Monthly Archives: June 2013

Author vs Storyteller

Copy of a guest post I wrote for Say What, Savannah Mae? on June 27

I’ve always struggled with calling myself an author or even, at times, a writer. I tend to think of myself as a storyteller  – I just like to write them down.

If this were five hundred or even one thousand years ago, I think I would be just as happy sitting around a hearth or an open fire with my family and friends saying, “So, this is what happened….”

But in this day and age, the art of oral story telling is mostly forgotten. We tend to gravitate toward written words that we can enjoy on our own time, picking and choosing what we like most. But does that make everyone who writes a story or tale down an author? I tend to disagree. And I don’t mean that in a mean or spiteful way.

To me, an author is someone that picks and chooses their words carefully. They tend to write prose instead of just words. When I’m reading a book by someone I consider an author, I can happily stop and re-read several sentences over and over again simply because they’re lovely, separate from the information they relay or how they move the narrative on. A good author can have a character open a can of soup and it’s lyrical.

A good storyteller is worth just as much. A good storyteller draws you in with what’s happening, with the characters, with the scenery. The words all propel the story forward and at times you can’t stop reading, it’s so good. You take your book on the train, to your work, on your way to the shower – all because you must know what happens next. You can be both. You can be neither. You can be one or the other.

There are many successful books out there today by great storytellers. But I hesitate to call them authors.  As I said, it’s not a slur or a slight – they told a great story! I couldn’t put those books down! But, as far as word choice, usage and prose, I consider it no better nor worse than average.

There are other books out there that are gorgeous in their construction. Each word feels as though it has been hand selected to sit exactly where it does, in that exact sentence, in that precise spot on the page. In those types of books, I almost feel as though nothing needs to happen. I would be content to simply read about things existing.

I’m very happy to call myself a storyteller! I think there’s a magic in crafting a compelling story with characters people care about and empathize with.

But I think I’ll hold off on calling myself an author. For now.

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Trial by Fire Book Party!

 

Pics from my party! We’ve been in a little bit of a pickle here in Calgary with some flooding. Luckily for my friends and family, we are mostly unaffected. SO PARTY IT WAS! There was TONS of yummy food and CAKE with my book cover screened on the to icing. I got a JUMBO SIZED poster of my book cover and signed books for friends and family.

And of course my latest obsession, Apothic Red Wine. YUM.

I’m still eating cake. WHAT?? IT WILL GO TO WASTE IF I DON’T EAT IT. I’M DOING A SERVICE

My sister, Ann, did the theme in colors of fire – Red, Orange and Yellow. there were some GORGEOUS flowers and you’re all getting pic spammed. [IDK what she’ll do for book two, which is tentatively titled ‘Counter Hex’ – what color is a hex?]. She put on QUITE a show and graciously offered up her house. Jennifer, my other sister, assisted with planning food I think. Darren, my bro in law, stepped in to arrange a cake when our original cake place was flooded out due to the flood situation in southern Alberta.

It was a GREAT time! I admit, I get nervous around a lot of people, even when they’re all people I know! I was a little scared and slightly anxious before the party so I made a beeline for the wine as soon as I arrived. Once I got chatting, I relaxed. Signing books was a bit nerve-wracking and I made two or three spelling errors. ONE ON THE WORD ‘AUNTIE’ [for my fam – omg, I’m SUCH A DORK]

I was so touched and honored to have all my friends and family celebrate with me! the only thing that would have made it more perfect would have been the addition of those that have passed on. I know they were there in spirit.

 

Trial By Fire [Covencraft Book 1] Available now!

I’m super excited that today is the release day of my book, Trial By Fire [Covencraft #1]!

draft2

Trial By Fire [Book 1]  – Available NOW @ Amazon.com, Amazon.ca Amazon.uk [TBA], Barnes and Noble
[published through Fable Press]

Read the first chapter free on wattpad!

Jade leads a structured life:

  • Routine job
  • Caffeine addiction
  • No serious relationships.

And now, she can spontaneously set things on fire with her mind.

Well… perhaps “normal” was never in the cards for her. As she questions her own sanity and spirals out of control, a man appears on her doorstep and tells her that, like him, she’s a witch.

Pulled in all directions, her unbridled magic draws dangerous attention and Jade wonders if she’s made the worst mistake of her life by joining a coven, or if she’ll even live long enough to regret it.

If you like it, remember to feed the author. I eat reviews on Goodreads and Amazon 😉

You can also enter the giveaway on goodreads!

New Short Story – Persephone Rising – Link and Author notes

I’ve posted a new short story, Persephone Rising!

If you are interested, some author notes:

The idea came when I was reading a submissions post on a publishing blog asking for dark fairy tale type stories. They were looking for some more… intriguing takes on heroines. So I started thinking about what I could write. I’ve always loved Greek Mythology so I wanted to do something there. But, one of the things that has ALWAYS troubled me about many classical tales is the victim-type role that women tend to play. I wanted to write something where the heroine wasn’t a victim, and instead was more proactive about her choices.

Having previously written a fanfic story based on some elements of the underworld, I was drawn to write about Persephone. Instead of a maiden naively picking flowers and then kidnapped by Hades, I wanted to write a Persephone that had always been drawn to dead things and possibly pursued Hades when she met him.

I was also interested in portraying more of a grey-sexual Persephone. Please note, my writing is only intended to be one of many viewpoints and is a work of fiction, so I have interpreted the definition as I needed to make the narrative work. I welcome commentary and constructive criticism. Bashing, flaming, spamming and hatred is not welcome.

I’ve commissioned some art for this story and hope to have it posted soon!

Concrit is love! Play nice in the sandbox!

Calgary, Southern AB Flooding

I live in Calgary which is currently under a State of Emergency for flooding. I’m VERY fortunate to live in an unaffected area. My neighborhood is safe and dry. However, a lot of Calgary is flooded. The downtown core is evacuated and the last I heard, power may not be restored there until the middle of the week. The good news is that it appears all of the emergency planning and safety measures were successful. I’m very proud of my city! If I understood the news cast last night, the power transformers were shut down in the core before they could blow, and they won’t be turned on again until they are dry. If they had blown, it would have been a lot longer.

So far the city has stated that volunteers are NOT needed, although I believe they do project that volunteers will be needed for clean up in the coming weeks and months.

If you live in the area, stay safe out there!

Dad – Seven Years later

You're in the army now!

You’re in the army now!

The above pic is of my dad when he was in the Greek Army. I’m not sure of the year. Check out those pants! The beret! The mustache!

He died August 2006. After seven years, I wish I had something profound or helpful to say on the topic of his passing.

Death sucks. No two ways about it.

It’s tough because we all want there to be something profound and helpful to say, don’t we? When someone suffers a loss we’re all just praying we have that one kernel of wisdom that will help them through. The only thing I’ve learned is that sometimes there are easy or better ways for people pass over, but it’s always going to suck. If you had a good relationship, a bad relationship, an impartial one – something will shift in you and won’t ever be the same.

I’m very fortunate – I had a great dad. Seven years after his passing and I’m tearing up just writing this, like it was yesterday. Sometimes it feels like it was. Sometimes it feels like it’s been forever.

After seven years, I wouldn’t say I have wisdom but I do feel like I’ve learned some things.

1. He wasn’t just ‘mine’ to lose – it probably sounds so obvious, but it really through me for a loop seeing my dad’s friends distraught at his passing. His surviving sisters were just gutted – gutted in a way that I could appreciate but felt like couldn’t express myself. They’re Greek, and so expressing emotion is more… allowable (?) for them. Friends of his from when he first came to Canada told us stories about my dad when he first came here and it was so strange realizing that these people, who were kind of like strangers to me, had lost something too. My mother as well lost a husband and a partner.

2. I was so lucky to have my sisters and my mum –  I felt like with all these other people who had lost something, my sisters understood the same loss I had felt.

3. I hate when people won’t or can’t talk about the dead – I hated when, for the first couple of days, months, years I would bring up my dad and people sometimes seemed to ‘freeze’ – like the didn’t know how to respond. I understand it, but I hated it. Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean he’s not still a big part of my life. My feelings for my dad and my relationship with him didn’t die the same day he did. To me, not discussing him is a disservice to his memory.

4. It still sucks.

5. It’s not fair. Some people don’t even like their dads or have really shitty dads but they’re still alive. It’s cruel and it’s mean to think it but I do.

6. Father’s day still sticks out. Although I prefer to think of him or remember him on Father’s day or his name day or his birthday rather than his death date. His death date was the ‘least’ part of his life, yanno?

7. Everyone dies. As he used to say, “When St. Peter is calling, there is no ‘take a message’.”

I guess it all sounds pretty maudlin and depressing. I don’t mean it that way. But if anyone stumbles across this post after just losing their dad, all I can say is – It sucks, man. It really does. You learn to live with it and that’s okay. You’ll be okay.

 

Update on Book 2! [Covencraft]

 

I’m at 11500 words on book two! I’m currently guestimating 85000 words for book 2. Book 1 [Trial By Fire] was 84000 so I figured 85000 was a fair guess.

I’m a visual person and NEED TO SEE THE GRAPH, so I love word count meters. I do have a title for book 2 but I’m keeping it close to the vest in case I change my mind. But seeing as I’m HORRIBLE at keeping secrets, I’ll probably let the cat out of the bag at some point.

 

OH THE HORROR!

I love horror. I love the creeped out feeling I get when watching it or reading it and the way it just LINGERS in my brain for days afterward.

But, I’m not necessarily a fan of just slash and gore. I like some slash and gore flicks but not the overly gratuitous ones. Basically, if you’ve got NO plot and it’s just scantily clad women running around screaming and getting hacked to bits, I’ve no interest.

When I say I like horror, I find a lot of people start reccing me slash and gore flicks. Really sexist and BAD slash and gore flicks.

Did I mention the sexism? Because it bears repeating. Several times. [But that’s a WHOLE OTHER POST].

I feel like these days, true horror has gotten or is getting lost in the slash and gore. I don’t want to be grossed out or just bombarded with blood. I want you to horrify me! I want you to terrify me! I want to be DISTURBED ON A PROFOUND LEVEL [while in the safety of my home, usually in my jammies, watching through the slits of my fingers as I cover my eyes].

If I have to watch a film clutching a rosary or I’m nervous to turn the lights off at the end of the night, that’s a good horror flick.

If I sit there watching as some [again] scantily clad buxom women gets chopped up – that’s not horror.

Some of the best horror I’ve read or seen has NO GORE. The classic example is always Hitchcock’s Psycho, wherein we only see a small trail of blood going down the drain. That’s it. He didn’t have to show me all the blood and keep pushing my face in it going “LOOK SEE THE HORROR??? DO YOU SEE IT??” He just had to set it all up – music, lighting, story, acting – and then let my brain fill in the rest, knowing that my brain will supply all the horror needed, and better than he could. Because each person’s brain will fill in the worst thing for them.

So! Here are some of my faves* – these are by no means the only ones I’ve liked, but these have stuck out in my head and I remember them all very vividly.

The Evil Dead [1981 original] – a classic. It’s got what I [and a lot of people] refer to as the ‘submarine’ element – people trapped in a place they can’t get out of. AND! it’s got something creepy in a basement. Toss in the Necronomicom and I’m SOLD.

Saw – I saw [lol] this movie by myself in the theatre when it first came out and to this day I remember when it ended and the credits started rolling, my mouth was completely dry. I’m pretty sure I sat there immobile and just… unable to look away or even swallow the entire time.

Poltergeist – I still watch this every time it’s on TV. You CARE about the family and what’s happening. You know Carol Ann is in that house but what is in there with her? How will they get her back?

A Nightmare on Elm Street – I only saw pieces of this movie and never saw the whole thing until I was in my teens but as a child I knew there was something about a boiler room and a guy named Freddy and I was terrified. I was scared of this movie before I even saw it. I also really liked Wes Craven’s New Nightmare which was a meta mashup of the Freddy mythology and just so good.

In the Mouth of Madness – I loved some of the imagery in this film. Sam Neill in a room covered in hand-drawn crosses [even on Neill himself], when Julie Carmen is forced to read the book and then starts bleeding from the eyes, when they’re trying to leave town and they just keep being forced back.

Lord of Illusions – I admit, I watched this during my HUGE Scott Bakula crush days. But I stand by it! It’s also got some great imagery. There’s also that thin dude in the creepy pants, the illusionist Swann, Famke Janssen and the sword dropping scene!

The Thing – I also classify this as a thriller [which can be crossed over with horror or separate from]. This one also has the submarine effect – people trapped somewhere they can’t leave – and then they start not trusting each other. IS ONE OF THEM THE THING?? it’s a great story device when your characters are all paranoid and anxious but it’s hard to maintain without exhausting your audience and I feel this movie does it well.

Ginger Snaps Trilogy – I just love these movies. They made me fall in love with the werewolf trope/genre. I find them fun too, but in a dark way. But I think they show the best part of horror – the effect it has on family or bonds between people. I highly recommend them. I also watch these whenever I catch them on TV.

Films by Roger Corman and Vincent Price loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s work – The Raven, the Fall of the House of Usher, the Pit and the Pendulum, Masque of the Red Death, the Tomb of Ligeia [THE TOMB OF LIGEIA, how I love you!] – I love them all. SO EPIC! So creepy!

I’m sure I’ll think of more as soon as I hit post, but those are the ones off the top of my head.

*As a side note, I’ve left out horror-dark comedies from this post as I feel they are a special category all on their own to be enjoyed [films like Shaun of the Dead, Army of Darkness etc]

 

Trial By Fire [Covencraft] – a ‘Fanmix’

As mentioned before, I write fanfiction and am part of fandom. One of the things that often accompanies someone’s story is a song mix or people will make fanmixes to go with a fic or for a character. I’ve discovered many treasured favorite new songs through fanmixes! I decided to make one for Jade. I may add to this as I find songs that fit. I hope to have one for Paris, but I fear if I start listing songs now, I’ll give too much away!

1. The Trick is To Keep Breathing – Garbage
She’s not the kind of girl, Who likes to tell the world, About the way she feels about herself

2. Crawl – Artificial Joy Club [I WILL NEVER GET OVER THIS BEING THEIR ONLY ALBUM]
Wake up, sugar, sugar Come down, smell the coffee, Drink your fears, Taste your problems
3. Born in a Flash – Mother Mother
Photograph, Looking down at me, I’m looking at the past, Something about my family
4. Blindness – Metric

What it is and where it stops nobody knows, You gave me a life I never chose, I wanna leave but the world won’t let me go
5. Believe – The Bravery
I am hiding from some beast, But the beast was always here, Watching without eyes, Because the beast is just my fear
All the remains of a cadaver of days, I keep hidden away, keep them there just in case I want to visit that place and blow the dust from the bones, Off a body of years that I leave all alone

Dear little girl, (there’s) so much hurt, For such a young age. Trapped inside a pretty little lie, Your body’s betrayed.
Don’t you mess with a little girl’s dream ‘Cause she’s liable to grow up mean

I lost my friend Near the water And I loved her Though she left me [author note – this will be more revealed in books 2 and 3]