I Haz PeekChures

I’ve wanted to get a decent camera for a very long time now. I finally did it. I bought a Nikon d60 this weekend. I’m told it’s a pretty good camera for a photography newbie, and I definitely fall into that category since I haven’t used an SLR camera since photo class in junior high. I picked up an extra lens for it (haven’t started playing with it yet) and also an inexpensive digital camera for Danica to use. We’d been talking about getting her a camera for a while now so we could stop buying disposable ones for all the times we wanted her to be able to take pictures and hearing Jay Lake mention an urban photo safari with his daughter spurred me to action.

It was kinda yucky out today so Dani and I had to change our planned expedition to a neighbourhood park and just hang out in the backyard. It worked out pretty well though, we each got to get to know our cameras a bit better and take a few shots. I’m very, very pleased with my camera and I have a few shots to share.

Atreyu

The obligatory dog picture. I was going to start with a shot I took of Dani, but I figured a good ‘Wow! Dog!’ response would grab your attention and hold it while I showed off my beautiful little girl and a bit of our backyard. So this is Atreyu, my dog. We call him Tre. I love him.

Danica

Danica, who I also love. Even more than I love Tre, but don’t tell him that. It would make him sad. Dani’s eleven. Maybe it’s just my parental fear talking but she looks older than eleven to me in this picture…and, quite often, just in general.

Crabapple Tree Continue reading

Halloween in May

Belinda McBride is having a Halloween in May event at her blog and on her mailing list. All month she has been having guest bloggers pop by and write about paranormal expiriences, Samhain or Halloween. I am lucky enough to be one of those guest authors.

Yesterday I was scrambling to find something to write about because I’d forgotten that the topic was meant to be Halloween/Samhain/Paranormal themed…which meant the topic I’d planned to write on wouldn’t work. Wewps. It all worked out in the end, though.

Halloween has always been important to me, so I talked a little bit about that and how what it’s meant to me has changed through my life. Please, take a look if you’re even vaguely interested πŸ™‚ All comments left on that blog entry (on Belinda’s blog, not mine) will be entered into a draw to win a copy of Sister Margaret.

On a sort of related note I’m curious. If you have received a free copy of Sister Margaret from me and I sent it to you via Fictionwise, did you get it? I’m asking because I’ve given out a fair number of e-books that way and still there are only two reviews for Sister Margaret on the website. If people just aren’t giving reviews that’s fine, but I really want to make sure that people are getting the copies I’ve promised them.

Right, so yes, I’m blogging at Belinda’s today. Check it out by clicking here. Thanks πŸ™‚

Pontypool. I Surrender. For Now.

Pontypool Changes EverythingI really wanted to love this book. I truly did, but I don’t.

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that I am wildly crazy in love with the movie…and the book is not the same as the movie. At least not yet. I am at page 160 out of 280 and the main character from the movie has just appeared in the book. This doesn’t work for me. Even if the second half of the novel is the same storyline as the movie, it won’t work for me — because I don’t like knowing all about the zombies before we go into that part of the story.

The descriptions in this book are beautiful…well, often grotesque, but beautifully-written. For example (warning, profanity and ya know, horror-y stuff below:

“What the fuck? Hey! Is somebody in here?”

Les grabs one of the plastic jugs. The side has been cut away. Les turns the opening upward. It holds a crazy tiara of stingers; bright, gleaming needles fill the space. Never touch us, don’t even look at us for very long. When the door opens behind him, Les swings the jug, releasing a swarm of tiny missles across a man’s face and chest. The needles grab skin with their tips, and some, pushed by the weight of otherΒ  syringes, are plunged deeper. The view from inside this man’s body would appear something like the night sky in the city, thousands of stars becoming visible. In the countr, millions. One of the needles slides precisely into his tearduct, destroying its tiny architecture before burrowin far enough to permanently ruin the man’s ability to narrow his eyes. This particular jab also causes the man to flip a gun out of his hand. The gun slams heavily against the back of the toiler, cracking it, and then spins halfway around the rim before being carried to the bottom by the weight of its handle. The man collapses against the wall, disbelieving — you don’t just do that — and he watches Les retreive the weapon from the bowl.

The first thing to exit the gun is a twist-tie drool of toilet water. The second is a speeding bullet.

I love it. I really do. In fact, the descriptions are so fantastic throughout this novel (at least what I’ve read of it) that I would happily forgive it for not being the movie I adore and enjoy it on its own merits…if it weren’t so much work. Now, perhaps I’m biased because I’m struggling through a literature course for my degree right now. The stories and poems I have to read for it are work. I don’t understand much of them at first reading and have to re-read and re-read and then read interpretations of them. It’s work. I suspect that course is also influencing my enjoyment of Pontypool Changes Everything because it too, requires some work for me.

This is why I’m only giving up on reading it for now. I hope to come back to it in a few weeks or months and read it and see if I like it better, but for now, it’s work.

I thought, at first, maybe I’m just not smart enough to get this, but Jo said it was work for him too, and he’s pretty clever, so…maybe it’s just meant to be confusing…or work…

In the morning, children in full hockey gear skate across the purple and red ice, weaving around an obstacle course of tan corpses. Several of the dear stand frozen, and the children cut down all but two. They become the opposing nets of a makeshift hockey rink. A heart thawed over a small fire is used to draw the centre line and goal creases. A great deal of time is spent disembowelling the baby creatures so that their frozen feces can be used as pucks; however, having never eaten, their little bodies are as clean as packaged straws. The children settle for the mother’s hoof, which twists off easily.

Again, another beautifully-written grotesque scene…but…is it real? Within the story I can’t tell if this is meant to be read literally or if it’s meant to be a metaphor for something, or if Tony Burgess just thought it was awesome and had to include it. I, too, think it’s awesome, but it confuses me. It’s how a chapter starts…and right after this bit the story switches to something completely unrelated and this deer/hockey scene isn’t mentioned again (that I can remember off-hand). I just don’t get it.

So again, I hope to come back to Pontypool Changes Everything sometime sooner rather than later and I hope I can write a glowing review at that time, but for right now I’m mostly just left scratching my head.

This is only a test

…I think I may have figured out my crossposting problem — I was making things far more difficult than they needed to be.

That is, if I HAVE figured out the issue.

Wish me luck.

ETA: It worked! Yay! This means if you have been following my Rhonda Parrish blog on LJ via the rss feed you don’t need to do that anymore. Wh00t!

Scattered Verses, Moonlit Curses

A couple months ago I was asked by Monsters Next Door editor, LB Goddard if I would care to contribute something to an upcoming poetry anthology. Would I? I was so flattered to be invited to submit that I practically turned myself inside out in my haste to say ‘Yes, yes I would!’. Then, of course, I had to think of something to write. Easier said than done.

I put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to come up with something -good-. Something scary but with depth, haunting and evocative. You know what I found out? You can’t force that and it wasn’t going to happen LOL So I went with cheesy. I love cheesy horror, and apparently LB doesn’t mind it either because everything I submitted got in πŸ™‚

The first piece of mine is called “Zonnet” and is, as the name sort of implies, a zombie-themed sonnet. I don’t actually like sonnets because I dislike iambic pentameter (the extra foot makes it awkward, I prefer iambic tetrameter, but we’ll get to that later). Still, I do enjoy taking a traditional/pretentious format like the sonnet and writing it about something as irreverent as zombies. This specific poem was directly influenced by S.G. Browne’s zom-rom-com Breathers.

My second poem is “Lycanthroku” which is a series of three shapeshifter-themed haiku, followed by “Lycanthrick” which is a werewolf limrick Jo and I composed while I was using him to bounce poem ideas off. I’m a fan of “Lycanthrick” all by itself, but it’s got an extra special spot in my heart because it’s the first time Jo and I have shared a byline. Awww /gush

I rounded out my submission with “The Sepultress” which is a reprinted poem I wrote in iambic tetrameter, because I like it far more than pentameter. Just sayin’ πŸ˜‰

The book, Scattered Verses, Moonlit Curses, also features the work of Alexis Child, Charlotte Gledson, Natalie Sin, Julie “Cannibal Rose” Thielen, LB Goddard, Shells Walter, Richard Fay, Benjamin Bussey and Brian Beemer. I’ve not read it all yet, but I have looked through enough to suspect that cheesy horror wasn’t the style of choice for most people, happily, I don’t mind being different. I hope to read it sooner rather than later and share my impressions, but I haven’t had a chance yet. In my defense, the book just came out yesterday LOL

The Third Dead Body

I have a new favorite zombie short story. I love zombie fiction so I read a fair bit of it and thus my current favorite changes regularly. However, it’s going to take something pretty special to replace “The Third Dead Body” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman in my heart. I <3 it. Truly.

I encountered it in the book I’m currently reading, The Living Dead which is a superb zombie anthology but the credits tell me it was originally published in The Ultimate Zombie.

“The Third Dead Body” is emotionally honest, brutal and touching at the same time. The author puts so much into so few words…I will definitely be looking up more work by her. No question.

Another awesome story from this anthology is “This Year’s Class Picture” by Dan Simmons (originally published in Still Dead). It was also great.

Since I’m only six stories in and two of them have completely blown me away (the others are good too), I think I’ll be writing a rave review of this anthology in the not-too-distant future. But that one story, “The Third Dead Body” was so fantastic I just had to gush a little bit now.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Recently while at brunch with some good friends, one of them looked at me and said “Rhonda, why don’t you just write a bestseller and buy a villa in Tuscany already?”

Write a bestseller.

Just like that, easy peasy.

Now why didn’t I think of that?

πŸ™‚

In other news, it’s not a bestselling novel but I’m the six word memoirist of the day at Smith Mag today. That means my picture and one of my six word stories is featured on their front page at http://www.smithmag.net

ZOMBIES!

One of my favorite questions in the world to answer is ‘What does your husband do?’. The most accurate answer is that he teaches biochemistry at the University of Alberta, but the more fun answer is ‘He’s a scientist’.

It’s cool to be married to a biochemist for lots of different reasons, not least of all are departmental dinners at awesome restaurants. I used to feel somewhat intimidated going to them, being in a room full of scientists is not something my upbringing in rural Alberta prepared me for. I muddled my way through. It helped when one day Jo looked at me in shock and said ‘Seriously? You feel socially awkward in a room full of scientists?!’

As I’ve gotten to know some of his co-workers and become more comfortable in my own skin, these issues have disappeared, but still, as with any conversation, there are sometimes awkward moments of silence and weirdness.

Not at this last dinner we went to on Friday. When Jo told one person that I wrote he responded with “That’s so cool!” and then we got to talk about Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, geekiness and zombies. Later on when I returned to the table after a trip to the washroom Jo looked up at me from a conversation with different couple of people, with a big smile and said ‘Rhonda, where do you get your ideas from?’ which gave me an opportunity to quote Neil Gaiman and say “I make them up. Out of my head.

Seems Jo had been talking about me while I was gone — but saying nice things which made me all ooey-gooey inside.

Our end of the table was definitely pegged as the rowdy end, but it’s all good, because after all, how can you discuss zombies without getting a little animated?

It was wonderful fun and I’ve got to say, having someone (over 9) say ‘That is SO cool’ when told what I do was probably the highlight for me, and it reminded me that what I, what all writers do, really is freaking cool.

I thought I’d write this to capture that, so next time I feel like I’m beating my head against the wall and trudging through tar toward a goal that seems very far away, I can read this and remember that writing is hard work but it’s also SO cool, and totally worth the effort.