naomi_jay: (unicorn and snow)
I made a list last week of "definite projects" and "maybe projects" to work on next year and since I'm still not sleeping properly omg the sleeping pills did NOTHING why would you coat sleeping pills in sugar ffs?, I thought I'd share it with you all instead of putting together an actual post. So!

Definite

Finish Undertow (currently at 13856 words, projected total 40-60k)
Finish Halflife (currently at 18036 words, projected total 70-80k)
Write Urban Wolf book four
Write sequel to NIGHT AND CHAOS (currently at 7105 words, projected total 40k)

Maybe

Write two more gothic romances (provided I can get Shadow Cursed published)
Write Ethan Banning three (tentatively titled Descent)
Write third part of the NIGHT AND CHAOS trilogy
Write second Vargulf novel

I'm also toying with a third Yasmin Stoker/Shoregrave novel. I kinda have an idea for it, but it will depend on how Halflife ends and what state Shoregrave is in afterwards. Either way, I would like to wrap up the first part of the Shoregrave series in 2012, as I have plans for a second series (a trilogy) I'd like to get to work on. I will also have heavy revisions for Night Breed, the third Urban Wolf book, as well as the release at some point! 

I'll be carrying on with editing projects too, but I'm planning to cut back on short story-writing next year. I want to be a focused, lean, mean writing machine next year and see how much I can get done. I've been a very distracted writer this year, and I haven't been anywhere near as productive as I planned. Having spent much of the year experimenting with self-publishing and promo stuff, I've been able to figure out what I want as a writer, and in 2012 what I want is to do more actual writing.

 
naomi_jay: (and now this)
Kathryn Meyer Griffith is a fellow author at Damnation Books/Eternal Press, and she's here today sharing some Christmas memories. Aww! Thanks, Kathryn, and Merry Christmas! (I know it's early, but I need to pump as much joy out of the season as possible).



My real childhood Christmas memories, in fact most of my holiday memories, essentially began in my ninth year. Oh, I have memories, scattered and muted, of earlier times but none as crystalized as those after that year. That’s because months earlier on a sultry hot August day around my ninth birthday I almost died; the whole experience changed my young life forever from that time on.

It was early August 1959 – a terribly hot and long summer pre-air-conditioning – and I lived with my six siblings, mother and father, in a rambling run-down house near St. Louis. We didn’t have much money or material possessions, wore hand-me-downs and sometimes we didn’t have lunch money or even a working telephone. Our utilities were often cut off for lack of payment, things would disappear from the house and into the pawn shop and a car would one day be ours and the next not. But we had each other and…love.

My maternal grandmother, Mary Fehrt (joy bringer and storyteller of her generation) was always there for us when it came to providing the things we desperately needed; care packages of food and cash. As much as they could give because they weren’t rich either, but frugal; both worked long grueling hours at a dry cleaner. They’d gone through the Great Depression and could stretch a dollar. I always thought it ironic they’d responsibly had just one child, my mother, Delores, but she gave them seven grandchildren. I thought of my family as a modern day Walton’s. Heck, we even had a writer John Boy (me…though I was an artist and a singer with my brother Jim before I became one) and a musician, Jason (my brother Jim), a loving mother and father and a generous grandmother and grandfather. We were poor but happy. A good hearted family.

Anyway, that August I got sick. My side hurt and I lay moaning on the couch for three days while my mother and father agonized if I should be taken to the ER. Money we didn’t have. In the end, my mother won out and they took me. I had a bad case of appendicitis and the doctors, as they rushed me into the operating room, told my parents if they’d waited another hour the appendix would have burst and I might have died. Died.

Thank God, I didn’t. Afterwards I languished in a hot hospital room (I can still smell the antiseptic, bloodied bandages and feel the pain of the stitches to this day). Ech.

My ninth birthday was two days after I returned home and my family, relieved I was alive, showered me with gifts. A brownie camera. Art supplies. Homemade cake and ice cream. Everyone was there. I, for once, was the center of attention and loved it. I look back now and realize that was the beginning of wanting to be different, to stand out, make a difference in the world, to shine, and shortly after that I began drawing pictures and singing with my brother on the rusted backyard swing set.

The holidays that year were different for me and my family as well. Thanksgiving was full of grateful laughter, a huge roasted turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes and marshmallows (my favorite) and lots of my father’s special treats, nuts and tangerines. I was acutely aware of everything. I was looking at the world through new eyes and was excited at the life I’d been given back. Happy. Thankful for my loving family.

Christmas was a child’s sweet fantasy. Christmas Eve, as the snowflakes, the temperature and the night’s amethyst twilight fell, my brothers, sisters, mother, father and I piled into my Dad’s big Buick and drove through the woods and neighborhoods of twinkling lit up houses to our grandmother and grandfather’s house. We usually stayed home on Christmas Eve and opened our presents the next morning when our grandparents arrived. Not that year. Dad and mom announced it was special and we were going to grandma’s house. Opening our presents there that night. Yippee! What child didn’t want presents early. Sooner the better.
It was snowing heavily by the time we drove into their driveway and I can still see what I saw as a child as I walked wide-eyed into grandma’s house (my grandmother loved the holidays and had twinkling Christmas lights, the big fat old-fashioned bulbs, strung along the front of their house and there were decorated Christmas trees in every room). My grandmother had outdone herself and there wasn’t corner of her home that wasn’t full of Christmas.

We traipsed downstairs and into a Christmas wonderland. Grandpa had gone out and cut a huge pine tree that stood at the end of their 50’s remodeled basement in all its glory. On its fragrant limbs hung hundreds of cherished family heirloom ornaments and beneath it were piles of brightly wrapped presents, more than I’d ever seen in my life, and a miniature Christmas village with a tiny train that chugged noisily around a little metal track, blowing its whistle. The whole glittering sight took my breath away.

They made us kids sit on the floor and handed out our presents one by one. Grandma and grandpa had gone overboard, as always, and I remember sitting there unwrapping present after present and crying because I’d gotten so many of the things I’d wanted. A large drawing tablet. Colored pencils. Pastels. A watercolor set. A sparkly (some of you remember those don’t you?) paint-by-number of winter sunsets. A new blouse. A big bag of my favorite nuts, cashews. All for me. I was in seventh heaven. The other kids did pretty well, too. By today’s standards, nothing much, but small trucks, cars, new clothes and dolls meant a lot to us.

I gave my grandmother and grandfather a set of porcelain fishes; my mother an inexpensive necklace and father some gloves. My brothers, sisters and I had gone out on a cold night days earlier to the local five and dime and picked out what we could afford, not much, but it was given from the heart. After the gifts we sat down at the long table full of grandma’s delicious food and ate, laughed, and made memories as the snow continued to drift outside the windows. Later, stuffed, content and exhausted mom and dad loaded us all into the Buick and slowly drove us home on the slick streets. Magic. I’ll never forget that night and the joy of my large family. The love. It’d sustain us through the hard and bad times to come and to this day gives me a smile and a catch in my throat whenever my thoughts touch it. Merry Christmas everyone!
***

Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been writing for nearly forty years and has published 14 novels and 8 short stories since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press in the horror, romantic paranormal, suspense and murder mystery genres. Learn more about her at www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith.
naomi_jay: (Cute notepad)
I was lucky enough to be the editor for Greg's new novella, The Noctuary, so you can take my word for it that it's awesome. If you're a horror/dark fantasy fan I urge you to pick up a copy immediately. Go now!

Back? Okay, here's Greg:


1. Let's start out easy – tell us a bit about The Noctuary. The title is very evocative – did it come first, or the idea for the story?

 The whole idea for The Noctuary came to me when I was about halfway through my mentorship with author Brett McBean in 2009. I started thinking about where all my ideas came from and the actual mentorship program became metaphysical in a way. I had this thought about what it would be like if an artist’s muse suddenly appeared to them. Writing the book as a sort of journal made sense, but I also wanted the reader to perceive the story in real time, but still have that appearance of unreality to it. Noctuary is actually Latin for “Night-Diary”.
 
2. The idea of the Dark Muses is wonderful, and their scenes are some of my favourites. Where did that come from? 

I obviously borrowed from Greek myth here. I took the story of the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who served to inspire musicians, artists and poets and gave it a darker twist. I thought about good and evil and how demons would go about tempt human souls to sin. The concept of the Scribe and writing evil into humanity sprouted from that seed.

My nine Dark Muses represent all the negative aspects of humanity i.e., hate, violence war, tyranny, black magic etcetera. I knew how each of them would look physically, but the tricky part was coming up with their names.
 
3. How did this compare to writing your previous book, Torment? Anything you learned from that you were able to use in The Noctuary? 

The Noctuary and Torment couldn’t be any further apart. Torment is my take on the classic haunted house tale with a dash of demonic possession and “trial-by-faith” thrown in. The Noctuary is much darker – it’s more a work of the fantastique, that delves much deeper into concepts and themes of Hell and damnation of the soul. The Noctuary is also written in first-person and is at times, quite surreal. With Torment, I wanted the reader to sympathise with Jessica Newman, but Simon Ryan, the central character in The Noctuary, is sort of an anti-hero. I think readers will question Simon’s motivations.
 
4. Like yourself, Simon in The Noctuary writes dark fiction. How much of his experiences were drawn from real life? (Please don't tell me you have a Dark Muse of your own – I'd be both jealous and terrified!). 

The only thing Simon and I share lies within his name. When I was born my parents wanted to call me Simon, but my three older brothers wanted them to name me after a well-known Australian cricketer at the time, Greg Chappell. I guess the concepts of pseudonyms and what my life might have been like if my name was Simon might have subconsciously found their way into the book, but you can rest assured the story is complete fiction! 
 
5. I've seen The Noctuary compared favourably to the works of Clive Barker – can you tell us who your influences are, and is Clive among them? 

Clive Barker is one of my greatest influences. I admire Clive’s courage to present the visceral nature of horror, like he did in The Books of Blood and The Hellbound Heart. His control of prose is magnificent and immediately evokes imagery when you read it. As an artist and writer I have a very vivid imagination and it’s very easy for me to connect with Clive’s work. Another writer I adore is Edgar Allan Poe and he is a master of that other key aspect of horror fiction – atmosphere. The Fall of the House of Usher, The Red Masque and The Pit and the Pendulum taught me a lot about building that sense of dread that is vital in horror fiction.
 
6. What are you working on after The Noctuary? 

I haven’t done much new writing as I have been illustrating a non-fiction graphic novel tentatively titled “Witches!”. It is written by Horror Writers Association president Rocky Wood and multiple Bram Stoker Award winning author Lisa Morton. It will be published by McFarland in early 2012.

I did complete one novella about a young boy meeting a demonic acting troupe and I’ve been dabbling with the first draft of a Halloween-themed tale. 

Find out more about Greg and his work here.
naomi_jay: (Epilepsysaurus)
So! It's the last day of November, which means Anti-Nano ends tonight *sob* But Winter-Write-a-Thon is here to pick up the slack! Like Anti-Nano, WWAT is now housed over at [livejournal.com profile] squidathon, and everyone is welcome to join in. We check in on Mondays and Fridays and post writing snippets on Wednesdays. If you're working on something and would like some company over the cold, dark, lonely winter weeks, come and say hello!

My goal for Anti-Nano was to work on Undertow and Halflife. I was half-successful, in that I worked on Undertow. I'd like to have the first draft done by the end of December now, which is perfectly do-able if it works out at the same length as DEMONIZED (about 40k). I have a feeling it might be longer, but I'm planning to try out this technique to see if I can increase my wordage output. I'm not usually a planner when it comes to writing, but I toyed with this a little last week, and although I was a long way off 10k, I was definitely more productive with notes to work from. So we'll see.

I'm also planning to write an Ethan Christmas Special. It'll be one of the Ethan Banning Files - a short, self-published story, but festive! So there's a slim chance something nice might happen to Ethan. Look, it might, that's all. Hopefully I can get to work on that over the weekend (I have a novel to finish editing for Damnation Books, and a house party to avoid going to).
naomi_jay: (dragon girl)
I always say I don't read sci-fi, but that's not true. It's just that the only sci-fi I read is Anne McCaffrey. My first McCaffrey book was The White Dragon, which I bought second-hand at a school bookfair and paid for entirely in pennies, to the delight of the bookseller I didn't know it was part of a series, or that it was science-fiction, just that it was about dragons and that meant it was probably awesome. I completely fell in love with Jaxom and Ruth, and quickly set about finding the rest of the series.

This is the actual cover I had - it took me so freaking long to figure out that was a dragon...


The Dragonriders of Pern quickly become a minor obsession of mine. You don't even know how badly I wanted fire lizards and to live at Igen Weyr (I'm not sure why it was Igen; maybe that was the one by the sea?). My obsession reached a pinnacle with Dragonsdawn, which I still think is one of the best books I've ever read. I can't count the number of times I've re-read it.


I probably wouldn't have tried any of McCaffrey's other books though, which all sounded too "sci-fi-ey" to me, if I hadn't found a cheap omnibus of the Crystal Singer and figured I'd give it a whirl.



Wow. I'm so glad I did. The Crystal Singer trilogy is incredible. It showed me sci-fi was not necessarily what I thought it was, and that a heroine didn't have to be a nice person to be a fascinating character. Killashandra is the character responsible for the kind of heroines (and heroes) I like and write - difficult characters who may not be instantly likeable, but ultimately you can't help but root for. Encouraged by this, I tried more of McCaffrey's non-Pern books. Some were miss, some were hit. I adored the Catteni Sequence, but didn't ever get into the Rowan books. I haven't enjoyed the later, co-authored Pern books, but early this year I got Kyle into the early ones, and we've been listening to them on audiobook. It's been great to share the books I love so much with someone new, and make a new fan of them :)

I was so sad to hear Anne McCaffrey passed away, but judging by all the tweets, blogs, and Facebook statuses I've seen, her work will keep going and delighting new fans for generations to come. If you've never read a McCaffrey book, I encourage you to do so as soon as you can. If you have, I'd love to know what your favourites are.
naomi_jay: (Black dog?)
Strictly speaking, I'm not a fan of wacky sidekicks. They're usually intended to be comic relief, but they rarely work that way for me. I loathed the talking dog in The Accidental Demon Slayer and the wise-cracking demon/cat in Redheaded Stepchild. I don't know what it is, but a comedy sidekick character is usually a kiss of death in a book for me.

Which brings me to Ethan's sidekick, Mutt. Yeah, I know! But Mutt isn't a comedy sidekick. He doesn't talk or have supercanine powers. He's just a dog that happens to love Ethan because Ethan gave him a candy bar that one time. I've been very careful not to humanise Mutt. I don't want him to be anything other than a dog. Ethan might treat him as more-than-animal clever, but I don't want to turn Mutt into something he's not. 

Anyway! That aside, Mutt is a big part of the Ethan novellas since he's the closest Ethan has to a friend, and for that reason alone I spent a lot of time today looking at pictures of Labrador mixes online trying to find one that looked like Mutt. And I did!



Look at that face! He's not quite the right colour (Mutt is more grey-black) but expression-wise, this is how I always picture Mutt looking at Ethan. Like, "you're the bestest human I know and I'm sorry there's bird poop on the carpet! Let's do something fun!" And Ethan's all, "here's a chewy bone, you adorable bastard."

So as I'm working on Undertow now, having finished the gothic romance short story, Mutt and Ethan have plenty of adventures ahead. I think Ethan needs a happy dog to help balance out the angry demon. And Mutt is like the happiest dog because his daddy takes him on adventures all the time. Like this one:

Undertow snippet ahoy! )
naomi_jay: (write this down)
I signed and posted the contracts last week, so I can officially announce it now:

NIGHT AND CHAOS will be republished by Damnation Books in June 2012! Huzzahs! I'm very excited and looking forward to seeing some awesome new cover art. My aim is to have part two of the trilogy (currently titled Blood and Bones but probably to be renamed) ready for submission in Spring 2012.

In other news, Anti-Nano is officially go (check out [livejournal.com profile] squidathon for details), which means Halflife is back on my to-write list and the new Ethan novella/novel, Undertow is going to be started this very night. In honour of this, I've been putting together an Ethan Banning playlist. It will probably grow as the month continues but at the moment it looks like this:

When the Night Comes Down - Tiger Army
Twenty Flight Rock - Tiger Army
Under Saturn's Shadow - Tiger Army
I Turned Into A Martian - The Misfits
Ain't No Rest for the Wicked - Cage the Elephant
Wolf Like Me - TV On The Radio (who am I kidding, this song goes on all my playlists)
Monster - Skillet (Ethan's official theme song)
Stained Glass Cross - DOWN
The Man That Follows Hell - DOWN
Down With The Sickness - Disturbed
Divide - Disturbed
Shout 2000 - Disturbed
I Love To Say Fuck - The Murderdolls
People Hate Me - The Murderdolls

Hmm. No AFI yet...That must be rectified.
naomi_jay: (and now this)
*It's like Mega Shark v Giant Octopus but with fewer tentacles.

I have a real thing about private eyes. I even considered being one for a while as a teenager, but then I realised it might involve some degree of physical fitness and decided to stick with the writing plan. But my obsession didn't stop. If anything, it was exacerbated by the discovery of my older brother's computer game, Under A Killing Moon, featuring post-apocalyptic PI, Tex Murphy.

Look at Tex. I loved Tex. I wanted to be his long-suffering dame.

I played this computer game repeatedly until our computer broke (not because of me, probably). And that pretty much did it for me. PIs were awesome forever and if I couldn't be one, I'd write about one.

And this is where Ethan Banning and Shannon Ryan come into it. They're both private eyes but they're very different sorts of private eye. Observe:

Ethan is my personal stereotypical idea of a PI. He's always broke, he drinks and smokes way too much, he's usually in some terrible scrape, and he badly needs to shave some time. He's hopeless with women. His cases are gritty - murder, missing persons, drugs. He's full of (what he thinks is) witty banter. He occupies a depressed city where something seedy is always going on. He's not unlike Tex, actually - down and out but desperately trying to get lucky.

Shannon, on the other hand, is probably closer to the reality. She works on cheating spouses, tax evasion, corporate and legal matters. Unlike Ethan, she lives a pretty clean life and about gets by financially. She's essentially a nosy character - show her a closed door and she'll have to know what's on the other side. She's also the kind of person who always needs an answer. If you ask her something and she doesn't know the answer, she'll go find it. Ethan would probably just make something up.

Which is not to say Ethan is lazy or stupid, because he's not. He's just used to being the underdog (as opposed to living with the underdog, like Shannon). And he also just likes messing with people if he can get away with it. Keeps them guessing and assuming he's...well, stupid and lazy. Whereas Shannon likes people to know exactly how clever and competent she is, as it usually pulls the rug out from under them.

They're both pretty pragmatic people at heart, and neither is afraid to make tough decisions. I think Ethan's a lot more pessimistic than Shannon though, and more than likely hungover 90% of the time. Honestly, if I was going to hire one of them to work a case for me, it would be Shannon. If I just wanted to hang out with someone and get into some wacky scrapes, I'd pick Ethan.

So, this post isn't part of the DARK HUNT blog tour, but let's have some fun anyway! Tell me who'd you rather have on your case - Ethan or Shannon, and I'll send you an ebook featuring the character of your choice.


naomi_jay: (moon in clouds)
As the title may imply, this week's Writerly Wednesday is all about DARK HUNT. We'll get to the meat of the post shortly, but first, remember the fabulous prizes I've been talking about? The t-shirts, ebooks, postcards, tarot readings, and other exciting things you can win by following the blog tour and commenting on my posts? Well, we've added another one to the mix.

Want to read DARK HUNT but haven't read SILVER KISS yet? Don't worry! Everyone who comments on one of the blog tour posts will receive a Smashwords voucher to download SILVER KISS for free.

For FREE.

So you can read the book that's been called "compelling" and "gritty," and see what lead Ayla and Shannon to Paris for DARK HUNT. Now, speaking of Paris...


"France has a long, dark history with wolves, you know? People do not forget." - Clemence, DARK HUNT.

Once I decided I was going to set book two of the Urban Wolf series in Paris, I knew I wanted to have Ayla and Shannon explore a little of French history. Specifically its werewolf history. In the Middle Ages, when paranoia about witchcraft ran rampant over Europe, France experienced more than its fare share of werewolf hysteria. In 1603 Jean Grenier terrorised St Sever, Gascony, killing many young children. Villagers blamed wolves. Marguerite Poirier, a thirteen-year-old who survived Grenier's savage attack described a wolf-like beast as her assailant. Grenier himself, when caught, boasted of taking a wolf's shape to hunt and eat young children.

How could I not weave that kind of history into my book?

"Stupid thing was, back then wolves were still in hiding," I complained, staring at Grenier's beastly face. "Grenier was probably just a random madman, but because of people like him, we get lumbered with the child-eating reputation." - Ayla, DARK HUNT.

After he was caught and arrested, Grenier confessed to every killing and claimed to be a werewolf. In Ayla's world, that's a very real possibility. In the Urban Wolf universe, werewolves have only been living out in the open since World War I, so every tale of witchcraft, vampirism, and werewolfism...could well be true.

In 1572, Gilles Garnier stole children from the French town of Dole to feed his new wife. Authorities issued an edict encouraging people to find and kill the werewolf. When he was caught, Gilles claimed he used a magic ointment to take on wolf-shape. He was found guilty of witchcraft and lycanthropy and burned at the stake.

Going further back, there are numerous French folk tales and legends revolving around werewolves, from the Werewolf of Auvergne to the Wolves of Paris. In the Urban Wolf world, these might not be legends. They might be true. And if werewolves are real, who knows what else is lurking in the dark? You'll have to read DARK HUNT to find out ^_^

"Some lupine historians thought that once there'd been all kinds of supernatural creatures in the world, not just wolves. Fairies, vampires, other species of shifters...and all wiped out in the Middle Ages." - Ayla, DARK HUNT


(Artwork very kindly provided by [livejournal.com profile] dwg. And if you like this, you'll love the DARK HUNT postcards we have!)

naomi_jay: (dragon girl)
The release of THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE is sneaking up on me fast, so I thought this week's Writerly Wednesday could be best used for some pimpage. So here you go! The opening paragraph in all it's opening glory:



"Evanthe shivered as the icy wind ripped through the graveyard, tossing dead leaves and grave dirt against her, whipping her hair into her eyes. The half moon was hidden by storm clouds, casting the graveyard in near perfect darkness, so Evanthe was forced to grope her way blindly from one crumbling, mossy headstone to the next. Her torch battery had died almost as soon as she flicked it on, leaving her feeling lost and faintly ridiculous."

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Dirty Little Whirlwind

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