New Blog!

Hi everyone!

I finally finished my second novel.  Can not believe it’s been so long since I blogged.   I’ve truly missed everyone, but really needed this time (mostly) away from the internet to concentrate on my writing.

Now returned, I realized I needed a change here.  As much as i love reading and writing about the Victorian era, all the crinoline and corsets were suffocating me a bit.   So I am branching out at my new blog:  Harlow’s Museum of Horror and Delights. http://tashaharlow.wordpress.com/

There you’ll find posts on all things I love or at least find interesting, from the Victorian era to classic films to the occult and much much more.

This shall be my final post here, but want to thank everyone who read it and were so supportive and thoughtful in their comments.

 

edit to add: oh, and if I happen to be on your blogroll, if you could change my address link to my new one, I’d be much appreciative.  Thank you!  :)

Published in: on September 29, 2013 at 11:48 am  Comments (6)  

BETWEEN- A New Urban Fantasy…coming soon

 

As one of her beta readers, I’m proud and thrilled to make this following announcement:

*Magic, dreams, and dragons (along with the odd penguin)- Kerry Schafer’s debut urban fantasy, Between is arriving at bookstores in January 2013.*

In anticipation, this week the cover is being revealed.   Each day a different portion shall be shown on a different website until it is displayed in its entirety on Ms. Schafer’s own site.

To view each picture and find out more about Between and related contests, please visit the following links:

Monday Sept 17th:  http://www.marleygibsonauthor.tumblr.com/

Tues, Sept 18th on booksmakemehappyreviews.com

Wed, Sept 19th on   faithhunter.net/wp/blog

 Thurs, Sept 20th on qwillery.blogspot.com

 and the B-I-G reveal on http://www.kerryschafer.com/ Friday, Sept 21st.  *Ms. Shafer is giving away three prizes: 2 twenty-five dollar Visa gift certificates and one query critique from literary agent Deidre Knight*

Liebster Award

First, a big thank you to the always gracious Lora for giving me this award.   You can read her smart, funny, and warmhearted blog that covers everything from cooking to the arts and every humorous thing between at: http://liferealities.wordpress.com/

I’m really glad she likes my blog even though I’ve had to be more quiet lately with my posting.

Anyhoo,  I would like to pass on this award to 5 other bloggers who truly deserve it.  In no particular order:

1. Diane Dooley at http://dianedooley.wordpress.com/.  Ms. Dooley is a fantastic horror writer, while also incredibly supportive of other writers.

2. Chazz at http://knowledgelost.org/.  The  sharp-witted gent covers everything involving the arts and literature.  Lots of erudition to be found here.

3.  Ralfast over at http://ralfast.wordpress.com/.  He covers everything from his stories and views on the writing craft to pop culture.  And he’s just an over-all cool guy

4.  Beth over at http://shethinkstoomuch.wordpress.com/.   Her charming blog covers everything from books and writing and film to her everyday adventures of being a student in Edinburgh.

5.  The sharpwitted DD and tarot reader extraordinaire at:  http://danglingpentaclestarot.wordpress.com/.  For those interested in reading Tarot, or anything related to its history, they should definitely visit her site.

Here are the rules courtesy of Lora:

“If you’ve been nominated, here are the rules if you choose to accept the award:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.

2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.

3. Copy & Paste the award to your blog.

4. Nominate 5 blogs to receive the award.

5. Inform them of their nomination by leaving comment on their blog.”

Thanks again Lora so very much!

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Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm  Comments (8)  
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Author Interview: Emily Murdoch

 

Ladies and Gents, I’m thrilled to be conducting my first author interview with Emily Murdoch.  I am lucky to call this great woman a friend, and honored to be her beta reader.

Ms. Murdoch’s first novel, If You Find Me (formerly:  The Patron Saint of Beans) will be published on April 2, 2013 by St Martin’s Griffin.  It has also sold overseas to Germany and the Netherlands.  More overseas sales are in the works.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Taylor Hendrix’s Christmas Project. Seventeen-year-old Taylor, battling osteosarcoma, gathers gifts in backpacks to brighten the spirits of cancer teens in hospital during the Christmas holidays.  

For more information about Ms. Murdoch, her writing, and her charity project, please visit her blog at:  http://emilymurdoch.wordpress.com

Also, Ms. Murdoch will be giving away a free, signed ARC.  Entrants for the drawing only have to tweet this post link and mention so in the comments.  The winner of the free advanced reader copy will be selected by random drawing in one week.

Now, without further ado, let’s hear from Ms. Murdoch, herself.

1. If You Find Me is a realistic YA novel with adult crossover appeal.   Could you please tell my blog readers a little about it?

Sure! Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

A broken-down camper at the Obed Scenic and Wild River National Park – dubbed the Hundred Acre Wood – is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey has ever known.

Sure, coping with a bipolar mother on meth is no picnic, but beneath the sun-dazzled canopies of Hickory and Walnut, Carey’s violin transports her from their bare-bones existence in the same way her little sister, Jenessa, finds comfort in her stash of second-hand Pooh books.

Life is dependable that way, until Mama goes into town for supplies and vanishes off the face of Tennessee, sending social services in her wake with a one-way ticket back to their father – a stranger in an even stranger world.

2. What inspired you, or drew you to writing this novel?

I happened to watch two news magazine stories back-to-back on parental abduction and alienation, one being the story of Sean Goldman, abducted by his mother at age four and taken to Brazil, leading to an international custody battle.

I remember aching for his father, David, left behind in America and fighting to get his son back. He did — five years later — but neither of them would ever be able to recapture the time they’d lost.

The level of betrayal, in my mind, was stunning. Not to mention the constant worry about that child’s welfare, and how it couldn’t help but impact *everything*. Life freezes; time stops, or, in the case of the children, resumes, built on lies and deceit.

I couldn’t shake the stories from my mind or heart.

3. How would you describe the main character, Carey?

Strong, resilient, loving, earnest. Fiercely protective of her younger sister, Jenessa … while also flawed, damaged, confused.

What I love about Carey is how she knows when to fight, and when to let life just wash over her, like a pebble in a stream. She’s determined to find light in the darkness, and always holds on to the hope that her life will get better.

She’s magnificently human.

4. Readers sometimes mistake characters, especially those written in first person, with the author.  How does Carey differ from you?  And in what ways are you similar?

Great question, and so true!

I was not abducted as a child, nor did I grow up in the woods. But I did experience a tougher childhood than some, and spent a lifetime overcoming my experiences.

Like Carey, I always searched for the light in the darkness. I always believed that the hard times contained lessons meant to stretch us, to grow our hearts, to teach us things we could pass on to those who needed them the most — those people in the places we used to be.

If not us, than who?

5. Did Carey come to you fully-formed, or did she emerge slowly throughout the writing of the novel?   Without spoilers, in what ways did she end up surprising you?

 

I guess you could say she did come to me fully formed. I’d liken it to a sculptor finding the image in the blob of clay, or chunk of marble. Wasn’t it there already, just waiting to be found?

Carey surprised me, by being that pebble in the stream. By not running away. At one point I thought she would. She decided otherwise.

 

 

6. If you could cast anyone as Carey (current actress or from days past, who would it be?

 

I LOVE this question!

I think Dakota Fanning would make a wonderful Carey. She has the talent and emotional depth to bring all facets of Carey to life, including the said and unsaid.

She’s an amazing actress; truly gifted. I knew since first seeing her in Taken and I Am Sam that she had God-given talent.

 

7. Did Carey or the story come to you first?

 

Carey. I knew she was a fighter with emotional depth and a wealth of wisdom learned the hard way.

Right from the start, I admired her heart and the fight in her and felt she chose me to tell her story.

8. Now let’s chat more about you and writing in general.   The writing process is fascinating, and I’m sure many would love to know about how you go about it.  First, are you a plotter or a pantser?

 

Pantser all the way! When I begin a novel, even I don’t know the full story or what’s going to happen. I find it out just like my readers will — paragraph by paragraph, page by page.

 

9. When did you first begin writing, and when did you begin serious attempts at being published?  Could you tell us about your journey?

 

I wrote short stories and poetry from Kindergarten on. I was obsessed with books, both reading and owning them, and loved those tiny little books you used to get in bubble gum machines as prizes. I even used to cut construction paper into small pages, staple the middle, and make my own “books”.

I wrote my first real book (all 265 passionate pages!) at eleven-years-old. I used loose notebook pages held together with a binder clip. One afternoon in sixth grade, I left the manuscript behind in the school library. Our librarian, Mrs. Mills, found it and read it in full. The next morning, I made a mad dash to the library, hoping it was still there, and she held it up, raving. “Would you mind if I typed it up and sent it to a few publishers?” I remember nodding my consent, because I was speechless!

It took Mrs. Mills about a week to type it up, and we sent it off. It went out to three children’s publishers, along with a cover letter. I don’t remember who the other publishers were, but an editor at Random House, the signature illegible, wrote: “She’s got something. Tell her to try us again in ten or twenty years.”

 

Flash forward to now, and I’ve written five manuscripts. If You Find Me was my third queried manuscript. I do believe I’m here today because of all the effort that went before. However, I began writing with an eye toward publication in May of 2008.

 

 

10.    What authors inspired your dreams of being a writer?  Favorite books?

The answer is those favorite books: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; any novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but especially A Little Princess and The Secret Garden; The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden; and A Wrinkle in Time By Madeleine L’Engle.

11.    Besides other books, what feeds your creative muse?

It’s always art; books, movies, paintings. I like to be moved, and I aspire to move others through my writing.

We live in a fast society, often steely and hard. Anything that brings us back to our hearts, is golden.

12.    Do you prefer writing in long spurts or during short periods throughout the day?  Are your creative juices better at certain hours?

 

I like to write at night, but I write throughout the day, also, whenever I can, and whether I feel like it or not.

I sit down and enter a state of “flow”, where hours fly by, I forget my physical self, and the words stream through me, oftentimes faster than I can type. I’ve always had a knack for this almost dissociative state I can’t quite explain, even to myself.

I feel like a conduit for the stories. All I have to do is sit down, let go, and believe.

13.   Do you listen to music whilst writing?  If so, what was this novel’s soundtrack?  Do your characters have different theme songs?

 

I always listen to music. I either listen to zen or classical. I write better with music, but it has to be music without words, and something that loops in the background.

For me, that is our satellite television’s classical and zen/new age music channels. I wouldn’t be surprised to get a call from the company one day telling me it’s on so much, I broke their stations!

 

 

14.    Do you have any writing rituals to help you get into the mood?

When I was younger, I would’ve said I wrote best by candlelight or by the fireplace. I wrote in notebooks, with a specific pen, (still the pen I prefer — Pilot Precise V5 rolling ball, extra fine point, black ink) and always with coffee nearby.

While some of those things could still be true, (the candlelight, to get my Louisa May Alcott on, the certain pen and the coffee, although now I write on my laptop) the whimsy of having writing rituals has taken a back seat to the reality of writing, especially for publication, where deadlines and paychecks are involved.

15.     Do you visualize the story as you write it, or do you hear it?

 

Wow. I never thought about that.

 

I’d say both. When writing in scene-mode, I visualize the scene. When writing dialogue, I hear it.

 

 

16.    While you are writing,  would you compare yourself to a Method actor who uses their own experiences and emotions to become the characters, or are you more akin to the external and objective methods of a classically trained actor?

 

God you’re good!  Awesome questions!

Since I write in flow, it’s almost like I’m taking dictation, of sorts. However, when I read back over material I wrote and it makes *me* cry, that’s when I know I nailed it.

To quote Beethoven, “What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.”

 

17.   The process of getting a novel published can be a very long one filled with incredible ups and downs.   What helped you stay grounded throughout?

 

YOU! Huge hugs! And all my writing friends. Without people who really, REALLY understand, I’d be in a straightjacket — and everyone knows how impossible it is to type in a straightjacket!

 

18.   Favorite quote from another author?

Does Beethoven count?

19.   What is your life motto?

Believe. Believe!

It’s the seed of all that could be.

20.    What stories are in the works for you?

I’m currently finishing up revisions for my next novel, D22go (dah-go).  I’m a week or two away from turning it in, and hopefully it will become my option book, and next crossover novel!

Thank you so much, Emily!

 

Thank you, Tasha, for hosting my cover reveal, for being such an amazing friend, beta reader and supporter.

One day soon I’ll be hosting your cover reveal. I can’t wait!

Until then, I’ll just keep counting my blessings, with you being one of the biggest ones!

Thank you So much, Emily!  

Besides the website above, one may also find out more about Ms. Murdoch and If You Find Me at these links:

On Goodreads:

http://goodreads.com/book/show/13411689-the-patron-saint-of-beans

on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/#!/LeftyWritey

Into the Gothic World of the Monk

One of my maxims for writing stories that take place in past eras is that people have always been the same.  What goes on inside hearts, and behind closed doors has never changed.   It is only the outer society that differs in clothes and manner.

A fantastic example of this is the 1796 novel by Matthew G. Lewis.   It is difficult to imagine this being published in the staid Victorian period.  But go back one century to the much more bawdy 18th, and this book was not only published, it was a smashing hit.  The fact that some critics deemed it obscene and dangerous, of course, only helped to sell more copies.

Matthew Lewis, born on July 9. 1775, to a prominant English family, wrote the novel in a span of ten weeks.   Inspired by the novel, Mysteries of Udolpho, he aimed to write his own Gothic masterpiece.    Evidently putting aside any care or worry what anyone would think of him or his novel, he went full out, no-holds barred.

The title character, Ambrosio is the ultimate man of two faces.  To his congregation he is the embodiment of purity and moral excellence.  Inside, he is an ego-ist who feeds on their adoration.    The novel weaves back and forth as he engages in a forbidden love affair while hearing confessions.   The novel becomes a Matryoshka doll of stories within stories.  Romance,  sex, magic, murder,  and ghosts  fill the pages.

While the confessions show most of the characters as decent folk caught up in a very unjust world,  Ambrosio the Monk spirals into one of the most loathesome characters in all of literature.  A hypocrite to the extreme who blames everyone  and everyone but himself for anything and everything he does,  his arrogance and utter disregard for others leads him to rape and murder.

The novel also boasts one of the most fascinating, unapologetic characters in Matilda.  As Ambrosio’s lover and nemesis,  she is his perfect foil, and the reader will be quite curious whose side she is really on.

Story-wise, the novel is a marvel and it is easy to see why it had such great influence on such later literary figures as Emily Bronte and Poe.  On the negative side, the novel is unfortunately filled with the racism and sexism of its day.  Reading the treatment of the women is not easy.  Their constant punishment will raise the hair of anyone with modern sensibility.   While the men happily go along their merry ways, you can bet any of the female characters who engages in physical intercourse- whether it be consensual sex or  rape, will either die or lose her beauty and retire into a convent.  Only one female character in the book who has had pre-marital sex is “allowed” by the author to marry the man she loves at the end.   But not until after she has suffered one of  the cruelest, most heartbreaking tragedies one can imagine.

If the book had been written today I would have thrown it out the window.  But accepting the book for the era it was written, I was able to greatly enjoy the story while glaring at times and being grateful that authors no longer need to punish their ladies as some sort of horrible, hypocritical “moral”.

Recommended as a highly engaging, spellbinding, and at times, surprisingly humorous tale with a fantasic, witty end.

Published in: on May 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm  Comments (16)  
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The Haunted Film of Mario Bava: Kill, Baby, Kill

Released in 1966 by Mario Bava, Kill, Baby, Kill, is a fantastic horror set in a Carpathian village.  Despite its ridiculous American title (the original being, Operazione paura) which conjures images of a c-grade slasher, the film is a surprising mix of an old-fashioned ghost story with dashes of surrealism.

The film begins as a woman leaps to her death onto a spiked fence.  Then a child’s mocking laughter is heard as the opening credits roll.

 An outsider, Dr. Paul Eswai, is summoned to perform the autopsy.  He quickly befriends a young nurse, Monica Shuftan, who only recently arrived at the village, herself.   She reveals having been born there, but sent away when orphaned at two years.  “I came to visit my parents’ graves,” she tells him.

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The two quickly learn that the villagers fear a ghost child named Melissa.   Legend goes that anyone who sees the malevolent spirit will kill themselves

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 The scientifically-minded doctor scoffs at the notion of a curse, while the more emotional, but sensible Monica realizes that science can’t explain the odd deaths which have plagued the village for twenty years.

Along with the pile of bodies all found with coins in their hearts, is the mysterious presence of the black-robed Ruth.   

     When a teen-aged girl claims to have seen the ghost, her petrified mother cries for her husband to seek help from the witch.  But when he opens the door to do so, she is already standing at the threshold.   “We know when someone is in harm’s way.”

 When Paul arrives, he is aghast to witness what he considers Ruth’s arcane healing methods.  And further, he ignores her warnings to leave the village.   Instead, he continues to search for rational answers and save the ailing Nadienne.

 Meanwhile, Monica is plagued by a doll-filled nightmare that suggests there’s more to her past in connection with the village than even she is aware..   

 As the plot deepens, Monica, Paul, and Ruth find their way to the home of the Baroness Graps, the reclusive mother of the ghost child.  Two are seeking the truth.  One, is looking for retribution.

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Not as well known as Bava’s sublime, Black Sunday, this film is every bit as worth a view.   Interesting camera angles and dazzling colors create a highly atmospheric mood.   An intelligent script converts some of the genre’s even by then tired clichés.   Giacomo Rossi-Stuart displays solid acting as Paul, though he lacks the charisma necessary to elevate the role from merely the “good guy”. 

     It is the women of this film that the camera loves.  Erika Blanc is effective as Monica, and even drab clothes can’t hide her charms.  The haunting Fabienne Dali (Ruth) steals every scene she’s in.  And of course, there’s always Melissa and her devoted mother…

Cazotte: The Fantastique Writer Who Saw Death

Jacques Cazotte (1719-1792) note: some sources put his birth at 1720

” A brief but sparkling bon-bon from the French writer Jacques Cazotte, who was guillotined in 1792. A young captain, stationed in Naples, is tempted into summoning up Beelzebub, who appears first in the guise of a hideous camel, then as a cute spaniel, and lastly – and most dangerously – as a gorgeous, pouting nymphette who declares herself enamoured of the young man and follows him everywhere. This is an amusing study of temptation, with sinister undertones.” Anne Billson in Time Out “In Biondetta there remains no trace of the monstrous apparition conjured up by Alvaro in the ruins of Portico. The satanic seductress is hidden behind the face of the tormented and plaintive beauty until the end of the fable.” Jorges Luis Borges “The Devil in Love is famous on various counts: for its charm and the perfection of its scenes, but above all for the originality of its conception. ” Gerard de Nerval- from the blurb for the Dedalus European Classics edition of The Devil in Love.
 
Written in 1772, (original French title: Le Diable Amoureux), The Devil in Love was Jacques Cazotte’s crowning achievement  of the fantastique which paralleled the English Gothics of the day.
 
Educated by Jesuits, Jacques worked for public office in Martinique, and returned to Paris with the rank of commissioner-general.   In his forties, he began his foray into writing.  Having little interest in the rationalism of the day, he penned a series of fantastical stories as well as translating several Arabian tales into French.
 
Cazotte’s belief in his ability as a seer led him to the Martinist mysticism of Martinez de Pasqually.  The esoteric form of Christianity concerned itself with the fall of man, and his return to the divine source.
 
Declaring himself a “mystical monarchist”, Cazotte warned several men and women at a dinner party in 1788 that they would all soon die by guillotine or noose.  To the theater critic Sebastian Chamfort,  he declared, “You will slash your own wrists 22 times before dying a long and miserable death.” 
 
When the French Revolution began, Chamfort supported it for humanistic reasons.  However, as it became more and more bloody, he condemned the murders and was imprisoned.  Wishing to escape a public execution, he slashed his wrists twenty-two times with a dull razor before dying.
 
Cazotte’s prediction to  The Marquis de Condorcet that he would one day take poison to escape the guillotine came true in 1794.
 
Jacques Cazotte could not escape his own fate, either.  On September 25, 1792 he was beheaded for treason.
 

French Gothic Novel or The Roman Noir

The term, “noir” instantly brings to mind the works of such authors as Cornell Woolrich, James M. Cain, and Dorothy B. Hughes.  Many of their novels turned into the gritty, black and white films of the 1950s.  Tales of downtrodden men and women (victims and perpetrators alike) lost in the underbelly of society.

However, Roman Noir (black novel) was first coined by the French in the 18th century, and originally referred to the Gothic novels emerging from England at the time.

The English Gothic novel (born from Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto) were mysteries often set in ruined castles populated by lonely women, tyrannical Lords, and creepy servants.   Ancient curses, ominous visions, forbidden romance, and fears of the supernatural abound.

The Roman Noir became the parallel literary movement in France.  Notable authors included  Denis Diderot, Madame de Genlis,  Baculard d’Arnaud,  Stéphanie Ducrest de St-Albin,Gaston Leroux, Balzac, Vicomte d’Arlincourt,  Francois Ducray-Duminil,  Victor Hugo, and Maupassant.

During the nineteenth century,  in continuation of the Gothic or Roman Noir, a new emphasis on horror gave birth to the  le roman frenetique.  

-Lou Chaney as The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Gothic Reading

Gothic fiction originated in 1764 with the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto.  From there, this genre which combined elements of horror and romance swept through England,  continental Europe, and even reached colonial America with the works of Washington Irving amongst others.

I’ve decided this shall be the year I study Gothic Literature in depth.  Now, if I was a purely logical person, I’d probably start my reading where it all began, namely inside that Castle of Walpole’s.

But since I enjoy doing things in my own odd ways- I thought it would be more fun to go about this in an entirely different manner.  Namely, fate would decide.

4 cards were pulled from my Bohemian Gothic Tarot Deck.

1. Devil- American Gothic

2.  Lovers- German Gothic

3.  Death- French Gothic

4.  Tower- English Gothic

Eyes shut.  Shuffling.  Card picked…

Death.

So, my long journey into the depths of the Gothic shall begin in France!

Next post: all about the French Gothic Novel

The Dragon Year Approaches

Wait.  Didn’t I just write my post, “The Year of the Rabbit”? 

Granted, I have no sense of time, and I can’t even wear a watch since my electromagnetic field kills them all.   But really.   How did we so quickly go from:

to:

Incredible or not, it is Jan 1, 2012.  (talk about sci-fi-ish sounding).  And we are now heading into the year of the dragon.  (Jan 23rd)

So, just like last year, I am continuing to work toward things.   I don’t like to make concrete goals.   Instead, I’m always seeking,  Always wanting to learn more.  Explore and expand my inner and outer worlds.

That said, in this- the year of the magestic dragon I shall continue to write every day (for the most part), continue studying that fascinating but infuriating language German, and being true to myself.

May everyone do what is best for them!

Here’s to the year of the dragon!

Published in: on January 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm  Comments (13)  
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