glitter_n_gore: (emma)
So guys! There's a new Star Wars movie coming out. As you may have noticed, I'm neglecting this blog badly. Ahem. But the reason is I've been running three--count 'em, three--separate review marathon series elseweb, and had to let something go. Anyway, we're approaching game time for The Force Awakens (yes, I have my tickets already OF COURSE), and I recently realized I have seen more movies this year than I have collectively in the past five--half of them in theaters. Why is that? Are movies especially awesome this year for some reason? Is there more big-budget, explodey-things fare that demands to be seen on the big screen? Have I found a larger number of real-life people who aren't my mom to go to movies with, instead of waiting for the DVD like I usually do?

A bit of all those things, but what I want to talk about today is this: Today's heroes are a little different from the heroes I grew up with. They're more flawed, more relateable, and more diverse. Funny thing, because most of the people playing heroes onscreen right now? Grew up at the exact same time I did.

I'm going to allow SPOILERS for The Force Awakens and all other films mentioned in the comments, and I won't be marking them because that tag is freaking impossible. But there will be none in the post itself.

Read more. . . )
glitter_n_gore: (emma)
Credit for this blog idea is due to fellow AW member Cyia, who made the following post last week: "Just an observation, but looking at the differences in the ages of the characters in the books [of A Song of Ice and Fire] compared to their portrayals on screen, all of the main favored characters, with the possible exception of Tyrion [. . .] would have made this one of, if not the most popular YA series ever written. The POV would just have to shift a bit. Even the biggest baddie, in the form of a psycho boy king, would have been YA territory."

Have to say, I've never thought of it that way before. But she makes a fascinating point: A Song of Ice and Fire is more densely populated with teen characters--properly defined, developed, plot-driving characters, not just stereotypes and fillers--than most of the actual category YA books I've read. Seriously.

It's hard to remember this if you come to the series through the show, because so many of the characters were aged up; HBO has fewer limitations than network television about what it can and can't show, but there are Rules about minor actors and the sorts of scenes they can legally participate in. In the books, an overwhelming majority of the POV characters--Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, Theon Greyjoy, Samwell Tarly, Arya, Bran and Sansa Stark--are all under 18. That's not even counting secondary characters who don't have POV chapters but still play major roles, like Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, Ygritte, the Reeds, and Margaery Tyrell, who are all teenagers. Hell, even Jaime Lannister, who is technically an adult when we meet him, spends a big chunk of his narrations in flashbacks from when he first became a knight, at age fifteen.

As it happens, roughly the same time Cyia brought this up, an article started making the rounds from Slate about how grown-ups who read YA should be ashamed of themselves because: "There’s room for pleasure, escapism, juicy plots, and satisfying endings on the shelves of the serious reader. [. . . ] But if they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something." (Full article here.)


Back to this again, are we?

So, every few months or so an article like this surfaces to scold the general populace for enjoying things that someone's decided are unworthy of being enjoyed. I still don't know why this is important. Since the Slate article has already been roundly debunked by a number of bloggers much more prolific than me, I don't even have to go there.

What I do want to ask is this: What is YA? The trouble with this question is, when you start trying to work out what YA is, you find it's a lot easier to dig up false assumptions about what YA isn't. There seem to be a lot of rules and expectations that actual YA books pretty much ignore, such as whether or not you can have gruesome violence, detailed sex scenes, foul language, etc., etc., etc. Look, either a given story calls for that kind of thing, or it doesn't, and all you need to do is pick up a handful of real live books in any category to discount any of those elements as qualifiers. Still, there are a few elements some say are required in YA that I find more compelling. But not entirely convincing.

Read more. . . )

*Let's leave Battle Royale out of this for now--it's a great piece of work, but reached a much narrower audience, and didn't spark the global phenomenon that The Hunger Games did.

(Cross-posted to [ profile] rhoda_rants.)
glitter_n_gore: (samara)
Some months ago, I learned a new phrase: "l'appel du vide." French. Translates to "the call of the void." What it refers to is that half-mad voice that whispers in your ear when you're standing at the edge of a cliff, and says, "Jump. Do it. You know you want to." You may not be depressed, or an adrenaline junkie, or even having an unusual day for any reason, and I'm not entirely sure everyone gets this feeling. But a good many of us, for some bizarre reason, have that funny little trickster somewhere in our collective unconscious that teases us and makes us wonder if we're quite as sane as we thought. And for horror writers, it's this same tendency that we tease and exploit when we make up our gruesome little stories.

Welcome to Women in Horror Month, 2013! I'm trying to be a little better organized this year, and to that end I've joined a blog chain headed by Diane Dooley (link). The official website for the WiHM movement is here, where you'll find an abundance of links and activities the good folks who run this thing are moderating all over the country. If you're new to this blog--or in any case, if you weren't around last year--Women in Horror Month happens in February (obviously) and examines the role of women in horror: how they're portrayed, the messages female characters send to their audiences, and just the general affect of gender roles on this particular genre. It started out with a heavy focus in film, but as the movement has gotten larger, it's expanded to include television, comics, and literature.

This is where folks like me come in. Last year I took some time asking myself what attracts me to horror, both as a reader and a writer. For 2013, I want to do something different. One of the things I've talked about here and elsewhere on the 'net is how the main element all horror stories need is audience empathy. The goal of horror is to scare you, after all, and the most effective way to do that is to make the audience feel what your characters are feeling. So with that in mind, instead of looking inward at what I've done to make my characters squirm, I'm looking at other works and trying to pinpoint the universal qualities in each of them--that thing that ties the characters to the audience, that brings them all into the same place, and exposes them to the same fears.

Recently I found this essay, written by Joyce Carol Oates in 1993: Reflections on the Grotesque.

There's plenty to savor, naturally, and I'm in awe of Ms. Oates not just because of the visceral beauty she injects into her pieces, but because she managed to garner respect, praise and relevance not just as a writer, but as a female writer of dark fiction. She's a recognized literary master, and proof enough for me that being female, and having an attraction to the macabre, need not get one shoved aside or dismissed in favor of proper "literature."

Now, having said all that, the thing that stands out most to me in the above-linked essay is this:

"One criterion for horror fiction is that we are compelled to read it swiftly, with a rising sense of dread, and so total a suspension of ordinary skepticism, we inhabit the material without question and virtually as its protagonist; we can see no way out except to go forward."

How many times have we watched a horror movie and yelled at the protagonist not to go in the basement or attic, not to investigate that strange noise or smell, not to go out into the woods? The general consensus is that characters in horror are just dumb, and while that's certainly the case sometimes, I'm not so sure it's that simple. And do we really mean it when we holler, "Don't go in there!"? Of course not. We want to see what's in the basement, behind that door, hiding in the woods, buried in the back yard. The only way out is to go forward. The only way off that proverbial cliff is to jump.
glitter_n_gore: (Default)
The lovely and talented Lydia Netzer sat in on our workshop this week, and had a number of informative and cool things to say about writing one's first novel.

She also recently posted a number of those same things at the Book Pregnant blog here:
Five Good Reasons You Won't Finish Your Novel.

This is somewhat related to my last post, but in the other direction: some ironic encouragement to keep going on that writing project, rather than permission to let it go.

Enjoy! :)
glitter_n_gore: (midori sours)
This was inspired by this blog post on Word Thief, about NaNoWriMo and throwing in the towel--and then later reclaiming said towel, but only after a substantial amount of time had passed.

This being November, I'm sure there are quite a few writerly types out there trying to crank out their 50k by the end of the month. Last week, I was still one of them. But you know when I was talking about being a "panster," as opposed to an outliner when it comes to new projects? Well, turns out I do need a little bit of structure.

Here's what happened... )
glitter_n_gore: (chiaki)
Let's talk about this madness for a moment.

To summarize: Someone on Goodreads posted an apparently less than favorable review of a particular book. Now, this happens all the time. Reviews come in all shades, from scathing to glowing, and with all levels of eloquence and professionalism. Now lately, there's been a cold war brewing between authors and reviewers based on less than favorable reviews.

Up to this point, said cold war has been confined to various levels of cyber-bullying, from classic CAPS LOCK RAGE posts to petty nonsense like getting all of a certain reviewer's posts pulled from Amazon. I don't know all the details.

What I do know is, with the story linked above, this whole thing has progressed beyond good-old-fashioned 'net warring and into a real-world threat being made against a real-life person, who was made to feel unsafe in her own home. All for the audacity of having an opinion and expressing it in a public forum.

Urban fantasy author Stacia Kane weighs in here, although that blog post was made before the harrassing phone calls started.

YA author Claudia Gray weighs in here, which is how I became aware of the current situation.

I'm not going to go into detail about the obvious here, because there's a lot of wrongness going down on both sides, and I think it's blindingly clear where it all is. It is unethical and way petty to name-call and nitpick whether you're writing a review or responding to one. It is unwise at best as an author to respond to any review, anywhere, ever, for a variety of reasons. It is nasty and vindictive to try to tear down amateur reviewers for not liking your book and saying so, no matter how they say it. And it is fucking CRAZY to go organize a vigilante website for the express purpose of threatening amateur reviewers, no matter what they said or how they said it.


I do not want to live in a world where authors and readers treat each other this way. When did we become enemies? I thought we were all on the same team--people who love books. We don't all like the same books, and we don't even like the same things in the books we do share an opinion on. But here's the thing--I thought that was okay. As a person who reads, writes amateur reviews on occasion, and hopes to one day be published, I do not want to choose sides. I don't want there to be sides.

This isn't so widespread that it's taken over the entire Internet. I doubt any of the authors I read actually check this blog, but I like the fact that I can contact Mira Grant to tell her how awesome her zombie trilogy is (which I've done); or Kelly Meding, to tell her how much I love what she's done with gremlins (which I've also done, repeatedly). If I have something negative to say, I'm less likely to seek out an author and tell them what I thought they did wrong. But that's because it's rude and unlikely to be of any use to them. It should NEVER be because I'm in fear of what might happen to me for not liking a book and saying so.

And social etiquette still doesn't prevent me from writing a review, if I'm moved to do so.

I don't know how to stop this, but it needs to stop. Now. I don't want a war. I just want to read, write, and blog.
glitter_n_gore: (clockwork orange)
This post is somewhat spoilery--consider yourselves warned.

First and for the record: yes, I'm a Battle Royale enthusiast and dedicated Asia Extreme fangirl, but we aren't here to talk about which futuristic dystopia about a totalitarian government annually pitting its children against each other in a last-man-standing duel to the death came first or did it better. I do have a preference, but they are very different stories, and I happen to believe Suzanne Collins' claim that she hadn't read or even heard of Koushoun Takami's novel before writing hers.

So, what are we here to talk about? Well, first let me direct you to this excellent post by [ profile] seanan_mcguire: Some thoughts about gender and literature. The Internet is no stranger to gender wars, especially the really nasty ones, and somehow they seem to be getting worse. In the literary quadrant of said wars we have YA paranormal romance in one corner, with their pretty dresses and broody Type A alpha love interests; in the other, we have so-called "boy books" about action and adventure and coming-of-age. The biggest point of contention being, not the actual content of the sub-genres, but the gender of the main characters and, by extension, their assumed target audiences.

Let me put it another way: certain readers who prefer not to read books with female protagonists say they avoid them on the off-chance that a romance will happen. As someone who isn't fond of romance on the whole, I get this . . . kind of. It has a twisted logic to it. Twisted, because, well, not all books with female protagonists are about romance. Just as not all books with male protagonists are without it. Using gender as an excuse to make assumptions about a book's content is perfectly ridiculous.

Now, about The Hunger Games... )
glitter_n_gore: (chiaki)
Egads! February's almost over already. How'd that happen??

But it's not quite over yet, and my fellow Women in Horror have been quite busy. Here's what the rest of my Hounds have been up to:

Diane Dooley posted this interview with Nicole J. LeBoeuf, author of several short stories, including "My First Breath," which appears in the Ellen Datlow anthology, Blood and Other Cravings. If I haven't mentioned this here before, Ellen Datlow is my favorite horror anthologist, and deserves a mention on her own.

Ms. Dooley also put together this helpful index of some of the other bloggers and participants in this year's festivities--including yours truly!

Sara Jayne Townsend has two blog entries to commemorate the month: Part 1 discusses the traditionally male focus of the genre, and the perception that women just don't do the horror thing; Part 2 is a roundup of some of her favorite horror writers.

Lastly, horror writer Foinah Jameson talks about the difference between fear and viscera, and the importance of gallows humor here.

As for myself, I have submitted "The Candelabrum" to the first magazine on my list. (Help! Help!) That's the most exciting writerly thing I've been up to lately, but I will keep y'all posted on any further developments.
glitter_n_gore: (Default)
First, check out this interview with Luke Walker about his new ebook, The Red Girl.

Second, in the continuing spirit of Women in Horror Month, fellow Houndie Night Flyer has posted on a spotlight on author Sarah Langon on her shiny new blog. Check that out as well.

In other news, I have now read two--count 'em, two--of the books in my TBR pile: L. A. Banks's Minion and Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Crossing 'em off the list now.

Anyways, since I haven't done one of these in far too long, here's a progress report on what I'm actually working on writing-wise:


Fire Worker--previously known as "Demigeists," so obviously the first piece of news on this one is I changed the title. The reason being that "demigeists," these neat little fun-sized ghosties I made up that travel through mirrors and steal souls very, very gradually, while still worth a shot eventually I think, just aren't going to work in the context I worked out. The total wordcount so far is 28,000. I'm about at the halfway mark.

Early Risers--Currently standing at 13,000 words, and passing the Plot Twist. Which, this being a zombie story, means the outbreak is getting worse. Another issue is I realized I haven't described what my protagonist looks like yet. I tend to be lax with physical descriptions for some reason, particularly for POV characters. I don't know why. I'll figure something out, I hope.


Doppelganger--four rejections so far, all form, no takers. I took another look at it and decided the beginning was weak, so I'm putting it back into the editing stage before sending it anywhere else.

The Candelabrum--3,000 after the second round of edits, and now I'm scouring my lists for where to send it. Wish me luck!
glitter_n_gore: (Default)
First, Mira Grant, author of Deadline, Book Two in the Newsflesh trilogy, has been nominated for a Philip K. Dick award--yay to her! I'm excited on her behalf, because her books are among the best I read last year, and easily my favorite books in the zombie genre. Read more here.

Second, I seem to be nominated for something also: The Versatile Bloggers Award, courtesy of Ann Elise Monte. (Thanks again!) I've never been nominated as blogger before, so I'm very excited about this. The rules say I'm supposed to nominate some other folks too, which I'll do in a future blog. Need to think about that for a bit.

Third, Luke Walker, fellow Horror Hound and one of the finest writers I know, has his novel, The Red Girl out as an ebook as of this past weekend. Yay to him as well! He's been working on this for quite some time, so I'm very happy for him for getting it out to the public. More info here.

Which brings me to my broken resolution: I did it. I went and bought some books, including Luke's, before getting through my TBR pile. Almost made it through January. Damn. I will get through the pile before the year's out though. I'm . . . revising the resolution, let's say. But I will do it.
glitter_n_gore: (emma)
This was brought to my attention via [ profile] seanan_mcguire.

Rachel Stark has made a disturbing observation about a recent trend with book covers for YA fiction: Cover Trends in YA Fiction: Why the Obsession With Elegant Death?

Go on, read that first.

Now, when I first heard about this, I had a "What's the big deal?" approach. I'm into horror as well as YA, so my interests tend towards the macabre anyway--which probably comes as no surprise, considering the name I chose for this blog. Images of (fake) dead things don't particularly bother me as long as they're artfully done, as most of these seem to be. In my head I likened it to that opening montage from the movie Ginger Snaps, in which the two girls pose themselves in various gruesome photographs for a school project--drawing both applause from their classmates and a loud, disgusted diatribe from their teacher in the process.

Furthermore, since dark YA is mostly what I write, I imagined that maybe the subgenre is opening up a bit, which for me would be a good thing. Because why would the folks who decide things like what to put on book covers be using images of dead girls if not to draw an audience that likes dark stories?

So I took a look at some of the other book covers in my collection. You know what I notice? All my adult horror doesn't seem to favor images of dead girls to draw that audience. It's all shadowy silhouettes, dark forests, and eerie still lifes of things like empty chairs or abandoned buildings.

Then I took a look at some YA horror covers--proper horror, not just paranormal with a hefty dose of romance.

Here's what I found. )
glitter_n_gore: (underworld)
Remember Wicked Pretty Things? Well, buckle your seatbelts, because someone's thrown more fuel on this fire.

The basic story is this: Authors Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith wrote this article for Publishers Weekly, detailing their decision to walk after a certain agency asked them to A) marginalize, B) de-gay, or C) entirely remove a pivotal character from their YA novel.

Agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe (although not the agent in question, at least not as far as sources can tell so far) caught wind of this and put out a response to the internet, saying that the conversation about the character, and what should be done about him, was taken out of context, misconstrued, and these authors are taking things the wrong way and making the agency look bad. Her full rebuttal is here.

It got complicated as more authors, editors, and agency reps hopped onto the comment train, and added their tweets to the conversation.

As usual, the magnificent Cleo has all the details.

The real issue is not truly who said what to whom and for what reasons in this particular incident. Oh, no. The issue is what place queer characters currently occupy in the YA market, and how that needs to change.

Particularly telling is this anonymous comment on Brown and Smith's original article:

"I'm so tired of the reactionary nature of the internet. This is a case in point of that.

As a reader, I don't want to be force-fed something I'm not comfortable with reading or dealing with. This goes for anything, not just homosexual content.

Do homosexuals exist? Do rapists exist? Do drug addicts and drug dealers exist? Do dark and scary things exist?

Yes. But that doesn't mean I want to read about it. I read to escape and if a book leaves me feeling enraged or depressed or anything that isn't a feeling I want to have hanging over my day or week, it's not a book for me.

It has nothing to do with homophobia or bigotry of any kind."

Take a moment and let that sink in. I want you to note how this person equates rape and drug-dealing with homosexuality. This right here is why we call it homophobia--it all comes down to fear. And it's a fear that, unlike that of rapists and drug-dealers, is completely baseless. I really wonder where these people get their information, and how they draw their conclusions about what makes non-straight people so "dark and scary."

So what do we do about it?

If you're a reader, you can follow the suggestion to vote with your dollars--prove to the marketplace that the readership for queer characters and their stories is out there, especially in YA where all the really important changes seem to be happening these days. That is the best and most impactful way to make something happen.

But what about me? What should I, as a writer, do about this?

Read on. )
glitter_n_gore: (samara)
Let's hear it for fellow horror hound, Diane Dooley, who has not just one, but two stories out as of this past month: "A Womb of One's Own", her first print publication which is out in this summer's issue of Golden Visions Magazine--read more about it here; and "Served", a short, nasty piece about waiting tables (kind of) which you can read here. (Scroll down to the end, but be warned--it is NOT for the faint of heart. Mature audiences ONLY.)

Also there's a great conversation/interview up on her blog with Fiona Dodwell, on the perceptions and difficulties of being not just a horror writer, but a female horror writer: "Most people who find I enjoy horror are shocked – they usually respond by saying, “But you’re such a girly, feminine woman!”, as if being into horror means I have to grow horns and wear black all day! Really, I’m a happy, contented woman, but I like to explore darkness from a safe place – and for me that is through the medium of writing." Read the rest of the interview here.

As for myself, progress is slow but steady on my various projects. I am four pages and one last edit away from finished with "Doppelganger," the horror short I've been working on with the writer's group here, and have signed up to do a reading with them in September. It's a first-come, first-served sign up list, so hopefully I'll be able to get in there. Even if it's full, there's usually at least one person who can't show up due to some emergency or other, so I'm hopeful. Stay tuned--I will tell you when and where for anyone who wants to come.

The rest of my projects are, as usual, getting eaten by plot bunnies. I got one more rejection back for "Hoppers," which I hate to admit probably needs another rewrite--or at least a fresh beta reader to tell me what needs fixing. I'm torn between the voice that says "Put it away and deal with it later, when you stop hating it," which is probably the best; and the one that says, "But it's YA dystopia--if we don't find a buyer now, people are going to be sick of them! It'll be vampires all over again!" although I know, I know, that's my impatience talking. The market is unpredictable--dystopias will come back around, or not, and there's nothing I can do about it, so there's no use worrying about that.

"Dusty" has a mind of its own and won't do what I tell it, although I think the first chapter is pretty good. A first chapter does not a good novel make, but it's a start, and it's better than what I had before. I think I might just be taking this project too seriously, because--apart from the vampires--it's about a topic that's very close to home for me, and that's making it exceedingly difficult to write.

I have several more on the backburner, but right now my focus is mostly on "Doppelganger." Having a critique group to report to makes things go so much more smoothly.

As for the plot bunnies, I'm just going to throw a dart and see where it lands.

Last book read: Spindle's End by Robin McKinley.

Yearly total: 38
glitter_n_gore: (frank)
Like monsters? Read this article by self-described "icky bug" fan and author Fred Hayworth.

Like zombies? Check out this book trailer for Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy--the second of which, Deadline I bought just last week.

As for myself, I haven't accomplished as much word-count wise lately as I'd like to. However, I am progressing in a slightly different way, and pleased so far: I finished my "final" edits for my YA dystopia, which I wasn't expecting to happen as quickly or easily as it did, so I'm starting the query/synopsis/submission process again. YA dystopias are reportedly "hot" right now, and I just happen to have one, and this manuscript is decidedly more polished than the last one I sent out, so I'm hopeful.

Also, I joined a sci-fi/fantasy/horror workshop last week with a focus on short story format. I haven't successfully written a short story before, so I'm taking a stab at getting the form and pacing figured out. It's a good group, and I've workshopped with them before, so I'm excited. Wish me luck!
glitter_n_gore: (jc vampires)
First, check out this great interview with Steve Barber, author of Blob and the Sous-Chef, over at Diane Dooley's blog: Oh, The Horror!

Next, I've been thinking about the state of vampire fiction and my place in it, and came up with somewhat slightly rambling thoughts.

Read More... )
glitter_n_gore: (joker)
My first guest blog! Here it is:

It's an essay on the nature of fear, and how the horror writer exploits it, using my own fear of cockroaches (or possibly water bugs) as an example. Many thanks to Fiona for lending me her space for a day!


glitter_n_gore: (Default)

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