Writing

Published – The Time Has Come.

The Phoenix Quill Anthology titled Monsters was published yesterday.

That’s right you lovely bunch of followers, I am no longer an aspiring or trainee author, but a full blown published author.

You can find it on Amazon.co.uk here or Amazon.com here

My story – Changeling – is one of many fabulous stories exploring the question: What is a monster?

The first thoughts I had around the subject involved obvious monsters like Godzilla, The Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman, but what if monsters walked among us with ordinary faces? What if its what’s inside that makes a monster, not how they appear?

What if it’s not a living creature but an organism that invades your body and destroys you from within?

What if it doesn’t have any physical substance at all but is just that voice of self doubt in your head telling you that you will never be good enough, or a mental illness that seizes you in it’s grip and just won’t let go?

These are the themes that are explored in the short stories for the Monsters anthology but what I want to know is:

What does ‘monster’ mean to you?

Lets start a discussion in the comments.

 

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Researching For A Story

Okay. I just want to warn you all that my latest story idea has lead to my google search history looking stranger than it has ever been and, naturally, I am going to talk about it here.

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Monsters Anthology Update

As I posted a short while ago, I am being published in an anthology this year. It’s called Monsters and the front cover is going to look like this:

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I signed the contract today; it’s all 100% completely official and feeling scarily real. I’m being published! Arrggghh!!!

The anthology is scheduled for release on October 25th, right in time for Halloween. Put reminders in your calendars, people!

I’m Being Published!

Eeep!

So this happened a week or so ago now, and  I have been meaning to come on here and let you all know, but I needed to make sure I completed my uni year first.

A few months ago I got wind of a call for submissions to an anthology on monsters. I had a half finished short story that I thought would fit the theme so I finished it, tidied it up and submitted. After a few small changes, my story has been accepted and will be published this year.

I’m so ridiculously excited. I will no longer be a writer, I will be an author.

I’m going to have to update my blog…

Ah The Nostalgic Feeling Of A Summer Break

I did it!

I completed my first year of university with about twenty-four hours to spare before the final assignment deadline and i’m feeling pretty pleased with myself.

I haven’t ever studied at university level before but, whilst I have found this first year suitably challenging, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself, and the marks I have been getting for my assignments mean that I am set for a grade this year which is only just short of the 1st class degree level. Whoop!

That isn’t what this post is about though. I wanted to tell you guys about the weird nostalgia I feel now about having a summer holiday from study. I’m getting that heady feeling of pleasure knowing I can spend my evening watching TV whilst snuggled up with my fiance instead of hiding away upstairs in my study at the computer. It’s mixed with a slight tinge of guilt, however, that I should be studying something, somewhere, somehow. That might be why I appear to have enrolled onto several free short courses over the summer. They keep emailing me updates. I don’t even remember doing that!

I also have a list of things that I have planned to do until uni starts again in October. I haven’t started any of them yet, naturally, and if i’m being honest, it will probably remain that way as I waste my free time just like I did during the summer holidays when I was at school. I want to write more stories for submission to publications, I want to write to you lovely people much more frequently than I have been, and I want to read. Oh I have so, so many books to read… Of course I also have a full time job so it’s not all going to be fun and games. Hopefully I will be able to get some things done this summer… I’m not going to hold my breath for the whole list though.

What can you remember about that magical summer holiday feeling? Is there anything that takes you back to that nowadays?

What plans do you have for summer 2016?

 

 

Batman Vs Superman – The Insecurity and Arrogance of Mankind *Spoiler Alert*

Please note that the below post is my own personal, rambling opinion and I welcome alternative view-points in the comments.

As you already know, I started studying for a degree in October last year and I can honestly say that it has caused me to look for deeper meanings in my interactions with media, literature and the world around me.

I went to see Batman Vs Superman at the cinema with my fiancé this week  and where I would previously limit my analysis to whether or not I enjoyed the main plot, this time I found myself talking about ‘the insecurities and arrogances of mankind’ on the way home. There is a theme throughout the movie about how human beings view themselves as the dominant species on the planet and how the concept of super-humans threatens their superiority. My fiancé argued that Batman never intended to kill Superman but just wanted him to know that he could be killed. This is how it was in the comics, but not in the movie. There is a long standing discussion about the amount of damage that is wreaked on the cities that suffer in superhero movies and how it never seems to be mentioned. This movie was probably conceived because of that discussion and I think it was an interesting exploration. There would be large scale consequences to superhuman battles and it would have been naïve to keep ignoring this in superhero movies. In Batman Vs Superman, Bruce Wayne loses a trusted employee and friend when Superman battles General Zod. Whilst feeling his own loss, Bruce rescues a girl who has just been orphaned during the battle. This brings to Bruce’s mind the trauma of losing his own parents and he projects his pain and hurt onto Superman, using him as a scapegoat to direct his inner demons. He makes a  plan to build a suit capable of withstanding Superman’s strength which takes years to complete. (Think IronMan but black and clunky looking.) It becomes an obsession far beyond the damage inflicted during the great Superman Vs Zod battle. This is an important catalyst, I believe it is merely an excuse for much of what happens in the movie.

In my opinion, Batman also felt threatened by Superman’s clean-cut image and by his superior power. Nothing makes Batman feel more like an inadequate human antihero with gadgets than a superhuman hero who is almost invincible by human standards and who doesn’t like to go around killing and branding people. Even Alfred was concerned by the path Bruce was taking and kept reiterating that Superman was not the bad guy. Batman was battling with a sense of inadequacy that poisoned his mind and I think he most definitely would have killed Superman to take out the symbol of everything Bruce failed to be if he hadn’t found out that they both had mothers called Martha. (I saw that particular plot twist coming from a mile away.) Of course, Superman isn’t perfect.

There is a comparison of Superman to God and what it means when ‘God’ actually shows up. In the movie it is postulated that humanity wants a saviour but also wants to have ultimate control over the saviour to allay their fears that he may turn on them. This interests me in the fact that my understanding of religion highlights that we should behave and appease our God or face his wrath/spend eternity in hell, but when a superhuman or ‘God’ shows up, aka, Superman, theory appears to be that the overriding desire will not be to appease them, but to control them. I wonder: If God truly did exist and if he showed himself on earth, would humanity expect to be able to control him and bend him to our will?

The character of Superman, however, is not a god, but an alien who was raised by human parents to love Earth as if it was his home planet. Underneath all that, however, is not the infinite wisdom and knowledge that humans believe a god possesses, but the limitations of man. Clark Kent is essentially just an alien man in love with a human woman who seems to keep getting herself into trouble. Sure, he’s almost invincible and has a pretty strong moral code, but he’s not all knowing and his love for Lois Lane is portrayed as a weakness that leads to him behaving with his own interests in mind, rather than just the good of the planet. Since he’s been revered as god-like, this scares the crap out of humanity who expect him to ignore his own interests and desires in case those desires cause him to randomly murder everyone. It all comes down to power and control. Superman has a great deal of power but is pressured to hand control over to humanity because they fear him. Humanity wants to have power and seeks to control Superman as a way of harnessing his power. Possibly to delude themselves into thinking they are still the dominant species, but for some, it is likely to be an attempt to raise themselves above the rest of humanity through him.

This brings me back to Bruce Wayne, and also brings to mind Lex Luther. It could be argued that both Bruce and Lex have been able to raise themselves above the rest of humanity in terms of power and control through their technological brilliance and strength of will. Indeed, it appears the only people who could challenge either of them, at the beginning of the movie, is the other, and Superman. Lex uses Batman’s feelings about Superman to aim the two at each other, and it works. Right up until the Martha twist, anyway. Of course this movie also serves to setup further movies for the Justice League of America, so Batman learns that there are meta-humans, another level of potential power, if you will, between the likes of himself and Lex, and Superman. That’s got to hurt the ego; especially since he has flirted with one a few times and never knew who he was talking to.

Lex Luther, in a bid to make himself yet more powerful, creates a monster – Doomsday – out of General Zod’s body, and his own blood. Talk about symbolism for his internal monster! Fortunately Superman, Batman and WonderWoman are able to work together to take him down, using the kryptonite spear Batman made to use against Superman. Happy ever after, right? Well, except the part where Superman gives up his life for the planet that can’t decide whether to revere or fear him. It looks like Superman wasn’t after controlling the world after all.

Juggling: The benefits and challenges of a full life.

When I first took up writing as a serious interest in my life I was single, bored with my day job and all my friends were rarely free to occupy me because they were busy being far more successful at having a life than I was. This meant that I had a lot of spare time and could focus it all on writing cool stories to wow strangers on the internet. As my love of writing grew, my enthusiasm for life in general also increased and all of a sudden I found myself motivated and focused at work and putting myself out there in the dating scene again – something I had been avoiding as a waste of time.

Without writing to help me channel my energies into something worthwhile, I would never have dreamed of signing up to study for a degree, I wouldn’t have had the energy and passion to aim for promotion, and I certainly would not have had the confidence to approach a total stranger on a dating site who I thought looked cute and, more importantly, sounded like a fun and interesting guy.

Thank you writing!

Just over a year later I now live with that cute, fun, interesting guy. We moved into a three bedroom house a couple of weeks ago and even though the smallest room is my study right now, there was talk of eventual munchkins sleeping in there… Oh yes, and we are engaged! Mr Cute, Fun and Interesting sneakily approached everyone in my immediate family and asked for their blessing first, and then took me out for lunch, taking the scenic route home around the lake near his former flat. We stopped and sat for a while, looking out over the lake and enjoying the unusually warm sun when right there by the lake, he got on one knee and asked me to marry him. Before you ask, no we haven’t set a date yet. We’re focused on getting the house to where we want it first.

So! At around the same time I gained a pretty ring on my finger, I also started studying for a BA (hons) in English Literature and Creative Writing. It started out fairly easy and I was able to keep up with the level of work required but it doesn’t half get difficult about half way in! I have sworn multiple times and deleted many MANY lines of text in an effort to get the best score that I can. I’m nearing the home stretch now and I can’t wait to have this year over and done with. I have one more assignment to complete on the study materials, one reflective assignment about how I have improved as a student this year, and then the Examination Assignment to submit. In Two months I will be free! Well, until October when it starts all over again.

A few days after the shiny ring and starting my degree, I was told I had been successful in applying for promotion. I know. It was one hell of a week! The work is more challenging and I no longer find myself twiddling my thumbs with nothing to do because I’ve done it all. Basically, my life is in a fairly good place right now.

The only problem is, this new fulfilling life isn’t leaving me a lot of time to write. I’m having to snatch a few minutes here and there. It’s not enough. I’m looking forward to the end of May when I will have finished this year of uni and will have a few solid months available to write again. I miss making up new characters and scenes on a regular basis. i miss writing sprints and flash fiction challenges.

I miss being here. I hope to spend more time with you all soon. x

New Beginnings…..again.

I have been a bad, bad girl.

This blog was meant to be all about my journey to become an author and so far I’ve written very little about it. Hopefully this post will be the beginning of a change. Studying for a degree on top of working full time is quite the challenge, not to mention moving house and maintaining a relationship with the man in my life. I’m engaged now. Yes! Engaged! I’ll tell you about it some other time. Anyway, I don’t want my other writing habits to just fall by the wayside, so this is me trying to juggle as many commitments as possible.

My degree started in October and so far I think i’m doing pretty well. The current module is a generic Humanities module so as well as subjects related to English, I am also studying elements of History, Art, Art History, Philosophy and Music. at first I felt slightly impatient that the module wasn’t more directly linked to my degree subjects but then I realised that I am actually one of the lucky ones. When it comes to creative writing, pretty much everything is inspiration. History gives you things like wars, rulers, defiance, Stalin, Cleopatra, Ancient Egypt, multiple deities, Ancient Rome, pyramids and statues and Pharaohs and treasure and all sorts of amazing wonders to write about. Art gives pictures which provide scenes to base your stories in, and statues give you characters to write about. Music gives you emotions to work into a scene or a story. Philosophy gives you conflict and dilemmas for your characters to deal with. Everything in the world helps you when it comes to creative writing.

That is what I love about my degree so far.

Next year I look forward to an assignment or two involving some creative writing but for now I am happy to just soak up all the inspiration being thrown my way.

Write What You Know

Nightmares. It doesn’t matter how old you get, they never stop getting at you.

According to Wikipedia:

“A nightmare is an unpleasant dream that can cause a strong emotional response from the mind, typically fear or horror but also despair, anxiety and great sadness. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror.”

I had a nightmare a week or so ago and woke with all the usual sensations. The sick feeling from adrenalin flowing, unused, through my blood. A lingering feeling of despair and fear and loneliness ebbing away slowly as I realised I was awake and the nightmare was over. My first thought as I turned over to go back to sleep was: “I need to write this down.”

You know you are a writer when you want to write down and remember as much as you can about your nightmares instead of allow them to fade away from your memory. As I write mostly horror and scary stuff, I thought it would be a great idea to write down the thoughts and feeling I get upon waking, so I can work on replicating them. As a spin off from the initial exploration, I wrote a poem called Nightmares. I wasn’t looking to describe the sensations but to instil something close to that feeling into the reader.

I think I did a fairly good job, if the first comment to pop up on that post was anything to go by:

“I just got goosebumps in broad daylight.”

Another piece of feedback I get said:

“Hey, I like that – I feel a bit sad reading it and vulnerable however isn’t that what a nightmare is?”

Nailed it!

When new writers are told to “write what you know” it can sometimes confuse them. After all, who knows about monsters and magic and evil people on a murderous rampage?

This is what they mean. This is writing about what I know. I may have never faced anything murderous or monstrous during the waking hours, but I have faced them in my nightmares. I know what it is like to run with all my strength to get away from a monster behind me, but never manage to reach that next damned lamppost. I know what it is like to wake up after hiding from ghostly Greek Gladiators in the ruins of a colosseum. Those feelings and emotions are real. They are what I know. So I will write about them and make the things I don’t know feel so much more real for those who read it.

I will also continue to keep a notebook by my bed so I can write down my thoughts and feelings about my dreams and nightmares. If I have to dream about icky scary stuff, then I sure as hell am going to make sure I get something good out of it.

Nightmares

Darkness creeps

Slowly

Slowly

Shadow’s fingers

Reach

Towards you

Still you sleep

Breathing

Softly

Unaware of

Nightmares approaching

Soon your dreams

Turn grey and empty

You’re doomed to wander

Lost and hurting.

In your head until you wake and

with a scream, fall out of bed and

think you see, just for a second

a face that’s mean and scars and blood

but then the light

floods in your bedroom

chasing shadows

out the window

you are safe

at least

for now

you shouldn’t

sleep though

just in case…