I’m resurfacing from a fortnight without internet, and with this revived connection to the digital world, the very first thing I’m doing is announcing that I’m promptly going offline again for the sake of Camp NaNoWriMo, which begins on July 1st, and concludes at the end of the month, whereupon I will (likely) have completed six short stories and an article for Cemetery Travel.
Hi, nice to see you again too.
My prolonged absence is the direct result of having moved from one end of the city to the other. As an added perk, this move smashes the collective belongings of two adults together into one space: Much purging happened, but only a few books were sacrificed to the Salvation Army. Together, our library is somewhere near the 1,400 mark.
You know you’ve made a good alliance with a man when you can boast that number, and you collectively agree that rather than getting rid of books, you just need to buy more shelves.
We bought eight. There are wall to wall books in three and a half rooms. It’s a beautiful thing.
The move coincides with a milestone in our relationship: when asked what we were doing to celebrate year one, we’ve been gleefully telling people that we’re moving in together. So happy anniversary to us, and a happy birthday to him, and may there be many more games of Ascension where I trounce him (to my surprise and delight because I have zero strategy and he makes games for a living.)
There is talk of a baby bunny in our near future (who I’ve decided to name “Kylo Renfield Bacon Wulfric Brian Butler-Frazier but we just call him ‘Cake'”), and a house warming party, and many nights spent making things, and painting things, and writing stories, and eating good food prepared in our tiny kitchen while we complain that the kitchen is small.
More on that: our condo’s electrical is a bit of a lemon, but beyond that, it’s a nerd’s paradise. To confuse our neighbours and delight our friends, we named the WiFi network something special:
Baby Sloth Sanctuary
One of my very first blog posts on this site was about naming things to give them power. It’s a bit dated and the writing’s not great, but the message still holds true: you give things a little bit of energy and a little bit of your soul when you give it a name. We chose to name our Wifi network (and subsequently the condo) with the intention of confusing our neighbours, and so the condo too has its own identity/personality/charm that comes from an inside joke.
While I was on vacation in Costa Rica in February, I messaged Tibby following an afternoon at a wildlife preserve. After yammering happily about the tiny, fuzzy, sleeping baby critters in trees, I asked him what he wanted me to bring back for him as a present. His answer was simple and impossible: a sloth.
I am, however, undaunted when faced with a challenge. Sometimes you “nope” things, other times you figure out a way.
I brought three sloths back with me in my luggage. Stuffed. Not taxidermy. Plush stuffed cute little guys who’ve taken on personalities of their own:
Sherbet, the Party Sloth, who likes to have a little too much of a good time:
Herbert, who likes books.
And Norm. Norm likes hugs, and can be found most days sitting at the kitchen island, waiting for someone to give him a bit of banana, or sometimes holding onto his dad’s neck like he’s taking a piggyback ride:
The Burrow: My writing room
I’ve been super conservative in my adulthood, preferring compact living spaces and cramming them to the gills with stuff. It’s always been a budgetary thing: single girl, likes to nerd out, doesn’t need much save her books and her couch and her desk. Welp, that got thrown out pretty quick when we discovered we could turn our “dining room” into a “board game room”, we could each have offices, and our entertainment centre and primary library could still take up the whole damn living room.
Small kitchen? Pff. Whatever.
Library > Small kitchen.
One of the awesome additions to the new (enormous) apartment is my very own writing room. I chose the smallest room in the house that gets the most sun in the afternoon, and I painted that motherfucker pink.
I then proceeded to jam it with shelves and my non-fiction collection, my writing desk, my thinking chair, all my Big Girl drinks, and nearly every skull I own because yeah, girl, you can do pink on your walls but you can’t take the horror out of the writer.
I will gladly open my doors on this one as soon as I can snap a few photos of the space in daylight, but on the cusp of NaNoWriMo, I offer you the following as I gear up to get writing:
Which brings me to the meat of this post, as I intended this as an update and “I’m alive!” first and foremost.
July is going to be absolutely bonkers.
I began Short Fictions & Curiosities to improve my short story writing and to train myself to hit regular, consistent, self-imposed deadlines. I’ve never liked short formats, and halfway through, I still don’t like short formats. I’ve reached the point where I’ve reaffirmed the fact that I absolutely a novelist and anything else is an expenditure of efforts I could better apply elsewhere:
Like those novel revisions I’ve been avoiding? Yeah, those.
Rather than disband the project, because the story ideas I’ve got won’t leave me alone and the choking sense of self-defeat in giving up would not make me any happier, I’m going to burn through the last batch in a month to knock them out, get them done, and never think of them again.
Goal: 25,000 words. Six short stories.
Two will be released as they’re completed, and the rest will following the posting schedule I’d set up: one short story a month through October 2016.
NEVER. AGAIN. Lordy.
(Should never say never. “Maybe” I’ll attempt quarterly releases next year once I’m over the unending suck of this project. Mostly I just want to refocus on the books and work through them, but you never know: sometimes an affection for things seed themselves in my brain and flourish the next season.)
For fun, and since I’ve already plotted them out, I’m including the working summaries of what’s coming up:
A boy’s family tells him “the change is coming” when he hits puberty. It’s a mantra that ’s been repeated in his family for ages, and every generation must go through it. No one will tell him what the change is, however. His cousins tell him the worst things possible about it to scare him.
The King of Eight Legged Things
“We serve the King of Eight Legged Things,” is what Tibermay’s grandfather always told her. He’d tug her ears, and send her on her way with an acorn of honey to leave as a tithe at the tree at the heart of the forest. Tibermay thinks that just because it’s the way it’s always been done, shouldn’t mean they go about doing things the exact same way because they’re afraid. The stories of what the King did to her parents’ generation are still told, but Tibermay has just celebrated her thirteenth moon, and she can’t even remember the faces of her parents. No one has seen the King in years. There’s no one left to collect the tithes, even. Rumour has it, the spoils are taken by the squirrels anyway. Tibermay looks at the old cobwebs in the trees and makes a decision: she will not tithe for the King. The King is dead, she thinks, along with his regime — no one should live in fear of a ghost, she thinks, nor a legend.
Tibermay is not afraid, not until the King comes to find her when she least expects it.
A young man finds a box in his grandparents’ attic following their death. Their contents contain several wooden dowls, a cross, and several empty vials with worn labels. It looks a little like it once belonged to a doctor, but he can’t explain the wooden stakes. There is a note at the bottom of the box — a letter written to the inheritor of the box. It says that whoever should take ownership of the box, so to does the legacy fall to him.
The boy waits as night falls, stake in hand, shaking, as the first evidence of his inheritance arrives at his window, calling for his new gift.
A man collects samples of insects, particularly flying insects. He calls himself a “lepidopterist.” He keeps them as pets, and when they expire, he mounts them and includes their taxonomies on a small label beneath their pinned frame. It’s a practice he teaches to his grandson, who is fascinated by moths. The man grows older. One day, he begins experiencing hallucinations — hearing voices. He’s given prescription drugs by his doctor, but they don’t help. His grandson witnesses his deterioration. One day, the man writes a name on a card by mistake — “Susan.” He scratches it out and replaces it with the moth’s taxonomy, but he’s shaken. The voices continue to plague him; they tell him fascinating things, stories of flying; dreams of a bigger world than he knows. They beg him for freedom. A moth hovers near the lightbulb against the porch window as the old man lays dying. He asks his grandson to let in the breeze, and in flies the moth. After he dies, his grandson collects his first insect to begin his own collection — a moth from his grandfather’s death room.
Lady of the Grain
She waits in the wheat fields as the days grow shorter. Some people have seen her near the time of the harvest: a figure crowned in sheaves. Golden cornsilk hair. Eyes the colour of warm honey. She is the reason the farm folk leave corn dollies near the fields. She is the reason why on so many mornings the hewn stalks are soaked with dark brown stains, so much that the ground becomes sodden with it. They don’t kill the pigs out near the fields, but they bring the blood out for her just the same… until one night when the fields are fallow, and the cow won’t give milk, and the pigs aren’t enough to feed the village through the winter. That season there is no blood, but the Lady comes to the field just the same, and the Lady comes to collect even if there is none to give. She collects from the homes off the road, from the farm houses where the small shadows hide small hands. And there is blood once more. Blood on my hands. Blood on my sheets. Blood on the walls.
The town of Briarghast plays close attention to the observances of All Hallows Eve. For a century or more they’ve lit the lanterns without fail as the sun descends. It’s tradition. The children come in before sundown from trick or treating, and the townsfolk bar their doors, the orange faces of gourds staring out from their windows into the night, candles burning until sunrise. When Galen asks her grandmother why they never let the candles burn low, why someone must always keep the night’s watch until dawn, her grandmother tells her it’s to ensure that only their loved ones find their way home on All Hallow’s Eve. A supper is set with an empty plate for the souls that have passed, and the family eats in silence to remember. It’s Galen’s turn this year to keep the watch, but when Galen falls asleep and the candle burns out, she soon learns why her family tradition is so very important when something else comes to her door in the dead of night.
I released a couple of resource posts over the last couple of months — super successful, lots of traction, so many shares (OMG thank you for that). The first was Websites that Review Horror Novels for Free, and the second was Inspiration for Horror Writers. Super awesome nerd fact: Both lists live in a database on my server, so I’ve been growing them as I find new sites to add that fit the bill. (It’s alive!!!)
In the latter, I linked to a blog which I’ve followed for the better part of a decade: Cemetery Travel. The pingback reached the site’s owner, Loren Rhodes, who then sent me an email to say thanks and to *cackle* invite me to write an article for her site.
So, at first, I lost my mind. Like, cackling, giggling, screaming in front of my computer. Then, I think I calmed down and sent her a reasonably on-the-level thank you in return and yes please, may I? Loren will be concocting something in return that will appear here (!!!) in the near future as well.
Bottom line: rather than re-hashing something I’ve written previously, I’m reopening some old inspiration and revisiting a favourite resting place from London: with all its mystery and lore, I’m working on a piece about Highgate.
Other various and sundry:
In addition to the aforementioned, I’ll also be bringing you two Collection of Curiosities posts, two Creepy Search History posts, another resource post for the horror community (specifically Horror Podcasts, this time — and believe me, the list is huge), three book reviews, and two articles for The Midnight Society as it’s j-horror month and I love j-horror.
So, I’m here but busy? Busy but here? Inundated but working and occasionally checking Twitter?
The least I can say is that everything upcoming is fun and I’m loving having a live internet connection again.
Stay tuned. 😉