Every year I talk about how difficult it is to choose which works to nominate for the Pushcart Prize and that’s because each year it gets harder. This year I was saved from truly heartbreaking decisions by two things:
I took a short break from Fae-tastic Fridays because I was traveling and also rather too swamped with *things* to even pretend I could be organised. However, stuff has become far less frenetic of late and (most importantly) I’m back home with no plans of that changing anytime soon, so Fae-tastic Fridays are back! Interestingly enough, today’s interviewee is Beth Cato. That’s interesting because I spent a significant amount of time with Beth at World Fantasy this year (which was the trip I’d taken).
Anyway… around about the time of Fae’s launch I interviewed Beth about her contribution. Here is that interview as well as an excerpt from her story, The Cartography of Shattered Trees:
Beth Cato’s Interview
What was the inspiration for your Fae story?
I wrote my story as part of a Codex Writers’ Halloween contest. I was provided two distinct prompts: a luopan, which is a Chinese magnetic compass used in Feng Shui, and lichtenberg figures, the scarring that results from a lightning strike. The luopan put me in mind of maps, and from there I thought–what if there was a map in fractal burns on someone? What would cause that?
Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?
No, I’ve written and published a number of fairy poems and stories, including a steampunk-fae tale in “Stitched Wings” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and a story in the forthcoming B is for Broken anthology. Fairies are such an important part of the fantasy genre, and there are common elements in fairy-like mythologies across the world. It’s something universal and accessible.
Note from Rhonda:I knew the answer to this question before I asked it. In truth, Beth’s story, “Stitched Wings” was definitely one of the things which inspired me to want to create this anthology in the first place. One of several things, to be fair, but a significant one.
Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story?
In the case of my story, that would be a major spoiler! I’ll withhold the name.
Is that your favourite type of fae?
No. My very favorite fae would be selkies. Back in my teens, I even collected seal figurines and plushes for a time!
Do you believe in fairies?
In a wistful way. I write about obscured magic because I want there to be something more, something we can’t quite see or comprehend. Along those same lines, when I’m driving and encounter a number of green traffic lights in a row, I thank the traffic gods. It’s not too much to hope that, in a bountiful garden, that glint of light in the corner of my eye might have something more to it. I hope I’ll always be childlike in that way. If I lose that, I’ll have nothing left to write.
Excerpt from The Cartography of Shattered Trees by Beth Cato (283 words):
Her fingers glanced her skin. The scars felt like divots, the fern-like spread of her burns in soft ripples. According to doctors, the Lichtenberg figures should have faded months before. Now those fractal burns had metamorphosed into something more.
Repulsed and fascinated, she followed the red route south to her navel. Did the map go where… it happened? Shuddering, she clenched her fist.
“I need to get ready for work,” she said aloud.
Yet she still stared at herself, mesmerized. Despite the burns, despite the horribleness, there was something beautiful about the map.
She reached into the darkness of her closet and pulled out her old portfolio. Disturbed feathers of dust were set adrift in the air. She propped a large pad of paper against the bathroom counter and, with glances at the mirror, began to sketch. Her head pounded as it had so often since the lightning strike, and she furrowed her brow as she struggled for focus.
The line veered, gouging at the paper. She flung the pencil away with a wordless scream.
Vivian used to draw, paint, exist for the muse that overflowed from her fingertips. She used to live.
Her therapist had told her that if she wanted to create art again, she would find a way, even with the lingering nerve damage. Such trite, arrogant advice from a man with an illegible signature.
She didn’t just want art again, she wanted her old life back. She wanted her innocence, for her body to be a clean slate, free of burns, free of the lingering memories of Andrew’s heavy hand dragging her down.
Vivian ached to feel whole again, to fill the emptiness that constantly echoed beneath her breast.
I volunteered to host a guest blog to go along with this year’s Winter of Zombie. And here it is. Jay Wilburn talking about the allure of the crappy zombie movie:
In Defense of the Crappy Zombie Movie
by Jay Wilburn
There is comradery between zombie fans centered around terrible zombie movies. From video stores into the age of Netflix, the choices of badly shot, badly written, and badly executed zombie films has grown and grown. There are some great, even epic, zombie movies, but they just serve to emphasize the very low bar that other films reach. Some of them don’t even bother to reach, but they provide painful bonding experiences to fans all over the world. The fifth season premiere of The Walking Dead set the record for the series to date with over seventeen million viewers. There are films that will be classics and enjoyed for generations. These are not the ones I’m talking about.
Horror films are quick go-to’s for amateur, aspiring directors. The special effects that used to be mysteries are easier to replicate using information available online and software has expanded exponentially what can be done with visuals in editing. There are some high quality movies made on relatively low budgets. I’m not really talking about those either.
The zombie movie made with a cheap camera and bad make-up: Here is where life-long friendships are forged. There is nothing like a movie that has you bowing and shaking your head part way through. Other genre of film do the same thing, but those are likely to be turned off at that point. Zombie fans will sometimes let them run. They will let the pain continue. If others are with them, they can hold on together in the misery.
There is nothing nearly as character building as surviving the poor recreation of the zombie apocalypse and telling others what you have learned. These are the moments where an adult man looks into his soul and asks himself what a grown man is doing watching something like this. Worse, what is he doing watching another one and then another one.
Some of these films have titles that give full warning that there is a terrible experience ahead – titles that are offensive to one or more groups – puns that are so awfully conceived that they make porn look intellectually sophisticated – stories that are so monumentally terrible that no amount of nudity will ever make it worth the journey even in fast forward. These are the trials the separate zombie fans from others that demand quality in their entertainment.
I realize some of you have had enough. You are done with the terrible, independent zombie film. You are rightfully tired of the badly constructed zombie books and you value your time too much to subject yourself to it any longer. I respect that. You are still a fan and if the genre ever rises to meet its true potential, it will be because you demanded it. I will be no help, however. I do strive to make more of my books and stories, but a secretly (maybe not so secretly now) I love the terrible zombie film. I want more.
I challenge myself to sit through another and then another. I see a zombie film with Danny Trejo above the title and I am sold. I look at the terrible title and the worse artwork and I’m itching to hit play. I know what I am in for and I let it happen. I can’t wait to post about how such a thing still managed to drop below my worst expectations.
Occasionally, these forays of self-abuse surprise me by revealing a better than average story or film. This is my rare reward for being willing to dive into the fray again and again. The real reward is seeing the terrible joy the filmmakers had in putting together something they knew was awful, but they saw it through until the end anyway. There is also a forbid fascination with the projects where it becomes clearer and clearer with every minute that they have no idea how bad this was. It’s like watching a train wreck for an hour and twenty-seven minutes.
This brand of torture may not be for you. You can still enjoy the stories of those who endured the terrible stories. It is part of what makes zombie fans strong. It is the element of the genre that makes the fans so appreciative when something truly amazing happens. Set the bar high, but know that if you don’t, I will still be watching.
The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014
Like most people I know, the past couple months have been pretty much a total blur for me. A blur of mostly good things, but still a blur. Not only does time move faster the closer and closer I get to my 40th birthday, but the amount of projects on my plate this autumn/winter was (frankly) obscene. Also mostly good, but an obscene number of them. One of the side effects of that was that I wasn’t writing. I was reading, editing, transcribing, formatting, organizing, shortlisting, etc. etc. but not writing.
Which, since I like to call and think of myself as a writer, was kind of a problem.
That means this week I’m not reading Corvidae submissions, not editing stories for A is for Apocalypse, not looking at proofs for the December issue of Niteblade (though I’ll send them out to contributors when they come in LoL), not whatever-ing. I’m just writing.
But, me being me, I needed concrete goals or I’d spend the week meandering from thing to thing and not actually getting anything done.
My primary goal for the week is actually the 10,000 words I need to write to be successful with my MicroWriMo goals but the To Do list is which projects, specifically, those words are going to come from*.
The ‘To Do’ section of this list is made up of the projects which have been in-progress for the longest time or, for whatever reason, are feeling like they are high-priority to me right now. The bonus/rewards are the more fun and/or less urgent things I’ve got on my radar. The way this system is going to work, each time I finish something on my “To Do” list I can either do another project on the To Do list (if I’m feeling uber productive) or I can choose something from the Bonus/Rewards section.
I am not crazy. I don’t expect to get this list done. I don’t expect to get even a quarter of this list done. I would really like to cross three things off the ‘To Do’ part. We’ll see if I can pull that off, but mostly it’s the 10k words that matters. And writing.
Anyway, at the end of the week I’ll post an update and we’ll see how I’ve done. Hopefully this public accountability will help keep me on track a bit 🙂
*Somewhat randomly, when I’m writing poetry while simultaneously dealing with a word count goal I count each poem I write as a minimum of 100 words because I find picking precisely the right words for a poem takes a lot more time and effort than the quantity of those words accounts for.
December is creeping ever nearer and I thought it might be fun to spend it sharing holiday traditions on my blog.
To that end I’m asking my friends and readers (that means you) to write a guest blog about your holiday traditions and email it to me at email@example.com by December 1st. What I’m hoping is that I’ll get a really nice selection of posts talking about New Year’s (Chinese and otherwise), Christmas, Giftmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice and especially anything I missed.
Other than that the posts/stories you share be true and be about the winter holidays the door is pretty much wide open on these blog posts.
Want to give away a book or use them to pimp one of your ongoing projects? Please do.
Rather share a holiday story from your childhood? Yes please!
Feel like telling us all what you’re doing this year? Sounds awesome.
If you have any questions or concerns about details drop me a line (Here, there, anywhere we connect) and please consider contributing.
As my youngest niece (quoting a big purple dinosaur) has been known to say, “Sharing is caring.” so let’s do a little of both, and have some fun along with it.
C’mon… you know you wanna!
ETA: Okay, we’re going to relax the ‘The story you share needs to be true’ rule with one exception — if you’re a writer you can also choose to share a story about one of your character’s winter holidays. Because why not? 🙂
Two of my poems, Two Wrongs and Golden Hour (which are completely different from one another aside from the fact both have nature-y stuff in ’em) are included in this month’s issue of Dual Coast Magazine. It looks like quite an impressive line-up of contributors, including Milo James Fowler who I am always happy to share a table of contents with 🙂
Write 1 Sub 1 is a super supportive group of writers who, inspired by Ray Bradbury, have committed to write stories (or poems, or novels, or whatever) and submit them for publication on a regular basis. The hardcore members aim to write and submit one story a week. Some set their goal at one a month. The point, at least to me, is consistency. It’s easy to let our writing get lost in amongst all the other things happening in our lives and W1S1 definitely helps shine a spotlight on it and keeps you motivated and conscious of how much you are (or aren’t) doing in that arena.
I didn’t sign up for W1S1 this year, largely because my goals for 2014 didn’t include a lot of short fiction. However, I’ve been a happily participating member in years past and so, when submissions opened for Drunk on Writing, W1S1’s first ever anthology, I totally sent them my qualifying works. Happily, they accepted one of my poems, Broken.
Drunk on Writing has officially been published (yay!) but best of all, because of the terms of the contract I’m totally allowed to share it here with you for free. YAY!
You can download a copy of Drunk on Writing below.
A while back, Rebecca suggested that it might be fun to exchange guest posts on one another’s blogs. I agreed with her. So, today I’m interviewing her here, on my blog, and on the 27th I’ll be making appearance over on her blog.
And now, without any more preamble…
Interview with Rebecca Besser
Thank you so much for suggesting this interview exchange. I think it will be a lot of fun J Can you begin by introducing yourself?
Hi, I’m Rebecca Besser, a wife, mother, writer, and editor. I’m also a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and have been published in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for various age groups and genres. I’m known best for my works in adult horror.
I’m generally off the wall when I’m hyper or in a good mood, and people have often offered to pay me to get high or drunk just to see what I’ll do. I’ll do almost anything sober, if I take a mind to…so not sober is scary. No, I haven’t taken them up on either offer. Frankly, I’m scared of what I would do if I didn’t have any control of myself at all.
I have a wild imagination and I’m known to start laughing out of nowhere for no reason. It’s really not for no reason – my mind just amuses me sometimes. Often those joyous thoughts cannot be voiced aloud because others just don’t understand… Oh, the joys of being me.
So, are you a writer/editor or an editor/writer?
Writer/editor – I was a writer first. Becoming an editor was more from building and learning my craft of writing, which is something I think a lot of writers fail to do. As a writer, the better you can write, and the less an accepting editor has to do with your work to make it publishable, is a solid margin in your favor. The stronger your writing is, the better chances you have of being published. And, if you know decent grammar, you know when you’re not getting a good edit from an editor you don’t know; it can save you a lot of headaches.
Like me, you seem to be driven by a desire to do All The Things. How do you balance that in your daily life?
I do what I can, when I can. I feeling like I’m always busy and behind on something. It’s hard to balance everything, and I often feel like I’m failing, but I know I’m not. I just put a lot of pressure on myself.
Luckily, I’m a talented multi-tasker.
What are you working on these days?
Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Undead Drive-Thru, which is Undead Regeneration. I’m trying to write the novel for NaNoWriMo, but I’m yet again reminded of why I normally don’t sign up. The universe seems to know when I make plans; it then does its best to mess up those plans with things I can’t control. Needless to say, I’m WAY behind on where I should be with word count.
Since the season is coming up sooner than we might like (or not soon enough, depending on your position), do you celebrate a winter holiday? If so, can you tell us a bit about that?
We celebrate Christmas, pretty much the normal way. We make sure to stay home Christmas day so our son can enjoy his presents. We also enjoy relaxing time and a big, home-cooked meal. I’m kind of a stickler about tradition and family time.
Thank you again, before you go, is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers of my blog?
Yes, there is! I’m giving away two signed copies of Undead Drive-Thru (one first and one second edition) to one lucky winner of my re-release giveaway! Three runners up will win signed copies of just the second edition!
Look for official rules and how to enter on my blog:
It’s that time of year again. Time to nominate for the Pushcart Prize. This year I’m nominating, not only from Niteblade, but also A is for Apocalypse. I have a fairly good idea what pieces I’ll be nominating, but nothing is set in stone just yet.
What do you think? Given the chance to choose, which stories or poems from Niteblade and/or A is for Apocalypse would you nominate?
Note: The editor-in-chief of World Weaver Press, Eileen Wiedbrauk is nominating from Fae as well as the other anthologies she published this year. She asked me for feedback as to what I’d nominate, but I’ll find out which stories (if any) she chooses at the same time as everyone else 🙂
My poem “Hold This Camel” and vignette “Memories” were both reprinted in this month’s issue of Hermeneutic Chaos. Neither were available online before, but now you can take a peek and give them a read for free if you are so inclined. And you should be. Because, c’mon! 😉