (and if you know for sure, don't spoil it for the others!)
:-) I may tell you next week...though I have been very forgetful, of late. Muahaha.

  1. Lobsters terrify me.
  2. I have no middle name.
  3. When I was a child I played the role of Mary in a school nativity play.
  4. I love doing bungee jumps.
  5. The first time I smoked a cigarette, I was 12.
  6. When I was a teenager I was in a samba-style drumming band.
  7. I play the same numbers in the lotto every week.

So, now to nominate 5 others! This is the hard part...I don't like upsetting or insulting people! And I'm still quite new to the blogger network so I don't have that many connections yet, but some of the people I know all know each other so they've already been nominated! Conflustering. So here goes:

E. J. Tett - Em's Blog of Waffles.
Lee Hughes - Lee Hughes Writes
Lily Childs - Lily Childs' Feardom 
Rev. Wayne Austin Goodchild - The Change Has Started
Craig Saunders - Petrified Tank




So now to go let these people know I've nominated them, and then I'm done :-) Overall this was definitely fun to do, and it's a great way to showcase other writers' blogs and hopefully get everyone some more hits and followers and fans! So thanks once again, Pixie, and I look forward to reading all your thoughts on which of my fantastic facts are true and which are lies!

Friday, September 17, 2010

What I'm working on...

Probably the last regular Friday update for a while. Not that I'm going to go away or anything, but next week I'll have to start studying so I can get a headstart before the baby comes...and then there'll be the small matter of becoming a first-time mum. So now as Summer becomes Autumn, I'm having to accept that I might not have as much time for writing. Nappies and night feeds as well as assignments might have to take priority for a while.

Don't worry though, I'll still update the blog and share stories and poems! Just probably a little less, especially once the baby arrives.

So, what I'm working on:

I finished a draft of the little hillbilly town story, but it needs an awful lot of work yet. So I'll probably try to get some more work done on that. I think now that there might be several stories, set in several different Odd Little Local Towns rather than just the one, as there seems to be too much to fit neatly into one story. Or one town.

I also wrote a piece called Disfigured. Just a flash fiction, but I quite liked it, so I submitted it somewhere as soon as it was edited. Fingers crossed!

It's been a good week, with one story published on Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers and another accepted into a Pill Hill Press anthology.

Done some reading this week as well - read The Empress Graves by E. J. Tett, and I'm also reading Stitched Up!, the House of Horror anthology which features one of my stories, as well as some other great tales so far. Since next week I really need to start reading Hamlet and and some chapters on cognitive psychology, a YA fantasy novel and some short stories about zombies are the perfect diversion at the moment!

Now, since it is Autumn, I think I'll light the fire and try to get some writing done while listening to the rain beating against the window, and the dogs snoring. There's inspiration there, somewhere...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Acceptance, yay!

Two pieces of good news on the writing front!

Firstly, today my story Looking for Adventure appears on the Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers website :-) Go have a read and let me know what you think!

And secondly, I have had a story accepted to Pill Hill Press's 2013: The Aftermath anthology. Yay!It's a post-apocalyptic story called Stepping on the Bones. Quite dark, but since it's set after the end of the world as we know it, that works quite well :-)


Always good to get good news, can't beat the confidence boost of an acceptance!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Review - The Empress Graves by E.J. Tett.

Firstly, I do want to be open and honest here - I know the author, she's a friend of mine and a co-author of Casting Shadows. However, this is a completely honest review of the book. If I didn't like it I would have either not reviewed it, or given it a poor review. You'll just have to trust me on that!


The Empress Graves by E.J. Tett.
The Empress Graves is the second book in the Power of Malinas trilogy. (A Young Adult Fantasy Trilogy). In the first book, The Kingdom of Malinas, the lead character Sorrel (a stroppy 16 year old) fights to defend her people from the Lamya who try to enslave them.


In this follow up, Sorrel is a little older - but still prone to the same impetuousness that on occasion leads her to act first, think later.




She has grown up somewhat though, and now understands the benefit of discipline in her training as a warrior.



She will need that training in order to overcome the challenges posed to her by the evil Empress Graves.



Many other characters from the first book also return, and they too are a few years older - and in some cases, a little wiser. In particular, Sorrel's brother Leif, who is now a leader of his people, but doesn't necessarily display the same confidence around his partner Saoirse who is now heavily pregnant. Sorrel's faithful friends Gaeshi and Little Cloud reappear as well, while there are also some new faces - most memorable among them probably the fast-talking Mojag and the playful, if sometimes irritating, Chogan.

While the action scenes are exciting and the dialogue is snappy, I think the best thing about these books is the way they turn the traditional gender stereotypes in fantasy on their head. Sorrel is a girl, but don't dare try to put her in a dress. I love The Lord of the Rings, but the female characters in that are generally just window dressing (less so in Peter Jackson's film versions, admittedly). Even the Belgariad by David Eddings, another of my personal favourites, which has strong female characters, still doesn't often hand them swords.

Girls aged 12-16 or so have a good role model in Sorrel therefore. She isn't perfect - far from it, in fact. There's plenty for an average bad-tempered, independence-craving but responsibility-shirking teenager to identify with in her character. Especially in this book, where anger threatens to make her enjoy killing and embrace the darkest aspects of her own personality - what teenager hasn't stared into that abyss (well, without the killing part, at least - or I hope so anyway!)? Makes me glad I'm not that age anymore!

In general it isn't just Sorrel who is darker in this book. Other characters such as Faerwald also address fundamental questions with a greater level of depth than the first instalment of the trilogy. Me being me, I quite like that. Dark is good, as far as I'm concerned. Of course, it isn't all dark - this is fantasy, it is all about the triumph of good over evil. But the lines between the two aren't always as clear cut as we might like to believe, and The Empress Graves addresses these grey areas nicely.

Links for further info:
The Kingdom of Malinas Website
E.J. Tett's Blog

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lucky Pen (Short Story)

Inspired by an idea I had when doing a Friday Flash Fiction piece for Lily Childs' Blog (which is well worth a visit, by the way).

Every Friday, Lily posts three words which readers are then invited to turn into a story of 100 words or less. You can scroll down the comments here to read my original 100 word piece (as well as pieces by other writers). I liked the idea, so I figured I could rewrite it a little longer - and without necessarily having to use the original three words.

So here is the newer draft of the story, now entitled Lucky Pen.

Comments welcome :-)

P.S. Thanks also to David Barber (whose blog is also worth a visit) for pointing out that it's much easier to maintain formatting when copying and pasting from MS Word if I use Edit HTML mode rather than Compose mode. Cheers!


Lucky Pen.

Olivia read the exam questions carefully and decided which one to answer. In her head, she composed the essence of her argument before she reached for her pen to begin writing it.

It was her favourite pen that she selected, the one she had picked up years ago in an odd old shop in a sleepy seaside village. She always seemed to do better in exams when she used that pen, though occasionally she would get mesmerised and distracted by the ornate, unusual designs on it.

Olivia read through her first paragraph before moving on, trying not to allow thoughts of her future to take her mind from the task at hand. This was her final exam, after all. Her last ever one. She could look forward now to the rest of her life, starting with the holiday her boyfriend was planning to take her on.

Just before she continued writing, something in the first paragraph caught Olivia’s eye. The colour of the ink was lighter than usual. Rather than black, it seemed to be a rusty brown. The most recent words, in fact, were almost red. Olivia touched the ink. It was warmer than she would have expected, and sticky.

As the realisation that it was not ink, but blood, came upon her, Olivia tried to drop the pen, but even when she released it from her grip, the pen did not fall to the small table. It clung on. When she looked at it, she realised it was already larger than it had been before, and it seemed to be pulsating. The designs which had captivated her before looked like veins now as they pumped her blood around the growing object.

Olivia tried to scream, but her throat failed her. When she tried to use her left hand to pry the sinister object from her right, it too was unable to help. The grip of the pen was too strong, it stuck to her like a leech.

Other students scribbled answers to the questions, oblivious to Olivia as the pen sucked the lifeblood out of her. Her fluid draining, she couldn’t even shed a tear for the tragic fact that her final moments were to occur in an exam.

***

The exam was over before anyone realised what had happened. The pen lay dormant once more, shrunken back to its normal size, its veins masquerading as beautiful symbols again. While some students screamed and others fainted as the invigilators tried to keep everyone calm until the police arrived, one young woman was not as interested in Olivia’s shrunken corpse as the pen which still lay in her hand. As she filed past, Maria slipped the pen out of Olivia’s grasp and into her own pocket. It was such a beautiful thing, after all. In spite of what had happened to Olivia, in fact, Maria felt it might even be lucky, and she had one more exam to do. 



Monday, September 13, 2010

This is why I won' t get a tattoo...

It's been a couple of months, so I figured it was time to change the background.

Back in the days I had myspace I used to change the profile page every few days.

I could never get a tattoo. I can't imagine one image that I'd want to commit to for the rest of my life.

I like this theme now, but in a few months, who knows? I like to have the option to change my mind.

Random

There's a type of chilli called the Devil's Penis (Well, Pene de Diablo. That's what it means). It's pretty small looking, but apparently it's also extremely hot.

I'm sure there's a horror story in there somewhere.

Or possibly a joke.

Perhaps even both?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Who am I?

Muahahahaha :-)

Text analysis seems to be the flavour of the month...or the season at least.

This website analyses blogs to have a guess at the blogger's gender and approximate age - and it has estimated me to be female (correct) and between the ages of 18-25 (a little younger than reality...which is perfect, really!).

Then again...scrolling down, it tells me that


The analysis is based upon 12 posts that has enough English words. 

 Great grammar there....maybe I shouldn't put too much faith in that website's ability.

Still, judging by the fact that by the time this post is scheduled to go out I'll be spending the day with my in-laws after a long drive and pregnancy aches and pains are making me feel like I'm a hundred....maybe I should forget about the grammar and enjoy anyone, anywhere, even a silly website, telling me I'm 18-25 :-)

Friday, September 10, 2010

What I'm working on...

So, it has been a busy week. I haven't really managed to do a lot of writing. I hate when real life gets in the way of the weird worlds within my mind...

I did have several ideas at least, which I've managed to take note of. One in particular I think has a lot of potential - a story which will be provisionally titled "Night Terrors" but that'll probably change - my titles usually change several times.

I didn't do any work on the little strange village story but I did think about where I took it when I last worked on it, and realised I was overcomplicating matters. So I'll now try to shorten it again, and cut out the unnecessary bits, and see if I can get it finished.

Several rejections have piled up in my inbox as well this week,, and while I logged them to duotrope, I haven't gotten around to hunting for more potential homes for them and resubmitting, so I really should try to get on with that too. 

Got stuff to do over the weekend so won't be around much for the next couple of days either, but hopefully next week I'll have a chance to catch up on people's blogs and do a few more posts myself, as well as getting some more writing done.

Thank you all for your comments :-)

Joleen.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Grammar - Use of the Apostrophe

Still busy, busy, busy :-( No time for writing this week.

All the same, I do like to keep the blog rolling, so here's a little post on grammar.

I was never given a proper grammar lesson at school, though in the course of English lessons, in primary school, the teachers did point out some very important points. I was lucky enough to go to a small school, (two classes per room but probably no more than 25 pupils per room) so maybe that's why my teachers were able to address the topic...or maybe other teachers address it and people just didn't pay attention. Or care.

We all make little errors from time to time, and that's fair enough. However, I think some people genuinely don't know the difference between key words that sound/are pronounced the same, but are different in spelling/how they're written - and of course, different in meaning.

The most commons errors are:

1. Your and You're
2. Its and It's
3. There, Their and They're

All but one of these mix ups (between "There" and "Their") can be fixed if you remember one little rule:

The apostrophe (this: ' ) stands for a missing letter (or letters). 

"You are" is clearly the one that gets shortened to "You're" because of the key placement of said apostrophe.("Your" then, is left as the one meaning "belonging to you".)

"It is" becomes "It's" and "They are" turns into "They're". ("Its" means "belonging to it", "There" means "that place" and "Their" means "belonging to them".)

So before you use an apostrophe, think what letter it represents. Can the word you're about to insert an apostrophe into be broken into two words (Such as "didn't" can be written as "Did not", as well as the aforementioned examples).

There are a few exceptions to this rule - of course there are; English is a complicated language.

One is the word "Won't" which is actually short for "Will not" - but for some reason, at some point in time, someone changed it. Possibly because saying "Willn't" (try saying it out loud) isn't actually any easier or faster to do than just saying "Will not".

The other is the occasion where an apostrophe denotes ownership. As in the title of this blog:
Joleen's.

The apostrophe in such a circumstance indicates that it the object referred to (in this case, the blog) belongs to me, Joleen.

So I can see where confusion arises - apostrophes denote ownership in some circumstances, whereas in others, represent missing letters when often the alternative word (your/its/their) is the one that refers to ownership or belonging. Still, while it may be a bit confusing, it isn't rocket science. It isn't so complicated that it can't be learned.

Writers - it is to your advantage to know rules of grammar, as mistakes just tend to give editors an excuse not to lift your work from the slush pile - and as all us struggling writers know, many editors do not need a lot in the way of encouragement to reject work! Also - if you're self publishing, it looks a lot better to have the correct grammar in place.

Non-writers - it is also to your advantage, because communication is important, and being understood is key to effective communication. And because grammar is not some elitist concept like quantum physics, understandable only by the minority. You should not wear your lack of grammatical knowledge like a badge of honour. There is no honour in being unwilling to learn the right way to do something. Society may currently embrace vapid celebrities who wear their ignorance proudly, but this doesn't mean we should not, as a society, aim higher than this.

For a much less preachy, much funnier description of how and when to use an apostrophe, you should really check out The Oatmeal. It's hilarious. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Come on ye boys in Green!

Come on Ireland, who take on Andorra tonight in the first competitive match at the new Landsdowne Road Aviva Stadium!

Olé, Olé Olé Olé....

I'm stressed enough today without having to watch the football team be brought down to the level of minnows, which has happened in the past - so come on, lads, make it a night to remember for all the RIGHT reasons, please, a stick a pile of goals in the Andorran net :-)

Busy, busy, busy...

Very stressful & busy time this week....changes to the course I'm doing, last minute, means I need to make some pretty important decisions. So not a lot of time for writing, or reading other people's blogs :-( Sorry!


In the meantime, have a microfiction. 99 word story, called:
Sisters.

Leslie watched the gate. “He’ll come,” she told her sister.
Marie shrugged.
“He’ll come,” Leslie repeated, keeping her gaze fixed on the gate.
No one appeared. A little drizzle started, but they paid it no attention.
“He’s probably got somewhere better to be,” Marie remarked. “He’s bound to have moved on, by now. You shouldn’t blame him.”
“He’s welcome to move on,” Leslie hissed. “I just don’t want him to forget. There,” she added as he appeared.
Marie had enough sense to stay silent as Leslie’s former husband laid flowers on her grave, and shed a tear for her.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

We were three (Poem)

We were three.
To start with, we were a gang of
Three. There was John, and Tom,
And of course,
Me.

We were walking along by the river
When John said to me, I have a sore knee,
So go ahead,
Without me.

So Tom and I, we left John behind and
Ran along the river, soon giddy in our games
We hardly heard the
Screams.

When we found John – or what was
Left of him, at least,
I was sick. I felt ashamed, but I
Was bereft.

As I was sick, Tom took charge. I’ll go
For help, he said. He had only just
Left when I heard him
Scream as well.

Already dismembered when I got there,
No sign of the culprit, but I knew
That whoever had killed John and Tom
Would come after me too.

I slept with one eye open, carried weapons
When I could. Stopped even believing
In good. I hoped to stay safe
That way.

I am old now, and John and Tom
Are long gone. But I have never forgotten
The blood by the river that day. So I know,
Whoever it was, will come for me too. 

A little poem for you to enjoy this Sunday afternoon, especially if you're planning any riverside walks, hehe!  (Once again, post is scheduled so I may not get a chance to reply to comments until Monday, but please leave some anyway, I really appreciate them!)


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Paying for Book Reviews

An interesting post recently on Writer Beware Blogs - which is a great place for exposing vanity publisher scams.

The particular article which caught my eye is with regard to paying for book reviews, you can read it here.





As many of you know, I am one of three authors of a self-published anthology of dark short stories and poetry. The anthology is called Casting Shadows and is available from Lulu, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Smashwords.




We have been reviewed twice, so far - once by Holly Christine of the Pittsburgh Books Examiner, and once by Geoff Nelder on his blog, Science42Fiction. Both are pretty good reviews, which is excellent.

We got these reviews by emailing Holly Christine and Geoff Nelder - and we did not pay for them.

I would never pay for a book review.

It is certainly true that it is very difficult for self-published authors to sell their books. No arguments there. And that getting the word out by getting reviews helps. Again, no arguments. However, I don't think that paying for book reviews is the solution.

First of all, if your book really needs major errors in grammar & spelling to be pointed out, perhaps you would be better paying the large fee that reviewers charge to a professional editing service, or even just having it proofread by someone who isn't related to you and has a good grasp of the English language (or whatever language your book is written in!). Though an occasional error will still slip through - I see them in books published by major publishers as well. All people are only human, after all. An occasional error is one thing though. A book full of them is a different story, and unfortunately gives all self-published works a good tarring with the same brush of unprofessionalism.

Secondly, while many paid-for review services claim not to give only positive reviews, it's highly unlikely that such a service will get many clients and make much money if they make a habit of strongly criticising books they review. First and foremost, these "services" are businesses, and need to make money. That's their function, and the best way for them to do so is to give mostly good reviews to ensure more clients sign up for their service. However, this means that the reviews cannot be trusted - certainly not wholly. The blog post above makes the case that reviews have always been paid for, to some extent - because newspapers and magazines are supported by advertising, and publishers are among the advertisers. However, anyone who has ever read book review columns in respectable papers knows that regardless of how big a publishing company is behind a book, they are quite willing to tear a book to shreds if they feel that the book deserves such treatment. And while this may cause problems behind the scenes, for the sales staff, ultimately the publishers continue to send the reviewers their books, and also continue to pay for advertising. These reviews are clearly honest, and can therefore be trusted.

Ultimately, if people want to spend their money paying for book reviews, that's their business, I suppose. But I don't feel that paid-for reviews add anything to a publishing market which is opening up due to the availability of Print on Demand services, while many traditional publishers are more willing to publish a third "auto"biography of a Z-list celebrity (ghostwritten) detailing the mundaneness of their vapid existence than take a chance on a new author with an original idea. (Ok, this isn't true for all publishers, but the book retailers have increasing power as well, and they like celebrity faces on their bookshelves).

Ultimately, a paid for review is tainted with the suspicion that if it is good, it is only good because it was paid for. Self published authors already have to contend with the stereotype that if the book was any good, it wouldn't be self published, so paying for a review may just add to their problems rather than the opposite.

Comments and opinions welcome, I'm sure many people have views on this subject! (This post has been scheduled so I may not reply immediately, but I will reply to comments!)

Friday, September 3, 2010

What I'm working on...

Friday again, and this time I'm writing the update while sitting with a load of purple hairdye on my hair, waiting for it to take. Much as I'd like to be, I'm not @purplehairedJo naturally. I have to top up the colour occasionally. And at the moment, have to be extra careful with it as it really shouldn't touch my scalp, because of the pregnancy. Hence why I can't bleach it, and I'm only doing the fringe. Still. As long as there's some purple in there, it's ok.

So, back to the update. I finished the erotic horror story! Just need to leave it a few days and then edit it a little. Will definitely be sending it in under a pen name though, so even if it gets accepted, this'll be the last you'll hear of it!

I'm also getting through the story about the little hillbilly town where something strange is going on. I'd intended for it to be a flash fiction, but it's over 1200 words now, it just sort of took off, so I'm going with it. At the editing stage it might get cut down again, but that's what the editing stage is for.

No acceptances this week, and a few rejections, but they've all been resubbed straight away. Now I've had a few acceptances my confidence has gone way up, and I can handle the rejections much better.

Not done much work on any other stories, or poems for that matter, but I did have several vague ideas last night before bed, so they've been scribbled down in my barely legible handwriting in the bedside notebook, and may one day actually become real stories.

Thanks for following and commenting :-) I really appreciate it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Micro fiction - Almost

63 word story. Written as part of the 24/7 Folded Word thingy I participated in.


Almost
The place he died was a dirty, rotten, hovel. He took this as a personal affront. That the final smell he would ever experience in his existence would be that rancid odour. The last texture he would touch, the mouldy floor his face was pressed against. It made him so angry, it almost gave him the energy and coordination needed to escape. Almost.

Got to love Ireland.

Ireland is random, but predictable.

It's September. Kids back to school - therefore the weather changes from dull, cool, wet and grey to sunny and warm. You know. Summery.

You could feel sorry for the kids...but it'll stay this way until they're adults with nothing better to do during the September sunshine than lounge around in it and maybe post a blog. We all suffered through it. It's like a rite of passage.

Just as a quick aside though - you know those ads for mobile broadband where people take their laptops outside to sit in a hammock or whatever? I have wifi, so that isn't a problem for me. It's seeing the screen that I just can't manage. Is there something I can get for the laptop that would mean I can take the laptop outside and actually be able to see the screen? Cos...well, you know. There's nothing like sunny September weather to create a mood for writing horror tales...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hope - A Short Story/ Flash Fiction

Here's another of the pieces I worked on for Folded Word's 24/7. A 250 word story, called "Hope".



Hope.

I was a idealist at first. I joined the police force to catch criminals. To make the world a safer place. To give people hope that they would not be raped or robbed or killed as they walked down the street some day.

I was naive. When I think of myself back then, I think of Pandora and her box. She too was naive. She opened that box and allowed all the evil in the world to escape. Hope was the only good thing to emerge.

For all that she assisted the escape of everything evil, at least Pandora did give hope a chance as well. I cannot even make that claim any longer. Tonight I must tell a parent that her child is dead. For months we have searched for the girl and her abductor. All that mother has had to cling to, was hope.

Tonight I shall take that away. As I anticipate the woman’s reaction, I feel more like the evil Pandora let out, than the girl herself, or a bringer of hope.

I try to think like a criminal in order to catch them, but all too often, like today, I fail. That failure ensures the death of innocents. It takes away any hope their loved ones have of seeing them again. And yet if I were to succeed in thinking like them – embracing evil in order to save a life – would I be the one for whom all hope would be lost? 


Saturday, August 28, 2010

How to tell if you're becoming a grown up

It's very easy to accidentally slip into being a grown up. Unlike 'adult' however, which is a term that is bestowed upon you depending on your age, 'grown-up' refers much more to a state of mind, and the related observable behaviours. Some people are born grown up, while others are lucky enough never to succumb to the urge to become one.

Here are some behaviours which might indicate that you're turning into a grown up *shudder*

- When you find some bubble-wrap, instead of bursting the little air filled bubbles and giggling like a lunatic, you fold it and put it aside in case you might need it to wrap something in, sometime.

 - You watch the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and instead of laughing and rooting for Ferris, you wish his parents would catch him, ground him, stop giving him pocket money, supervise his activity more carefully, and allow his teachers to make him repeat his school year. Because he's a naughty boy and should be punished. (If, however, you read that last sentence and think with a wicked grin: ooh, spanking, kinky - there may yet be hope for you!).

 -You watch the film Dirty Dancing and think that Baby should not only be put in a corner, she should stay there until her next birthday - she's only 17 and therefore just a child, damnit!

 - You fail to giggle at any hilarious slip of the tongue or inadvertent humour in a serious situation - and not only do you fail to do so, you roll your eyes at anyone who does find it funny.

 - You think the internet is strange and scary and populated by serial killers, so you refuse to use it for anything but communicating with people you know in real life - and shopping. Because saving a little money is more important than having an open mind.

- When you get an Argos catalogue, you go straight to the home appliances and furnishings section, skipping past computers, gadgets, toys and games and any other fun stuff.

 - You no longer look for shapes in clouds. If you look for shapes in clouds but no longer see, remark on, or laugh at rude ones, you may be in some danger of becoming a grown up.

 - You arrange your life around when the soaps are on.

 - You get a voucher for Boots and spend it on vitamins and toothpaste rather than hairdye/condoms/electric blue eyeshadow

If you spot any of these signs in yourself or a friend, be afraid - be very, very afraid! Go watch a funny film, read a comic, or draw a doodle. Then go look in the mirror, and laugh at yourself for a while. it might help you - and the idea that you're doing it because I told you to will sure help me get a giggle and remain childish at heart!

Friday, August 27, 2010

What I'm working on...

Friday update!

Well I managed the 24 part of the 24/7 writing challenge - writing a piece every day for the first 24 days of August. The final part involves working on editing/revising a piece every day for the final seven days of the month. So far, so good! I tend to edit the twitter fics as I go, but the flash fiction pieces and the poems do need work, so there's plenty to keep me busy there.

Also, I'm working on an erotic horror story. It's for an anthology but I don't know if I'd use my own name if it got accepted...still, cross that bridge when I come to it I suppose! Got to finish the story, edit the story and submit the story then hope it gets selected before I really need to worry about the blush factor!

Also working on a story about a strange little hillbilly town. Inspired by a village near where I live - the radio always goes funny when I drive near it, and it gave me an idea for a story. Only got a few hundred words so far though, got a lot of work to do so far on that one.

No work on any of the other pieces I'm supposed to be working on. Got a couple of rejections this week as well as the acceptance so I need to go hunt through duotrope for some more markets to send them too. One is a sadistic serial killer story, the other a flash fiction piece detailing one woman's reaction to the end of the world.

So yeah, some nice lighthearted pieces there, as always! Heehee. Got quite a bit done this week considering I've had a lot of other stuff happening, so a good week overall!

Thanks for congrats and other comments by the way, they're all very much appreciated! I really like knowing that I'm not just talking to myself on here!

Acceptance, yay!

That's right folks, I seem to be on a roll at the moment.

Or, it could be the fact that I'm actually constantly and consistently sending out my pieces. Like the lotto, if you're not in, you can't win. For years I wrote and left stories sitting on my laptop, submitting them nowhere. I didn't particularly improve as a writer by doing this, and it certainly did nothing to help my confidence as one. A handful of acceptances this Summer and I'm spending a lot of time grinning like a maniac. Which is because I look crazy when I'm happy, not because I'm a maniac. Honest.

So to return to the point - I got another piece accepted. My story Cat Food, about a hungry cat that turns on the family that owns it, will appear in Fearology 2: Beware all Animals Great and Small. 

I'm really looking forward to getting my own copy as it sounds like a great book. I'm a pet lover and an animal lover - but I find it's best to accept that most animals would eat you if it came to it. Cats, in particular. What's the point in self-delusion?  Heehee.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another twitter piece - Comedy Hypnotist

I'm too tired and busy to come up with a proper blog post today, so have a fun little twitter fiction/poem :-) Proper update tomorrow, I promise!

Comedy Hypnotist

Comedy Hypnotist
Words strike fear in him
I do not wish
To think I am a chicken
He says

Cluck
Escapes his lips
Alongside a sob

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another twitter fiction - Small Things to be Grateful For

Another twitter fiction for you today :-) This one is called Small Things to be Grateful For. Don't forget, you can read some of my longer fiction pieces by clicking the tab above :-) Same goes for poetry.




Small Things to be Grateful For

Twenty of them. Lined up in a row. I was grateful for the machine gun. Meant I didn't have to look them in the eye, do them one by one.


Monday, August 23, 2010

A twitter fiction - Beetroot

I have no energy at all today. Busy week ahead and I feel like I've been hit by a bus, or possibly a train (being hit by a train would in fact be quite an impressive achievement on my part, since there aren't any in this part of the country). So blog entries may be few and far between this week, or you may get lucky if I decide to put a few short fiction pieces up! Here is one to start anyway. A dark twitterfic! :-)



Beetroot.
He added beetroot to the juicer, loving how it resembled blood. Not mere speculation. He had used that juicer to dispose of body parts.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Each house has its own insect population

It's true. I have no idea why, but each house seems to be home to particular insects far more than others.

The last house I lived in - fruit flies. Yucky little things that meant I had to leave a piece of tissue over a wine glass at all times or they would start dive bombing it and drowning.

This house - moths. Thankfully not the big scary fat-bodied creepy ones, but the little ones, that eat your clothes.

The houses are only a few miles from each other, so I have no idea where this diversity in insect population comes from. The old house also had a lot of other sorts of flies, which may have been because it was beside a farm, but I don't know if that explains the fruit flies.

There also seem to be a lot of wasps in the new house. Not sure why that is either, but thankfully they're quite slow and stupid, and I've been almost enjoying swatting them with catalogues and magazines. I may not be allergic to wasp stings, but I sure don't like them.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yay, acceptances!

Yes, that's right, acceptances, plural! The 's' is not a typo! It has been a good week.







A short story I wrote, called "Special" has been selected for the forthcoming Bloodbound Books anthology, Rock is Dead: Dark Tales inspired by Music.











I also had a poem accepted by Sam's Dot Publishing for their magazine for young people, Beyond Centauri. The poem is called "Be smart, be tough, be lucky", and will feature in the October 2010 issue.






Don't forget you can pre-order Stitched Up!, the anthology from House of Horror which will feature one of my stories, White Christmas, a tale of zombies crashing the holiday season!


At present the price is just £9.99 including shipping from House of Horror bookshop - but next Tuesday the free shipping offer will be gone, so get yours now! If you order this anthology, please mention my name while ordering as I get additional royalties if you do so.







So, overall it has been a good week for writing - two acceptances, and I've been quite prolific. Here's hoping it continues, on both counts!


Cover art images ©The artists, follow the links in the relevant posts to learn more about them

What I'm working on...

Friday once again and time for an update!

I've had a reasonably prolific week this time. Still no work on any of the stories I'm supposed to be working on, but I did write three short stories, two apocalypse-type ones, one of which has been sent out, the other will be after a good edit later today, and a serial-killer piece which has also been edited and submitted.

I've managed to write something every day for 24/7 - nearly at the end of the 24 part now, next week the focus turns to editing work. It has been a very good challenge though, and while some pieces will need a lot of editing and others may never see the light of day, I have come up with a few pieces that I'm quite proud of - including the microfiction that I posted yesterday, A Meeting.

So the other apocalypse piece needs to be edited, and I need to write a 24/7 piece for today - and the ideas just seem to be flowing at the moment, so I figure I should go with them and get them down, since I tend to have my fair share of dry spells! I wrote several poems last night in bed which I'll have to edit as well, and maybe send out - plenty to keep me busy over the coming week, I expect!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Meeting ([very] Short Story)

Wrote this today as my piece for day 19 (today) of Folded Word 24/7. It's just under 100 words (99 to be precise) so it's a micro-fiction. Enjoy!



A Meeting.

You look well, she tells me, with a sneer that suggests by “well” she means she’s surprised I’m not dead, or a junkie. She speaks to me in that condescending tone that threatens to bring me straight back to the school where she was principal and I was always on detention. My phone rings. I answer it and arrange a meeting. She stands in front of me, oblivious to the fact that I am a high-class whore, and I shall see her husband later to relieve him of some of their shared pension funds, as I do every week.

Gender and Genre

Many female writers, especially those who write and publish 'genre' fiction, use their initials rather than their first name.

This is because many male readers are unlikely to pick up a book by a woman, even if the cover, synopsis, etc, clearly indicate that it is not 'chick-lit'.

Fiction isn't the only place this bias occurs. When it comes to scientific journals as well, people pay more respect to articles written by people whose first name is male, or those with initials, than those with a female first name. Even though scientific studies are subject to the same rigour regardless of who submits them for peer review or publication.

I can understand that most guys don't want to read about shopping and shoes. In fact I'm very sympathetic - I don't want to read about shopping and shoes either. But it's the pastel pink colour of the cover that gives these contents away, not whether the author is a man or woman.

So why are men so reluctant to take work seriously if it's by a woman?

In case you're interested, by the way - I don't do this because I don't have a middle name, so no middle initial! That, and the fact that if I actually do well for myself as a writer, I want to make damn sure all the begrudgers and old school bullies etc know exactly who it is who has done so well for herself.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

So many ways the world could end...

I love speculative dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. The Road was one of the best films I've seen in a while. Delightfully grisly and dark. I also like older ones like The Stand. My favourite books include The Handmaid's tale, Oryx and Crake & Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood; 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World and Island by Aldous Huxley.In fact there are loads of others too, but those are just the ones I can remember right now.

I find it hard to write speculative or post apocalyptic fiction though. My biggest difficulty seems to lie with the specifics of what goes wrong with the current world, and why. Not that I think everything is rosy and we're heading into a bright future - the opposite, in fact. The way I see it, there are so many scary possibilities, it's hard to pick just one.

Which way will the world end or change forever? Environmental destruction, religious dictatorship, fascist dictatorship, nuclear accidents, scientific experiments gone wrong...the list is long and slightly overwhelming.

There, isn't that a nice optimistic post before I go to bed? Haha. Sorry! Lots of opportunities for great fiction - I just hope they stay fictional. And that I manage to write some of them.