Gothic Marionettes

 

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Cheers!

First I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! I know I’m not alone being glad to see the backside of 2015. As the little kid said, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”

Chip off the old block, I’m sure….

I have been getting back to work on the pending books. A great help has been The Nine Day Novel by Steve Windsor. I figured I owed my readers at least an attempt to get a book done in nine days. Alas, life kept intervening. As it does. But I do have two very solid and detailed outlines to work from now, and that is half the battle won! These tales should be out in the Spring if not earlier.

i have three other first drafts, so I’m in good shape. Still behind on the 5 Year Plan, but that can happen to anyone, right?

Thank you for your patience….

Gothic Theme of the Month: Puppets

At the top of this post you see fireworks. These are not only part of the New Year celebrations, they also evoke the work of one of my favorite authors, Angela Carter. Her book of short stories, The Bloody Chamber, is one that inspired me to want to write fiction, ages ago! It took living in London to find my stories, though. One of her short story collections is called Fireworks and there is a story in there called :The Loves of Lady Purple about a very erotic and sinister marionette. She also wrote an award winning novelThe Magic Toyshop, which is extremely weird and deals with this puppet theme. I found a filmed version on youtube which I post for you below, in case you are not quite ready to give up the gloom.

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Something about London seems to bring out this murk of the soul. My other inspirational author, Tanith Lee, was also British and wrote in this poetic and macabre vein. In my case, I was sent toward these Gothic themes for the sake of what Carl Jung used to call: Shadow Work.

This Shadow Work began for me in the early 2000′s when my imagination was invaded by the ghosts and demons that lurk in the London ethers. As you know, my books are dark, dealing with themes of good vs evil and the moral struggles of the protagonists. I do believe that our moral choices can make or break our character, and that good and evil are absolute.

Now that I know these things to be true, the black veil has lifted and I feel redeemed…. I will continue the current projects until they are complete I will probably write Romance on the side–to vary the metal/ emotional diet as it were…. That’s how I feel now as the light at the end of the tunnel washes over me.

I also want to share this old movie from 1944. It ties together Angela Carter with the Bluebeard theme, and has some wonderful marionettes. Its called Bluebeard and has a very nice plot and a very young John Carradine who looks pretty striking.

My own Bluebeard story, The Keys, has not marionettes, but automatons, which are their kissing cousins. This tale was directly inspired by Angela carter’s Bluebeard re-telling, The Bloody Chamber.

If somebody wants to make a film out of The Keys, let me know and I will add it to the Gothic Library. It has zombies….

I like this puppet theme. Ever since I was a child i loved puppets and dolls. But not all children love them. I did a brief stint as a puppeteer in a marionette house. We had to make the marionettes ourselves, so we really bonded with them. There was always a part of the show where we took the marionettes into the audience, to meet the patrons. Some of the children left screaming….

I think their instincts were actually pretty good.

And what are all these puppets and marionettes, you may ask? Masks, perhaps. Or animated beings without souls, certainly.

My automatons were a bit like Stepford wives…women reduced to robots, a kind of living dead. What makes them Gothic is the relationship to the subconscious, our fears, perhaps, of what we might be if there were no God.

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Looks like poor Angela Carter ended her days in a wax museum…

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2016 Must Start Early!

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Some of you may know I was slowed down in 2015 by a need for Rehab, and a day job search that began to take over my life. That’s how hard it is to find a job in Seattle these days!

These things, and a few other special, secret influences, slowly made it extremely difficult to enter the altered states of consciousness from whence the stories flow. Its a miracle Morna: A Celtic Tale of the Selkies made it out into the world when it did. I hope you have all gotten your copies for 99 cents. Please leave a review! The price increases to $2.99 on December 1st.

Astrology

Some of you may also know that I have been a professional Astrologer and Psychic for many years. The celestial influences have not been kind to me. The first half of the year was great in many ways, but Mercury went retrograde in Libra mid-September, triggering all sorts of distasters in my Venus ruled chart. It has been Dance with Death. How many things can you lose at once and still be on the planet?

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2016

One thing I know needs to change in this blog. I feel my entries on here are quite boring. Too businesslike and not really me. That is because all my creative energy goes into writing the novels and I don’t have much left over for the blog. My Winterspells: Life on the Magical Path, Legacy of the Witchblood blog was quite another story, but I wasn’t writing fiction when I was working on it. Go here: http://www/houseofwinterspells.com. Its also in the tab under Magic. All that stuff is woven into the novels now. The posts are really good though, if I do say so myself.

This blog was gaining great popularity when I bailed on it. Silly me! I didn’t see how it could turn into a writing blog at the time. Now I do.

I’d like to do a podcast in 2016. This is a matter of getting the technology together so there is no fan hiss.

Novels

I also need to return to the novels I had planned for 2015. I may get The Vampire’s Bride finished by New Year. Its a novella, sequel to The Vampire’s Mirror. That one took me two weeks to write. This one could make it through!

Then I have the first draft of Dark Reliquary. Its a big project, but it goes well.

Sovay: Prelude to The Lady in Yellow, is in first draft as well. These two books could get finished early next year.

The second Poppy Farrell book, Taller Than Our Souls has been a bear. It got stuck in the middle and I haven’t been able to unravel it. This was actually demoralizing for me. I’d never had writer’s block before.

So these are the plans I can stick to so far. If I got these books out, it would feel great and there would be three series with more than one book in them. Lol!

Please pray for me to stay motivated and you’ll have more to read from me. Let me know what you would like to see for 2016 from me, as well.

Here’s a good winter read!

Click for The Vampire’s Mirror

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OMG! Morna is Out!

Morna

On Sale for 99c for my fans!

For those of you who have been patiently waiting for a new book from me,

I have good news! Morna is available on Amazon Kindle!!!! 

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Here’s the link:http://amzn.to/1Q9EvbG

 

What is Sule Skerry, but a sea within a sea and no place on earth…

The year is 1296.
Lady Rowan and her two small daughters set sail under cover of darkness to find sanctuary from the War of Scottish Independence. Their destination grows more elusive, and they end up on an island at the very edge of the known world. Barley surviving in a salt-encrusted ruin of a castle over looking the sea, Lady Rowan sees a mysterious ship with a red sail coming close to the shore. On board is handsome young man who seduces her into his realm, a Selkie who changes her life forever…

 

This book took a long tome to write because of the level of research I needed to do. The Scottish Wars of Independence, Scottish folklore and sea lore, and seafaring. Medieval ships! What a surprise! Thanks to the model-builders, we have some very wonderful material to draw upon.

 

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There was also a problem of style. Morna was originally planned to be a short story inspired by the writings of Scottish poet, Fiona Macleod. As it began to grow in length, it also grew in complexity and needed lots of “shelf time” to resolve the many elements of the story. It is Romantic in the old sense, Mystical and Dreamy as the Gaelic languages convey. It is also very dark.

A tale of survival, reality clashing with supernatural forces and vast, eternal influences symbolized by the sea, Morna leaves the reader to ponder whether Lady Rowan’s visions are induced by clairvoyance or madness. Haunting beauty is the theme, love, loss and creative survival.

Allow the sea driven language to carry you away into the land of the Selkies and you wil find many treasures in this book. You have to just go with it and leave logic to the scientists. The power of myth is at your command.

 

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Happy and Sad

 

 

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Happy!

Happy is that Morna—-final title for Song of the Sea and Twilight—-is heading for the finish line and getting nice and tight at the same time as more layers. I find the longer I take with a book, the richer it becomes because the layering ideas come to me in layers. lol! And I juggle multiple books at the same time. I’ve read the first pages at the open mic I go to when I can, and have received lots of compliments on it. I guess its not as “too out there” as I thought!

 Sad…

Sad is that one of my top 5 authors, Tanith Lee, died in May and I didn’t even know it.  Her writing, especially her short stories, were the greatest inspiration for me. She and the late Angela Carter, made me want to write. Breast cancer got her at age 67. I wonder if I can dial her up for advice now, when I’m stuck. Muses are immortal, are they not?

Here’s a critique of her work from The Guardian:

“Lee’s style is frequently remarked upon for its use of rich poetic prose and striking imagery. Critics describe her style as weird, lush, vibrant, exotic, erotic, rich, elegant, perverse, and darkly beautiful. The technique she uses is very descriptive and poetic which works well with the themes she uses in her mythical stories. She has been praised for her ability to balance her weird style with the challenges of writing a faraway world,  but some critics counter that her style is not always easy on the reader; she sometimes leaves the reader with unanswered questions that could have easily been answered if she had gone into greater detail.”

If you have read my stuff, you will see these influences…it’s the spirit of Tanith Lee.

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Here’s the link to her obituary at TOR Books: http://www.tor.com/2015/05/26/tanith-lee-in-remembrance/

I feel very lucky to have discovered her lush horror and science fiction writing while  I was living in London. Her brilliant story Red as Blood , based on Snow White, was in an anthology of Women’s Fantasy. I have since collected her short story collections, some novels and novellas that are now collectors items. At one time, I was so excited by her work that I bought all these yearly anthologies of fantasy fiction edited by Ellen Datlow and Teri Windling, just to get a story by Tanith Lee. The quality of her prose was a huge draw for me, so don’t let anyone tell you that style doesn’t matter.

Tanith Lee’s death was on May 25th, 2015. Her passing was no doubt eclipsed by that of the famous actor Christopher Lee on June 7th. Two Lee’s in two weeks! In Gemini for you.

RIP

I shall miss both of them.

If you would like a list of suggestions from Tanith Lee’s books, leave me a comment and I shall compile one for you.

 

Christopher Lee as most people know him:

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If you are into Astrology, it is fascinating how they both died during Gemini, ruled by Mercury–excellent for writers as it rules communication. Christopher Lee was a Gemini and Tanith Lee a Virgo, also ruled by Mercury. Both are associated with tales of horror. Christopher Lee was known for playing Dracula for Hammer House of Horror in the 1960s-70s, as well as other horror genre films such as Crypt of the Vampire and Wicker Man. He was also in Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp. Anyway, he had a long career and died at 93.

The Guardian has a nice overview of his work: http://www.theguardian.com/film/christopher-lee

 

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Happy Accidents and The Gift of Writer’s Block

“If you love something, let it go…”

 

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In all my years of writing, I never experienced writer’s block. In fact, I used to poo-poo the very idea of writer’s block. But, as with any force of nature that is refused, like the Evil Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, it comes after you.

As far as the writing goes, I had big plans for 2015. But the projects I was striving wrap up in 2014, kept falling into chaos. I simply wanted to write something short, and the stories found more twists and turns, the characters  more to say,  and they would not be contained. On April Fools Day, my computer crashed, and in May, I had to get a real job — the first full-time job I’d had in years. This job had the added benefit of a 90 minute commute in both directions. On the weekends I had to catch up on chores. I had to give writing a rest.

 

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Visited by the Dreaded Blockage

In late October 2014, I published The Shadows. I was very excited about this book. It has great series potential.  I really planned to have the second Poppy Farrell Mystery out in Spring of 2015, and was working very hard on it, when I hit a plot sng. I still have not resolved this.

The problem seems to be that, in The Shadows, Poppy was the driving force, backed up by her roommate, Clair. In Taller Than Our Souls, the sequel, she and Clair are joined by Tom and Rupert who they met at the Halloween Party in The Shadows. Poppy needs to carry the weight of the story because it is her series, but now the others need POV’s as well. The story also has more layers. I am sure this tangle will be straightened out, but for now the book simmers on the back burner being stirred by the Muses, or maybe the Furies…

Happy Accidents

 Taller Than Our Souls boils down, as does the Prequel to The Lady in Yellow that I promised readers last winter. I planned for this book,  Sovay, to be a shorter work, a novella, for fans of The Lady in Yellow, but it got long. While working on this book, I was also dealing with recovery from an accident, and getting to know the most wonderful man on the planet who cheered me up so much that I was whisked away from the dark mood of the book into Munchkinland, or something. Since Sovay is a horror story, the climactic scene must be horrific. I was unable to go there.  Nor did I want to    :)

I had the same problem with Dark Reliquary. I am sure I will able to get back into the rightful morbid state soon enough, but in a different way….in a better way too, I think.

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The other happy accident Has to do with Morna.

I had a book cover designed for Morna, but the story I was writing was about Lady Rowan. Morna, her daughter,  did not appear until the second half of this book, and I had planned a sequel about her. This Celtic Tale of the Selkies, is quite literary, (which I have learned means that it probably won’t sell very well, even if it a a bit Game of Thrones in tone and the tragic trajectory of the plot) so I wondered if a sequel was even a good idea. I tried to get a good cover made for this book with the Selkie on the cover and was not happy with any of the results. People loved the Morna cover, however, so I thought I’d just use it anyway, even if Morna came in during the second act.

Then it struck me! Change Lady Rowan’s name to Morna and Morna’s to something else. The effect on the story was amazing! The early pages of the book began shimmer darkly, various elements of description and character grew moody and poetic,  the clash between reality and fantasy, good and evil, were heightened. Changing the protagonist’s name vastly improved the book! This is not the first time I have experienced the power of naming. In fact the entire story of The Shadows came to after I found all the names!

If I hadn’t had writer’s block, and cover-art block, I would never have had this lightning bolt of inspiration.

This book is in the polishing stage, by the way. So it won’t be long!

The Long Tale

So much in Indie writing and publishing is about speed of production because,  more stock on the virtual shelf, means more visibility, which means more sales, which means more money. I can’t do it. I tried, but I am not a workaholic. I love to write, but there is nothing I love so much that I want to be chained to it 24-7.

When my computer crashed, I was able to stop listening to all the mega successful who only intimidated me, and the Indie Author gurus whose sole definition of success is how much money you make. I was able to get off the bandwagon and get back to writing the way I want to write: focusing on depth, layering of story, strongly motivated characters, imagination and language. My stuff is too literary to be mega-popular anyway, so what the Hey? I cannot write at the level I desire at top speed, or by taking speed to stay up all nigh while burning my brain out.

Do I want a career?

Yes!

But I also want a life. :)

 

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