naomi_jay: (zebra)
So I was going to take the rights to Undertow back, but after some emails with the new guy in charge at Ragnarok, I figured I may as well leave things as they are. Their contract is fine, and only three years, so if at the end of that there's no improvements at Ragnarok or I've decided to jack it all in and focus solely on being a highly efficient secretary, I can get the rights back then automatically.

I figure it's better to have the book out there and available than gathering dust on my laptop where it can never be found by new readers. And New Guy seems keen to talk about other Ethan-related projects, which, despite everything, I would still love to write. So it probably won't hurt to see how things play out for a while, and at any rate me and Ethan are unlikely to be worse off for it.

I think future Dawn books are off the table. I should at least try to keep Ethan alive.

Mopey

Oct. 8th, 2017 10:57 am
naomi_jay: (nothing to say)
I know I'm dwelling too much on the bad reviews for Lich Queen and all the nonsense that's happened/will continue to happen with Ethan. I know that. But I can't stop myself because I feel like it confirms what I've always feared since I started getting published. My readers don't want MY writing. They want lesbian books and it's not that I'm a good writer, I'm just writing something in a niche where there's demand. Because anything I put out under my own name that isn't queer-focused bombs.

And then I get all knotted up over the fact that I write queer books anyway when I'm straight, because it's totally disingenuous and I feel like I'm...I don't know, latching onto something that isn't mine. It feels almost manipulative.

And then I get more knotted up because that's not my intention. I love everything I write and I don't personally care whether the characters are queer or straight; I just write the books that come to me. But there's no denying that I accidentally fell into writing lesbian-orientated stuff and gaining somewhat of a name for that. It was never my plan, and however I feel about my writing, there's also no denying that it's becoming hard for me to A) have faith in my ideas and B) write some of the books I've always wanted to write...because NOBODY is going to want them.

I've thought about switching to a pen name for straight UF, but two pen names is about my limit as long as I have to also work 9-5, which I always will. I've thought about just saying "fuck it" and writing solely queer-focused stuff, but it will slowly kill me to never write some of the other non-queer stories I want to write. I've thought about saying "fuck it" and just writing whatever the fuck I want regardless, but then it slowly kills me to see the lack of reaction/bad reviews for the non-queer stuff, because it just confirms that fear that I'm actually no good at all and readers are just hungry for anything that gives them more queer characters, regardless of quality.

And then I get stuck in this rut where I feel like I can't even talk about that without sounding...something. I'm really proud that a queer audience has found my books and enjoys them and I don't want to sound like "ick, I'm ungrateful, I've been pigeon-holed," because I am grateful and I believe strongly in the importance of representation, and if I'm helping and contributing in some way, that's fucking awesome.

But at the same time, I want to write books with lesbians and books with straight folks and books with no fucking romance at all and books with characters with mental illness and books where sexuality doesn't ever come up and just all the fucking books I want.

I feel really stuck at the moment, to the point where I just don't want to write at all because it feels like whatever direction I go in, I'm going to make the wrong choice for myself. I've worked so hard all my life to be published and to be a good fucking writer and I don't want to throw it away, but there just seems to be no solution to this that works.
naomi_jay: (woman and shark)


 And, you know, seasons greetings and whatever. 
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: (pen and paper)
So many things! Let us start with the promo-ish things:

WILD is free for Amazon Prime members right now. Free stuff is awesome. Free stuff about werewolves and drugs is especially awesome. So if you want to enjoy some awesome free stuff, WILD might be right for you!

Ethan Banning is here to save your Christmas (should it need saving). ICE, ICE BABY is my Ethan Christmas Special, in which he almost has a completely nice Christmas Eve, marred only slightly by a corpse. Like my other two Ethan short stories, you can read this without having read AFTERLIFE or DEMONISED.

I've read some really amazing books recently and you should read them too! Carolyn Crane's Disillusionist trilogy is definitely one of my top picks for the year. I adore Jusine, the heroine, and the concept is very fresh, very dark, and very cool. If you like PI books, you might also try LM Pruitt's Taken, There's a touch of the supernatural, but this is mostly a straight-up crime novel, and I loved it.

If, like me, you've heard of SOPA but didn't really know anything about it, you might want to check this video out from TotalBiscuit, and enjoy his strangely sexy voice telling you how we're all doomed if this passes.

Kit Whitfield has been analysing opening sentences of classic books. Her blog is worth reading anyway, because she's very smart and very funny, but this series has been really fascinating.

Laura Bickle is counting down the Twelve Days of Nerdmas, which involves steampunk corsets and Cthulhu sweaters, and is therefore amazing.

And that's it! Happy Monday!
naomi_jay: (Matteo)
So yeah, I've been having sleep troubles lately, which is why I didn't post yesterday. I was too busy at work all day fixing a massive grant proposal, which somehow the person who was supposed to be an expert in such matters cocked up completely, leaving me (who's never done this before) to sort it out. What? I don't know. It was horrible. I had to calculate inflation rates for PCR machines and I don't even know what that means.

Anyway. I came home and was all, "Friday night! Yeah! Let's watch Dr Who from the 80s and eat fish and chips and then I'll totally write loads!" And what actually happened was that I ate fish and chips and fell asleep on the sofa. This is turning into a habit. For the past two or so months, my sleep has been utterly unrefreshing. I go to bed exhausted and wake up equally tired. I'm tired all day and work and then in the evenings too. At the weekends I dream of sleeping all day and then get up around 8-9am because I wake up and can't get back to sleep. I wake up once or twice each night too, and it takes me forever to get back to sleep again. It's driving me crazy because I'm starting to get too tired to do things I want to do, like write or watch films or go out in the evenings. 

So, because I'm a bit like this, I spent about an hour last night (after I woke up from my surprise!nap) looking up sleep disorders online. I'm sure what I actually have is plain old insomnia and a bit of stress, but it doesn't hurt to rule out advanced sleep phase syndrome, right?

And that's when I found out Exploding Head Syndrome is a Real Thing.

You guys.

How much do I love the human brain right now?

Actually, I'm fairly sure I did used to suffer from this - I can distinctly recall dozens of occasions where I woke up panicked in the night because I'd heard a loud, inexplicable noise. I always heard it as a scream.

Anyway. I don't know. I'm tempted to start trying sleeping pills, but when I used them as a student, I just ended up foggy and grumpy for hours the next day. I don't know if I'm suffering from lack of sunlight - my desk at work is more or less in a black hole and I see no natural light all day. So...Anyone got an good natural insomnia remedies?
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: (Objection)
(I was going to make this a Writerly Wednesday thing, but I have guest blogs to post, so... I don't think it matters too much. Anyway).

So! I've been reading Carolyn Crane's Disillusionist books for the past couple of weeks. It's a trilogy; I won the first two from Bastard Books, and it's already up there with Stacia Kane's Downside Ghost books as series of the year for me. It's brilliant. Crane's writing is wonderful, the storyline and characters are fascinating, and I adore Justine, the narrator/heroine. She's a woman of principal with a moral compass she doesn't ignore, and it's a refreshing change from the typical UF heroine. Justine gets ahead, makes friends, and wins by trusting her instincts, being a good person, and doing what she feels is right, regardless of the personal cost. I really love that.

Spoilers ahead! )

That doesn't lessen my dropped-jaw reaction to Otto. Has Justine really underestimated him so badly? Are there clues I missed or willfully overlooked? This is the problem of an unreliable narrator - we just can't be sure. If anyone else has read these books, I'd love to know what you think.
naomi_jay: (Skeletor and Yogi)
Somehow, despite the fact it feels like I've slept for about five minutes total this week, I've managed to have some really vivid, in-depth dreams. One was about playing crazy golf with Bruce Wayne. We had a lovely time! He needs to mow the lawns at Wayne Manor though; they were a mess.

I used to be really big on dream interpretation. Between the ages of about 13-21 I religiously kept a dream diary and looked up the symbolic meanings every day. I did it for other people too on occasion. I stopped at university, after my poetry module required me to keep a dream diary for a term and write a poem based on one of the dreams. Once I had to do it as work, it lost a lot of appeal (although my poem got a first *preen*). I kept all my dream dictionaries, but I never bothered noting down my dreams anymore, and only looked something up if it was really unusual or recurring.

So last night I dreamed I was pregnant. Guys. I am never going to be pregnant in real life, so when it happens in dreams I freak out. Especially since in this dream, I didn't want to be pregnant. Apparently I was going to be a surrogate for a friend? She gave me a Thundercats hoodie and so I carried her baby for her? Dream-logic is...dream-logic. Anyway, the sense of Do Not Want I had in this dream was truly gripping. I was desperate to get rid of the baby, despite my promise to go through with the pregnancy for my friend. I went to a bar and tried to order a load of cocktails but everyone refused to serve me, and I was getting more and more panicked and then... I woke up. Of course.

I can still really feel that sense of growing horror, even now. So I decided to look up pregnancy at this handy online dream-interpretation site. This is the low down:

To dream that you are pregnant symbolizes an aspect of yourself or some aspect of your personal life that is growing and developing. You may not be ready to talk about it or act on it. Being pregnant in your dream may also represent the birth of a new idea, direction, project or goal. Alternatively, if you are trying to get pregnant, then the dream may be a wish fulfillment. If you are not trying to get pregnant, but dream that you are, then it symbolizes fear of new responsibilities.

Um. Well. Yeah. I mean, those who read my other livejournal will know that my personal life is in a rather precarious state right now, so that hit home. New ideas, directions, projects and goals are all looming, both personally and writing-wise, particularly as the New Year approaches and I start thinking seriously about what I want to achieve in 2012. The part about not being ready to talk or act? Yeah, that fits. New responsibilities...well, yeah, that too, at work and home.

Now, even when I was studiously recording my dreams, I didn't take them too literally. I found the symbolism fascinating but I didn't take the interpretations too seriously. But this has resonated with me so much, I'm thinking I might start my dream diary again, just to see what else my subconscious throws at me.

And just for kicks, I also looked up golf:

To dream that you are playing or watching golf signifies pleasant indulgences. It may also indicate that you are idling and wasting time. Alternatively, the dream symbolizes your individual accomplishments and your drive to succeed.

And Batman:

To see Batman in your dream suggests that you need to utilize your wits and resources in order to help yourself or others. Perhaps your are not maximizing your full potential. You need to unleash the power from within. Stop looking for shortcuts to get you where you want. Alternatively, the dream implies that there is some wrongdoing that you need to rectify.

Now I'm off to find some wrongs and rectify them!
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: (sparklethulhu)


So I can't remember how it came up...Possibly we were watching a promo for the new Silent Hill game and I was all,"Pyramid Head, what's his deal? How does he get through doors?" and stuff, and I decided what the world needs is a comic strip of Pyramid Head in the rat race. You know, dealing with bills, taking his cat to the vet, trying to eat his wife's delicious casserole but being unable to so they have a row about how he doesn't appreciate her and is he trying to say her cooking is horrible or something?

Maybe such a comic strip already exists. I don't know. If not, it should. Of course, this picture does not depict Pyramid Head, but Cthulhu. However, the potential for a cross-over where Cthulhu is Pyramid Head's impossible-to-please boss is highly appealing. 

This post was brought to you by two hours' sleep. Don't try to understand it, okay?
naomi_jay: (Objection)


Dear Fergus,

I love you a lot. I really love having you live with me now. Your happy purring warms my heart and your endless piles of ginger hair lend an extra "something" to my wardrobe. You are a lovely old cat.

However, there is an issue I feel we must address.

Midnight is not breakfast time.

2am is not breakfast time.

3.30am is not breakfast time.

4am is not breakfast time.

5am is not breakfast time.

5.05am is not breakfast time.

It's not breakfast time if I get up in the night to use the bathroom.

It's not breakfast time if I roll over in bed.

It's not breakfast time if a cat outside starts yowling.

Breakfast time is 6.45am, after my alarm goes off and before I get in the shower.

There is no second breakfast when I get out of the shower.

I appreciate that you can't tell the time but you should learn from experience. No matter how many times you wake me up in the night by sitting on my head and drooling on the pillow, it will not bring breakfast time forward.

Love,
Naomi
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: (whale)
So I was reading this news article this morning about prehistoric whale fossils in the Atacama desert (which is cool enough all by itself) and I happened upon this line:

Other unusual creatures found elsewhere in the fossil-rich Atacama Desert include an extinct aquatic sloth.

Guys! An aquatic sloth! You don't even know how much I love that idea. Here are two things you may not know about me:

1. If I were to be an animal, it would probably be a sloth because they are adorable, they sleep for about ten hours a day, and they have an "arboreal browsing lifestyle." You tell me anything that's better than living your life in a tree sleeping and eating. Because I can't think of it.

Adorable!

2. I love the TV show Walking with Beasts. I watch it every time it's on and I especially love the episodes that focus on aquatic prehistoric animals and giant animals. You know, like giant rhinos and giant ponies and giant sloths, say (you may now also understand why I love films where giant things fight other giant things. I just love it when animals are giant).

So, with my established love of sea monsters and sloths, obviously the aquatic sloth is the animal made for me. It's a sloth, it's marine, and it's prehistoric. It's my spirit animal, guys.

Look, I know raptors are cool and all, but if we're going to bring back any extinct animals, I think it should be the aquatic sloth. Who's with me?
naomi_jay: (absinthe)
In lieu of actual contant because I am tired, here's some interesting/fun/self-promo stuff I've found this week.

First up, Bastard Books reviews DEMONISED. I really enjoy Bastard's reviews as they always give me something to think about. But I really, really enjoy this review because he says:

"The book is quite twisted, has plenty of disturbing scenes, some that I'm sure won't sit well with more sensitive readers. Some are just plain gross."

"Just plain gross"
may go on my business cards from now on.

Over at [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire's livejournal, I found a couple of interesting articles; one on rape culture in YA, looking particularly at Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, a book I've been toying with buying for some time now. Now I've read the article, I think it would make me pretty furious, so I'm sticking with James Ellroy for now (because all that racism and sexism is much more tolerable coming from a man...Oh wait...)

The other article is about the recent trend of dead girls on YA book covers (or as I'd been thinking of it "girls in inappropriate dresses in the woods," because really? That's what you wear to go hiking?). There's a lot of subtext to unpack here and I'm not up for it right now, but suffice to say, the glamorisation of death is a big topic and you can pull in a lot of Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet for starters), and even classics from the Romantic era (when romance meant "adventure and fantasy" rather than "relationships" in literary terms), like Wuthering Heights and Tess of the D'urbervilles. Incidentally, Kit Whitfield has a great article on how people misremember Wuthering Heights here

And now something fun (for me,anyway). Despite being a massive AFI fangirl, I had managed to remain ignorant of Davey and Jade's side project, Blaqk Audio. How? Why? I don't know. But now I've discovered them and fallen wildly in love with Davey's voice all over again. So this is my weekend soundtrack. Enjoy!

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: (dragon girl)
I fancied a break from urban fantasy so I picked up a traditional fantasy called Lord of the Changing Winds, which I was really excited about because it's all about gryphons, and I'm still hung up on gryphons from my Mercedes Lackey days.


Unfortunately I couldn't get past chapter two. The prose was far too flowery for my tastes, and everyone had unpronouncable names, which meant I just mentally called everyone Hank to save time. After I got halfway through chapter two and realised I'd read two entire pages without having a clue what was going on, I gave up. One for the charity shop.

So then I picked up my phone (and its Kindle App) and tried Jenny Pox.

It...I don't know what's going on with this girl's arms, but it really bothers me. Anyway, it seems okay. A little meandering to start, but I like the concept. The obvious love interest looks like he's going to be dull as hell, but I could be wrong. And because I like to mix up ebooks and paperbacks, I also started White Jazz this morning.

This has really gripped me, although it takes a few pages for the narrative style to make sense. I can't help hearing Rorschach's voice as I read. It's that kind of stilted, stream of consciousness speaking. Probably good reading whilst I'm working on an Ethan book. And secretly I would love to write this kind of gritty, nasty noir stuff, but I just don't think I could.

Anyway, that's me. Anyone else reading anything good at the moment?
naomi_jay: (by the sea)
One thing all the adult paranormal romance novels I've ever read have had in common is sex. Whether the heroine is a virgin or experienced, young or old, short or tall or whatever, somewhere over the course of the book, she'll have sex. It's a romance after all, and sex is the culmination of the romantic journey the heroine and hero go on throughout the novel. It's natural, it's expected, it's fun.

And it doesn't happen in THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE. Evanthe and Morrow never have sex.

Oh, they did in the first draft. But it felt misplaced and a little seedy. Evanthe had just fought off a zombie. She'd been badly bitten. She needed stitches and medical attention. And yet I decided in the first draft this would be the perfect time for her and Morrow to get hot and heavy. *shudders* Nothing says "romance" like a zombie attack.

The other problem with that original sex scene is the characters themselves. Evanthe is young (twenty). Morrow is...not. He's pretty resistant to the idea of them entering a relationship for that reason alone (although when you read the novella you'll see there are other reasons). For him to suddenly decide that right then and there was the moment he went from mentor to lover felt...skeevy. When I read back on the sex scene, it felt inappropriate for these characters. Yes, Evanthe wants to be with Morrow, but she's young, inexperienced, and vulnerable. And yes, Morrow wants to be with Evanthe, but he knows she's young, inexperienced and vulnerable and he knows he's...not. On a second take, the scene felt dirty in the wrong way.

So I cut it out. I wanted to show two characters discovering and admitting their true feelings in the NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE, but I wanted that discovery to be natural and unhurried. And frankly, admist everything else going on - forbidden spells, rogue zombies, idiot demonologists with horrible cars - a sex scene would have been ridiculous. In a novella there isn't the time for anything that doesn't move the plot along, and Evanthe and Morrow stopping to have sex wouldn't have contributed to the plot.

That's not to see I don't think this is a romantic book with a romantic journey. But I feel I owe it to the characters and the readers to let events unfold naturally and with the sweetness and...well...old-fashioned sensibility I feel Evanthe and Morrow have at their hearts. Morrow doesn't want to rush things. He wants to court Evanthe. And Evanthe is just happy Morrow's finally admitted his feelings for her.

So I guess THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE isn't a typical paranormal romance. But it's actually more reflective of me than a lot of my other books. Like Evanthe, I was a late-bloomer when it came to romance. I was shy and awkward, and desperate to demand what I wanted but terrified of being rejected. Like Evanthe, I eventually got what I wanted. Unlike Evanthe, I didn't have to fight off zombies to get it. So this is a story for anyone who loves zombies, grave-robbing, necromancy, and black magic. It's also a story for anyone who ever despaired of getting that first kiss, let alone anything else. And maybe if you think all these paranormal girls just move too damn fast nowadays, well, then this is a story for you too ;)
naomi_jay: (pale girl)
So Kyle is working stupid late shifts this week (2pm-11pm), meaning A) we won't really see each other except in passing whilst one of us is asleep and B) I'm going to have to cook for myself this week. I know! I've become really spoilt over the past two years. Kyle is an excellent cook, and whilst I'm not awful, I'm nowhere near as competant. And frankly, the idea of getting home and slaving over the oven when I could just get home and start writing doesn't really appeal. I don't like things that interfere with all that glorious writing time, like cooking and cleaning and working.

This is my amazing solution:


I'm going to make the world's biggest batch of chili tonight and live off it for the rest of the week. And since I've been obsessing over Tesco's butternut squash, honey, and sage soup this weekend, I'm going to make a butternut squash chili. I found a pretty straightfoward recipe. I'll need to change it up a bit since I hate onions and refuse to cook with them. They're weird, okay? I think they're weird. And I'm substituting beef broth for stock in order to make the recipe Harcombe-diet friendly. I also don't have a Dutch oven, but I assume cooking it on the hob will achieve the same end result. I'll probably also swap corn for courgettes because I love courgettes more, and it's my chili, dammit.

Anyway. I always get ridiculously excited when I decided I'm going to be all homely and stuff, despite the part of me that's all like "cooking? Are you mad? Have some cheese and get writing!" so I'm quite looking forward to making this. I've never cooked with butternut squash before though, so who knows, it could all go horribly wrong. But finding out will be an adventure!

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