Archive for » September, 2009 «

Writing…Music for Monsters

There’s a post about music at Werewolves.com: 167 Werewolf Inspired Songs for Werewolves. I love both werewolves and music, and so I was thrilled with this post.

The post mostly talks about songs that actually mention werewolves (or wolves), and I’m pleased to have it, but I also like songs that simply make me think about werewolves.

Some of my favorite songs make the Werewolves.com list:

Creedence Clearwater Revival “Bad Moon Rising” – This is my favorite werewolf-ish song (not strictly about werewolves, but used in werewolf movies frequently) and one of my favorite songs, ever.

Warren Zevon “Werewolves of London” – This is a gimme song when it comes to werewolves. I’m not sure you can not like it if you’re a werewolf fan. (Okay, I’m sure someone, somewhere doesn’t like it.)

Metallica “Of Wolf and Man” – Not my favorite Metallica song, but I do like it.

Duran Duran “Hungry Like a Wolf” – Another gimme song, really, but it’s quite catchy.

Other favorite songs either about werewolves or which make me want to write werewolves are:

Bowling for Soup “Lil Red Riding Hood” – I’m a fan of Cursed as a werewolf movie and as a great soundtrack to a werewolf movie. This is the most obvious song about werewolves, and still one of my favorites.

Nickelback “Animals” – I love this song and before the last stanza, I thought it was going somewhere far more horror story with the noises outside the car. Plus the animal lust makes me write werewolves while listening to it – werewolves who rebuild cars.

Santana “Into the Night” – This song is all rhythm and moon imagery and lust, all things which scream werewolves to me. It’s addicting and makes me want to dance and makes me want to write werewolves, which is not at all a bad thing.

Three Days Grace “Animal I Have Become” – In this instance, I think the lyrics themselves make the best
explanation for why I love this as a werewolf song. There’s something inherently attractive to me about the werewolf’s struggle to tame the monster inside, and though I prefer when she’s not angsty about it, I do love the struggle itself.

I can’t escape myself
So many times I’ve lied
But there’s still rage inside
Somebody get me through this nightmare
I can’t control myself

So what if you can see the darkest side of me
No one will ever change this animal I have become
Help me believe it’s not the real me
Somebody help me tame this animal I have become

What songs do you like? For werewolves or other monsters or for writing in general.

I Recommend…”Skin Deep” by Shanna Germain

(Circlet Press seems to be down currently. I’ll add links when it’s back up.)

I recommend “Skin Deep” by Shanna Germain in Circlet Press’s Like a Thorn: BDSM Fairy Tales.

This is an insta!recommendation. I haven’t read the rest of the collection. However, I enjoyed “Skin Deep” so much I had to recommend it right away. It’s the reason I bought the collection. I read the excerpt and had to finish it.

“Skin Deep” is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a twisty, dark Beauty who keeps her Beast on a short chain. The pain here is a pleasure – rose thorns piercing flesh, blood-stained feathers, broken words – and Germain carves a delicious tale.

The story captures some of the things I like best about the Beauty and the Beast story, female-dominant BDSM stories, and werewolves as sexual creatures (though neither Beauty nor the Beast are werewolves here): a big man, dangerous and strong, brought down to his knees by a woman giving him pleasure and pain, bloody and bound and beautiful.

I highly recommend this story. Buying the collection just for this story is worth it, though I’m looking forward to the other stories as well.

Category: Recommendations  Tags:  4 Comments
Publications…Beneath the Changing Moon cover

My short story “Beneath the Changing Moon” will be published by Total E-bound as a part of their Voracious Vamps series this October. “Beneath the Changing Moon” is scheduled to be published 26 October 2009, which is very exciting. I love horror and Halloween and the way the entire month of October is now one long celebration. I love Halloween episodes of my favorite shows and horror movie marathons and the chill in the air and, especially, October’s full moon (4 October, per the Old Farmer’s Almanac).

I’m thrilled to be a part of the media celebration as an author this year.

“Beneath the Changing Moon” is a story about the love, desire, and bloodlust between vampires Amalia and Darren. In a world where vampires have almost died out, procreation is the responsibility of every fertile vampire. For Amalia Vallen, infertility is a curse not because she’s failing her society but because Darren Lin, the man she’s loved since they were children, is fertile. Amalia fears their society – and, worse, Darren’s family – will reject their bonding because she can bear no vampire children. To Darren, it doesn’t matter; all he wants is Amalia’s love. As Amalia struggles to overcome the biases she’s internalized, Darren seduces her romantically and sexually, and she knows eventually she will give in to what he truly wants – and what is absolutely forbidden: the most important vampire ritual, the exchange of their blood.

Here is the cover for “Beneath the Changing Moon”:

beneaththechangingmoon_800

All the stories included in the Voracious Vamps line have the same cover. I like that they’re being published separately and that they have matching covers. It’s an interesting way to use technology to make a collection of stories without physically binding them together.

Of course I love the full moon and the way the city looms, old stone worn and moody, and the angle on the shot of the man. He’s not Darren, but I love the bit of menace to the pose and the darkness to the overall cover.

Writing…First Person POV in Novels

In addition to the short story writing I’ve been doing, I’ve started a project which is new to me in a couple ways. It’s a novel, it has no supernatural aspect to it, and I’m writing at least parts of it in a first person point of view. I’ve been doing this with the short stories, too, but I’ve never attempted an entire novel. (Though there will be some scenes from the point of view of different characters. I think I’m going to do those in third person limited.)

Any advice? Any suggestions of full-length novels which do first person well?

Writing…Chick Lit, Fat Hating, and “Saving Face”

In “Saving Face? Or Losing My Mind?”, Dahlia Lithwick explains what she’s doing right now, which is trying to write a chick lit novel in real time in less than a month. Basically this means she’s posting annotated chapters of it at Slate as she writes it. Really, it’s the annotation which intrigued me, but I’m not sure what I think about the first two chapters.

Lithwick explains that she’s a) sidestepping the literary debate about whether chick lit should be taken seriously or not by doing a project which is fun for its own sake and b) actually writing mommy lit. She defines mommy lit as “a cross between Bridget Jones and The Bell Jar. At its best, mommy lit is warmhearted escapism with a subtle poke at women who try to ‘have it all’. . . At its worst, mommy lit is just another volley of back-and-forth sniper fire in the mommy wars—a prettily wrapped admonition to quit your job, if you have one, or get back to work, if you don’t.”

Lithwick says that while writing the first draft of this novel, she’s looking to explore why we read chick lit as an escape. (“We” there doesn’t include me. Though I am a fan of some things labeled chick lit, I often find the stories highly problematic, enough so that they aren’t an escape for me, instead they make me mad. I’ll get into this more later.) This intrigues me, though I am put off by the stereotypes in Lithwick’s statement – women (all women, “we” as women) read about “overscheduled, underappreciated, and . . . at some point . . . invariably compromised by an undergarment” women as escape while men read about “protagonists who slit terrorist throats from the deck of a yacht anchored off the Maldives while sipping a Makers Mark out of the navel of a pole dancer?” Maybe she’ll subvert these ideas while exploring the appeal of various stories used as escape, but I have my doubts.

I’m not familiar with mommy lit, beyond the fact it will contain mothers and children, so I’m glad she breaks down some of the conventions of the genre she intends to keep (humor, generous girlfriends, “tilting-at-perfection”) as well as some she may try to subvert (women who want too much and settle for less, profitable small businesses are easy to start and always survive, stereotypes about husbands and fathers).

As someone who has more than once written first drafts in a matter of weeks and knows quite a few authors who have done the same thing, perhaps I am not as awed by her goal as she thinks most of her readers will be, but I don’t find the idea of finishing the first draft of a novel in three weeks “completely insane.” (I also dislike the use of “insane” as a pejorative there. Though it is used frequently, I think it is also ableist.)

I’m torn when it comes to her use of reader feedback. On the one hand, it seems very exploitative. On the other hand, it could be a fantastic example of collaboration and community-produced creativity, things I love. I’m hoping it is more the latter, because that could lead to an amazing creation.

Chapter One and Chapter Two have been published so far.

I am disappointed that the annotations aren’t more interesting. I love footnoted stories (for the most part – though it was recommended to me many times by people I respect, I disliked Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) and talking with authors about why they made the choices they made, and I hoped the annotations would be a mix of those great things. And sometimes they are. Frequently, however, they simply list whichever reader submitted the character name or plot point or weird child story, which is useful, but not as interesting as I’d expected. Maybe as the story develops, this will change.

I’m not sure I’ll continue reading because in the first chapter “Saving Face” has already hit my buttons. I hate stories which a) include characters, especially the first person point of view character, because we spend so much time in that character’s head, hate being a size 8 or 10 is horrible, b) think that being a size 8 or 10 makes them OH SO FAT, and c) do something like, oh, buying clothes in a size 6 just to put into a clothing swap so GOD FORBID NONE OF THEIR FRIENDS THINK THEY’RE FAT. (And then exchanges the size 6 for size 4 because size 6? Apparently also OH SO FAT.)

I am also worried that, in an attempt to point out the flaws of the idea espoused by some feminists that if a woman chooses to stay at home she is somehow failing the women’s movement, Lithwick will go too far and demonize feminism completely. Feminism? Is awesome and important.

I also wonder where are the stories about families who can’t afford to drop money on clothes for a clothing swap or to hire someone to take care of the kids in the afternoon even though one parent stays home to take care of the kids or to create extravagant meals for fundraisers? Where are the stories about queer parents? Where are the stories about characters of color?

Despite these problems, there is a certain quality to the writing which has me hesitating to completely dismiss it. I’m not sure if there’s something, beneath the problems I see, which makes me think it will be a fun read, or if this is more of a just-can’t-look-away-because-it’s-going-to-be-so-bad situation. We’ll see.

Thoughts? Book recommendations?

Publications…”Beneath the Changing Moon”

Now that all the behind the scenes details are done – mostly, I’m finishing edits today and tomorrow – I can announce this. My story “Beneath the Changing Moon” will be published by Total E-Bound as a part of their Voracious Vamps collection this fall.

This is the blurb I wrote for “Beneath the Changing Moon”:

In a world where vampires have almost died out, procreation is the responsibility of every fertile vampire. For Amalia Vallen, infertility is a curse not because she’s failing her society but because Darren Lin, the man she’s loved since they were children, is fertile. Amalia fears their society – and, worse, Darren’s family – will reject their bonding because she can bear no vampire children. To Darren, it doesn’t matter; all he wants is Amalia’s love. As Amalia struggles to overcome the biases she’s internalized, Darren seduces her romantically and sexually, and she knows eventually she will give in to what he truly wants – and what is absolutely forbidden: the most important vampire ritual, the exchange of their blood.

Writing “Beneath the Changing Moon” was an interesting experience. For one thing, it was the second erotic short story I ever tried to write, though that first version is much different from the version which will be published. It was also the first time I tried writing heterosexual vampire sex in a short story. (The first one I wrote was a threesome story about werewolves, two women and one man.)

For another thing, I was worried what the thread I could see running through the first two stories, especially if they were both published. (The threesome werewolf story is still with a publisher but I don’t know if it will be published.) I did my time in literature classes, I know how fun it can be to analyze stories and themes that run through an author’s canon. In particular, because infertility plays such a large part of Amalia’s story and the threesome werewolves story also deals with pregnancy and the dangers of giving birth, I feared the two stories together would make it look like I was obsessed with pregnancy and babies. I’m not. I have no plans to ever be pregnant and I rarely spend time around kids, but I also don’t spend a lot of time thinking about pregnancy or children. I certainly didn’t want either of the stories to come across like all women should be obsessed with babies or having children, or that parenthood is the be all and end all for women. (As with everything else, I think it should be a choice. If you want babies and to be a parent, power to you. But no one should feel forced into it.)

Finally, the story I wanted to tell was a nonlinear story and I wasn’t sure I was skilled enough to pull off a story told out of order. I’m so glad I tried, though, because I think themes and imagery running one from section to another really pulled it together well. I am a big fan of nonlinear stories, but talk about difficult writing.

I’ll share the cover as soon as I’m allowed. I’m really looking forward to all the stories in the Voracious Vamps collection and I hope people find “Beneath the Changing Moon” enjoyable too.

I Recommend…The Outer Alliance’s Pride Day

Today is The Outer Alliance’s Pride Day. The Outer Alliance is a group of Sci-Fi and Fantasy writers coming together as allies for the advocacy of LGBT issues in literature. Its goal is to educate, support, and celebrate LGBT contributions to SFF.

The mission statement: As a member(1) of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.

Another part of Pride Day is to post an excerpt from one of your projects. I already posted an excerpt from “Like a Thousand Miles of Fire” (part of Bite Me from Torquere Press, available here), so instead have an excerpt from a work in progress.

I’m not going to get this story polished in time to submit it to the Girl Crush anthology, but I do intend to find a home for it someday. Maybe as a novella instead of a short story. It’s about two women in their thirties who have been best friends their whole lives, and who have experienced a shared loss, and who are now falling for each other. It’s set in Hawaii and has surfing and public sex and light bondage, though this section doesn’t really have any of those things.

Excerpt from “Sand, Surf, Sun”(2):

The air was hot and so wet it was practically a solid mass in my lungs. Sweat trickled between my breasts and pooled inside my sports bra. Ostensibly I was just about to head out the door for a run along the beach, but the heat beat me down and left my sleepy and slumped on the couch.

I shifted my weight. It could be a prelude to actually getting up. My legs were damp and stuck to the couch when I moved. Gross. Instead of standing, I tilted back my head and closed my eyes. My thoughts were syrup, thick and dark and slow, and I drifted in that strange space between sleep and wake.

Something cold and wet pressed against my stomach and I shot up off the couch.

Lani grinned down at me. Deep shadows curved under her eyes and tight lines framed the corners of her mouth, marks of the past year and our loss. When she smiled, she was as beautiful as ever, the vivid, vivacious girl I’d known my whole life turned into a strong, phenomenal woman.

“What was that for?” I tried to sound put out, but there was no heat to my words. It was too warm to fight. Besides, she was a delightful distraction. She stood so close to me I could practically feel the skin of her legs against mine. My stomach tightened and I wanted to squirm.

“You looked thirsty, Jessie.” She handed over the bottle of water and widened her stance a little. Now one of her legs pressed against mine. I twisted the cap off the bottle and gulped half of it down. Rivulets of cold liquid slipped down my chin and dripped onto my chest.

When I stopped to breathe and glanced up at her, I found Lani watching me. My nipples went tight and hard. It was from the shock of the cold water, of course it was, and not from the weight of her watching me.

“It’s so hot.” I couldn’t keep the whine out of my voice. I’d lived on this side of the island my whole life but I never adjusted to the heat of summer. Winter was better for me, when the waves kicked up good surfing and I found the warmth delightful.

“Let’s go for a ride then.” She wore most of her thick, dark hair pulled back in a tight ponytail, but pieces near her temple had come loose. She pushed them out of the way with her fingers, tucking them behind her ears.

“Is the top off the Jeep?” It was too hot to be stuck in a closed box, but if it was open, it might be fun. Slightly cooler at least.

“It can be.” She shrugged and glanced at the digital clock on the wall, giving me a good look at the line of her back and her smooth brown skin. Date, time, and temperature filled the face in thick black digital numbers. Triple digit temperature for the fifth day in a row. No wonder I felt like I was melting.

“Okay. Let me get changed and we can go.” I tried to sit up, but my bones were heavy. She laughed when I flopped against the back of the couch and held out both hands. I stared at them a second, at the short fingers and jagged nails, and then I placed my hands in hers. Her skin was rough, callused, and her grip firm. She curled her fingers around mine and she peeled me up off the couch.

We were almost the same height, and our faces were angled toward each other. She was so close I wouldn’t have to lean forward at all to kiss her cheek, to press my lips to the corner of her mouth, to taste the salt of her skin.

I sidestepped and put space between us. Lani smiled at me again and in it there was a lazy insolence which made my toes curl. My breath caught in my throat and my chest tightened. She was reading my mind, I thought, and I couldn’t decide if it was the worst thing in the world or the best.

“I’ll get the Jeep ready.” She stared at me a moment longer and then turned and walked away. I caught myself staring at her ass. Her jean shorts were baggy, but I thought she looked good in them.

I gave myself a good mental shake. I wasn’t gay. Even if I was bisexual – and I wasn’t sure, I’d never even touched a girl with sexual intent – Lani certainly wasn’t the girl for me.

She’d been my best friend as long as I could remember. We were born hours apart in the same hospital and photo albums from my childhood had us together in our cribs and our playpens, seated next to each other in our highchairs, taking our first steps and speaking our first words. There was even a terribly embarrassing photo of the two of us on matching toddler toilets while we were potty training.

It had been the two of us together for thirty-six years. We had pictures to prove it. And in the background of many of them, a little blurry, not the focus of most of the shots, lurked my big brother.

He had been the love of Lani’s life and when he died thirteen months, two weeks, and three days ago, he’d taken her heart with him. I missed him constantly, a low, uncomfortable pressure which made me feel sick and empty, but I couldn’t imagine how much worse it had to be for her.

Which was why I absolutely, positively did not want to fuck my best friend.

(1) I am not yet officially a member, because I am behind on life right now. Joining is on my giant To Do List of Doom, though.

(2) Working title.