What I Have Been Up To

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve had any writing news to update. To sum up: It’s been a hell of a year so far.

SHORT FICTION

Earlier this year I participated in the The Short Story Challenge sponsored by NYC Midnight. It was a BLAST. In the second round, I placed first in my group with my story, Dust Baby. Unfortunately, I was eliminated in the final round, but I ain’t mad. I was so proud of Dust Baby I sent it to Tin House for their consideration. It’s still there, awaiting final word.

TAKING THE PLUNGE

Then, at the last minute, I decided I’d give NaNoWriMo a whirl. (If you’re interested, I’m Netta50 on NaNo. Let’s buddy up!) I’m working on a novel called Broken Arrows, which has been in my brain for approximately seven years. I’m not much of a plotter, although over the years it seems I have morphed into a pantser/plotter hybrid. I joined a local Facebook group (Yay, STLWriMos!) and in doing so, have learned a lot about my writing process for longer works. The eureka moment came when I started doing writing sprints as opposed to hours banging away at the keys. And by “hours banging away at the keys” I mean staring blankly at a page for hours wondering what the hell I was writing. Or not writing, as it happens.

I hit the sweet spot at 15 minute sprints. The words are flowing! And fifteen minute sprints are easy to fit into busy days when I’m editing other people’s words. I’m thrilled.

BROKEN ARROWS

Here’s the preliminary blurb:

A warrior, sick from death and destruction, is separated from his company and in the wake of a horrible tragedy, comes upon a strange girl in the forest. She dances upon a bed of broken arrows, feet bleeding. He rescues her only to find he has changed the very fabric of the war devastating the land.

He is faced with an agonizing choice at great personal cost in a life where he has given or lost everything. What does he choose? How can he choose?

The fate of his life, his heart, and his land hangs in the balance.

It’s quite different from anything I’ve attempted before, but so far I don’t hate the story and I’m making progress. I’d call that a win. I have hope that once I finish this novel, I can put my new process to the test and finish off the AEGEAN TRILOGY and Sally Mae’s latest romp. Wheeeee!

Tell me what you’ve been doing!

For editing news, visit Word Webbing! Don’t forget to sign up for my writing newsletter in case I have earth-shattering news about my fiction. If you’re interested in the editing side of things, I have a sign-up for that as well on Word Webbing.

Share

Giving Birth and the Publishing Process

Usually I feature an indie artist in this space on Fridays, but today is a Very Special Friday.

Yes, it’s Launch Day!

Now, not only can you order autographed print copies here, “Athena’s Promise” is now available for the Kindle. I’ll be getting it up on Smashwords too, in the next week or so. Remember, you don’t need an e-reader to read it; Amazon thoughtfully provides a free app for you to use on your PC to read Kindle books. Isn’t that nice of them?

Don't mistake Amazon for a saint. But it's still pretty cool.

So, now we have that out of the way, let me just say this has been such a roller-coaster experience. I don’t remember it being so intense when I put out “Not Nice” last year. Of course, that could be a case of selective amnesia, heh.

This time, I took notes. Lots and lots of notes, because I intend to release “Athena’s Chains” in the spring of 2012. Believe me, I hear the clock ticking already. However, one of the great things about being fully in the driver’s seat of your own publishing business is the fact you are the one determining the scheduling. Although that can be stressful, it’s quite liberating.

Giving birth to a novel is really similar to giving birth to a child, I have come to think. You have your gestation period, where you conceive the idea and start writing. You might think once you’ve finished it, the hard part is over — but you’d be very, very wrong.

The early stages of labor — beta reads and editing. *Sigh* Just like in real labor, this stage can take forever, to the point where you start to wonder if you will EVER BE DONE WITH THIS DAMNED THING. Honestly, I was editing up to the very last minute, and then I had to quit picking at it like a scab and let it go. That was probably the hardest part, for me.

In the second stage, you’re wrangling with covers, trailers, and trying to formulate some kind of marketing plan. The deadline fast approaches and you start hyperventilating, trying to figure out how to fit 97 hours in one day. Tip: you can’t.

Then, the actual delivery. For the record, I hate formatting. Here is where my anal and compulsive personality is both a blessing and a curse. It helps to keep in mind print is vastly different than electronic and I must extend many blessings to the creators of Mobi Creator for making the electronic conversion so easy I about wet my pants.

Print is a different story. Designing a print book is an art form. I felt like a baboon with crayons.

Only I'm not this cute.

Honestly, this was very difficult. Mostly because I wanted the print version to look every bit as professional as a book released by a legacy publisher. And friends and neighbors, that is not as easy as one would wish, just like delivering a baby. It’s painful, messy and it made me scream, bleed, yell and not only use every cuss word in my vocabulary (which is quite extensive) but made me invent even more crass ways to express my frustration.

But in the end? I have a beautiful baby, and I can’t stop looking at her. I’m happy, relieved, and feeling all kinds of awesome.

I really hope you’ll check out “Athena’s Promise” and tell me what you think, whether in a private email or even better, on a review. Because, just like having a baby, once you deliver the hard part starts. Now I have to devote myself to raising her and introducing her to the World At Large. It takes a village, and I’m counting on my peeps to help me get word about Pallas out to the unsuspecting. So if you can spare a Tweet, an update, or want to write a review or even interview me, feel free :)

I’ve lived and breathed in Pallas’s world for two years. I know the journey isn’t over yet, but I’m ready. I think she is, too.

Thanks to all of you for the wonderful support. I appreciate it more than I can ever say. *MUAH* !!

Share

First Chapter of “Athena’s Promise” and a Cover Reveal!

Just for you, here is the print cover for “Athena’s Promise” and the first chapter. I hope you enjoy it! Don’t forget, you can pre-order autographed copies here. The official launch of the e-version is scheduled for Friday, October 28th. Thanks for all your support! *MUAH*!

Chapter One

Hearing the phone ring a full hour before the start of my shift was usually a sure sign the day was going to go right down the toilet. Living on site in a hotel as the front desk manager has its perks, but being on call 24/7 sure wasn’t one of them. I guess I should have been used to it, but that didn’t mean I hated it any less.

Of course, since the accident at Atlantis some twenty years ago, opening the Portal and allowing just any creature to cross over, calls like this were all too common. What awaited me this morning? A pissed- off centaur, a drunk and disorderly minor league wizard, what? Working in a hotel located on the edge of Zombietown sure made for interesting guests. Not to mention the staff.

I rolled over in the king-sized bed, one of my favorite perks, and picked up the receiver. Before I even lifted it to my ear I heard Lilah, the pixie working two night shifts a week, screeching in her twangy voice. Oh lord, it’s gonna be a long day, I thought, and I don’t even have my eyes open yet.

“Miz Pallas! I swear to all the Gods, you gotta get down here. I can’t get this stupid horse – yes, I just called you a horse! – to understand if he checks in this early he has to pay for two nights. –Don’t you shit on this floor mister, you just better not!”

Well, that popped my eyes open in a hurry. I knew exactly the target of Lilah’s screeching .

I sat up in bed. “Lilah! Lilah, I know you’re upset but calm down. You can’t talk to a guest like that, not even Cedric. Tell him to hang on; I’ll be there in ten minutes. You’d better hope Medusa doesn’t hear you from the back. Go to the laundry room if you have to and cool off.” I loved Lilah, I really did. She was a cute little thing, brown and sparkly with eyes shaped like almonds, but those damned pixies were so high strung!

She finally started to settle down. “Oh, oh, oh! I’m sorry Miz Pallas, sorry. Sorry. You’re coming down, right?” I heard her say, “Oh, now you gonna deal with Miz Pallas! How you like that?” and I couldn’t quite suppress my grin. I hated it when Lilah got upset, although most of it was just pixie dramatics, but Cedric could be a handful. I knew from pulling too many double shifts the night shift around here could get really hairy. And of course, no one wanted to deal with a pissed-off Medusa. That was strictly my job.

“I can’t get dressed if you keep me on the phone. Just hang up and bug out. I’m on my way. Cedric can leave or wait till I get there; I don’t care what he does.” I hung up and contemplated for the thousandth time why I was still at this job after three years of dealing with “critters” – the crossovers from every fable, folklore tale, myth, and legend you can think of. I must be crazy.

I sighed and scrambled into my uniform of the day – a navy blue polo and a pair of khakis. Sneakers, my red hair pulled into a hasty ponytail, and I booked out the door. Hey, with the running around I did, it didn’t pay to be girly. I just usually ended up sweating off the makeup and perfume. Not to mention the days when I was so frazzled my hair resembled Medusa’s. I cleaned up pretty well, I’ve been told, but this job was not for sissies.

I headed for the elevator. My suite was on the third floor, at the far end of the hallway. When I first started working here at the Traveler’s Haven, I made the mistake of taking a room on the first floor as close to the lobby as I could get. Big mistake. On the first floor everyone thought nothing of just walking over and knocking on my door at all hours of the day and night. On the third floor I could take the back stairs and no one knew my business, even though living on property was like living in a fish bowl. Privacy could be a problem.

With Cedric kicking up a fuss, I couldn’t even stop off at the little breakfast café to grab my daily cup of coffee, and that pissed me off. The food served there was gross, but I guess three years of anything would seem gross. However, the coffee was excellent and sometimes it was the only thing to get me though the day. I nodded to Luke, the breakfast host, on my way by. He was a new employee, hired by Medusa, and I had yet to become well-acquainted with him, but he seemed like a nice enough guy. Still, I’d been around the block enough times to know looks can be deceiving.

Cedric didn’t see me at first. He was busy feeling up the blond (Skank Number One) while the brunette (Skank Number Two) swayed back and forth on her feet and tried to snatch at Cedric’s tail. I sniffed the air as I approached the front desk, and thankfully I didn’t smell anything other than the odor of horseflesh and the perfume of the two floozies twined around Cedric. I saw no sign of Lilah – a good thing.

I sure wasn’t happy to see this bunch in my lobby. The hotel was at the edge of Zombietown, it’s true, and we received a lot of business from the local strip clubs and bars. But Medusa and I worked really hard to cultivate a better clientele than inhabited the hotel here when we first took over. The owners, three gnome brothers, didn’t seem to care where the money came from as long as it kept coming, but in the meantime guests like Cedric gave the “normal” clientele the wrong impression of our place, an impression we were trying to change.

“Cedric, what’s going on?” I pasted the “Guest Service” smile on my face, hiding my irritation at being called out early for this. I leaned against the front desk and crossed my arms. Oh, he appeared in fine form. From what I understood, centaurs were usually not so ostentatious, but Cedric seemed to be an exception to the rule. His light brown hair and mane were plaited with ribbons of all colors; sparkling bling around his neck, on his fingers, around his wrists. I knew his stuff wasn’t genuine, or he’d be staying at a much nicer place than this. The ice in his ears might have been real, but the rest of it was strictly for show. His clear blue hooves, probably the only thing I found attractive on the douchebag, were drilled out and embedded with more fake bling, ruining, in my opinion, his best feature.

A handsome critter, Cedric, but a player all the way. Actually, I was surprised he only had two females with him. Those girls just can’t seem to resist Cedric’s uh…other assets. I’m sure I don’t have to draw a picture.

“Ah, Miss Pallas! Finally some competence here.” Cedric’s deep voice rumbled as he untangled himself from Skank Number One to reach for my hand, dropping what I’m sure he thought of as a charming kiss on the back of it. To me, it was disgusting. His tail switched back and forth in agitation.

“Cedric, that’s not fair and you know it. How many times have you stayed with us?” I surreptitiously wiped the back of my hand on the side of my pants. See? That’s why I didn’t dress up. “You know the policy. Check-in is at three o’clock. You check in this early, you have to pay for two nights; check-out is tomorrow at eleven. I’ve explained this to you before.”

Cedric stomped a hoof, barely missing Skank Number Two. “Come on, Pallas, it’s not fair. You mean to tell me if I check in right now I have to check out at eleven or pay for two nights?” His tail switching stepped up a notch. I noticed he dropped the “Miss”. He stomped his hoof again, and I started to do a slow burn. “That sucks. I probably won’t even stay until tomorrow. ” He snorted and pushed away the loving arms of Skank Number One, who pouted and promptly sat down on the tile floor and thanks to her short skirt, I saw everything but Jesus. This was getting out of hand, and in a hurry.

“Cedric, it’s the policy and you know it. I can check you in right now, but if you pay for one night you’re checking out at eleven. Period.” My patience ran out. “It’s not my policy, it’s hotel policy, and I’m not jeopardizing my job for you. Pay or go. I don’t care which, just make up your mind.” I had to get this asshole and his two uh…companions out of the lobby before respectable people started showing up.

I walked right up to him and put my hands on my hips. I might have been a foot and a half shorter than this critter, but you bet I had a bigger attitude. “You can quit switching your tail, because I swear to the Gods if you shit on my lobby floor you’re banned for life. Now, do you want the room or not? Because I’m not in the mood to stand here and argue with you one more minute.” I stared him straight in the eyes, and he backed down, just like I knew he would.

He reached for Skank Number Two, and almost stepped on Skank Number One. “All right, all right. Gimme the room until tomorrow.” I heard him complaining and mumbling as I made my way around the long desk to the computer terminal to check him in, but that was okay. I loved it when they called me a bitch behind my back. Didn’t bother me in the least.

I checked him in and charged him top dollar, oh yes I did.
As soon as Cedric and his lovlies cleared the lobby, Lilah came flitting out of her hidey-hole.

“Miz Pallas, I’m sorry I called you early, I truly am.” She giggled into her tiny hands. “You sure gave him what for, and he sure had it coming.”

I stapled the paperwork together and threw it in the “in” basket. “Lilah, you can’t talk to guests that way and you know it. I know Cedric is an asswipe, but he’s a guest. Sometimes, you just have to grin and take it.” I sighed, because six in the morning was too early to lecture, and I needed some caffeine. Like, right now.

Lilah nodded as if she actually cared, and I said, “I’m getting some coffee. Might as well finish up your shift paperwork, girl, and you can leave early.” She brightened and glittered. I loved it when pixies did that, you know, got all glittery-like? It happened when they’re happy, and it was really cool to watch. This makes pixies dangerous to most people, because humans will go above and beyond to make a pixie happy just for the sparkle. This, in turn, makes pixies the most spoiled bunch of brats you’ll ever meet, but I didn’t take any shit from them. Lilah knew it and was smart enough not to push me past my limit. That would be a very bad thing for all involved. Good thing I had such a sweet temperament.

I made straight for the breakfast café. It wasn’t much, really – basic stuff like fruit juice, pastries, cereal and the like. The food sucked to me, but the coffee was fabulous. Critters could request special items, like roe eggs for the merepeople (mermaids were popular at the strip joints nearby and stayed here often) or protein shakes for the undead. I tried not to think about those items.

Luke came out of the kitchen with a load of cinnamon rolls. When I nodded, he smiled. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him. He seemed charming enough; he showed up every day on time; he did his job well. Cute, I guess. Tall, shaggy brown hair he kept in a neat pony tail, brown eyes. Medusa hired him as Breakfast Host without any input from me, not our standard operating procedure. But, whatever.

“Morning, Pallas. Coffee’s fresh. Want a roll?” He breezed over to the warming station and started filling it up with cinnamon rolls. After smelling them every single day for the last three years, the aroma made me want to barf. Copiously.
“Uh, no. Thanks anyway. I just need caffeine.” I walked back to the small kitchen to grab my oversized caffeinator – I didn’t mess around. It held about a half a pot of coffee. No matter how quiet the day began, the joint started jumping around check-out time and I never knew what was going to happen.

Perky was not my thing in the morning, especially when I had to come on an hour early. The staff knew it, and they walked careful. Even Luke, new to this gig, knew that much and kept his mouth shut, which told me he might be smarter than he looks.

After filling up my tank of coffee, I walked around to the back of the front desk to my tiny corner of heaven. Medusa occupied the back office, and rarely came out front. There’s a reason. She had this unfortunate handicap, you see. When riled, she had a tendency to turn people to stone. Therefore, the bulk of the front desk duties fell to me. We got along fine – I didn’t have a problem with her, I was still standing, and I ran interference. The Gnome Brothers had a love/hate relationship with her, and with me…well, I despised the little fuckers and if it wasn’t so illegal I’d love to see her turn them into nothing more than a lump of rocks. But, I digress.

I sat down at my corner, just a space carved out big enough to do a little paperwork but not much more. The security monitor, mounted over my head, and the monstrosity of a copy machine constructed sometime around when dinosaurs roamed the earth made for a tight space. A night window, seldom used, helped me keep an eye on everything. Or try to, anyway.

Looking over the schedule for the housekeeping staff, I saw Miss Esther, the head housekeeper, had four zombies on for today. That’ll work, I mused – it’s a slow day and they should be done by one o’clock, saving on payroll. Those little gnome brothers were always carping about payroll, but they carped all the time. They had more money than King Midas, and yet they screamed poverty constantly. Typical.

Oh, the zombie thing. Look, I knew most people wouldn’t have anything to do with zombies, and I understood. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about them, but living and working on the edge of Zombietown gave me a different perspective. Zombies aren’t quite what they’re made out to be by Hollywood. Their condition is not their fault. They weren’t contagious until the Turn, and zombies could be quite lively for a long time – sometimes as long as a decade until the Turn happens. That was when they became feral and a danger. It meant they had to be put down. Usually, families took care of their own, but there was a unit which specifically took care of feral zombies when they Turned. They were called the Z-Squad. Original name, right?

Until then, zombies were perfectly nice people. We employed about eight as housekeepers. Yes, there was the stench, but commercial deodorants usually masked the worst of it. Our zombies were certified as required by law, meaning their “birthdate” was confirmed so we could anticipate the approximate date of their Turn, but most of them didn’t last that long. As they got up in age, certain body parts fell off and they couldn’t do the job.

It was a sad thing, to be a zombie, but the ones I met were some of the best peeps I’ve known. I took care of them, they took care of me. In the hotel business, loyalty counted for a lot.

I sighed and sifted through group booking requests, supply forms, invoices and a slew of other stuff I had no interest in dealing with. I heard Lilah counting her drawer, humming to herself and sparkling. I loved it when she sparkled, have I mentioned it? Otherwise, I expected another quiet morning at the ranch.

Lilah finished up and bounced over to me, singing in her pixie way, “All set, Miss Pallas.”

“Go ahead, punch out. See you in a couple of days. Stay out of trouble, will you?”

She giggled. “Oh, Miss Pallas. You know I stay out of trouble. I’ll be back for the second shift on Thursday, right?” Damned pixies never kept track of their shifts, but at least Lilah knew enough to confirm every time she left property.

“Yes, dearie, and you’ll be relieving me, so don’t be late.” She giggled again, and I had to grit my teeth. Sometimes, her chipper attitude in the morning was a lot for me to take, so it was. She flitted off, and I heard her punch the time clock on her way out.

I gathered my paperwork and moved to the front desk, where I had more room to sort out the stuff I needed to speak to Medusa about and the stuff that could wait. I liked having everything organized. It kept her happy and it was a good thing to be on her best side.

I flipped through the group requests and bird-dogged one from a band traveling through here on a regular circuit. They wanted to book two weekends in July; a nice piece of business, but I happened to know their manager served Lucifer himself, and they could be trouble. Not only the band, but the groupies following them. Another group request on the list, a tour bus from Pennsylvania; a group of vampires coming for a convention. I liked this, because they slept all day and were gone all night, which meant no service from housekeeping.

I shuffled papers and started making notes; grateful today seemed low-key and calm. Boy, seldom have I ever been so wrong. When things blew up, they really blew. I had no idea then how bad it would get.

Cedric was the least of my problems.

Share

Pre-Orders Open For “Athena’s Promise”!

I don’t think I have ever been so excited and nervous about something in my entire life. Can you see me bouncing up and down in my seat??

FINALLY.

And click here to see the trailer…

Athena’s Promise Trailer

****

SQUEE! Here’s the back cover copy:

As the front desk manager of a hotel on the edge of Zombietown, Pallas is used to dealing with angry centaurs, surly trolls, and zombie housekeepers. The trouble really starts when one of her guests ends up dead. But that’s not her only problem.

A cop with an attitude – can he be trusted to be more than just a pain in her ass or does he have a more sinister agenda?

A new Guest Services Manager, out for her job and ready to sacrifice anyone in his way – what does he really want?

The attractive maintenance guy, endangering the promise she made out of necessity to the Goddess Athena – does he know more than he’s telling?

A mermaid diva, whose show at the Sparkling Butterfly must go on – or else.

Pallas needs to find the killer, and fast, or she’ll lose her job, her home, and the ragtag family she’s adopted out of her crew of “critters”.

In the course of the investigation Pallas uncovers connections to a nasty Oddities dealer deep in the heart of Zombietown, forcing her to expose a trauma from her past which could threaten her future. With everyone and everything she loves in danger, the promise made to the Goddess Athena may well damn her if she breaks it, but she is bound and determined to save her friends, her home, and everything she’s built.

No matter what it takes.

****

Blurbs!

“Ribken’s Pallas grabs you from word one with her no-nonsense attitude and solid sense of sarcasm and keeps you hooked all the way through. Witty, tragic, inventive and an altogether fantastic read that will have you asking what I did–where’s the next one?” ~Patti Larsen, author of The Hunted series and Family Magic

“If this book were any more fun, you’d need to bring a condom. I loved every second of this snarky, mysterious, hilarious goodness. A fabulous debut!” –Joseph Paul Haines, author of Marooned

“Pallas is brilliant, loyal, and determined to balance her precarious positions in two very different worlds. Both strong and vulnerable, this heroine truly shines.” ~Lori Whitwam, author of Make or Break

Are you excited as I am? Right now you can pre-order autographed print copies and save a dollar off the list price. I can’t wait for you to meet Pallas and her friends!The E-version will be released October 28th on Amazon, and to other online retailers shortly after that for those who are electronically inclined. But here, right now, you can order an autographed print copy!

Please share the link with anyone you can hog-tie. Thanks so much for the support!



Athena’s Promise Autographed



Share

Breaking News Regarding My Secret Crush, "The Painted Man"

Okay, maybe not-so-secret. If you’ve read me for any length of time, you’re already aware of my un-embarrassed gushing over this stellar novel. In case you missed it, you can see the review of The Painted Man here and my interview with Peat here. If that’s not enough, check out my fangirl squee.

Are we caught up? Good. Because there’s more.

Check it out.

(I’m not a “told you so” type of person. But I believe when I read this the first time I advised Peat to hold out for merchandising rights when the book was optioned for a movie — and this was three or four years ago. Heh. OH – and I want an Arlen doll!)

Can you say FABULOUS?? I’m SO EXCITED!!!





Share

Fiction Friday – Take a "Vacation"

Once in awhile, I am lucky enough to run across a piece of work that not only touches my heart, but makes me think, and think hard. “Vacation” by Jeremy C. Shipp is one such book.

It’s marketed as horror, but trust me when I tell you that you’ve never read a horror book like this. It’s so much more than that. It’s layered with meaning and thought-provoking social themes, wrapped up in a kind of twisted love story, delicate like a baklava pastry with substantial walnuts of thought with a drizzle of honey to make it all very tasty.

Bernard Johnson is an English professor, and embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime Vacation subsidized by the government. What he learns about himself and his environment has far-reaching effects. Nothing is what it seems; the fabric of his unreality is re-woven into a new reality and the journey is fascinating.

Every chapter opens up a different line of thought, a unique perspective on the world as a whole and society in general. Shipp’s unusual vision of what makes this fictional civilization tick bears a striking resemblance to the world in which we live – and it isn’t pretty. It isn’t pretty, but every word shines with a truth that’s hard to ignore.

Shipp’s outlook and message might be difficult to stomach, but then, most hard truths are. His creative prose and singular subject matter combines horror, humor, and insight in a way that is most unusual from anything else I’ve read. Johnson is a sympathetic hero without being anything close to perfect, but who loves a perfect hero? His growth as a person is reflected in the choices he makes toward the end of the story, and while not all the loose ends are tied up in a pretty bow, it makes the story resonate that much more.

“Vacation” is not an easy read. It’s not a comfortable read. It’s a challenging read, and will stay with you long after you read the last page – much like baklava stays on your hips long after it’s eaten. This is one story that will make you think long and hard about your place in the world, the consequences of your choices, and how society and government plays a part in your life whether you realize it or not.

Jeremy C. Shipp has written an evocative and exciting literary adventure. Take a trip with him – you will never have a more unusual, mind-blowing, and illuminating vacation.

Stay tuned for an interview with the talented, wild, and crazy Jeremy C. Shipp. You can find his novel, “Vacation”, for sale on Amazon on the widget to the right.

If you’ve enjoyed this review or it has been helpful to you, consider making a donation. Thanks!





Share

"Scratching" My Horror Itch

As a reader and a writer, it is the greatest joy of my life to discover new and amazing authors that rock my universe. It doesn’t happen often enough, but when it does, I’m flying like Aladdin on his magic carpet. By “new”, I mean “new to me”, so sometimes my ravings may elicit the response of, “Oh, jeez, know THAT writer, been reading them for YEARS, where the hell have you been?” Still, sometimes we need to be reminded of Golden Oldies, but sometimes we’re lucky enough to catch a rising star, and that’s really exciting to me.

I don’t confine myself to one genre — as a matter of fact, although I recognize the need for labels (marketing purposes, don’t you know) I don’t like them. I love finding material that either crosses the boundaries of genres, or blurs them so they’re not so sharp or delineating. Like a chalk hopscotch, doused in a misty spring rain. I’ve always been of the opinion that although good writers will do well in any genre — a word is a word is a word, and if you know how to wrangle them, it doesn’t matter what the task is — I further believe that writers do their best work if they are in love with their genre of choice. In other words, especially in this profession, you have to love what you do or it’s gonna suck.

****

So, there I was, twittering on Twitter, when in the twitter-stream a very nice young man, who is planning to release a book this fall, was letting it be known he would participate in an interview to anyone who was interested. Of course, I’m interested, I’m always interested. Are you kidding? That’s like throwing a shiny thing in front of a magpie.

I traveled to his blog to check out his work — the first story I read was Scratch .

It was nothing like I expected. Oh, I’ve read horror, lots and lots of horror, and most of the time, especially in shorter works, I’ve found horror rather — unsatisfying. You know, too much gore for the message, or too little. Something that looks on the surface to be horror is really comedy dressed up in a shroud, and it’s often empty, like a zombie’s eyes. Nothing in there, can you dig it, just shock value and if there even is a message it’s lost in the horror of a good story gone bad rather than standing on its own torn up, blistered feet. Good horror is really difficult to write in a way that doesn’t come across as parody.

Not so in this case. This story blew me away. Actually, it made me cry. It made me cry because there is such truth embedded within, it burned my eyes. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Vacation, and next up will be my review. All I’ll tell you right now is, I wasn’t disappointed.

Even if horror isn’t your “thing”, I encourage you to give this guy a turn on the dance floor, even if horror is not your favorite genre. Because underneath the horror aspect, there’s a story, can you dig it — an awesome, mind-blowing, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining story. You can’t get better than that.

Definitely check it out, and keep your eye on Jeremy C. Shipp. I know I will.

ALL my eyes, because he’s tricksy.

Share