Monday, 27 August 2012

The Snow Maiden: A Review

The Snow Maiden by Eden Royce (part of the 31 Days of Steamy Mocha) is a rather unusual choice for me to review. I know.

For those of you who are uninitated, and cannot tell by the cover, The Snow Maiden is erotica. It is a short in itself, but available on Amazon (amongst others) as an individual story for purchase.

So not only is this a review of something outside of my comfort zone, it is also my first foree into the genre. I'm branching out. So, let's see...

It is my understanding that erotica is supposed to be, well, erotic, obviously. So does this fill the boots?

Yes. Yes it does.

The Snow Maiden is a tale of a woman. I expected to see it in no more flesh than, say, porn. It is a short erotica, therefore I expected to see nothing short of a brief introduction followed by some steamy 'passion'. I was surprised to see so much more. I found the protagonist to have feelings - real feelings that I also felt for - and more than just a 'set-up'. I felt for Claire. She was sad, misunderstood perhaps, alone. I almost wanted to reach out for her myself. Tell her it was okay.

Eden Royce certainly has a way with words. She makes you care for the characters that she writes and then the situations that follow. I was surprised to care. And I did. Is that a part of erotica? I don't know. But I want it to be.

I know that I've skipped blatantly over the actual erotic part. I don't know how to describe it. Yeah. It's erotic. I feel that it takes the heart - and dare I say it, loins - and wiggles them about. In a good way.

As this was my first leap into the genre, I'm going to have to recommend it to those in my position. If you want to see what it's all about, then this is a wonderful first step.

Eden Royce is an author of many things from this to dark fantasy. Her website is here, and her blog here. She has things to say. Things worth reading. Go and read them. I'm going to.

The Snow Maiden is available on Amazon US here, and Amazon UK here.

Go and read it. You might like it.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Being an Author: Being an Author

Some days, as I sit in front of the keyboard, stroking my beard in an 'evil genius' sort of way, I think about the author lifestyle, being an author. The lifestyle that I have chosen, for good or bad, and wonder what it was like when I first started doing it.

These days it's sort of old hat. Back then? Did I like it? Do it for fun? Because I was drunk?  So here's a run down for the aspiring author of what may - or may not - go.

1. The lonely road.

Writing's lonely, right? Well, at the risk of contradicting myself (or not) depending on how drunk you were when you read things that I may have said drunk, no. Writing's not lonely. Well, writing's lonely. But being an author isn't. I have friends. People. Conversations. I have good friends. Firm friends. Even a special friend. I can enjoy life, love, lust and everything in between. Just because you write, don't go without. Trust me. Eat, drink and be merry. Reach out. Touch someone. Touch many people. Let them touch you.

2. Writing to write.

Your writing is just for you, right? Well, feel the back of my hand as I slap sense in your general direction. Don't be silly. If your writing was just for you, you wouldn't be here now, would you? No. Let your writing wend it's way into other peoples lives. Be the words. Let people read your stuff. Share. It's better that way.

3. Being drunk/overweight/generally spending life at a desk.

You need to look after yourself. Especially if you haven't done point 1 yet, because no one will do it for you. Walk, run, stagger, whatever. Do something that someone, somewhere might be able to use in a sentence with the word cardio. Eat good things. No not pizza. Pizza is a nice thing, not a good thing. That green stuff. At the bottom of the fridge. No not that, the stuff next to it, the stuff that's supposed to be green. It's salad. Eat that. Don't be drunk all the time. If your fingers aren't hitting the right keys you're drunk. Too early? Start later next time. Oh, and sometimes find the best people from point 1. And go out and get drunk with them. It's called social drinking. (Apparently it's more 'acceptible')

4. Oh, for the love of the art...

Grow up. You're not Shakespeare. And if you are, you have every right to ignore this. And tell me I'm wrong. I don't mind. I don't make my living writing. I've got 'a day job' like most people. Don't sacrifice everything for the art. (See points 1 & 3). Make time to do other things as well sometimes. I've had deadlines. I've worked all night to finish. But don't do it all the time. (Point 3, mostly).

5. For the love of God, rant.

It doesn't matter to who, why, or how. But outlet. I'm going to let you into a secret. This blog is my outlet. Some of the things that you read here you might find odd, mad, wrong, or even right, but when I'm crushed under work, point 1 is killing me, no one is interested in point 2, point 3... well I've lost days before now over point 3, and point 4 is ragging me to death...

... I get to shout at the Internet.

Even if no one listens. And you know what? It makes me feel better. Point 5 will keep you sane.

That, and point 1.

/End Rant.

'Til next time...

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Being an Author: Editing II - Killing Your Darlings.

It's the writer's saying that in editorial you should kill your darlings.

It means 'to oust out the bits you like'. Like, really like.

Initially, perhaps historically, the phrase was to mean that you should get rid of the bits you really like because no matter how bad they are you won't be able to see it. They are your darlings. (Out of context: One's children are always little angels. No matter what they do)

Sometimes, however, these days, we see the statement as to kill off the bits you like, just because they cannot be as good as you think them to be.

Do you see the difference in the two understandings of the same phrase? One suggests that your darlings may not be good. The other, that they cannot be good.

So should we truly 'kill of our darlings'?

I write horror. Hopefully you'd noticed. I also write some fantasy, sci-fi, and even YA. This you may not have noticed. I'm going to take a story that you will not have read that I wrote sometime ago.

It's called, "Traffic." I wrote it a little under three years ago. These days it resides in the 'Binned until further Notice' folder. Why?

Because I love it. It's schmaltzy. It's a love letter to Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas. It's hokum sci-fi space opera material.

And possibly, just possibly, it sucks donkey nuts.

I know the saying isn't supposed to refer to a whole story. But I fear it's true. It's got everything in it, and I haven't even read it in maybe 18 months. But it's still one of my best stories. The rose-tinted spectacles are on.

Can I sell it?

No. (Donkey nuts, remember). But I don't mind. It's a little piece of me that's mine. I can share it with who I want. It's one of those, 'little secret' stories.  I might share it with you if you ask. But most people... well, I can decline politely, can I not?

But that doesn't pay the rent, does it?

Does this then prove that our darlings must be killed? I've just placed evidence down that proves my 'darling' is in the way of the sale. The answer is...

... maybe?

There is no answer to this. There is only me asking you to realize that a darling may get the story canned. 'Time Protects the Innocent' (Static Movement: Cedar Chest), is full of darlings. I've got a whole section in that baby about how nice hamburgers are. In a horror story. With no context. It's a darling. Static Movement liked it too. It's published.

So kill your darlings... if you want to.

'Til next time...

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Being an Author: Editing

So do you rip this puppy a new one, or what?

Editing.

I'm only going to talk about the process of self-editing here. Editing others work is a whole different ball game. Maybe even one without balls.

So you look at it. It doesn't matter how long or short it is. It is finished. The first thing that I ask myself is have I got time to wait? You see, editing something that you've just written can make life unnecessarily hard for yourself. Familiarity breeds contempt. Go on. Edit it now, and then leave it a month. Do it again. Still happy with it? Thought not.

If you have time, wait.

Then you have to decide how much you want to edit. This is the tricky part. Not because ripping the filth that you can't believe that you wrote in the place out is tricky. No. That's easy. That's easy like throwing out the end of a shank because it was tough and you don't want it anymore. The hard part is throwing it out knowing that you cooked it in the first place.

Then you have to decide what to replace it with. Much the same? Chops?

I'm going to stop you there. My whole metaphor seems to have turned this into a cookery blog.

It's hard throwing out the rubbish. But if you - yes, you in the front, stop lollygagging! - can see that it is wrong, it needs to go. If you can see that is doesn't read right you have to change it. If you can see it, they can see it. It's hard. It needs doing.

Don't try to learn from it. Don't try to avoid things that you might not like when you're writing the next masterpiece. You never know when a short, sharp mistake might transpire into utter brilliance.

So then, when it's been ripped out, do you replace it? Was it just filler? Did you write it to get word count? That was silly wasn't it? Lol. Yes. Now you will have to replace - to get word count back - and it needs to be better. Not filler. Does that mean that you need to pull another 5K out of your...

...bottom?

And when you've finished, then what?

Go back. Yes. Up there. Line 9.

If you have time, wait.

Rinse and repeat.

'Til next time.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Three Random Writing Rambles: 17/08/12

  • Characterization is hard. Talking about people is hard. When you want to write a believable character, believe in that character. Don't write their words, feel them. Imagine someone saying them to you. Did that sound right? Do people talk like that? Try it. It's a good start.
  • When you're feeling stressed about the words on the page, panic and write more. I couldn't believe how much my writing makes sense when I've got a deadline looming (or more than one - just saying) it's nearly midnight, I've got the day job in few hours... but,
  • Always edit your work. I've said it before, and likely, I'll say it again. Whilst working as an editor, working in collaboration, and just through plain sharing, I've seen it all. It's hard to believe the lengths some people go to in editing their work. I mean, it's pristine. Others? Erm. Yeah (Least said, and all that). I know it's the editors job to edit the work, but trust me, it's mighty off-putting when 'judging' the quality of a piece when you have to stop every two lines because you've fallen over another mistake. Just sayin'.

And a forth bonus ramble...

  • I've just looked at my visitor stats. My visitor numbers are increasing. This is good. However, one of the referring sites which shall stay nameless is a 'teen amateur' adult site. How? How did someone go from that to this? Just watchin' a bit of porn... might see what's up over a filing words... think I'll check out a cake recipe. 
 'Til next time...

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Being An Author: Collaboration

One of the first times that I came across collaboration in writing is when Matt Nord started looking for writers to work with him in the Collaboration of the Dead. Basically, a collection of authors (18 I believe) who were to write a book together. Something alone the lines of a chapter each. A mammoth task.

Then I started working with others myself.

Readers.

I work with two readers. They are my go-to guys when I need special help. I need a lot of special help (That's what my mom says, anyway). But I digress. One is an avid reader, an individual who understands the written word like no other I've met, and although doesn't allude to put 'pen to paper' can just glance over my work and tell me what's 'wrong' with it. He can look at something and say, "You've done this too much," or, "This is totally unnecessary."

The other is what I like to call a fact finder. He's the guy who may or may not even understand the story, but point out that, after he checked, Buick's weren't available in that color, that year.Not a mistake to be taken lightly. They are my most trusted friends, and I would not wish to be without or replace either.

On occasion, outside of my readers I will ask an author to check over a piece, especially if that author is in a field that I might be struggling in, deep human emoting, erotica, elephant faeces, deer stalking etc.

(It is a different subject, and one that I may touch on later, but of course, be wary of sending your work to other authors if you don't really know them, and vice versa. The last thing you want is to be accused of plagiarizing a piece that you read for someone as a favor five years ago and have forgotten all about.)

Writers.

Collaborative writing is something that has to be understood before attempting. Imagine, as I do, that I go up to the young lady of my dreams the night of the ball and ask her to dance. A cheeky tango has just started playing, I've had a glass of dutch courage and I am able to show my peacock feathers - just once - the first impression. It has to be just right.

Then I remember that I don't know how to tango. No, worse, I've just forgotten how to walk. Aargh! The blood is leaving my legs. I'm squirming about on the floor.

I see her leaving... thinking me a joke.

That's what collaborative writing can feel like if you crap it up. Yes. Working with readers is easy.

Firstly, and I cannot stress this enough, if two writers are going to work together they have to work together. Style. Possibly the only time most writers get accused of having style is writing style. If you are going to work together your styles have to work together. That's not to say you have to write, or sound, the same, but if I write 'Leaves and Color for 3 - 5 Year Olds', and you're bent on how many bones can be removed from the human body before fatal collapse, then it may fail as a project. On the rare occasion that chalk and cheese works it will unlikely be by design.

Therefore, step one: Read something that the other person has written. Did you like it? Did it make you laugh? Was it supposed to? Decide if you can work with them, their style, and even be prepared to flex your own. (and you never know, you may read something that you've never read before...and like it)

Next, know the person. I have worked with several other authors, sometimes with fantastic results, some with extreme hard work, and one time I felt like I had been strung along for three months, before the whole thing fell through. Do you trust the person? Will you do all the work? Will they suffocate your creative talent?

And then; You are going to spend time together. Time Together. Think about that. It could be email, phone calls, facebook, skype, hey, in a perfect world you'd live in the same town. But once you're working together, you can't suddenly decide that the other person is intolerable. Crack a funny. Share virtual beer. Do you want to be professional, or friends? Both? Maybe more? The world is after all a wierd and unstable place. 

These are all questions that you should look at. (I know, I'm in TL;DR at this point) The list goes on, but I'm just trying to get you to think about it before you plunge. Three months unusable work is not just a shame for a writer. It's a crime.

If you find the right person? You never know. They might inspire you to write more, be more, maybe your best work, will change your life forever (longest blog posts?) and you'll want to strive to be better, just for them, yourself, or even just because you can...

'Til next time...

Oh, and just in case you hadn't noticed, after a rather long sabatical, Kevin's back. Big time.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Mad Mannequins From Hell: A Review.




Never before have I had to do a review quite so two fold, but for the Mad Mannequins from Hell, you get two. One of the book, and one of the author. It's the only way to be sure.

Mad Mannequins

If you've never read what comes in the genre 'bizarro' then this is a good start. It's actually an easy read. I always try my best to remain spoiler free in my reviews, and to be honest, if I tried to spoil this, you wouldn't believe me. There are so many things that I want to reference, but can't. I mean a sexualized nun, the baby Jesus ninja kicking through the air... and oh, God, the skateboards...

It all sounds like a joke, doesn't it?

Okay, so the book is strange. It is also slightly awesome. You may not have noticed, but I'm into horror. This is horror. It's a story that makes perfect sense (don't let me guide you into thinking that it doesn't make sense), about what I can only liken to 'end of the world, zombie apololypse' material. Except with mannequins. And nuns. I never thought that I say that mannequins are scary. The protagonist is both believeable and likeable, the situations, well, after you get used to the style (maybe ten pages), are beliveable. It might come down to the writing (but I'll come to that), but I actually believed in and was rooting for Burton and his quest. I wanted the dude to win. Slay that Santa.

I don't score books like other people, but what I do is say, 'Go get it.' It's here in the US:

Mannequins

and here in the UK:

Mannequins

It doesn't cost much, and trust me. You might like it.

This leads me to...

August V. Fahren.


August V. Fahren writes. I won't say he's a writer though. He's an author. He seems like a straight up guy in the times that I've talked to him. But I don't want to talk about his 'personality'. I want to talk about his writing. 

I've read a good number of 'independent' author's work. Most of it is good, it's interesting. Some authors rely on Editors, some rely on themselves.

August appears to rely on - and I've thought about it a lot - being smooth. I mean his writing is so easy to read. Christ, I'm reading one of the strangest things I've ever read, and I don't want to put it down. It's... bizarre.

Mad M, is not a widely published book. It doesn't have the backing of a million dollar press, and so could easily have been... misguided. It could have been down right rubbish, a vanity project. It doesn't come across as that. It reads (as I'm sure August wanted it to) like a real, cool story.

I see from the mighty Amazon that he has other work out.

I hope that I get to read it

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Being an Author: Changing Faces...

And whilst the forces of Heaven and Hell battle once more, the Angel, Peter, stands at the gates, his sword in his hand, facing down against the hordes of darkness. The serene clouds of the other world are turned to black. The evil rises in the night.

And when I'm happy?

Fluffy, the pinkest bunny gayly dances in a field of poppys. And smiles.

So as a writer, an author, call yourself what you will, should your own (and personal) feelings effect what you write? Am I wrong to turn my back on the horror of my usual meanderings on the page just because I'm happy? When sad, should I murder my protagonist in the most horrific and bloody way (you know I'm going to anyway)?

No. There, that was a short answer.

When life kicks you, learn from it. When it bathes you in chocolate, learn from it. For those that  follow my words, don't do what I did at the beginning of this year.

Use it.

Writing is an outlet, a joyous thing, a calling, an escape. Again, call it what you will. But don't stop. Writing will help you battle the darkness, and can roll and flow with you in the chocolate.

The point of this?

Nothing really. I'm just rolling in chocolate. ;)

'Til next time.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

And here is where I unashamedly shout, 'Look at this!'

Sometime ago you may recall me mentioning that my friends at Wicked East Press had signed me to a collection of my own work.

And then all went quiet, no?

Well (drum roll), take a looksy at this:


The Human Condition, By Mark Taylor

With a release date to be announced, I can confirm that the twisted tales of the human bent are coming. The artwork is by the extremely talented Gary McCluskey.

More to come!