Full disclosure: When I was setting my calendar for guest posts, I noticed this particular date. Not that I wanted to notice, because this date has come around a number of times I’d rather avoid counting. I almost skipped it entirely. But then, I thought, who better to post on this day than my own kid?
I should have known she was going to make me cry. Rotten kid.
Read and Return
Today just happens to be Annetta’s birthday. Shhhh, don’t tell her I’m the one who spilled the beans.
Of course, being her birthday made me think of gifts and gifts made me think of my favorite gifts I’ve ever received and that’s when I realized my Mom has given me everything. Absolutely everything.
When I was about ten years old, I remember Mom walking up to me and saying, “Follow me.” I asked where we were going, but I got no answer. She lead me up the stairs, all sixteen of them, into her bedroom and in front of her massively huge bookshelf without saying a single word. This bookshelf went from floor to ceiling and was as wide as half the wall. Every inch of the thing was covered in books. Double rows of hardcover books, stacks and stacks of paperbacks. To me, a mere girl at the time, it looked gargantuan and totally awesome. I remember thinking how lovely they smelled. The sun was shining in through the window and I saw little specks of dust floating on the air. But there was no dust on these books.
I followed her instructions, and I loved the book. It’s a collection of fairy tales that are unique and wonderful. When I was finished, I brought the book back to her and she said once again, “Follow me.” Upstairs we went, into her room, to the gigantic bookcase where she took the book from my hands and promptly placed another one in it. She gave me the same instructions–read and return.
I don’t remember how long that exchange went on before I started picking my own books, but since the day she handed me that first yellow book, I can not remember a single day where I’ve not been reading. That moment turned into a constant chain of books for me, one right after the other, and has continued for almost twenty years.
When I hear parents tell me they wish they could give their children everything, I tell them this story. You can give your children everything and so much more. The gift my mom gave me is endless, bottomless, boundless. There is no world I cannot explore, there is no character I cannot meet, there is no time period I cannot visit, there is no hope or dream or idea I can’t experience through the written word. She opened every door for me, and through that door is everything.
Do you want to give your children everything? Give your children books, people. Give them a love of reading. I can think of no better way to enrich their lives. And I know there is no other way to give them everything.
That day, which I still remember with such clearness, I was given a wonderful gift, a gift I hope to share with my son.
And I don’t even have to actually give him the book. My mom knew what she was doing.
Although I can’t remember the exact circumstances of our first meeting, I can say once you meet Rebecca you’ll never forget her. A fellow Aquarian, she and I hit it off from the beginning. She has that quirky sense of humor I hold so dear, coupled with an honesty that is both refreshing and bracing.
On top of that, the woman is mega-talented. Not only is she a writer with a twisted imagination I find fascinating, she is an amazing artist and the one behind the cover and the trailer for Athena’s Promise. Rebecca is fabulous to work with, and an amazing friend. Here’s a peek inside her unconventional and intriguing head. I’ll just leave the light on for you. Heh.
1. Your roots are in dark fantasy and sword and sorcery, but you work a lot in horror. What is it about horror that attracts you as a writer?
Both genres offers examinations into the human condition – touches deeper into the human psyche’s dark side. From religion or politics, to that inner monster we all possess. I don’t speak of slasher-style fiction or movies in that vein – for me, horror is more psychological than gore.
2. What do you think horror offers that other genres may not?
A catharsis, utilizing horrific imagery or words in real life instances where you’ve experience real horror, has been used in therapy. There’s also of course, the self-reflective approach. You can’t go around hurting people, so you create a character and whack them in the nastiest way possible.
3. Who is your favorite character you’ve created and why?
That’s a tough choice to make. I’ll go with what “type” of my character is my favorite, they tend to crop up in most of my stories, is the anti-hero. They tend to personify our own reality. Ordinary people who become something extraordinary (sometimes not) who do what needs to be done to “save the day”. It doesn’t mean they have to like it, or even volunteered for it.
4. What is your writing process like?
I write on regular note paper with a real pen. Most of which are brainstorm sessions from either a notion in my mind, or a dream I’ve had. The longer I brainstorm, the more ideas generate. Sometimes it’s a scene between nameless characters, sometimes a short story. If it blooms into a novel, I create a basic structure for the plot and will fill in the gaps with these ‘scenes’. I still have “homeless characters” and situations with no story. Yet.
5. Who are your writing inspirations?
Michael Moorcock, George RR Martin, and of course – Tolkien. I will have to say however, my first inspiration – Robert E. Howard’s “Conan” – followed up with artists such as Larry Elmore, Linda Bergkvist, and Alan Lee.
Musically, very inspired by the now defunct duo Dead Can Dance, and a horde of Classical composers and music. A Night on Bald Mountain, Deis Irae from Mozart, classical music and operatic scores such as Carmina Burana almost always create mini-movies in my head.
6. What actually scares you the most?
I’ve been asked that a lot. Aside from the surface fear of spiders – the deepest fear is the inability to move, speak, see, or hear – and be completely conscious of this fact.
7. Name the scariest movie and book you’ve ever seen and read.
Vincent Price’s “Last Man on Earth” scared me as a child, and as an adult – Will Smith in “I am Legend.” Both storylines scared me, in that each character was utterly the last of their kind. And both scenes, having to kill their dog. That was just so sad..lol. I haven’t read a book yet that I could call the scariest. One scene in Raymond Feist’s “Faerie Tale” creeped me out. The parts about the “bad thing” were really spooky. But no, to date – I haven’t read a book that made me want to sleep with the lights on. I’d settle for the creep or spook factor!
8. What is your opinion regarding the indie or self-publishing movement?
I’ve been involved in the Indie/Self-Pub movement longer than most people realize. It started out for me in the early 90’s when I made a “zine” – quarterly, and accepted submissions for short stories, art, poetry. California’s had a stable Indie movement in this regard for longer. Back then, I wasn’t online – it was through U.S. Mail, including networking. I fell out of the loop in the late 90’s and about a year and a half ago – came back into the loop to see its growth through electronic media. I jumped back into the shallow end with publishing poetry I had lying around, then a short story. I’m a novelist at heart, however – and don’t have the patience to sit around waiting a year for a novel to go to print. It’s a great opportunity for writers and personally, I don’t see it any different from Indie bands who put out their own labels. If the powers that be in the “market” don’t want you – you create your market. Back then, and in the now – I think it’s great. It’s not so much the “control” and “royalties” but the creative force behind it. “It” being “your product”.
9. You’re both a graphic artist and a writer. Which appeals to you most and why?
Even though I’ve been into drawing since I was allowed to hold a sharpened pencil 😉 (age 3, my first piece of art was Flipper followed by Fingerpainting in pre-school) writing is the greater appeals. It’s easier, to tell the truth -to write down what my head visualizes, than attempt to draw it. haha!
10. Tell us about your upcoming projects.
I just finished type-ups on all of my handwritten mess regarding a novella turned into a novel “I Chiang”. Now I need to assemble them into chapters and do the first round of edits before I toss it to you – the editor 😉 “I Chiang” is going to be the first in a series which I’m calling, for now at least – The Unfailed Series. Each novel is planned as a stand alone with recurring characters – leading up to events that I will keep under wraps. That part is still being fleshed out. Book 2, titled “Project 4: Unfailed” was originally Book 1, Project 4 was going to be my debut and in the middle of a second round of self-editing, the character Chiang started to talk. A lot.
I also have several short stories, some short-shorts that I’m compiling into a anthology tentatively titled “The Little Book of Weird”. They’re all supernatural or psychological horror based in and around my childhood, or simply things that came off the top of my head from mundane circumstances. One such a story, called the S(t)ink – is about a horrible odor exuding from the bathroom sink in an upstairs apartment, taking a life of its own. Another, based on where I live – called The Tenant, is about a woman who hears the veiled threats coming from the air conditioner unit outside her bedroom window. You know how sometimes, you get those evil little thoughts in your head towards somebody who peeves you? In the case of this short story, it’s our old apartment manager whose going to get it. Through a story, of course. This is why I love horror 😀 Where else can you get away with being creepy if not downright unpleasant? After the Unfailed Series I’m transitioning to my original love – Dark “Epic” style Fantasy with elements of Sword & Sorcery. (More emphasis on the Sorcery, of course) My “personal epic” – the “Lord of the Rings” in my life, is the “Book of the Accursed”. It’s taken close to 10 years, off and on – to see the conclusion.
Author Bio: I’m a writer and artist, all else is self-explanatory.
Okay, I’ve held this in as long as I can. Please note this NettaRant ™ is not directed to anyone in particular — but if you’re uncomfortable reading it or if it pisses you off on some level, chances are this rant applies to you.
*Sigh* I really hate having this conversation, and I’ll admit I’m overworked and a bit crabby. I blame the Ring of Fire and the triple digit temperatures. And the fact I may have a normally crabby type of temperament. Plus the fact I just can’t keep a good rant to myself. It makes me feel bloated, like after you eat a large meal including cruciferous vegetables like cabbage or broccoli.
OR! Like you’ve been force-fed something you wouldn’t ordinarily eat!
What am I talking about? Marketing. Specifically, marketing a book.
My social networks are full of people who both read and write books, novels, short stories, etc. I understand the need to promote yourself — I’m a novelist, too, and I’ve self-published. Even those who have a legacy publishing contract have to do the majority of their own promotion. It’s a necessary evil of the job. I get it.
But look. If all I ever hear out of you are promotional efforts about your book/interview/blog post, I’m going to unfollow your ass, capish? I appreciate the fact you’re trying to sell your book, but what I don’t appreciate is the constant fucking infomercial about where to find your book, how great people think your book is, the fact your book is now for sale, and the constant begging to “like” pages, reviews, visit here, look at this, SEE ME AND SEE MY BOOK. I get it already!
Posting the same thing forty-seven times a day on every conceivable social networking site is not going to entice me to buy your book. As a matter of fact, it’s going to piss me off. Can you not talk about anything else? Is there no other social engagement of any kind?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about people who promote their book and socially engage. I’m talking about the irritating, annoying, constant barrage of SEEMYBOOKTHISISMYBOOKBUYMYBOOKPASSITALONG
Come on. You know it pisses you off too. From people who never comment on anything you post, never offer a personal word, never engage in conversation unless it has something to do with THEIR BOOK.
Honestly, I do understand how difficult it is to promote your book, how necessary and I support the indie movement. But please, take one minute and think this over, okay?
You’re on Facebook and you have friends/family. You also have a fan page. This is great, and I would expect you to inform both groups updates about your book and maybe teasers, glimpses into artwork, how the whole process is coming along. What you don’t need to do is post every damned hour about where your book can be purchased. Once you post a couple of times, your people are going to know where to find you. Why are you beating that poor, dead horse?
But NETTA! How am I supposed to sell my book if I don’t continuously bang people over the head with a hammer? Isn’t that how sales work?
Well, that’s how *hard* sales work, but it’s not really all that effective when it comes to the internet crowd. Internet peeps are on to that hard-sell advertising crap, and what you should probably do is understand using social networking to promote your product is a tricky business. I’ve had people tell me promoting via Twitter is totally unproductive — then I look at their Twitter stream only to see nothing but promotion of their work, a few re-Tweets, and no engagement of any kind. They’re called SOCIAL NETWORKS for a reason, people!
If all you do is post stuff about your book and don’t ever have a conversation about something else, you’re doing it wrong. Social networking is about building relationships with people, and believe it or not, the sales follow. Radical idea, isn’t it?
So, yeah. Tweet me once in a while. Comment now and then on a post. Promote other people you believe in. Don’t just toot your own horn exclusively, because trust me, it gets old FAST.
Now you kids git offa my lawn!
All I’m saying is think about what you’re doing before you alienate people with your Magic Bullet bullshit. Yes, promote your book and be proud! You should be. But step away from the Hammer lest it be wrenched from your grasp and used to whip your ass.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Borders has bit the dust. I’m very sad about this. When I first moved here, there were many occasions I needed good wi-fi. As a matter of fact, for two months I haunted Borders every day. I occasionally hit it now and then when I need a change of venue, and it’s where I purchase all my Christmas gifts.
Not any more.
I’m really sad as a reader. I’d enter Borders and take a good, long whiff of the Seattle Coffee aroma permeating the air. I’d wander around the “New Release” table and dream of seeing MY book on that table someday. Strolling over to the magazine rack, I’d marvel at how many magazines there were dedicated to building muscle or telling us every detail of Kim Kardashian’s engagement and how few left with writing or stories or literature of some kind. And I’d buy the latest Writer’s Digest or Poets and Writers.
My Borders had very comfy chairs, plenty of electrical outlets and tables, a fine little cafe shop. Not anymore. I visited first thing this morning. All the chairs are taken out, the cafe is shut down and the tables covered with merchandise. I will admit to tears in my eyes.
I’m crushed, and wondering if I’ll ever find another haven, a break from working in the same environment every day, a place to delightfully diddle away a few hours. As a writer, I’m scared. A whole industry is changing so rapidly and it’s difficult to know where to plant your feet. And I’ll never see a book of mine on a Border’s shelf.
It’s a hard death for that particular dream.
So yes, I haz a sad. The closing of Borders signals some huge changes coming up on several levels. Hopefully they will be for the better, but like any change the pain comes first.