chapter 16 blog
The Harry Potter series has now been out for twenty years. It has made my day to see all of the touching tributes and stuff people have been posting. So many individuals have been moved and inspired by these books and words can't describe how happy I am to see that after twenty years, everyone still cares so deeply about this series. I thought I should take a minute to write about my personal experience growing up with Harry Potter in my life.
Not long after my parents moved us from my first, true home in California, I was sent "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" as a gift. I was not quite four years old, and my mom wasn't sure that I'd be able to follow the story, but she decided to try and read the first chapter to me.
A lot of my earliest, distinct memories are of that house in Kansas, waiting to find out what happened to Harry and his friends. We only stayed there a year or so, and when we moved my parents got me the first couple books on tape so I had something to listen to in the truck on the way over. I wasn't ever scared on the road, because I was making the trip with friends.
I learned to read so that I could re-read the books for myself. I learned to write so that I could write about how much I loved these books. I got into gaming because I found out EA was adapting Sorcerer's Stone. I learned to conquer my fears because I wanted to know I belonged in Gryffindor with my heroes. I learned every spell and every creature. I spent more time at Hogwarts than I did anywhere else.
I went to every midnight release, for the books, for the movies. I wore my Hogwarts uniform to every Harry Potter birthday party and magic-themed summer camp. I learned what it was to fall completely in love with a book for the first time.
J.K. Rowling was my first hero. She taught me that women can do anything - both through the strong characters she wrote and through example, because there was nothing in the world more impressive to me than the person who had created Harry Potter. She was the person I wanted to be when I grew up.
These books are the reason why I'm a writer. I don't write fantasy, or anything suitable for children, but I do write every single day, and Harry Potter is where that all started. I owe so much of who I am to this wonderful series, and I am eternally grateful to J.K. Rowling for making such a wonderful, inspiring world for me to grow up in.
Earlier this year I got to see my extended family for the first time in years. My aunt gave me the collector's set of Harry Potter books, which she had bought for me years and years ago but never sent. I was as happy getting them as an adult as I would have been as a child.
Today, I got my copy of Harry Potter à l'école des sorciers and I will start the series over in a new language. After two decades of being helplessly in love with these books, they're still inspiring me to learn new things and face new challenges.
It's been a rough week. A really, dark, twisted week that I don't ever want to look back on. There is one really awesome thing that came out of it though, and that would be my new laptop.
Courtesy of the world's best boyfriend, I now have a functional computer to game on and do work things on, and then game on some more.
Assuming that I don't get too sucked into Steam (again), I think this is going to be really good for my productivity. I don't yet have a functional copy of Microsoft Word which means that converting documents for submissions (and NGHW challenge entries) is still going to be a slow process, but all the rest of it is going to improve. My online work is already going so much better.
I can load my blogs, see my portfolio site preview, and I'll be able to get through content faster which means more reviews, lists, and articles for the horror blog. Plus, gaming!
I can see how gaming might also threaten my productivity, but it also means I can start reviewing horror games again, and that's really exciting. (Plus I can finally, finally play the copy of Evil Within that I bought myself right before my Alienware started going out.)
I just wanted to let you guys know that I can do more work things, and for the first time in a long time, doing work things feels less like a chore. So thank you guys for checking in and I will let you all know how that goes, but in the meantime I'm off to play Diablo 3, I mean, get some work done.
Well... the short answer is no. I should definitely not write any more poetry than I absolutely have to.
For those of you who are interested however, here's the long version:
Since I started participating in The Next Great Horror Writer's Contest, just about everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. I recorded my interview doped up on cold medication to fight a bug that was going around the south. I wrote the first challenge while trying to move across country. I did the next two challenges after that doped up on cold medication trying to fight a different cold bug that was going around the north. I've had personal drama and work drama and technical difficulties - and so far 2017 is just proving to not be my year.
A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about how I was taking a step back from submissions to focus on this contest because I feel like I haven't been giving it my all. I felt pumped up and ready, and a day or two after the challenge came in, I got a stomach virus. Some medical drama, bed rest, and nearly two weeks of eating nothing but soup later - I'm mostly back on my feet, but I have learned something really important about myself.
I'm not a poet.
I didn't think this challenge was going to be easy by any means. Poems aren't my medium and though I consider horror/romance to be one of my favorite genres, it's something I've never in my life written, or even attempted to write. Still, being on bed rest I had plenty of time to do my research. I watched some of the most romantic films of all time, read some of the best horror poets in history, and I was more confident in my ability to write one short poem in the genre than I should have been. It's really, really hard to do.
As a kid I loved poetry. I loved it a lot and I wrote it a lot. One of the first hints that my parents had that I was going to be a writer was actually because I got to read a poem I had written on the local news after it won an award at a young author's conference. This was an interest of mine that briefly resurfaced in high school - I was in a punk band that I had the "pleasure" of being lyricist for. I don't know why I thought winning a children's poetry contest fifteen years ago or writing the sort of lyrics acceptable in a punk band desperate enough to let me play guitar qualified me in any way to write poetry now, but it doesn't.
This has been an exercise in perseverance for me. I've spent more time working on this entry than any of the other entries thus far, and I think it's safe to say that it's the worst one I've submitted (maybe second worst... the second one I did on the cold medication really doesn't make a lot of sense reading it back, sober.) I have literally dozens of pages of bits and pieces of different poems that I tried out that were amazingly worse than what I ended up with. I have dragged up poems from when I was in high school and tried to rework story concepts I've had into some sort of passable poetic...something.
Although the poetry experiment failed miserably for me, I did learn a lot about what sort of stuff I want to do, and what sort of genres I like working in. This contest, even when it's frustrating and discouraging like with this challenge, is teaching me a lot about myself and my goals.
For instance - although horror/romance is something that I think is beautiful beyond comparison when done well, it's also nothing that I feel like I need to focus on at this point in my life. I think the best romance stories are stories that set out to be something else entirely, so I think if I ever were to write something that is genuinely moving on a romantic level, I probably wouldn't realize that until after it was over. Setting out to write a horror romance masterpiece would be fruitless for me, even though it would be cool.
What I really want to do is write splatterpunk and political horror. <sarcasm> Shocking, right? </sarcasm>
The political horror I didn't necessarily discover through the poetry challenge, I just discovered it at the same time. A few months ago I was very politely removed from a certain website for a controversial piece I wrote for a horror fiction thread. I found a controversial political horror anthology to submit it to and just a couple days ago I got a nice shiny rejection letter for the piece because it was too pessimistic. I didn't expect to get in, but I also didn't expect to be so inspired by being turned down. If I can write political horror too controversial for the internet and too pessimistic for fans of controversial horror - maybe that's exactly what I should be doing with my life. (And for the record, the piece really isn't that controversial or that depressing.)
The splatterpunk thing however, really has been inspired by the poetry challenge. Although I did not like writing in any of the poetic forms that I tried, and I was underwhelmed by the freeform "poem" that I wrote (that was basically just a short letter) and I didn't like having to play up the romance aspect of the challenge, I liked the language quite a bit and would really like to apply that sort of beautiful verbosity to, well, something that makes people cringe. That has always been something that I'd like to do in the abstract, but now I feel like it's something that I'd like to stop thinking about and start actually doing.
Of course, this contest is still going to be my top priority. I'm afraid to say that I'll try harder to do better (every time I say that I seem to get sick and or my computer crashes) but I still feel very honored to be participating in this, and it deserves all the attention that I have to give it. On the side though, I think I'm about ready to start stepping up the gore quite a bit - at least for a little while.
So that's a fun journey that we all have to look forward to.
Thank you guys for reading and for your interest in my work. I do appreciate it, and hopefully you'll be hearing more from me soon.
Since it's the start of a new month I thought that I would drop in with some updates and share what kind of stuff I'll be working on.
The one big update is that because of The Next Great Horror Writer contest, I'll have to cut back on the amount of new submissions that I'm writing every month. Trying to stay on top of those has really been distracting me from doing my challenges, even though I know that they should be priority. This is a great opportunity and I feel like I haven't been giving it my all, because I've been trying to balance it with too many other things. I'll still be submitting things, but unless my challenges are done I'm not going to be writing new material specifically for submissions.
As for the things that I'll be working on (aside from the month's challenges, obviously) I mostly plan on sticking to my manuscripts, for a change. I mean, they have to get done at some point - and the sooner I have the rough drafts done, the sooner I can start trying to fix them.
I'm also working through a daily prompt book for short horror pieces. I don't know if any of them are going to lead to more serious stories, but I'm having fun with it if nothing else.
And that's about everything that I can think of. Thank you guys for your continued interest in my work, and hopefully I'll have more updates soon.
All the best,
It has been a really crazy week - I went on an impromptu road trip, recorded an episode of a gaming show, and got a bunch of free books. With all of the excitement I didn't get to share some exciting news with you guys.
My writing.com anthology finally came in!
For those of you who are new to the blog, I found out last year that I had one of my WdC pieces accepted into this anthology, and have been waiting for my copy to arrive since late last year. There were some surprises in here now that I've actually gotten to read the collection.
The first is that the story I have featured is The Dragon of Westmont, which I didn't know until I came across it. I was led to believe that the piece of mine they had selected was Sole Survivor. That means that I've been officially recognized under my own name for both fantasy and horror, which is pretty neat.
The second cool surprise was that my story was up near the front, since it was apparently an editor's pick. I have to admit, that made me feel pretty good about the story, although I don't normally think of it as one of my best.
Anyway, it was really cool to see my name in print. Even if the book isn't a huge deal (and I'm not getting paid for it) all of my previous publications have been independent and or online. I was very honored to have been chosen for the anthology and it was great to see my name alongside so many talented writers - many of whom I'm lucky enough to consider friends.
That's what has been going on with me lately - and my cool writing news for the month. Other than that it's been a lot of writing in hotel rooms and scratching reviews on the back of fast food receipts.
With any luck, I will have some more cool updates on projects and work stuff soon, but in the meantime, thank you to everyone reading this. I appreciate you guys checking in, and it feels really good to know that people are actually looking for updates on my work now.
All the best,
.Hello readers (and potentially listeners)!
Episode #137 of the Horror Addicts Podcast was released today - and I'm in it. It's for the Next Great Horror Writer contest, which I'm participating in. I have a 100 word horror story in the episode and I have some sound clips in there - you guys can hear me try to answer questions about horror while I'm all doped up on cold medication. That's fun. (Actually I recorded all of my answers AND bumpers for this season of the podcast while on cold medication, so you guys potentially have several weeks of that to look forward to.) For anyone wanting to check that out, here is the link.
Horror Addicts Podcast Episode #137
I also got called the resident goth for this year's competition, which I thought was cute. Nobody has called me a resident goth or any other kind of goth since I was nine or ten, so it definitely brought back some fond memories. As long as there are no goths listening who are going to be offended by my overly bright hair or my Blink 182 tattoo or my occasional splatterpunk fiction, I am happy to claim that title.
Listening to this was quite the revelation for me. Hearing the talent from the other competitors and getting to experience their work being read by such great hosts, it made me feel incredibly lucky to be participating alongside such wonderful writers.
I am working on the next challenge, trying to balance it with my regular submission schedule and it has been difficult, but I think I'm starting to get into the swing of it. Now if I can get this nasty cough to go away so I can spend a little less time in bed, things are going to be great.
Thank you guys for reading and extra thanks to those of you who follow the link.
So when I signed on to do this NGHW contest, I knew the first challenge was going to be incredibly hard on me, but man did I screw it up. I'm not even 100% sure my entry qualifies - so there's a very good chance I'll be starting the competition off with a 0 point round. Which is pretty much par for the course in my writing career thus far.
The issue was mostly just bad luck in scheduling, which I knew was going to be an issue when they first told me I was being considered. My trip up North had just been moved forward and I knew I was going to be on the road for a few days in the middle of the two weeks I had for the challenge. In the days before I knew I had a lot of packing to do (and a lot of things to squeeze into the time I had remaining with my boyfriend.) In the days after I knew that I was going to have a lot of unpacking and job-hunting to do. I almost backed out of the contest when I realized that - but I figured I could handle missing or doing poorly on one challenge out of thirteen - even if it put me at a disadvantage.
Unfortunately with my anxiety issues, that's easier said than done.
On top of the scheduling conflict, there was the fact that the challenge incorporated two aspects of horror writing that I consider two of my greatest weaknesses - and when I got the challenge information I was almost entirely convinced I wasn't going to be able to turn in anything at all. When I got within a couple days of the deadline and got my first chance to actually work on it properly, I was almost positive I'd be getting a zero.
Running on almost no sleep I typed up the entry I had scratched in my journal in the hotel room lobby last week and got it edited down - having to rewrite it over and over to even out the structure and make my word count goal. After about a million drafts I finally got a version that (while I was not particularly happy with) I thought should qualify, and I formatted it and sent it in. Then I realized that I misunderstood the challenge completely.
This isn't me. I mean, procrastinating is 100% me - but I'm always very, very careful with contest information and usually with contest entries. I quadruple check the challenge prompts with my outline, send the rough draft out to test readers with whatever information I have, and then spend days editing and polishing my piece. Something like this has never, ever happened to me where I just remembered something wrong and then didn't catch it.
I knew this challenge was going to be rough. I knew I didn't have time to get this first entry up to my usual standard, and I knew that there were going to be setbacks. I just thought I'd be able to do better, and it hurts deeply that I was wrong. The stress I felt initially when I realized I messed up brought on one of the worst anxiety attacks I've had in awhile, and my initial instinct was to quit. I wanted so badly to send in an email, explain that between the sleep deprivation (seriously, I haven't slept more than a couple hours at a time in about a month at this point) and stress of moving cross country I had royally fucked up, and I don't think I can handle being a part of this.
I didn't do that.
I wanted to, and maybe I should have, but I didn't. I knew this challenge was going to be the worst one on me, and even though I messed up - I knew that was probably going to happen going in. Even though it's making me anxious to the point of feeling physically ill, I feel like I can push through it. When I lose points, or have my entry for this round disqualified completely - it's going to hurt. I'm probably going to be a mess that day and feel like a failure. But I'm going to get back on my feet and tackle the next challenge to the best of my ability, because going into this that's what I said I was going to do.
I came here to vent some of my anxieties about this and to remind myself that there's a reason I'm doing this. I don't want it to seem like I'm making excuses for myself - because I do know that I could have done better. It just helps me to document my side of the story, and to have a record of why I messed up, what I have to overcome, and how I plan to grow from the experience.
For the record, I do plan to learn from this, and I'm not going to let it stop me from trying my best in every single challenge that comes up from this point on - and with any luck I'll get a little better with each one. With even more luck, I'll go into the next challenge better rested and in lack of that, at least I'll know what to look out for.
So that's sort of where I'm at today. It's not the best place honestly, but it's not the worst place either. I've been in places so much worse than this.
Thank you guys for reading, those of you who did, I know you're probably not hear to listen to me whine, and I'll be done with that for awhile. It did feel really good to get this off my chest though, and now I'm going to go relax, and prepare myself for the next steps in my writing misadventures. I hope you are all doing well, and that I'm not coming across as overly incompetent - even though it often feels that way.
I just wanted to let everyone know that I am once more settled down, and no longer on the road. I am back up North staying with my family as opposed to staying in Sweet Home Alabama (which is neither sweet nor my home.)
This is some bittersweet news for me. I get to be around my cats again, but I miss my snake. I get to rejoin my gaming group, but no longer have access to the gaming computer or PS4. I'm in a more open political environment, but am freezing to death. There are more bookstores up here, but there's no beach.I have a bit more of a social life, but it will be months before I can see my boyfriend again - and I already miss him dearly.
But, enough of that. I'm here now and because I'm no longer in the car, I'm going to start up work again.
Since it's the first of the month, I'll also be sharing my work plans with you guys so you know what sort of writing things I'll be up to this month.
The first thing I'll be working on is my NGHW challenge entry. I am almost done with it, but am cutting the deadline pretty close. (It figures I finally get into an awesome contest and have to move in the two weeks my first challenge is due.) Once I get that in (and probably the next one in since we'll be receiving the challenge information very closely after I submit the first challenge) my top priorities this month will be blogging and submissions.
The blog of course is just my horror things. Although I haven't been able to keep up with my online writing obligations the best on the road, I have been stockpiling article ideas, taking notes for upcoming reviews, and have even reached out to a couple authors for interviews. I think once I get that up and running the momentum will be pretty good - like it was that first week, but hopefully even better.
As for the submissions, these are the things I'll be working on this April:
And of course, there's my plague manuscript which I am now entirely devoted to finishing.
These are all projects which are not exactly pro-government - but I swear that they're all being written to fill certain guidelines in anthologies - it's not just my own political bitterness showing through (though political bitterness is one thing that I do have an abundance of as of late.)
Anyway, I am off to go write some microfiction. I will hopefully be getting back on this blog soon to show you guys some cool stuff about the NGHW contest that I missed sharing with you because of my trip. In the meantime, thank you for reading and know that I'll be wishing you all the best.
Remember that big news I told you to look out for? Well this is it right here:
I'm expanding the horror blog.
I am so excited to have been chosen to participate in The Next Great Horror Writer Contest, but it is going to be a big time commitment and I just don't feel like I'll be able to compete at my highest level while also trying to freelance and run a horror blog. Something had to give and I'm tired of putting my blogging goals on the back burner for financial reasons.
So, I am now going to be transitioning into full-time horror blogging. It's a big change but it's been something I've been wanting to do for awhile and I feel like it's a step in the right direction. Instead of doing work-for-hire projects as a ghostwriter I'll be getting my name out there in a field I'm passionate about while being able to contribute to a community I love and support creators I believe in.
The horror blog on tumblr is still alive and well, but I'll now be posting the majority of my original content first and foremost on the new WordPress site which can be found here: In Defense of the Horror
There are going to be some additional expansions to this as well, but I'm determined not to overreach just yet. In the near future I'm going to be looking into doing more with this, potentially creating exclusive video/audio content and setting up a Patreon account for myself but in the meantime I'm just going to try and re-establish a small following. Moving from one blogging platform to another can be tricky, and I don't want to mess this up.
So that's it! Thank you guys for reading and for the support. I have some stuff coming up on there that I am really excited about and I hope to see some of you over there.
All the best,
I have been officially selected as one of the of the contestants in The Next Great Horror Writer Contest. I'm incredibly excited an honored to have been chosen for the contest and to be competing alongside so many talented writers.
You can read more about the contest and the other writers selected by clicking here.
I have a lot of things left to do in preparation for the first challenge, which will start on the 20th of this month. That being said I'm going to wrap up this entry, but stay tuned. I do have another big thing that I will be announcing very shortly.
As always, thanks for reading and you'll be hearing from me soon.